September 22, 2018 in Programming

Shifting the Curve (STC) is an innovative powerlifting training system designed by The Strength Guys.

The STC system is designed to individualize itself to the recent performance history of the athlete, the athlete’s competition timeline, and the athlete’s weekly training availability.

As a result, the STC training system contains different program variations in order to account for these individual elements.

No matter what your background is (first time athlete or experienced), where you are within your competition schedule (training for a meet 12-weeks away or next year), or what your desired training frequency is, you will find a STC program variation that works for you.

Let’s explain how STC works.

There are 3 components to the STC model:

STC is inspired by periodization theory: STC is a training system which utilizes much of what is known about modern periodization theory. Athletes use a filtering system that guides them to selecting a program variation based on recent training history. The STC training system also considers the fatigue management by carefully selecting training load and intensity, and the use of highly successful competition/test week tapering strategies.

STC is backed by empirical evidence:  The STC training system considers evidence from the latest findings in scientific research pertaining to training load management for maximum strength and muscle gain, and tapering strategy.  There are many different training methods which can elicit positive outcomes, but STC focuses only on those proven by research to yield maximum results.

STC is grounded in practice:  The methods and principles of the STC training system have been tested on hundreds of athletes, from novice to experienced, with favorable results.  Amongst many others, some of the high-achieving athletes who train by the methods and principles of innovative STC training system include: Taylor Atwood, 74 kg World Champion, Eli Burks, 105 kg World Champion, Rhonda Wong, 47 kg 2018 IPF World’s Bronze Medalist, Quentin Myers, 66 kg USA Bench Press National Champion, and Sean Moser, 93 kg Arnold Classic Champion.

Personalizing The STC Program

There are two primary methods to personalize the STC program:  choice of frequency and number of weekly workouts.

  1. Choice of Frequency 

Amongst the numerous options coaches have at their disposal to increase strength, adding an additional day of powerlifting-specific training will result in the most significant increases in volume.

An athletes’ frequency is based on both personal preference and response to their current training frequency. In general, athletes will need a high enough frequency so that they get sufficient practice with the movement skills (improve technique).  But, not so high where the additional training volume is unrecoverable (doing ‘too much, ‘too soon’).

While there are several things to consider when increasing training frequency, The Strength Guys have put together a simple tool (the “STC Filter”) to help athletes select their frequency when starting the STC program.

As you can see, this filter follows the maxim “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”.

  1. Number of Weekly Workouts

The STC program allows athletes to select their preferred number of workouts each week.

The choice of weekly splits range from 3 days, 4 days, or 5 days of training.

The STC program doesn’t force you into an arbitrary number of workouts per week.  Rather, there are several STC program variations that will fit with your preferred schedule.

Therefore, athletes still have access to the same programming methodology and benefits regardless of how many times per week they train.

Putting it Together (Frequency + Number of Weekly Workouts)

When an athlete’s frequency is combined with the total number of workouts per week, this is called their ‘training split’.

Here you see two different variations (or training splits) of STC:

On the left, you have a 4 day/week program with 2X powerlifting frequency.

On the right, you have a 5 day/week program with 2X powerlifting frequency.

This is the same frequency of training, with an option to do a 4 or 5 day variation.

This is where STC allows athletes to choose their desired training split, which individualizes itself to specific elements of an athlete’s performance history and weekly training availability.

STC 1.0 and 2.0 Training Cycles

While I’ve just mentioned that there are several variations of the STC program, those variations fall under two different training cycles:  STC 1.0 and STC 2.0.

Both STC 1.0 and 2.0 training cycles are 12-weeks in length. STC 1.0 is a competition peaking cycle, and STC 2.0 is a development cycle .

STC 1.0

  • This is a 12-week peaking program focused on setting new 1 rep max for either a competition or gym test.
  • There are ‘powerlifting days’ and ‘accessory days’.  The powerlifting days are only made up of squatting, benching, and deadlift.  The accessory days includes exercises that support overall health and functioning.
  • The number of powerlifting and accessory days that are completed are based on the frequency and weekly split the athlete chooses to complete.
  • The program has a high-specificity of training aimed at increasing skill acquisition across the powerlifting movements.  Therefore, the ‘powerlifting days’ are only done in the ‘competition style’ — no barbell variations of the powerlifting movements are completed.
  • There are three blocks of training:  preparatory, intensification, and peaking.
  • The Preparatory Phase is a classic ‘volume block’.  Athletes ease into the increased volumes on week 1, but by week 4, they will be exposed to the highest volume prescription of the the entire 12-week block.  It has been designed this way because volume is the main factor driving strength and hypertrophy.
  • The Intensification Phase will continue to put a priority on the competition movements, but higher average intensities will be programmed (around 80% of 1RM).  While the overall reps drop, there will be more ‘work sets’ programmed — so the athlete can expect to do several sets of each movement.
  • The Peaking Phase challenges the athlete to reach new levels of strength — lifting more weight for reps not previously attainable.  This phase will continue to increase work sets and intensities from the previous block.  There will be a couple weeks that feature an ‘aggressive build up’ in volume/intensity, eventually leading to a reduction in volume that provides maximum recovery and strength when it’s most important.

Volume & intensity report from STC 1.0 (3X – 5 sessions program variation) 

STC 2.0

  • STC 2.0 is a 12-week development plan which focuses on the development of strength and muscle mass while addressing key areas of injury prevention.  It’s training cycles like this that allow athletes to sustain their strength long-term.
  • There are ‘powerlifting days’ and ‘accessory days’.  The powerlifting days are only made up of squatting, benching, and deadlift.  The accessory days includes exercises that support overall health and functioning.
  • The number of powerlifting and accessory days that are completed are based on the frequency and weekly split the athlete chooses to complete.
  • STC 2.0 utilizes The Strength Guys’ Autoregulatory Progressive Resistance Exercise (APRE) protocol to adjust athlete training 1RMs at the end of Phase 1, and at the end of Phase 3.   This protocol asks athletes to complete an AMRAP set at a specific intensity.  Based on the result of the AMRAP sets, the athlete will increase their 1RM.  Thus making it possible to achieve personal records and improve 1RM projections during developmental training.
  • There are three blocks of training: adaptation, foundation, and preparatory.
  • The Adaptation Phase is a general strength and conditioning style volume block. This phase will address muscle imbalances and movement deficiencies by challenging the athlete unilaterally, and with several movement drills. The overarching goal of the this phase is to help to manage fatigue immediately following a peaking cycle by prioritizing accessory movements and limiting main-lift frequency. This phase intends for athletes to maintain strength levels on the main lifts while addressing overall physical preparedness and conditioning. Phase one will make you a better athlete and lay the foundation for a healthy and productive off-season.  Note:  No matter which training split you selected (frequency + number of weekly workouts), the adaptation phase of STC 2.0 will ALWAYS be 1X/week frequency over 3 weekly sessions.  
  • The Foundation Phase is a developmental volume block where main lift workload is gradually increased throughout the program. In the foundation phase, exercise variations become more specific, with less unilateral movements and more bilateral movements. The overarching goal of the foundation phase to is to progressively advance the athlete to handle higher work capacities, building towards peak volumes that will be achieved in the Preparatory Phase.
  • The Preparatory Phase is a volume block where athletes will achieve a new peak level of weekly training volume within the STC model. At the end of this program, the lifter will perform an AMRAP test at 85% to gauge current performance capabilities and modify the training 1RM appropriately.

Volume & intensity report from STC 2.0 (3X – 5 sessions program variation) 

Mix and Match STC 1.0 and 2.0 Training Cycles Based on Competition Schedule

What’s special about the STC training approach is how 1.0 and 2.0 can be combined together and run back to back (providing a full 24-week training cycle).

However, the combinations don’t stop there.

In total, there are 17 different permutations or ways in which athletes can put the STC programs together depending on when their next competition is.

Based on our recommendations below, athletes can mix and match different weeks of training from STC 1.0 and 2.0.  They can do so in a strategic way so that training variables such as volume, intensity, frequency, and exercise selection, follow a natural progression from one week to the next.

Athletes can think of this like a ‘choose your own adventure’ story.  In a choose your own adventure story, you can choose different story lines that lead you to a specific ending, but no matter which story line you pick, the ending always makes sense.  With STC, regardless of the permutation selected, athletes will create a complete program that prepares them for their specific competition in the most optimal way.

The idea behind mixing and matching training weeks from both STC 1.0 and 2.0 is that an athlete can be “X number of weeks out from competition” and still be able to use the STC training system to find a program that peaks them for competition.

In the next section, we’ll explain how to select the right permutation based on how many weeks out from competition an athlete is.

Getting Started on STC

Step 1:  

If you want us to tell you exactly which permutation to do, then please fill out our STC Program Questionnaire.  We will respond with a recommendation that will be most optimal for you.

If you don’t need us to help, then follow the process below to find the right program match.

Step 2:

Use the STC Filter below to decide which frequency and training split is optimal based on your recent training background and results.

If you are using STC 1.0 training cycles you will use the following filter: 

If you are using STC 2.0 training cycles you will use the following filter: 

Based on how many weeks out from competition you are, you may be mixing and matching blocks of training from both STC 1.0 and 2.0.  So you’ll want to ensure you go through each filter system above to know your optimal frequency.

Step 3:  

Figure out how many ‘weeks out’ from competition you are.  Count back in ‘weeks’ from the date of your meet.

Step 4:

Scroll below to the number of weeks out from competition, and find your program permutation.

 

Week 24: 

-Do STC 2.0 phase 1, 2, and 3

-Adjust Rep Maxes (if necessary)

-Do STC 1.0:  Phase 1, 2, and 3

 

Week 23:  

-Do STC 2.0 Phase 1: only perform weeks 1-3, delete week 4

-After deleting week 4, load STC 2.0: Phase 2 and 3 (all weeks)

-Adjust Rep Maxes (if necessary)

-Do STC 1.0:  Phase 1, 2, and 3 (all weeks)

 

Week 22:  

-Do STC 2.0 Phase 1: only perform weeks 1 and 2, delete weeks 3 and 4

-After deleting weeks 3 and 4, load STC 2.0: Phase 2 and 3 (all weeks)

-Adjust Rep Maxes (if necessary)

-Do STC 1.0:  Phase 1, 2, and 3 (all weeks)

 

Week 21:  

-Do STC 2.0 Phase 1: only perform week 1, delete weeks 2-4

-After deleting weeks 2-4, load STC 2.0: Phase 2 and 3 (all weeks)

-Do not adjust Rep Maxes between cycles

-Do STC 1.0:  Phase 1, 2, and 3 (all weeks)

 

Week 20:  

-Do STC 2.0 phase 1, 2, and 3

-Do not adjust Rep Maxes between cycles

-Do STC 1.0:  Phase 2, and 3 (all weeks)

 

Week 19:  

-Do STC 2.0 Phase 2: only perform weeks 1-3, delete week 4 (skip phase 1)

-After deleting week 4, load STC 2.0: Phase 3 (all weeks)

-Adjust Rep Maxes (if necessary)

-Do STC 1.0:  Phase 1, 2, and 3 (all weeks)

 

Week 18:  

-Do STC 2.0 Phase 2: only perform weeks 1 and 2, delete weeks 3 and 4 (skip phase 1)

-After deleting weeks 3 and 4, load STC 2.0: Phase  3 (all weeks)

-Adjust Rep Maxes (if necessary)

-Do STC 1.0:  Phase 1, 2, and 3 (all weeks)

 

Week 17:  

-Do STC 2.0 Phase 1: only perform week 1, delete weeks 3-4 (skip phase 1)

-After deleting weeks 3-4, load STC 2.0: Phase 2 and 3 (all weeks)

-Do not adjust Rep Maxes between cycles

-Do STC 1.0:  Phase 2, and 3 (all weeks) (skip phase 1)

 

Week 16:  

-Do STC 2.0 phase 2 and 3 (skip phase 1)

-Do not adjust Rep Maxes between cycles

-Do STC 1.0:  Phase 2, and 3 (all weeks) (skip phase 1)

 

Week 15:  

-Do STC 2.0 Phase 2; only perform weeks 1-3, delete week 4 (skip phase 1)

– Do STC 2.0 Phase 3 (all weeks)

-Do not adjust Rep Maxes between cycles

-Do STC 1.0:  Phase 2, and 3 (all weeks) (skip phase 1)

 

Week 14:  

-Do STC 2.0 Phase 2: only perform weeks 1 and 2, delete weeks 3 and 4 (skip phase 1)

– Do STC 2.0 Phase 3 (all weeks)

-Do not adjust Rep Maxes between cycles

-Do STC 1.0:  Phase 1, 2, and 3 (all weeks)

 

Week 13:  

-Do STC 1.0 Phase 1: only perform week 4, delete weeks 1-3 (skip phase 3 and 4)

-Do not adjust Rep Maxes between cycles

-Do STC 1.0:  Phase 1, 2, and 3 (all weeks)

 

Week 12:  

-Do STC 1.0:  Phase 1, 2, and 3 (all weeks)

 

Week 11:  

-Do STC 1.0 Phase 1: only perform weeks 1-3, delete week 4

-After deleting week 4, load STC 1.0: Phase 2 and 3 (all weeks)

 

Week 10:  

-Do STC 1.0 Phase 1: only perform weeks 1 and 2, delete weeks 3 and 4

– Adjust training 1RM t 95-97.5% of actual 1RM (if necessary)

-After deleting weeks 3 and 4, load STC 1.0: Phase 2 and 3 (all weeks)

 

Week 9:  

-Do STC 1.0 Phase 1: only perform week 1, delete weeks 2-4

– Adjust training 1RM t 95-97.5% of actual 1RM (if necessary)

-After deleting weeks 2-4, load STC 1.0: Phase 2 and 3 (all weeks)

 

Week 8:  

– Adjust training 1RM t 95-97.5% of actual 1RM (if necessary)

-Do STC 1.0 phase 2 and 3 (skip phase 1)

 

Step 5: 

Download the MyStrengthBook app on iPhone or Android and sign up for an account.  If you already have an account, then simply login and head to our program library.  Go through the process of loading the training plan listed above into your calendar.

Step 6: 

For any questions, feel free to contact us.

Summary

The Shifting the Curve system is designed to individualize itself to the recent performance history of the athlete, the athlete’s competition timeline, and the athlete’s weekly training availability.

Athletes will use the STC filter to find the program variation with the optimal frequency and number of weekly sessions.  From there, athletes can work themselves back from their competition date to mix and match different blocks and weeks of training across STC 1.0 and 2.0.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Avi Silverberg is the Co-Founder of MyStrengthBook.  He holds a M.Sc in Exercise Science, and has been the Head Coach for Team Canada Powerlifting through 7 World Championship cycles.  He’s also a bench press enthusiast with a career high 300kg equipped bench and 227.5kg raw bench.

About The Strength Guys

The Strength Guys, a group of scientists, innovators, and athletes who are passionate about delivering results-driven and evidence-based online powerlifting coaching services for drug-free athletes.  Their team specializes in powerlifting coaching as well as coaching for bodybuilding, athletics, and general fitness athletes.  They use innovative design and a level of professional care which positively impacts the course of client performances.

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