The Strength Sensei on the Patient Lifter 6×4 Method

The Strength Sensei on the Patient Lifter 6×4 Method


A proven workout system that uses mind over muscle mass


Muscle magazines often get their readers excited about a workout by promising how they contain exciting protocols that will shock your muscles into growing bigger, stronger, or both. Not so with the Patient Lifter 6×4 Method, which works by boring your muscles into progress. Seriously.

The working sets of this program are technically 6 x 4, a repetition protocol that focuses more on developing relative strength. Relative strength training focuses on increasing the amount of force produced per unit of bodyweight. Athletes who would benefit from relative strength training are those that have bodyweight classes (wrestling and boxing), those that have an aesthetic component where muscle mass is frowned upon (diving and figure skating), and those where large amounts of muscle mass can adversely affect performance (sprinting and gymnastics).


Although the Patient Lifter Method focuses on relative strength, the Strength Sensei would often alternate phases of lower reps in programs designed to increase other strength qualities, such as absolute strength (maximum force production) or hypertrophy (muscle growth). Consider this two-month cycle for absolute strength divided into four two-week programs:

Weeks 1-2: 4 x 8-10

Weeks 3-4: 3-5 x 5

Weeks 5-6: 4 x 5-7

Weeks 7-8: 6 x 2-4 (Patient Lifter Method)

To be more precise, the sets and reps for the Patient Lifter Method are written as 6 x 2-4. You start with a weight that enables you to perform six sets of two reps, so anywhere from 80-87 percent of your 1-repetition maximum (depending on your percentages of fast to slow-twitch muscle fibers). Four to five minutes of rest are taken between sets.

When you can complete all six sets of two reps in an exercise, you increase the weight – again, only when you can increase the weight. This means you may be using the same weight for several workouts, hence the name “Patient Lifter.” The Strength Sensei says the frustration of not increasing the weight motivates the trainee to improve and that forcing the trainee to improve in this manner adheres to what is known as the “law of repeated efforts,” which can be described as repeating a stimulus until that stimulus becomes normal.

Although the rest time is long, you can cut down the total workout time by using supersets that pair agonist and antagonist muscle groups, for example:

A. Back Squat, 6 x 2-4, 40X1, rest 240 seconds

B1. Bench Press, 6 x 2-4, 4010, rest 120 seconds

B2. Dumbbell Row, Neutral Grip, 6 x 2-4, 3010, rest 120 seconds

The Patient Lifter Method may have a foundation in boredom, but its promise of developing greater strength is exciting! (TSS)


– Lead photo by Miloš Šarčev

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