Of Monsters & Men December 08 2014

Toss the question “I’m looking for a new training routine” and big names like Coan, Lilliebridge, Westside and Sheiko will start being thrown about like notes at a strip club. It is easy to see why. Their routines have made them (or their students) the monsters and living legends they are today. In the midst of all this greatness, it can get really easy to be overwhelmed and miss the point.

When I was younger and a wreck (still am) in my studies, there would always be this guy in my class who studied endlessly day and night and got all As. There would also be another guy who hardly studied and scored the same results. If you happen to be in the mould of either Mr Sell-My-Soul or Mr Do-J**k-Shit-for-Success, congratulations! This article is definitely not for you. It took me a long while to figure out that trying or pretending to be either one of them did nothing for my studies. My grades only started moving once I finally sorted out my own studying schedule, customizing it to my own pace and attention span. 


Andrey Malanichev destroying way over 400kg (Source

It is really the same for strength training and as well as almost everything else. Following Coan or Malanichev’s training routine down to a T is definitely not going to give you a 400kg squat anytime soon nor probably anytime in the future. In fact, it is also probably not going to propel you towards maximizing your strength potential, simply because you are not built like Coan or Malanichev. Lifters like them and many others, have ungodly leverages or genetics to top off the enormous amount of effort they put in to reach the top. When Coan first started squatting, he maxed out twice a week and increased the weight weekly till he hit 225kg. If you happen to fall into this genetic pool, you definitely wouldn’t be reading this article or even be trawling the net for new training routines.

This does not go to say that there is nothing to be learnt from their routines. The greatest lifters, no matter how great, do have weaknesses and the things they do to fix them can be one of the greatest takeaways. Karwoski, despite having one of the greatest squats ever, used to lack the grip strength for a deadlift on a similar scale. Many people glaze over the fact that he did lots of paused shrugs to fix the issue and even invented his own variant of an upright row and shrug where he gripped the bar thumbless.



Kirk Karwoski performing his shrug-row hybrid (Source)


Sheiko, probably the most famous coach in powerlifting, did not have a standard template for all his lifters. He analysed each lifter’s strengths and weaknesses as well as many other factors before coming up with his own personalised plan targetted specifically for the individual. His students like Belyaev, Pozdeev and Fedorenko all had different planned sets and frequencies for their training, simply because they were not the same person!

A chain is only as strong as your weakest link. So rather than go about searching for the imaginary Holy Grail of all training routines, why not take a look at your weaknesses and go about fixing them. After all, the best training routine is the one that is best suited for yourself.


By Heng Jun Kai