Workout Routines

The Soviet Science Brute Muscle Workout

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

by
Bodybuilder
Duration 4 weeks
Exercises 36
Equipment Yes

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

Week 1 Workout A

Exercise 1

Back Squat You'll need: Barbell, Squat Rack How to
Back Squat thumbnail
4 sets
4 reps
180 sec rest
Use 80-90% of 1RM.

Exercise 2

Warrior Fit Incline Dumbbell Bench Press You'll need: Bench, Dumbbells How to
Incline Dumbbell Bench Press thumbnail
3 sets
6 reps
75 sec rest
Use 70-80% of 1RM.

Exercise 3

Lying Hamstring Curl How to
Lying Hamstring Curl thumbnail
3 sets
6 reps
75 sec rest
Use 55-65% of 1RM.

Week 1 Workout B

Exercise 1

Barbell Bench Press You'll need: Barbell, Bench How to
Barbell Bench Press thumbnail
4 sets
4 reps
120 sec rest
Use 80-90% of 1RM.

Exercise 2

Cable Pull-Through You'll need: Adjustable Cable Machine, Rope Attachment How to
Cable Pull-Through thumbnail
3 sets
6 reps
75 sec rest
Use 70-80% of 1RM.

Exercise 3

Barbell Split Squat You'll need: Barbell, Squat Rack How to
Barbell Split Squat thumbnail
3 sets
6 reps
75 sec rest
Use 70-80% of 1RM.

Week 1 Workout C

Exercise 1

Barbell Deadlift You'll need: Barbell How to
Barbell Deadlift thumbnail
4 sets
4 reps
120 sec rest
Use 80-90% of 1RM.

Exercise 2

Barbell Floor Press You'll need: Barbell How to
Barbell Floor Press thumbnail
3 sets
6 reps
75 sec rest
Use 70-80% of 1RM.

Exercise 3

Bodyweight Walking Lunge You'll need: No Equipment How to
Walking Lunge thumbnail
3 sets
6 reps
75 sec rest
Use 70-80% of 1RM.

Week 2 Workout A

Exercise 1

Back Squat You'll need: Barbell, Squat Rack How to
Back Squat thumbnail
4 sets
5 reps
120 sec rest
Use 70-80% of 1RM.

Exercise 2

Dumbbell Bench Press You'll need: Bench, Dumbbells How to
Dumbbell Bench Press thumbnail
3 sets
8 reps
75 sec rest
Use 55-65% of 1RM.

Exercise 3

Stepup You'll need: Box How to
Step-Up thumbnail
3 sets
8 reps
75 sec rest
Use 55-65% of 1RM.

Week 2 Workout B

Exercise 1

Barbell Bench Press You'll need: Barbell, Bench How to
Barbell Bench Press thumbnail
4 sets
5 reps
120 sec rest
Use 70-80% of 1RM.

Exercise 2

Good Morning You'll need: No Equipment How to
Good Morning thumbnail
3 sets
8 reps
75 sec rest
Use 55-6% of 1RM.

Exercise 3

Barbell Reverse Lunge You'll need: Barbell, Squat Rack How to
Barbell Reverse Lunge thumbnail
3 sets
8 reps
75 sec rest
Use 55-65% of 1RM.

Week 2 Workout C

Exercise 1

Barbell Deadlift You'll need: Barbell How to
Barbell Deadlift thumbnail
4 sets
5 reps
120 sec rest
Use 70-80% of 1RM.

Exercise 2

Seated Overhead Dumbbell Press You'll need: Dumbbells How to
Seated Overhead Dumbbell Press thumbnail
3 sets
8 reps
75 sec rest
Use 55-65% of 1RM.

Exercise 3

Leg Press How to
Leg Press thumbnail
3 sets
8 reps
75 sec rest
Use 55-65% of 1RM.

Week 3 Workout A

Exercise 1

Back Squat You'll need: Barbell, Squat Rack How to
Back Squat thumbnail
2 sets
2-3 reps
180 sec rest
Use 90+% of 1RM.

Exercise 2

Warrior Fit Incline Dumbbell Bench Press You'll need: Bench, Dumbbells How to
Incline Dumbbell Bench Press thumbnail
3 sets
5 reps
120 sec rest
Use 80-90% of 1RM.

Exercise 3

Barbell Reverse Lunge You'll need: Barbell, Squat Rack How to
Barbell Reverse Lunge thumbnail
3 sets
5 reps
120 sec rest
Use 80-90% of 1RM.

Week 3 Workout B

Exercise 1

Barbell Bench Press You'll need: Barbell, Bench How to
Barbell Bench Press thumbnail
2 sets
2-3 reps
180 sec rest
Use 90+% of 1RM.

Exercise 2

Cable Pull-Through You'll need: Adjustable Cable Machine, Rope Attachment How to
Cable Pull-Through thumbnail
3 sets
5 reps
120 sec rest
Use 80-90% of 1RM.

Exercise 3

Barbell Split Squat You'll need: Barbell, Squat Rack How to
Barbell Split Squat thumbnail
3 sets
5 reps
120 sec rest
Use 80-90% of 1RM.

Week 3 Workout C

Exercise 1

Barbell Deadlift You'll need: Barbell How to
Barbell Deadlift thumbnail
2 sets
2-3 reps
180 sec rest
Use 90+% of 1RM.

Exercise 2

Barbell Floor Press You'll need: Barbell How to
Barbell Floor Press thumbnail
3 sets
5 reps
120 sec rest
Use 80-90% of 1RM.

Exercise 3

Bodyweight Walking Lunge You'll need: No Equipment How to
Walking Lunge thumbnail
3 sets
5 reps
120 sec rest
Use 80-90% of 1RM.

Week 4 Workout A

Exercise 1

Back Squat You'll need: Barbell, Squat Rack How to
Back Squat thumbnail
4 sets
6 reps
75 sec rest
Use 55-65% of 1RM.

Exercise 2

Dumbbell Bench Press You'll need: Bench, Dumbbells How to
Dumbbell Bench Press thumbnail
3 sets
10 reps
60 sec rest
Use 55-65% of 1RM.

Exercise 3

Stepup You'll need: Box How to
Step-Up thumbnail
3 sets
10 reps
60 sec rest
Use 55-65% of 1RM.

Week 4 Workout B

Exercise 1

Barbell Bench Press You'll need: Barbell, Bench How to
Barbell Bench Press thumbnail
4 sets
6 reps
75 sec rest
Use 55-65% of 1RM.

Exercise 2

Good Morning You'll need: No Equipment How to
Good Morning thumbnail
3 sets
10 reps
60 sec rest
Use 55-65% of 1RM.

Exercise 3

Barbell Reverse Lunge You'll need: Barbell, Squat Rack How to
Barbell Reverse Lunge thumbnail
3 sets
10 reps
60 sec rest
Use 55-65% of 1RM.

Week 4 Workout C

Exercise 1

Barbell Deadlift You'll need: Barbell How to
Barbell Deadlift thumbnail
4 sets
6 reps
75 sec rest
Use 55-65% of 1RM.

Exercise 2

Seated Overhead Dumbbell Press You'll need: Dumbbells How to
Seated Overhead Dumbbell Press thumbnail
3 sets
10 reps
60 sec rest
Use 55-65% of 1RM.

Exercise 3

Leg Press How to
Leg Press thumbnail
3 sets
10 reps
60 sec rest
Use 55-65% of 1RM.
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