As a coach in this industry, your clients results are a testament to your success! Your coaching methods and strategies will set you apart from the crowd as your clients strength’s improve each week. If you are working with athletes or even gen pop clientele who have the goal of getting stronger and improving their 1RM, whether it is for a powerlifting meet or just a personal goal, then in 12 weeks you need to prove yourself by delivering goal achieving results!

Perhaps you are just looking to increase your own 1RM on your favorite lift. Regardless of who it’s for, here is my detailed program design and strategy for a 12 week training phase to increase strength

12 week overview

Accumulation 1 – Snatch Grip Deficit Deadlift  5 x 4-6 – 40X0

Intensification 1 – Conventional Deadlift  6 X 2-4 – 51X0

Accumulation 2 – Snatch Grip Deadlift from Floor 6 X 7,7,5,5,3,3 – 22X0

Intensification 2 – Deadlift 5 X 3,3,2,2,1 – 21X0

Periodisation over a 12 week cycle is more than just reps and sets, factors that can influence changes phase to phase also include:

  • rest periods
  • total sets of training program
  • density = work per unit of time
  • partnering of exercises – agonist supersets or upper lower partnerships all have a different training effect
  • tempo
  • exercise selection

What is undulating periodization?

Undulating periodisation involves manipulating each 3 week training block between volume and intensity phases. Accumulation phases will generally have less sets and more reps, which equals more volume! Intensification phases are based around using as much load as possible. Intensity is the goal! Undulating periodisation will generally go back and forth between strength qualities. If undulating periodization is new to you or a topic you aren’t confident working with, then I highly recommend the CHFI Performance PT Certification as this course covers this topic in greater detail.

Exercise selection and tempo periodisation.

Over the course of my career, I have been fortunate enough to be educated and mentored by the world’s best strength coaches such as Charles Poliquin, Wolfgang Unsoeld, Stephane Cazeault and particularly Clean Health founder, Daine McDonald. This has shaped my understanding of periodisation and allowed me to come up with many different structures and schemes for success with my clients. The recurring notion from each of these industry leaders is that in order to get strong in the short term and long term, periodisation is everything! In particular, manipulating tempo.

When working with an advanced client, periodisation becomes more crucial as everything needs to be perfect to get the desired training effect. A fantastic tool for a 12 week undulating periodisation scheme is giving each 3 week training block a specific identity from a tempo perspective. This is a method I learned from world renowned strength and conditioning coach, Stephane over a 5 day private internship in California 2 years ago, again these methods and learnings from senior coaches and mentors around the world are taught in detail through theoretical and practical demonstrations in our Performance PT Coaching certification.

Accumulation 1 – Functional hypertrophy  

Intensification 1 – Relative strength

Accumulation 2 – Functional Hypertrophy

Intensification 2 – Relative Strength

When periodising the lifts for the 12 weeks, each 3 week block has a specific goal and tempo to match. Here is my 12 week undulating scheme to bring up a lifters deadlift dramatically over 12 weeks. This could add 20kg to 30kg to an intermediates lifters deadlift 1 rep max.

Accumulation 1 – Snatch Grip Deficit Deadlift  5 x 4-6 – 40X0

Identity of 3 week block – Range of Motion

In this phase at Clean Health we generally start with a snatch grip deficit deadlift. This movement is sensational as it allows for the strengthening of the entire posterior chain and even quad development due to the depth needed to execute the movement. The exercise due to the large range of motion and weaker hand position means less load used and less demanding on the CNS. I prefer a touch and go deadlift for this movement. The deficit also strengthens the lifter in a weak position, the bottom of the deadlift. When we take the deficit away, now the conventional movement feels far easier.

Intensification 1 – Deadlift 6 X 2-4 – 51X0

Identity of 3 week block-  Eccentrics

Slower tempo in the lowering phase allows us to build a strong foundation for the posterior chain. In this phase a conventional deadlift works best and it’s imperative we practice this movement throughout the 12 weeks. Using a slow tempo for the eccentric phase, about 5 seconds minimum is ideal, before resetting for 1 second, then exploding up again for the concentric.

Accumulation 2 – Snatch Grip Deadlift from Floor 6 X 7,7,5,5,3,3, – 22X0

Identity of 3 week block-  Velocity/ Power

Following a phase of slow eccentrics, we generally want to focus on bar speed. Backing up a slow tempo phase with one of high velocity, is imperative to preparing the client for their peaking phase – intensification 2. For this phase I have chosen a snatch grip deadlift again, without the deficit.

The snatch grip position allows for less load to be lifted which is beneficial as it means there is less neurological fatigue. CNS fatigue is directly related to load, therefore movements which have a high carry over of strength that are less fatiguing are fantastic to implement between intensification phases. Building strength in a weaker position always translates over to strength in the conventional hand position.

Removing the deficit allows for more load to be used than accumulation 1 and is more specific to the conventional deadlift base position. As the 12 weeks progress, load still needs to increase to maximise the peaking phase.

Here we choose a Snatch grip deadlift from the floor – however we will implement a 2 second pause below the knee in the concentric. The lifter will explosively pull the bar off the floor and pause just before the bar reaches the knee for 2 seconds. Then the lifter will explosively finish the rep and lower the bar down with no tempo. This pause teaches the lifter to explosively finish the rep which is imperative for our next phase to hit a large number.

Intensification 2 – Deadlift 5 X 5,3,2,2,1 – 21X0

Identity of 3 week block-  Maximum Load

In this phase we return to our key indicator lift – the conventional deadlift. The goal here is simple, hit as much weight as possible and test their one rep max. Over the 3 weeks the 1 rep will be performed at

week 1 – RPE 8

week 2 – RPE 9

week 3 – RPE 10 (testing day)

This block is where we reap the rewards of each specific phase previously. Tempo is almost nonexistent as the focus is purely on trying to lift in the concentric part of the rep as much load as possible. I use a 5,3,2,2,1 step loading scheme here to build the client into the 1 rep. The lower rep ranges will help to excite the nervous system without overall taxing the CNS as a one rep load can do. By choosing only 1 set at 1 rep each week, the taxing of the CNS should stay low.

See one of our clients hit a 300kg deadlift raw at only 90’s bodyweight, using some of the methods we have shared with you here!

At Clean Health Fitness Institute, our systems and periodisation scheme are world renowned for industry leading results. Every day we get questions about program design and periodisation from coaches asking what books they can read to learn more. Unfortunately, quality books are few and far between on the topic. This is why we at Clean Health run our Performance PT level 1 and 2 certification, where we teach all things program design and periodisation.

To be an elite coach, you must get out of books sometimes, and experience coaching face to face in a seminar/ internship setting. This allows for a greater depth of knowledge and understanding as all your questions answered.

Yours in health,

Mark Carroll / Global Head of Education

Clean Health Fitness Institute

Editor’s note: If you are a personal trainer wanting to learn how to maximize results with every day clientele, check out our CALENDAR OF EVENTS to find out when we are teaching our world leading courses on business, nutrition and training for fitness professionals in a city and country near you!  

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to “Increase Your 1RM on a Deadlift in 12 Weeks”

  1. C. B

    How do program all the other lifts/bodyparts while following this program?


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