Are you looking for main lift variations to spice up your workouts? You’ve come to the right place.
You’ve found the 90-Day Main Lift Workout Template, Volume 2.
NOTE: Don’t miss the ‘Main Lift Exercise Variation Multiplier‘ section at the end of this post. It will show you how to multiply each of these main lift variations by four.
This article is divided into four sections, each representing one of the four training days in the conjugate sequence system template.
We’ve got an infographic version of this post as well as a text version. You can download a PDF version of the infographic here.
View the text sections of this article by clicking on one of the links below to see the main lift variation ideas from that section:
- Maximal Effort Lower Body Lifts
- Maximal Effort Upper Body Lifts
- Dynamic Effort Lower Body Lifts
- Dynamic Effort Upper Body Lifts
Let’s start with the infographic. (Click the image to enlarge or download the PDF version)
And here is the text version, includ g main lift variation examples…
Keep it Simple
By focusing on the two main lift methods of your training program, the athlete will notice the volume of repetitions increasing the intensity or amount of weight being lifted decreases, and vice-versa. By fluctuating the workout routine, athletes are creating a well-balanced fitness program that trains and improves multiple physical fitness goals at the same time, including strength, speed, agility, and explosiveness or power.
The training schedule can be broken down into two specific areas so that you understand the methodology of training. This includes the Dynamic Effort method as well as the Maximal Effort Method.
Changing the Cycle
As with any traditional workout routine, the types of individual exercises will need to change on a regular basis. This prevents your body from accommodating to the exercise or resistance and keeps them working to their highest capacities. With the conjugate method, each block of exercises may change every training session or variations of the classical lifts bench press, deadlift, and squat.
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Maximal Effort Method | Main Lifts
The Maximal Effort Method is going to involve you lifting a maximal load using maximal resistance. The Conjugate Fitness™ program dedicates two training sessions each week to this methodology. One session will be used for squat and deadlift while the other will be for bench press.
LEARNING TO MAX OUT
Because there is a large variety of lifts/movements that are prescribed as the “main lift” on maximal effort days, you can hit a PR every week on Max Effort Day (by the time the same exercise comes back around the second time, you should have increased in strength). It’s important therefore to record your lifts, as sometimes these lifts might seem obscure. You are lifting maximally every week to teach the body to be good at doing this and also develop absolute strength
Squat, Deadlift, & Good Morning
You will want to spend one day each week working on this particular exercise. I suggest that you choose either deadlift or squat in a variation that you are comfortable using. A 1 to 3 repetition maximum (RM) should be achieved. You can also use a good morning variation, but make sure that this is the first exercise of the day.
You will also want to spend one day each week training on the bench press. I recommend you choose a bench press variation that you are comfortable with, and again, you will want to work up to 1 to 3 RM.
Accessory work: the squat, deadlift, good morning or the bench press is going to be the “main lift” and thus the first exercise that you complete for the day. After that, you will need to work on your weaknesses through a variety of special exercises. Remember that you and someone else is not going to have the same accessory work, which means that you have to find the exercises that work specifically for you. You cannot copy off of someone else. Otherwise, you are not going to gain the full benefits of the Conjugate Fitness ™ program. I recommend that you figure out what you are not good at and continue doing it repeatedly until you have perfected it. After that, find something else that you are not good at and continue to do that. As Louie once said, “You do it until it hurts too much.”
Frequency: 1 day for squat/deadlift AND 1 day for bench press
Main move: Work up to a 1-3 repetition max for EITHER a deadlift, good morning, or squat on lower body days and a bench press for upper body days.
REST as long as you need in between attempts. I usually take 3 to 5 minutes, but it can vary from person to person. Remember that you want to be as calm as you can during a max lift. A training max is very different from a contest max. Do not stress yourself out until you are in a competition setting.
Variations: many people get confused over the conjugate method when it comes to variations (click here for main lift variations). The variation should not be repeated for at least 4 to 6 weeks – and I have been known not to repeat a variation for close to a year. These can vary slightly, based upon the width of your grip, your stance, or even reducing or increasing the range of motion. Once you do repeat a variation, you always want to try to beat your personal record. You want to avoid becoming impatient or breaking your record by a substantial amount of weight because it is going to cause potential injury. A 5-pound improvement on your personal record is still an improvement.
As long as you are working with maximal weight, you are doing what needs to get done. You don’t need to spend a lot of time with the perfect variation. However, you do want to keep track of what variations you are doing so that you don’t repeat them by accident.
Accessory work: everyone has to do their accessory work, so it is impossible for me to give you exact directions. You may need to lose weight to maintain steam while other people may need to gain mass. You may need work on your lower back while someone else needs work on their glutes and hamstrings. There is no perfect formula for everyone. I can, however, provide you with some basic guidelines.
Squat & Deadlift
After the main lift, incorporate some exercises for glutes, low back, hamstrings, traps, lats, and abs.
After the main lift, incorporate exercises for triceps, traps, shoulders, upper back, lats, and abs
Switch to another move after one to three weeks. For example, if you are doing weighted dips to help you after the bench press, move on to something else to work for that same muscle group.
Go hard and heavy throughout all of your accessory work. Find exercises that you are not good at and continue to work on them until you are stronger. The goal throughout all of the accessory work is to build on your weaknesses.
The program consists of approximately 20% main lift and 80% accessory work, which are supplementary exercises inserted after the above sessions to strengthen the body as a whole. In our experience, this inclusion of so much accessory work is one of the main factors that sets the conjugate system apart. This 20:80 split is by volume, and can be contrasted with most programs or approaches that are closer to 100% main lift, with little or no accessory work!
Dynamic Effort Method | Main Lift
The Dynamic Effort Method is used on squat/deadlift day and in the bench press. This method requires that the lifter to lift sub-maximal weights as fast as he can. This method should be together with compensatory acceleration. You must apply as much force as possible to the barbell, pushing as hard and as fast as you can in the concentric phase of the lift. If you bench 700 lbs and are training with 350, then you should be applying 700 lbs of force to the barbell in each rep.
The weight used should be non-maximal in the 50–75% range. Many experts, like Siff, Verkershonsky, and Spassev agree that this is the best range for developing explosive strength. This method is for increasing the force output. Many times being fast and strong are more closely related than you think.
The Dynamic Effort Method is going to involve you lifting a non-maximal load using the highest attainable speed possible. Two training sessions per week will be focused on this methodology. One session will be used for squat/deadlift while the other will be for bench press.
Squat: one day each week, you will work on squat training, and this is on a three-week wave. You will choose a box squat variation, perform 10 to 12 sets of 2 repetitions each, and then switch the variation three weeks later. This will be the main lift and your first exercise of the day.
Deadlift: this can be run on the same three-week wave as the squat, or you can choose to change it every week. You will choose a variation, perform 6 to 10 sets of 1 to 3 repetitions, and this will come AFTER you perform the squats.
Bench press: one day each week, bench press training will take place. You will choose a variation, and it will go on a three-week wave. You want to focus on nine sets of 3 repetitions and maintain the same weight on the bar throughout the three weeks. This is your main lift on this day, and the first exercise that you will perform on that day.
Accessory work: this is a higher-volume and lower-intensity training day than what you’ll find on the Maximal Effort days. You must focus on your weaknesses and perform exercises that will continue to help you improve your various muscle groups. It is also important to note that you must continue to work for the same muscle groups on Dynamic Effort days and Maximal Effort days. More on suggested muscle groups will be covered under Maximal Effort training.
Frequency: The Dynamic Effort Method for the lower body (i.e., squat and deadlifts) is performed one day a week. That’s it.
Main Move: Perform each repetition quickly and as explosively as possible. Take a maximum of 60 seconds between each set. Perform the sets/repetition at the suggested percentage of your 1RM (see below)
Dynamic Effort Squat (Sets/reps/percentages):
Geared Lifters: 10-12 sets/2 reps/40-60 percent;
Raw Lifters: 10-12 sets/2 reps/70-85 percent
Dynamic Effort Deadlift (sets/reps/percentages):
6-10 sets/1-3 reps/60-85 percent
With this list at your disposal… you’ll never run out of ideas for Main Lift Variations and strength programming.
And… don’t forget to download the PDF version of the 90-Day Main Lift Workout infographic.
What do you think? What ideas do you have for Main Lift variations? Add them to the comments section below and let’s talk about them!