Lessons from Bob Peoples

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Success leaves clues and Bob Peoples was someone who was able to get inhumanly strong 60-70 years ago with only the very basic of equipment & knowledge. Famous for his deadlift style (Rounded Back) & numbers. He managed a 330kg deadlift at a bodyweight of only 81-86kg!

I highly recommend you visit Bill Hinbern’s website Super Strength Training. There is a vast library of books where you can learn from Legends of the Strength game. Granted not all of the information is applicable but you’ll certainly learn a thing or two.

Here are a few things that stood out for me from Bob Peoples’ ‘Developing Physical Strength’

Importance of Eccentricspeoples-gym

Bob valued eccentric only protocols highly. Eccentrics are when you’re lowering the weight under control which will place tension on the muscles recruited. I’ve been using different protocols for years with great success. Bob noticed that when you can perform 7 sets of 1 eccentric only, with 5-10% extra weight, this would equate to the ability to lift that weight concentrically.

Bob would also take advantage of an extra slow eccentric on the last repetition of a set as another method of overload. He would complete 3 reps for instance on a deadlift. Then lower the last repetition under control back down. Once he was able to complete 5 reps along with a controlled eccentric on the last repetition, he would increase the weight.

Peoples-1-1-2Double Progressive System

Bob’s preferred method of training was called the Double Progressive System. It focused on being able to increase the number of repetitions done a specific weight before increasing it. The rep scheme he used for strength was 3-5 and he mentioned 5-10 & 7-15.

This highlights the value of patience when pursuing strength goals. Adding weight to the bar is one option but there are many other ways of overload.

Importance of Rounded Back Work

Bob’s technique in the deadlift was arguably wrong. That being said he lifted huge weights and without injury. Other legends like Bill Kazmaeier and Fred Hatfield are also proponents of rounded back work. I often utilise rounded back sled pull throughs with myself & clients. The sled offers an advantage as it takes the eccentric out of the equation.

5 x 5, 3, 1 Protocol

Here’s a protocol from Bob’s book. Start with 5 sets of 5 reps, & ramp up each set 5-10%. After the last set of 5 add a further 5-10% and complete a set of 3. After the set of 3 add a further 5-10% and complete a set of 1. Following week simply start each set heavier.


There aren’t many new things out there in the realms of strength training. It’s most likely all be done before. Bob proves this with some of his approaches many years ago that still achieve results today.

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