Stephan Korte’s 3×3 program primarily involves high volume in the three powerlifting movements; squat, deadlift, and bench press. It has been used by some great German powerlifters such as Ralf Gierz and Michael Bruegger.
Stephen Korte was heavily influenced by the training methods utilized by eastern European weightlifters. The program is hence both extremely specialized and based on a block periodization structure, with variation from mesocycle to mesocycle. Phase 1, the first block, is based on high volume and low intensity while Phase 2, the second block, is based on low volume and high intensity. Hence you first work on hypertrophy (or work capacity) and then maximal strength.
People often find the program difficult to understand at first sight because of preconceived notions of how a training program should be. Here is a shortlist of some of the features of the program that often cause confusion, but are essential for understanding the program.
- For the equipped lifter: The training percentages are based on an equipped projected max. However, Stephan Korte does not even recommend using a belt doing phase 1, for this reason, the program may seem easier at first sight than it really is! If one is doing the program with equipment that does not similarly help the lifter as when Stephan Korte created the program the percentages should be decreased/increased accordingly.
- For the raw lifter: Since the percentages are based on an equipped max but it is only the singles in phase 2 that are performed with equipment, the percentages should be increased accordingly, if you are planning to train without equipment. I have made some recommendations in the spreadsheet, that can be changed according to your preferences.
- The Percentages are based on projected maxes, so in bench, your projected max is set at your real max plus 5kg (10lbs), and in the squat and deadlift you will add 10kg (25lbs) to your real max when setting your projected max.
- In phase 1 you will have three workouts per week and these three workouts will be completely the same. The next week the percentage increase by 2%
- In phase 2 the singles are increased by 5% per week; 80%, 85%, 90% and 95%