The Conjugate System, made popular by Louie Simmons, is one of the most versatile training systems for a number of reasons. The system features a balance of training modalities on a weekly basis, meaning you’re not just lifting maximally or in a linear fashion; there is also a high degree of variance on a monthly basis. This means you’ll be exposed to different variations, which will serve as a vehicle to building your base while allowing you to become more resilient to later tolerate higher volume. Because we are constantly rotating variations you’ll be able to discover identify weak links in the chain and exploit your lagging muscle groups. Although this system has been made popular by powerlifters, everyone from bodybuilders to strength athletes can benefit from it, as well as the athletes that has some time training under their belt and knows their way around the barbell. Contrary to what most believe, you do not need to use bands or chains to have this system work effectively. 

One of the unforeseen aspects of the Conjugate System is that you’ll spend 80% of your training in the form of “special exercises”, namely single joint exercises for hypertrophy which will kick your lagging muscle groups in the butt. Even if you’re not aware of where your weaknesses lie, you’ll be exposed to many different variations through which it will be relatively easy to identify which variations carry over to compound movements. In this sense, it will be easier to see correlations between movements used and how much your lifts have improved by upon retest. With that said, it’s recommended that you have current training maxes to compare to and at least 2 years of experience before using this program. For those of you that may not be as concerned with your strength numbers, this aspect of the system ties into developing inter and intramuscular coordination and will allow you to develop higher threshold motor-units and improve movement patterns which will set the stage for gaining more lean muscle mass. Gaining strength and size go hand in hand and this aspect of the system creates a synergy to optimize your response to the training. Moreover, the balance between maximal lifting and lifting for force development will help facilitate provide a nice contrast in your training making it less likely to burn out.

How does this translate to someone that just wants a bigger set of guns? Incredibly well, actually, due to the fact we are going spend the bulk of our training sessions performing hypertrophy work to bring up our primary movers. The start of each training session will be devoted to either a max effort work (ME) that rotates weekly or a dynamic effort (DE) variation that rotates every three weeks. Keep in mind, the ME and DE method only make up 20% of our total training. With the Max Effort Method our total work volume is relatively low but higher intensity whereas our Dynamic Effort work volume is considerable higher, but we are utilizing submaximal loads working for maximal velocity. These sessions are done with 72 hours between each other to allow for complete CNS recovery. After your ME or DE work has been completed, the remainder of your training sessions will be devoted to special exercise work. Again, bringing up our primary movers is the goal with a handful of variations that allow us to avoid adaptation and becoming mentally stale with the same training.

Extreme training sessions are separated by 72 hours (Monday/Thursday Lower body session and Tuesday/Friday upper body session). This programming utilizes accommodating resistance; however, if you do not have access to the use of bands and chains you simply negate their use and modify the percentage work. I’ve seen many commercial gyms coming around to the idea of having different selections of equipment to accommodate for everyone’s needs, but buying a couple set of chains is relatively inexpensive and will provide some variance to your training.

Program Notes  

  • This program can be done on either Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday or Monday, Wednesday, Friday, Saturday. The key component is ensuring we have 72 hours of recovery between ME and DE upper training sessions.
  • Band and chains are not required
  • Extra conditioning work can be added 2-3 times per week in the form of sled-work and loaded carries, but these sessions should not interfere with our other training.
  • You will see the use the antagonistic supersets for our accessory work, and “conditioning” with accessory work. This will keep your session fast-paced and will provide for a nice change of pace. 
DAY 1 LOWERDAY 2 UPPERDAY 3 LOWER

DAY 4 UPPER

WEEK 11) Back Squat: Work up to a heavy single then drop load by 20% and complete 1 sets x AMRAP. Rest 2:00

2) EMOM 8:
ODD Minutes: 12 Heavy Russian Kettlebell Swings
EVEN Minutes: 12 Heavy Goblet Squats 

3a) 45 Degree Back Extension: 4 x 15 (1 count squeeze at top). Rest 45s.
3b) Single Arm Farmer Carry: 4 x 100 feet each. Rest 45s. 

4) Accumulate 100 Banded Pull-throughs. Rest as needed. 

1) Close Grip Bench Press: Work up to a heavy single then drop load by 20% and complete 1 sets x AMRAP. Rest 2:00

2) EMOM 8:
ODD Minutes: 8 DB Push Press each side
EVEN Minutes: 8 Neutral Grip Pull-ups

3a) Rolling Tricep Extensions: 3 x 15. Rest 45s.
3b) Reverse Barbell Curls: 3 x 10 @2020 Tempo. Rest 45s. 

4) Hollow Hold: 8 Intervals of 10s work/20s rest.
5) Accumulate 100 Single Arm Banded Pushdowns each side. 

1) Speed Front Squats: 9 x 2 @75%, EMOM
2) Sumo Deadlift for Speed: 9 x 2 @75%, EMOM. Reset on each rep.
3) Rear Foot Elevated Split Squat: 4 x 6-8 ea. Rest 60s.
4) Reverse Hypers: 4 x 25 @50% of Back Squat max. Rest 90s.
5) Tabata: 8 intervals of 20 work/10 rest: Side Plank. Alternate Sides.
1) Push Press: 9 x 2 @75%, EMOM.
2) DB Incline Bench Press: 2 x 60s of Max Reps. Rest 2:00
3a) Weighted Close Grip Chin-up: Accumulate 25 Reps. Rest as needed.3b) Weighted Bar Dips: Accumulate 25 Reps. Rest as needed.

4a) Seated V-Handle Rows: 3 x 12-15. Rest 60s.
4b) KB Tricep Extensions: 3 x 12-15. Rest 60s.

5) Straight Leg Raises: Accumulate 40-50 Reps. Rest as needed.
EXTRA CREDITSledpull Powerwalk: 6 x 60 yards @BW. Rest 60s. 10 intervals of 20s work/10 rest for max reps.
1a) Burpees
1b) Jump Rope (Double Under or Single Unders)
Sledpull Powerwalk x 10:00 Max Distance @½ BW on sled. Note how far you went.
Accumulate 100-150 Banded Leg Curls each side 
Accumulate:
100 Banded Pull-aparts
100 Banded Push-downs
WEEK 21) Rack Deadlift just below the knee: Work up to a heavy set of 1 in 8 sets.. Rest 2-3:00

2) Front Rack Reverse Lunges: up to a heavy 5 on each leg. Rest 90s.

3a) Dimmell Deadlifts: 3 x 20. Rest 45s.
3b) Barbell Roll-outs: 3 x 10. Rest 45s. 

4) Single Arm Farmer Carry: 4 x 100 ft. each. Rest 90s. 

1) Shoulder Press: Work up to a heavy set of 3 in 6 sets. Rest 2:00

2a) DB Neutral Grip Bench Press, Single Arm: 4 x 6 ea. Rest 90s.
2b) Neutral Grip Pull-ups: 4 x 8. Rest 90s. 

3a) JM Presses: 4 x 10-12. Rest 60s.
3b) DB Preacher Curls, neutral grip: 3 x 8-10 ea. Rest 60s.

4) Hollow Hold: 8 Intervals of 10s work/20s rest. 

5) Accumulate 100 Single Arm Banded Pushdowns

1) Speed Front Squats: 9 x 2 @80%, EMOM
2) Sumo Deadlift for Speed: 9 x 2 @80%, EMOM. Reset on each rep.
3) Rear Foot Elevated Split Squat: 4 x 6-8 ea. Rest 60s.
4) Reverse Hypers: 4 x 25 @50% of Back Squat max. Rest 90s.
5) Tabata: 8 intervals of 20 work/10 rest: Side Plank. Alternate Sides. 
1) Push Press: 9 x 2 @80%, EMOM.
2) DB Incline Bench Press: 2 x 60s of Max Reps. Rest 2:00. Try to beat total reps from last week.
3a) Weighted Close Grip Chin-up: Accumulate 25 Reps. Rest as needed.
3b) Weighted Bar Dips: Accumulate 25 Reps. Rest as needed.4a) Seated V-Handle Rows: 3 x 12-15. Rest 60s.
4b) KB Tricep Extensions: 3 x 12-15. Rest 60s.5) Straight Leg Raises: Accumulate 40-50 Reps. Rest as needed.
EXTRA CREDITSledpull Powerwalk: 8 x 60 yards @BW. Rest 60s. 10 intervals of 20s work/10 rest for max reps.
1a) Burpees
1b) Jump Rope (Double Under or Single Unders)
*Try to beat total reps from last week. 
Sledpull Powerwalk x 10:00 Max Distance @½ BW on sled. Note how far you went.
Accumulate 100-150 Banded Leg Curls each side 
Accumulate:
100 Banded Pull-aparts
100 Banded Push-downs
WEEK 31) Front Box Squat: 3RM. Rest 2:00

2) RDLs: 4 x 8-10. Rest 2:00

3) DB Walking Lunges : 3 x 20 steps. Rest 90s.

4) Back Extensions: 3 x 15 (1 ct glute squeeze at top). Rest 60s.

5) Reverse Crunch + Deadbug: Accumulate 50 Reps.

1) Incline Bench Press: 3RM. Rest 2:00

2a) Single Arm DB Push Press: 4 x 6 ea. Rest 60s.
2b) 1-Arm DB Rows w. rotation: 4 x 10-12 ea. Rest 60s.

3a) DB Pull-overs: 3 x 15. Rest 60s.
3b) Ez Bar Preacher Curls: 3 x 8-10. Rest 60s.

4) Banded Pushdowns: Accumulate 100 Reps. 

5) Cable Pallof Press: 3 x 15 ea side. Rest 60s.

1) Speed Front Squats: 7 x 2 @85%, EMOM
2) Sumo Deadlift for Speed: 7 x 2 @85%, EMOM. Reset on each rep.
3) EMOM 10:
ODD Minutes: 100 Ft. Heavy Sledpush
EVEN Minutes: 100 Ft. Heavy Farmer Carry
4) Banded Pull-throughs: Accumulate 100 Reps. 
1) Push Press: 7 x 2 @85%, EMOM.
2a) Decline DB Tricep Extensions: 4 x 10-15. Rest 45s.
2b) Lat Pull-downs: 4 x 10-15. Rest 45s.
3) EMOM 8:
ODD Minutes: Double KB OH Carry x 100 Ft.
EVEN Minutes: 10 Hang Power Cleans (you choose the weight)
4a) Barbell Curls: 2 x 25. Rest 30s.
4b) Banded Pushdowns (heavy band): 2 x 25. Rest 30s.
5) Stir the Pot: 8 Intervals of 20s work/20s rest. 
FINISHERSledpull Powerwalk: 10 x 40 yards @BW + 10#. Rest 60s. Accumulate Max Push-ups in 2:00
Accumulate Max Bent-over Rear Lateral Raises in 2:00
Sledpull Powerwalk x 200 meters forward, 200 meters backward, 100 meters laterally to the right, 100 meters laterally to the left @½ BW. Accumulate 100 Banded Face-pull aparts
WEEK 4 1) Zercher Squat: 3RM. Rest 2-3:00.

2) RDLs: 4 x 8-10 @10# heavier than last week. Rest 2:00

3a) DB Front Foot Elevated Split Squats: 3 x 10 ea. Rest 60s.
3b) Single Leg 45 Degree Back Extensions: 3 x 15 ea (1 ct glute squeeze at top). Rest 60s.

4) Reverse Crunch + Deadbug: Accumulate 50 total Reps.

1) Weighted Wide Grip Pull-up: 3RM. Rest 2:00

2a) Single Arm DB Push Press: 4 x 6 ea. Rest 90s.
2b) 1-Arm DB Rows: 4 x 12 ea. Rest 60s.

3a) Ez Bar JM Presses: 4 x 12-15. Rest 60s.
3b) Ez Bar Preacher Curls: 3 x 8-10. Rest 60s.

4b)Banded Pushdowns: Accumulate 100 Reps.

5) Cable Pallof Press: 3 x 15 ea. Rest 60s.

1) Box Squat: 5 x 5 @60%, EMOM.
2) Speed Deadlift (conventional): 5 x 4 @60%, EMOM.
3) EMOM 10:
ODD Minutes: 100 Ft. Heavy Sledpush
EVEN Minutes: 100 Ft. Heavy Farmer Carry
4) Banded Pull-throughs: Accumulate 100 Reps. 
1) Close Grip Bench Press for Speed: 5 x 5 @50%, every 60s. 

2a) Decline DB Tricep Extensions: 4 x 10-15. Rest 45s.
2b) Lat Pull-downs: 4 x 10-15. Rest 45s.
3) EMOM 8:
ODD Minutes: Double KB OH Carry x 100 Ft.
EVEN Minutes: 10 Hang Power Cleans (you choose the weight)
4a) Barbell Curls: 2 x 25. Rest 30s.
4b) Banded Pushdowns (heavy band): 2 x 25. Rest 30s.
5) Stir the Pot: 8 Intervals of 20s work/20s rest. 

FINISHERAccumulate 100 Double Leg Banded Leg CurlsAMRAP 4:
8 DB Hammer Curls
8 Push-ups
Sledpull Powerwalk x 200 meters forward, 200 meters backward, 100 meters laterally to the right, 100 meters laterally to the left @½ BW. Accumulate 100 Banded Face-pull aparts

As you can see there is almost a constant rotation of variance within the program that will keep your body and mind fresh. This template will also allow you to add in extra conditioning (if needed) on off days, or extra GPP work can be included on these days, but sessions should be kept more aerobic in nature in terms of maximal heart-rate (65-75% of MHR), and not interfere with other training modalities. The finisher work is optional, or can be done in a separate session or day if needed. Overall, these training sessions should not last longer than 60 minutes.

There you have it, a bullet proof system for improving body composition, getting strong as you-know-what, and staying mentally fresh with variable training. This type of programming works wonders for athletes of a wide range of abilities, so you don’t need to be a geared powerlifter to incur the benefits. The key aspects of this programming is adding volume to single-joint movements, consistent variance with max effort work that allows us to constantly hit personal records, and allowing for the necessary recovery between harder training sessions.

Like the looks of this programming? Check out our 12-Week BP Strength Program!