11 April 2019

Review of The Bridge from Barbell Medicine

The Bridge v1.0 is an 8-week barbell program to be run once your novice linear progression program stops working. Most of my lifts started stagnating after about 2 months of Phrak’s Greyskull LP (see also my previous post), so The Bridge looked like a good next step.

I chose a program from Barbell Medicine for the following reasons.
The program is organized into lowmoderate and high stress weeks. The first half of the program has higher volume with lower weights, while the second half uses heavy weights and shorter sets, including very heavy singles.

Total weight lifted (in kg) by week for the 4 main lifts

There are 3 strength training days each week complemented by 1 or 2 conditioning days with 30-minute low intensity cardio, 12-minute high intensity interval training, etc.

My results

It took me about 8 and half weeks to finish the 8-week program due to a ski touring trip and an orienteering race. I didn’t have the equipment to do pin squat or pin bench, so I just changed those to the paused versions. Even Austin approves, so I think I followed the program very well.

Before The Bridge, most of my lifts stagnated because of a very weak lower back. I tried to specifically address it, but didn’t see much improvement. On The Bridge, my back got stronger and all the lifts started moving up again. I attribute it to the deadlift variations (rack pulls and paused deadlifts) as well as the tempo squat. Not to mention the magic stress dosage of the program.

e1RM is estimated 1 repetition maximum. The weight is estimated from the number of repetitions and my own RPE rating. Weights are in kilograms.

My weight also went up by about 2 kilograms, which rounds nicely to 10 kilograms gained in 6 months. I can't wear any pants that I wore last year anymore.

I’m really happy with my squat and the increased strength showed on my last ski touring trip. It seems that squat 1RM over 100 kilograms is needed for optimal freeride experience. However, my back is still fairly weak, so my next goal is to improve the deadlift and keep it in the 130 – 150 kilogram range until I’m 89 years old.

My tips

The Bridge is the only program given out for free by Barbell Medicine, which means it’s much less polished than the paid programs, so I recommend you do the following.
  • In case something is not clear, search the forums or r/BarbellMedicine.
  • Use a spreadsheet for tracking your progress and getting weight suggestions for each session.
  • Don’t sweat too much about misjudging RPE. Mike Tuchscherer, who introduced the concept of RPE for lifting (there already was Borg RPE), says not to stress too much about it and even for him it’s hard to distinguish RPE 6 and 7.
  • You can always adjust the weight during the workout, e.g. one day I was supposed to do 3x4@8 and started with 4x85@7.5 (slightly easier than 8) and then continued with 2x4x87.5@8.5 (slightly harder than RPE 8).
  • People complain about spending 2 hours in the gym on the program, but I never took more than 65 minutes when I was alone. I tried finishing one set in 2 and a half minutes. It might have caused lower weight on the bar but it’s a good strategy in the long run.


The Bridge is overall a great program. I might run it again in the future, but probably the upgraded non-free Bridge v3.0.