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Heavy, Light and Medium by Bill Starr - CrossFit Journal

In Olympic Lifts, Powerlifting

May 18, 2011

PDF Article

Bill Starr explains a simple way to plan a week’s worth of lifting for maximum gains.

Knowing how to utilize the heavy, light and medium system in your strength program is perhaps one of the most important things you can do to ensure ongoing success.

What the system basically does is prevent overtraining. In the very beginning, it really isn’t all that important. Whenever I start someone on a strength routine, I want him to go to limit at every session on the selected exercises. I need to find his strength levels on those movements, and from that I can teach him how to incorporate the heavy, light and medium system. It’s not at all unusual for a beginner to make progress on all of his lifts for the first month or six weeks because as his form gets tighter, the numbers go up.

But once the numbers on the primary lifts flatten out, I install the heavy, light and medium system into their programs. Three times a week is enough in the beginning. It’s important to have those off days to allow the body to recuperate from this new form of stress. The same set and rep sequence is used at every session: 5 sets of 5. Monday is the heavy day, which means they go to limit on all three primary exercises. Wednesday is the light day, where they do less than what they did on Monday. And Friday they will handle a load somewhere in between what they lifted on Monday and Wednesday.

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2 Comments on “Heavy, Light and Medium ”


wrote …

Love these articles. I appreciate the bird's eye view of the basics, with a few toward the big picture and ultimate goal.


wrote …

I have a question: Bill says "Heavy, light and medium doesnt equal hard, easy, not so hard. If you are not spent at the end you didnt work hard enough."
So if i do 5x5 at a certain weight on the heavy day, how do i get myself spent on the light day doing 5x5 of just 80% of that weight? is it the total workload? Should i always aim for maximum workload, for example doing sets with 76, 77, 78, 79, 80% of my heavy weight on the light day?

Awesome article, im going to devote myself to this program in the coming month, in hopes of getting strong as an ox!

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