My Weight Training Ladder


I am the rare person who has enjoyed a life long enjoyment of weight training, and I also enjoy distance running. I only discovered my love of distance running in the last 10 years, and only in the last 5 years did I get serious enough to run significant distances. I have run 3 full marathons and totaled a 1,000 pound total in the deadlift, squat and bench press within the same years. I am also 49 years old so I rarely train really heavy as it quickly burns me out, leaves me feeling achy and unmotivated to train. Serious strength trainers taboo distance running, but my years on this planet have told me that I need both and quite frankly I love the meditative state I fall into when running. This post is about weight training, we will talk distance running another time. My enjoyment of weight training goes back to my childhood and training with my father, brother and my friends. This web site's name is a reference to my continued practice of moving weights as well as my passion for technology.

I wanted to share my current weight training method, the ladder method, which entails working around increasing roughly 80% of your 1 rep maximum. To me this feels much less abusive. Another method I used for a number of years with great success was the 5/3/1 training philosophy, which made me the strongest I have ever been. I was burnt out on that system though and to get myself lifting weights 3-4 times a week again I had to change things up. The ladder method sparked a new fire for strength training without leaving me worrying how I was going to hit my weights next session. This method is not about percentages or grinding through reps. Instead you autoregulate and adjust the loads by feel. The program is simple with a focus on big moves. Below are my rep ranges and I do not increase weight when going from a higher rep range back to a lower. I continue doing this workout until it feels easy to me, and then I increase the weight. Rest between sets is equivalent to about how long it would take your training partner to finish their set. I often train alone, so I estimate rest time and usually move pretty quickly. Focus should be on clean repititions with great technique.

I alternate bench presses and overhead barbell presses depending on what I feel like doing that day. I also alternate in pull ups instead of curls, and I might alter the reps performed each set. I do not sweat bad days, ladders work by allowing the volume to do the work. The nervous system adaptation takes time to fix the wiring.

There is all kinds of variations you can do with this system. Feeling great? Add an extra run through the ladder. Feeling burned out, try a week with lower weight and a rep scheme as follows.

Olympic lifts work very well with ladders as well and are a great way to give you a different challenge.