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Barbell Logic

Sep 3, 2018

Andy Baker, co-author of Practical Programming 3rd Edition, returns to the podcast to talk about advanced programming. Practical Programming defines advanced trainees broadly as those having fully exhausted linear progression, no longer able to make workout to workout, or even week to week progress. Advanced trainees must make progress on longer scales, usually over months of training.


Very few trainees ever become advanced, primarily because advanced trainees need some sort of goal to train toward. They are usually regular competitors in strength sports, or high level athletes in sports with a strength focus. Advanced training demands consistency over four- or even five-workout-per-week schedules, as well as the necessary recovery resources, which most adults with busy schedules cannot realistically achieve. Absent these goals, advanced training is just too difficult and too time consuming to pursue. Note that the goals themselves are usually more specific than "get stronger." Advanced trainees have specific goals such as increasing performance in a specific event or discipline (excepting powerlifting in which the main training lifts are also the contested lifts).


Advanced training takes place on a long time scale. Andy likes to lay out programming in broad strokes over a year. He works with his lifters to identify times of the year when schedules are rough, such as holidays and vacations, and plans competitions around the known disruptions. From there, he can start programming the specific training blocks leading up the competitions.


Andy likes the "two steps forward, one step back" approach to advanced programming. Assuming a four-week month, this model calls for two weeks of high volume, moderate intensity, followed by a deload or light week three, then a high intensity, low volume week four. Thus, the fourth week acts as a PR week, by which you gauge the progress made over the four week block. In this sense, the program is similar to the Texas Method, just spread over a month instead of a week. There is still a volume period, a light period, and then a heavy period. In fact, Andy often arranges the weeks within this model in a HLM format: heavy day, light day, medium day.


For most advanced lifters, Andy finds that breaking up the heavy competition lifts (i.e. avoiding going heavy for squat, press, and deadlift in a single workout) between workouts helps manage stress.    For non-competition lifts, accessory and supplemental lifts can be used to work on weak points of the lift. Weak points are highly individual, and one accessory lift that works for one athlete (say, a heavy rack pull) may not carry over to the competition lifts for another athlete.


You can connect with Andy, get programming from him via the Baker Barbell Club, and more at


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