Hepburn Solution?

Discussion in 'Barbell' started by Kaisersemmel, Sep 30, 2019.

  1. Kaisersemmel

    Kaisersemmel Double-Digit Post Count

    Has anyone tried one of Doug Hepburn's programs? I came across an old Mike Mahler Article on tnation and even though Mike Mahler describes a full body routine instead of the upper/lower splits Hepburn recommended the basic progression seems to be the same.

    Here are the two programs:

    A Program
    Power (strength): do 8 sets of 2 with a weight you can lift 8 times and work up to 8 sets of 3 adding 1 rep per workout
    Pump (hypertrophy): reduce weight by 20% and do 3 sets of 6. Work up to 3 sets of 8

    B Program
    Power (strength): do 5 sets of 1 with a weight you can lift for 3 reps and work up to 8 sets of 1
    Pump (hypertrophy): do 6 sets of 3 with a weight you can lift 8 times and work up to 6 sets of 5

    As I said, Doug Hepburn recommended upper lower splits that looked something like this:
    Lower: Squat, Bent Over Row, Deadlift
    Upper: Bench, Curl, Overhead Press

    Looks very sensible to me. Has anyone tried it or something like it?
    I like the combination of heavier weights for low reps and medium weights for medium reps to get more volume in.
    Last edited: Sep 30, 2019
  2. Pavel Macek

    Pavel Macek More than 2500 posts Master Certified Instructor

    Not exactly A or B program to the letter, but I have used parts of it for my snatch & bent press program, as well as dumbbell swing and press program. Good stuff!
  3. kennycro@@aol.com

    kennycro@@aol.com More than 500 posts


    Hepburn was definitely a gifted individual. His training plan makes some sense. It will work to some extent.

    However, let's evaluate his program based based on the research and anecdotal data that we now have.

    A Power Progarm

    Power is best developed with loads in Traditional Exercises (Squat, Bench Press, Deadlift) of 48 to 62% of 1 Repetition Max.

    The use of a load of 8 sets of 2 - 3 repetition falls into the right range for training Power.

    However, the use of a load that you can perform for a set of 8 repetition is little too high; it closer to 80% of your 1 Repetition Max.

    The Olympic Lifts are the prime movement in which power is best developed with load of 70 - 80% of 1 Repetition Max.

    While Hepburn's Power Training will provide some increase in the development of power output, a lower percentage is more effective.

    The Number of Power Repetitions

    With each repetition performed, power begins to drop.

    Once power output drops, one of two things need to happen...

    1) The set need to be terminated.

    2) Cluster Set, a short rest period between the repetition in the set need to be taken to allow for recover so that power output to be maintained.

    Example of Cluster Sets

    Perform 1 - 3 Repetition, rest 15 45 seconds, the perform 1 - 3 Repetitions.

    B Power Program

    The same application in the A Power Training Program applies to the B Power Program.

    An increase in the number of repetition is fine as long as power output is maintained.

    If power output isn't maintained, you aren't training Power.

    Increasing 5 sets to 8 sets is fine; providing each repetition is performed explosively.

    A And B Pump Sets

    These are fine.

    Kenny Croxdale
  4. Kaisersemmel

    Kaisersemmel Double-Digit Post Count

    Thanks for you in-depth explaination Kenny Croxdale. But I think my post was misleading. "Power" simply stands for strength. From what I have seen back in the day it was pretty common among lifting to use the term "power" instead of strength. Powerlifting for example. I don't know why, maybe it was just short for "powerful"? Sorry for not clarifying his terminology. He clearly writes that this type of progression is meant to develop max strength. I fixed it in the OP.
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  5. Philippe Geoffrion

    Philippe Geoffrion More than 500 posts

    My thoughts exactly.

    I think it is a sensible program, if you have patience and a strict rigidity to the schedule. You'd be fresh after each workout, as the weight is somewhat modest. I think it would work in the long run, if you: have the discipline to remain undistracted, use the right weight and start it with expectation to follow it for several months before seeing great improvement. Reminds me of Justa a bit, although the frequency is low. Moderate load, limited exercises repeated Ad Infinium and a solid long term plan.
    Last edited: Oct 4, 2019
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  6. Kaisersemmel

    Kaisersemmel Double-Digit Post Count

    Here are some other versions of his method that he used once he was in his 50s. No power and pump during the same workout. And he usually only did 2 main lifts per training day and was more liberal with OFF days. So something like 1 on/1 off or 1 on/2 off using upper-lower splits.

    A Program v2:
    start with 4 singles and work up to 10 singles adding 1 rep per workout

    once you hit a wall you switch to...

    B Program v2:
    start with 4 sets of 3 and work up to 10 sets of 3.
    Work up to weights used in the A Program before switching back to A Program.

    if B Program takes too long you might do this instead...

    C Program:
    start with 5 sets of 3 and work up to 5 sets of 5

    I guess you could also stick to a more common way of periodization and do the higher volume B or C Program first and then use the A Program to peak and work up to a 1RM.
  7. kennycro@@aol.com

    kennycro@@aol.com More than 500 posts


    I realize that you are on the "Earn while you learn program", we all are, including me.

    However, it makes is hard to communicate information if we have different definitions for term or words.


    Power and Limit Strength are two different term that are not interchangeable.

    If the term Power was being used back then for Limits Strength, it was incorrect, even more so today.

    There's NO Power In Powerlifting

    The term Powerlifting is a misnomer. There is nothing about the sport of Powerlifting that even comes close to it every being considered "Powerful".

    Powerlifting is a test of Limit Strength. It take seconds to finish a Squat, Bench Press, or Deadlift.

    For some reason in America, the competition Squat, Bench Press, and Deadlift was termed as Powerlifting.

    The English referred the the competition Squat, Bench Press and Deadlift as "Strength Lifts"; which is exactly what it is.

    Powerlifting is the only sport that is a test of your Limit Strength.

    The Real Powerlifting

    The Olympic Lift are the real powerlifts.

    Power is measured in newtons and watts. The high the number of newtons or watts you produce, the greater your power output.

    With that said, here's research on the amount of power produce by Powerlifters and Olympic Lifters...

    "In “A Review of Power Output Studies of Olympic and Powerlifting: Methodology, Performance, Prediction and Evaluation Test”, elite Olympic lifters’ and powerlifters’ power outputs were as follows (w/kg = watts per kilo of body weight):

    During Entire Snatch or Clean Pull Movements:
    34.3 w/kg Men
    21.8 w/kg Women

    Second Pulls:
    52.6 w/kg Men
    39.2 w/kg Women

    Squat and Deadlift:
    12 w/kg Men

    With this basic breakdown in mind, the power output comparisons of a
    100-kilo male lifter in the clean, second pull and deadlift would be as follows.

    Clean————-3430 watts
    Second Pull—-5260 watts
    Deadlift———-1200 watts

    Obviously, there is a huge difference in power outputs. The power output of clean pulls is 2.85 time greater than a deadlift. Second pulls are even higher with power outputs 4.38 times larger than deadlifts. Garhammer’s research showed that even when dropping the training poundage down to lower percentages for Olympic pulls and deadlifts, outputs for Olympic pulls were still almost twice as great. Starr was way ahead of the curve on his training in regards to Olympic pulls for deadlifts." Source: The No Deadlift, Deadlift Training Program, The No Deadlift Program to Improve Your Deadlift

    Increasing Limits Strength

    Yes, Hepburn's developed strength with this program. While Hepburn's program worked, we now have more information on how altering some of his protocol to produce a greater training effect for increasing Limits Strength.

    Research and anecdotal data have demonstrated that.

    Dr Michael Zourdos' Research

    Zourdos' found that Limit Strength increases were best achieve when a program included: Hypertrophy, Power and Strength Training within the same program.

    Westside Powerlifting Training

    This program was developed back in the 1980's and reinforece Zourdos' current research.

    It is a Conjugate Training Program that incorporates what Westside term as...

    1) Max Effort: Limit Strength Training

    2) Dynamic Effort: Speed Training (a misnomer, it's Power Training)

    3) Repeated Effort: Hypertrophy Training/Bodybuilding

    Synergistic Effect

    Training Limit Strength, Power and Hypertrophy produces a synergistic effect; 2 + 2 = 5.

    One type of strength training enhance the other.

    Dr Brad Schoenfeld's Hypertrophy Research

    Schoenfeld Hypertrophy Training research came to the similar conclusion about increasing muscle mass. Three factors provide a synergistic effect.

    1) Mechanical Tension: Limit Strength Training

    2) Metabolic Stress: Hypertrophy Training, the use of load 65 - 80% for sets of 8 plus repetitions, with short Rest Period (60) seconds between sets.

    3) Muscle Damage: Pushing yourself to failure or near failure in the final week of a training cycle produced this, as well as, full range movements under a heavy load that stretched the muscle being worked.

    Research show that loaded stretches between set of an exercise for approximately 30 second increase muscle mass.

    Differentiation of Training Results

    Where you place the emphasis in writing and performing a training program determine on the training effect that you primarily obtain, Limit Strength, Power, Speed, Hypertrophy, etc.

    One more thing in regard to training with any program is...

    Periodization Training

    This mean progressively increasing the work load every week for a number of weeks. The final week involves pushing the limit in an exercise; going to failure or near to it in Limit Strength and Hypertrophy Training.

    Once your all out week is completed, you need to start over with new exercises or a lighter, easier load with the ones you are using.

    This is "Active Recovery". It allow you to increase Limit Strength and muscle mass, depend on where the focus of of your training program was.

    The General Adaptation Syndrome

    The foundation of Periodization Training is build on The General Adaptation Syndrome. The body become acclimated to something new. When the occurs progress stops.

    The General Adaptation Syndrome is universal.

    It is also used for dieting, as a means of decreasing body weight/body fat or increasing body weight/muscle mass.

    Bodybuilder's use this method for "Bulking" and "Cutting". However, many don't understand the nuances of how to effectively make it work for increasing body weight (maximizing muscle mass and minimizing fat gain) or decreasing body weight (maximizing fat loss and maintaining muscle mass).


    "Everything works. But nothing works forever."

    In other word, you have to trick your body into going where you want it to go.

    Kenny Croxdale
    Last edited: Oct 4, 2019
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  8. Jeff Roark

    Jeff Roark Triple-Digit Post Count

    I had really great results using a version of the Hepburn Program. It really packed the power into my presses, especially the Military Press.

    I've just started using a version of it now for my bent press training. Interested in seeing how it pans out.
    Kaisersemmel likes this.
  9. Kaisersemmel

    Kaisersemmel Double-Digit Post Count

    Jeff, I hope it works out for you. The Bent Press is a really impressive lift. But I fear I would get hurt doing it :D

    I gave the Hepburn Methord a try for the MP for a few workouts and really liked it. Problem is it takes quite a while to do all these sets so doing a whole program based on the Hepburn Method would be too much of a time commitment for me. But I will keep it in mind if I want to focus on overhead press or bring up a lagging lift.
  10. Jeff Roark

    Jeff Roark Triple-Digit Post Count

    Thats why I said I used a version of it, my own version. All I did was use the set/rep scheme to my liking. I have to admit, I'm not like the most that post on this board. From what I can tell the majority of members will follow every program right down to the most minute detail, and thats a good thing for the most part.

    For my version I only used 1 main lift and just one or two assistance exercises for just 2 or 3 sets.
  11. Kaisersemmel

    Kaisersemmel Double-Digit Post Count

    Yes, i understood that.
  12. kennycro@@aol.com

    kennycro@@aol.com More than 500 posts

    Hepburn Program

    Hepburn's program falls more into Limits Strength Training rather than Power Training. That due the fact that Power is best developed with loads of 48 to 62% of 1 Repetitions with Traditional Strength Training Exercises, such as: Squats, Pressing, Deadlifting, etc.

    Hepburn's training percentage are around 80% of 1 Repetition Max, which is too high for optimal Power Training.

    The exception to that rule is Olympic Lift Movements. Olympic Lift Moveements and other similar type Power Movement are optimally developed with loads of 70 - 80% of 1 Repetition Max.

    The Foundation of Power

    Strength is the foundation on which Power is build, displayed and maintained. Thus, a program, like Hepburn's, that increases Limit Strength, initially increase Power.

    Power = Strength X Speed

    An great example of this is to assign numbers to Strength and Speed.

    If Strength = 2 and Speed = 2. That would mean that Power = 4 (Strength/2 X Speed/2).

    If we increase Strength to equal 3, that would mean that Power = 6 (Strength/3 X Speed/2).

    Lifting Weight Makes You Slow

    There is some truth to this old adage.

    Two Type of Fast Twitch Muscle Fiber

    1) Type IIa Fast Twitch Muscle Fiber: These muscle fiber are associated more with increases in Limits Strength, 1 Repetition Max development.

    2) Type IIb/x "Super" Fast Muscle Fiber: These muscle fiber are associated more with Speed and Power.

    Muscle Fiber Conversion

    1) Limit Strength Only Training: If only Limit Strength is trained, "Super" Fast Type IIb/x are converted to Fast Twitch Type IIa; increasing Limit Strength at the expense of a decrease in Speed/Power.

    2) Speed/Power Only Training: If only Speed is trained, Fast Type IIa are converted over to "Super" Fast Type IIb/x; increasing Speed/Power at the expense of a decrease in Limit Strength.

    Olympic Lifters

    Olympic Lifter are are the true Power Athletes and Poster Children for Conjugate Training.

    Olympic Lifters combine Power Training (Olympic Movements) and Limit Strength Training into the same program. This is Conjugate Training; training two different type of Strength at the same time.

    A Comparison of Strength and Power Characteristics Between Power Lifters, Olympic Lifters, and Sprinters. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, 1999, 13(1), 58–66 q 1999 National Strength & Conditioning Association

    This article examined the Strength dominance of athletes in each of these sport based on their training.

    Powerlifter demonstrated that greatest levels of Limit Strength.

    Olympic Lifter displayed the greatest amount of Power.

    Sprinter exhibited the greatest Speed.

    Take Home Message

    1) Initially, increasing Limit Strength will increase Speed and Power.

    However, at some point, continuing to only train Limit Strength will produce a decrease in Speed and Power.

    2) At some point to ensure Power is maintained and increased, some type of Power Training needs to be implemented into a training program.

    One of the most effective method is to implement is Conjugate Training; combining Limit Strength and Power Movements, with the appropriate training percentages, repetitions, sets, etc into your program.

    Kenny Croxdale
    Last edited: Oct 11, 2019
  13. Steve Freides

    Steve Freides Forum Administrator Senior Certified Instructor

    It would be great if someone would post links to the program or programs we're talking about in this thread.


  14. Jeff Roark

    Jeff Roark Triple-Digit Post Count

    Kenny we're talking in generalities here brother, so, ok, it packed strength. Strangely enough I know I could move 225lbs over my head much faster than in comparison to other training methods I had used. I used Westside way back in the 90s. Not interested in all that. But anyway, here are two comparisons...

    Hepburn Program-


    Not Hepburn
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  15. Mirek

    Mirek Quadruple-Digit Post Count

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  16. kennycro@@aol.com

    kennycro@@aol.com More than 500 posts

    Training Specifics

    The information that I presented is based on research and empirical data.

    To reiterate, the foundation of Power and Speed are built on Limit Strength.

    The stronger you are, the greater force you can produce.

    Other Training Methods

    It is impossible to analyze why the other methods didn't work, since I don't know what they were.

    Sometime what occurs is a program is incorrectly implemented which ensure that it's not going to work.

    As an example, years ago, I implemented a Deadlift Training Program that put 50 lbs on my Competition Deadlift.

    I then modified the Deadlift Training Program. In doing so, my Deadlift dropped 50 lb that year.

    It was like baking a cake. I had all the right ingredients but in the wrong amounts.

    I slightly modified that program, increasing my Competition Deadlift 70 lbs. I added back the 50 lbs that I'd lost and then added another 20 lbs. It took me just over a year to do that.

    Hepburn Solution

    As you noted, "It packed strength".

    If you are able to increase your 1 Repetition Max to from let's say 225 lbs to 250 lbs, that means your are going to be able to move 225 lbs with more Power.

    Dr Mike Stone was formerly one of the Olympic Lifting Coaches with the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Spring.

    In an interview, Stone was ask what American Olympic Lifters need to do to move up in the World Standing.

    Stone replied, "They need to get stronger". That in a Power Sport, Olympic Lifting.

    However, only focusing on Limit Strength will only take you so far. To maximize your potential, a more synergistic effect to training is required.

    The Westside Method is formulated from the Olympic Lifer's Conjugate Training Protocol. Westside has been around since the mid 1980's, over 30 years. It has proven to be an effective method.

    Dr Michael Zourdos' research on the use of Conjugate Training (Hypertrophy, Power and Limit Strength) into the same weekly program reinforced the method employed by Westside and Olympic Lifters.

    Dr Brad Shoenfeld's research on Hypertrophy Training, determined that Bodybuilder's Hypertrophy Training is optimized with a Conjugate Training approach.

    The Take Home Message

    1) Increasing Limits Strength is a vital component of increasing Power and Speed, to a degree.

    2) Research and anecdotal data have demonstrated optimal results are obtain when a Conjugate Training Protocol is part of one's program in the quest for Limit Strength, Power, Speed or Bodybuilding's Hypertrophy Training.

    3) Your Training Objective determines how you write and execute the Conjugate Training Program based on your goal.

    Kenny Croxdale
    Last edited: Oct 16, 2019
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  17. Jeff Roark

    Jeff Roark Triple-Digit Post Count


    When I used the Westside program I found several things. For me it worked decent on the bench press but for squat and deadlift it was terrible.

    On the bench press I found that I made the fastest gain when I implemented the Speed and Repetition method vs. the Speed and Max effort.

    The box squatting and the speed deadlifts just didn't get the carryover. I went backwards in a hurry. I voiced my concerns about it back in the early 2000's on some discussion boards and I was told I was implementing it wrong, but I was not. I told them that it simply wasn't carrying over to my raw squat. I was told that I was basically an idiot. I may talk slow, but I'm much sharper than the ones that was just spouting off what they had read others say. Low and behold, in time others started saying the same thing I said, it just wasn't carrying over.

    Over time I learned that I need just one top heavy set of deadlifts once every 2 weeks for max performance. For squats I was strongest overall when I did a McRobert Brawn style workout when I did squats for 2 sets of 6-10 reps. I know it doesn't match all the science, but my numbers and log books didn't lie.

    Wendler comes along with his 3 day per week book and 5-3-1 and it was back to basics from a Westside lifter, who stated he could waddle up to a bar and squat 1000lbs but wasn't strong. I understood him instantly.

    If I want to focus on my power it will be done like John Christy and Jim Wendler, I'll jump, throw and sprint.
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  18. kennycro@@aol.com

    kennycro@@aol.com More than 500 posts

    Implementation and Execution

    While there is some degree variance of the results obtain with Westside, any method, if the program is well written and executed, it is going to work.

    As I note regarding my Deadlift. I implemented a Complex Training Deadlift Training Program. Doing so, increased my Deadlift.

    Complex Training is a variation of the Westside Method. Essentially, you Super Set a Limit Strength Movement with a Power and/Speed Movement.

    Basically, I followed the Complex Training Protocol correctly; my Deadlift when up.

    I then ventured into writing a more aggressive Complex Training Deadlift Program. The concepts of what I termed as, Advanced Complex Training were correct. However, the application was incorrect.

    My Deadlift dropped back down, due to incorrect application. Rather than blame the program, I looked within at how I might not have implemented it and applied it to elicit a greater training effect.

    I spent a year of implementing the Advanced Complex Training incorrectly; my Deadlift dropping about 50 lbs to where it previously was.

    I then re-wrote the Advance Complex Training Program. In doing so, my Deadlift went back up to 50 lb gain that I originally obtain and then increased another 20 lbs. It took me about another year to figure it out.

    "Research is what I am doing, when I don't know what I am doing." Einstein

    The take home message is the even Einstein didn't initially get it right at first.

    As Alexander Graham Bell said about failure, "I am simply eliminating what doesn't work and moving closer to finding what will work".

    Whoever said, "If you don't succeed, try, try again" wasn't kidding. It a painful learning process.

    It Doesn't Work For Me

    In working with other on their training programs, I constantly here, "It doesn't work for me". The primary reason is the program is being incorrectly implemented. Metaphorically speaking, it's "Garbage in, garbage out."

    Why Not Me?

    One of the fundamental questions that I ask myself when something that works for other but isn't working for me, is "Why not me?"

    That is first question I ask when someone tells me that something that works for just about everyone else isn't working for them, "Why not you?"

    The underlying issue of why it is not working is usually a misunderstanding and misapplication of the training protocol. That applies to me and everyone else.

    Limit Strength Training

    Limit Strength Training definitely increase a 1 Repetition Max. However, a well written program that implements Power and Hypertrophy in conjunction with Limit Strength Training magnifies it.


    Good book. One of the things that Brawn, as well as High Intensity Training; low volume and high intensity training demonstrated is that one of the fundamentals of increasing Size, Limit Strength, Power, etc. is Intensity.

    Low Volume High Intensity Training

    Some individual, like myself and you, respond to Low Volume, High Intensity Training.

    High Volume Moderate Intensity Training

    Some individuals respond to High Volume, Moderate Intensity Training.

    Medical Dosage Analogy

    Think of Low Volume and High Volume Strength Training as a medication. The key is finding the right dosage of the medication that works specifically for you.

    As with physicians, they may use the same medication to treat their patients but they also find the dosage may need to be adjusted for optimal results.

    That Will Work

    As long as an individual's program includes some Hypertrophy, Power and Speed, that will work, providing the right training protocol is employed.

    Exercise and Training Percentages

    Certain resistance exercise are more effective than other in the development for increasing Limit Strength, Power and Speed than others.

    Specific Training Percentages for exercises determines if you are training Limit Strength, Power, or Speed.

    As an example, the Westside Speed Training is actually Power Training. That based on the Training Percentages used. Speed Training requires a much lower training percentage.

    Kenny Croxdale
  19. Steve Freides

    Steve Freides Forum Administrator Senior Certified Instructor

    IMO, the issue for many people is that you have to approach "speed" training not as "how fast can I move" but "how fast can I move and still remain tight enough?" In other words, if you're a well-experienced lifter with a really solid groove, adding speed may work, but if you haven't figured all that out, you can achieve speed at the expense of other aspects of form and technique.

    Philippe Geoffrion likes this.
  20. Sean M

    Sean M Quadruple-Digit Post Count

    Hopefully we don't mind me resurrecting this thread.

    Lately I have been following what I dub "Old Man Hepburn" (from this article, as it was his revised training advice late in life) with deadlift and military press:
    I deadlift every 4th day (pull, three days off, pull, etc) and press every 3rd day (press, rest, rest, press). I am about to re-cycle the deadlift (most recently 8 x 1 @ 345, of 385 recent 1RM), and just re-cycled the press from 10 x 1 @ 115 to 4 singles at 120.

    There is something very satisfying about heavy singles, and it fits really well in my home life (I can hit the singles over 30-60 minutes (long rest, 5-8 minutes) in the evening among family time).

    Per the article, when singles get stale, you drop the weight 10-15% and work triples along the same progression. Or a condensed version of that is "C Routine":
    @kennycro@@aol.com, curious your thoughts.
    Last edited: Dec 4, 2019 at 7:01 PM

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