Workout Routines

How the Cube Method Can Take Your Strength to the Next Level

Try this less-traditional lifting approach that emphasizes variation and recovery.

Barbell back squat
Per Bernal / M+F Magazine

The Cube Method is a lesser-known strength program that deviates from the traditional linear progression formulas. Developed by world-renowned powerlifter Brandon Lilly, who has a three-lift total in excess of 2,000 pounds, the Cube Method places an emphasis on variation and recovery. Or, as Lilly puts it, “it’s a way to always keep the train moving forward without having to slow down.” Below, we outline everything you need to know so you can try it yourself.

WHAT IT IS

A protocol that rotates between a “heavy,” “repetition,” and “explosive” day for the deadlift, back squat, and bench press, with variations of the bench press and back squat. Accessory work is provided, but there’s room for customization.

HOW IT WORKS

The cyclical schedule prevents overuse injuries and keeps you fresh. Also, accumulating repetitions and working on power output will make you a more complete lifter. Finally, the bench and squat variations prevent sticking points.

HOW TO DO IT

Test your one-rep maxes for the three main lifts. Follow the Cube Method for nine weeks. Week 10 will be a mock powerlifting meet, where you test all three of your maxes again on the same day.

Speed Kills: On the explosive days, focus on moving the bar as fast as you can for every rep.

The Lift Schedule

Monday: Squat
Tuesday: Bench Press
Wednesday: Deadlift

Schedule

Week Mon Tues Wed
Week 1 Heavy Repetition Explosive
Week 2 Explosive Heavy Repetition
Week 3 Repetition Explosive Heavy

This is one 3-week cycle. Perform 3 of them.

Heavy

Days % Amounts Sets Reps
Monday 80% 5 2
Tuesday 85% 3 2
Wednesday 90-92.5%-95% 1-1-1 1-1-1

Repetition

Days % Amounts Sets Reps
Monday 70% 1 8
Tuesday 80% 1 6
Wednesday 85% 1 2

Explosive

Header Header Header Header
Monday 60% 8 3
Tuesday 65% 6 2
Wednesday 70% 5 2

Accessory Lifts

Squat & Deadlift: Snatch-grip deadlift, barbell row, front squat, leg curl, leg press, good morning

Bench Press: Close-grip bench, skull-crusher, biceps curl, upright row

Lilly suggests using the accessory work to target weaker muscles. He adds, “Keep the rep range between 6 and 12.”

Exercise Variations

Bench Press: Flat bench press, board press, floor press

Deadlift: 1-inch deficit pulls, 2-inch block pulls, 4-inch block pulls

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