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Thread: So...what's everyone up to these days?

  1. #1

    So...what's everyone up to these days?

    Hey everyone!
    So I've been out of the game for a few years due to a spinal surgery I had last summer (C5-C6). I'm pretty much all healed up now and have been hitting the weights hard for about 6 months and funny enough have just about hit all my old PR's. Less squats, still can't do those, but I'm focusing on bench and deadlift now. During that time though I've been doing a lot of reading on various boards, websites, books, etc. and have found that a number of training styles have really gotten popular. During this summer I read Scientific Principles of Strength Training and found that to be just an excellent resource. I've pretty much been following that and have been using the RP templates (hypertrophy and strength) with some good success. The hypertrophy template certainly will put on size in the powerlifting prime movers if that is what you're looking for. One issue for me though is that right now I seem to have plenty of size, but I'm relatively weak for my size I think. And I've found that transitioning from pure hypertrophy to strength to be a bit tough (I tend to lose the high end 85%+ strength fast) so I need several strength mesocycles to really make any progress after doing hypertrophy. It certainly works, but right now I feel like I need to focus strongly on strength/neural adaptation. (plus I've sort of been training very similarly for a very, very long time (upper-lower with alternating volume and intensity blocks). Maybe I just need a new stimulus...

    I've seen some people using DUP, some doing block (like what I'm doing), some doing fully body everyday (like Norwegian) and I think I've even seen one or two doing westside style. So what's been working and what hasn't?

  2. #2
    You need to slowly progress to heavier weights when you do a hypertrophy phase, if you just switch from sets of 10 to heavy singles and triples you can expect to have problems. I'm not even sure that there is a benefit to doing sets of 10 over sets of 8 or 6 (see Greg Nuckols' article on training volume) except to give yourself a break from heavier weights. So spend a few weeks doing hard sets of 6-8 and then move onto 5's, or even lower reps for submaximal volume work. Also, dropping the comp. lifts completely is a bad idea for most people. You can keep them in there but not necessarily as the main focus, technique is just as important as muscle mass for strength.

    High frequency is good for developing your technique, but it is uncertain that there is any additional benefit when it comes to increasing neural output compared to a moderate frequency. Most of the strongest lifters don't use particularly high frequency, and those that do (such as the Norwegians) train mostly with low intensity. When you aren't that strong it is easier to recover from heavy (for you) training, but you won't see Ray Williams doing daily max squats.

  3. #3
    Quote Originally Posted by chris_ottawa View Post
    You need to slowly progress to heavier weights when you do a hypertrophy phase, if you just switch from sets of 10 to heavy singles and triples you can expect to have problems. I'm not even sure that there is a benefit to doing sets of 10 over sets of 8 or 6 (see Greg Nuckols' article on training volume) except to give yourself a break from heavier weights. So spend a few weeks doing hard sets of 6-8 and then move onto 5's, or even lower reps for submaximal volume work. Also, dropping the comp. lifts completely is a bad idea for most people. You can keep them in there but not necessarily as the main focus, technique is just as important as muscle mass for strength.

    High frequency is good for developing your technique, but it is uncertain that there is any additional benefit when it comes to increasing neural output compared to a moderate frequency. Most of the strongest lifters don't use particularly high frequency, and those that do (such as the Norwegians) train mostly with low intensity. When you aren't that strong it is easier to recover from heavy (for you) training, but you won't see Ray Williams doing daily max squats.
    Thanks for responding Chris, I was hoping one of the vets on here would chime in! Yeah, the RP templates I am using (actually written by Mike I and James Hoffman) have you doing sets of about 10 the first week, then adding weight (and possibly sets) each week and by week 4 you are essentially at around 6 reps. Then week 5 is a deload week. They are pretty neat because they have some built in autoregulation, where if the weight feels easy and you are getting all your reps, you click a dropdown and it adds sets to subsequent workouts. The strength template is similar, except the rep range is 3-5 going from 5's down to 3's more or less. I think the problem during my first hypertrophy phase was not doing the competitive lift so when I came back it was a little awkward, and I think I just went a bit too light too. I might add in 1 heavier set each workout for a few reps (like 3 reps at 80%) or maybe just a heavy-ish single just to keep strength up, I think Mike I. said somewhere that wouldn't cause a problem. So the good news is I am just about back to my old strength levels (recently benched 325 and deadlifted 500) and actually have exceeded my size level from pre-surgery. The bad news is, I seem to be closing in on my old PR's and its just slowing down a lot so I might end up at the same plateau I was at before. Naturally I'm going to milk this program as long as I can squeeze out even small gains, and one good thing is I've never done true block periodization before (I ran upper-lower splits but it was basically concurrent - heavy and light days), so perhaps the contrast between the lighter mesocyles and the heavy mesocycles will help.

    Have you ever come to a spot though were you just needed to overall everything (like increase frequency, do a totally different program, etc) to bust through a plateau? I'm half tempted to try the Sheiko's new Universal template 4x per week after a few more months. Its significantly lower volume than the previous templates and has more variation, but its still high volume and high frequency. Mainly just because in all the years I've lifted I've never tried anything like this before. If I remember correctly you've tried a number of different programs and training styles, what has worked best for you long term?
    Last edited by Josh; 11-30-2016 at 11:42 AM.

  4. #4
    I would advise against doing the Sheiko program you are talking about if you are currently training with higher volume. The only way that reducing volume will improve your results is if you significantly increase intensity (and all the sample Sheiko programs I have seen are fairly low intensity) or if you have been doing more volume than you can recover from previously. I think you might be able to find a more appropriate program if you buy the Sheiko app.

    What I have learned is that, generally, you want to avoid making huge changes to your training. If it was working before but you are now plateaued then you probably just need some minor adjustments. Switching between high frequency and low frequency is not really a big deal though, if that is the case then just keep volume around the same level and you should be fine. Also, switching suddenly from high intensity to low intensity is no problem but the other way around you can expect you performance to really suffer and it is a risk for injury.

    I recently did a 10 week hypertrophy phase (6 day upper/lower split) and at the end I was lifting 80%+(of my previous maxes) for sets of 6-8 so it was easy to transition to heavier training. Currently, I'm doing some high frequency training (except deadlift is only 2x/week), it is working well for squat and deadlift but not so much for bench, my bench has been stuck since the summer so I'm going to have to try a different approach for that. I don't think that high frequency is necessarily the way to go all the time, you can alternate high frequency full body training with an upper/lower split for a hypertrophy phase. Once you have enough muscle mass you don't really need to spend so much time on hypertrophy, the focus should be on perfecting your technique and working with progressively heavier weights for low reps. But still, using hypertrophy blocks as a offseason phase is a good idea to get a break mentally and physically, and it should also keep you from hitting a plateau if done correctly. Something like 80-85% for a few sets of 2 or 3 is not a bad idea to maintain your technique, I don't think that doing heavy singles all year is a good plan. Personally, I would just do a couple high rep sets with the comp. lifts before moving onto some variations for more volume.

  5. #5
    Quote Originally Posted by Josh View Post
    Thanks for responding Chris, I was hoping one of the vets on here would chime in! Yeah, the RP templates I am using (actually written by Mike I and James Hoffman) have you doing sets of about 10 the first week, then adding weight (and possibly sets) each week and by week 4 you are essentially at around 6 reps. Then week 5 is a deload week. They are pretty neat because they have some built in autoregulation, where if the weight feels easy and you are getting all your reps, you click a dropdown and it adds sets to subsequent workouts.
    Adding sets because the weights were easy never made sense to me when I checked out the templates. Surely it means the weights you're lifting are too light, so you should up weight on the bar?

    I did like the look of them overall though, pretty neat. No way did I think they were worth $99 each though.

  6. #6
    Quote Originally Posted by The Cheat View Post
    Adding sets because the weights were easy never made sense to me when I checked out the templates. Surely it means the weights you're lifting are too light, so you should up weight on the bar?

    I did like the look of them overall though, pretty neat. No way did I think they were worth $99 each though.
    Yeah I'm not 100% sure on that whole concept, but the idea is that you build up volume during the 4 week mesocycle so the last week you overreach a bit. Then, taking the deload in week 5 is meant to help with supercompensation (Mike I. seems to really be a proponent of this). I may have worded it wrong too. Basically during the hypertrophy block you try to stay in the 6-10 rep range, so as long as you get your reps (above 6) you add sets. Since the first few weeks have you lifting a weights that you'll be hitting for 10's and 8's, you almost guarantee to add sets through the month.

    They are a bit pricey and funny enough this is the first time I haven't done my own programming. I basically wanted to see how the experts would program for strength and hypertrophy and I was extremely impressed with Mike I's book. Funny enough, but the workouts are pretty damn simple, which sort of makes me wonder if we sometimes over complicate things. I mean look at the routines of some of the best lifters, like Dan Green and Jesse Norris. Both seem to follow crazy simple routines that just work really well for them. I follow Jesse on Instagram and it's funny how often he hits reps in the 8, 10, and 12 range even on the big lifts.

    My main problem now is I feel like I'm a bit too big for my lift numbers. I hover around 210-215 at 5'10" and my bodyfat was just over 12% last I had it checked. I don't really think I'm going to get too much bigger, so I'm probably going to focus more on neural adaptation for awhile. Maybe I'll run 2-3 strength blocks for every hypertrophy block (more to give my joints a rest). I even considered some type of DUP setup but I feel like I plateau pretty quickly on concurrent type setups at this point.

  7. #7
    Ah, okay, thanks for the clarification. The example I saw had sets staying the same all the way through unless you rated the last workout as easy (i.e. you got more reps at the same or higher RPE than last week).

    Mike I always talks about working up to and then slightly over your MRV every cycle, but I'm not sure if that's just when you're trying to figure out exactly what your MRV is. Surely once you know it, you don't need to ramp up, you could just stick just below for the whole cycle bar the final overreaching week when you can add a bit? The 'Creating a Strength Block' video by CWS seems to keep sets the same all through the block, since presumably he knows his MRV.

  8. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by The Cheat View Post
    Adding sets because the weights were easy never made sense to me when I checked out the templates. Surely it means the weights you're lifting are too light, so you should up weight on the bar?
    Then why do @8 repeats? Or fatigue percents?

  9. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by The Cheat View Post
    Ah, okay, thanks for the clarification. The example I saw had sets staying the same all the way through unless you rated the last workout as easy (i.e. you got more reps at the same or higher RPE than last week).

    Mike I always talks about working up to and then slightly over your MRV every cycle, but I'm not sure if that's just when you're trying to figure out exactly what your MRV is. Surely once you know it, you don't need to ramp up, you could just stick just below for the whole cycle bar the final overreaching week when you can add a bit? The 'Creating a Strength Block' video by CWS seems to keep sets the same all through the block, since presumably he knows his MRV.
    That's definitely one thing I'm kind of sorting through. After a few cycles of the hypertrophy program you basically know what you can handle, so I'm not sure if there is much value in having 2 sort of easy weeks and 2 harder weeks out of a 5 week mesocycle (5th week being a deload). Mike said in the tutorial that you can go ahead and add sets as much as you want in the first week as long as you can handle them, so I might start off the mesocycle with slightly higher sets for a flatter weekly loading and only add a few in the last week (if I can add more and stay within my rep range).

    I find the whole volume/frequency for strength versus hypertrophy to be very interesting, and the opinions are just so all over the place. Chad Westley Smith seems to start off his macrocycle with higher frequency and volume, then reduce both but get more specific in exercise selection as competition nears. I see other people advice the exact opposite, doing less frequent but higher volume per lift for hypertrophy and then as the contest nears do higher frequency but low volume for the main lifts. I watched a youtube interview with one of the coaches that took part in the 'Norwegian experiment' and he said that he would not advice people to train that high of frequency for hypertrophy, only for strength.

  10. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by chris_ottawa View Post
    I would advise against doing the Sheiko program you are talking about if you are currently training with higher volume. The only way that reducing volume will improve your results is if you significantly increase intensity (and all the sample Sheiko programs I have seen are fairly low intensity) or if you have been doing more volume than you can recover from previously. I think you might be able to find a more appropriate program if you buy the Sheiko app.

    What I have learned is that, generally, you want to avoid making huge changes to your training. If it was working before but you are now plateaued then you probably just need some minor adjustments. Switching between high frequency and low frequency is not really a big deal though, if that is the case then just keep volume around the same level and you should be fine. Also, switching suddenly from high intensity to low intensity is no problem but the other way around you can expect you performance to really suffer and it is a risk for injury.

    I recently did a 10 week hypertrophy phase (6 day upper/lower split) and at the end I was lifting 80%+(of my previous maxes) for sets of 6-8 so it was easy to transition to heavier training. Currently, I'm doing some high frequency training (except deadlift is only 2x/week), it is working well for squat and deadlift but not so much for bench, my bench has been stuck since the summer so I'm going to have to try a different approach for that. I don't think that high frequency is necessarily the way to go all the time, you can alternate high frequency full body training with an upper/lower split for a hypertrophy phase. Once you have enough muscle mass you don't really need to spend so much time on hypertrophy, the focus should be on perfecting your technique and working with progressively heavier weights for low reps. But still, using hypertrophy blocks as a offseason phase is a good idea to get a break mentally and physically, and it should also keep you from hitting a plateau if done correctly. Something like 80-85% for a few sets of 2 or 3 is not a bad idea to maintain your technique, I don't think that doing heavy singles all year is a good plan. Personally, I would just do a couple high rep sets with the comp. lifts before moving onto some variations for more volume.
    Wow that's some good progress in a 10 week timeframe, and you're no beginner. How much volume did you work up to? So when you moved into a strength phase you took a more higher frequency, lower volume approach it seems? When you say high frequency, do you mean like 3x per week, or 4-6 times per week?
    Last edited by Josh; 12-01-2016 at 11:13 AM.

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