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I am starting a new, different, refreshing training program. It's Eric Cressey's Maximum Strength.


As Cressey describes, the Maximum Strength program, "is loosely modeled on a powerlifting training cycle. It is 16 weeks long and culminates in a set of four maximal performance lifts (box squat, bench press, deadlift, 3RM pull up) plus a maximal power test (broad jump)."

The program's main features are:

1) A specific warmup program - Cressey's program features about 10 minutes of mobility drills and 5 minutes of foam rolling.

2) Workload Modulation - Cressey's program is built into 4, 4-week blocks: A foundation phase, build phase, growth phase, and peak phase. Workload builds across the four phases, but that's not the only change in workload during the program. Cressey says, "The overall training workload varies from week to week within each four-week phase of the Maximum Strength program, in the following manner:

First Week: High Workload
Second Week: Medium Workload
Third Week: Very High Workload
Fourth Week: Low Workload

3) Quantifiable Results - Not only do you do the six fitness tests (bodyweight, broad jump, box squat, bench press, deadlift, and 3RM pullup) on the final day of the program, but you do them on day 1. This way, athletes can see how much they've progressed by doing the program. Cressey calls day 1 "packing day", and he calls the final testing day "moving day" for reasons I don't quite understand. I did packing day today, and I will share my results shortly.

4) Heavy Lifting - As the title implies, Maximum Strength aims to build an athlete's maximum strength. This is different from traditional bodybuilding style programs, and different from weight-loss style gym programs. However, Cressey argues that his program is more effective at achieving either of those goals. For the bodybuilder, he argues that increased strength leads to bigger muscles, as there will be more muscle growth from a set of 225X5 on the bench press than from 185X5. For those interested in weight-loss, Cressey argues that stronger muscles metabolize more calories while at rest. A stronger body increases resting metabolic rate which increases fat loss.

Ok, so here are my 'Packing Day' test numbers:

Body Weight: 215lbs.
Broad Jump: 83"
Box Squat: 225lbs.
Bench Press: 215lbs.
Dead Lift: 315lbs
3rm Pull Up: 25lbs

Finally, why am I, a triathlete, doing a powerlifting style program?

1) Power: I have always felt healthiest when I am training hard in the weight room. Endurance sports just eat muscle. Putting some thick, purposeful, core strength onto my frame will make me healthier and more powerful on the road and in the pool.

2) Injury Prevention: Heavy, basic lifting does more to strengthen stabilizer muscles than does low-weight, high-rep, rehab style lifting. Deadlifting and squatting does more to prevent knee pains than does a million leg lifts.

3) Change of Pace: I am trying to shake it up as much as possible in the off-season. The powercranks are shaking up the biking. This new weight program will give me a completely new goal.

Stay tuned... 16 weeks from now, we'll see where I am!