Due to popular demand, I shall be publishing my programming template for intermediate to advanced trainers, ‘The Forced Entry Method!’
The Gorilla Forced Entry Method
Intermediate to advanced strength and power template.
This template was born from programming for myself to burst over a plateau, and I quickly saw how it could be expanded out to suit the needs of a wide variety of lifters with similar goals. I’d be happy to adapt this programme for strongmen, powerlifters, rugby and American football players, field athletes and recreational trainers alike.
A little about me: I’m a personal trainer and lifting coach of five years experience, working out of the prestigious University of Birmingham, one of the premier sporting institutions in the United Kingdom. I have worked with numerous athletes of national and international standard, and am myself a national level strength athlete, qualifying for and competing in England’s Strongest Man finals in 2011 and 2012.
As so many of us do, I spend a lot of time reading and recently came across a blog from Brandon Lilly, a top level American powerlifter, and a training methodology he calls The Cube. This is simply a three way rotation of Max Effort sessions, Dynamic Effort sessions and Repetition Effort sessions. This reminded me of a programme I wrote a couple of years ago with a three way rotation of singles, triples and fives, to ensure athletes weren’t lifting maximally day in day out, and they got good results from it. I have combined this idea with some Westside principles of Dynamic work to supplement strength work, and also a split that I, and many of my lifters, have had great results from.
In addition I have implemented a system that is all my own into this, something I call the Gorilla 1,3,5 system. This is something that those who know me and my coaching will already be familiar with. Using Prilepins Table, and Hristovs application of it for strength training at different percentages of max I also analysed the work of each session.
So what is The Gorilla Forced Entry Method?
This is a template for a three week mesocycle and is as follows:
Max Effort (ME)
This is where Gorilla 1,3,5 comes into play. This is applied to the first key movement and is done in a daily max style. So you build up to a daily max single (100%) and then base the rest of the reps on that percentage. This is a triple with 90% of the daily max, and then a set of five with 80% of the daily max. So effectively:
1 @ 100%, 3 @ 90%, 5 @ 80%
The rest of the session is made up of relatively low load assistance exercises, done in a circuit or giant set format for 3 sets. Here we are looking at Exercise A at 5 reps, Exercise B at 10 reps and Exercise C at 15 reps. These are done back to back with no rest, and rest after all three exercises. Repeat twice more for a total of three run throughs. So:
Exercise A x 5
Exercise B x 10
Exercise C x 15
These are to be progressed in a linear fashion as the difficulty decreases.
Here we select two movements to be done in dynamic fashion. The powerlifts or variations are to be completed against band tension for 5 – 10 sets of 2. Starting point is 50% 1RM of the equivalent unbanded movement plus bands. The objective of these is CONTROLLED SPEED! If the bar is not moving quickly, it isn’t speed work and the weight should be lowered or the thickness / tension of the band reduced.
This is also where we can incorporate Olympic weightlifting movements (done at 60-75% 1RM depending on technical ability) or plyometric patterns, again both done for 10 x 2.
Following these movements is a complimentary lift to be completed in a 5 sets of 5 format, with 75% 1RM, done with maximum bar speed but without bands.
Volume is the name of the game here, but done with sufficient poundages to still promote good strength gains. Two core exercises to be completed in a 5 sets of 5 format, with 75% 1RM, and one supplementary exercise to be completed in a 5 sets of 5 format, with 75% 1RM.
At the end of all sessions there is the option to include a rehab / prehab movement as these tend to be low load and focus more on movement patterns and activation.
Now the structure has been outlined, what movements go where?
The key movements should aim to compliment each other from one type of session to the next so example for squats, the ME movement could be low bar squat, the DE could be box squat against bands and RE could be front squat. Choose the movements from the following table, but be careful of duplicating movements over the three week cycle as this could prove too much for many lifters.
For the giant set on the max effort day, I suggest selecting exercises which aren’t too similar, in order that you can complete them all with a decent weight. For example on the pull day select pull ups, barbell rows and shrugs. These all work on differing plains of motion and recruit different muscles, but still compliment each other, so shouldn’t leave you unable to use substantial poundages through fatigue.
Once you have made your exercise selection I recommend sticking with them for 3 or 4 cycles to ensure progression through frequency. If you make different selections each session you will find it difficult to progress as you could go months without repeating a movement pattern.
While these are the exercises I recommend for most cases, it is possible to substitute in alternative movements, particularly for assistance work if you have an area that needs improving.
In order to show you a fleshed out template, here is the version I am currently following:
I’m running this Monday to Friday, in this order, although the days vary due to work commitments. This then leaves the weekend free, in particular the Saturday for Olympic lifting technique work, conditioning and/or events training.
With consistent application progression is inevitable on this programme! My advice for most lifters would be to run 4 cycles followed by a week of rest. Due to the cyclical nature of intensities I believe it possible to maintain regular training for much longer than many programmes without the need for a deload or rest. Doing a 12 week block followed by a weeks rest is ideal, as it allows 4 full cycles throughout the year. Different 12 week cycles can obviously be adapted to different goals or addressing weaknesses.
As I said at the start, I believe this system has applications for all people trying to get strong, whether they be competitive powerlifters, strongmen or pitch based athletes. The selection of movements is an individual thing and will allow the athlete to tailor the programme to their needs. I would recommend this system only for intermediate to advanced lifters, as there is seldom any need to complicate things to this level for novice to intermediate lifters! I have other systems more suited to the novice lifters, all equally effective at improving your lifting.
This work by David Whittington is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.