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StrongFirst: Principle Based Strength

Hello everyone!

This is an Epic Post about 3 different but interwoven subjects:

  • StrongFirst Principles
  • Tim Ferris Podcast; Pavel Interview
    ( I borrow bits of their ideas and create new monsters out of the pieces)
  • StrongFirst “Best of”‘ Strength Exercises

8 Points of the StrongFirst ‘S’:


Use this Visual to help make your strength practice more efficient .

Use the left half of the table below to help order each of your workouts.

Use the right half of this table as a way to organize your thoughts on HOW you work out.


  1. Mobility
  2. Reactivity
  3. Skill
  4. Speed/strength
  5. Strength/power
  6. Strength
  7. Conditioning
  8. Relaxation/Recovery


  1. Safety First
  2. Strength has a greater Purpose
  3. Tension is Strength (Hard Style)
  4. Relaxation is Strength
  5. Perfect Technique
  6. ‘Long’ Rest
  7. Simple
  8. Sinister



Mobility Principles

relaxation / breathing / patience

use your Strength

create Space

Share the load


In order to increase your mobility, you must be able to RELAX while in uncomfortable positions.

Breathing in a specific fashion will ensure relaxation.

Long term mobility changes take a long time and A LOT of patience.

Mobility involves using your strength to push or pull yourself into more range of motion.

while ‘stretching’ don’t just sit there, wiggle around, flex/relax, rotate etc in order to ‘create space’ within the joints.

Share tension throughout your body. Learn to link muscles from head to toe in order to effectively ‘share the load’ – (this works with Strength as well).

Mel C. Siff – Principles for Progress

“Whichever system….is chosen, the underlying principle to be applied is that of optimal stress and restoration” (Siff, SuperTraining)

  1. Production of adequate muscle tension is central to all muscle training
  2. The maximum training benefits are derived by using muscle tension of no less than %40-%50 of ones 1 rep max
  3. Maximum training effect does not require prolonged muscle tension to the point of fatigue
  4. One single maximal strength effort per day is sufficient to maintain progress


Pavel Love’s Dr. Siff

Most of Pavel’s articles cite Mel Siff at one point or another.

(not) surprisingly,  Pavel / StrongFirst / the HardStyle method  goes quite well with Siff’s Principles.

In a Podcast Tim Ferris Interviews Pavel Statsouline, in which Pavel describes how StrongFirst/hardstyle method is:

“principle based strength …. (so) its applications are many.

In a nut shell, Pavel wants you to be able to create tension – some would say an excessive amount of tension – by squeezing your Grip, your (own) Glutes and your Abs. And then you want to be able to direct that tension/force in any way you so choose.


the TIM / PAVEL Interview at a glance:

  • the height of the soviet weight lifting team was guided by empirical studies of what worked best for their athletes
  • for Strength the Soviets suggested using 1/3rd – 2/3rds of your rep max per set
    • i.e. if you are using 10 rep max weight –  only do 3-6 reps
  • for Hypertrophy do many sets of 5 or 6 reps at %50-60 of max
  • for Slow twitch muscle fiber training – see occlusion
    • Squat for the lower body @ %30-%60 rep max
    • Push Up for upper body @ %10-%40 rep max
    • sets around 30-60second
    • Slow, no lockout (not full range to maintain occlusion)
    • 5-10min of active rest
    • DAY 1 = 4-9 sets  // 3 or 4 days later //  DAY 2 = 1-3 sets


MY personal suggestion

 – > How to organize the above programs so as to maximize progress:

  • High reps before Low reps: ‘functional hypertrophy’ as in; do the same movement that you want to get stronger in – so that the neural pathways get better along side with muscular adaption in just the places that you need in order to get better at that specific movement.
    • use this first phase to accumulate a high volume of repetitions – follow the many sets of 5-6reps advice


  • Work up to Low reps and High intensity: in either a linear or wave like fashion work up from using 1/3rd to 2/3rds of your rep max per set.
    • use this phase to increase the intensity of your workout i.e. increase neural drive and maximal tension


  • Switch is up with Slow twitch muscle fiber training: after low rep / high intensity training phase, your body will adapt best to a complete switch in how you are training.
    • Your high intensity fast twitch muscles will have been taxed from the previous phase – when you switch to training your slow twitch you give your fast twitch a break while maintaining their strength and size.
    • Better slow twitch muscles will assist  power output in strength exercises and sport – follow Pavel’s suggestions.


  • Take some time off


  • Test or Repeat : high rep/accumulation phaselow rep/intensity phaseslow twitch phase


StrongFirst “Best of'” Strength Exercises

The Best Exercises for the upper body and the lower body.

For an exercise to make it to the top of the list it must have a balance of Safety, Carry Over and Benefit.


BB back
BB front
KB front

Hip Hinge

barbell DL
good morning
KB swing


KB press
BB press
handstand press
1 arm push up


Pull Ups