A Review of The Conjugate System

For anyone who is an intermediate to advanced lifter and wants to get the strongest they can get, I couldn’t praise the Conjugate System enough. In fact I urge you to try it out for yourself. I’ve been on this program for 7 weeks and my strength gains have been the best I’ve ever seen. I’ve been able to break plateaus like never before, and I feel the strongest I have ever felt.

The Conjugate System is a powerlifting program designed to get you as strong as you can at the 3 core lifts: Squat, Bench, and Deadlift. It’s main focus is weak-point training, which basically tells you to pick the movements that you are worst at and focus on developing those in an effort to grow your overall strength and strength potential.

I do a modified version of the Conjugate System – the real program calls for 4 to 5 days of lifting a week. No cardio. No nonsense. I like to work in some cardio on my own program as well as some back and bicep accessory work since you are not training your upper back and biceps really at all on this program.

The Conjugate System: Basic Programming

There are 2 different lifting “types” with this system. The first, is Maximum Effort training and the second is Dynamic Effort training.

Maximum Effort days are ones where you work up to a 1 or 2 rep max on a variation of one of the core lifts. So, you’re not squatting, deadlifting, and benching all regular style every week here. Instead, one week you’re doing a sumo deadlift, the next conventional, the next from a deficit, and so on. You’ll revisit the standard squat, deadlift, or bench every 5-ish weeks to test out your strength gains.

Dynamic Effort days are ones where you really focus on developing your form and working on your weak points that are affecting your core lifts. You aren’t lifting extremely heavy, instead, your working on form and maintaining structural integrity.

The splits are as follows:

Monday: Maximum Effort Lower

  1. Deadlift/Squat Variation (Alternates every week)
    • Work up to 1 to 2 rep max (may take up to 8 sets)
  2. 80% of Above Max
    • 3 sets of 5 OR 5 sets of 3 depending on fatigue
  3. Lower Body Accessory Lift 1 (Weak-point training)
    • 3×8 or 4×6
  4. Lower Body Accessory Lift 2 (Weak-point training)
    • 3×8 or 4×6

Wednesday: Maximum Effort Upper

  1. Bench Press Variation (Change variation every week)
    • Work up to a 1 to 2 rep max (may take up to 6-8 sets)
  2. 80% of Above Max
    • 3 sets of 5 OR 5 sets of 3 depending on fatigue
  3. Upper Body Accessory Lift 1 (Weak-point training)
    • 3×8 or 4×6
  4. Upper Body Accessory Lift 2 (Weak-point training)
    • 3×8 or 4×6

Thursday: Dynamic Effort Lower

  1. Deadlift Variation
    • 4×6
  2. Squat Variation
    • 4×6
  3. Lower Body Accessory Lift 1 (Weak-point)
    • 3×8 or 4×6
  4. Lower Body Accessory Lift 2 (Weak-point)
    • 3×8 or 4×6
  5. Lower Body Accessory Lift 3 (Weak-point)
    • 3×8 or 4×6

Friday/Saturday: Dynamic Effort Upper

  1. Shoulder Press
    • 5×5
  2. Dumbbell Bench Press
    • 5×5
  3. Shoulder Accessory Lift 1 (Weak-point)
    • 3×8 or 4×6
  4. Upper Body Accessory Lift 2 (Weak-point)
    • 3×8 or 4×6
  5. Upper Body Accessory Lift 3 (Weak-point)
    • 3×8 or 4×6

(Sunday: Back/Bicep Volume training)

I absolutely love this style of training. It forces you to get stronger at what you’re not good at, and overall it gets you squatting, deadlifting, and benching more and increases your strength. Something that is very important to note here, is that you MUST continually work on your mobility and flexibility while you’re on this program. You’re lifting heavy all week, and this can really take a toll on your body if you aren’t stretching. Additionally, you must take a week off (or train with very light weight) every 4 weeks while being on this program to prevent overtraining and injury.

So what are the PROS?

  • Increases your strength on the Squat, Bench, and Deadlift dramatically
  • The workouts change literally every week because you will be changing the squat, deadlift, and bench variations as well as the accessory lifts you choose so it’s fun and never the same
  • Heavy lifting and working 1 rep maxes every week improves your nervous energy response
  • Overall strength will skyrocket because of the frequency of training the core lifts

What are the CONS?

  • The real program doesn’t call for cardio, which I like to keep in my routine once a week
  • This program is very hard on your body and you need to be very careful not to overtrain or hurt yourself
  • It requires a deep understanding of every move and technique – definitely not for beginners

I plan on posting a more in-depth training and program soon that you can use and adapt for yourself to start training conjugate and becoming the strongest you can be!

 

 

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