Heavily influenced by the Olympic weightlifters, this program is so specific about the target and conduct that it has no accessory work in it. Throughout the program, you will be performing the same lifts with different weights and reps.
During the eight weeks of this routine you will be performing only three exercises, squats, deadlifts and bench press at different intensities.
The Korte 3×3 program encourages you to use minimum effort to lift the weights. This energy saving method trains you exactly the way your body should behave while lifting the limit loads. Every workout in this program is like rehearsal of your competition lift.
This workout guide contains everything you need to know about Korte 3×3 routine.
What Will I Learn?
History Of Korte 3×3 Program?
The method of training with only the lifts that you will be performing in the competition has been popular among the west European Olympic lifters for decades. Stephen Korte developed this particular program when he was stationed in Olympic training centre in Germany around 1992.
He observed that the lifters perform only the competition lifts as routine workouts, or they do the exercises that are biomechanically identical to their competition lifts. He found this technique very effective and it led him to develop the 3×3 program.
Korte was influenced by Loui Simmons’ powerlifting program and Olympic weightlifters’ training regime, thus Korte 3×3 routine shares some similarities with them.
Who is Stephan Korte?
Stephan Korte was in to single ply powerlifting. He has also coached many lifters.
This German powerlifting coach has trained many IPF powerlifters. Ralf Gierz and Michael Bruegger, who trained under him and went on to become junior world champions.
Following Stephan Korte’s 3×3 program, Bruegger has broken the 2200 pound barrier at 260 pound bodyweight, he has also benched over 600 pounds without bench shirt.
Korte 3×3 Program Overview
You are going to be training with only three exercises during the whole course of Korte 3×3. As mentioned earlier, it has competition lifts as exercises and no accessory work.
This powerlifting program is an eight week training cycle comprising of two phases. During these eight weeks you will be training for three days a week, with one rest day in between and two rest days at the end of weekly cycle. For example; you can work on Monday, Wednesday and Friday keeping other days as rest days.
- The first phase is for building volume. Phase one lasts for four weeks and in this you will be performing 75 to 144 reps of each of three exercises.
- In second phase you cut the volume drastically and do heavy lifts in the range of 80 to 95% of your desired max.
Korte 3×3 Program
Through the eight week, two phase program cycle, there is no off season. The first high volume stage has 12 workout sessions spread over four weeks. The second four week phase is a competition phase where you lift heavy for one of the three exercises in competition gear.
All the weight percentages mentioned in the program are based on your targeted max.
- For squat, your recommended target max is your current geared max plus 25 pounds, for bench add 10 pounds and for deadlift add 15 pounds to your current max.
So, this powerlifting program aims to improve your max capacity by 25 pounds for squat, 10 pounds for bench and 15 for deadlift within 8 weeks.
If you find these calculations too tedious, don’t worry we have included an editable spreadsheet here to help you with this.
Sets and Reps
The number of sets and reps per set remain constant for all exercises through first phase. In the four weeks of phase one you will perform 12 sessions with exactly same number of sets and reps.
For squats and deadlifts, you will perform 5 to 8 sets of 5 rep each. For bench, you do 6-8 sets of 6 rep each. There should be no change in number of reps and sets for whole 4 weeks. The weight will increase from 58% of target max by 2% each week.
In second phase you will be performing 1-2 heavy singles of one exercise and 3×3 – (5×4 in case of bench press) sets of other two exercises on every workout session.
3×3 Program Phase 1
The first four weeks are phase 1 of the routine. In this period, you will be working on building up the muscle mass and strength through high volume of moderate weight exercises. This will also help you improve your form.
There will be three sessions every week. In each session you will perform 5-8 squat sets of 5 rep each, 6 to 8 sets of 6 rep bench press and 5-8 deadlift sets of 5 rep each. Your exercises, number of reps and sets remain same for all 12 sessions of first phase. However, the weights you perform these exercises with, changes every week.
- You start with 58% of your targeted max weight, your first week or first three sets are to be done with these weights. After that you raise the weight by 2% each week. So, on the fourth week you will be performing these lifts with 64% of your targeted max.
- Don’t use powerlifting gear in phase 1
Korte 3×3 Phase 1 Routine
3×3 Program Phase 2
During the competition phase or phase 2 of this routine you will perform 1 or 2 singles of one of the three exercises in every session.
- Korte suggests that you perform heavy singles of deadlift on Monday, bench on Wednesday and squat on Friday.
- When you are performing heavy singles of deadlift, you will perform 3 triples of squats and 5 sets of 4 rep each bench press. On the day of heavy bench singles, you do 3 triples of other two exercises. And the third session will have 5×4 benches, 3×3 deadlifts and heavy singles of squats.
- For heavy singles, you will use 80% of your desired max on week 1 of phase 2. This will go on increasing by 5% each week. By eighth week you will lift 95% of your desired max.
- For rest of the sets you will be lifting 60% of your desired max.
- You should wear all your competition gear while performing the heavy singles.
Korte 3×3 Phase 2 Routine
Following table depicts the number of sets and reps to be performed on the peak week. On both days it has 3-4 sets of each exercise. This type of peaking is designed to avoid detraining.
On Monday you will perform the exercises with 60% of desired max and on Wednesday with 50% of desired max.
On Meet day you built up to your desired max lift with 90 and 95% prior lifts.
Sets and reps
60% of desire max
50% of desire max
Friday/ Meet day
90% desired max
95% desired max
90% desired max
95% desired max
90% desired max
95% desired max
Korte 3×3 spreadsheet
Yes, we know that this is one of the complicated workout routines, and you may find it tedious to do all the calculations and memorise the sessions. The complications even raise in phase two.
To counter this issue, we have created this Korte 3×3 spreadsheet for you.
You can download this, put in your current max for all the three lifts and let it do the calculations. The resultant would be a personalized 3×3 plan for you along with desired weight to train with on given day.
It would be greatly helpful for you if you print this personalized workout plan and carry it to your gym on every work session. You can just tick out the exercise, sets, reps completed to track exact progress.
Target Three Personal Best Simultaneously
You might have realised by now; you are targeting to achieve not one but three personal bests through this program. If followed with commitment and accuracy, you will push your personal best in squats, deadlifts and benches significantly within 8 weeks.
The Stephan Korte’s 3×3 program is a very specific program. It is designed to be worked with your competition gear. You base your desired max on your current geared max, and you perform the heavy lifts wearing the competition gear.
If you are a raw lifter, you might need to customize the plan a little, but overall, this plan can help every lifter to improve their lifting capacity.