Digging through some older writings of Russian powerlifters has been quite interesting of late.
Apart from the magic numbers that seem to be floating around and the common use of certain well known set/rep protocols there is pattern in the way they train.
Most claim to follow this pattern:
- Press heavy every 3-5 days
- Squat heavy every 5-7 days
- DL heavy every 10-14 days
A good general rule, yet as they got more experienced they seemed less focused on the heavy element and more on building up the medium/light numbers and volume, that was very fascinating to me.
The really interesting part is how they set up a training week because it’s clear that some could train any day required, whereas others still had full times jobs and as such had to stick to specific days of the week, as such this gave some dramatically different looking programs they yet still followed the same basic principles.
The expression of Light-Medium-Heavy is often in reference to their efforts, as opposed to just pure load not he bar, however you can rest assured the loads were also hefty.
Example: Rotating days
Monday – Press (medium) & Squat (Heavy)
Thursday – Deadlift (Light)
Sunday – Press (light) & Squat (Light)
Wednesday – Deadlift (Light)
Saturday – Press (Heavy) & Squat (Medium)
Tuesday – Deadlift (Heavy)
Friday – Press (Light) & Squat (Light)
Monday – Deadlift (Light)
Thursday – Press (Medium) & Squat (Heavy)
Sunday – Deadlift (Light)
Wednesday – Press (Heavy) & Squat (Light)
Saturday – Deadlift (Heavy)
Tuesday – Press (Light) & Squat (Medium)
Friday – Deadlift (Light)
Monday: Potential lift variation change, protocol change or repeat of previous.
You can see they lift every 3 days, alternating Press & Squat sessions with Deadlift Sessions, some would choose to also press on the DL day as well however that would often be light or a special variation press to target weak/sticking points from what I read.
Leaving 6-9days between heavy pressing and more between heavy squats and DL seemed counterintuitive at first to making progress, yet it worked.
Looking at the older lifting protocols these people followed was truly a worthy habit hole to go down.
**Please note that light or even medium to these people in say pressing was 400lbs, which to us mere mortals isn’t light at all**
For those that had set days, such as 2-3 sessions per week this was what it tended to look like:
Monday – Deadlift (rotating H-L)
Thursday – Press & Squat (Rotating H-L-M)
Saturday – Press & Squat & RDL/Stiff leg variation (mostly L-M)
A lot also added 2-3 accessory lifts for weak points and lagging areas, this seemed to be a lot of Lats, Tricpes, Hamstrings, Glutes & Lower Back.
Some added in additional shoulder pressing however as it wasn’t a given necessity for comp many would do it in the off season unless they specifically responded very well to it on a personal level.
Now after reading their loading parameters and seeing their overall strength levels the above didn’t seem too odd to me, yet reading some journal notes it seemed many trained this way from day dot, just because that’s what the ‘strong comrades’ did, and that is food for thought.
Many got into the pattern/routine of people much stronger than they where, and while the frequency may go against current science for optimal, many stuck with it one the long haul and seems dot make great progress, yet these days many would argue they shouldn’t have, yet, they did.
I can’t tell you why.
Perhaps they were able to focus more on RFD in a session, of maximal contraction each rep, utilise heavier loads and push the envelope a tad more due to the extra rest. Hell they may have been on all the PED’s from the start (doubtful though), there are many potential extra factors, however one thing that seems clear is this; they did less better and made it work.
There were also several notes regarding people who were tempted to do extra training (boxing, wrestling etc) and told not to as it owed effect their recovery, so it is worth remembering that the people chose to do only PL.
Limiting their other activities meant they worked when they had to, and at what we may predict was a high effort, whereas these days we add in a lot of extra training/stress, meaning that while we can keep it all up, the total accumulation of volume still takes a toll because we can only adapt from what we can revere from and if there is more to recovery from then the adaptations il be minimal due to the massive amount of resources used by our body to return us to our baseline from all that training/stress.
***Allostatic load! been trying to think of that term since posting this as it disappeared from my mind the second I went to write it down. It would have been in the above in this sort of form – ‘We have to be careful not to overshoot the hermetic effect and our total amount of necessary allostatic load.’ – Been bugging me all morning that has.
Certainly worth more digging into.
How much training do you do, and when did you find that doing more started getting you less?