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3x3: A Revised Approach


Well-known member
Sep 28, 2006
Stephan Korte put out a training scheme called "3x3" about 12 years ago. It was popularized by its foundations in Olympic lifting among Europeans. The training is based on an 8 week cycle with 2 phases. Phase 1 is the high volume phase while phase 2 is the competition phase were higher intensity levels are utilized.

I'll get to the point. His system is actually plain Jane boring and quite ineffective overall. Training 3 times a week and only training the squat, bench and deadlift is fine for a beginner but weaknesses will never be addressed without assistance work. Korte likes to state that his system is similar to the popular Westside schemes but there is not much similarity at all. I believe he used this reference to ride the popularity of Westside as it was becoming even more popular in the powerlifting genre.

Korte's high volume phase ranges in %'s of 58-64 percent during this 4 week span. I think this is too modest for percentages unless "dynamic" style work is being done for technique etc. Certainly using a 2 month training cycle would require high %'s during the success to condition the bottom. The real kick in the pants is once phase 2 is started the lifter is suddenly using 80-95% for the final 4 weeks. I think based on that alone a lifter might want to add another 4 weeks to the training cycle to bridge this jump in percentages.

Each training session that Korte has established is to squat, bench and deadlift. Although this might be great for establishing technique for a lifting its still leaves a person lacking. It's nice ideally to use this scheme but weaknesses of the individual lifter are not addressed.

I propose something like:
Day 1-
Narrow Grip Bench
Romanian Deads

Day 2-
Front Squats
Bench Press
Good mornings

Day 3-
Olympic Squats
Illegal Grip Bench Press

Phase 1: 55-64% (Weeks 1-4)
Squatting Movements 5-8x5
Benching Movements 6-8x6
Deadlift Movements 5-8x5

Phase 2: 65-79% (Weeks5-8)
Squatting Movements 5x5
Competition Squat 3x3
Benching Movements 5x5
Competition Bench 3x3
Deadlift Movements 5x5
Competition Deadlift 3x3

Phase 3: 80-95% (Weeks 9-12)
Squatting Movements 3x3
Competition Squat 2x1
Benching Movements 5x4
Competition Bench 2x1
Deadlift Movements 3x3
Competition Deadlift 2x1

This scheme would make more sense while addressing some weaknesses. I think adding an assistance exercise per session for that main lift during phase 2 would also help. Something like 3x8 would be simple enough while not pushing the assistance lift to failure.

I do like the concept of using the lifts in more of a purist setting but still weaknesses and boredom would set in pretty fast. I could accept his scheme from very raw lifters that were just starting out.

Hopefully this has some information that you can use. If anything consider always a well rounded scheme that addresses your goals and needs as a lifter. Good luck!



Mecca V.I.P.
Sep 23, 2006
I've actually been using a modified system of Korte's to bring up my squat. I reduced it to twice a week, and added a couple of assistance exercises, but I keep the original rep scheme. (More or less)

So far, its worked wonders. Time will tell just how good it worked when I compete next year.