In a previous issue of the No Nonsense Newsletter, I was happy to see one of my favorite training programs for great strength gains, the
Matrix system. Twelve years earlier when I was introduced to this program it was new and only being used for the bench press. It worked very well and led to many championships for me and those on the power team I coached.
Jump ahead twelve years to January 2003, and I am being asked to lift for Team Pinnacle, a drug free powerlifting team. This team is coached and led by Matthew Haumesser, D.C. and based in Cincinnati, Ohio. The difference now was that the team was made up of full meet powerlifters, and I had not competed in a full meet since 1984. The question now was:
How could I max out my strength in all three lifts, not just the bench?
That’s when I remembered the
Beverly article on bulk and power (No Nonsense Newsletter V.8, #2). The Matrix program was featured in that
article. I showed it to Dr. Matt and we got down to work. Joe Huber reduced his weight from 227 to 202 pounds while increasing his total by nearly 100 pounds.
The program was mainly designed for the bench and possibly one other lift. It incorporated a heavy day and a subsequent light day for each lift. I knew of no one who had tried it for all three of the competitive power lifts (Squat, Bench Press, and Deadlift) at the same time. Dr. Matt and I, along with 205 champ Joe Huber, felt right away that working out three heavy days a week doing squats, benches, and deadlifts and then three additional light days during the week was more than any drug free lifter could handle. The first revision we made was to cut the Matrix in half
since we would be training all three lifts. We would follow the reps,
sets, and percentages for the heavy day and cut out the light day.
This would take our training down to three days a week.
Although the Matrix program can be set up to give a 10% increase,
we felt that a 5% increase on some of the lifts where we had already
approached our limits would be more attainable. Each of us had at least
ten years lifting experience and had reached very close to our genetic
potential. The following is a week-by-week breakdown of the movements, reps, sets, and percentages that Team Pinnacle used to win the 2003 U.S.A NASA Drug-Free National Championship.
Monday: Squat Day
We also added auxiliary movements as listed below. Alternating leg press/hack squat each week for 2 sets of 6-8 reps Leg extensions each week for 1-2 sets of 8-12 reps Alternate seated/lying leg curls each week for 3 sets of 6-10 reps Alternate seated/standing calf each week for 3 sets of 10-25 reps Weeks 6 ↦ 8-add heavy walk outs with 100-200 pounds over projected max Squats
Tuesday: Bench Press Day Alternate each week any type of inclined press movement for 2 sets of 6-8 reps Alternate each week any fly movement for 1-2 sets of 6-8 reps Alternate 2-3 triceps movements each week for 2 sets of 6-8 reps (floor press, narrow grip press, push downs, skull crushers, reverse grip bench press)
Thursday: Dead Lift Day – Matrix System Alternate weighted hyper extensions/cable pull throughs each week for 2 sets of 6-10 reps Alternate lat pull downs/chins each week for 2 sets of 6-10 reps Any rowing movement for 2 sets of 6-8 reps Shrugs each week for 2 sets of 6-8 reps Side delt movement each week for 2 sets of 6-8 reps Rear delt movement each week for 2 sets of 6-8 reps Abs
Dr. Matt Haumesser set the NASA drug-free Ohio State record in the squat at 647 pounds
Matt, Joe and I also incorporated band work-two sets of between three and
five reps for the three major lifts with 35-45% of our projected maximums. Bands are large, thick rubber bands that attach over the end of the bar and the other end to a rack or dumbbell on the floor. The rack or dumbbell holds the band in place. As you press or move the bar up, the bands stretch which increases the resistance on the bar. This helps increase
lock out strength and speed.
Dr. Matt formulated Team Pinnacle’s nutrional program around Beverly principles and supplements
Here is how we incorporated the Matrix program on each of the three basic power lifts:
Week One: Monday: 55% of projected max (For Example: My best squat in a meet was 524 lbs. at the NASA 2003 Ohio State Championship. This was an all-time best for me so I decided to try to increase it by 5% over the next ten weeks using the Matrix system of progression. This would give me a projected one-rep max of 550 lbs. for the USA Championship. (You may want to try a 10% increase if you feel you are not near your potential in a particular lift.) I find my poundage for each workout by multiplying the given percentage for the week by my projected max (in this case 550). Using this method my first week poundage for the squat was .55 x 550 or 300. When figuring each percentage, always round to the nearest five pounds.) I would do 2-3 sets of light warm ups, then 3 sets of 10 reps at 300.
Tuesday: For the Bench Press I felt that my 380 lb. maximum at the Ohio was still a bit within my potential so I chose a 10% increase for the Bench Press. This put my projected max at 422 lbs. My first Bench workout was structured at 55% of 422 or 230 lbs. for 3 sets of 10 reps. Yes, this was fairly easy and that is the beauty of the matrix system. The workouts get progressively harder so that you peak at just the right time.
Thursday: My 551 lb. max at the Ohio was definitely near my limit so I chose a 5% on increase on Deadlifts. This put my projected max for the USA at 580 lbs. My first week workout was 3 sets of 10 reps at 55% of 580 or 320 lbs.
Week Two: 60% of projected max- Do 2-3 sets of light warm-ups, then 3 sets of 9 reps with 60% of your projected max. Week Three: 65% of projected max-Do 2-3 sets of light warm-ups, then 3 sets of 8 reps. Week Four: 70% of projected max-Do 2-3 sets of light warm-ups, then 3 sets of 7 reps. Week Five: 75% of projected max-Do 2-3 sets of light warm-ups, then 3 sets of 6 reps. Week Six: 80% of projected max- Do 2-3 sets of light warm-ups, then 3 sets of 5 reps.
Week Seven: 85% of projected max- Do 2-3 sets of light warm-ups, then 2 sets of 4 reps. Week Eight: 90% of projected max- Do 2-3 sets of light warm-ups, then 2 sets of 3 reps. Week Nine: 95% of projected max- Do 2-3 sets of light warm-ups, then 1 set of 2 reps. Cut auxiliary work by 50% this week to promote recuperation. No band work.
Week Ten-Meet Day: All three lifts will be performed on this day. Follow the guidelines below for squat, bench, and deadlift.
First attempt at 88-92.5% for one rep. Second attempt at 95-97.5% for one rep.
Third attempt at 100-102% for one rep.
Did this program work for us? Unbelievably well! I hit every one of my projected maxes at the USA in Las Vegas-557-lb. Squat, 424-lb. Bench,
and a 579-lb. Deadlift. Team Pinnacle was selected the best overall team, setting 36 state records and four American records.
Todd Jackson benched 424lbs. at the U.S.A. – a forty pound increase in ten weeks Team Pinnacle’s Record Setting Nutrition Plan
Dr. Matt set up the nutritional plan for Team Pinnacle. He used many of the
nutritionally sound principles he had learned from Roger and Sandy at
Beverly International from his years of competing as a bodybuilder.
Many of the team members were very close to their weight limit, so
their diet and supplement program had to max out strength and muscle
without much weight gain.
The program for most centered around four to five meals per day.
Daily food intake consisted of high protein (up to 50%), a blend of
complex and fibrous carbs, and healthy fats. Most team members used
Ultra Size, Muscle Provider, Mass Maker, and 100% Egg in combination
in protein shakes as one or two of their daily meals. Dr. Matt had
everyone base their supplement program around Ultra 40 Liver, Mass
Aminos, and Creatine. These all provided a strong base for muscle
retention and strength gain.
There were two interesting twists to the team nutrition. First,
Joe Huber, the 205 U.S.A. National Champ, actually dropped down
to 202 pounds from the 227 class in just 10 weeks and got stronger.
He added almost 100 pounds to his total. The difference was Joe
added Lean Out, Energy Reserve, and 7-Keto MuscLean to his program
for the last six weeks. He also followed a lean high protein
The other twist was my supplement program.
I had remembered how strong I felt on my complete Beverly program
during my last bodybuilding show. I was able to keep my muscle,
feel strong, and win the Mr. Central U.S.A. I wanted to see if
the program would work for powerlifting and pure strength. I was
able to add over 100 pounds to my state championship total in just 10 weeks. These products worked for everyone on the team no matter what end of the spectrum they were on.
NOTE: Roger has recently introduced me to Beverly’s Creatine Select Plus Phosphates and Glutamine Select Plus BCAAs. They are formulated to increase strength, lean muscle mass and recovery-perfect for Team Pinnacle’s next assault on the drug-free powerlifting record books. NNM 9 issue 2