Workout Systems: The 1-6 Method

Workout Systems: The 1-6 Method

The 1-6 Method, which uses a variety of repetition protocols to achieve results, can produce dramatic increases in strength and size. It is based on the concept of a neurological phenomenon called post-tetanic facilitation (PTF), which has been the subject of considerable research. One of the early researchers in this field is German strength physiologist Dietmar Schmidtbleicher, probably best known for his pioneering work in the field of power development. You can also find a discussion of PTF in Roger Enoka’s textbook Neuromechanics of Human Movement, 4th ed. (Human Kinetics, 2008).

In simple terms, PTF describes the process by which a more powerful muscular contraction is achieved if that contraction is preceded by a strong muscular contraction. For instance, Russia’s Valeriy Borzov, who won gold medals in the 100m and 200m sprints at the 1972 Olympics, used post-tetanic facilitation for his legs before sprinting.

The basic premise of the 1-6 Method is to use maximal loads to increase the activation of the nervous system before performing sets of higher reps. The result is that you will be able to use heavier weights in those 6-rep sets, which will enable you to build bigger and stronger muscles.

Another bonus: The system taps into the higher-threshold motor units responsible for the production of explosive strength, so it’s great for athletes who want to gain weight while increasing power. As such, it’s ideal for wrestlers, MMA fighters, and athletes in grappling sports such as jiu-jitsu.

Here is the gist of the 1-6 Method: Perform a maximum single repetition (1RM), rest, and then perform the remainder of the exercise using as much weight as you can for 6 reps (6RM). The rest period is 3-10 minutes; however, if you choose to perform supersets, you would spend less time passively resting.

As an example, let’s say you can incline press 220 pounds for 6 reps and 265 for 1 rep. If you perform that 1RM four minutes before a 6RM, you will probably be able to use 225-230 pounds. In fact, you’ll find that you will use more weight on the second and third 6RM series (i.e., waves) in that workout as follows:

Sample Incline Bench Press Workout, 1-6 Method

Set 1: 1 rep with 265 pounds
Set 2: 6 reps with 220 pounds
Set 3: 1 rep with 270 pounds
Set 4: 6 reps with 225 pounds
Set 5: 1 rep with 272.5 pounds
Set 6: 6 reps with 230 pounds

To show you how to use the 1-6 Method with supersets to reduce the time of passive rest, here is an example of a leg workout with the first superset using the 1-6 Method:

Sample Leg Workout, 1-6 Method

A1. Back Squat, (1,6,1,6,1,6), 50X0, rest 120 seconds

A2. Lying Leg Curl, Feet Neutral, (1,6,1,6,1,6), 50X0, rest 120 seconds

B1. Barbell Lunge, 4 x 6-8, 40X1, rest 120 seconds

B2. Romanian Deadlift, 4 x 6-8, 40X1, rest 120 seconds

When designing your 1-6 Method workouts, consider that the goal of this routine is to promote large increases in strength and in the cross-sectional area of the high-threshold motor units. As such, you should use it primarily with exercises that use large muscle groups, such as squats and presses. Also, because you’re going to be doing a series of 1RM lifts, it’s imperative that you warm up. The warm-up should always consist of doing reps with the first pair of the exercises listed in the workout. If you’ve warmed up properly, there’s very little need to warm up for the second pair. Using the workout example above, your squat warm-up might be 5 reps x 135 pounds, then 3 x 185, then 2 x 225, before you start the working sets.

As with any workout system, when you reach a point of diminishing returns you need to change workouts. A four-week cycle is extremely effective using a training split as follows:

Day 1, Arms
Day 2, Legs
Day 3, Off
Day 4, Chest
Day 5, Back

The 1-6 Method is based on strong science. Give it a try and you’ll be surprised at how quickly you can increase your functional hypertrophy and power.


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