My Weight Training Ladder
I am a rare person who has enjoyed a lifelong enjoyment of weight training, and I also enjoy distance running. I discovered my love of distance running in the last ten years, and only in the previous five years did I get serious enough to run significant distances. I have run three full marathons and totaled 1,000 pounds in the deadlift, squat, and bench press within the same years. I am also 49 years old, so I rarely train heavy as it quickly burns me out and leaves me feeling achy and unmotivated to train. Serious strength trainers are taboo in the 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 friends. This website’s name references my continued practice of moving weights and 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 one-rep maximum. To me, this feels much less abusive. Another method I used for several 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-to 4 times a week again, I had to change things. The ladder method sparked a new fire for strength training without leaving me worrying about 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 one. I continue doing this workout until it feels accessible to me, increasing the weight at the time. Rest between sets is equivalent to how long it would take your training partner to finish their set. I often train alone, so I estimate rest time and usually move quickly. The focus should be on clean repetitions with great technique.
- Press: 2-3-5-2-3-5
- Deadlift: 1-2-3-1-2-3-1-2-3
- Squat: 2-3-5-2-3-5
- Curls: 1-2-3-1-2-3-1-2-3
I alternate bench presses and overhead barbell presses depending on what I feel like doing that day. I also rotate 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 are all kinds of variations you can do with this system. Are you 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 and are a great way to give you a different challenge.