Steve Justa’s strength training singles routines can be a great way to gain strength over a short period of time. In this article we’ll look at this method of training; what it is, the benefits, limitations, and example(s) of how to put it into action…
Who Is Steve Justa?
An old-school lifter, Steve is famous in the fitness industry for his strength and functional training; particularly for using old school equipment like barbells, and functional equipment such as tractor tyres, sledgehammers and barrels.
He’s also an author of a book called Rock, Iron and Steel, with the title of the book pretty much summing up Steve in general – a veteran alpha male!
Steve Justa Singles – What Are They?
In a nutshell… Steve Justa singles is a training philosophy where you only perform single reps. It’s aim is to build strength over a short period of time, being 2-4 weeks. Although, the training program can be followed for longer periods, providing your performance is improving.
What Does the Program Look Like?
You only do single reps. For example 1 rep on a deadlift. You also do the same exercise everyday (7 days a week!).
The idea is that you add volume and weight overtime. You build up the volume from 3 sets of 1 rep on day 1, to 15 sets × 1 reps on day 7 (meaning you add two singles each day).
Once you’ve completed the 15 sets at 1 rep, you then increase the weight next time and start from the beginning i.e. 3 sets x 1 rep and work through the program again BUT with a heavier weight.
The theory is that the gradual increase in weight and volume will allow your body to continually adapt and get stronger over time – it’s basically a mini periodisation weight training program.
Who Would Benefit From Steve Justa Singles?
Both bodybuilders and powerlifters could benefit from Steve Justa singles, and potentially other strength athletes like rugby players, ice hockey, and american footballers, etc (although with sports like this there would also need to be other training protocols like conditioning, speed, agility, etc).
Powerlifters would clearly benefit as it’s only 1 rep, but so too would bodybuilders. Bodybuilding relies on two fundamental training components…
- Strength (like the Steve Justa singles routine)
- Hypertrophy – which is higher rep work, needed to pump up the muscles and get them to swell (also known as the pump).
The benefits are quite clear, practice makes perfect. As you are doing the same movement everyday the likelihood is that you are going to get much better (obviously providing your technique is good in the first place) at the deadlift.
It’s also very simple to follow, it doesn’t require much thought – just action. You can measure progress clearly, basically if you are adding weight after each cycle then it’s working – because you are getting stronger.
The risk of following this type of regime is ‘overtraining’ – as you are doing the same movement everyday, it could easily lead to injury. Doing a routine like this is not for beginners; and for those that do attempt it, they should have recovery strategies in place.
You’ll need to spend more time foam rolling, and doing mobility work. You would also benefit from sports massage.
It could also get quite boring, doing the same exercise everyday. If you like variety and to have multiple exercises in one session then it’s probably not the program for you.
Can you do other exercises other than deadlift?
Yes, you could apply the Steve Justa method to exercises like the bench press, squat, military press, sumo squat, Romanian Deadlift, weighted pull ups – and most compound lifts. You wouldn’t however do if for isolation exercises e.g. bicep curls, or tricep push downs.
Alongside the Steve Justa singles you could also add other exercises if you like, for example if you’re a bodybuilder you could do the Steve Justa singles at the beginning of your session and then go into hypertrophy work.
The only trouble with this is that your bodybuilding session could affect your next singles session, for example if you train legs, then the next day you do deadlifts – you won’t be as strong. The more you deviate away from the program the less consistent the results.
That said you could do a Steve Justa singles routine for a couple of weeks (or month) to boost one of your lifts (that you want to get stronger in) – so it can be used as a short term program for a specific strength goal.