Strength Circuits Upgrade

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One Strength Coach I like to read is Christian Thibaudeau. He writes great stuff whilst also walking the walk, meaning he looks like his product. A few years ago I saw his ‘Strength Circuits’ article on T-Nation and loved the concept of these for enhancing Fat Loss, Work Capacity or Strength. He’s some further details from my experience with them.

Christian’s Strength Circuitdeath-circuit

  • A1) Dead Squat x 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 with a 30-60 second rest period
  • A2) Bench Press x 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 with a 30-60 second rest period
  • A3) High Pull x 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 with a 30-60 second rest period
  • A4) Military Press x 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 with a 30-60 second rest period
  • A5) Lat Pull Down x 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 with a 120 second rest period before starting the next circuit

So as you drop a repetition each circuit you increase the weight accordingly. The 2 minutes at the end of the circuit is where you will do this.

My Further Thoughts


I prefer the following structure to firstly put the explosive movement earlier on. If you consider Poliquin & Nillson’s modification of Dietmar Schmidtbleicher’s ‘Levels of Muscular Activation’ & take into account the Exercise Order Principle ‘Complex neurological exercises should be performed first in the training session’ you’ll see a better return:

  • A1) Olympic Lifting/Explosive/Complex Movement
  • A2) Quad Dominant Compound Movement
  • A3) Back Dominant Compound Movement
  • A4) Hamstrings Dominant Compound Movement
  • A5) Press Dominant Compound Movement

The-Snatch-Grip-DeadliftAfter that I simply follow a Death Circuit order of Quads –> Back –> Hamstrings –> Press


One of the variables that gets the least attention. Every exercise should have a tempo prescription and you can get creative to avoid boredom or work on weak points simply by adjusting the tempo.

Pauses (Note I’ve added in Advantageous Position, Disadvantageous Position, Eccentric & Concentric Pauses)

  • A1) Barbell Power Clean from Floor (Pause Mid Shin on Concentric): X0X2
  • A2) Barbell Front Squat: 32X0
  • A3) Pull Up (Pronated, Sh. Width): 30X2
  • A4) Barbell Deadlift, Snatch Grip (Pause Mid Shin on Eccentric): 32X0
  • A5) Flat Barbell Press (2″ Barbell): 30X2

Slow Eccentrichow-to-overhead-press-a-beginners-guide-graphics-1

  • A1) Power Snatch from Hang (Mid Thigh): X0X0
  • A2) Barbell Back Squat (High Bar, Narrow Grip): 8010
  • A3) 2″ Chin Up (Semi-Supinated Narrow): 8010
  • A4) Barbell Deadlift, Clean Grip (4″ Deficit): 8110
  • A5) Standing Barbell Press: 8010

Slow Concentric

  • A1) Log Power Clean from Blocks: X0X0
  • A2) Safety Bar Back Squat (Heels on plates): 5050
  • A3) Supinated Chin Up (Shoulder Width): 5050
  • A4) Trap Bar Deadlift: 5050
  • A5) 30 Degree Incline Swiss Bar Press (Wide): 5050

Back Off Round

After the 5 rounds of 5, 4, 3, 2, 1, considering your goal is work capacity or fat loss add in a Back off round of 10 reps at a controlled tempo (e.g. 3010). Your body & CNS will be primed to utilise a heavier than usual weight due to the heavier rounds.

Front-SquatWho, When & Why

I like to use these with Dopamine dominant types or strength athletes that need to shed a bit of body fat or improve their work capacity. It’s a great way to start a new phase for 1-2 weeks. They’ll enjoy the fact that each round they get to drop a rep and increase the weight. If you gave them straight Death Circuits as in my previous article they’ll bomb out.

Other times I’ve included this would be on an Intensification phase for Intermediate/advanced athletes/clients for fat loss. I outline how I program for Fat Loss in my seminars which are found on the Course Calendar

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