Strength Theory – Cycle 1 Complete

Strength Theory - Cycle 1 Complete

Strength Theory Roundup

I recently posted about my success wrapping up my squat cycle for Strength Theory (because it’s offset by about a week compared to everything else), but as of last night I wrapped up deadlifts and bench as well. I wanted to write about the success, challenges, and next steps!

Strength Theory Successes

Overall, I’ve really loved with Strength Theory has brought to the table for me:

  • Flexibility to pick the accessories and scheduling I’d like
  • Focus on the major lifts I’m interested in
  • Structure for reps/sets on my main lifts

I can’t ask for much more in a program than that. The flexibility lets me keep my interest levels high, and high interest means I’m going to be engaged to try my best. The structure and focus is really the “boring” stuff that’s going to drive home results though.

So, how did my lifts change over the course of one (albeit slightly modified) Strength Theory cycle?

  • Estimated 1RM for back squats up by 8 lbs (320 tested -> 328 estimated)
  • Tested 1RM for box squats up by 5 lbs (390  tested-> 395 tested)
  • Tested 2RM for front squats at 215 (up from some immeasurably low number)
  • Tested 1RM for bench up 5 lbs (225 -> 230)
  • Tested 1RM for sumo deadlifts up 20 lbs (390 -> 410)

So in the time it took to get one of these cycles done, I hit PRs in essentially all of my lifts. Can I attribute this all to Strength Theory? I think it helped, but I don’t think it was the only reason.

  • Strength theory ensured I wasn’t randomly trying to hit 1RMs in my training cycle
  • I’ve been very focused on nutrition over the past couple of months ensuring I eat consistent macro intakes (while my weight hasn’t increased)
  • I’ve been more motivated than normal (things like new music, new ipod, new lifting gear have helped)
  • I’ve started leveraging lifting gear more (belt, wraps, knee sleeves, lifting shoes)

So it’s helped. It’s helped enough, in my opinion, that I’ll do it again. And just another cool little note that my weight has only changed about a pound or two (maybe?) this entire time.


When I reflect on some of this, it’s pretty minor:

  • Not as much upper back volume as I’d like. This isn’t the fault of Strength Theory, but more how I’ve structured my accessory work. Strength Theory has it set up so my back work is only on my deadlifting day, and I’ve been trying to get more and more lower back work in. I’ll need to spread out the pullups throughout the workouts.
  • Close grip bench is not much help, in my opinion, because I already bench very narrow. I know it’s to help build my triceps, but I’m wondering if incline would be better to trade in because of my already narrow grip. I won’t make this modification for next time… But I’d like to think about it.
  • Chains/bands get left out. And… this is the one that for me is really just whining. Strength Theory doesn’t leverage chains and bands. Boo-fucking-hoo. I can still toss them on for my accessory movements if I want, so I’ll give that some thought this next time through.

Next Steps

So, where do we go from here? I’ll be trying the entire cycle one more time with no modifications (except to my accessory work to get more upper back in and some bands/chains) but with my new maxes:

  • Bench: 230
  • Sumo Deadlifts: 410
  • Squat (estimated): 328

If I can continue to progress linearly on this path, then so be it. I hit PRs in everything in around a month, so I’m all for continuing with that!

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