Programming The Clean, Bench & Squat-Off Season


In 1991, Dr. Gregory Goldstein introduced the system below to a small group of coaches in the New York Giant’s training facility. He introduced this under the direction of a sports performance pioneer and super bowl achievement winner, Mr. Johnny Parker. Dr. Goldstein explained to us that it would take roughly 40 hours to design a 4 week program of this nature. I thought, there is no way that it could be that difficult and I questioned the return on investment. I tried to justify all of the factors that wouldnt allow for it to work. I knew the athletes werent eating correctly, sleeping correctly, and that there would be disruptions that would cause conflicts in their training. I thought to myself, why should I be striving for perfection when I was coaching in an imperfect world? What I found was that for the amount of effort I put into designing a top-tier training program would correlate with the athletes getting better. This would stimulate buy-in into my program which would make them better care for their bodies. The results of using this system of training have been amazing over the years. I have taken this formula and I have continued to fine tune it to fit different lifts and situations. My goal is to introduce the Russian training system and make it simple to understand, which in turn saves you time designing your program.

I have designed a 4 week program for the clean, bench, and squat that fits the outlines of Russian programming. I didnt include the volume between 50 - 59% because they are using only warm-ups sets and you can easily figure out the warm up sets. I didnt even concern myself if the volume was too low in the 60 - 69% percentages because again many times the warm-ups will add the volume necessary to fulfill the volume in that category. My major focus was in the 70 - 79%, 80 - 89% and 90% and over.

Of course, there are many ways to come up with programs that would match the guidelines that Dr. Goldstein had set up. What I present here are just three examples of what programs you can design. You can choose to start week one with fewer reps than what I chose. Many times that is what I chosen to do also. I would also like to note that personally in my coaching career I have had better success in the clean if I reduced the loads in the 80 - 89% and in the 90%+ categories. My goal was to develop a program that matched the program outlines that Dr. Goldstein had recommended. I have been using Dr. Goldsteins programming for over 30 years and I have adapted the programming to fit the situations that I thought were best for my teams.

In designing the programs my goal was to come as close as I could to the numbers that Dr. Goldstein had laid out for us. Here is what he had suggested;

Distribution of Load

60 - 69% - 25%

70 - 79% - 35%

80 - 89% - 25%

90 + - 5%

Weekly Distribution of Load (Based on RI%)

Week 1 - 36%

Week 2 - 28%

Week 3 - 21%

Week 4 - 15%

Setting Up Your Program for a Multi Week Cycle

In designing your off-season program you may not have a training cycle that is in segments of 4 weeks. I will show you how to adapt the programming to aid in designing a program that fits your schedule. First, I wouldnt do a week 4 as I have listed it in the programming. I would only do the week 4 program if it was a max week. If you have a 9 week Off-Season program, I would plan the last 4 weeks of training exactly as I had written the program. This leaves us with 5 weeks of training that needs to be done prior to the last 4 weeks. I would simply do an introduction week on the first week. I would reduce the percentages by 5% and do the same sets and reps as in the week 1 program. Then, I would start the 4 week program so I would do the week 1 program on the second week. The week 2 program on the third week and the week 3 program on the fourth week of training. On the 5th week of training instead of using the week 4 maxing cycle I would plan an unload week of training. During this week you would lower your percentages and reps and plan a day off later in the week. So, your 9 week program would look like the following;

9 Week Off Season Training Program

Week 1 - Same sets and reps as week 2 - reduce percentages by 5%

Week 2 - Week 1 of the Russian Training Program

Week 3 - Week 2 of the Russian Training Program

Week 4 - Week 3 of the Russian Training Program

Week 5 - Unload week - reduce reps/percentages - possible day off

Week 6 - Week 1 of the Russian Training Program

Week 7 - Week 2 of the Russian Training Program

Week 8 - Week 3 of the Russian Training Program

Week 9 - Week 4 of the Russian Training Program - Max Week

Programming Relative Intensity

To determine the percentage that you will need for your program you are going to have to use “Relative Intensity”. Earlier, I covered relative intensity in detail but right now I want to give you a short reminder on how to use relative intensity.

To program your percentages, you simply find what rep you are going to use for the set then multiply the number that matches the rep times the Relative Intensity (RI). For instance, if you have a set of 3 reps, which is 91.7% and the Relative Intensity is 86%, you simply multiply 91.7% x .86 and your training percentage is 78.8%, which you can round up to 79%.

Here is the chart for Relative Intensity;

1 = 100%

2 = 95.5%

3 = 91.7%

4 = 88.5%

5 = 85.7%

6 = 83.2%

7 = 80.9%

8 = 78.8%

9 = 76.9%

10 = 75.2%

11 = 73.6%

12 = 72.1%

Here is an example of how to follow the guidelines to designing your own program;

3 Different Weights

2 sets each weight

Reps - 3 / 2 / 1

RI - 79 / 79% / 80%


3 different Weights/2 sets of each weight/Reps 3, 2, 1

2 x 3 - RI 79% x 91.7% = 72.443%

2 x 2 - RI 79% x 95.5% = 75.445%

2 x 1 - RI 80% x 100% = 80%


I have laid out the guideline on setting up your sets, relative intensity, and your reps. Below is what your final routine should look like. I hope that I have made this easy to follow saving you the 40+ hours of trying to figure it out yourself. Please download the pdf below for your final routine guideline.

Programming The Clean, Bench, Squat Guidelines

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