Pavel’s programs are quite different compared to programs from most strength coaches. Readers of Black Iron Beast will likely be most interested in the Russian Bear Program: a brutal test described below.

Get Power to the People

POWER TO THE PEOPLE PROGRAM (strength not size)

Workout five days per week: Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday. Every workout is the same: only two exercises and only two sets for each exercise. Workouts take about 25 minutes.

a deadlift variant

  • today’s work weight × 5 reps
  • 90% of today’s work weight × 5 reps

a press variant

  • today’s work weight × 5 reps
  • 90% of today’s work weight × 5 reps


  • Do not attempt a rep if there is any chance you might fail!
  • Standard mixed grip deadlift (alternate grip each set) is suggested but other variants are also mentioned and explained
  • Side press is suggested (which must mean doing it on both sides) but other presses are also mentioned and explained
  • 3-5 seconds up for deadlift and press
  • drop weight to floor for deadlift
  • 3-5 seconds down for press
  • 3-5 minutes rest between sets
  • You can swap the order and do the press before the deadlift if you want to.
  • Use chalk. No belt. No straps. No shoes (deadlift slippers ok if your gym requires shoes)
  • No pre-workout stretching or warm-up sets. If you must then just do a couple lighter sets with two or three reps just to get into the groove. See the power stretching chapter.


  • Effective cycles are 8-16 workouts.
  • Deadlift and press cycles can be independent.
  • Start a cycle with 70-80% of your 5RM or a weight you can comfortably do 10 reps.
  • You can increase the weights in a linear, flexible wave, structured wave, or step pattern during the cycle. Linear is +5 pounds per workout. Flexible wave is +5 pounds per workout and decrease weight when feeling tired and then work upwards again. Structured wave is +5 pounds per workout for four workouts and then -15 pounds and then work upwards again. Step pattern is +5 pounds then same weight for a one or several more workouts followed by another increase.

RUSSIAN BEAR PROGRAM (strength and size)

Same as the Power to the People Program but with added back off sets for both the deadlift and the press. Workouts take about 45 minutes. A back off set is

  • 80% of today’s work weight × 5 reps


  • Do as many back off sets as possible with good form (maybe 5-25 sets)
  • 30-90 second rests between back off sets
  • Reduce workout frequency but not by much [perhaps 3 or 4 days per week?]
  • Eat a lot especially protein (e.g. meat, eggs, milk)
  • Rest a lot
  • Reduce stress in life


This program is not from the book Power to the People. It is interesting in relation to the Power to the People program as it is similar but with more variety of exercises. It appeared in an article Pavel wrote for Muscle Media magazine and the article is available on Bodybuilding.com.

  • Select five basic exercises for your whole body. (For example you could use squat, deadlift, press, bench press, pull-ups.)
  • Perform all of them five days a week, Monday through Friday.
  • Start every workout with two or three singles to gauge what the work set weight should be.
  • Do only one work set of five per exercise, leaving a couple of reps in the bank.
  • Focus on staying tight, power breathing and the perfect groove.
  • After five weeks, test your maxes and switch to a different type of routine.
“The usual 5x5x5 pattern is a very strong start on Monday, a PR on Tuesday, Wednesday could go either way. Thursday and Friday are downhill as fatigue builds up. By Monday you will be rested and ready to smash new records.”