6 Day periodization for strength and size for intermediate Lifters

Are you an intermediate lifter?

Weekly organization, 6 workouts, Intermediate lifter means you can deadlift and squat at least 1.5x body weight, and bench press at least your body weight. All exercises for 3 reps.

Program guidelines

You’re going to construct 6 workouts for yourself for the week. Choose 2 multi joint, closed chain exercises. 1 upper body, 1 lower body. These are what you’ll be obsessing over. So pick 2 that you really care about. For me that’s front squats and pull ups. For each of these exercises you’ll have one heavy day and one volume day. After the main lifts are decided, pick 2 thruster variations, 2 accessory exercises for the squat, 2 accessory exercises for the pull up, 2 core exercises, and 1 vanity exercise.

Program explanation

Heavy day is to improve maximal strength, plain and simple. This means overloading the muscle for short periods of time. The main adaptations happen at the neurological level as the brain adapts by sending out a stronger signal to the muscle and all the pathways adapt by sending a stronger impulse to the muscle, faster. This is why you become stronger before you appear stronger.

Volume day is to improve work capacity. This is more complicated than increasing strength. Building strength happens quickly, especially for beginners, and is easy to accomplish. Improving work capacity is easy initially, but becomes hard quickly. There is a suffer factor involved.

Here’s what I mean.

If you primarily strength train, try running slowly for a period of time. (could be as little as 10 minutes) You’ll realize your legs feel fine, but maybe your right hip flexor starts to ache ever so slightly, and you get an itch where your shorts are rubbing against your thigh, and sweat starts to drip off your elbow which also catches your attention, but only until your hip flexor starts bothering you again. I won’t be like so many others and say, “running a marathon is 90% mental” because it’s not, but there is a substantial mental aspect involving the ability to deal with pain.

Front squats on heavy day last less than 10 seconds. Front squats on volume day last at least 35 seconds. Your energy source shifts to one that provides ATP less quickly than from what the heavy squat set requires. There is increased blood flow to the muscle, for longer, resulting in the “pump.” Time under tension is the goal here. Increase work capacity, increase blood flow to the muscle, keep blood flow in the muscle as long as possible. The muscle cells adapt to this by increasing in size to accommodate for the increased blood volume. This is the essence of hypertrophy, or increasing muscle size.

Program organization (periodization)

3 days is the magic number here. The sweet spot for optimal muscle recovery and supercompensation. So you’ll perform your 2 main lifts twice/week, 3 days apart, and both accessory moves 3 days apart. You’ll rotate core exercises every other day. Core exercises need to consist of equal amounts force producing and force dissipation. More on that later. The excel sheet below shows what an example of this program looks like.

Strength and Size Program
6 day training block for strength and size for the intermediate lifter.

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