Progressive Distance Training

Karsten Jensen.
This article is an excerpt from the book: The Flexible Periodization Method. Enjoy.
The main purpose of Progressive Distance Training is to improve 1RM in lifts such as squats, deadlifts, bench press or military press.

Progressive distance training has been used by legends like Paul Anderson, Peary Rader and Bob Peoples. Progressive distance training is related to supra-maximal eccentric training, in the sense that supporting structures of the body, like grip, core, bones and tendons get exposed to loads beyond 1RM. Unless specifically addressed, a weakness of progressive distance may be a lack of stimulation of strength in the bottom position of a movement (typically the most challenging part).

By nature, progressive distance should be a 6-week cycle (or longer) to allow the athlete to adapt to the given settings. Due to the short range of motion (ROM) initially, the rep number is a little higher and tapers down as ROM increases.

A power rack with solid safety pins is needed for this MV.

Day 1? x 5-1 
Day 2? x 3-6(55-75% 1RM)
Day 3? x 6-3 
Day 4? x 6-3 

As mentioned in Appendix 6, the range of motion is related to the tension on the muscle and thus, intensity. The ROM is waved down and up from workout to workout and week to week using the following sequence. (Setting 1 should allow for about 1-inch of movement. Subsequent settings are counted based on setting number 1).

Variation in placement (setting) of safety pins.
 Week 1Week 2Week 3Week 4Week 5Week 6
Day 1123456
Day 3345678

The goal of the system is to progress to full ROM. You can shorten or lengthen the progression (fewer or more settings than 8) if full ROM for the athlete/client corresponds to a number different from 8.

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Day 1Determine a load that is 120-130% of the lifter's 1RM for full ROM. OR, determine a 5RM for a partial movement in setting 1. The chosen load is used on all subsequent workouts on Day 1.The athlete/client performs multiple sets of 6-1 repetitions. The goal is to perform as close to 6 repetitions as possible in all sets. As the ROM increases, the number of repetitions per set can approach 1, based on the progress and strength curve of the lifter.
Day 2The athlete/client performs full ROM with maximal power or strength speed parameters. 
Day 3Performed in the same way as Day 1, but with lower intensity: 110-120% of the lifter's 1RM for full ROM. OR, determine a 6RM for a partial movement in setting #3. The chosen load is used on all subsequent workouts on Day 3. 
Day 4The athlete/client uses 75-85% of the heaviest working weight from Day 1 and performs multiple sets of 6-3 reps in the setting BETWEEN Day 1 and Day 3. 


  1. Dinosaur Training. 2004.
    Kubik, B D.
    Chapter 16, p 121-130.

Karsten Jensen

Karsten Jensen is a Strength and Conditioning Coach based in Ontario, Canada. He's also the author of books such as The Flexible Periodization Method, Best Butt on the Beach and The Magnificient 35.

Swing by his blog for regular updates on strength-training, conditioning, and program creation.

You can also find him on Google+, and in discussions such as Gymchat 190 - Olympic Lifting, Gymchat 224 - The Future of Fitness (Roundtable) and Gymchat 240 - Periodization.

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