In Part I, I covered Ladders. The second part will cover the Hepburn Power routines.
I first read about this routine on Matt Perryman’s blog. Just so you know Doub Hepburn was the first individual to bench 500 pounds. According to Sean Katterle, he got his bench all the way up to 580 pounds. This was was in the 50’s when there was no supportive gear and little to no drugs being used in North America. Very impressive stuff.
This routine will again have you handling the same weight for multiple singles, this is known as the Hepburn A routine. Once this goes stale you move to the Hepburn B routine. You start with a weight that is heavy but isn’t your true 1RM. Something that you can do 2-4 reps with is probably a good start. You can also use 90% of your 1RM as a starting point. Doug said that he never had a set percentage that he used because it would be different for different people. Just find a weight that you can do 1 rep on that is heavy, and reasonably close to your true 1RM.
You are going to start with as many warm sets as you feel are necessary to reach your working weight. I use 3-4. If your bench is double mine, you may need 6-8. Again it’s highly individual. Once you reach your working weight you will do singles with it. You will start with 4 singles. Each training session you will add a single, all the way up to 10 singles. At that point you will increase the bar weight by 5 pounds and start at 4 singles again. You will eventually stall…
At this point you will switch to the Hepburn B routine. This is almost an exactly replication as the A routine but with a different amount of reps. You will use 3 instead of 1. So you will take 10-15% off what you were using for your A routine and use that for your B routine. You will start at 4 triples. Add triples to each training session until you reach 10 and increase the weight by 5 pounds. Doug said once you reach the same weight you were using as the A routine, then you could go back to using the A routine with even heavier weights. He felt that you could probably last about 4 months on each routine before going stale.
Here is an example of the A routine (only working sets shown):
Session 1: Bench Press (BP) 300×1,1,1,1
Session 2: BP 300×1,1,1,1,1
Session 6: BP 300×1,1,1,1,1,1,1,1,1,1
Session 7: BP 305×1,1,1,1
Let’s say our individual stalled at 315 pounds. We’ll take off 15% from that number, which is 265. Then we’d use that number for triples:
Session 1: Bench Press (BP) 265×3,3,3,3
Session 2: BP 265×3,3,3,3,3
Session 6: BP 265×3,3,3,3,3,3,3,3,3,3
Session 7: BP 270×3,3,3,3
I like using the ladders on chins and bench press. I don’t see why it couldn’t be used on many other lifts as well such as squats, deadlifts, overhead press and barbell curls. I think Doug Hepburn used his method on all his lifts. I’ve used it on myself and clients on bench press and overhead press with great success. I’m currently experimenting with high frequency training, you can read about here and here. I’ve done the ladder routine on bench up to 3x/week. The ladders on chins I’ve done up to 2x/week. The Hepburn A routine I’ve used up to 3x/week. My joints didn’t like this and I’ve since gone down to 2x/week each for bench and overhead press.
Now that you have some new artillery to add to your arsenal, get out there and blow it up!