Shifting the Curve (STC) is an innovative strength training program inspired by periodization theory, backed by scientific evidence, and grounded in practice. The STC program has 8 variations, which allow athletes to pick their optimal frequency in the powerlifting movements and preferred weekly training split. These variations exist so that you get the most specific training template that fits your training level and preferences. The STC program is offered through the MyStrengthBook platform, and can be accessed on the Premium Membership.
To explain the STC program in more detail, let’s begin with a short discussion on how progressive overload is achieved.
Milo of Croton was the first person in recorded history to use progressive overload to garner inhuman strength. He began carrying a young calf on his shoulders up a mountain to drink water from a lake. Every day the calf would grow larger and heavier until eventually, Milo was carrying a full-grown steer up the mountain to drink water from the lake. To accomplish this feat, it is recorded that Milo ate 20 pounds of meat and drank several gallons of wine daily.
While the legend of Milo is entertaining, it illustrates the principle of progressive overload, which is exactly what STC is designed to deliver. This principle is the gatekeeper of all adaptations. Without an overloading stimulus, there is no “call to action” for the body to adapt.
In the event of an overloading stimuli (physical, psychological, emotional, etc.), adaptations occur through a phasic response known as the general adaptation syndrome (GAS). This phenomenon was first observed by the Austrian Physician Hans Selye. GAS theory describes that an overload or progressive stimulus initiates something called an alarm reaction phase. This would be your departure from homeostasis where you fall below baseline performance for a short period of time. The second phase is known as the resistance phase, when the body responds by fortifying the structures and processes required to improve performance. Ideally, these two phases will repeat cyclically until the phase of exhaustion is reached. When reached, the stimulus is considered stale and no longer “hard enough” to produce further progress.
Our adaptation in response to stress is specific to the training demands. In exercise science, this is known as the principle of specificity or the specific adaptations to imposed demands principle (SAID). For example, Milo adapted to the load of the calf because he carried it every day on his shoulders up a mountain. As a result, Milo became proficient at this specific task. For powerlifters, positive adaptations require us to have specific training demands that focus on maximal strength in the squat, bench press, and deadlift.
Oftentimes, most programs fail to produce results because they overlook these principles. The STC program was created to bridge that gap and get you on the path to new personal records.
The bottom line is STC programs were designed to peak your strength for new PRs in the gym or in competition.
In the first phase, the “Preparatory Phase”, the athlete will be in a general preparation period or volume block. This phase will build the athlete’s foundation by easing them into the increased training volume. This phase will have both the highest training volumes and lowest intensities of the 12-week plan. It has been designed this way because volume is the main factor driving strength and hypertrophy.
In the second phase, the “Intensification Phase”, the athlete will be transitioning into an intensity block. This phase will enhance specificity through increased practice of the main lifts. To do so, we programmed an increase in training intensity alongside more working sets.
In the third phase, the “Competition Phase”, the athlete will be challenged to reach their peak strength levels. This portion will continue to increase work sets at higher intensities. This features an aggressive build-up of sport-specific practice, leading to an eventual reduction in training volume. We have incorporated our collective experience to provide you maximal recovery and strength when it is most important. The STC 12-week plans can be appropriately used to prepare for a strength test or competition.
The Strength Guys have developed a filtering process which helps athletes determine the most suitable program based on their experience level. Previous training history and life demands have also been considered within our algorithm. Our collaboration with MyStrengthBook offers endless possibilities to help you advance in each training block.
Our programs are tailored to maximize your performance in the Squat, Bench Press, and Deadlift. This differs from the standard “one size fits all” approach, as your experience and individual needs have been considered in our development process.
Use the filter above to help select the program which is most suitable to you. Once you’ve used the filter to determine your optimal training frequency, proceed to the My Strength Book program library where you can select your STC program.
Why does specificity matter?
We only consider the specific competition techniques of the Back Squat, Bench Press, and Deadlift in the STC Filter for numerous reasons. Let’s explain.
Maximal muscle strength is defined as the maximum force output of a muscle in a single maximal voluntary contraction of either a concentric, eccentric or isometric muscle action. In the sport of powerlifting, increasing the capability of a muscle to produce maximal force through the concentric, eccentric, and isometric muscle actions of a lift IS the goal.
Muscle length is an important component of expressing maximal muscle strength. Image retrieved from: https://courses.lumenlearning.com/boundless-ap/chapter/control-of-muscle-tension/
Considering the force-length relationship illustrated above, it is clear a sticking point exists. Anyone who has performed the power lifts can attest to this. We have not included variations of the main lifts because this curve is different for each specific lift. So, we have focused only on the movements that are most specific to competition. Also, the technique required in competition should be practiced most often in training.
In conclusion, we agree that increasing joint angle specific strength and addressing force deficits are valuable through variations of the main lift. However, we favor shifting the curve and driving progress through increased practice of the main lifts.
Why does frequency matter?
The second level of our filter evaluates the frequency at which you’ve been training each main lift, and whether or not you’ve made progress in the past 4 months at this frequency. Shifting the Curve is a unique training philosophy, because it addresses the common question of whether one truly needs to change their training approach. If strength has increased, it can be assumed that this will be accompanied by volume increases. In contrast, if strength has not increased, repeating the program would not produce results. Therefore, an adjustment to training would be required.
Amongst the numerous options coaches have at their disposal to increase strength, adding an additional day of lift-specific training will result in the most significant increases in volume. This is why training frequency was the priority in developing our STC Filter.
If you’re not sure on which option of Shifting the Curve is right for you, we’re here to help you assess and understand your situation.
Here are a few examples you can use to understand which option is best for you:
Example A: STC [2x/week Frequency]
John has only been training the main lifts (Squat, Bench Press, and Deadlift) once per week and most of his work has been focusing on accessory work for a more hypertrophy/bodybuilding focus.
He has decided to start a more Powerlifting focused program, so increasing the total frequency of the main lifts would be a good idea. However, jumping to the 3x per week on the main lifts might be too much at the beginning especially since John might have time constraints. By using our filters, it will lead him to the 2x per week training program which will increase his overall volume done on the main lifts by increasing his frequency to twice per week. This will allow him to build strength as his body adapts to the added stressor of another training day.
Example B: STC [3x/week Frequency]
Jason has been training Powerlifting for a good 1-2 years now and trains the main lift at least twice per week with sound technique. What he realizes is that his progress for the main lifts is slowing down, especially on the Bench Press. He could probably benefit from more frequent squatting and bench pressing as doing so will allow him to practice the competition lifts more frequently which can contribute to his strength gains.
By following our flow chart, he will find that he falls into the 3x stream of programs. This will increase his total frequency in the main lifts, also allowing a gradual increase in volume and form practice.
Example C: STC [4x/week Frequency]
Taylor is an intermediate lifter with at least 3-5 years of training under his belt. He has competed at a few meets and learned that increasing the training of his main lifts has allowed him to continually make gains.
However, he would like to continue to push the boundaries of strength to have an elite total and qualify to compete at the national level. There is only so much volume he can perform on the main lifts in a single day, so by increasing his frequency to 4x per week, it will appropriately increase his volume without excess fatigue.
When selecting 4x per week via our filters, this program will ensure that recovery is taken into account despite the increased volume and intensity. Ultimately, this allows lifters to continually shift the curve and push the boundaries of strength and competition performance.
Periodization – splitting up training into specific periods or time frames with specific performance objectives and the training variables manipulated accordingly to minimize injury, manage fatigue, and maximize performance on a particular day.
To access STC programs, you’ll need a premium membership on MyStrengthBook. To get started sign-up for a FREE TRIAL, head to the Program Library, and add one of the STC training cycles into your calendar.
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