Basic Conjugate Method Explained

By on July 7, 2014

Aj Roberts: Basic Conjugate Method Explained

Hey everyone, AJ Roberts here.


Today, I’m going to talk about the basic conjugate training system with you. So, the conjugate system is a four-day system made up of two max set days and two dynamic days. And, everyday we do the repetition method for the accessory movements.


So, let’s break it down. What you see here is: Day One is max effort lower, Day Two, which is a Wednesday, is max effort upper. Friday is dynamic effort lower, and then Saturday is dynamic effort upper.


I’m going to break these days down for you and make it really simple. Basically, max effort means that, on a max effort day, we’re going to work up to a one rep max on a lower body exercise. This could be on a squat, a deadlift, or it could be any lower body exercise you choose. We are going to work up to as much weight as possible for one repetition.


It’s the same thing on the max effort upper day. On the max effort upper, we’re going to work on an upper body exercise up to one repetition and up to as much weight as possible.


Now, on dynamic days, it gets a little different. On dynamic days, we’re going to use on the lower body day what’s called a three-week pendulum wave. Which basically means we are going to up for three weeks and then cycle back around on the percentages. So, what we have here is we have 12 sets of 2 on the first week. We’re going to use 50%. That’s 50% of the exercise you’re using. So, for a back squat, you would use 50% of your 1 rep max back squat. Plus, 25% in accommodating resistance, which is bands or chains. If you don’t have bands or chains, you can just use 75% this week.


Week two is 12 sets of 2 again. This time we’re at 55% plus 25%. And, week three we’re at 60% plus 25% and again, if you don’t have bands or chains, you can just go at 75, 80, and 85% of your 1 rep max.


Now, on our website using the conjugate system, we always box squat on this day and the benefits can be found online for that. But, any lower body exercise is going to work for this. We stick to the squats because obviously, the squats are the king of all exercises.


And, on Saturday for dynamic and upper, we used to do pendulum waves. But, things have changed over time. Right now, every week we switch. So, every week we do a different dynamic effort upper body movement, and typically for us, it’s a bench press movement. But, you could use over-the-head or any movement you choose.


We’ll do 9 sets of 3 and the percentage we use is a lot lower. Typically, it’s about 35% plus 25% in accommodating resistance. So, again, that’s 35% of your 1 rep max. Now, here we’ll do a bench press. We’ll do 3 sets with a close grip, 3 sets with a medium grip, and 3 sets with a wide grip.   So, we actually change the grips doing that and then, again, we change the exercises. So, let’s say we do the bench press one week, the following week, you may do a floor press. And, then the following week, you may do an overhead press if you’re rotating that with the max effort day. So, it’s very similar except, we are using a percentage.


Now in terms of assisted movements, it’s very simple. For upper and lower, we do the same movements, but not necessarily the same exercise. But, we train the same muscle groups on both days. So, both the assistance selection, essentially, hits the same muscles on both the dynamic and the max effort day. So, on a lower body day, we’re going to hit the hamstrings, the glutes, the lower back, and the abdominals.


We’ll do the same on the max effort day. And, then, for upper body, we are going to hit the shoulders, the triceps, the chest, and of course the upper back. So, those are the basic movements and we’ll hit lats with upper back as well. And again, we do hamstrings, glutes, and lower back on max effort day. And, we do hamstrings and glutes on the dynamic day. And, we do shoulders, triceps, chest, lats, and upper back on both the days.


The differences are in the exercise selection and in the sets and reps we can do. But, essentially, what you do is 3-5 sets for repetition. So, 8’s to 12’s and, if you go with a band movement, or something like it, you may do higher repetitions. But, it’s very similar to bodybuilding or something like that. We are really trying to train the muscles that need to get stronger and bigger. So, that’s the purpose of the repetition method, or accessories, as most people call them. That’s the overview.


The one thing to take note of, I’ve drawn out here. We’ve got a Monday, Wednesday, Friday, Saturday/Sunday. The key is the 72 hours between the two. So, if you’ll notice, between Monday and Friday, Wednesday and Saturday or Sunday, there is 72 hours. This is going to be optimal for muscle recovery. Any less time than this, and we don’t fully recover, unless, you’re a super athlete who recovers quicker. Which I see a lot nowadays as people are in better shape and really are superior athletes. So, if you’re one of those guys who can recover in 24 hours 100%, and you know it, fantastic. But, for the majority of people, 72 hours is going to be what they need.


And, when you follow this system, with two max effort days and two dynamic days plus the repetition, you pretty much get stronger and stronger and stronger. And, again, we use this for power lifting at West Side Barbell. With the conjugate system, we have trainers all over the world using this in their facilities with all sorts of athletes from MMA fighters to football players to soccer players. The methods are proven in science and backed by results. So, if you are interested in doing it, you can look into it more.

I’ll talk to you soon.

AJ Roberts

AJ Roberts

About AJ Roberts

Best selling author and 2x World Record Holder, AJ Roberts is a world renowned strength and conditioning coach, seminar leader and serial entrepreneur. Roberts began his career as a strength and conditioning coach at the University of Idaho from where he graduated with a Bachelor's in Sports Science. Since then he's gone on to gain vast knowledge and experience both as a Coach and Athlete in Powerlifting, CrossFit and Bodybuilding.

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