Out of the many programs in Paul Carters Strength Life Legacy the Strong 15 Short cycle is apparently one of the most popular (and successful) programs. The Strong 15 is a percentage based peaking cycle for Powerlifting meets.
You program in your everyday max (not your 1 rep max) run the percentages for 5 weeks deload for 1 week and then you are ready for your meet weights. The percentages are set for the weight you want to hit on your third attempt on the platform.
I have run the Strong 15 before, but this wasn’t to peak for a Powerlifting Meet, but to give myself a much-needed break from 5/3/1. After running the short cycle, I didn’t attempt any PR’s the purpose of running the program at the time, was for recovery.
In Strength Life Legacy Paul Carter states
“You could easily run this year-round with lots of assistance work, going for a PR every 7th week, take a week off and start again.”
The Short Cycle can be used to get stronger, and at the end of each cycle more weight would be added to your working max, very similar to 5/3/1
I have used 5/3/1 a few times, and it has worked very well for me with the progressive percentages, high rep top sets with varying rep ranges week to week, and higher rep back off sets with varying rep ranges week to week.
The Strong 15’s primary role is to be run once to peak for a meet 5/3/1’s purpose is to get stronger over time.
I have an idea that the Strong 15 adapted with higher reps could be more effective for year-round progression than 5/3/1 (well for me anyway)
The way Strong 15 is set up is
Work up to a top percentage single (a percentage of your working max which goes up every week)
Do a back-off set(s) at a lower percentage which goes up every week.
The back-off sets are
- Pause Squats 2×3
- Bench Press as many as possible
- Deadlift 3×3 down to 1×3 on the last week.
Now doing this week in week out, you will end up with varying rep ranges with the Bench Press as you are doing as many as possible with different percentages each week, experience tells me that varying rep ranges with varying weight is good for progression.
Experience also tells me that triples will only work for so long so if I bastardise the Strong 15 to create a long term progressive size and strength program for myself I would
Replace the 2×3 pause squats back offset with a set of AMAP (as many as possible) Squats
Maybe do an additional back offset for the Bench Press at a lower percentage than the main back offset say 10-15% lower. The first set last worked very well for the bench press and overhead press on 5/3/1
Deadlifts have been very effective for me in AMAP sets, but they are very draining, so I have a few options.
Leave the back offsets as the prescribed triples.
Do AMAP back off-sets.
DO AMAP back off-sets and use triples on days I feel battered.
Do triples some days, and AMAP backoffs others, for example, weeks 1,3,5 use the original short cycle triples and on weeks 2-4 use AMAP sets.
Why would this potentially work better than 5/3/1 for a week to week progression?
Firstly you have a long run-up to the top percentages 5 weeks instead of 3 and week to week the jumps are not as big.
Secondly, you work up to a heavy single before backing off and doing the reps, and over warm-up, which is always useful for rep work.
18 Months Of Strong 15 Short Cycle
I ended up using the Strong 15 short cycle for around 18 months, running it as above upping my everyday max at the end of each cycle.
The result? I made good gains on my bench press hitting over 140kg for a single for the first time, hit a personal record on my squat and got my deadlift back up to my previous top strength levels.
I feel for me continuous strong 15 was good for squat and bench press progression but not as good for deadlift progression. Strong 15 short cycle is a peaking cycle first and foremost. I used it as written, but I’m sure tweaking and allowing higher reps on the deadlift cycle would have spurred more progression for me when using it as strength progression program.
I’m sure the Strong 15 Short Cycle will work for you also the entire program with percentages is set out in Strength Life Legacy