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2 x 4: Maximum Strength

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Disclaimer
The information offered in this book is for educational purposes only; the reader
should be forewarned that there is an inherent risk assumed by the participant with
any form of exercise or physical activity. With that in mind, those participating in
strength and conditioning programs should check with and obtain clearance from
their physician prior to beginning such activities. It is imperative that anyone
participating in these activities understands that such training initiatives may be
dangerous if performed incorrectly; additionally, they may not be appropriate for
everyone. The author assumes no liability for injury; this manual is purely
educational, as to guide those already proficient with the demands of such
programming.

2 x 4: Maximum Strength

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Acknowledgements I’d like to thank the following individuals for their help in creating the 2 x 4 program: • • • • Andrew Serrano Joey Percia Andrew Vigotsky Mike Peltz I’d also like to thank the following people for positively influencing my knowledge pertaining to powerlifting: • • • • • • • • Louie Simmons Dave Tate Jim Wendler Mark Rippetoe Dan Green Mike Tuscherer Eric Cressey Chad Waterbury 2 x 4: Maximum Strength Page 4 .

.... 18 Maximal Strength Training is a Marathon....... 46 2 x 4 for Geared or Advanced Lifters . 13 The Program ............................................................................................................................................................................Table of Contents Designing the Program ........................... 7 The Case for Submaximal Loads and Intensity of Effort ........................................................................ 43 How to Adapt the Program for Different Movements ................................................................................................................................................... 47 Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) . 21 Training Program................................................................................................................................................................................................................ 11 Why Percentages Fail Some Lifters ...................... 44 Example Adapted Program ........................................................................................................................................................................................................................ 30 Peaking ..................................................................................................................... 48 2 x 4: Maximum Strength Page 5 ........................................................................................... 42 2 x 4: Maximum Strength PR Tracker Sheet................. 19 Sample Training Journal ....................................................................................................................................................... 39 Tweaking the Program ... 14 Assistance Work .................................................... Not a Sprint ......... 40 Records Sheet .......... 15 Deloading ............................................................ 17 Training Days .....................................................................................................................

Even so. lifters should experiment with other systems and be sure to incorporate phases that focus on higher rep ranges and variety. 2 x 4 is not a year-round program. 5. However. 8. 2 x 4. you might be wondering what 2 x 4 stands for. two lifts are performed on four separate days per week. Knowing which program is the absolute best would require extensive research that will never happen (dozens of groups with ample subjects would need to train according to each popular program for an ample amount of time. I encourage you to experiment with them and learn more about your body and the methods that work best for you. There are many excellent strength training programs already available. 2 x 4 is just one of the many excellent programs out there. Moreover. Before I delve into the book. There are an infinite number of ways to write a good maximum strength training program. 2 x 4: Maximum Strength Page 6 . 7.2 x 4: Maximum Strength Welcome to 2 x 4: Maximum Strength. for raw lifters seeking maximal strength. 2. 3. with the winner being the program that produced on average the best results). hence. It is a 14-week training cycle that can be performed either twice back-to-back or three times spread out over the course of a year. 4. the best program out there for you right now might not be the best program for you three years from now. the best program for the masses might not be the best program for you (there is much variation in the response to a training program from one person to the next). At this point. 6. In between training cycles. let’s get some things straight right off the bat: 1. It’s quite simple. 2 x 4 makes more sense to me than any other program available.

After countless revisions and experimentation. let me tell you how I created the program. let me tell you that there are things you just can’t predict. and implement that plan for at least a year with a group of lifters with varying ranges of experience.Designing the Program Okay. I believe that the best way to create a program is to construct a well-thought out and scientific plan on paper. but there’s a difference between writing a program and implementing the program – that’s where the learning and adjustments took place. In fact. I ended up going with the back squat and floor press on day one. I actually spent a year and a half formulating the program and tinkering with all of the design variables. analyzing. Since I wanted to create the best program possible. bench press. You will become a student of these eight exercises. This required over a year of tinkering and finetuning. and my clients over the years. the 2 x 4: Maximum Strength Page 7 . now that we’ve got that straight. No matter how scientific and logical the program may appear to be. I decided on four days per week. having now been through the process. and on the other hand. The first question I considered involved training frequency – what’s the ideal number of days to train per week? After analyzing the majority of powerlifting and strength training routines. floor press. These are the lifts that you will master. and the program went through many different renovations. I needed to determine the lifts that were to be performed on each day. front squat. Next. The current 2 x 4 program is leaps and bounds better than the original plan laid out 18 months ago due to constant tinkering. and block pull. The next question involved exercise selection – which exercises combine to give you the best possible strength gains? This is tricky because on one hand you have pure specificity in which only the three powerlifts (or whatever lifts you wanted to use to measure strength) would be performed. and considering my own experiences in training myself. even with years of training experience and reading research. I went about it very systematically. my training partners. Let’s get back to the program’s development. military press. examining training routines of top powerlifters and strongmen. close grip bench press. It may look very simple and appear to have been written overnight. and practical consideration. the block pull and military press and day two. deadlift. I decided upon 8 primary lifts – the back squat. you have extensive variety in which case endless variations of the exercises along with assistance lifts are performed.

there are two primary ways to perform the working sets – using the same weight for each set. You’ll be performing two weeks with sets of 5 reps. block pull Ideal set and rep schemes: 3 x 5. or ramping up in weight with one ultimate set. I went with 3 working sets. You might be wondering what’s wrong with doubles. bench press. you’ll be trying to set personal records (PR’s) on back squats. To reiterate. The answer is: nothing is wrong with them. That said. military press. Many lifters enjoy doing up to 5 working sets. triples. floor press. military press. close grip bench press. and deadlifts with maximal intensity of effort and the intention of setting PR’s one 2 x 4: Maximum Strength Page 8 . Therefore. but when training full body four times per week. As for number of sets. and then two weeks with heavy singles. I went with 1’s. front squats. but with varying levels of intensity of effort. deadlift. The following step in designing 2 x 4 required me to figure out the ideal set and rep schemes. block pulls. I’m a big fan of singles. followed by a deload week. and 5’s. as four days of intensive pressing and two days of intensive deadlifting per week is overkill for the vast majority of lifters. Let’s recap: Ideal number of training sessions per week: 4 Ideal exercises for building powerlifting strength: back squat. One week. and many lifters like to perform heavy doubles or higher rep sets of 8-10 reps. 3’s. you’ll perform back squats. 3 x 3. then two weeks with sets of 3 reps. followed by a deload week. 3 x 1 Recall from earlier that I told you that you’d be alternating the lifts that you perform with maximal intensity each week. followed by a six-week block using ascending weight (ramping up by starting out light and going progressively heavier on the following sets). and sets of five. and deadlifts. I decided to incorporate both into the program. You’ll perform a six-week block using straight weight (same loads for all 3 sets). and close grip bench press.front squat and bench press on day three. quadruples. Since both of these methods are very effective in different ways. military press. However. it’s just too demanding. front squat. and the next week you’ll be trying to set PR’s on floor press. I realized that these lifts couldn’t all be performed with maximal intensity of effort each week. bench press. bench press. each lift will be performed throughout the week. As for number of repetitions. and the deadlift and close grip bench press on day four. for the 2 x 4 program. and sets above five reps. followed by another deload week.

block pulls. you’ll figure out how to lift explosively while avoiding excessive jarring forces on the joints by gradually accelerating the load throughout the range of motion. In this case. use 60% of 1RM when performing 5 reps. be smooth and control the load throughout the entire repetition. intermediates. front squats.week. and close grip bench press. In this case. and the other where you’ll purposely “sandbag. use 60% of 1RM when performing 5 reps. and 80% of 1RM when performing single repetitions. and 80% of 1RM when performing single repetitions. 70% of 1RM when performing 3 reps. intermediates. 70% of 1RM when performing sets of 3 reps. You might have heard explosive training referred to as the dynamic effort (DE) method or as compensatory acceleration training (CAT). Over time. most lifters only pause for 1-second when performing 3-secound pause reps as they start counting early and also cut short. and 80% of 1RM when performing single repetitions). 2. Just as in the case of pause reps. Be aware that most lifters skimp on time when performing pause reps. and advanced lifters. Super Strict Form You can perform the lifts with lighter loads and be ultra-strict with form. In fact. As in the case of pause reps and super strict form. you’ll want to utilize 60-80% of 1RM (60% of 1RM when performing sets of 5 reps.” You might be wondering how you’ll train a lift if you’re purposely avoiding setting PR’s. you’ll perform two primary lifts each day. For loading. Super strict sets are good for newbies. you’ll want to utilize 60-80% of 1RM and really hone in on technique. you’ll want to utilize 60-80% of 1RM while pausing for 3 seconds. You’ll be surprised how heavy you can make 80% of 1RM feel when being super strict with form. As you can see. one of which you’ll be going “all out” on. It is beneficial when 2 x 4: Maximum Strength Page 9 . Pause reps are good for newbies. and advanced lifters. Explosive Training (also referred to as dynamic effort or compensatory acceleration training) You can perform the lifts with lighter weight and maximal acceleration. Pause Reps You can perform pause-reps. In this case. 70% of 1RM when performing 3 reps. Don’t perform the lifts with maximal speed. and the next week you’ll switch to floor press. you have three options: 1. 3.

and 80% of 1RM for singles. Over time. the training is still highly productive. but make no mistake about it. as you gain experience with 2 x 4. but we dedicate a greater proportion of our training to the method that we feel works best. We each use all three methods in our training. Notice that in each of the three options. Therefore. you may need to fine tune and adjust the percentages. but my training partner Andrew prefers pause reps and my other training partner Joey prefers explosive training. you’ll be using 60% of 1RM for sets of 5. It’s worth mentioning that my favorite submaximal method is super strict form. 70% of 1RM for sets of 3. Don’t believe me? Keep reading! 2 x 4: Maximum Strength Page 10 . newcomers should stick with pause reps and super strict form until they become more advanced. Explosive training is best performed by lifters who have a couple of years of experience. The goal with these lifts is quality. Some lifters will need to use slightly heavier loads and other lifters will need to use slightly lighter loads to keep the training stimulus at the appropriate intensity of effort.training explosively with submaximal loading to use strict rest periods of 60-90 seconds. not quantity! You’ll be staying far away from maxing out and far away from repping to failure. most newbies haven’t ingrained solid enough lifting patterns to adequately control the load and adhere to great technical form with explosive training.

and he relied solely on dynamic effort deadlifts to build his freakish strength. and then coast on lift number two with either explosive training. and a deadlift variation (either traditional deadlifts done in conventional or sumo style. or block pulls). two upper body pressing variations (either military press and bench press. and the dynamic effort method plays a large role in the Westside Barbell 2 x 4: Maximum Strength Page 11 . don’t go balls-out on both lifts on any training day. Andy Bolton is the only lifter to pull over a thousand pounds in two separate contests. Sam Byrd. pause bench press. He believes that these pause sets have helped him increased his strength over the years and improve his performance. or super strict form. For example. Mike Tuchscherer is a rare gem in powerlifting in that he’s a raw lifter who has steadily gained insane amounts of strength over the years and has not plateaued. Give it your all on exercise numero uno. pause reps. How does Sam achieve his crazy levels of squatting strength? By employing the dynamic effort method and staying in the 60-80% of 1RM ranges. and pause deadlift. Sam doesn’t maximally load up his squat until competitions.003 lb pull (the first supra-1. some of the best lifters in the world rely on the submaximal methods such as dynamic effort and pause-reps to build their world-class strength. set your PR. some of the most popular training systems incorporate these submaximal methods.The Case for Submaximal Loads and Intensity of Effort However tempting it may be. He literally never pulled with over 75% of his 1RM in the 8 weeks prior to his legendary 1. the Sheiko Training System utilizes pause reps as well as superstrict form. Please don’t underestimate the importance of this point!!! Let’s consider three elite lifters: Andy Bolton. Please don’t fear that you’ll lose strength by not performing each lift with maximal intensity of effort each week. What’s more.000 lb pull ever performed). Second. First of all. What are his favorite assistance lifts? The pause squat. or floor press and close grip bench). Sam Byrd is arguably the best squatter in the world. and Mike Tuchscherer. every week you’ll be going all out on a squat variation (either back or front squats). having set numerous records in multiple weight classes as a raw and equipped lifter.

Most Olympic lifters employ all three submaximal methods in their training to build their strength. incredible levels of strength can be built using submaximal loading and submaximal intensity of effort.Training System. there’s a synergy with the two lifts per day in that one is performed with maximum effort and the other is performed with submaximal effort but with a particular technique in mind. with super-strict technique. you prevent burnout and steadily gain strength. and/or with maximum acceleration. As you can clearly see. By blending together the two methods. as long as the reps are performed with a pause. In this way. 2 x 4: Maximum Strength Page 12 .

the range was 30 to 71). others won’t be sufficiently challenged. and 175 lbs for the deadlift. 2 x 4: Maximum Strength Page 13 . For example. Sounds incredible in theory. and rep scheme will be just what the doctor ordered to boost the lifter’s strength for the following week. set. Guess what her 1RM’s were? 160 lbs for the squat. the prescribed percentages will be too easy (and will therefore fail to elicit an optimal training stimulus). However. I trained a very strong 107 lb female client who could squat 135 lbs for 20 reps below parallel and deadlift 155 lbs for 20 reps. The load. for other lifters. These types of programs are very convenient as they take all of the guesswork out of the equation and allow the lifter to get in and get the job done. Impressive. He could only lift 35% of his 1RM twenty times. To name a few. one subject performed a whopping 21 repetitions. and others will be run into the ground. and the methods can be adjusted to provide the proper dosage of stimulus. and The Russian Squat Routine each provide the lifter with detailed set and rep schemes based off of percentages of 1RM. the ranges of repetitions achieved by the subjects varied dramatically from one lifter to the next. Smolov. My colleague Brad Schoenfeld and I recently collected data for an upcoming study we intend on publishing that examines the EMG activation in the leg muscles with heavier weight (75% of 1RM) versus light weight (30% of 1RM) to failure. Ten years ago. right? She could grind out reps like a champion. However. Some lifters will thrive on these types of programs. but they are conservative percentages. He petered out at 20 reps. and another subject performed just 7 repetitions (with 30% of 1RM. right? Problem is. programming just isn’t that simple. we were intrigued to find that with the 75% of 1RM loading. Shieko. I trained a freakishly strong male 225 lb client who could incline press 385 lbs. One time I wanted to see how many times he could incline press 135 lbs. or they will be too hard (and the lifter will physically be unable to complete the reps). Something like 7 sets of 5 reps with 80% of 1RM would be very easy for the female client I described. a program such as 2 x 4 won’t fail any lifters because it’s centered on setting PR’s in a systematic fashion. Thirteen years ago. 2 x 4 does use percentages for submaximal methods. He was one of the most explosive lifters I’ve ever seen. While most subjects performed between 10 and 15 repetitions. This jives with my experience as a personal trainer.Why Percentages Fail Some Lifters Many programs utilize percentages for loading schemes. While we weren’t particularly interested in the number of repetitions the subjects achieved during exercise performance. What does this mean for training programs involving percentages? It means that some of the lifters employing the program will receive a great training effect. but impossible for the male client I described. a particular training day might have the lifter performing 7 sets of 5 reps with 80% of 1RM. She could squat 85% of her 1RM for 20 reps and deadlift almost 90% of her 1RM for 20 reps.

Later in this manual I’ll provide a template and an example 14-week program. You will indeed add some assistance work to the program and train on deload weeks. or Explosive Training Page 14 . Superstrict Reps. but this chart does a good job of detailing the main lifts that are performed each day.The Program Below is a chart that represents the nuts and bolts of the program. Week 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 Day 1 (Mon) Back Squat 3 x 5 S Floor Press 3 x 5 S Floor Press 3 x 5 S Back Squat 3 x 5 S Back Squat 3 x 3 S Floor Press 3 x 3 S Floor Press 3 x 3 S Back Squat 3 x 3 S Back Squat 3 x 1 S Floor Press 3 x 1 S Floor Press 3 x 1 S Back Squat 3 x 1 S Deload Back Squat 3 x 5 A Floor Press 3 x 5 A Floor Press 3 x 5 A Back Squat 3 x 5 A Back Squat 3 x 3 A Floor Press 3 x 3 A Floor Press 3 x 3 A Back Squat 3 x 3 A Back Squat 3 x 1 A Floor Press 3 x 1 A Floor Press 3 x 1 A Back Squat 3 x 1 A Deload * S = Straight Sets *In Red = PR’s 2 x 4: Maximum Strength Day 2 (Tues) Military Press 3 x 5 S Block Pull 3 x 5 S Block Pull 3 x 5 S Military Press 3 x 5 S Military Press 3 x 3 S Block Pull 3 x 3 S Block Pull 3 x 3 S Military Press 3 x 3 S Military Press 3 x 1 S Block Pull 3 x 1 S Block Pull 3 x 1 S Military Press 3 x 1 S Deload Military Press 3 x 5 A Block Pull 3 x 5 A Block Pull 3 x 5 A Military Press 3 x 5 A Military Press 3 x 3 A Block Pull 3 x 3 A Block Pull 3 x 3 A Military Press 3 x 3 A Military Press 3 x 1 A Block Pull 3 x 1 A Block Pull 3 x 1 A Military Press 3 x 1 A Deload * A = Ascending Sets Day 3 (Thur) Bench Press 3 x 5 S Front Squat 3 x 5 S Front Squat 3 x 5 S Bench Press 3 x 5 S Bench Press 3 x 3 S Front Squat 3 x 3 S Front Squat 3 x 3 S Bench Press 3 x 3 S Bench Press 3 x 1 S Front Squat 3 x 1 S Front Squat 3 x 1 S Bench Press 3 x 1 S Deload Bench Press 3 x 5 A Front Squat 3 x 5 A Front Squat 3 x 5 A Bench Press 3 x 5 A Bench Press 3 x 3 A Front Squat 3 x 3 A Front Squat 3 x 3 A Bench Press 3 x 3 A Bench Press 3 x 1 A Front Squat 3 x 1 A Front Squat 3 x 1 A Bench Press 3 x 1 A Deload Day 4 (Fri) Deadlift 3 x 5 S Close Grip Bench 3 x 5 S Close Grip Bench 3 x 5 S Deadlift 3 x 5 S Deadlift 3 x 3 S Close Grip Bench 3 x 3 S Close Grip Bench 3 x 3 S Deadlift 3 x 3 S Deadlift 3 x 1 S Close Grip Bench 3 x 1 S Close Grip Bench 3 x 1 S Deadlift 3 x 1 S Deload Deadlift 3 x 5 A Close Grip Bench 3 x 5 A Close Grip Bench 3 x 5 A Deadlift 3 x 5 A Deadlift 3 x 3 A Close Grip Bench 3 x 3 A Close Grip Bench 3 x 3 A Deadlift 3 x 3 A Deadlift 3 x 1 A Close Grip Bench 3 x 1 A Close Grip Bench 3 x 1 A Deadlift 3 x 1 A Deload * In Black = Pause Reps.

So don’t worry. Trust me. hammer curls. After months and months of tinkering. The fact of the matter is. think of locking out a heavy deadlift when you’re pushing the hips upward. 2 x 4 allows for and encourages additional work. After you’ve finished your two main lifts for the day. 2 x 4: Maximum Strength Page 15 . lateral raises.Assistance Work I can already hear you moaning and complaining about the lack of extra assistance or support work and isolation movements. Not only to you want the right muscles doing the job. This leads to greater torque production. plain old muscular hypertrophy helps increase strength as well. Strength training induces neuromuscular adaptations. during a hip thrust. it also has a greater moment arm and a more optimal line of pull. In a chest supported row. and dumbbell bench press can indeed help improve your powerlifting strength through increased muscular hypertrophy. While neural improvements such as gains in coordination and increased neural drive are critical for increased strength. you have 10-15 minutes of free time to add in some additional exercises. chest supported rows. but you want to perform your lifts in a manner that will transfer maximally to the big lifts. Considerable time and experimentation was spent figuring out the ideal way to incorporate extra assistance work into the routine without compromising PR’s for subsequent training sessions. you will alternate the assistance work you do from week to week. Since all muscles need to be strong in powerlifting. depending on the muscle. Therefore. hip thrusts. envision the lift you want to the assistance lift to transfer to when you’re performing the movement. I recommend sticking to ten sets or less for this assistance work. I understand your concerns! If all you did for your training was the eight chosen exercises mentioned in the previous section in the fashion described. you’ll be performing some assistance work for each major muscle group each week. meaning that there are both neural and muscular components to increased strength. When you perform your assistance work. it’s very important to focus intensely on the goal. However. exercises like bent over rows. I’m sure you get the picture. your training would be suboptimal. leg presses. seated rows. For example. I settled on the following approach. due to the fact that you need to be fresh to set records on different lifts each week. A larger muscle not only has greater physiological cross sectional area (PCSA). back extensions. I can’t think of a single powerlifter that I know who doesn’t employ any isolation work or appreciate certain assistance lifts. think of lower the bar under control during the bench press as you’re raising the load. band tricep extensions.

Quads and core will be trained on day 1 one week and on day 3 the next. Shoulders and hams will be trained on day 2 one week and day 4 the next. and core will be trained on day 4 one week and day 2 the next. Therefore. Back. bi’s. your training will look like this: Day 1 (Mon) Week Back Squat One Floor Press Quads Core Week Floor Press Two Back Squat Chest Tri’s 2 x 4: Maximum Strength Day 2 (Tues) Military Press Block Pull Shoulders Hams Block Pull Military Press Back Bi’s Core Day 3 (Thur) Bench Press Front Squat Chest Tri’s Front Squat Bench Press Quads Core Day 4 (Fri) Deadlift Close Grip Bench Back Bi’s Core Close Grip Bench Deadlift Shoulders Hams Page 16 . Chest and tri’s will be trained on day 3 one week and day 1 the next.

You will perform 2 sets of 5 with 50% of 1RM using the super strict method. Your deload week will therefore look like this: Deload Week Day 1 (Mon) Day 2 (Tues) Day 3 (Thur) Day 4 (Fri) Back Squat 2 x 5 @ 50% 1RM 2 x 3 @ 60% 1RM w/3sec pause Military Press 2 x 5 @ 50% 1RM 2 x 3 @ 60% 1RM w/3sec pause Bench Press 2 x 5 @ 50% 1RM 2 x 3 @ 60% 1RM w/3-sec pause Deadlift 2 x 5 @ 50% 1RM 2 x 3 @ 60% 1RM w/3-sec pause Assistance Work 3-5 total sets of 12-15 reps Assistance Work 3-5 total sets of 12-15 reps Assistance Work 3-5 total sets of 12-15 reps Assistance Work 3-5 total sets of 12-15 reps Floor Press 2 x 5 @ 50% 1RM 2 x 3 @ 60% 1RM w/3sec pause 2 x 4: Maximum Strength Block Pull 2 x 5 @ 50% 1RM 2 x 3 @ 60% 1RM w/3sec pause Front Squat 2 x 5 @ 50% 1RM 2 x 3 @ 60% 1RM w/3-sec pause Close Grip Bench 2 x 5 @ 50% 1RM 2 x 3 @ 60% 1RM w/3-sec pause Page 17 . By giving yourself a break. a deload will be a welcome break from the heavy lifting and will give your body and mind time to repair and recuperate. After your training sessions. and also the pause rep method. Better yet. you’ll come back refreshed and stronger so you can keep setting personal records. feel free to perform 3-5 sets of additional exercises. you’re going to deload. Trust me. no matter how tempting it may be.Deloading Every seventh week. Next. Here’s how you’re going to deload: you’re going to stick with the same movements. but keep the weight light. Let me guess – you don’t think you’re the type who needs to deload? Please tell me that after the six weeks are up. you will perform 2 sets of 3 pause reps with 60% of 1RM (3-second pause). When the CNS is excessively fatigued. but you won’t go for any PR’s – in fact you won’t even go near any PR’s. You will stick with the super strict method and focus on using excellent technical form. muscles can’t fire maximally or produce maximum force. please tell me that in between cycles of 2 x 4 where you’ll be going for new PR’s. I encourage you to avoid doing too much assistance work during your deload weeks. I recommend that you stay in the 12-15 rep range.

There are a number of options that will work in this regard. I went with the Monday/Tuesday/Thursday/Friday (MTThF) approach. Option 1 Option 2 Option 3 Option 4 Option 5 Sunday Day 1 Day 1 Monday Day 1 Day 1 Day 2 2 x 4: Maximum Strength Tuesday Day 2 Day 2 Day 2 Day 1 Wednesday Day 2 Day 3 Thursday Day 3 Day 3 Day 3 Friday Day 4 Day 4 Day 3 Day 4 Saturday Day 4 Day 4 Page 18 . many individuals will need to adjust the training days to accommodate their schedules. but I recommend taking a day off in between day two and day three and at least a day off in between day four and day one. But you may need to adjust this depending on your schedule and logistics.Training Days As you can see. In this manual. Here are some options below. day two on Tuesday. and day four on Friday. for simplicity’s sake. day three on Thursday. However. I’ve suggested that day one be performed on Monday.

staying healthy and injury-free as a lifter will allow the muscles to continue firing properly and allow the body to maintain sound levels of mobility so that the lifter continues to build strength steadily over the years. The goal is to continue to be able to compete in powerlifting.Maximal Strength Training is a Marathon. I’ve trained with some insanely strong individuals. The goal is to keep gaining strength over the decades. The goal is to remain healthy and not destroy your joints. Not a Sprint This simple statement is critical in the iron game: “Strength training is a marathon. with one-third revolving around singles)? Will regular deloading not benefit your body over the long haul? Sadly. I’ve seen way too many powerlifters ignore the body’s warning signs and push through pain until something snaps. 2 x 4: Maximum Strength Page 19 . two-thirds of your training revolves around 3’s and 5’s. I can say with much certainty that the vast majority of powerlifters I’ve trained with fail to adequately plan and consider their long term training strategies. allow your form to deteriorate.” It’s so important. I’ve seen far too many lifters seeking maximal strength gains get too greedy and end up going backwards in their training due to injury or burnout. many simply resort to using greater amounts of anabolic steroids or moving up a weight class in order to continue gaining strength. and/or push full throttle ahead just to set PR’s. Conversely. Over the years. stability. Rather than alter their training strategies. or coordination? Won’t it be better off in the long-run if you stick with sets of 5’s and sets of 3’s for a majority of the training cycle and run heavy singles for a minority of the training cycle (in 2 x 4. Will it not benefit your joints to avoid maxing out every single week? Will it not be beneficial to spend a couple of months each year focusing on hypertrophy and avoiding heavy lifting (anything above a 5RM. Many stop being so strict on form and allow for serious form breakdown just to keep setting PR’s. What good will it do you if you ignore warning signs. only to hit a massive wall. This eventually backfires on the lifter. Unfortunately. only to eventually injure yourself? Getting injured will stop progress in its tracks. The goal is to keep lifting for many years to come. not a sprint. but few lifters truly get it. for example)? Will it not be wise to spend a couple of months each year shoring up weak links and addressing any deficits in mobility. I’ve witnessed a common trend where a lifter pushes the strength barrier week in and week out with no deloading.

this same program wouldn’t necessarily be optimal for long-term results. I could design a rapid 6-week peaking program that could fast-forward short-term results. careless approach any day of the week. However. Of course. you need to train intensively. 2 x 4: Maximum Strength Page 20 . The hare beats the tortoise in the short run. 2 x 4 is designed with your long-term progress in mind as it maintains just the right balance between eliciting adaptations and allowing for adequate recovery. the 14-week 2 x 4 cycle can be repeated year in and year out 1-3 times per year to boost your maximal strength. but the tortoise beats the hare in the long run. Due to the carefully planned program design.Sure. but a carefully planned approach trumps a haphazard.

365 x 5 225 x 5. bw x 10 165 x 5. 225 x 5 *pause reps 50 x 10. and 50 lbs on his bench. bw x 8 2 x 4: Maximum Strength Page 21 . 225 x 5. 190 x 5 *explosive reps 185 x 5. His strength absolutely skyrocketed on this program. which is sometimes common in other programs. pb x 20 bw x 12. bw x 12 Sumo deadlift Close grip bench Bent over row Dumbbell curl Side plank Hanging leg raise 405 x 5. Other lifters who have ran 2 x 4 have indeed gained moderate amounts of strength during the 14week cycle. 275 x 5. so I feel that the program does a great job of building strength gradually and preventing periods of stagnation. 315 x 5 *super strict reps 20 x 15. 365 x 5. Here’s a 14-week sample program from raw powerlifter Andrew Serrano. 405 x 5 190 x 5. 405 x 5.Sample Training Journal I felt that it would be very beneficial to include a sample training journal to portray what the training sessions will look like. 225 x 5. 40 x 10. and deadlift 472 lbs. 45 x 8 bw x :30 sec. He’s actually the first lifter to complete the 2 x 4 training program and is a 190-lb lifter (competes at 181 lbs) who prior to this program could squat 472 lbs. 165 x 5 315 x 5. 225 x 5 *pause reps 540 x 20. but Andrew has put over 100 lbs on his deadlift. rb x 10 bw x 10. Lifters running 2 x 4 the second time through are still setting records consistently. 185 x 5 30 x 20. bw x :30 sec bw x 8. 275 x 5 225 x 5. 25 x 15 bb x 20. Andrew Week One 11/4/13 weight: 190 lbs 11/5/13 weight: 188 lbs 11/7/13 weight: 189 lbs 11/8/13 weight: 190 lbs Back squat Floor press Cybex leg press Hack squat Band Pallof press Ab wheel rollout Military press Block pull (3 inch) Lateral raise Band hip thrust 45 degree hyper 365 x 5. bench press 315 lbs. 60 lbs on his squat. 315 x 5. 100 x 10 Bench press Front squat Incline fly Band tricep extension Push up 275 x 5. but please be aware that I do not think in any way that these results are typical. bb x 20 100 x 10. 190 x 5. 630 x 20 230 x 10 rb x 10. 185 x 5. 165 x 5. 50 x 10 pb x 20.

60 x 8 pb x 10. 35 x 12 Block pull (3 inch) Military press Bent over row Hammer curl Chin up 405 x 5. 25 x 15 bb x 20. 60 x 8. 315 x 5 315 x 5. 295 x 3. 185 x 3. 315 x 3. 225 x 3 *pause reps 540 x 16. bw x 10 2 x 4: Maximum Strength 185 x 3. bb x 20 100 x 10. 285 x 5 405 x 5. 405 x 3 225 x 3. bw x 8 Front squat Bench press DB reverse lunge Band Pallof press Ab wheel rollout 315 x 5. 90 x 8 35 x 12. 315 x 5. 185 x 3 315 x 3. 100 x 10 295 x 3. 315 x 3 *super strict reps 20 x 15. 75 x 10. 405 x 5 *pause reps 80 x 8. 405 x 5. 315 x 5.Week Two 11/11/13 weight: 189 lbs 11/12/13 weight: 190 lbs 11/14/13 weight: 189 lbs 11/15/13 weight: 190 lbs Floor press Back squat DB incline press Rolling DB skull crusher 285 x 5. 405 x 5 135 x 5. 540 x 16 230 x 10 rb x 10. 75 x 10 135 x 8. 315 x 5 *explosive 75 x 10. 315 x 5. 405 x 3. 285 x 5. 405 x 5. 135 x 5 *super strict 185 x 8. 540 x 16. 225 x 5. 45 x 8 bw x 8. 185 x 8 45 x 8. 225 x 3. 295 x 3 Page 22 . 135 x 8 11/18/13 weight: 190 lbs 11/19/13 weight: 191 lbs 11/21/13 weight: 190 lbs Back squat Floor press Cybex leg press Hack squat Band Pallof press Ab wheel rollout Military press Block pull (3 inch) Lateral raise Band hip thrust 45 degree hyper Bench press 405 x 3. rb x 10 bw x 10. pb x 10 bw x 10. 135 x 5. 225 x 5 *pause reps 60 x 8. bw x 10 Close grip bench Conventional deadlift DB seated shoulder press Single Leg RDL Week Three 315 x 5. 80 x 8. 185 x 8. 35 x 12. 315 x 5 225 x 5.

455 x 1. 255 x 1. 185 x 5. 455 x 3 155 x 3. 40 x 10 bw x :30 sec. 455 x 3. 80 x 8. 155 x 3 *super strict reps 195 x 6.Front squat Incline fly Band tricep extension Weighted push up 225 x 3. 225 x 3 *pause reps 50 x 10. 155 x 3. pb x 10 bw x 10. 315 x 3 *pause reps 95 x 6. 90 x 8 Block pull (3 inch) Military press Bent over row Hammer curl Weighted chin up 455 x 3. 95 x 6. 185 x 5 30 x 20. 295 x 3. 225 x 3 *explosive reps 185 x 5. 455 x 3 225 x 3. 40 x 10 25 x 6. bw x :30 sec bw x 6. 25 x 12 Sumo deadlift Close grip bench Bent over row Dumbbell curl Side plank Hanging Leg Raise 455 x 3. 455 x 1 255 x 1. 195 x 6 40 x 10. 50 x 10 pb x 20. 80 x 8 155 x 6. 325 x 3 245 x 3. 245 x 3. 295 x 3 315 x 3. 630 x 12 230 x 12 Page 23 . 365 x 3. 325 x 3. 75 x 6 pb x 10. 75 x 6. 40 x 10 80 x 10. bw x 6. 295 x 3. 255 x 1 *pause reps 630 x 12. 155 x 6 weight: 192 lbs 2 x 4: Maximum Strength 455 x 1. pb x 20 25 x 12. bw x 6 11/22/13 weight: 190 lbs Week Four 11/25/13 weight: 192 lbs 11/26/13 weight: 190 lbs 11/28/13 weight: 193 lbs 11/29/13 weight: 191 lbs Floor press Back squat DB Incline Press Rolling DB skull crusher Flat DB chest press 295 x 3. 40 x 10. 50 x 10. 245 x 3 *pause reps 75 x 6. 365 x 3 *super strict reps 80 x 8. 315 x 3. 95 x 6 40 x 10. 295 x 3 365 x 3. 25 x 6 Front squat Bench press DB reverse lunge Band Pallof press Ab wheel rollout 325 x 3. 455 x 3. 195 x 6. 223 x 3. 630 x 12. 225 x 3. 40 x 10. bw x 10 Close grip bench Conventional deadlift DB seated shoulder press Single leg RDL Week Five 12/1/13 Back squat Floor press Cybex leg press Hack squat 295 x 3.

85 x 15 bb x 25. 45 x 8. 495 x 1 275 x 1.Band Pallof press Ab wheel rollout rb x 8. 265 x 1. 185 x 5 45 x 8. 265 x 1 *pause reps 225 x 10. 45 x 8 bw x :30 sec. bw x 15 Block pull (3 inch) Military press Neutral grip chin up EZ bar curl RKC plank 475 x 1. 90 x 8 bw x 15. 85 x 10. 195 x 1. 45 x 12 pb x 20. 225 x 10 bw x 8. 365 x 1. 265 x 1 *explosive reps 45 x 12. 85 x 12 bw x 20 sec. 365 x 1 *pause reps 75 x 12. 165 x 1. 305 x 1 365 x 1. 305 x 1. pb x 20 bw x 15. 365 x 1. 275 x 1*explosive reps 185 x 5. rb x 8. bw x 12 85 x 12. 100 x 12 Bench press Front squat Incline fly Band tricep extension Push up 305 x 1. bw x 8 pb x 10. 165 x 1 *super strict reps bw x 12. 185 x 5. rb x 8 bw x 10. bw x :30 sec Week Six 12/8/13 weight: 189 lbs 12/9/13 weight: 190 lbs Floor press Back squat Flat DB chest press Dip 305 x 1. 265 x 1. 305 x 1. 325 x 1. bw x 12. bb x 25 100 x 12. 305 x 1. bw x 20 sec Front squat Bench press Hack squat Straight leg sit up Band Pallof press 325 x 1. 325 x 1 265 x 1. 475 x 1 165 x 1. 475 x 1. 365 x 1 *super strict 85 x 15. pb x 10 12/11/13 weight: 189 lbs 12/12/13 weight: 190 lbs Close grip bench 2 x 4: Maximum Strength 305 x 1. bw x 10 12/2/13 weight: 194 lbs 12/4/13 weight: 191 lbs 12/5/13 weight: 190 lbs Military press Block pull (3 inch) Upright row Band hip thrust 45 degree hyper 195 x 1. 495 x 1. 225 x 10. 275 x 1. 195 x 1 365 x 1. 305 x 1 265 x 1. 305 x 1 Page 24 . bw x 15 Sumo deadlift Close grip bench Bent over row Hammer curl Side plank 495 x 1.

30 x 12 bw x :30 sec. 190 x 5 315 x 5. 95 x 8 2 x 4: Maximum Strength Page 25 . 90 x 8. 35 x 8. 225 x 5. 190 x 5 *explosive reps 135 x 12. 185 x 12 225 x 8. 105 x 8. 185 x 12. 95 x 12. 95 x 12 135 x 8. 135 x 12 25 x 12. 60 x 10. 100 x 8 Bench press Front squat Incline DB press EZ bar skull crusher 225 x 5. 106 x 15 190 x 5. 190 x 5. 95 x 10 35 x 8. 85 x 8 65 x 20. 405 x 5 225 x 5. 135 x 8. 305 x 5 225 x 5. 225 x 8 *pause reps 65 x 15. 105 x 8 95 x 8 95 x 8. 405 x 1 *super strict reps 95 x 12. 405 x 1. 365 x 5. 225 x 5 *super strict reps 400 x 30 yds. 25 x 15 Bench press Front squat EZ bar curl EZ Bar skull crusher 135 x 15. 225 x 10. 405 x 5 *super strict reps 90 x 8. 275 x 5 *explosive reps 105 x 8. 275 x 5. 185 x 5. bw x :30 sec Week Eight 12/22/13 weight: 195 lbs 12/23/13 weight: 193 lbs 12/25/13 weight: 191 lbs Back squat Floor press Sled push Band anti rotation hold 315 x 5. 90 x 8 100 x 8. 75 x 20 KB deadlift Lat pulldown Bent over row Dumbbell curl Straight leg sit up 106 x 15. 315 x 5 95 x 10. 135 x 12. 365 x 5. 135 x 8 50 x 10. 65 x 10 20 x 15.Conventional deadlift Upright row Single leg RDL Week Seven (Deload) 405 x 1. 400 x 30 yds pb x 35 sec. pb x 35 sec Military Press Block Pull (3 inch) DB seated shoulder press 45 degree hyper 165 x 5. 275 x 5. 135 x 8 12/15/13 weight: 190 lbs 12/16/13 weight: 192 lbs 12/18/13 weight: 195 lbs 12/19/13 weight: 195 lbs Back squat Walking lunge Goblet side lunge 185 x 12. 225 x 8. 100 x 8. 106 x 15. 35 x 8 Military press DB seated shoulder press Lateral raise 135 x 8. 65 x 15.

165 x 5 *super strict reps 60 x 8. 405 x 5 *super strict reps 50 x 8. 275 x 5. 500 x 5 245 x 5. 80 x 10.12/26/13 weight: 190 lbs Sumo deadlift Close grip bench Bent over row BB curl RKC plank 405 x 5. 205 x 8 115 x 8. 60 x 8 275 x 5. 325 x 5 225 x 5. 115 x 8 bw x 30sec. 255 x 5 *super strict reps 70 x 8. 60 x 8 Block pull (3 inch) Military press Weighted chin up Band Pallof press 405 x 5. 205 x 3 365 x 3. 315 x 5 *pause reps 85 x 8. 60 x 8. pb x 8 1/1/14 weight: 189 lbs 1/2/14 weight: 190 lbs Front squat Bench press Walking lunge DB step up Close grip bench Conventional deadlift Lateral raise RDL Week Ten 1/5/14 weight: 191 lbs 1/6/13 weight: 190 lbs 225 x 5. bw x 30 sec Week Nine 12/29/13 weight: 190 lbs 12/30/13 weight: 188 lbs Floor press Back squat Alternating DB chest press Weighted dip 280 x 5. 365 x 5. 315 x 5. 245 x 5. 305 x 3 *pause reps 375 x 30yds. 375 x 30yds. 285 x 5. 70 x 8. 330 x 5 225 x 5. 275 x 5 *pause reps 205 x 8. 225 x 8. 405 x 3. 50 x 8. 365 x 3. 455 x 3 265 x 3. 295 x 5 315 x 5. 85 x 8 60 x 8. 80 x 10 90 x 10. 465 x 5 135 x 5. 115 x 8. 455 x 5. 135 x 5. 375 x 30 yds pb x 30sec. 275 x 5. 275 x 5. 90 x 10 2 x 4: Maximum Strength Page 26 . 50 x 8 225 x 8. pb x 30sec Military Press Block pull (3 inch) DB shoulder press 45 degree hyper 165 x 3. 225 x 8 Back squat Floor press Sled push Band anti rotation hold 385 x 3. 275 x 3. pb x 8. 60 x 8 pb x 8. 405 x 3 *super strict reps 80 x 10. pb x 30sec. 455 x 5. 60 x 8. 70 x 8 60 x 8. 60 x 8. 205 x 8. 185 x 3. 85 x 8. 90 x 10.

60 x 10 50 x 10. 165 x 3. 515 x 3 225 x 3. 50 x 10 275 x 3. 45 x 10 Block pull (3 inch) Military press Weighted chin up Band Pallof press 405 x 3. 365 x 3 *explosive reps 75 x 10. 285 x 3. 95 x 10 85 x 10. 455 x 3. 190 x 10 100 x 10. 365 x 3. 85 x 10 Sumo deadlift Close grip bench Bent over row BB curl RKC plank 405 x 3. 365 x 3. pb x 30 sec Page 27 . 350 x 3 225 x 3. 315 x 3. 315 x 3 245 x 3. 95 x 10. 40 x 10. 40 x 10 185 x 10. 275 x 3. 475 x 1. 245 x 1 *super strict reps 350 x 40 yds. 285 x 3 *explosive reps 190 x 10. 50 x 10. 225 x 1. 185 x 10 Week Twelve 1/19/14 weight: 189 lbs Back squat Floor press Sled push Band anti rotation hold 2 x 4: Maximum Strength 415 x 1. 455 x 3. 350 x 40 yds. 350 x 40 yds pb x 30 sec. 50 x 10 pb x 10. pb x 30 sec. 225 x 3. 315 x 3. 525 x 1 225 x 1. 85 x 10. 225 x 3. 305 x 3 *pause reps 95 x 10. pb x 10. 375 x 3 *explosive reps 40 x 10. 305 x 3. 75 x 10 45 x 10. 45 x 10. 75 x 10. 50 x 10. 165 x 3 *super strict reps 50 x 10. 185 x 10. 305 x 3 315 x 3. 190 x 10. 60 x 10. pb x 10 Front squat Bench press Walking lunge DB step up Close grip bench Sumo deadlift Lateral raise RDL 275 x 3. 495 x 3 165 x 3. 225 x 3 *explosive reps 60 x 10.1/8/14 weight: 189 lbs 1/9/14 weight: 190 lbs Bench press Front squat Incline DB press EZ bar skull crusher 275 x 3. 100 x 10. bw x 30sec Week Eleven 1/12/14 weight: 190 lbs 1/13/14 weight: 190 lbs 1/15/14 weight: 189 lbs 1/16/14 weight: 190 lbs Floor press Back squat Alternating DB chest press Weighted dip 275 x 3. 335 x 3 315 x 3. 100 x 10 bw x 30sec.

395 x 1 225 x 1. 315 x 1. 565 x 1 225 x 1. 30 x 12 pb x 10. 85 x 12. 75 x 12. 70 x 12 80 x 12. 85 x 12 bw x 30sec. pb x 10 Front squat Bench press Walking lunge DB step up Close grip bench Sumo deadlift Lateral raise RDL 2 x 4: Maximum Strength 295 x 1. 45 x 12. 80 x 12 Bench press Front squat Incline DB press EZ bar skull crusher 275 x 1. 60 x 12. 455 x 1 *super strict reps 25 x 12. 315 x 1. 75 x 12 Sumo deadlift Close grip bench Bent over row BB curl RKC plank 455 x 1. 355 x 1 315 x 1. 185 x 1 30 x 12. 195 x 1. pb x 10. 175 x 12 85 x 12. 305 x 1. 305 x 1. 25 x 12 165 x 12. 510 x 1 *super strict reps 165 x 1. 85 x 12. 60 x 12 25 x 12. 315 x 1. 25 x 12. 25 x 12. 80 x 12. 345 x 1 405 x 1. 455 x 1. 45 x 12 285 x 1. 30 x 12.1/20/14 weight: 188 lbs 1/22/14 weight: 188 lbs 1/23/14 weight: 187 lbs Military press Block pull (3 inch) DB seated shoulder press 45 degree hyper 165 x 1. 285 x 1 *explosive reps 85 x 12. 500 x 1. 315 x 1 *super strict reps 60 x 12. 315 x 1. 25 x 12 Block pull (3 inch) Military press Weighted chin up Band Pallof press 405 x 1. 85 x 12 75 x 12. 245 x 1. 245 x 1. 275 x 1. bw x 30sec Week Thirteen 1/26/14 weight: 187 lbs 1/27/14 weight: 188 lbs 1/29/14 weight: 188 lbs 1/30/14 weight: 189 lbs Floor press Back squat Alternating DB chest press Weighted dip 275 x 1. 405 x 1. 175 x 12. 245 x 1 *explosive reps 175 x 12. 70 x 12. 365 x 1 *super strict reps 70 x 12. 275 x 1 *super strict reps 50 x 12. 165 x 12 Page 28 . 225 x 1 315 x 1. 50 x 12 45 x 12. 165 x 12. 50 x 12. 365 x 1 265 x 1. 185 x 1.

315 x 15 pb x 10. 185 x 8. 185 x 15. 40 x 8 Front squat Bench press Dip Rope tricep extension 185 x 15.Week Fourteen (Deload) 2/2/14 weight: 192 lbs 2/3/14 weight: 190 lbs 2/5/14 weight: 190 lbs 2/6/14 weight: 190 lbs Floor press Back squat Hip Thrust Band Pallof press 185 x 12. pb x 10 Bent over row Military press DB upright row Single leg RDL 135 x 18. 100 x 15 Close grip bench DB alternating curl Concentration curl Seated row 135 x 12. 15 x 18 150 x 20. 30 x 12 15 x 18. 255 x 10. 255 x 10 225 x 15. 30 x 12. 185 x 15 135 x 20. 185 x 12 bw x 15. 135 x 12. 135 x 12 30 x 15. bw x 15 100 x 15. 195 x 10. 185 x 15. 135 x 18 135 x 12. 185 x 8 25 x 12. 40 x 8. 150 x 20 2 x 4: Maximum Strength Page 29 . 135 x 18. 225 x 8 225 x 15. 30 x 15 40 x 8.

and logistics. 2 x 4: Maximum Strength Page 30 . Remember. I will provide you with a training log that should help keep you on track. preferences.Training Program On the following pages. This log just includes the main lifts. you will be determining which assistance lifts you employ based on your needs.

6 * Denotes the lifts for which you’ll be going for PR’s 2 x 4: Maximum Strength Page 31 .2x4 Monday Block 1 Back Squat – Straight Weight Date Week Sets Reps Set 1 1* 3 5 2 3 5 3* 3 3 4 3 3 5* 3 1 6 3 1 Floor Press .Straight Weight 1 3 5 2* 3 5 3 3 3 4* 3 3 5 3 1 6* 3 1 Set 2 Set 3 Accessory work: Quads and Core -Weeks 1.3.5 Chest and Triceps -Weeks 2.4.

Straight Weight 1 3 5 2* 3 5 3 3 3 4* 3 3 5 3 1 6* 3 1 Set 2 Set 3 Accessory work: Shoulders and Hamstrings/Posterior Chain -Weeks 1.6 * Denotes the lifts for which you’ll be going for PR’s 2 x 4: Maximum Strength Page 32 .3.2x4 Tuesday Block 1 Military Press – Straight Weight Date Week Sets Reps Set 1 1* 3 5 2 3 5 3* 3 3 4 3 3 5* 3 1 6 3 1 Block Pull . and Core . Biceps.4.5 Back.Weeks 2.

6 * Denotes the lifts for which you’ll be going for PR’s 2 x 4: Maximum Strength Page 33 .2x4 Thursday Block 1 Bench Press – Straight Weight Date Week Sets Reps Set 1 1* 3 5 2 3 5 3* 3 3 4 3 3 5* 3 1 6 3 1 Front Squat .4.Straight Weight 1 3 5 2* 3 5 3 3 3 4* 3 3 5 3 1 6* 3 1 Set 2 Set 3 Accessory work: Chest and Triceps – Weeks 1.3.5 Quads and Core – Weeks 2.

Biceps.3.4.5 Shoulders and Hamstrings/Posterior Chain – Weeks 2.2x4 Friday Block 1 Deadlift – Straight Weight Date Week Sets Reps Set 1 Set 2 Set 3 1* 3 5 2 3 5 3* 3 3 4 3 3 5* 3 1 6 3 1 Close Grip Bench Press . and Core – Weeks 1.Straight Weight 1 3 5 2* 3 5 3 3 3 4* 3 3 5 3 1 6* 3 1 Accessory work: Back.6 * Denotes the lifts for which you’ll be going for PR’s 2 x 4: Maximum Strength Page 34 .

4.3.6 * Denotes the lifts for which you’ll be going for PR’s 2 x 4: Maximum Strength Page 35 .5 Chest and Triceps -Weeks 2.2x4 Monday Block 2 Back Squat – Ascending Weight Date Week Sets Reps Set 1 1* 3 5 2 3 5 3* 3 3 4 3 3 5* 3 1 6 3 1 Floor Press – Ascending Weight 1 3 5 2* 3 5 3 3 3 4* 3 3 5 3 1 6* 3 1 Set 2 Set 3 Accessory work: Quads and Core -Weeks 1.

5 Back.2x4 Tuesday Block 2 Military Press – Ascending Weight Date Week Sets Reps Set 1 Set 2 1* 3 5 2 3 5 3* 3 3 4 3 3 5* 3 1 6 3 1 Block Pull – Ascending Weight 1 3 5 2* 3 5 3 3 3 4* 3 3 5 3 1 6* 3 1 Set 3 Accessory work: Shoulders and Hamstrings/Posterior Chain – Weeks 1.3. Biceps.4.6 * Denotes the lifts for which you’ll be going for PR’s 2 x 4: Maximum Strength Page 36 . and Core .Weeks 2.

5 Quads and Core – Weeks 2.2x4 Thursday Block 2 Bench Press – Ascending Weight Date Week Sets Reps Set 1 1* 3 5 2 3 5 3* 3 3 4 3 3 5* 3 1 6 3 1 Front Squat – Ascending Weight 1 3 5 2* 3 5 3 3 3 4* 3 3 5 3 1 6* 3 1 Set 2 Set 3 Accessory work: Chest and Triceps – Weeks 1.3.6 * Denotes the lifts for which you’ll be going for PR’s 2 x 4: Maximum Strength Page 37 .4.

3.6 * Denotes the lifts for which you’ll be going for PR’s 2 x 4: Maximum Strength Page 38 . Biceps.4.5 Shoulders and Hamstrings/Posterior Chain – Weeks 2. and Core – Weeks 1.2x4 Friday Block 2 Deadlift – Ascending Weight Date Week Sets Reps Set 1 Set 2 Set 3 1* 3 5 2 3 5 3* 3 3 4 3 3 5* 3 1 6 3 1 Close Grip Bench Press – Ascending Weight 1 3 5 2* 3 5 3 3 3 4* 3 3 5 3 1 6* 3 1 Accessory work: Back.

Just train 2-3 days that week. The week of the meet. and sleep well so that your body is charged up for the meet. and go home. eat well. get the blood flowing. Perform some assistance work but steer clear of accumulating too much fatigue. preferably taking off the 2 days prior to the competition 2. deadlift) but stay below 70% of 1RM 3. and block pull two weeks out. you can simply plan to run 2 x 4 so that the week before your meet coincides with the 14th (deload) week of the training program. or do a few sets of each movement (squat. military. close grip bench. 2 x 4: Maximum Strength Page 39 . However. floor press. bench press. please do the following: 1. bench. Either avoid the big lifts completely. rather than sticking to the recommendations included in the deload section. 4. Get in. you need to rest up. Stick to 10 total sets for the entire workout.Peaking If you are peaking for a meet. You’ll be riding a high after setting single rep gym PR’s on the squat. This is not the time to be setting PR’s. and deadlift three weeks out and single rep gym PR’s on the front squat.

after going through the program. From time to time. I recently block pulled 315 x 3. We’ve resorted to this from time to time. I’ll discuss some examples of how my training partners and I have strayed from the program. In this case. I’ve seen my training partner Andrew do 3 sets of deadlifts with less than 60% of his 1RM after he performs his Friday close grip bench session. don’t feel compelled to tweak the program if you think it’s perfect. You might choose to stray from the recommended prescription and just go through the motions. However.Tweaking the Program For your first time running 2 x 4. Mixing Up Rep Ranges There have been times where we’ve strayed from the program when we felt like doing triples on our second exercise rather than singles. etc. I have trouble staying in the recommended ranges with military presses as I find myself wanting to go a bit heavier with them. but also don’t be afraid to tweak it slightly after you’ve become accustomed to the plan. Ascending Sets When I’m performing my 3 sets of 5 ascending sets. For example. You will figure out subtle ways in which you can tweak the program to produce even better results in the future. But tweaking the program 10% is probably beneficial for many lifters. 405 x 3. I recommend sticking exactly to the recipe. Don’t get me wrong. given that we’re all different in terms of anatomy. and 495 x 5. and a set of 1. For example. it’s tempting to keep going and do a ton of volume. we will pyramid up in weight with our pause reps. Be aware that you’ll have to set a PR a day or two later. or explosive sets and do something like a set of 5. you don’t want to stray too far from the recipe. When you’re in the middle of a workout and the juices are flowing. so we will caution you – don’t overdo the assistance workout if you go this route. or singles rather than 5’s. strict sets. there are things that you will learn about how your body responds. I might prefer to just stick to triples for my first two work sets so that I’m not fatigued and can give my all to the last work set of 5 reps. Conversely. This only applies to the second lift of 2 x 4: Maximum Strength Page 40 . you may add in a fifth day where you perform some make-up work. and psychology. physiology. so don’t go overboard. Again. Sandbagging the Second Exercise Some days you might be so wiped out after performing your first exercise of the day that you decide to sandbag the second exercise. Extra Day You might miss some assistance work during the week if you’re pressed for time or if you’re just too drained to finish your training session. Any good program must allow for some degree of auto-regulation. a set of 3.

Lifters with weaker grips will need to incorporate some additional grip work. On the other hand. not the first. 2 x 4: Maximum Strength Page 41 . Once the PR has been set on the first lift. and often these fall on days where I’m not supposed to be performing back or glute work.the day. you have some wiggle room with your second lift of the day. I also like to conduct some extra glute work several times per week. I’m guilty of neglecting my abs/core and failing to perform any targeted abdominal/oblique exercises for the week. I’ll often perform hex bar bent over rows or band hip thrusts twice per week. Adding or Omitting Exercises I like to perform a rowing movement several times per week. so feel free to stray from the prescription slightly.

You want to know what you can deadlift for 5 sets of 5. as these are the indicators of your strength and progress. you update the sheet. You want to know your max single in the front squat. Perhaps you can take a screenshot of it and print it. 3x5 Straight 280 3x3 Straight 315 3x1 Straight 345 3x5 Ascending 295 3x3 Ascending 320 3x1 Ascending 245 245 265 245 255 285 455 495 515 475 500 555 Block Deadlift (3” preferably) 475 495 515 495 505 565 Bench Press 245 255 275 250 255 285 Close Grip Bench 225 250 265 235 255 275 Floor Press (or Board Press) 245 260 285 250 265 290 Military Press 160 170 180 165 170 185 Back Squat (High Bar or Low Bar) Front Squat Deadlift (Conventional or Sumo) 2 x 4: Maximum Strength 365 Page 42 . It is very important that you get very familiar with your numbers. I’ve gotten markedly stronger since my first 2 x 4 training cycle. but this is where I started.Records Sheet Included in this program is a records-sheet that you will keep. Below is an example . These are the numbers that let you know if you’re moving in the right direction with your training. You’ll need your own PR sheet. You want to almost worship these numbers. Every time you set a PR.this is my first raw 2 x 4 PR sheet at a bodyweight of 218 lbs. so I’ve included a blank one on the following page. You want to know your 3 sets of 3 close grip bench press. or recreate your own chart in Word.

2 x 4: Maximum Strength PR Tracker Sheet Back Squat (High Bar or Low Bar) 3x5 Straight 3x3 Straight 3x1 Straight 3x5 Ascending 3x3 Ascending 3x1 Ascending Front Squat Deadlift (Conventional or Sumo) Block Deadlift (3” preferably) Bench Press Close Grip Bench Floor Press (or Board Press) Military Press 2 x 4: Maximum Strength Page 43 .

Bulgarian split squat. hip thrust. Let’s say you choose to pair up box squats and low incline press on day one. bench press. Next. chest supported row. military press. or the deadlift just don’t suit your body very well. You might like the box squat. You might prefer a bit higher reps. seated dumbbell overhead press. then a deload week. 2 x 4: Maximum Strength Page 44 . such as 8’s. You may have discovered through trial and error that other movements build your strength and musculature better than the lifts that I’ve included in 2 x 4. two weeks of 3 x 6 reps using the same weight on each set. Perhaps the squat. weighted chin. you’ll need to figure out the 8 lifts that you would like to prioritize in the program. I picked 5’s. and low incline press. and floor press. As you know. you’ll need to determine the three target reps you’ll reach. Now you’ll just perform the routine in a similar manner to what I provided in this manual. To remind you. I picked the back squat. then a deload week. You can build plenty of strength with these target reps. Here’s how. First. the bench press. two weeks of 3 x 4 reps using progressively heavier loads on each set. That’s fine as these are great exercises. close grip bench press. two weeks of 3 x 6 reps using progressively heavier loads on each set. block pull. front squat.How to Adapt the Program for Different Movements Maybe you’re sold on maximum strength. You’ll perform two weeks of 3 x 8 reps using the same weight on each set. hip thrusts and weighted chins on day two. At this point. deadlift. 6’s. you’ll need to determine which lifts you’ll perform on the various four training days. so trust your chosen reps. and Romanian deadlifts (RDL’s) and chest supported rows (CSR’s) on day four. and 4’s. but you aren’t a huge fan of powerlifting. Bulgarian split squats (Bulgarian SS) and seated dumbbell overhead press (Seated OHP) on day three. Romanian deadlift. Can you still adhere to the plan with some simple modifications? Sure you can. two weeks of 3 x 4 reps using the same weight on each set. Let me show you how to fit them into the 2 x 4 model. This will be immediately followed by two weeks of 3 x 8 reps using progressively heavier loads on each set. 3’s. and 1’s in the original 2 x 4 plan.

Of course. We’ve included a ton of exercises in our 2 x 4 library so that you can pick and choose what works best for you! 2 x 4: Maximum Strength Page 45 .Your plan would be set forth on the following page. you’d need to add in some assistance work and deload in a similar fashion to what was laid out earlier in the manual. but I’m sure you get the point.

Superstrict Reps.Example Adapted Program Week 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 Day 1 (Mon) Box Squat 3 x 8 S Incline Press 3 x 8 S Incline Press 3 x 8 S Box Squat 3 x 8 S Back Squat 3 x 6 S Incline Press 3 x 6 S Incline Press 3 x 6 S Box Squat 3 x 6 S Box Squat 3 x 4 S Incline Press 3 x 4 S Incline Press 3 x 4 S Box Squat 3 x 4 S Deload Box Squat 3 x 8 A Incline Press 3 x 8 A Incline Press 3 x 8 A Box Squat 3 x 8 A Back Squat 3 x 6 A Incline Press 3 x 6 A Incline Press 3 x 6 A Box Squat 3 x 6 A Box Squat 3 x 4 A Incline Press 3 x 4 A Incline Press 3 x 4 A Box Squat 3 x 4 A Deload * S = Straight Sets *In Red = PR’s 2 x 4: Maximum Strength Day 2 (Tues) Hip Thrust 3 x 8 S Weighted Chin 3 x 8 S Weighted Chin 3 x 8 S Hip Thrust 3 x 8 S Hip Thrust 3 x 6 S Weighted Chin 3 x 6 S Weighted Chin 3 x 6 S Hip Thrust 3 x 6 S Hip Thrust 3 x 4 S Weighted Chin 3 x 4 S Weighted Chin 3 x 4 S Hip Thrust 3 x 4 S Deload Hip Thrust 3 x 8 A Weighted Chin 3 x 8 A Weighted Chin 3 x 8 A Hip Thrust 3 x 8 A Hip Thrust 3 x 6 A Weighted Chin 3 x 6 A Weighted Chin 3 x 6 A Hip Thrust 3 x 6 A Hip Thrust 3 x 4 A Weighted Chin 3 x 4 A Weighted Chin 3 x 4 A Hip Thrust 3 x 4 A Deload * A = Ascending Sets Day 3 (Thur) Bulgarian SS 3 x 8 S Seated OHP 3 x 8 S Seated OHP 3 x 8 S Bulgarian SS 3 x 8 S Bulgarian SS 3 x 6 S Seated OHP 3 x 6 S Seated OHP 3 x 6 S Bulgarian SS 3 x 6 S Bulgarian SS 3 x 4 S Seated OHP 3 x 4 S Seated OHP 3 x 4 S Bulgarian SS 3 x 4 S Deload Bulgarian SS 3 x 8 A Seated OHP 3 x 8 A Seated OHP 3 x 8 A Bulgarian SS 3 x 8 A Bulgarian SS 3 x 6 A Seated OHP 3 x 6 A Seated OHP 3 x 6 A Bulgarian SS 3 x 6 A Bulgarian SS 3 x 4 A Seated OHP 3 x 4 A Seated OHP 3 x 4 A Bulgarian SS 3 x 4 A Deload Day 4 (Fri) RDL 3 x 8 S CSR 3 x 8 S CSR 3 x 8 S RDL 3 x 8 S RDL 3 x 6 S CSR 3 x 6 S CSR 3 x 6 S RDL 3 x 6 S RDL 3 x 4 S CSR 3 x 4 S CSR 3 x 4 S RDL 3 x 4 S Deload RDL 3 x 8 A CSR 3 x 8 A CSR 3 x 8 A RDL 3 x 8 A RDL 3 x 6 A CSR 3 x 6 A CSR 3 x 6 A RDL 3 x 6 A RDL 3 x 4 A CSR 3 x 4 A CSR 3 x 4 A RDL 3 x 4 A Deload * In Black = Pause Reps. or Explosive Training Page 46 .

Perform a Greater Proportion of Explosive Training Rather than utilizing the super-strict method or pause reps. floor press. We teach you how to set up bands and chains for the different lifts in addition to demonstrating the most effective ways of utilizing accommodating resistance. and squat suit when you squat. stick mostly to explosive training for your submaximal effort methods. Substitute Box Squats for Front Squats Rather than performing front squats. A good rule of thumb is to incorporate an extra 2030% of tension at the top of the lift. See the reference guide for a video on the sling shot. and close grip bench press. 4. so the two styles will go hand in hand with each other. and wear your bench shirt when you bench. We’ve included a great deal of exercises in our quick reference video guide. knee wraps. train in your gear. Utilize Accommodating Resistance During Explosive Training When you perform explosive training. Train in Gear With Squats and Bench When performing maximal squats and bench press. 3. This means wear your briefs. perform box squats and practice sitting back while keeping the shins vertical. This training will be more specific to the demands of the geared squat. with some simple modifications. Another option is to use the sling shot during your bench and even close grip bench press training. so make sure you check that out if you fall into this category. 2. belt. You’ll still be doing plenty of raw work when performing submaximal effort work and when performing box squats. Here are ways in which you can go about this: 1. 2 x 4: Maximum Strength Page 47 .2 x 4 for Geared or Advanced Lifters What if you’re a competitive powerlifter who trains and competes in gear? What if you’ve been heavily influenced by Westside Training and like to utilize more of their methodology? Can you still follow the 2 x 4 plan? Sure you can. make sure to loop some band tension or chains around the bar to more closely mimic the strength curve of geared lifting.

split up into several different categories. which include: • • • • • • • Gear/Accessories and Specialty Equipment Training Form & Technique Assistance Lifts Troubleshooting Programming General 2 x 4: Maximum Strength Page 48 .Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) Here are some frequently asked questions pertaining to 2 x 4.

You may use rack pulls in the meantime but I would highly recommend getting your hands on some blocks. I don’t have bands.Gear/Accessories and Specialty Equipment Can I wear lifting straps? Some powerlifters wear them. You can also employ similar free weight substitutes. and I have a hunch that they’ll become one of your favorite exercises (they quickly became one of mine). most powerlifters prefer 4”. however. What do I do? Block pulls are a large component of this program. and you can substitute this for the floor press or board press if you 2 x 4: Maximum Strength Page 49 . so I think it’s best to avoid using them altogether. if you don’t have bands. I don’t have a 2-Board. What do I do? The sling shot is an excellent tool for advanced and geared lifters. you can use chains.I had them cut 2 sheets of plywood in squares that I could stack on top of one another for block pulls and also deficit work. I don’t have a sling shot. I would recommend saving up for bands in the future. A good knurled barbell and chalk should suffice. In competition you are not allowed to use straps. or get crafty and figure something out like I did. In terms of accommodating resistance. It’s good for raw lifters too. I have overcome a terribly weak grip by avoiding straps and utilizing specialized grip training. Either purchase blocks. you can use a cable column with Pallof presses or face pulls. which presents another option. What do I do? This depends on the exercise. I spent roughly $30 at Lowe's . I don’t recommend their usage because you should never be limited by your grip. For example. you can go to your local hardware store and get the materials for a reasonable price. however. One benefit of straps is that you can usually use more weight. Again. I don’t have blocks. It’s a great option for building bench press lockout strength so I recommend that over time you figure out a way to board press. I like a 3" block the best. but this is a slippery slope since relying on them can become a crutch. What do I do? You can do floor press as a substitute. but a 2-board is a very easy tool to make for a cheap price. Some lifters pull off of bumper plates.

purchase one. If you’re looking to mimic the effect, you can use bands or chains in
the meantime if they are available to you. I recommend that you invest in one as
they are very useful and can help spare your shoulders and pecs, especially if you
are injury prone. Another possibility is to use a mini band looped around the upper
arm, which works similar to a slingshot but is not as beneficial.

I have a hex bar, can I do hex bar deadlifts?
Yes, these can be done in place of regular deadlifts or block pulls in the weeks where
you are not trying to set a PR. I also like to use the hex bar for bent over rows.
Should I wear a belt?
Yes, you should, but only on your top lifts (>85% of 1RM). Do not use a belt so
frequently that you rely on it even on your warm-up sets.

Should I wear knee wraps or sleeves?
This is up to you. Some federations allow the use of knee wraps and sleeves while
some do not, so take this into consideration and do some research if you plan on
competing. Moreover, don’t use them so often that you absolutely rely on them
while training.

Should I wear elbow sleeves?
These are not allowed in any federation so do not use them so frequently that you
become reliant on them. You may use them from time to time if you feel the need,
but again, don’t use them all the time.
Should I wear wrist wraps?
These are advised since most federations allow them. If you plan on competing,
check with your federation ahead of time. Most of my colleagues wear them and
swear by them to keep their wrists healthy.
What type of shoes should I wear?
Most people do best squatting in
Chuck Taylors, while others do best
in Olympic shoes. I like front
squatting in Olympic shoes and
back squatting in Chucks or
something similar. You might
prefer different shoes with different
lifts so experiment to find what
works best for you. For example,
some lifters prefer to bench in
Olympic shoes, and a very small
minority even like to deadlift using
Olympic shoes. Different strokes for
different folks.
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Page 50

Should I use liniment?
Yes, I think using liniment is a good
idea when you are feeling beat up,
but I don’t advise you to use it all
the time and become reliant upon it.

I don’t have a glute ham developer, what
else can I do?
The GHR primarily strengthens knee
flexion hamstring strength, which I
believe to be overrated for
powerlifting and maximal strength
training in general. So don’t fret if
you can’t do GHR’s. There are many
other options that are great for
building hamstring strength,
including: back extensions, good
mornings, reverse hypers, Nordic ham curls, and Valslide leg curls.

I don’t have a reverse hyper, what else can I do?
The reverse hyper is a great tool. However, it’s not well-tolerated by every lifter. The
heavy kettlebell swing is a good substitute for reverse hypers. However, back
extensions and hip thrusts will do the job as well.

I don’t have a hip thruster, what else can I do?
We love our band hip thrusts off the hip thruster. However, if you don’t have a hip
thruster, you can simply do barbell hip thrusts off of a standard bench. Make sure
you have a bar pad to cushion the hips. You can also get crafty and figure out a way
to do band hip thrusts, perhaps using a power rack.

I don’t have a back extension, what else can I do?
You can perform back extensions off of a standard bench by laying flat on the bench
and hooking your legs underneath the bench. Sometimes you’ll need to put a heavy
dumbbell on the other end of the bench to prevent it from tipping. However, good
mornings and hip thrusts can be performed (or reverse hypers or kettlebell swings)
in their place.
I don’t have a heavy kettlebell, what else can I do?
Heavy kettlebell swings are great, but many individuals don’t use great form with
these, so make sure you do them right if you do them. Most lifters don’t have access
to heavy kettlebells. We like to use the 203 pounder in our training. However, you
can purchase a Hungarian core blaster or Kettleclamp if you’d like. And perhaps
better yet, you can make a homemade t-handle for around $15 from Home Depot.
There are videos showing how to make these on YouTube.
I don’t have any specialty bars. Am I in trouble?
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Plenty of world-class lifters have built their strength using solely a standard barbell
for their big lifts. Do not worry if you don’t have a safety squat bar, rackable
cambered bar, buffalo bar, or hex bar. These are nice to have for long term training,
but they’re not necessary.

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Can I do touch and go reps? No.Training Can I do a burn out set? No. Should I do conventional or sumo deadlifts? It depends. just stick to the 3x5. Can I incorporate pause reps? Yes. but get your volume with the assistance exercises. although both should be done throughout the year (just as in the case of high bar and low bar squats). Throughout the year. However DE should be reserved for lifters that have sufficient weightlifting experience. and there's really no way to tell which style you’ll be best at. but for 2 x 4 they will compromise recovery and impede progress. Can I rep out on the last set if I have more in the tank? No. these are done on days when you're not trying to set a record. We highly encourage pause reps on the primary lifts. Experiment with both and find what works for you. and deadlift gains will be greater if you pause between reps. Do not touch and go with your bench presses or deadlifts. Bad habits beget bad habits with bench press. just leave some in the tank rather than pushing the envelope. If you end up completing the sets with relative ease. When you start doing extra. Burn out sets are tempting. Always use a slight pause. These are also beneficial during de-load weeks as well. Geared lifters should employ a greater proportion of explosive lifting in their training. Should I do high bar or low bar back squats? It depends. 3x3. and 3x1. You'll have to experiment to find which one works for you. Can I incorporate dynamic effort work? Yes. and bench presses are held with a pause. but some prefer high bar. you should incorporate both styles though. 2 x 4: Maximum Strength Page 53 . Burn out sets are great for other programs. you can do dynamic effort work on alternating weeks when you are not setting PRs. Deadlifts are reset every rep. on alternating weeks. it affects you later in the training week. Most lifters will find they're stronger with low bar.

it’s not worth it for maximum strength training. 2 x 4: Maximum Strength Page 54 . The Olympic lifts can be dangerous for athletes not used to this stimulus. If aiming for greater power. I recommend periodizing your conditioning so that you’re not doing extra high intensity work year round.especially high rep assistance lifts. Can I do plyometrics? No. then box jumps are easiest on the body. and getting more volume in with the assistance lifts. Explosive training done every other week will give you the specific explosive strength you need. but you can focus more on getting a pump. If you’re insistent on performing other explosive lifts. feeling the burn. With the specific lifts be sure to stick to the plan. as they are very technical. although I'm not a huge fan of HIIT training when training for maximal strength. If you’re insistent upon incorporating some plyos. hill sprints. There’s nothing wrong with plain old walking. Don’t forget that plenty of bodybuilders and powerlifters have been successful without ever doing HIIT. not with your specific lifts. and Farmers walks. Plyometrics can be dangerous for athletes not used to this type of stimulus. but don’t overdo it. Can I do sprints? No. then hill sprints are easier on the body. they’re not worth it when building maximal strength. explosive training (DE or CAT) can be done every other week.Can I do conditioning work? Yes. I know many lifters who pulled a hammy or hip flexor when attempting sprints and ended up regretting it. If you’re insistent on sprinting. KB swings. Can I do Olympic lifts? No. I like the prowler. they’re not worth it when aiming for maximal strength. How do I get more TUT and metabolic stress into my workouts? You can get this with your assistance lifts. Keep in mind that weight training is a form of conditioning work . Dynamic effort work done every other week will give you the specific explosive strength you need. Sprints can be dangerous for lifters who are not used this type of stimulus. This will give you the specific explosive strength you need for building the big lifts. then hex bar jump squats and heavy kettlebell swings can build just as much power as Olympic lifts but are safer to perform.

just go as deep as you can without losing your arch. It will also be better for your shoulders in the long run. The hook grip takes a while to get used to. so be patient. Some lifters can only safely go to parallel. I’m stronger when I flare my elbows out on a bench press rather than keeping them in. the vast majority of lifters find they are stronger this way. but some of my colleagues like the hook grip. and thoracic extensions can help. Find what works best for you to allow you to pull the most weight. but some swear by it. On non-PR weeks be ultra strict. but stick with it. Over time. but it’s not uncommon to see powerlifters leaning forward to a 45 degree trunk angle when at the bottom of the movement. Upper back rounding is acceptable. Strengthening the quads and improving ankle mobility can help tremendously over time as well. I have a weak lockout with the deadlift. The ideal arm angle varies from one lifter to the next so experiment to figure out what works best for you. however. The more neutral you can keep your spine. Some find wearing Olympic shoes helps. This is very common with lifters who first start powerlifting. I’m weak off the floor during deadlifts. You want to stay relatively upright. Some lifters find that quad work in general and deficit deadlifts help improve their starting strength. Some people like rack pulls. On weeks where you're going for PRs. but limit the low back rounding as much as possible. Hip thrusts. What should I do? Much of this is due to your anatomy and body segment lengths. leg presses and heavy KB swings will help. What’s the best grip for deadlifts? Most people use a mixed grip (overunder). but if you can't maintain proper form. I lean forward a lot in my squat. back extensions. the less beat up you'll get. Pause deadlifts. How deep should I do my front squats? Try going ass to grass (ATG) on these. 2 x 4: Maximum Strength Page 55 . allow for a little bit of wiggle room. which is important on this program.Form and Technique Is it ok if I round my back a little bit with deadlifts? Yes and no. Make sure your rack pulls mimic the same body positioning you use during your regular deadlift.

and squatting to a box will help. and other triceps work will help. floor press. chains. learning to stay tight. and general strengthening of the back and hamstrings should help with this. good mornings. Pauses. I like band tricep extensions because they are easiest on the elbow joint and can be performed frequently. 2 x 4: Maximum Strength Page 56 . Band triceps extensions.I’m weak off the chest during bench. super-strict technique. I have trouble sitting back during the squat. Box squats. which tends to happen as the weight gets heavier in training. explosive training. Hip mobility work. pause squats. ankle mobility work. board press. I have trouble reaching depth with the squat. slingshot. bands. I have a weak lockout with the bench. Squatting to a box prevents skimping in ROM. and learning to use the lats in the bottom position of the press can all help.

but in general. hollow body holds. I like the Pendlay style row.Assistance Lifts Should I go to failure on my assistance work? Don’t be afraid to go to failure. The most overlooked benefit is when lifters go to pull their 3rd deadlift attempt on the platform. I like the hex bar for bent over rows as well. You can get very strong abs this way. They usually go for a PR which they have never lifted before. Bigger glutes can never hurt for squatting and deadlifting 2. it makes it near impossible to lock out the weight because they are in a disadvantageous position. you may do Yates rows or other types of rows if you would like. They round their back slightly to get the load off the floor. side planks. and without big strong glutes. Why do I need to hip thrust? The hip thrust is highly beneficial for several reasons: 1. However. so make sure you focus on the intended muscles and use excellent technical form. What type of core/ab exercises should I do? Spinal stability exercises are the safer option: RKC planks. They can actually transfer to all three lifts since the bench press requires leg drive that’s similar to a hip thrust 3. However many powerlifters like straight leg sit-ups and hanging leg raises and have not found them to be injurious. which builds added grip strength. A couple sets at the end of the workout is all you need. try to leave 1-2 reps in the tank. How often should I hip thrust? At least once a week but I recommend 2 x 4: Maximum Strength Page 57 . Assistance lifts are every bit as much about quality as quantity. Can I do other types of bent over rows? Of course. but I don’t reset each rep on the floor. and Pallof presses are advised. How much abdominal work should I do? Don’t go overboard on abs.

Nordic ham curls. GHRs. back extensions. and rear delt raises are advised. chest supported rows. inverted rows. and 1arm DB rows are advised. shoulders and hamstrings on day 2 of week 1 and day 4 of week 2. lateral raises. and single leg squatting movements like lunging and Bulgarian split squats are advised. so they are most convenient. hack squats. and Valslide leg curls are advised. Bent over rows can transfer to all 3 powerlifts so don’t underestimate their importance. What are the best assistance exercises for pecs? Flys.twice per week if you find that glutes are a weak part. front raises. seated rows. Standing and seated machine calf raises are good as well. chin ups. What assistance work should I do on the different days? Since the main lifts alternate. dumbbell military press. you’ll need to alternate the assistance work to make sure not to tire anything out for one of the lifts in which you are going for a record. chest and triceps on day 3 of week 1 and day 1 of week 2. What are the best assistance exercises for hamstrings? Good mornings. leg extensions. pulldowns. What are the best assistance exercises for calves? Single leg calf raises can be done anywhere off a step. dumbbell bench. back/bi’s/core on day 4 of week 4 and day 2 of week 2. I like quads and core on day 1 of week 1 and day 3 of week 2. How often should I bent over row? A least once per week but I recommend twice per week performed with a double overhand grip if your grip strength is lacking. leg press. What are the best assistance exercises for back? Bent over rows. What are the best assistance exercises for quads? Front squats. and dumbbell incline press are advised. 2 x 4: Maximum Strength Page 58 . reverse hypers. What are the best assistance exercises for shoulders? Military press. 45 degree hypers.

block pulls. but do not be afraid to do just 1 set of 20 or sets of 3's and 5's from time to time.the main lifts or the assistance lifts? The main lifts are much more important but the assistance lifts help out very much over the long haul and drive your main lifts. and floor press are my favorites. What is more important for getting stronger . 2 x 4: Maximum Strength Page 59 . block pulls. dumbbell bench press. Do not make the mistake of neglecting either. What are the best assistance exercises for the bench press? Close grip bench. chest supported rows. and hip thrusts are my favorites. that would be an appropriate regression.What are the best assistance exercises for glutes? Hip thrusts. while others like Bulgarian split squats and back extensions. What are the best assistance exercises for the deadlift? Squats. that would be an appropriate regression. For biceps I like hammer curls because they are both very easy on the joints. band triceps extensions. kb swings. single leg hip thrusts. What are the best assistance exercises for the squat? Front squats. How do I know how many sets and reps to use for my assistance work? Many strategies can work. military press. Some people like box squats and good mornings.can I just do negatives? Yes. which is important when training frequently. I'm not strong enough to do pullups can I just do negatives? Yes. I like band triceps extensions. I’m not strong enough to do glute ham raises . dips. EZ bar curls. It is very important to find what works best for you. and seated band hip abductions are all advised. and hip thrusts are my favorites. but there are many others. What are the best assistance exercises for arms? For triceps. In general 3-4 sets of 6-12 reps. There are many other great arm exercises like barbell curls. deadlifts. but there are many others. Variety is good. rolling DB triceps extensions. front squats. You can also do band assisted pull-ups or seated lat pulldowns if you have access to one. pull-throughs. and chins as well. barbell glute bridges.

If this happens. Soft tissue work and stretching can help as well. You need a Hampton thick bar pad. You may need to take a couple weeks off from heavy deadlifting if it’s acting up. Alternatively. I can’t roll the bar over my hips for barbell hip thrusts and glute bridges because my legs are too big. Femoroacetabular Impingement (FAI) is extremely common in lifters. Learn how to set up band hip thrusts using a rack or heavy dumbbells. Make sure you know what a neutral spine is and reinforce this posture over and over in your lifting. learn how to use bands. pull throughs. Never stubbornly push through pain. I can’t get hip thrusts to feel right. Squatting hurts my hips. Airex balance pad. Experiment with your foot and back position as well. 2 x 4: Maximum Strength Page 60 . single leg hip thrusts off a bench. This can happen because the quads contract very hard while hip thrusting. If you have to. squat high and do DE work. A lot of times this is due to either lumbar flexion (rounding) or hyperextension (overarching). or use a spotter to help hand the weight to you. Listen to your body and make appropriate adjustments in training. is there a substitute? You can do barbell glute bridges. Hip thrusts hurt my knees. The bar hurts my hips when I hip thrust. back off in frequency and the pain will usually subside.Trouble Shooting There’s nowhere to do hip thrusts at my gym. so this may be the culprit. as can goblet squats and glute strengthening. so drop the load and make sure you really squeeze the glutes at end range. Deadlifts hurt my back. or Squat Sponge to cushion the hips. or try setting up aerobic steps and doing barbell hip thrusts off that. You’re probably using too much weight.

My grip is weak. 2 board press. safety squat bar. mobility work. and static one arm hangs from a pull up bar. the cambered bar. If that doesn’t work. 2 x 4: Maximum Strength Page 61 . and buffalo bar can all bring some relief as well. However. and soft tissue work in the shoulder girdle can be good solutions. The Swiss bar. Train your grip twice per week. My favorites are grippers. My shoulders hurt when I bench. activation work. sling shot. Front squatting for a few weeks is another option. doing deadlift warm up sets with a double overhand grip and bent over rows with double overs will go a long way in strengthening your grip as well. bench squeezes. football bar. floor press. My shoulders hurt when I squat. You can try high bar squats with a wide hand placement.

Stick to 10 sets total or less for the workout including assistance movements. Sheiko. I’m young. Tues. Can I add in more frequency? No. and Fri. How should I adjust my training if I am prepping for a meet? Plan the program so that the last deload week is the week of the meet. The point is to adapt the program to work for you. Westside. I’d like to add in Smolov. On what days should I schedule my workouts? I like Mon. You can use the swiss bar or thick bar for bench. and Sat. On this week. Should I deload? If so. How can I adapt the routine? You can use a cambered and safety squat bar for squats. etc. 5/3/1. Thurs. This is written in the program. but make sure you deload and recover properly after completing 2x4 before starting something else. which can easily be done. Tues. You could do more single leg work and posterior chain work and less specific work. how often? Yes. Some like Mon. I recommend every six weeks you have a week where you take it easy. I’m older and my body has taken a pounding over the years.? These can be run at separate times of the year. In general. it’s probably better to just train 2-3 days using light loads and mostly assistance 2 x 4: Maximum Strength Page 62 .Programming Can I do this routine and another routine at the same time? Absolutely not. Should I do this program year round? No. It’s a 14-week cycle that may be done twice back-to-back or 3 times spread out throughout the year. Russian Squat. just try to spread the days out and make sure you’re recovering. Thurs. You may avoid the military press and perform bent over rows with a trap bar. You can add more volume in the assistance lifts but don’t add more frequency to the main lifts.

but over time. Deloading is specific to the lifter. Should I train differently on this program than a male would? No. There’s nothing wrong with going 9 for 9.work. However. Since you don’t give percentages. Your 2nd lift should be something you’ve hit in training and know you can do. do more top end work and use bands and chains. You might need to add in more glute work if you feel your glutes are a weak point. I am a female. Your 1st lift should be something you can lift for 5 reps. Train the same way. Should I modify the program? Yes. you'll have to adjust depending on how you're feeling. you will learn your exact strength on the different set and rep schemes. And your 3rd lift would ideally be a gym PR. I’m on anabolic steroids. so experiment to figure out what works best for you. but don’t modify the specific work. when should we consider a set a ‘work’ set? It takes a couple cycles of this program to really learn your weights. Can you provide a rough estimate on how long each lifting session should take? 60-90 minutes 2 x 4: Maximum Strength Page 63 . I don’t recommend taking it completely off however. How should I choose my weights at a meet? Beginners should be really conservative. Read the section on this topic. I compete in gear. In general. Can I modify the program? You can add in more assistance work if you feel that you’re easily recovering.

it is a good idea to spend 10-15 minutes doing a general warm-up consisting of self-manual therapy (SMT. Is this program for lifters of all different experience levels? Yes. you do not want to train. but for assistance work. this program is great at doing both at the same time. so take the day off. we have included all the variables into 2x4. For specific work. If you’re just fatigued. and some muscle activation work. go lighter and focus on form. You’ll also need to perform specific warm-up sets for your first lifts of the day. 1-2 minutes. If you miss a couple of days. around 3 minutes. You need to learn the difference between general discomfort and bad pain. many times people will find this goes away after their warm-up and they have a great workout. You need to be able to commit to 4 days. How long of a rest should I take in between sets? It depends. When performing explosive training on the main lifts. Look at powerlifters Stan Efferding and Dan Green who are both proof that you do not need to be fat to be strong. What kind of diet should I follow? Many diets can work well. but in general. I want to get muscular and strong at the same time.General When I feel really beat up. should I still lift? It depends. but there’s nothing wrong with just foam rolling and stretching and then heading home. it can work for both beginners and advanced lifters. keep it to 60-90 seconds. With general discomfort.) dynamic mobility. you may have to combine the specific lifts from different days while dropping the assistance exercises. How should I warm up? In general. Since both strength and hypertrophy are related. try to squeeze it in on another day. 2 x 4: Maximum Strength Page 64 . We left no stone unturned. With bad pain. I am a fan of IIFYM (If It Fits Your Macros). will this program help me achieve both objectives? Yes. you do not want to carry excess body fat. Usually lifters can train around things. What should I do if I have to miss a day of training how should I continue when I return? Since this is a 4-day a week program.

What should I do if I have to miss a week of training . 2 x 4: Maximum Strength Page 65 .how should I continue when I return? Just continue where you left off. sleeping well. What can I do on the days that I am not lifting? Recovery work. contrast baths/showers. and SMT. It can also entail taking in proper nutrition. and having some fun. This can include: Jacuzzi. relaxing.