Momentum Advanced

Posted by Shaun LaFleur on

This routine is for serious lifters who want to take their strength and physique to the next level. The routine will only work if you are consistent and willing to push and dedicate yourself to training hard and resting enough to recover between workouts.

The routine melds together aspects of the Conjugate Method and 5/3/1. You will be maxing out on variations of the Bench Press, Squat and Deadlift while simultaneously following 5/3/1 periodization for the Overhead Press.

This routine requires that you have at least a decent grasp of proper exercise selection and resistance training principles, because a lot of the options here are left up to the lifter, such as rep ranges, exercise selection and progression schemes for accessory work. If you are an advanced lifter, odds are you already have the knowledge to make good decisions that will allow this routine to work at it's best.

If you are not comfortable with making your own training decisions and customizations, then this routine is probably not for you. However, if you still want to follow it because you're interested, contact me at and I'd be more than happy to write a fully fleshed out version that requires no customization on your part.


  • Monday: Max Effort Upper (Max Effort Bench / Volume Overhead Press)
  • Tuesday: Max Effort Lower (Max Effort Squat or Deadlift - Deadlift one week, Squat the next)
  • Wednesday: Rest
  • Thursday: Volume Upper (5/3/1 Overhead Press / Volume Bench)
  • Friday: Rest
  • Saturday: Volume Lower
  • Sunday: Rest
  • Run for 6 weeks and then take a deload


Max Effort Upper

Main Lifts

  • Bench Press Variation 1 rep max 
    • Back Off Sets 4-5x3 @ 80-85%
      • Note: This movement acts as "back off sets" to get in more volume after your max effort work. Use the same variation and use 80-85% (depending on how you feel) of the one rep max you hit this day.
    • Overhead Press 3x5-8 @ 65/70/75% of 5/3/1 Training Max
      • Week 1: 3-4x5-8 @ 65%
      • Week 2: 3-4x5-8 @ 70%
      • Week 3: 3-4x5-8 @ 75%

    Accessory & Bodybuilding

    • Pullups or other vertical pull 3-5x6 @ RIR 3-2
    • Barbell Row or horizontal pull 3-5x10 @ RIR 3-2
    • Tricep Rope Pushdown or other tricep pushdown 3-5x10 @ RIR 3-2
    • Barbell Curls or other bicep heavy curl 3-5x6 @ RIR 3-2
    • Dumbbell Side Lateral Raises or other side delt isolation 3-5x10 @ RIR 3-2
    • Rear Delt Flyes or other rear delt isolation 3-5x10 @ RIR 3-2

    Max Effort Lower

    Notes on Max Effort Lower:
    For max effort lower, you will max out on EITHER a Squat variation or a Deadlift variation, you will never max out on both in the same workout or week. So the first week you would max out on Squats, the next week you would max out on Deadlifts and so on and so forth. This section will be written as if it were a squat week. Lower body days are always three main movements. You will max out on one movement, perform back off sets, and then one more additional movement that targets your weaknesses. Typically the third movement will be a variation of the lift that you did not max out on (so a deadlift during squat week and a squat during deadlift week).

    Main Lifts

    • Squat Variation 1 rep max
    • Back Off Sets 4-5x3 @ 80-85%
      • Note: This movement acts as "back off sets" to get in more volume after your max effort work. Use the same variation and use 80-85% (depending on how you feel) of the one rep max you hit this day.
    • Romanian Deadlifts or other Assistance Movement 3-4x8 @ RIR 3-2
      • This can be any movement that targets your particular weaknesses. This can be a squat or deadlift variation, or some other movement such as hip thrusts. If you maxed out on Squats, then you shouldn't do a third squat variation and the same applies for deadlifts if it's a deadlift week. 
      • If you don't do a movement that targets your hamstrings, then you may want to throw in a hamstring isolation in your accessory & bodybuilding work.

    Accessory & Bodybuilding

    • Leg Extensions or other quad isolation 3-5x10 @ RIR 3-2
    • Cable Crunches or other core isolation 3-5x10 @ RIR 3-2
    • Reverse Hyperextensions or other lower back isolation 3-5x10 @ RIR 3-2
    • Calve Raises or other calve movement 4-6x15 @ RIR 1-0

    Volume Upper

    Main Lifts

    • Overhead Press 5/3/1
      • Week 1: Set 1: 65% x5, Set 2: 75% x5, Set 3: 85% x5+
      • Week 2: Set 1: 70% x3, Set 2: 80% x3, Set 3: 90% x3+
      • Week 3: Set 1: 75% x5, Set 2: 85% x3, Set 3: 95% x1+
    • Conventional Speed Bench Press 8x3 @ 50%/55%/60%
      • Week 1: 8x3 @ 50% (+15-20% Accommodating Resistance)
      • Week 2: 8x3 @ 55% (+15-20% Accommodating Resistance)
      • Week 3: 8x3 @ 60% (+15-20% Accommodating Resistance)
    • Pin Press or other Assistance Movement 3-5x10 @ RIR 3-2
      • Note: This assistance movement can be any compound movement that helps build your bench press and does not need to be a barbell bench press variation, it can even be something such as dumbbell press. This can also be any variation of the bench press. Progress for 3 weeks on a given rep range before rotating or changing rep range slightly.

    Accessory & Bodybuilding

    • Lat Pulldowns or other light vertical row 3-5x10 @ RIR 3-2
    • Dumbbell Row or other light horizontal row 3-5x10 @ RIR 3-2
    • Dumbbell Curl or other light curl 3-5x10 @ RIR 3-2
    • Tricep Overhead Extension or other overhead tricep movement 3-5x10 @ RIR 3-2
    • Rear Delt Flyes or other rear delt isolation 3-5x10 @ RIR 3-2

    Volume Lower

    Notes on Volume Lower
    Both the squat and deadlift are performed on this day. Which one is performed first depends on whether or not it's a deadlift or squat focused week. Again, like other days there are three main movements. After your conventional squat and deadlift speedwork you will move on to an assistance movement. This movement depends, again, on whether or not it's a deadlift or squat focused week and your individual weaknesses. Since there is some overlap between squat and deadlift strength (in other words some squat variations may actually increase your deadlift as well), this rule can sometimes be broken such as performing a front squat on a deadlift focused week.

    Main Lifts

    • Conventional Speed Squat 3-4x5-8 @ 65%/70%/75%
      • Week 1: 8x3 @ 50% (+15-20% Accommodating Resistance)
      • Week 2: 8x3 @ 55% (+15-20% Accommodating Resistance)
      • Week 3: 8x3 @ 60% (+15-20% Accommodating Resistance)
    • Conventional Speed Deadlift 3-4x5-8 @ 65%/70%/75%
      • Week 1: 8x3 @ 50% (+15-20% Accommodating Resistance)
      • Week 2: 8x3 @ 55% (+15-20% Accommodating Resistance)
      • Week 3: 8x3 @ 60% (+15-20% Accommodating Resistance)
    • Squat Variation 3-4x8 @ RIR 3-2
      • Pick something that will strengthen your weakness in the movement. Weak quads? Front Squats. Weak to come out of the hole? Pause squats. These are examples of good choices. Progress on a given variation for 3 weeks (performing every other week since deadlift and squat weeks are cycled) before rotating out or changing rep range slightly.
      • If this is a deadlift week, you would do a deadlift variation instead.

      Accessory & Bodybuilding

      • Hamstring Curls or other hamstring isolation 3-5x10 @ RIR 3-2
      • Leg Extensions or other quad isolation 3-5x10 @ RIR 3-2
      • Cable Crunches or other core isolation 3-5x10 @ RIR 3-2
      • Reverse Hyperextensions or other lower back isolation 3-5x10 @ RIR 3-2
      • Calve Raises or other calve exercise 4-6x15 @ RIR 3-2

      Example Week 1 Workouts

      Max Effort Upper:

      1. Close Grip Bench 1 rep max
      2. Close Grip Bench 5x3 @ 85%
      3. Overhead Press 3x8 @ 65% of TM
      4. Accessory & Bodybuilding Work

      Max Effort Lower:

      1. Box Squat 1 rep max
      2. Box Squat 4x3 @ 85%
      3. Romanian Deadlift 4x10 @ RIR 3-2
      4. Accessory & Bodybuilding Work

      Volume Upper:

      1. Overhead Press 5/3/1
      2. Speed Bench Press 8x3 @ 50% + 20% Band Tension
      3. Pin Press 3x8 @ RIR 3-2
      4. Accessory & Bodybuilding Work

      Volume Lower:

      1. Speed Back Squat 8x3 @ 50% + 20% Band Tension
      2. Speed Deadlift 8x3 @ 50% + 20% Band Tension
      3. Pause Front Squat 3x8 @ RIR 3-2
      4. Accessory & Bodybuilding Work

      Example Week 2 Workouts

      Max Effort Upper:

      1. Pin Press 1 rep max
      2. Pin Press 5x3 @ 85%
      3. Overhead Press 3x8 @ 70% of TM
      4. Accessory & Bodybuilding Work

      Max Effort Lower:

      1. Sumo Deadlift 1 rep max
      2. Sumo Deadlifts 4x3 @ 85%
      3. Pause Front Squats 4x10 @ RIR 3-2
      4. Accessory & Bodybuilding Work

      Volume Upper:

      1. Overhead Press 5/3/1
      2. Conventional Bench Press 8x3 @ 55% + 20% Band Tension
      3. Pin Press 4x8 @ RIR 3-2
      4. Accessory & Bodybuilding Work

      Volume Lower:

      1. Conventional Deadlift 8x3 @ 55% + 20% Band Tension
      2. Conventional Squat 8x3 @ 55% + 20% Band Tension
      3. Romanian Deadlift 4x10 @ RIR 3-2
      4. Accessory & Bodybuilding Work

      Example Week 3 Workouts

      Max Effort Upper:

      1. Conventional Bench Press 1 rep max
      2. Conventional Bench Press 5x3 @ 85%
      3. Overhead Press 3x8 @ 75% of TM
      4. Accessory & Bodybuilding Work

      Max Effort Lower:

      1. Conventional Squat 1 rep max
      2. Conventional Squat 5x3 @ 85%
      3. Belt Squat 5x10 @ RIR 3-2
      4. Accessory & Bodybuilding Work

      Volume Upper:

      1. Overhead Press 5/3/1
      2. Conventional Bench Press 8x3 @ 60% + 20% Band Tension
      3. Pin Press 5x8 @ RIR 3-2
      4. Accessory & Bodybuilding Work

      Volume Lower:

      1. Conventional Squat 8x3 @ 60% + 20% Band Tension
      2. Conventional Deadlift 8x3 @ 60% + 20% Band Tension
      3. Pause Front Squat 5x8 @ RIR 3-2
      4. Accessory & Bodybuilding Work


      Q: What is the max effort method?

      A: The max effort method is a method made popular by Louie Simmons' conjugate system. It is part of a style of periodization where you work up to a one rep max on a weekly basis on variations of the Bench, Squat and Deadlift. It is one of the best methods around for building absolute strength, because your body gets better at what it practices. While performing sub maximal weights can build strength, the max effort method will build strength faster because the body is always adapting to maximal loads. If you practice one rep maxes, you will get better at one rep maxes.

      A huge reason for why the system works so well is because you expose your true weaknesses when you work up to a max effort lift. You can see exactly which part of the lifts you struggle with and can use that information to pick and choose exercises that will strengthen those weaknesses. Because of how frequent you are maxing out, you can always stay on top of your weaknesses and constantly adjust your training to correct them.

      Because the body accommodates very quickly to this training style, a different lift variation must be performed every week in order to avoid accommodation. The lift variations should be similar enough to the conventional lift (or whatever lift you want to improve) so that any strength gains will transfer directly over.

      Q: What if I've never maxed out before, is it safe to go for a 1RM?

      A: If you are introducing a new movement into your Max Effort Day that you aren't use to going really heavy on, I’d personally recommend starting off with a 5RM attempt, then a 3RM and then finally a 1RM over the weeks. This would be done over a 3 week period and you would do the same lift for all three weeks before rotating it out. This is to make sure that you are accustomed to the movement pattern and feel confident enough to push yourself to your limits with it safely. After this period, I would recommend sticking with 1RM attempts with the occasional 2-5RM attempt and reserve 4x1 @ 90% for days when you are feeling off and don’t think you’ll be able to hit a PR.

      Q: What is 5/3/1?

      A: 5/3/1 is a program with a built in progression system written by Jim Wendler. It is a way to make strength progress while training with sub maximal loads. Because of this, it's much easier to recover from than the max effort method. The downside is that progression can be slower than Max Effort Method. If you want a more in depth look into 5/3/1, read this article.

      To follow 5/3/1 you first need to find your "Training Max" (TM). Your TM is 90% of your true one rep max and all of your lifts will be based on this number. So for example, if the routine says to perform a set of 5 reps at 70%, this would be 70% of your TM, NOT your actual one rep max. If your true one rep max on the bench press is 200 pounds, then your training max would be 180 and all percentages would be based on 180.

      Anything with a "+" written by it means to perform as many reps as possible (AMRAP) with good form. So if you see "5+" it means to perform an AMRAP while trying your best to get at least 5 reps. It's a good idea to track how many reps you get on each AMRAP set in order to beat that number each workout.

      Simply follow the sets, reps and percentages as prescribed for three weeks and if you are able to hit your rep goals, you would increase your TM by 5-10 lbs and run it for another three weeks before taking a deload, meaning you would take a deload every 6 weeks.

      Q: So why do 5/3/1 on the Overhead Press instead of Max Effort?

      A: Because performing Max Effort work on the overhead press would be too much to recover from when you are already maxing out on the other three lifts. 5/3/1 is a great progression system and one of it's benefits is the ability to continuously progress with little risk of over training or digging into your recovery due to the majority of sets being sub maximal. Because I think the Overhead Press is so important to both strength and muscle building, and because I wanted a good progression system for them that wouldn't make recovery a problem, I chose to implement 5/3/1.

      Q: What is Reps in Reserve (RIR)?

      A: Reps in Reserve, or RIR for short, is a method of determining the subjective intensity of a set. An RIR of 3 would mean that when you stopped a set, you could have done at most 3 more reps before hitting failure. For example, if you performed a set of 10 reps at an RIR of 1, it means that you are capable of getting 11 reps with that same weight before hitting failure, but you stopped at 10 and left one rep in reserve. This is a very useful method to use when your routine calls for training at certain intensity levels and is a great tool to auto-regulate your training. Typically, work sets should be performed at RIR 4 and below with most of your sets falling in the RIR 3-2 range. RIR can work alongside percentage based training or in some circumstances can even replace it all together. RIR is a great tool to use when you want to manage your training intensity and volume properly.

      Q: Why are two variations of each lift performed on every workout? Isn't that too much?

      A:  On intensity days they act as "back off sets". On some iterations of the max effort method or conjugate like systems, you first max out and then reduce the weight on the bar for the same movement and do back off sets to get in more work volume. What I found that I liked was looking at my performance on the max effort work and seeing where my weak point was, and then taking a movement that targets that specific weakness and using it to perform the back off sets instead. So in other words, if I max out on conventional bench press and struggle at the bottom of the movement, instead of doing back off sets with my conventional bench press I would move on to a movement that targets the bottom of the lift like the pin press and use it to perform the back off sets instead. This way I am constantly attacking my weakness while getting in more quality volume at the same time. The result is that you often end up performing two variations in a workout, however, you can also use the same movement you used for max effort work for the back off sets if you wish.
      The reason why I have two movements on the volume days is simply in an attempt to keep the volume high and get in regular practice with the conventional lifts. The conventional lifts on these days are done at a relatively high RIR and are more focused on getting in quality practice with the conventional movements and staying attuned to them. Because of this, it's important to get in some heavier work right after by doing another 3-5 sets with a variation that targets your weaknesses.

      Q: How do I progress on assistance and bodybuilding work?

      A: For assistance, accessory and bodybuilding work you will choose a rep range and progress in that rep range for 3 weeks before rotating the movement or changing the rep range slightly. To progress, you will start at the chosen rep range with an RIR of 3 and perform 3-5 total sets. You will then attempt to add weight to at least one set (if adding weight to only one or some sets, start with the latter sets, not the first set) after each consecutive week, allowing RIR to fall, but never below an RIR of 1. After doing this for 3 weeks you would either rotate the movement out for another similar movement pattern or change the rep range. Once you change the movement or rep range you would fall back to an RIR of 3 again and repeat the process.

      Any rep range between 5-20 reps will suffice. I recommend staying in the lower end (5-8) during strength days and the higher end (10-20) on volume days.

      An easier and less meticulous way to look at this type of progression is to simply think about adding five pounds every week for three weeks straight and allowing your reps in reserve to fall, as long as you aren’t going to failure. No need to track your RIR vehemently, just add weight to the bar weekly even if your RIR falls. After three weeks you’d reset back to a higher RIR with another rep range or movement and add weight each week again.

      Q: How often should I rotate exercises?

      A: I would suggest keeping each movement for approximately 3 weeks before changing the exercise. This applies across the board with with the exception of the lift you max out on, which must be rotated weeklyRotating exercises too often (again, with the exception of your Max Effort lift) can be nearly as detrimental as not rotating enough; it can kill any momentum you may have on reaping the benefits of performing a movement and can make it difficult to progress.

      For accessory and bodybuilding work, I would aim to progress on your lifts for 3 weeks and then either change the movement slightly or change the rep range. For intensity days you can change the rep range to a heavier rep range and for volume days you would change it for a lighter rep range.
      Q: What is the purpose of the 65%/70%/75% three week wave?
      A: It was inspired by 5/3/1’s “first set last, multiple sets”. When 5/3/1 first came out, many people complained that they felt it wasn’t enough total volume. In the book “Beyond 5/3/1”, it included ways to get in more volume when doing 5/3/1, one of which was called “first set last, multiple sets”, where you would take the first set that you did during a 5/3/1 workout and perform 3 to 5 sets of 5-8 (3-5x5-8). Because of the way 5/3/1 is set up, the first set of each workout ends up being 65% on week one, 70% on week two and 75% on week three. This ends up being a wave of 3-5x5-8 at 65%/70%/75%. After running this wave myself, I’ve found that it actually speeds up my strength progress without hindering my recovery due to the added sub maximal volume.

      On many conjugate system styled programs, speed work is performed with the conventional lifts on volume days. I simply chose to replace this work with higher RIR working sets using this wave. I personally find that speed work is usually not as beneficial for most lifters until they are close to elite level strength.

      It's important to note that you do not have to aim for 8 reps on every set. Anything between 5 to 8 reps is perfectly fine and I actually advise you to try and keep your RIR around a 3 or 4, unless you're on the later weeks, in which case it's okay to let it float a little higher.
      Q: Can I keep performing the same assistance lift every workout?
      A: I would highly advise to rotate every lift every 3 weeks at the longest. You could alternatively change the rep ranges instead as another way to avoid accommodation. If you are performing 3x8 of close grip bench press for your assistance movement, you could run this for 3 weeks and then either switch to a pin press or simply change the set and rep scheme to something like 3x10 instead. The key is that something has to change. When you do the same movement for the same sets and reps for too many weeks in a row, you will eventually stall out and/or regress.
      This applies to all lifts, even accessory and bodybuilding work. It is a good idea to change either the lift or the rep range every 3 or so weeks. I am also a fan of keeping the same movement for accessory lifts and performing something like undulated periodization where you have one light day and one heavy day every week. 
      Q: Can I change the rep ranges of the lifts listed?
      A: For the main movements, no. They are set up in a very specific way as to elicit optimal progress. For the assistance movements and accessory & bodybuilding work, yes. As long as you perform reps of 5-20, you can perform rep ranges that you personally enjoy. However, I probably wouldn't do more than 5 sets per exercise as maxing out is already taxing enough as is. Reserve performing 5 sets on your exercises for your later weeks (2-3 weeks before a deload) in a 6 week training cycle.
      Q: Can I perform this on a cut?
      A: This program works far better if you are in a hypocaloric state. However, with adjustments it can be a great way to maintain strength or possibly even progress while cutting. I would highly advise that if you are on a cut for you to make the following adjustments. 
      1. Do not push for a PR every single week. Use 4x1 @ 90% more often than maxing out and make your main focus on being maintaining strength. Each time you're maxing out, you should stop to perform a single at 90% as part of your warm up. When you do this, this is the time you will gauge whether or not the weight feels light enough to go for a PR or not. If it feels heavy that day or you're simply feeling fatigued, you would just perform 3 more sets at 90% to finish your 4x1.
      2. Consider keeping the same Training Max for OHP after finishing a 3 week cycle. Unless, however, you felt exceptional when you finished the last cycle and made good PRs.
      3. Reduce the overall volume. Stay on the low end of the set ranges given. So if an exercise says 3-5 sets, just stick to 3 sets.
      4. Perform OHP only once per week instead of twice. Perform your 5/3/1 day for OHP as is, but skip the additional 3 week wave on the other day.
      5. Cut out/reduce some of the accessory and bodybuilding work. Your ability to build muscle while in a cutting phase is highly reduced and in order to maintain muscle you do not need as much volume as it takes to build muscle, thus a lot of the additional bodybuilding work is not necessary in order to maintain muscle.
      6. Consider deloading once every 3 weeks instead of once every 6 weeks.

      Note that you should not make all of these adjustments at once. Make changes gradually as you need them. If you switch to a cut and the program is still going well for you, continue doing what you're doing until it no longer works. Then make small adjustments to see if you can progress again.


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