Flex Lewis grinds out hack squats. / YouTube

A Y3T workout can be excruciating, and that’s what makes it so effective. Another reason Y3T boosts muscle growth is the fact that there are three different types of workouts, continuously cycled. Developed by Neil Hill, Y3T has been employed by his many clients, including 7-time 212 Mr. Olympia Flex Lewis. Let’s explore Y3T and how to best perform Y3T workouts.

Y3T workout flex lewis
Neil Hill checks the progress of Flex Lewis. / Instagram


Y3T stands for Yoda-Three-Training. Y3T is a series of three-week cycles, which you can easily think of as low-rep, moderate-rep, and high-rep.

WEEK 1: The first week focuses on compound basics for sets of 6–10 reps.

WEEK 2: The second week focuses on compound and isolation exercises for sets of 10–15.

WEEK 3: The third week is fewer sets and a lot more reps: 20+ per set. It’s a high-intensity barrage of drop sets and rest-pause.

This three week cycle repeats three times, as you strive to move increasing heavier weights.


Yoda is Neil Hill’s nickname. Neil Hill, a 54-year-old Welshman currently living in Las Vegas, rose through the amateur British bodybuilding ranks, but competed only once in the IFBB Pro League (in 2002) before a knee injury forced him into early retirement. “I was really kind of lost,” he says of life without competitive bodybuilding.

y3t workout
Neil Hill in 2002 / Instagram

Hill found his true passion as a coach of bodybuilders, beginning with fellow 5’5″ Welshman Flex Lewis, who was then an unknown 20-year-old amateur. He coached Lewis throughout his remarkable amateur and pro careers, and Lewis went undefeated in the pro 212 division. He’s also worked with such champs as 3-time Men’s Physique Mr. Olympia Brandon Hendrickson and 2-time Arnold Classic winner William Bonac. Hill recently announced he’ll be working with Sergio Oliva, Jr.

Check out The Barbell‘s exclusive interview with Neil Hill here.


Training Days Per Week: 4-6

Exercises Per Workout: Body Part: 3-5

Sets Per Exercise: 3-5

Reps Per Set: 6-10

Rest Between Sets: 90-120 seconds

Tempo: 4 second negative on reps

This week is all about the basics for relatively low reps in the 6-10 range. Focus on bilateral (two-limbed) free-weight and ideally compound exercises. Examples include the barbell squat, barbell row, incline barbell press, dumbbell shoulder press, barbell curl, and lying triceps extension with an EZ-curl bar.

Heavy doesn’t mean “too heavy,” i.e. a weight you can’t feel working the targeted muscles. Neil Hill says: “A lot of people are egotistical when they train. They train with a weight that’s too heavy for them. Their form may be perfect, meaning there’s no unstableness and the reps are clean, but they’re not squeezing and contracting with that weight.” Hill prescribes slow reps (four second on the negative halves of most exercises) to make certain you’re working the muscles and not merely moving the metal.


Squat — 4-5 x 6-10 reps

Hack Squat — 4 x 6-10 reps

Leg Press — 4-5 x 6-10 reps

Lying Leg Curl — 4-5 x 6-10 reps

Stiff-leg Deadlift — 4 x 6-10 reps


Training Days Per Week: 4-6

Exercises Per Workout: Body Part: 3-5

Sets Per Exercise: 3-4

Reps Per Set: 10-15

Rest Between Sets: 90-120 seconds

Tempo: 3 second negative on reps

Y3T training
Neil Hill training Zack Khan in Tenby Dungeon Gym, Wales, 2010 / video capture, video by Kevin Horton

Week 2 is similar to week 1, but the intensity is starting to ramp up for week 3. The reps are a little slower, and the reps per set are a little higher. More isolation exercises are added to the mix. “Week two is right between week one and three,” Hill says. “You’re still working heavy, but with more reps and intensity.”


Leg Extension — 4 x 12-15

Squat — 4 x 8-12

Hack Squat — 3 x 10-12

Leg Press — 3 x 10-15

Seated Leg Curl — 4 x 10-12

Standing One-leg Curl — 3 x 10-15

Stiff-leg Deadlift — 3 x 10-15


Training Days Per Week: 4-6

Exercises Per Workout: Body Part: 2-5

Sets Per Exercise: 1-3

Reps Per Set: 20-80

Rest Between Sets: 60-120 seconds

Tempo: 2 second negative on reps

Y3T workout
Flex Lewis feels the pain of high-rep leg presses. / YouTube

Hell week is here! Week 3 is a high-rep barrage with sets lasting as long as 80 reps! These sets are performed with multiple drops (see Drop Set Training Guide). Go till you reach failure around the halfway mark, rest and get more reps until you reach failure again, repeat, repeat, repeat… You may need to reduce the weight along the way or you may need to rest longer and get fewer reps in each “subset” (see Rest-Pause Set Training Guide). Either way, keep going until you can’t eke out one more rep.

For more on this style of training see 100 Reps Per Set: How and Why

“The word intensity is often misplaced, but anybody who’s been trained during a Y3T week three workout will confirm that it’s intense!” Hill states. “Possibly the biggest error people commit when applying high-rep training is picking the wrong weight and going too light. As a result, they get to around 80 percent of the target rep range and start to feel the burn. That’s not Y3T, high-intensity, high-rep training.”

Hill lays it out: “By approximately halfway through the set, you should hit failure and be reduced to having to use rest-pause. For instance, if the rep range on the leg press is 60 to 80 reps, at around 30 reps you’ll need to pause for a few seconds to recover. From there you might be doing a handful of reps at a time, breaking the set down like that until you’re reduced to [doing] singles. This accurately describes how each set should feel, a vast difference to what most people perceive to be intense, high-rep training. Please make sure you remember this when using Y3T, because it will make the difference between your experiencing the benefits and not.”


Leg Extension — 3 x 40-80 (drop sets with rest pause)

Leg Press — 3 x 30-60 (drop sets with rest-pause)

Barbell Squat — 2 x 20–25 reps

Lying Leg Curl — 3 x 20-40 reps (drop sets with rest-pause)

Stiff-leg Deadlift — 3 x 20–25 reps


So you’ve done a week 1, week 2, and week 3 workout for every body part in succession, then what do you do? You start again with week 1, trying to use more weight or get more reps with the same weight you used in week 1 before. Go through the three week rotation three times over nine consecutive weeks, always striving to increase your strength and (in week 3, especially) intensity. Then you may want to take a week or two away from the gym or do more convention training for a period before beginning Y3T again with week 1 workouts for all body parts.

y3t training
20th Century Fox

Do you want to give Y3T a try? As a wise Jedi Master said a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, “There is no try. Only do.”