Tag Archives: strength
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?
Or is it dice now?
Once upon a time die was considered the singular term and dice was plural, however I think now it might just be dice for both singular and plural.
Anyway, this nifty little tool can provide some great training sessions.
All you need to is have one (you can use two, or you just roll one multiple times like a logical person would).
^^ Personally I quite like having two though as there’s nothing better than rolling two of them and getting a double 6.
If you are a person who needs structure yet finds it hard to stick to said structure then this will be a great tool for you.
Simply follow the below:
Set up 6 sessions for each of numbers on the dice.
1 – Clean & Push Press > Pull Up: Super Set
2 – Sprints (any kit)
3 – Deadlift > Kettlebell Swing >Farmers Walk> Floor Press: Giant-set
4 – Slams (any kit – think ropes, med balls, sand bags, etc)
5 – Squats
6 – Front Squat > Squat > Lunge: Ti-set
Next for the sets and reps, as an example.
On the lifting rolls form the above:
First roll (one dice) = reps you will do (1-6)
Second roll (two dice) = sets you will do (2-12)
That’s it, you may get a very easy day, or a very hard one, these don’t include warm ups though.
On the CV option from above:
First roll (one dice) = seconds of work (10-60 seconds)
Second roll (one dice) = seconds of rest (10-60 seconds)
Third roll (two dice) = total amount of rounds (2-12)
Personally I’d only preform one of the example sessions, even if it ended up being something like this:
Squats – 2 sets of 1 rep.
See it as a gift for a low volume session, the temptation would be to avoid doing more because when I’ve prescribed this in the past people have thought they’ve known better and make what would have been a very easy session stupidly hard by doing extra because of ego, then when the dice cast gave them a hard session they couldn’t perform.
Poor performance apparently happens to 1 in 5 you know.
Don’t give in to your ego, train once per day, if you have an easy session today, then train again tomorrow, if that is again super easy, train the day after that as well and keep repeating this until you get a session that takes a lot of effort and then you HAVE to rest for one or two days.
It’s a nice was to have some structure and yet still a good amount of variety because you don’t know what you will roll (unless the dice are weighted), so you could end upsetting the same session a couple of times in a row, unlikely however it might happen.
As you can see the above is super easy to plan/program.
My main advice for you would be this though; have 4 numbers with things you don’t do often and really need to be doing more of, and two that you like doing, this sill help your overall progress because we get better by doing the things we need to do (or don’t do), not what we want to do.
So go grab a die, or dice and have some fun.
P.S – if you’re really sadistic you can use D&D dice.
The clean & press (push press/jerk) is a great movement.
Whether you do it with a barbell, dumbbells, kettlebells, odd objects or people, it yields some great results.
As far as looking for a movement that covers everything, this is pretty damn close to being perfect.
I say close to because you can’t get maximal speed/power like you could with a snatch, nor the raw pressing strength like that of a bench press, or even the leg strength from a squat, you get the idea.
That being said, it’s still epic.
If you have any of these in your list of goals:
– Increase LBM
– Lose Fat
– Increase Athleticism
– Look Cool
Then this is a movement you should be doing in abundance.
These days we have a lot of choice when it comes to training, and while this is great it’s also a problem because the level of results based on the average gym goer have gone down over the years.
Having too many options is the devil.
Back in an almost forgotten time when I would teach classes (well, small groups), the training would be simple, so much so that some used to complain and not come back.
I didn’t miss them, they didn’t have faith int he process and just wanted to have their bis appealed to and their ego stroked.
One thing with training is often the most effective stuff (once you’re past the point of beginner gains) is often a little dull and very repetitive.
To add in all the fancy and flamboyant stuff requires skill.
Not skill in coaching, although that is a necessity in my eyes, it requires skill from the participants in said training because if they can’t keep up then they need to take a step back and start at a level appropriate for them, less the don’t progress.
Anyone who’s worked with large groups will be able to give you lists of what works well and what requires some extra time/attention.
Anywho, back to the C&P.
Here is how you might apply this glorious movement to a three day per week training protocol.
This would yield Fat Loss as the primary function, LBM would be secondary and Strength as a by product.
All C/P variations done with a bar.
Day 1 –
W/U – Kettlebell Swing x15min (5/15 interval)
A1 – Clean & P/P x5-3-2-5-3-2-5-3-2
B1 – Front Squat x10-8-6-8-10
C/D – Stretching
Day 2 –
W/U – Bear Complex 3-5reps x15min (vary load as needed)
A1 – Clean & Press x1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10
A2 – Bent Over Row or Pull Up x6-8
C/D – Stretching
Day 3 –
W/U – Loaded Carry (hug & shoulder, alternate) 20m x15min
A1 – Clean & Jerk x3-2-1-3-2-1-3-2-1-3-2-1-3-2-1
B1 – Floor Press x4-6×4-6
C/D – Stretching
Rest periods can be kept int he 60-120second mark after each wave, rest only long enough to change the weights int he way or briefly if you are going to keep the load static in a wave.
– 5 > add load, 3 > add load, 2 > add load > rest 120sec
– 5 > 20sec, 3 > 20 sec, 2 > 20sec > add load and rest 90sec
You get the idea.
This is one example, there are many more.
There are endless videos on how to do this, here is one decent one:
– Training until momentary muscular failure
– Leaving 1-2 reps in the tank and doing more sets
– Not going anywhere near failure staying at <% set efforts
*Progress typically being strength, hypertrophy, performance related for the context of this post and those who asked.
In truth they’re all viable, in fact you’d probably do well to cycle through phases of doing each in a periodised fashion or you could link them all together in a holistic approach.
Honestly at the stage of lifting most people are at they just need to get their reps in for the most part.
Also before you say it might be dangerous that is only if form is bad, if for is good there’s no real issue.
Let us look at each of the above and see who we can optimally use them.
– Training until momentary muscular failure –
A lot of solid research has been conducted based on the idea that it’s the last few reps (we’ll say the last 2-5) that really give you that much needed hit of adaptive stimulus to grow and every prior rep was just there.
^^ This is relevant for each method in this post.
Now some people would then be lead to think that doing lower rep set would bypass this and go straight to the stimulus.
Fair enough, however it doesn’t work like that.
The above is based on the accumulation of fatigue in the formative reps (depletion of energy system reserves etc) and depending on the rep ranges you use will then link in to the gains you get.
6-20 being said as optimal for hypertrophy.
^^ You can use compound movements however I’d say stick with lifts that have a lower potential for injury until you’re what the books consider an experienced lifter (2 years of solid lifting 3+ times per week).
It’s easier to get close to that momentary failure being meaningful with reps at 8+ I’ve found, less while personally I enjoy is just not viable for people who are not experienced lifters.
While finding the right weight and reps can be a bit of a tricky element (downside), the massive benefit is that you’ll only need a few sets per movement (upside).
Next time you train try this: 3-4 x fail on accessory lifts.
– Leaving 1-2 reps in the tank (RPE work) –
Favoured by many a lifter and great for all movement be those compound, supplementary or isolation.
In short yo’d be going to the point where you feel a bit of a grind beginning to happen. It is at this point over time you’ll learn that you’ve only got 1-2 reps left.
One problem with this though is that people will stop short.
They think they’ve got 1-2 reps left when in reality it’s more like 6-10.
Yes I’m being serious.
The danger here is that people will be leaving gains on the table because for lack of a better term they’re being a little bit soft.
As such this is where in the beginner days having them utilise the ‘going until failure’ is useful (provided they have good form) because they won’t be lifting that heavy so it will be more viable.
Once they’ve learned their limits using more weight and stopping short of failure becomes useful because it then allows more total volume as going to failure with heavier loads causes more overall damage and need more recovery time.
I’m not sorry to say that heavy isn’t relative, heavy is heavy.
Regardless of if you personally feel you lifting say 70kg x5 is the same as someone lifting 250kg x5 it’s not, apples & oranges as they say.
Leaving 1-2 reps in the tank is a great way for the more experience and stronger people to progress because they can add more total volume and build up fatigue over multiple sets.
It means that say 4 of your 6 sets might be the ones that are just there and the last two sets that have reps that are money makers.
^^ All of this is linked in to RPE (rate of perceived exertion), so the next time you train after each set write down on a scale of 1-10 how hard the set was, most of yours will want to be 8/9 on the scale (look up Reactive Training Systems – Mike Tuscherer).
That bring us to the last one.
-Not going anywhere near failure staying at <% set efforts-
A Russian weightlifting favourite because I do love the Russians.
This is a great method however it requires people to have been hitting some solid progress for a few years as it will be largely based on low reps and endless sets.
So what is set effort precisely?
Put simply, say your 6RM (rep max) is 100kg meaning you can do 1 set of 6 at 100kg and no more, yet you want to, how can this be done?
Easy, 6RM is 100% set effort, so if you work at 50% efforts you’d be doing sets of 3 reps.
This means you might be able to do 3,4,5,6, or perhaps 20 sets of 3 with your 6RM as opposed to just one set of 6 with your 6RM.
An epic way to train that will leave you feeling fresh at the end of most if not all of your sessions and that’s the dangerous part.
People chase fatigue so as valuable as this method is it doesn’t hit their emotional/cognitive bias and as such they’d end up doing more and burning out.
You’d also have to be well versed in what is known as CAT (compensatory acceleration training) – you lift each rep with everything you’ve got, basically.
*Using CAT on your sets of 3 you’d go until you feel speed of reps is lost, which could be as mentioned above, 3 sets or 23 sets. When speed is lost it means you’ve hit your stills for the day, even if you don’t feel fatigued you are, trust me.
It is this that would provide the stimulus we’ve touched on above.
^^ Fred Hatfield is the man to look up for CAT.
So, which is best?
Based on how long you’ve been lifting:
<2 years: Training until momentary muscular failure
2-4 years: Leaving 1-2 reps in the tank and doing more sets
4 years +: Not going anywhere near failure staying at <% set efforts
Not everyone will like this answer and while for some rare exceptions it’s the right answer for the average person.
If like me you’re just an average person then don’t fear doing the simple things.
These days we live in an age where everyone is trying to keep up with everyone else and unless you’re doing HIIT, or some sort of ‘Ultra-Mega-Oblivion Set’ you’re some kind of lesser human.
Yea that’s complete bollocks.
It’s only the highly insecure that feel the need to make their training look more complicated or fancier than is it.