Program Review : The Modified Hepburn Method
The Modified Hepburn Method is a training program that has absolutely nothing to do with the late great Audrey, but everything to do with the late great Doug.
The method is used in an intensification phase with the sole aim of increasing relative strength. I used this program at the start of the year when I was more concerned with simply getting stronger and increasing the weight I could lift on the major lifts we used for this program.
NB Training environment is particularly essential to this workout, so if you train in a fluffy gym where the members are more concerned with networking than lifting then this isn’t for you. I am lucky enough to be able to train in our fully equipped personal training gym in shoreditch and have a great set of trainers around me to drag me through workouts like this.
The basis of the workout is that you perform 5-8 single reps with a slow eccentric at 95% of your 1RM. This is then followed by 5 sets of 3-5 reps at 72-78% of your 1RM with a pause to minimize the stretch reflex effect. The A series of exercises taps into the high threshold motor units before the B series further targets high threshold hypertrophy work.
- A1 Squats 5-8 x 1 50X0 rest 120s
- A2 Lying Hamstring Curls, Toes In 5-8 x 1 50X0 rest 120s
- B1 Squats, Heels Raised 1 Inch 5 x 3-5 3210 rest 100s
- B2 Lying Hamstring Curls, Toes Neutral 5 x 3-5 3210 rest 100s
- A1 Biacromial Grip Bench Press 5-8 x 1 50X0 rest 120s
- A2 Biacromial Grip Chins 5-8 x 1 50X0 rest 120s
- B1 15 Degree Incline Biacromial Grip Bench Press 5 x 3-5 3210 rest 100s
- B2 Close Grip Chins 5 x 3-5 3210 rest 100s
There are various versions of this workout floating around the internet, however the basis will always be the same and always goes back to the workout Doug designed years ago.
The A pairing of exercises are used to prime the nervous system, in preparation for the B series of exercises which focus on functional hypertrophy work. The common “side effect” of this is that the weights you would usually for the B series will feel lighter than normal.
When I undertook this program my strength improved on every single lift, with the biggest improvement in the squat where I increased a total of 15%. All other lifts ranged between a 5-10% improvement, which for a 3 week training program is pretty good. I managed to set PBs on every single lift so this was a very good phase for me.
In summary the Modified Hepburn method is a great way to increase relative strength, however it’s not for everyone. Lifting close to 1RM is very tough on the adrenals so you have to have good recovery methods in place. Unless you can recover from workouts there is no point in doing them, so for those that are borderline adrenally fatigued anyway this is not for you. Similarly if you have been lifting for less than 3 years and/or do not have experience of going so heavy I believe there are other methods that would suit better.
If however you are in need of increasing strength levels quickly, are structurally balanced and have the correct recovery procedures in place then give The Modified Hepburn Method a go. If you feel that you could benefit from additional support and motivation - consider personal training with us in Shoreditch. Get in touch to learn more about how we can help.
** The images featured in this article are of Canadian strongman Doug Hepburn which appear on various online websites - the copyright for which is most likely held by the person who created the images or the agency employing the person. It is believed that the use of these images may qualify as fair use under copyright law.