Concurrent Strategies in Strength Training – Part 3
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Concurrent Strategies in Strength Training – Part 3

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concurrent-strategies2Concurrent Strategies in Strength Training – Part 2

This is part three of a three-part series. Please note that different classifications may be used depending on the athletes’ weak and strong points, level of development, training period, emphasis, and additional items. Those classifications are used to help the coach organize the training system and prioritize things according to the demands of sport and position. With the average athlete, primary exercises are those movements that give the “most bang for the buck” and have the greatest transfer to the field while other exercises aim to assist that transfer and provide whole body development and injury prevention.

Different types of weekly progressions can be implemented, with or without the unload period. You can use a modified Poliquin accumulation/intensification scheme for ME and DUP for SE to name a few. You could also use narrow pyramids, waves, stages, or whatever crosses your mind that allows an increase in defined goals concurrently and avoids injury and overtraining. Please note that the mezocycle (usually one month) progressions depend on goals, context, and the level of the athlete so don’t get too creative. Keep it simple stupid.

One may also implement the Starr Texas method into the proposed system. For example, for ME work, you would do primary lifts for a 1 X 5 scheme (ramp up), and for SE work, you would also do primary lifts but for 5 X 5 (sets across). For RE work, you would do secondary/auxiliary exercises with less weight as recovery. This scheme uses intensity/volume/recovery instead of ME/SE/RE, and it is not considered concurrent training. So it isn’t the subject of this article, but I’m still going to present a modified system (just to show that it can be done).

Here is a modified whole body split:

Whole body—training session A
Movement pattern Category Example Loading protocol
A. Total body Auxiliary Step-up jumps DE
B. Knee dominant Primary Squat Intensity (1 X 5)
C1. Vertical push Primary Military press Intensity (1 X 5)
C2. Vertical pull Primary Chin-ups Intensity (1 X 5)
D. Hip dominant Secondary Romanian deadlift Recovery
E1. Horizontal push Auxiliary Push-ups Recovery
E2. Horizontal pull Auxiliary Cuban rows Recovery
Whole body—training session B
Movement pattern Category Example Loading protocol
A. Total body Primary Clean DE/ME
B1. Horizontal push Primary Bench press Intensity (1 X 5)
B2. Horizontal pull Primary Barbell row Intensity (1 X 5)
C. Knee dominant Primary Squat Volume (5 X 5)
D1. Vertical push Primary Military press Volume (5 X 5)
D2. Vertical pull Secondary Pull-ups Volume (5 X 5)
E. Hip dominant Auxiliary Single leg Romanian deadlift Recovery

As I have pointed out earlier, this concurrent solution will work very well for intermediate lifters. Some of the characteristics of intermediate lifters are as follows (taken from my review article entitled, “What I Have Learned from the Book, Practical Programming”).

1. They progress from week to week (hit PRs) due to a greater need for recovery.

  • This is why ME work is done only once per week for a movement pattern.

2. They need regular off days during the week or within week load fluctuations (wave-like).

  • The DE/ME/SE/RE rotations within a week provide variety and unload (in some cases). Also, the lower/upper split provides this kind of unload during the week.
  • This doesn’t necessarily mean total unload, but rather unload for a particular movement pattern.

3. They need longer unloads (mostly a week) with a greater reduction in load.

  • Unloading week every 4–6 weeks may be beneficial.
  • Dave Tate gave the following recommendations in one of his Q&A posts.
Loading protocol Average cycle length Deload
Dynamic work (DE) 3–4 weeks After 1–2 cycles
Max effort work (ME) 1–3 weeks Every 3–6 weeks
Supplemental work “main” (ME/SE) 5–8 weeks Every 8–10 weeks
Supplemental “hypertrophy” work (SE/RE) n/a Every 6–8 weeks
Accessory Work “Prehab” (RE) 8–12 weeks Every 8–12 weeks
The average cycle is the duration of the usage of the specific exercise. After this cycle, the exercise rotates, and the lifter uses another exercise from the movement pattern group. Please note that those numbers are just estimates, and they will be different for everyone because we all have different recovery needs and training backgrounds.

Some abilities may be deloaded while others are pounded. This should be the way it goes for most of the year. Before a meet or when worn down, a full blown deload should take place. A full blown deload involves deloading all abilities. You can use a larger number of exercises and their variations. This is why the usage of primary, secondary, auxiliary, and remedial exercises has its place.

The art of deloading is a topic in itself, and I guess Eric Cressey did a fine job explaining it in his new manual titled, The Art of the Deload: Special Report, although I haven’t read it yet.

4. They can use larger number of exercises and their variations

  • This is why usage of Primary, Secondary, Auxiliary and Remedial exercises has its place

For beginners, this is too complex. Beginners can improve at a much faster rate and with less complexity using programs designed for beginners. These programs utilize only the primary lifts with a higher frequency during the week (they can hit PRs every time that they take the bar) and much less volume.

Lucky for me, almost all of my athletes never left the intermediate stage. This is because their other obligations (skill work, speed work, plyometrics, general and specific conditioning) and priorities limited their strength increases compared to those athletes in the iron sports.

Advanced athletes are notorious because of the following characteristics:

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I am a physical preparation coach from Belgrade, Serbia, grow up in Pula, Croatia (which I consider my home town). I was involved in physical preparation of professional, amateur and recreational athletes of various ages in sports such as basketball, soccer, volleyball, martial arts and tennis. Read More »
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