TSA Intermediate Approach 2.0
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WELCOME!
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PROGRAM EXPLANATION & FAQ
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BEGIN
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1Click FILE > MAKE A COPY at the top menu bar to create a copy of this program into your own Google Drive account. From there, you can edit the training file and make it your own.
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2Enter your current 1RMs on the Personal Info tab in the yellow boxes. You may also enter a low-rep, high-RPE set. Do not enter theoretical maxes or desired training outcomes. It is not needed to enter a 90% or 95% of your maxes...simply your maxes will do.
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3Look over the training plan, familiarize yourself with what is to come. We suggest running the plan without modification the first time through before attempting changes. Refer to our guide on RPE included for the best results.
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4Read through the FAQ below, and if you have further questions, don't hesitate to email us by clicking here.
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5If you enjoyed the program, donate here and buy us a coffee!
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DONATE HERECONTACT US
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THE PROGRAM
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This is a 9-week training approach designed for intermediate lifters to peak effectively into actual competitions (or a mock meet) with high performance. The first four weeks represent higher overall work and lower overall loading, designed to build training adaptions and muscle hypertrophy. We’ll deload on Week 5, shedding some fatigue and preparing for the next phase. Finally, we’ll peak with exposure to heavier loads, bringing out your best.
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While this is a generalized approach, meaning we aren’t targeting any individual athlete strengths or weaknesses or problem-solving strategies, it’s designed to overcome many of the shortcomings with powerlifting approaches we’ve seen. It additionally has an option for female and male athletes to make sure the approach is better tailored to your needs. This is the intermediate approach we wish all athletes had access to, with balanced volume, intensity, and frequency.
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As our training methods continue to evolve, we’ve updated the intermediate approach to match those changes. You’ll see an increased use of autoregulation and the addition of lower repetition top sets with higher repetition backoff work to combine the best of both worlds. As you get close to peaking, you’ll see some subtle changes to the peaking structure to ride the line between fitness and fatigue. We think you’ll really like it.
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For squat, we begin with higher training volume over two days per week of training frequency. We already have some exposure to higher intensities early on, allowing the athlete large amounts of time for low-repetition adaptations to occur. We’ll build overall lower body strength with the overall amount of volume (and added leg pressing work), and increased skill with high specificity. We utilize multiple rep ranges to ensure maximum strength and hypertrophy.
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For bench press, we include regular exposure to pressing to allow for accelerated rates of progress. Athletes will handle horizontal pressing four times a week with access to singles starting on week 1. More than likely, you’re about to bench more than you have in a long time.
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For deadlift, we have a fantastic balance of competition work with paused work, designed to teach technique and bracing and ultimately improve positioning. There’s a delayed shift for heavy work on deadlift until much later in the training approach to allow space for building strength before we test strength.
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WHO & WHY
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Q:
Who is this program designed for?
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A:We’ve defined a sample athlete for this program as a male or female with some experience in resistance training, and around two years of experience in powerlifting. If you have less than six months' experience, we suggest the TSA Beginner Approach. If you have one to two years' experience, we suggest the TSA Intermediate 1.0 Aopproach. This sample athlete is healthy, has no current injuries or movement limitations, and can effectively train four times per week. Ideally, this athlete is eating in a small to moderate caloric surplus, sleeping 7-10 hours per night, and stressing as little (or as predictably) as possible.
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Q:What if this program is too hard?
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A:This program is purposefully designed for intermediate lifters who want to prepare for 1RM tests in 9 weeks. If you think you’re a more beginner lifter, check out our free TSA Beginner Approach, or consider working one on one with a TSA coach to make sure training is continually tailored to you and your goals. You can also modify this program with less frequency, less training volume, or lower average loads.
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Q:
What do I need to do before this program?
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A:You need to have done a heavy set of 1-3 reps at RPE 8.5-10 on squat, bench press, and deadlift in the last 3 months. This is so you can populate the loads you'll be using on the plan.
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Q:What are the requirements to run this program?
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A:Have access to any equipment necessary to effectively train, understand RPE and how to rate RPE. Have four available training days in your work/school/life schedule.
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ABOUT THE PROGRAM
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Q:Why the top sets on squats and bench press so early?
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A:The little bit of added heavier work early on gives the athletes some intensity ideas for the RPE-based work in the second half of the training cycle. Additionally, they increase skill acquisition and neural efficiency early on, which should translate to better performance in competition.
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Q:Why the "Athlete Movement of Choice"?
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A:Some research and our own observation suggests athletes feel a lack of control over a training approach that was entirely written without their input. Giving the athlete freedom to select some parts of the training approach gives them a sense of ownership and control, further increasing buy-in and adherence as a result. It's a chance for you to contribute and engage with the approach
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Q:What is the difference from selecting ‘male’ to selecting ‘female’?
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A:We have added slightly more training volume for female athletes, as they likely require it to make the same level of progress. The additions in training volume exist across bench press exclusively.
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Q:What is lsRPE? What’s RPE?
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A:lsRPE stands for ‘last set RPE’, the RPE of your very final set of a specific exercise. For information on RPE, please check the tab ‘RPE’.
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ADJUSTMENTS
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Q:
What if I miss reps?
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A:We’ve planned approaches such that most athletes shouldn’t miss reps if you check your recovery boxes (sleep, adequate calories, adequate protein intake) and use appropriate 1 rep maxes. If you happen to miss reps for any reason, don’t panic. Simply move forward with the program as if it never happened. If it becomes a recurring issue, you may need to adjust loads. This is normal and part of the individualization of the training process.
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Q:
What if I overshoot my RPE?
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A:Again, don’t panic. As you learn to use RPE, you will overshoot RPE sometimes and undershoot other times. Just make a mental note and aim to be more accurate in the future. If it’s a regular problem, you may ask yourself why you feel the need to overshoot RPE. Do you not trust the training approach? Are you having a hard time gauging effort? Are you just ego lifting? Getting to the root of this issue will make you a better lifter overall.
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Q:
What if I can't do the required number of pullups?
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A:Hey, you and me both lmao (it's Bryce). Either aim for assisted pullups using a band or lat pulldown if you can't string together sets of 5 pullups. If you CAN string together sets of 5, simply take your time and complete the required repetitions.
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Q:
Can I add anything?
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A:We think the program as-is is a good place to be for intermediate powerlifters. If you feel the need or desire to add something, just make sure that it makes sense in the grand scheme of things. If you’re a bodybuilder or care about complete growth and not just your squat, bench, and deadlift 1RMs, you may consider adding direct calf work, direct hamstring work, and potentially more direct shoulder work. Just more work in general. Proceed with caution with a combined powerlifting/bodybuilding approach. If you think you need more volume as a powerlifting athlete, we'd strongly caution against adding training volume unless you have good reasons.
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Q:
What if I have to miss a session/get behind?
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A:If you’re running this approach into a competition, you obviously need to make adjustments to make sure the peak lines up with your competition date. Consider either condensing training into more training sessions per week. In the event that you were sick or needed to miss many sessions, simply resume where you can to stay on track. There is no one right answer here--it’s all training stimulus. If you don’t have a competition scheduled and are just running the base approach, just pick up where you left off and allow the program to be a little longer than expected.
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Q:
How hard should each week be?
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A:This is difficult to say because each athlete responds differently to training, and we’re creating one training approach for many athletes. Generally speaking, most weeks early on will be in the RPE 6-8 range, including the main lifts. It’s usually the case that training actually gets easier after the first week or two as you adapt to a new training split and the repeated bout effect (RBE) takes effect.
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Q:
What if I get injured?
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A:The seriousness of the injury dictates the response to the injury. If you can work around movement restrictions or pain with exercise substitutions, dropping the load, allowing for more rest between exposures or other modifications, please do that! If the injury feels more severe, don’t train through pain. Limit painful movements, work with a trained professional on your recovery so that you can come back stronger. There’s a lot of potential advice here that is only on a case-by-case basis because each situation is unique.
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PERFORMANCE
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Q:
How long should I rest between sets?
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A:As much rest as you need. The literature is pretty clear that limiting rests to any degree dampens performance and strength adaptation. All bodily systems relevant to strength performance are recovered in 2-5 minutes, so this is a good window. However, take as much rest as you need, so long as you can complete your training. If you’re just scrolling instagram/facebook between sets, this can easily climb to 10 minutes. Moderating this is a quick way to reduce the length of your workouts.
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Q:
When should I rest?
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A:Rest in between each set.
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Q:
Are the deadlifts sumo or conventional?
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A:Choose your main stance for the deadlift.
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Q:
When should I use my belt?
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A:Use your belt on any main sets that warrant its use. You will probably be best served adding the belt at some point in your warmups leading into your working sets. Using the belt is as much a skill as it is an aid to safety and lifting strength. As such, we want to get better at the skill of bracing into the belt. That takes practice. As a general guide, anything above 65-70% is fair game for using your belt. You probably don’t need to wear the belt on bench press.
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WHAT'S NEXT?
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