Using the AMSAP method allowed one of my athletes, Mariusz Zebrowski, to increase his front squat from 220 to 250kg in just 4 months. Now, he has already front squatted 280kg using another method that relies on similar principles. The AMSAP method is a high-volume protocol to which 8×8 and 10×10 routines are no match. It will make the muscles of your athletes explode and their technique improve so much that at the end of the protocol, they will be teaching you instead. It is a method designed only for dedicated people that can sacrifice time and effort to improve their performance. It is NOT a method for casual lifters. It is a method for serious athletes.
What is the AMSAP method and how do I use it to build a strong foundation for future peaking?
AMSAP stands for As Many Sets As Possible. I created this method when I was experimenting with high-volume workouts and was in need of a routine that would allow my clients to make progress without the necessity of using heavy weights. I needed a training method that would allow my athletes to build more functional muscle mass and provide them with technical proficiency along with the essential foundations required to peak their strength levels in the future. I am obviously not the only nor the first person that came up with the idea of not determining the number of sets during a session, however, the protocol itself is very individual and I will get to that in a second.
The method is based on autoregulation. Your athletes will carry on doing sets until they start to feel fatigued. In fact, I would recommend that they actually stop just before they get fatigued in order to be able to generate more power in each working set. You instruct your athletes to start from a specified rep range, intensity, give them specified rest periods and they will progress by adding sets, not weight. It will allow them to master the weight so in the subsequent block they will be able to transfer to the higher intensity zone and repeat the process.
Each training block, you will reduce the number of repetitions and increase the weight, however, during the block, you will progress only by adding sets that is by increasing volume. The method itself is meant to build solid foundations and technical proficiency. The athlete starts at a specific rep range, intensity and terminate the exercise when they think that the in next set, they might get fatigued. Doing so will enable them to complete each set with more power output which is desired in strength sports as speed and power are associated with higher motor unit recruitment.
Progression within the mesocycle
- Week 1
Beginning of the block, start from the recommended weights and reps, stop just before you get fatigued.
- Week 2
Repeat and increase the number of sets.
- Week 3
Repeat and increase the number of sets.
- Week 4
Deload and test week. Rest from the volume by performing only a single set. This set will also be your test set. You will perform a single AMRAP at a given intensity and note down how many reps are you able to complete with this weight now.
Progression within the macrocycle
- Block 1
75%/10rm x 5, 60-120s rest, max sets
- Block 2
80%/8rm x 4, 60-120s rest, max sets
- Block 3
85%/5rm x 3, 60-120s rest, max sets
- Perform a lot of sets far from failure to accumulate volume and master the technique
- At the end of each block, there is a test to see how many more repetitions can you do with a given weight
- Upon completing a program, you should be able to do much more than 5 reps with your old 5 rep max
- Well done, you are ready to peak now!
When and how to use it?
The AMSAP method should precede a peaking cycle. After completing this 12-week base strength macrocycle, you are to increase the intensity and move on to a peaking routine. Depending on your strength levels, you might be able to do 8, 10, or even a dozen repetitions with your previous 85%/~5rm. When it happens, you know that you have built solid foundations and you are ready to move on to the higher intensity zone.
The best part comes now. It is not a method to be used once a week. Some of my athletes have used it as often as 3-4 times a week with success. The trick is to use it for a different exercise each day. In terms of the bench press, it could mean that your athletes are bench pressing on Monday, close grip pressing on Tuesday, incline pressing on Thursday and dumbbell pressing on Friday. Accumulating so much volume during the week will pay off later. Apart from increasing the strength endurance and muscle mass, It will also build astronomous work capacity and improve technical proficiency. At first, it might be hard to last for so many sets but the thing is that if you actually manage to hit the sweet spot and make your athlete stop just before they get fatigued, the adaptations will take care of that and week by week, they will be able to complete more and more sets with even better form.
You are more than welcome to try it on hard-gainers and people generally lacking muscle mass. It will also benefit people complaining about not feeling the working muscle groups during a workout. Apart from laying the foundations, it can also be incorporated straight after a peaking cycle with intensity as high as 85% for multiple doubles to develop even more functional muscle mass or (if your athletes can handle that) for multiple sets of singles at 90% of their 1rm, however, I would recommend that such a strategy should be preceded and followed by a deload to let the CNS have enough rest as in some cases, too much volume will actually be detrimental to sports performance, especially when talking about higher intensity zones.