Coaching, powerlifting, Program Reviews

Kizen Off-Season Training Review

Kizen Program Review

This is a review of Kizen Training’s 4 week powerlifting program. It’s aimed at intermediate lifters who have some time to fill in the off-season who are looking to put on some size.

For a free 4 weeker, this is a nice segue into how their paid plans would typically look. Clean, effectively put together and simple to follow. I really value those points in a program.

Kizen Training logo
Kizen Training logo

Simplicity is your friend with programming. The core exercises people have been doing for years are tried and tested. As a powerlifter at least 60% of your time should be spent on competition style lifts in my opinion. In the off-season possibly down to 50%.

All I would add in is some explosive jumps, single leg work and weighted core exercises.

What is Kizen Training?

Kizen Training is a coaching platform hosted by Silent Mike, Omar Isuf and Bart Kwan. Silent Mike has been around for years on YouTube and was originally part of the SuperTraining gym setup with Mark Bell.

Omar Isuf has an enormous YouTube following and was one of the powerlifting pioneers on the Tube I believe. I remember his early videos. And Silent Mike’s. A far cry from how sleek they look now. Bart Kwan I’m less familiar with, but apparently he’s a ‘internet celebrity,’ and comedian who loves powerlifting. I can get behind that.

Not literally of course.

But together they all form Kizen Training. Apparently their goal is to:

…provide a highly effective no frills approach to lifting. Get the results we wished we could have achieved when we first started lifting. No gimmicks, false promises or untested principles. Just battle tested lifting advice from three industry veterans. Our concept of lifting revolves around the notion of continuous improvement.”

I am an unadulterated fan of Mike and Omar, so let’s run through the free 4 week program they’ve put together for the off-season.

The Program itself

The below is the overview of the Infinite 4 week program. Your work starts at 70% of your 1RM which is a reasonable starting point for off-season training.

I personally would be starting with around 65% of your 1RM in the off-season and dive deeper into the cardio section of reps. If they said 70% of your everyday max (5-10% less than your 1RM) I’d be fully on board. But good start nonetheless.

You’ll be working on a 4 day split, much like in the 5 / 3 / 1 method popularised by Jim Wendler.

  1. Deadlift
  2. Bench Press
  3. Squat
  4. Overhead Press

You will also work substantial hypertrophy work which is exactly what you need in the off-season.

kizen 1

Week 1:

Deadlift Day: 4 sets at 70%. 3(5) and 1 AMRAP set to finish off. 3(10) tempo squats and 3(10) stiff legged deadlifts mean this is a taxing leg workout. The addition of barbell rows make this a pretty substantial back and leg workout.

I always prefer front-loading my weeks with work so that you get the most mentally fatiguing section of the week out the way.

Get the heaviest lifts out the way before additional dis-stressors from work, drinking or shitehawk friends make your week more enjoyable.

Bench and arms takes place on day 2 in exactly the same format. 3(5) and 1 AMRAP set for bench. Solid all-round upper body day, perfect before a night out some might say.

Day 3 is a mirror image of day 1. The focus is on squats 3 (5) and an AMRAP set with some block pulls and rows to perfectly complement day 1. Nicely balanced so far.

Day 4 works your overhead press in the same format. A 3(5) with an additional AMRAP set, coupled with additional upper body hypertrophy and Spoto press.

Spoto press is a great bench press variation for maintaining tightness throughout the lift and building power.
kizen 2
Week 2 works with a slightly increased % of your 1RM (72.5%) and adds in an additional set for your core lift. Each day becomes 4(5) with an additional AMRAP set.

In addition to that the compound accessory lift changes on certain days.

Day 1 utilises the pause squat for 4(10) instead of the tempo squat. That’s a lot of volume for pause squats.

kizen 3

Week 3 follows exactly the same pattern.

You’ll now be performing 5(5) on your main compound lift, with an AMRAP set at the end.

Your compound accessory lift moves from a 4(10) to a 5(10) with significant hypertrophy work.
kizen 4
Week 4 drops the number of sets back to a 3(5) with an AMRAP at 77.5% of your 1RM.

Your compound accessory work drops back down to 3(10) and hypertrophy stays up relatively high.

optimized-kizen 5

Pros and Cons of Kizen’s 4 week Off Season Training?

Off season training is much easier to program than a typical 6, 9 or 12 week cycle.

Typically you’re looking to work on your weak points.

If you have identified your posterior chain as a weak point, then you should run RDL’s and good mornings.

If you lose tightness in the bottom of your lifts, then pause reps and tempo squats will help reinforce positioning. Clearly that’s the focus of this program.

I think this is a nicely put together 4 week split. They’ve improved on the 5/3/1 by taking protein synthesis into account and hitting body parts twice a week.

There’s sufficient volume to drive growth that increases week by week, allowing you to reset after every 4 weeks.

The first 3 weeks are particularly volume intensive, so unless you’re at an intermediate level, this isn’t the right program for you.

Conceivably on day 1 of week 3, you’re running upwards of 30 deadlift repetitions, 30 (lighter) deadlift variation reps and 50 pause squats.

If I’m being honest this is far too much volume for one session and would only be suited to intermediate-elite level lifters. Over 100 repetitions for squats and deadlift in one workout is overkill in my opinion.

That level of volume is acceptable for pressing movements, but for such taxing lifts I’d highly recommend not doing this level of volume on a single day.

Who is it suitable for?

  • Intermediate to advanced lifters
  • Who can cope with significant volume
  • Have been training for 2-3 years + consistently
  • Powerlifters / Powerbuilders

Not for beginner lifters. But as a beginner lifter you don’t need to worry about off season training as you’re never in season.

As an intermediate lifter who can cope with significant volume, this would be a great 4 week block to tick things over and build size.

And it will definitely build size.

This format of pause / tempo squats will be phenomenal for anyone looking to increase their power output and positional accuracy throughout the lift.

This isn’t a program suitable for athletes outside of the weightlifting world.

The volume this 4 week block provides would be so taxing that you’d be fried going into the season. Don’t overtrain yourself, be smart with your training.

Pick a program suitable for your needs that will drive long-term growth. Make sure it has suitable variations, is periodised, increases in intensity and has properly planned deloads.

But would I run this in the off-season? Yup.”

Would it hurt? Yup.

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