It Looked Good on Paper

About the Author: Eric Cressey

Q: Eric – I read your article, “It Looked Good on Paper,” where you recommended the following for an experienced lifter who is too weak for his cross-sectional area:

Week 1: 8 singles over 90%
Week 2: 6 singles over 90%
Week 3: 10 singles over 90%
Week 4: 2 singles over 90%, or 2×3 easy (5RM load)

My questions are:

1. Do you test out each week?
2. How many times do you do this protocol per week for an exercise – once I am assuming or am I incorrect.
3. When you hit failure just after PR , how do you approach the next set. Drop down slightly and try stay at the highest possible load or back off fully to the drop off threshold and try work back up again (does it matter)?

A: This would only be performed once a week on a lower and/or upper body day. There are essentially tests built in to each session.
For the singles over 90% stuff, how you get those numbers will depend on your best for the day. Here’s what it might look like on a bench for you:
230×1 (PR for the day) – 90% of 230 is 207, so only the 225×1 would count toward your total (you’ve got two over 90% by this point)
So, to get five more singles, you’d take between 210 and 220 for your remaining sets.
If you MISS a rep, count it as two singles over 90%. The idea is to NOT miss reps, though.
Remember that you aren’t going to be using the same exercise each week; you’ll want to rotate more frequently than that.