• The RTS Coaching FAQ

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      Frequently asked questions
      
      This FAQ is intended to answer questions often asked by lifters new to Coaching with RTS.
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      <li> <a href="http://forum.reactivetrainingsystems.com/content.php?137-The-RTS-Coaching-FAQ#For drop sets, should I drop all at once or in increments">Q:  For drop sets, should I drop all at once or in increments?</a></li>
      <li> <a href="http://forum.reactivetrainingsystems.com/content.php?137-The-RTS-Coaching-FAQ#I see that this week’s training says Load Drop, but also No Drop Sets.  What should I do">Q:  I see that this week’s training says “Load Drop”, but also “No Drop Sets”.  What should I do?</a></li>
      <li> <a href="http://forum.reactivetrainingsystems.com/content.php?137-The-RTS-Coaching-FAQ#When should I wear a belt">Q:  When should I wear a belt?</a></li>
      <li> <a href="http://forum.reactivetrainingsystems.com/content.php?137-The-RTS-Coaching-FAQ#I see that this week’s training says 4-6% Fatigue.  Should I use 456">Q:  I see that this week’s training says 4-6% Fatigue.  Should I use 4%?  5%?  6%?</a></li>
      <li> <a href="http://forum.reactivetrainingsystems.com/content.php?137-The-RTS-Coaching-FAQ#Why don’t you program more assistance work">Q:  Why don’t you program more assistance work? </a></li>
      <li> <a href="http://forum.reactivetrainingsystems.com/content.php?137-The-RTS-Coaching-FAQ#What does (Load Drop), (Rep Drop), or (Repeat) mean in my training">Q:  What does (Load Drop), (Rep Drop), or (Repeat) mean in my training? </a></li>
      <li> <a href="http://forum.reactivetrainingsystems.com/content.php?137-The-RTS-Coaching-FAQ#How strict should I be with my RPEs">Q:  How strict should I be with my RPEs? </a></li>
      <li> <a href="http://forum.reactivetrainingsystems.com/content.php?137-The-RTS-Coaching-FAQ#I see a protocol that looks like this:x1 @9-10, drop to x4 @9What do I do" >Q:  I see a protocol that looks like this:  “x1 @9-10, drop to x4 @9”.  What do I do ?    </a></li>
      <li> <a href="http://forum.reactivetrainingsystems.com/content.php?137-The-RTS-Coaching-FAQ#What is Pin Press (RoM – 10in)">Q:  What is “Pin Press (RoM – 10in)"?</a></li>
      <li> <a href="http://forum.reactivetrainingsystems.com/content.php?137-The-RTS-Coaching-FAQ#What should I do if I overshoot my RPE or can’t get the required number of reps">Q:  What should I do if I overshoot my RPE or can’t get the required number of reps? </a></li>
      <li> <a href="http://forum.reactivetrainingsystems.com/content.php?137-The-RTS-Coaching-FAQ#What is our relationship going to be like">Q:  What is our relationship going to be like?</a></li>
      <li> <a href="http://forum.reactivetrainingsystems.com/content.php?137-The-RTS-Coaching-FAQ#What days should I do GPP">Q:  What days should I do GPP?</a></li>
      <li> <a href="http://forum.reactivetrainingsystems.com/content.php?137-The-RTS-Coaching-FAQ#I have something in my program that looks like this:x8 @9 x2 @10 (x1 @10), 2 activations, Single DropWhat should I do">Q:  I have something in my program that looks like this:  “x8 @9 --> x2 @10 (--> x1 @10), 2 activations, Single Drop”.  What should I do?    </a></li>
      <li> <a href="http://forum.reactivetrainingsystems.com/content.php?137-The-RTS-Coaching-FAQ#I have something in my program that looks like this:  Work up to 68%.  Maximize NL. 12 minutes.  What do I do">Q:   I have something in my program that looks like this:  “Work up to 68%.  Maximize NL. 12 minutes”.  What do I do?    </a></li>
      <li> <a href="http://forum.reactivetrainingsystems.com/content.php?137-The-RTS-Coaching-FAQ#One of my exercises calls for chains.  How much chain should I use">Q:  One of my exercises calls for chains.  How much chain should I use?</a></li>
      <li> <a href="http://forum.reactivetrainingsystems.com/content.php?137-The-RTS-Coaching-FAQ#One of my protocols looks like this:  120x8sec x2 @9, 4-6% Fatigue">Q:  One of my protocols looks like this:  120%x8sec :: x2 @9, 4-6% Fatigue.</a></li>
      <li> <a href="http://forum.reactivetrainingsystems.com/content.php?137-The-RTS-Coaching-FAQ#Are my goals reasonable / when will I achieve __ / Basically any goals related question you can think of.">Q:  Are my goals reasonable / when will I achieve __ / Basically any goals related question you can think of.</a></li>
      <li> <a href="http://forum.reactivetrainingsystems.com/content.php?137-The-RTS-Coaching-FAQ#Should I be using perfect technique">Q:  Should I be using perfect technique?</a></li>
      <li> <a href="http://forum.reactivetrainingsystems.com/content.php?137-The-RTS-Coaching-FAQ#If I need a week off, can I just take one">Q:  If I need a week off, can I just take one?</a></li>
      
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      <ul>
      
      <li><a name="For drop sets, should I drop all at once or in increments"/>For drop sets, should I drop all at once or in increments?</a>
      
      Either way is fine.  The important thing is that you hit your RPE as closely as possible and that you get the appropriate level of fatigue (using the fatigue percent).  Dropping all at once or incrementally is really your choice.  And I personally believe that it’s better this way than to try to centrally plan it.  On days where you’re feeling good and a little aggressive, maybe you drop the weight incrementally.  On other days when you’re in a hurry or don’t feel like training, drop all at once.  This kind of in-the-moment adjustment is central to auto-regulation and I believe that it’s more effective than trying to control all of the variables in advance.
      
      
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      <li> <a name="I see that this week’s training says Load Drop, but also No Drop Sets.  What should I do"/>I see that this week’s training says Load Drop, but also No Drop Sets.  What should I do?</a>
      
      You should do no drop sets.  The Load Drop identifies the method we want to use, but it happens to be a low stress week, which stipulates that you do no drop sets.  So no drop sets takes precedence.  Other weeks will give you a fatigue percent or other volume prescription instead of saying “no drop sets”.
      
      
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      <li><a name="When should I wear a belt"/>When should I wear a belt?</a>
      
      I will specify when I want you to wear a belt.  The exercise will say “w/belt” at the end.  If you don’t see that, then I’d prefer you train without the belt.  The exception to this, of course, is if you feel that you need the belt for safety.  If that’s the case, it’s perfectly alright to use one.  Simply make a note of it when logging your training.
      
      
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      <li><a name="I see that this week’s training says 4-6% Fatigue.  Should I use 456"/>I see that this week’s training says 4-6% Fatigue.  Should I use 4%?  5%?  6%?</a>
      
      Aim in the middle of the range.  So if you aim at 5% and you’re a little over or a little under, that’s okay because you’re still in the range.
      
      
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      <li><a name="Why don’t you program more assistance work"/>Why don’t you program more assistance work? </a>
      
      I know some will disagree with me, but those lifts have a very limited carry over to the competition lifts.  Strength is a skill and it's development is fairly specialized to the means in which it was developed.
      
      I used to train Westside.  While doing Westside, I did lot of Good Mornings.  What I noticed was that by doing all these max effort and repeated effort Good Mornings, I got really good at them.  At one point I could do 500x5.  But I could barely squat 600x1.  At that point, it occurred to me that if I applied the same methods to the competition lifts, maybe I could get really good at those, so that's what I did.  To go further, when I quit doing things like reverse hypers and started doing things like Stiff Leg Deadlifts, I got stronger still.
      
      What I learned as time went on is that strength is a skill that must be developed specifically.  This means sticking mainly to the big lifts and their close variations.  Assistance work should be done with a purpose.  And for many, there just isn't a good purpose for it.  It's not just that they aren't very helpful, but the opportunity cost is high.  The time spent doing several small assistance lifts for limited strength gain could be spent doing more volume on the big lifts for a much more substantial strength gain.  That's not to say assistance work is useless -- far from it.  It's just a tool that must be employed at the right time and for the right reasons.
      
      
      
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      <li><a name="What does (Load Drop), (Rep Drop), or (Repeat) mean in my training"/>What does (Load Drop), (Rep Drop), or (Repeat) mean in my training? </a>  
      
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      A:  Check out this article:  Fatigue Percents Revisited </li>
      
      
      <li><a name="How strict should I be with my RPEs"/>How strict should I be with my RPE’s? </a>
      
      You should try to stick to them if you can.  If you are plus or minus a half RPE, that's not a big deal.  Overshooting a whole RPE is not the best idea.  We're using the reps and RPE's to create a training effect, which is usually some blend of power and force development.  Changing the RPE changes this blend a little.  The more the RPE's change, the more the blend changes, which can cause us to have to make other adjustments in the future.
      
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      <li><a name="I see a protocol that looks like this:x1 @9-10, drop to x4 @9What do I do"/>I see a protocol that looks like this:  “x1 @9-10, drop to x4 @9”.  What do I do? </a>
      
      The first thing you’ll do is work up to a single.  You have some latitude with what to do here.  In most circumstances, you should work up to x1 @9.  This is around a second attempt weight most of the time.  But if you’re having a day where you feel better than usual and you want to try something heavier, then go for a 3rd attempt maximum lift.  This should not be every week that you do this; only when you’re feeling good.  If you are in doubt about whether to try x1 @10, then don’t do it.  There’s nothing wrong with going x1 @9.  It’s just leaving the door open for a PR attempt if you need it.
      After your singles, you drop down in weight for your rep set.  Try to hit it exactly, but err on the low side if you must.  From this set, you should assess your fatigue percent.  Let’s say you were shooting for 5% fatigue.  Your workout might look like this:
      
      Warm up and ramp up to your opener
      290x1 @8 (this is your opener)
      305x1 @9 (this is your second attempt)
      325x1 @10 (this is a 3rd attempt.  Only do this if the second attempt felt really good.)
      275x4 @9 (dropped directly to x4 @9.  This is your “initial”)
      260x4 @8.5 (the weight was reduced 5% in accordance with the fatigue percent)
      260x4 @9 (we’ve reached the appropriate level of fatigue and stop there)
      
      If you’re doing this protocol with gear, then you should really emphasize contest form during the singles.  Try to touch during the shirt bench and hit depth during squats.  When you get to the rep work, you can loosen up a little since reps in gear are so difficult.</li>
      
      
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      <li><a name="What is Pin Press (RoM – 10in)"/>What is “Pin Press (RoM – 10in)"?</a>
      
      Assuming you know what a Pin Press is, the biggest question is with RoM – 10in.  RoM stands for Range of Motion, or in this case, full range of motion.  So this would be full range of motion minus ten inches.  That means you would put the pins ten inches above your chest.
      
      We also use this method for other lifts (rack pulls and box squats).  The same concept applies.  The pins would be set X inches off the floor or a box that was X inches above parallel.
      
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      <li><a name="What should I do if I overshoot my RPE or can’t get the required number of reps"/> What should I do if I overshoot my RPE or can’t get the required number of reps? </a>
      
      In an ideal scenario, you would at least be close to the required rep/RPE pairing, so you can estimate what you should have done instead, then base your fatigue percent off of that.  If you weren’t close at all, then you need to re-evaluate how you’re picking weights for your workouts.
      
      An example of the estimation would look like this:
      Squat:  x3 @9, 4-6%
      375x3 @7
      395x3 @8
      415x3 @10 (this should have been @9, but wasn’t)
      So you might say to yourself, “I should have done 405 instead”.  So you would drop 5% from 405…
      385x3 @8
      385x3 @9 (stop here.  You’ve reached your 5% fatigue)
      
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      <li><a name="What is our relationship going to be like"/>What is our relationship going to be like?</a>
      
       I don't see this as a dictatorship at all.  I see you and I on the same team, working together to make you the best athlete possible.  You play both the role of owner and athlete.  I play the role of general manager.  You tell me what resources are available.  I give you my best recommendations for "how to play" your training and meets.  Then you execute the plan as an athlete.  But it's a two way street at all levels.  If we communicate well together, we'll both benefit.
      Communication goes down the chain and up the chain.  The owner tells the GM what equipment and time is available, the goals, the history, etc.  The GM tells the athlete the plan and how to execute it.  But the athlete also has to communicate back up what things seem to be working, what hurts, what just isn't going to happen, etc.  The GM has to communicate to the owner if we need more resources to meet the goals, etc.  So as you can see, communication has to flow in both directions.  I appreciate a bulldog trainee, of course.  As long as we can play like a team! 
      
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      <li><a name="What days should I do GPP"/>What days should I do GPP?</a>
      
      If you have GPP in your program, you should do it once or twice a week on non-lifting days.
      
      
      <li><a name="I have something in my program that looks like this:x8 @9 x2 @10 (x1 @10), 2 activations, Single DropWhat should I do"/>  I have something in my program that looks like this:  “x8 @9 --> x2 @10 (--> x1 @10), 2 activations, Single Drop”.  What should I do?</a>
      
      
      This is how we designate MyoReps, which is a kind of rest-pause training.  The high-rep set is known as your “activation” set because it gets you fatigued to the point where you recruit all your motor units. 
       
      So to start out, you will pick a weight that will let you perform the activation set.  Let’s say you can do 100x8 @9… then you put 100 on the bar.  Perform 8 reps, then rest for 30 seconds (approx. 10 breaths), then perform 2 reps.  Continue to rest for 30 seconds and perform 2 more reps until you reach the designated RPE.  In this case, it’s x2 @10.  So when you complete 2 reps and the RPE is @10, then you will stop.  You stop here because only a Single Drop is required.  Had this been a Double Drop, you would continue to rest for 30 seconds and now only perform x1.  You would have continued in that way until you achieved x1 @10.
      
      Since 2 activations are required, at this point you will rest for a few minutes and repeat the process starting with x8 @9.  You might need to lower the weight on the second activation.
      
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      <li><a name="I have something in my program that looks like this:  Work up to 68%.  Maximize NL. 12 minutes.  What do I do"/> I have something in my program that looks like this:  Work up to 68%.  Maximize NL. 12 minutes.  What do I do?"</a>  
      
      This is how we designate density training.  Use the RPE chart to help you determine how much weight to use.  In this case 68% will be approximately a 10RM weight depending on the exercise.  You load that weight and do as many total reps as you can in the allotted time (12 minutes in this case).  You’ll want to keep some reps in the tank so you can have shorter rest breaks.  In this case, it will probably be good to work at x6-8 most of the time.  Of course this can be adjusted to fit your needs.  At the end when you’re getting very tired, you might only do 2-3 reps in a set.  The point is to work as hard as you can to do as much work in the 12 minutes as possible.
      
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      <li><a name="One of my exercises calls for chains.  How much chain should I use"/> One of my exercises calls for chains.  How much chain should I use? </a>
      
      A general rule is to use about 10-15% of your contest max in chains.  So if you squat 300, then you’ll want to use 30-45 pounds of chain in any “Squat +chain” exercise.  It’s okay if you’re not right in that range, but it does represent an ideal.
      
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      <li><a name="One of my protocols looks like this:  120x8sec x2 @9, 4-6% Fatigue"/> One of my protocols looks like this:  120%x8sec :: x2 @9, 4-6% Fatigue</a>
      
      
      Here’s a video example of what this will look like:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5kwmsICTvFs
      
      Basically, you will put 120% of your current 1RM on the bar and just hold it for 8 seconds.  Then, as quickly as you can, drop the weight down to something more manageable and do x2.  You will ramp up to x2 @9 one set at a time.  So it might look something like this:
      405x8sec :: 315x2 @7
      405x8sec :: 335x2 @8
      405x8sec :: 345x2 @9
      Then you will assess your drop sets (5% in this case)
      405x8sec :: 325x2 @9 (stop) 
      
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      <li><a name="Are my goals reasonable / when will I achieve __ / Basically any goals related question you can think of."/>Are my goals reasonable / when will I achieve __ / Basically any goals related question you can think of.</a>
      
      
      I have a bit of a different take on goals.  I think goals are important as far as they provide fuel for motivation.  After that, I think our time is better spent focusing on processes.  Along those same lines, I don’t think it’s a good idea to place a time limit on your goals.  I think your goals should be something you really want to achieve.  But after that, focus on the process.  If your process of train, eat, sleep, recover is maximized, then you will reach your goal as soon as possible.  The extra stress and anxiety that we often put on ourselves with our goals is not beneficial.  Instead, you’d be better off spending that energy perfecting your process.
      
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      <li><a name="Should I be using perfect technique"/>Should I be using perfect technique? </a>
      
      
      We use a concept of 80% technical failure.  As long as your technique is 80% perfect, then continue focusing on moving more weight.  That doesn’t mean you ignore technique.  You need to constantly strive to improve it.  But if you’re 80% perfect, you don’t need to focus on it.
      So that means one or two minor errors are okay (elbows coming up or knees coming in while squatting, minor “overpull” in the deadlift, etc).  But if you have any major errors (an illegal lift or a lift with safety issues such as a rounded back), then you fail the 80% test.  If you have a litany of minor errors, that also is below 80%.
      If you’re below 80% perfect, then the focus shifts away from moving more weight and on to achieving satisfactory technique.  This usually means a minimum of making your RPE’s relative to technical failure and not absolute failure.  So @9 becomes one more rep before you suffer a technical breakdown.
      
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      <li><a name="If I need a week off, can I just take one"/>If I need a week off, can I just take one?</a>
      
      NO!  
      
      You can have a week off if it’s really needed, but you’ve got to tell me.  Training has a shelf-life.  It gets stale and moldy if it sits for long, so don’t just save up training weeks.  Tell me you’re taking a week off so I can adjust the plan.  A week off of training needs to be planned around for a variety of physical and psychological reasons.  It also means whenever we try to peak for an event, we’ll be unable to because we will be out of sync with each other.  So keep me in the loop when you make changes to your training.
      
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      Comments 2 Comments
      1. bgibson's Avatar
        bgibson -
        What is the purpose/goal of using myo reps and density training? Hypertrophy? Would these protocols pertain to mainly supplemental lifts? Thanks.
      1. Mike Tuchscherer's Avatar
        Mike Tuchscherer -
        Depends on the situation.
        Myo Reps are used mostly as a form of hypertrophy training, especially when time is limited. It's also entertaining sometimes. So often we end up grinding away set after set. Myo Reps can break the monotony.

        Density training will have a hypertrophic effect, but the main reason we'd use this tool is 1) because time is limited or 2) because we want to introduce some specific work capacity training. Yes, they're almost always supplemental lifts.