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Hepburn Solution for Strength and Power
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T NATION
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Hepburn Solution for Strength and Power
by Mike Mahler
06/23/08

Doug Hepburn wasn't a good marketer. He simply called his best workouts "Program A" and "Program B." However, what those titles lack in inspiration, they make up for in building size and strength.

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pf
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simple isn't always easy.......

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crod266
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very nice program

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Defekt
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The "method" presented seems like a pretty simple tried and tested way to get big and strong. Lift really heavy and then do some assistance work. This isn't a put down, as its always nice to have a few more solid programs floating around for people to pick up when they get bored with what they are doing. This looks great for almost any lifter. I'm sure it'll work fine for pretty much every beginner and intermediate lifter there is.

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Vires Eternus
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I really like this program. I'm already doing something similar as far as the basic lifts and separating my 'low rep/high resistance' and doing it first, from my 'higher rep/lower resistance' doing it afterwards.

(that just seems natural to me)

But the means of progression looks really ingenious. Trading one set at a time for one higher rep looks like a good way to progress especially when the weight is high and especially challenging.

I do that hap-hazardly anyway from time to time, but not in an organized fashion. I've got to try this out.

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echelon101
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This is definitely going on my program stack.

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hockechamp14
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I have two questions;

1) If you train 4 times a week, do you progress from workout to workout or week to week?

2) Which set should the +1 rep be used on? In the article it sounds like it should be the last set. Does it make a difference?

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JayPierce
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I like this. I hereby adopt it as my strength program. I think I'll cycle the two programs month-to-month, and do my accessory work on the off days.

Hockechamp, I think it goes

2,2,2,2,2,2,2,2
2,2,2,2,2,2,2,3
2,2,2,2,2,2,3,3
2,2,2,2,2,3,3,3..... Until you get to all threes, then reset

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homer23
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With all the science that suggests the use loads of at least 90% max for strength gains, I find interesting the relative light loads (8RM) used in program A. I realize that this has worked for Hepburn and others, I'm just curious as to what others feel about the loading. I love the progression though and will give it a shot. Should also be a nice break for the joints and ligaments.

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Kuz
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homer23 wrote:
With all the science that suggests the use loads of at least 90% max for strength gains, I find interesting the relative light loads (8RM) used in program A. I realize that this has worked for Hepburn and others, I'm just curious as to what others feel about the loading. I love the progression though and will give it a shot. Should also be a nice break for the joints and ligaments.


That's actually an interesting point re: the 90% of 1RM. While I am sure it is less than 8 reps, I do wonder what the approximately total number of reps would be for someone (applying real intensity) to 90% of their 1RM.

Also, kind of a cool program. Given the approach to volume and the avoidance of overtraining, it actually looks like it would work well for athletes in season (at least on the 2 days a week program) or people with overly busy schedules.

I do wonder a bit about what it must be like 4X a week since it is just the 2X program done twice.

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entheogens
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Mike, after your first article, I bought and read Doug Hepburn's autobiography. Thanks for the tip. It's a thoughtful book that even non-lifters would benefit from reading.

I am, BTW, about to give Hepburn's "A" workout a go (I would like to do the "B" program, but it looks like the sessions would be long and for practical reasons i.e. work, I have to keep my sessions under an hour).

In any case, one aspect of Hepburn's workouts look to fly in the face of the usual training advice. That is, instead of changing lifts every few weeks, it looks like he is saying that you should stay with the same 6 excerices that you choose over a rather long perido. Is that how you read it? In other words, if you choose bench press, deadlift and curl (for upper body) and back squat, calf raise and leg curl (for lower body), it seems like he is saying stick with those over the period that you continue to do the "B" program, which, according to him, could last for a year.

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homer23
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[quote]Kuz wrote:

That's actually an interesting point re: the 90% of 1RM. While I am sure it is less than 8 reps, I do wonder what the approximately total number of reps would be for someone (applying real intensity) to 90% of their 1RM.

I think its widely accepted that a 6RM is about 85%.

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Roland Fisher
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90% gets 3 reps in most people.

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JayPierce
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Just finished my first workout under program A. I feel as if I worked, but not so much that I wore myself out.

I'll be splitting up each day's workout into two sections. I like to lift before I go to work in the morning, and about an hour after I get home. It ends up being every twelve hours. I'm gonna do lower body in the morning and upper body in the afternoon.

I think I'll run A for a month and B for a month and see where it takes me.

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John K
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Check out this story from the dinosaur training site where Bill Pearl reflects on the greatest feat of strength he has ever witnessed:

"He said he was up in Vancouver B.C. back in 1955/56 and Hepburn was on a lifting platform up on a stage approximately six to seven feet above the floor. He said that Hepburn had just gone through a horrific workout and when he was done he jumped from the stage to the floor below. But get this, he didn´┐Ż??t land on his feet. He landed on his hands in a perfect handstand and held it. Pearl was shaking his head in disbelief as he related the story."

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twiceborn
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One thing Doug changed later in his life is that you DO NOT do the Power and Pump programs together in the same workout.
He felt the Pump program was overkill and probably did him more harm than good. 8 sets of 90% singles followed by a full 5x5 would kill any of us.

His refined training which he advised when older and wiser (in the late 90's before his death) went like this:

"A Routine" - Use Singles, start with 4 total and build up one rep per workout until you hit 10. (4 to 10 reps with 90%)
"B Routine" - Use triples and do the same progression. This was used when you went stale on the "A" routine, and was used until you were using the same weight for triples as you did for singles on "A" (12-30 reps with 75-80%)

You would do the "A" program until you went stale (and you WILL go stale, trust me) and then switch to the "B" routine for a few months. You don't pick and choose depending on the day,you use them in order, A/B/A/B... Doug thought the average guy could go 4 months on each before having to switch to the other program. THIS, he said, was the key to continued gains.

If using the "old style" workouts, you ALWAYS add the single reps to the FIRST sets until you hit the goal. For example:

3/3/3/3/3
4/3/3/3/3
5/3/3/3/3
5/4/3/3/3... and so on...

He said you should always do the added reps as soon as possible in the workout to maintain your energy. Don't add them at the end until its time to.

And not to be a jerk to Mike Mahler, but Doug would never superset (ie: A1/A2). He mentioned that he thought the idea was silly and it took away from focus on the lift you're working on. He liked total focus and would meditate between lifts. He was a big believer in self-hypnosis / autosuggestion.

I have been using these programs solely for more than 7 years. For such simple programs, they work better than anything else if you have the patience not to rush them.



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ScottDT1
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twiceborn, where did you get that information from? Thanks.

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hockechamp14
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twiceborn wrote:
One thing Doug changed later in his life is that you DO NOT do the Power and Pump programs together in the same workout.
He felt the Pump program was overkill and probably did him more harm than good. 8 sets of 90% singles followed by a full 5x5 would kill any of us.

His refined training which he advised when older and wiser (in the late 90's before his death) went like this:

"A Routine" - Use Singles, start with 4 total and build up one rep per workout until you hit 10. (4 to 10 reps with 90%)
"B Routine" - Use triples and do the same progression. This was used when you went stale on the "A" routine, and was used until you were using the same weight for triples as you did for singles on "A" (12-30 reps with 75-80%)

You would do the "A" program until you went stale (and you WILL go stale, trust me) and then switch to the "B" routine for a few months. You don't pick and choose depending on the day,you use them in order, A/B/A/B... Doug thought the average guy could go 4 months on each before having to switch to the other program. THIS, he said, was the key to continued gains.

If using the "old style" workouts, you ALWAYS add the single reps to the FIRST sets until you hit the goal. For example:

3/3/3/3/3
4/3/3/3/3
5/3/3/3/3
5/4/3/3/3... and so on...

He said you should always do the added reps as soon as possible in the workout to maintain your energy. Don't add them at the end until its time to.

And not to be a jerk to Mike Mahler, but Doug would never superset (ie: A1/A2). He mentioned that he thought the idea was silly and it took away from focus on the lift you're working on. He liked total focus and would meditate between lifts. He was a big believer in self-hypnosis / autosuggestion.

I have been using these programs solely for more than 7 years. For such simple programs, they work better than anything else if you have the patience not to rush them.





Would he use more than one lift during a training session? Then the pump session is a second session like the westside dynamic day. Amazing how similar principles and concepts never die.

My mom was telling me the other day about my "cutting edge" training. I told her that the human body hasn't changed in the last 100 years. Neither have training principles. Just because so many people complicate and retard down things doesn't mean this has to be difficult.

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Zero_Z
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Wait... 8 sets of 2 with your 8 rep max? 2 to 3 minute rest? Am I reading this wrong because I'm confused.

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Defekt
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Zero_Z wrote:
Wait... 8 sets of 2 with your 8 rep max? 2 to 3 minute rest? Am I reading this wrong because I'm confused.


"The weight will feel light... and that's the point."

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Vires Eternus
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Zero_Z wrote:
Wait... 8 sets of 2 with your 8 rep max? 2 to 3 minute rest? Am I reading this wrong because I'm confused.


Staley's EDT training uses this to, but the rest periods are much shorter. Supposedly force output is higher. If you read anything on EDT training it'll explain the science behind why it works.

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Curodd
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Poliquin is a huge fan of hepburn too, and again like twiceborn said, some of the things Poliquin states he learned from hepburn are different then this article(BUT the majority is similar)
Realisitically, look at a poliquin strength routine like the one in his article improving overhead pressing strength

A1 Standing front press-8x1, 3x5-3
A2 insert antagonistic pair-8x1, 3x5-3

CNS intensive work, followed by functional hypertrophy work, very similar to hepburns program. Multiple sets for gains in strength. Poliquin always recomends that the sets and reps be inversly proportionate.

Also like twiceborn said(i think? lol) he would use split systems, focusing on two lifts per day(see routine above). I believe Poliquin simply improved on that method by focusing mainly on two lifts per day but pairing them together after reading research about antagonistic pairing. And lastly, if you look at the MAIN concept behind this program, it is slow CONTINUOUS progress. Similar to to Poliquin's ideas on micro loading useing platemates etc

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homer23
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Vires Eternus wrote:
Zero_Z wrote:
Wait... 8 sets of 2 with your 8 rep max? 2 to 3 minute rest? Am I reading this wrong because I'm confused.

Staley's EDT training uses this to, but the rest periods are much shorter. Supposedly force output is higher. If you read anything on EDT training it'll explain the science behind why it works.


...good point - and to take it a step further, lift explosively to increase force. Simply lifting an 8RM for sets of two will not recruit the highest threshhold motor units as the load is less than optimal for strength. Although not mentioned in the article, I'm guessing this has to be a key ingredient to the success of this program. In Poliquin's Hepburn article, he actually mentioned using a weight that would cause "your spleen will come out of your left eye socket to complete 8 sets of 2" and attempt to add a rep each workout. Again, an 8RM is well below this. Thoughts???

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Jusa80
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1) If you train 4 times a week, do you progress from workout to workout or week to week?


I was wondering the same thing, anyone?

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lil_diesel90
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twiceborn wrote:
One thing Doug changed later in his life is that you DO NOT do the Power and Pump programs together in the same workout.
He felt the Pump program was overkill and probably did him more harm than good. 8 sets of 90% singles followed by a full 5x5 would kill any of us.

His refined training which he advised when older and wiser (in the late 90's before his death) went like this:

"A Routine" - Use Singles, start with 4 total and build up one rep per workout until you hit 10. (4 to 10 reps with 90%)
"B Routine" - Use triples and do the same progression. This was used when you went stale on the "A" routine, and was used until you were using the same weight for triples as you did for singles on "A" (12-30 reps with 75-80%)

You would do the "A" program until you went stale (and you WILL go stale, trust me) and then switch to the "B" routine for a few months. You don't pick and choose depending on the day,you use them in order, A/B/A/B... Doug thought the average guy could go 4 months on each before having to switch to the other program. THIS, he said, was the key to continued gains.

If using the "old style" workouts, you ALWAYS add the single reps to the FIRST sets until you hit the goal. For example:

3/3/3/3/3
4/3/3/3/3
5/3/3/3/3
5/4/3/3/3... and so on...

He said you should always do the added reps as soon as possible in the workout to maintain your energy. Don't add them at the end until its time to.

And not to be a jerk to Mike Mahler, but Doug would never superset (ie: A1/A2). He mentioned that he thought the idea was silly and it took away from focus on the lift you're working on. He liked total focus and would meditate between lifts. He was a big believer in self-hypnosis / autosuggestion.

I have been using these programs solely for more than 7 years. For such simple programs, they work better than anything else if you have the patience not to rush them.


Alright, if he felt the pump part of the program was death to the cns, would it be adviseable to choose one movement for the muscle group you're training that day and repping out for one set at the end of the lifting session with a moderate weight? honest question on my part

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