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The Soviet Science Brute Muscle Workout

Build bull strength with this workout based on world renowned weightlifting coach Alexander Prilepin's method.

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  • 4 weeks

  • 36

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The Soviet Science Brute Muscle Workout

Take your shirt of during summertime and you’re turning heads at the beach. But this isn’t summer, which means you’re more likely to be wearing long-sleeve shirts and a coat than board shorts. So the idea of attaining deep cuts and shredded muscularity may not be quite as appealing to you right now as simply building mucho mass and jaw-dropping strength. Fair enough. With this in mind, we’ve reached back into the annals of training routines to dig up one of the most venerated strength templates ever devised: Prilepin’s Chart. Based on the findings of the legendary USSR weightlifting coach Alexander Prilepin, the chart lays out the parameters you need to calculate how much you should be lifting in a given week, as well as the set and rep ranges required to help you blast through your current maxes.

By the end of it, you just may be repping out with the same weights that used to be your max. Ready to get back to basics?

The History

Alexander Prilepin, the Soviet weightlifting coach for which this training methodology is named, coached the USSR junior national team from 1975–80, and the senior national team from 1980–85. We could fi ll a book with the accomplishments of those squads, but here are the numbers that you need to know: 85 medals (including fi ve Olympic golds and three silvers) and 27 world records. How’d he do it? By analyzing the training logs of more than 1,000 national and international weightlifting champions to determine the intensity at which an athlete should train (expressed as a percentage of a one-rep max), the number of reps that athlete should perform per set, and the number of sets to perform in a given workout. His results speak for themselves. Below you will fi nd the chart that was the brainchild of countless hours of research. If you’re looking for a program that will build a solid base of strength, it really doesn’t get much better than what Prilepin devised. To get you started, we hooked up with expert trainer Dan Trink, program director for Peak Performance in New York City, who applied the principles of the chart to create a program with only one goal: brute strength.

The Program

Before you begin, you’ll need to test your one-rep max (1RM) on the bench press, squat, and deadlift. Then you’ll head into the gym and perform the following routine. Your assistance work is also based of of a percentage of 1RM. Since we don’t expect you to max out on exercises like leg curls, use this formula to estimate those numbers: Weight lifted x Reps x 0.0333 + Weight lifted = 1RM. You’ll want to avoid cardio on rest days—you’ll need that time for recovery. Worried about your physique? Tighten up your diet and time your carbs appropriately. At the end of the month, test your 1RMs again. Odds are you’ll have blown past your previous ceiling. The good news? That newfound strength will allow you to work with heavier weights when you’re carving up for beach season, leading to a more impressive physique overall.

Prilepin’s Chart

Percent of 1 RM Reps, Sets Optimal Rep Total Total Range
55-65 3-6 24 18-30
70-80 3-6 18 12-24
80-90 2-4 15 10-20
90+ 1-2 4 10

Routine

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Week 1

Workout A

Exercise
Equipment
Sets
Reps
Rest
Exercise 1 of 36

Back Squat

Equipment
Barbell, Squat Rack
Sets
4
Reps
4
Rest
180 sec
Use 80-90% of 1RM.
Equipment
Bench, Dumbbells
Sets
3
Reps
6
Rest
75 sec
Use 70-80% of 1RM.
Exercise 3 of 36

Lying Hamstring Curl

Equipment
Sets
3
Reps
6
Rest
75 sec
Use 55-65% of 1RM.

Week 1

Workout B

Exercise
Equipment
Sets
Reps
Rest
Exercise 4 of 36

Barbell Bench Press

Equipment
Barbell, Bench
Sets
4
Reps
4
Rest
120 sec
Use 80-90% of 1RM.
Exercise 5 of 36

Cable Pull-Through

Equipment
Adjustable Cable Machine, Rope Attachment
Sets
3
Reps
6
Rest
75 sec
Use 70-80% of 1RM.
Exercise 6 of 36

Barbell Split Squat

Equipment
Barbell, Squat Rack
Sets
3
Reps
6
Rest
75 sec
Use 70-80% of 1RM.

Week 1

Workout C

Exercise
Equipment
Sets
Reps
Rest
Exercise 7 of 36

Barbell Deadlift

Equipment
Barbell
Sets
4
Reps
4
Rest
120 sec
Use 80-90% of 1RM.
Exercise 8 of 36

Barbell Floor Press

Equipment
Barbell
Sets
3
Reps
6
Rest
75 sec
Use 70-80% of 1RM.
Equipment
No Equipment
Sets
3
Reps
6
Rest
75 sec
Use 70-80% of 1RM.

Week 2

Workout A

Exercise
Equipment
Sets
Reps
Rest
Exercise 10 of 36

Back Squat

Equipment
Barbell, Squat Rack
Sets
4
Reps
5
Rest
120 sec
Use 70-80% of 1RM.
Exercise 11 of 36

Dumbbell Bench Press

Equipment
Bench, Dumbbells
Sets
3
Reps
8
Rest
75 sec
Use 55-65% of 1RM.
Exercise 12 of 36

Stepup

Equipment
Box
Sets
3
Reps
8
Rest
75 sec
Use 55-65% of 1RM.

Week 2

Workout B

Exercise
Equipment
Sets
Reps
Rest
Exercise 13 of 36

Barbell Bench Press

Equipment
Barbell, Bench
Sets
4
Reps
5
Rest
120 sec
Use 70-80% of 1RM.
Exercise 14 of 36

Good Morning

Equipment
No Equipment
Sets
3
Reps
8
Rest
75 sec
Use 55-6% of 1RM.
Exercise 15 of 36

Barbell Reverse Lunge

Equipment
Barbell, Squat Rack
Sets
3
Reps
8
Rest
75 sec
Use 55-65% of 1RM.

Week 2

Workout C

Exercise
Equipment
Sets
Reps
Rest
Exercise 16 of 36

Barbell Deadlift

Equipment
Barbell
Sets
4
Reps
5
Rest
120 sec
Use 70-80% of 1RM.
Exercise 18 of 36

Leg Press

Equipment
Sets
3
Reps
8
Rest
75 sec
Use 55-65% of 1RM.

Week 3

Workout A

Exercise
Equipment
Sets
Reps
Rest
Exercise 19 of 36

Back Squat

Equipment
Barbell, Squat Rack
Sets
2
Reps
2-3
Rest
180 sec
Use 90+% of 1RM.
Equipment
Bench, Dumbbells
Sets
3
Reps
5
Rest
120 sec
Use 80-90% of 1RM.
Exercise 21 of 36

Barbell Reverse Lunge

Equipment
Barbell, Squat Rack
Sets
3
Reps
5
Rest
120 sec
Use 80-90% of 1RM.

Week 3

Workout B

Exercise
Equipment
Sets
Reps
Rest
Exercise 22 of 36

Barbell Bench Press

Equipment
Barbell, Bench
Sets
2
Reps
2-3
Rest
180 sec
Use 90+% of 1RM.
Exercise 23 of 36

Cable Pull-Through

Equipment
Adjustable Cable Machine, Rope Attachment
Sets
3
Reps
5
Rest
120 sec
Use 80-90% of 1RM.
Exercise 24 of 36

Barbell Split Squat

Equipment
Barbell, Squat Rack
Sets
3
Reps
5
Rest
120 sec
Use 80-90% of 1RM.

Week 3

Workout C

Exercise
Equipment
Sets
Reps
Rest
Exercise 25 of 36

Barbell Deadlift

Equipment
Barbell
Sets
2
Reps
2-3
Rest
180 sec
Use 90+% of 1RM.
Exercise 26 of 36

Barbell Floor Press

Equipment
Barbell
Sets
3
Reps
5
Rest
120 sec
Use 80-90% of 1RM.
Exercise 27 of 36

Bodyweight Walking Lunge

Equipment
No Equipment
Sets
3
Reps
5
Rest
120 sec
Use 80-90% of 1RM.

Week 4

Workout A

Exercise
Equipment
Sets
Reps
Rest
Exercise 28 of 36

Back Squat

Equipment
Barbell, Squat Rack
Sets
4
Reps
6
Rest
75 sec
Use 55-65% of 1RM.
Exercise 29 of 36

Dumbbell Bench Press

Equipment
Bench, Dumbbells
Sets
3
Reps
10
Rest
60 sec
Use 55-65% of 1RM.
Exercise 30 of 36

Stepup

Equipment
Box
Sets
3
Reps
10
Rest
60 sec
Use 55-65% of 1RM.

Week 4

Workout B

Exercise
Equipment
Sets
Reps
Rest
Exercise 31 of 36

Barbell Bench Press

Equipment
Barbell, Bench
Sets
4
Reps
6
Rest
75 sec
Use 55-65% of 1RM.
Exercise 32 of 36

Good Morning

Equipment
No Equipment
Sets
3
Reps
10
Rest
60 sec
Use 55-65% of 1RM.
Exercise 33 of 36

Barbell Reverse Lunge

Equipment
Barbell, Squat Rack
Sets
3
Reps
10
Rest
60 sec
Use 55-65% of 1RM.

Week 4

Workout C

Exercise
Equipment
Sets
Reps
Rest
Exercise 34 of 36

Barbell Deadlift

Equipment
Barbell
Sets
4
Reps
6
Rest
75 sec
Use 55-65% of 1RM.
Exercise 36 of 36

Leg Press

Equipment
Sets
3
Reps
10
Rest
60 sec
Use 55-65% of 1RM.
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