The benefits of singles training

Whether you’ve been lifting for a year or just looking to get started with strength training, you will have almost undoubtedly come across a 5 x 5 strength program. Mark Rippetoe of Starting Strength was one of the major pioneers in helping to shift powerlifting over to the mainstream. His books have inspired thousands of lifters, along with many imitators who have tried to piggyback off of his success and preach the virtues of 5 x 5 like its gospel: it isn’t.

Personally, one of the most effective methods I’ve used to break plateaus and mix up my routines is the singles method. It is probably one of the most simple to use programming styles out there and basically goes like this:

  • Work out your 1RM (1 rep max)
  • Choose a weight that is around 90% of that 1RM. This can be around 95% if you have been lifting a while.
  • Warm up by performing reps with a lighter weight.
  • Perform anything between 3 and 10 sets of singles (i.e. one rep)
  • Choose a secondary exercise to that supplements your chosen lift, such as the floor press for the bench press.
  • Stretch
  • Leave the gym

This is best used for the main lifts: bench press, deadlift, overhead press and squat. Just be aware that if size is what you’re after, then this isn’t for you. It is purely for strength and training your central nervous system to deal with heavy loads and as such is very taxing on your body. Therefore, perform no more than 2 weeks of singles training in any given month; it might be useful to spend the remaining weeks incorporating some high repetition or bodybuilding style of work to keep your overall fitness levels high.

Using this method I’ve managed to bring my deadlift up to 198kg and bench to 140kg at 83/84kg. Let us know what this does for you and we may feature you in our next article!

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Build Power with Pendlay Rows

So you’ve been training for a while now, things are going well but that back just isn’t getting any bigger. Not only that, but you aren’t really getting much stronger… Then you need to be doing the Pendlay Row! These are one of the most efficient exercises for building a bigger, stronger and more powerful back.

Developed by Glenn Pendlay, a US weightlifting coach who has produced over 90 national weightlifting champions, this lift has some serious weight behind it (get it?). If you’ve ever browsed any bodybuilding article or video, you will almost certainly be used to performing the “normal” bent over row. In this case you bent over a little and keep the weight off the floor. The weight barely moves but is good for building size. However, if you want to look as strong as you look, you need to be doing the Pendlay row.

How to do it

  1. Stand over the bar as you would with the deadlift, but a few inches further away from you.
  2. Bend your knees and push your hips back. Your back needs to be perpendicular to the floor (90 degrees)
  3. Grab the bar at least shoulder width apart, but anywhere that comfortable.
  4. Rip the bar off the ground. Try not to move your hips.
  5. Rest the bar on the floor.
  6. One rep complete.

This is a video from Glenn Pendlay’s YouTube Channel:

In summary

  • Pendlay rows are superior to bodybuilding rows for strength and power.
  • It was developed by one of the most successful US weightlifting coaches.
  • Easier on your lower back as you rest it on the floor after a rep.
  • This also carries over very well to your deadlift
  • Who doesn’t want a V-taper?


Remember to check out our other muscle building articles here. Let’s build some serious muscle!

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