In Part 1 of this post, I outlined the reasoning and basic format of the Triphasic system. To reiterate, I found that I preferred working in two week blocks as it allowed me to train hard but still recover. I also did some of my own experimentation in different set and rep schemes, exercise selections and choice of formatting. Below I will simply give a snapshot of how I trained for one of my cycles and breakdown the format and discuss why I chose certain exercises, rep ranges and the flow of the workout.
This can be done for 3, 4, 5 or even 6 days a week. However with 3 days a week you need to perform 3 full-body sessions which would take too long for most. 4 days a week seems the most appropriate with two upper and two lower body sessions a week. I chose 5 days a week because I had other facets I wanted to improve upon, plus I have the luxury of working at a gym so I have the time and resources to train 5 days. For most people, I recommend 4 days a week to start.
Since the Triphasic system is set up with a focus on the bench press and squat as the primary lifts, the deadlift and overhead press take a backseat. The program was designed for athletes and the author, Cal Dietz found the squat and bench had the largest carry over to sport. Thus, the deadlift and overhead press are performed as secondary or assistance exercises, if at all.
My only interest in training with Triphasic was improving strength in the bench press, overhead press, squat and deadlift (as well as improving rate of force development and explosiveness). Neither myself, or the average lifter or even competitive lifter has a sport being trained outside of the weight room, we have some flexibility for programming in additional work for the deadflift and overhead press.
As I mentioned in Part 1, I chose to use the overhead press as an assistance movement on one of my bench days and a primary movement on Day 5. Day 5 ends up being a catch-all day where I train deadlift, overhead press, pullups and heavy farmer carry's, but the volume is low and I am able to go hard on each lift.
Without further ado, here is a sample 5 day program lifted straight from my own journal:
|A1. Back Squat, 5 sec. Eccentric||4 x 5|
|A2. Ascending Box Jump||4 x 3|
|A3. Hip Mobilization||One/side/set|
|B1. Front Squat||4 x 5|
|B2. Ring Rows||4 x 12|
|B3. Cross Walkouts||4 x 5|
|C1. 20 rep squat||1 x 20|
|A1. Bench Press, 5 sec Eccentric||4 x 3|
|A2. Plyo Pushups||4 x 3|
|A3. Facepulls||4 x 10|
|B1. Reverse Band Bench||3 x 6|
|B2. Barbell Rows, supinated grip||3 x 8|
|C1. DB Press||3 x 6|
|C2. Chest Supported Row||3 x 10|
|A1. Squat (dynamic)||4 x 3|
|A2. Chinups||4 x 4|
|A3. Hip Mobilization||one/side/set|
|B1. Sumo DL, 5 sec Eccentric||4 x 3|
|B2. Ab Wheel||4 x 10|
|B3. One-Arm Farmer Carry||4 x 1/side|
|C1. Squat, 12 sec Isometric||1 x 12 sec ISO|
|A1. Bench Press (dynamic)||4 x 3|
|A2. Band Assisted Plyo Pushups||4 x 5|
|A3. Facepull||4 x 10|
|B1. OH Press, 5 sec Eccentric||4 x 3|
|B2. 1-arm DB Row, 5 sec Eccentric||4 x 6/side|
|C1. ½ Kneeling KB Press (1-arm)||3 x 5/side|
|C2. Barbell Inverted Row||3 x 10|
|A1. Sumo DL||4 x 3|
|A2. Single leg Deadlift w/reach||4 x 4/side|
|B1. Behind Neck Push Press||4 x (2 x 3)|
|B2. Pullups||4 x 8|
|B3. Band Pull Apart||4 x 8|
|C1. Trap Bar Farmer Carry||4 x 1|
Reviewing all of this, you can see that the highest volume days are the Triphasic days, in this case the Eccentric days. The other three training days are lower in volume, with Day 5 being quite low in volume but I found this to be necessary if I was going to perform a fifth day which ends up being total-body.
Frequency happens to be what I thrive on anyway, so blasting myself with 5 different horizontal pressing movements in one day is counter-productive. I even have the sneaking suspicion if i JUST did the main lift and no other pressing I would still improve but I don't have the guts to test that one out yet.
Here are some notes on things I made my own. I give many props to Mike Ranfone for helping me program my first few phases and working with me to learn what worked for me and how to pick/choose exercises and volume. The rest came from reading and re-reading the Triphasic Training book and gleaning as much as I could from sample programming there.
1. Eliminating all horizontal pressing from the second bench day after the main movement. I wanted my overhead and push-press to get stronger and I found subbing these in for other bench variations helped in that regard as well as improve my recovery for bench pressing.
2. Performing one maybe two Isometric squat and bench exercises at the end of EVERY heavy dynamic day, regardless of the training cycle. This keeps me on my toes and gets me comfortable in the bottom of the lift, where I really needed to improve.
3. Combining deadlift, overhead or push-press and pullups on Day 5. I have consistently done a variation of each of these paired together on Day 5 and it hasn't failed me yet. I recently added the 3-4 sets of heavy carries in to continue working grip strength.
4. Adding in the 20-rep squat at the end of my Triphasic Day squat. I did this simply to add overall volume and time under tension as well as build some mental toughness. I wanted to help spur hypertrophy and I figured in a time crunch, 1 set of 20 is faster than 2 sets of 10. Thanks, Dan John.
5. Performing pullups or chinups on my lower-body days. This has made all the difference in allowing me to train them hard and improve. When the ONLY rowing variation I have to do on lower-body day is a pullup, it is easier to give it your all. I just supplement with lots of rows on my upper-body days.
6. Performing Triphasic methods for rows, curls, overhead press and deadlift. Rows and curls I experimented with the Triphasic means for months now, with good success. The Triphasic means for oberhead press and deadlift I just implemented this cycle. Note that I use a Sumo stance for deadlift and this was pretty low-back friendly for the eccentrics, not so sure about conventional. Time will tell.
7. Keeping my explosive or plyo work to box jumps, hops and/or broad jumps. I did not find much benefit or carryover to my training from doing lots of lighter weighted jumps. I find I got the most muscular carryover from plyo pushups for upper-body and low single-leg or repeated box jumps for lower-body. I don't go crazy high with the boxes because I try to land as stiff leg as possible. You can check the book for in-depth reasoning but basically it is to teach a sure land for cutting and change of direction and keeps you honest in box height.
8. Last note is that all of these things have been tailored to me. The only competition I do is twice a year powerlifting meets and it is very different than a single or multi-sport athlete who has weekend games and needs to focus on performance, not just lifting numbers. In that case, the extra plyo work would come into play and I would most likely drop a lot of the deadlifting and gear the training to a slightly more sport-specific outline.
Things Will Change
It's amazing how finding the correct solutions for your weaknesses can open up your world of training. I've read countless articles where they read: the reason you aren't getting stronger is x, y or z. Usually it came down to not training hard enough, not using a balanced program etc. While I was no means perfect, I always trained hard and implemented smart and safe training means. But for me, and I would guess many others out there, our training potential may be severely limited by a few key deciding factors. If you are eccentrically weak, it will be hard to express your concentric strength if you lose control of the bar. Same for isometric weakness; it will be difficult to transfer force from eccentric to concentric.
I notice big changes just from Week 1 to Week 2 in eccentric control. Week 1 is a little shaky and halting and Week 2 I am smooth and controlled for the full 5 seconds.
If you implement a program and stick to it, things will change. I stuck to 4 week blocks but realized I needed to cut them shorter. I have been doing 2 week blocks now and things have changed for the better. You need to give any program time though. Use your performance as your guideline and feedback; sometimes I have days I feel lousy and perform well, and vice versa. If I need to hit heavy weights though and I can't, I simply back off and do some "gimme" sets because I know I'll be able to come in next time and pick right up where I left off.
If this seems a little daunting, my suggestion is to implement the Triphasic mean for just one lift first. Maybe tr something that isn't a priority, like overhead pressing and see how it turns out. Once you build some confidence there, expand to other lifts as well. it definitely takes adjusting to the individual, but the payoff is worth it.
**Check out Greg Robins' video on setting up the reverse band bench.