• Dr Squat 80 Day Cycle with RTS

      One of the people I respect most in Powerlifting is Dr. Fred Hatfield. He is a lifter who not only was very strong and talented, but was also willing to engage his brain and commit to his craft in a way that not many (any?) other lifters can duplicate. The guy went and LIVED in Soviet Russia so he could learn more about they trained athletes for cryin’ out loud! The result of this unprecedented blend of physical and mental work was a lifter who was far ahead of his time.
      One of Dr. Squat’s standby routines – one that he recommends all lifters start out with – is the 80 Day Cycle. If you have never seen it before, you can see it in its original context here. What I would like to do is take the 80 day cycle that Dr. Hatfield has written and use it as a basis for an RTS program. You can use this program in your own training or use it as a tool to learn to better program your own training. Without further ado…

      Day 1
      Bench: x3 @9, 6-9% Fatigue

      Squat: x2 @7, 4-6% Fatigue
      Bench: 120% Hold x8sec, 3 sets

      Day 3
      Deadlift: x3 @9, 6-9% Fatigue

      Day 6
      Squat: x3 @9, 6-9% Fatigue
      Bench: x2 @7, 4-6% Fatigue
      Squat: 120% Hold x8sec, 3 sets

      Day 9
      Deadlift: x5 @9, 6-9% Fatigue

      Day 11
      Bench: x4 @10, 6-9% Fatigue
      Squat: x2 @7, 4-6% Fatigue
      Bench: 120% Hold x8sec, 3 sets

      Day 13
      Deadlift: x4 @10, 6-9% Fatigue

      Day 16
      Squat: x4 @10, 6-9% Fatigue
      Bench: x2 @7, 4-6% Fatigue
      Squat: 120% Hold x8sec, 3 sets

      Day 19
      Deadlift: x5 @9, 6-9% Fatigue

      Day 21
      Bench: x5 @10, 6-9% Fatigue
      Squat: x2 @7, 4-6% Fatigue
      Bench: 120% Hold x8sec, 3 sets

      Day 23
      Deadlift: x5 @10, 6-9% Fatigue

      Day 26
      Squat: x5 @10, 6-9% Fatigue
      Bench: x2 @7, 4-6% Fatigue
      Squat: 120% Hold x8sec, 3 sets

      Day 29
      Deadlift: x5 @9, 6-9% Fatigue

      Day 31
      Bench: x6 @10, 6-9% Fatigue
      Squat: x2 @7, 4-6% Fatigue
      Bench: 120% Hold x8sec, 3 sets


      Day 33
      Deadlift: x6 @10, 6-9% Fatigue

      Day 36
      Squat: x6 @10, 6-9% Fatigue
      Bench: x2 @7, 4-6% Fatigue
      Squat: 120% Hold x8sec, 3 sets

      Day 39
      Deadlift: x5 @10, 6-9% Fatigue

      Day 41
      Bench: x2 @9, 4-6% Fatigue
      Squat: x2 @7, 4-6% Fatigue
      Bench: 120% Hold x8sec, 3 sets

      Day 43
      Deadlift: x2 @9, 4-6% Fatigue

      Day 46
      Squat: x2 @9, 4-6% Fatigue
      Bench: x2 @7, 4-6% Fatigue
      Squat: 120% Hold x8sec, 3 sets

      Day 49
      Deadlift: x5 @9, 6-9% Fatigue

      Day 51
      Bench: x2 @9, 4-6% Fatigue
      Squat: x2 @7, 4-6% Fatigue
      Bench: 120% Hold x8sec, 3 sets

      Day 53
      Deadlift: x3 @10, 4-6% Fatigue

      Day 56
      Squat: x3 @10, 4-6% Fatigue
      Bench: x2 @7, 4-6% Fatigue
      Squat: 120% Hold x8sec, 3 sets

      Day 59
      Deadlift: x5 @9, 6-9% Fatigue

      Day 61
      Bench: x2 @10, 4-6% Fatigue
      Squat: x2 @7, 4-6% Fatigue
      Bench: 120% Hold x8sec, 3 sets
      Deadlift: x2 @10, 4-6% Fatigue

      Day 66
      Squat: x2 @10, 4-6% Fatigue
      Bench: x2 @7, 4-6% Fatigue
      Squat: 120% Hold x8sec, 3 sets
      Deadlift: x5 @9, 4-6% Fatigue

      Day 71
      Bench: x2 @10, 4-6% Fatigue
      Squat: x2 @7, 4-6% Fatigue
      Bench: 120% Hold x8sec, 3 sets
      Deadlift: x2 @10, 4-6% Fatigue

      Day 76
      Squat: x2 @10, 4-6% Fatigue
      Bench: x2 @7, 4-6% Fatigue
      Squat: 120% Hold x8sec, 3 sets

      Day 80 (Wednesday prior to contest)
      Squat: 120% Hold x8sec, 3 sets
      Bench: 120% Hold x8sec, 3 sets

      Competition on Saturday

      This was not an easy program to convert. First, there is the basic problem with percentage programming. Not everyone responds to percentages the same way. Then, most percentage programs attempt to estimate your progress along the program by steadily increasing the percentage used for a given number of reps or gradually increasing the number used as a 1RM to base all other loading from. This program uses both methods concurrently. That makes for a conversion to RPE difficult to estimate. However, if you look at the program in the original context, you can see where I came up with the above schedule quite easily. And it’s okay if it doesn’t perfectly emulate the original 80 day cycle. It is only supposed to be based on it.

      Problems aside, there’s clearly plenty to learn from this. Dr. Hatfield is clearly not afraid to have the athlete work hard and he has several things that work, but for whatever reason seem to have gone out of fashion in the strength world. Things like deadlifting for reps, plenty of volume, and static holds are a mainstay of the program. He is not very clear about assistance work, so add supplemental exercises as you see fit.

      So there you have it. If you decide to give the above cycle a try, I would love to hear about your results with it. Please feel free to email me using the website’s contact form or, even better, make a post on the forum and tell us all what you thought!
      Comments 13 Comments
      1. bilal's Avatar
        bilal -
        I would like to try this program but which fatigue system would you recommend ? Rep drop, load drop or repeat? And also is it good to add assistant exercises or stick with just the main lifts? thank you
      1. Mike Tuchscherer's Avatar
        Mike Tuchscherer -
        When in doubt, do load drops. I wouldn't add much. Maybe a few sets of overhead press and some rows. But in general, just lift heavy weights.
      1. bilal's Avatar
        bilal -
        Thank you for the reply
        I will be using this to prep for a local meet which is in 12 weeks and I will let you know how this works out
      1. Piet's Avatar
        Piet -
        Mike, is the idea here to do the number of sets outlined in hatfields original program, just utilizing fat. Percentages? Or is the number of sets up to the trainee? Or something else?
      1. joshuamatos17's Avatar
        joshuamatos17 -
        Hey Piet,
        If I understand correctly, the number of sets should be auto-regulated. You've got some options here-load drops, repeats, Etc. Chapters 11 and 12 in the manual helped me quite a bit, as well as the "beginning RTS" articles on the site (extremely helpful). That's the benefit of implementing RTS principles. I started this program today, and I'm learning a lot already! Anyway, hope that helps.
      1. Mike Tuchscherer's Avatar
        Mike Tuchscherer -
        Right on Joshuamatos. It's an autoregulated RTS program inspired by Hatfield's 80 day cycle.
      1. Piet's Avatar
        Piet -
        Thanks for the replies guys. I was deadlifting 4x5 @ 10, I might back off the number of sets just a touch.


        Gotta say that this is a well done program Mike. I'm enjoying it so far.
      1. joshuamatos17's Avatar
        joshuamatos17 -
        Quote Originally Posted by Piet View Post
        Thanks for the replies guys. I was deadlifting 4x5 @ 10, I might back off the number of sets just a touch.


        Gotta say that this is a well done program Mike. I'm enjoying it so far.
        I agree--this program is very well done. I think implementing RPE is beneficial for sub-intermediate lifters because our maxes will probably improve more quickly than a higher level lifter, and RPE will help account for that.

        I'd like to hear some occasional updates from you and bilal regarding the program. Maybe we can all bounce some ideas around. Either way it's nice to hear that others are doing this program as well. Happy lifting!
      1. scubby's Avatar
        scubby -
        Is making this a 4 day split possible? Also, any rehab work, or just stick to the main lifts?
      1. seth1029's Avatar
        seth1029 -
        Mike, I see where you used the chart to figure the RPE for the reps at a given percentage, but how did you determine the fatigue drop percents? I'm wanting to convert another program as well. Thanks
      1. PrimalAeon's Avatar
        PrimalAeon -
        Quote Originally Posted by seth1029 View Post
        Mike, I see where you used the chart to figure the RPE for the reps at a given percentage, but how did you determine the fatigue drop percents? I'm wanting to convert another program as well. Thanks
        I might be going out on a limb here. But let's say that we have two work up sets, then our top set. That's 3 sets... If you then do 5% fatigue, you might get 2 more sets. So, to generalize, you could convert fatigue like this:
        0% = no extra, total sets ~3
        3% = +1 set, total sets ~4
        5% = +2 sets, total sets ~5
        7% = +3 sets, total sets ~6
        9% = +4 sets, total sets ~7
      1. Mike Tuchscherer's Avatar
        Mike Tuchscherer -
        You could do that. That will get you close-ish depending on the work capacity required by the program. A better way would be to see what effects the program is trying to create. When it has you doing high volume, choose a higher fatigue percent. When volume drops, lower the fatigue percent. You should average Medium stress.
      1. seth1029's Avatar
        seth1029 -
        Quote Originally Posted by Mike Tuchscherer View Post
        You could do that. That will get you close-ish depending on the work capacity required by the program. A better way would be to see what effects the program is trying to create. When it has you doing high volume, choose a higher fatigue percent. When volume drops, lower the fatigue percent. You should average Medium stress.
        Ok got it, Mike. Helps alot thanks!