Cyclical AMRAP Progression, 3-Week Variant by n-Suns

The following article was written by n-Suns from Reddit

What is this?

This is my personal program that I’ve been running, it is set up with the primary purpose of increasing the Squat, Bench, and Deadlift, as well as getting stronger on close variants, and getting bigger all around. I personally find that without a decently well laid out program, the progression on my lifts start to really suffer. This has kept me on track, making consistent incremental gains on all of my primary lifts, and allows enough customization to address various weak points as they arise.

Over the last year I’ve slowly combined the best parts of the various programs that I’ve run into this 3 week sheet, and since putting it all together this summer I have managed to increase my estimated maxes (the entire program is based on estimates) on my Squat, Bench, and Deadlift for a combined total of 85lb in only four (4) three-week cycles, to an estimated total that is nearing 1500lb. I have not tested any actual 1 rep maxes in a while, but after 4 cycles, I am hitting my previous 1 rep maxes for 3-4 clean reps with ease. So as long as that continues, I see no reason to make any additional changes.

I have never competed in powerlifting, I do not claim to know everything about programming for powerlifters, or peaking lifts. But I have run quite a few programs over the years and have found a few of the things that have been working for me personally. This may be a program you enjoy, it may be a complete waste of your time, but I personally really enjoy the cyclical setup, the quantity of sets for each lift, hitting PR’s regularly, and making small consistent gains week to week, month to month.

Link to access full interactive spreadsheet version of CAP-3 Routine:

CAP3 – Cyclical AMRAP Progression, 3-Week Variant.

Where do I begin?

  • At the top-left of the next page, in cell E4 you will find a drop-down list (image below). Clicking this cell will allow you to choose whether you want the program to be calculated out in Pounds (Lbs) or Kilograms (Kgs). Please make your selection, then continue on

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  • To the right of the unit selection, you will find a box labeled “Estimated Max Calculator” – You will use this throughout the program to determine what your estimated maxes are for each lift. Just input the weight, and reps, in the corresponding white boxes, for a close guess at what your 1 rep max would be. (Remember, higher rep sets will result in less accurate estimates). You will also use this calculator to determine when you set new rep PRs

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  • Further to the right, you will find another drop-down list labeled “Week #”, Start with Week “1”
  • Below all of this, you will find the boxes for your lift selections

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  • Click on each drop-down box, and select the lift of your choice. These lifts should be chosen based on what your personal, individual weak points are.
  • Input your Max in the middle cell under the heading “Max”, this should be the most weight you have ever lifted, or a calculation based from a 2-3 rep max for the lift chosen in the dropdown menu. (You will never need to adjust this cell again, it will become a reference point for your progress as your TM increases well above and beyond your Max)

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  • After you have made all your selections from the drop-down lists, you are done setting up the program and ready to begin week 1.

So how does this work?

Lift 1: Each day will consist of two (2) programmed lifts. For the first lift, you will perform the sets and reps as shown, according to the color the cell is shaded with. So, using the first day as an example we have this:

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You will start out, by warming up on the flat bench, and working your way up to the weight that is shown in the first box. In this case, we will work up to a set of 240 for 4 reps.

You will continue doing the sets, and reps, as shown, progressing from left to right across the table. So on day 1 in this example, you will do seven (7) sets of four (4) reps ranging between 240, and 255.

The last set is highlighted in yellow with a “+” symbol. This denotes an AMRAP set (As many reps as possible). Push this set hard, and try to set a new personal record for yourself.

A list of what the other highlight colors mean is shown at the bottom of the page, and looks like this:

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Lift 2: For the Second lift of each day, you will do exactly what is written. So using Day 1 as an example again, we would work our way up to 220 with a close grip bench, and perform 10+ reps, the goal again here, should be to set a new Rep PR.

After the 10+ set at 220, you move onto the next cell. – In this example it says MRS:8+ @ 200. What this means, is that you reduce the weight to 200, and then perform a Max Rep Set (MRS) aiming for a minimum of 8 reps, but more if possible.

The final cell in this row, where it says “Repeat: EMOM until you fail to complete 5 reps”, is where you will get the remainder of your volume for the day.

What this means, is that you will continue to do sets at 200, for as many reps as possible, for as many sets as it takes, until you can no longer complete at least 5 reps.

The Key here, is that these sets must be performed with only 1 minute of rest. Every minute, on the minute (EMOM) this will ensure that fatigue will limit your total daily volume, and prevent you from going too crazy in single day.

Major progression

  • You will perform a Maximum Effort, High Intensity set for each lift, only once every 3 weeks
  • On these days, you will choose from one (1) of the three (3) options, (6+, 4+, or 2+), you will warm up, and then perform an AMRAP set at the corresponding weight
  • If you are able to complete the minimum number of reps shown, but do not set a new Estimated 1 Rep Max, add 2.5kg / 5lb to your Training max, and continue on
  • If you are able to complete enough reps to set a new Estimated 1 Rep Max (use the calculator), Increase your Training Max to your new Estimated Max (Rounded Up)
  • If you are unable to complete at least the minimum number of reps shown, reduce your training maxes for that lift during the next cycle, and push your AMRAP and accessory work harder

Secondary progression

  • If you set a rep PR on a Yellow AMRAP set, adjust your TM to the new Estimated max
  • If you are able to complete all of your required reps, but haven’t set a new rep PR by the end of the 3 week cycle, add 2.5kg / 5lb to your TM and continue on
  • If you are unable to complete all of your required reps, lower your TM by ~5-10% and push those AMRAP sets MUCH harder for the next cycle

How do I incorporate accessory work?

  • After completing the second lift of each day, you can incorporate as much, or as little accessory work as you have time, and energy for. I have given suggested muscle group pairings for each day, that I prefer to work together
  • In a given session, I will usually do an additional 1-4 exercises per muscle group, for as many sets of 6-8+ reps as possible, depending on what I feel is either a weak point in my lifts, or is a lacking muscle group. You will need to decide which accessories you would like to incorporate, and what set/rep range works the best for you as an individual

Other notes

  • You will notice that each day also has some band work, and either mobility, or chin-ups written down at the top. You can adjust this to suit your needs, but I strongly recommend maintaining some kind of shoulder and back work as often as possible
  • The two (2) columns furthest to the right, show what the daily volume, and INOL are for each lift. – This was included as it helped me to set up the program, it doesn’t account for any additional reps performed during the AMRAP sets, nor does it account for skipping the optional sets, or secondary work. – This is just for reference
  • Below the Volume and INOL quantities is a white box. When you are doing your EMOM Max Rep Sets it can be good idea to have a target volume, I suggest you keep track of your maximum volume for each lift, and input it in this box. Then on MRS days, you can set a goal of beating your former personal volume record
  • You can calculate your total daily volume for the second lift, by inputting the weight, and total reps in the white boxes in the table pictured to the right.

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Then what?

  • At the end of each week, change the drop-down list to the next week of the cycle
  • Week 1 -> Week 2. Week 2 -> Week 3. Week 3 -> Week 1
  • You can repeat the training program indefinitely

Rest days and deloading?

  • Rest days are built into the program and you are expected to take them before the MAJOR PROGRESSION AMRAP days
  • You can take other rest days if needed, but your training frequency should never drop below 4x per week.
  • Take deloads as needed after finishing a cycle, if you need one more frequently than once every couple cycles, you probably need to work on your recovery outside of your training sessions (sleep, food, stress, etc.)

Other questions?

I am also currently working on a 6 week variant with a similar layout, that would have the MAJOR PROGRESSION AMRAP days spaced out a bit further, on weeks 2, 4, and 6, so you have more time to build up volume between PR attempts, but it isnt complete yet. I will update the Google Drive File with an additional Sheet for CAP6 when it is complete

Contact me on Reddit, Username /u/n-Suns if you have other questions or comments.

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