Grimek Method

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John Grimek was a bodybuilder back in the time (1930’s & 1940’s) when they were as strong as they looked. Meaning they also utilised low reps in their training to create their physiques. He also competed in Olympic Weightlifting at The Games in 1936 so this guy was certainly strong.

As I mention often, success leaves clues, so let’s look at one of Grimek’s favourite Training Protocols. This protocol is genius in its simplicity and can be applied to many different goals, not just relative strength, and also has an infinite number of variations you could utilise.

Grimek Method (Original)
  • A) 5 sets of 1 rep
  • B) 5 sets of 1 rep (Mechanically Advantageous Position)
  • *All 10 x sets are the same weight

Grimek would perform 5 x singles on a major movement he wanted to improve, then make the movement slightly easier to complete a further 5 x sets at the same weight. Here’s an example of a Deadlift session:

  • A) Barbell Deadlift (Clean Grip, From Floor): 5 sets of 1 rep
  • B) Barbell Deadlift (Clean Grip, From 2″ Raise): 5 sets of 1 rep
Countless Variations
  • Grip: A) Bench Press (1″ Narrower than Competition Width), B) Bench Press (Competition Width)
  • Tempo: A) Back Squat @ 32X0 (Paused), B) Back Squat@ 30X0 (No Pause)
  • Stance: A) Front Squat (Heels on 2.5kg Plates), B) Front Squat (Feet on Floor)
  • Starting Point: A) 80 Degree Incline BB Press (Concentric First), B) 80 Degree Incline BB Press (Eccentric First)
  • Partials: A) Behind the Neck Press (Top Third ROM), B)Behind the Neck Press (Top Quarter ROM)
  • Barbell: A) Incline Press (3″ Barbell), B) Incline Press (2″ Barbell)
  • Other Variations to Consider: Eccentrics, 1 & Quarter, Accommodating Resistance, Eccentric/Concentric Pauses, Rest Pause for the ‘B’ series, Belt on/off, Wraps or sleeves on/off

There are so many ways to play with this if you think about it, and more importantly individualise to your weakness. It won’t always be black & white. I’ve seen people with the ability to deadlift from a slight deficit more than they can pull from the floor or a partial so their Deadlift session could like this:

  • A) Barbell Deadlift (Floor): 5 x 1
  • B) Barbell Deadlift (2″ Deficit): 5 x 1
Reps & Sets

Grimek’s intention was to utilise this for Neural reasons. Heavy weight and plenty of exposure to it. You could though adapt it and utilise higher reps. You could take Advanced German Volume Training and make it more demanding, creating a Functional Hypertrophy response:

  • A) Back Squat: 5 x 6 @ 41X0
  • B) Back Squat: 5 x 6 @ 40X0

You could even consider by-passing the rigidity of the 5 x sets for the ‘A’ series and simply complete as many sets up to 10 as possible and progress once all 10 sets are complete on the ‘A series’ variation. For Example:

  • Week 1: A) Front Squat @ 32X0 (6 sets complete), B) Front Squat @ 30X0 (4 sets complete)
  • Week 2: A) Front Squat @ 32X0 (8 sets complete), B) Front Squat @ 30X0 (2 sets complete)
  • Week 3: A) Front Squat @ 32X0 (10 sets complete)
  • Week 4: Change variation

So there you have it. A timeless and fantastic protocol. Even without all the variations, it’s honest hard work that will provide results.

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