08-14-2003, 12:38 PM #1Member
- Join Date
- Jul 2002
Like Big Green said, lets get the ball rolling in this forum, my training thoughts
Ok I have somewhat different ideas on training and I know for the most part what works for me. You have got high volume, low volume, HIT, Westside and other "strength" routines, etc etc etc to choose from. In my opinion it is vital to at least try every aspect before you can give it a go or veto. Now I have tried all of these approaches and found what bodyparts and or exercises that seem to respond best for me in all these approaches. I am an advocate of mainly compound exercises but I believe isolation movements, to a certain extent, have their place. I do not believe in high or low volume approaches in routines. I believe in high or low volume exercises. What I mean is this, I dont believe in a "high volume" routine that contains a lot of sets of a lot of exercises. The only high volume I believe in is high volume of sets for a particular exercise. I believe you need to keep you exercise volume low per day but the amount of sets can be high if you do it right. I believe if most guys would step away from everything they know and do more experimentation they would learn more. Finding the best routine for you takes time and effort and you will find that each movement and each bodypart responds differently. Now here are some things that I have learned about my body that allows me to set up and optimal workout.
COMPOUND UPPER BODY PUSHING EXERCISES
For me personally I find that the exercises that seem to put the most mass on my chest are dumbells. I have also found that the best way for me to do this is volume, not overall just high volume on that particular dumbell exercise. And I have also found that I need to keep the reps in a 3-5 rep range for optimal growth in size and strenght. Also, using the same weight for each set. For example I would use 5x5 or 8x3(all heavy weights) on a dumbell incline or flat press. I would run this for 6 weeks then change the exercise. I like flat dumbell presses and incline dumbell presses, I do however go from a very low incline to an extreme incline, I go by what I feels needs the most work. This is a once per week exercise.
I have found that for me to get strong in all pushing exercises the best exercises that bring this up are closegrip bench presses and closegrip incline presses. These exercises also work best for me in developement of tricep size and strength and also seem to add some decent size to my chest and front delts. The rep range that I have found to work best is 3-8reps. I would normally use some type of periodization on my reps/weight each week. The optimal number of sets for me seems to be 2 on this, using the same weight/reps each set, stopping short of failure.
This is a once per week exercise.
I have found that there is not best overhead press for me, variety seems to work best for me in this movement. I find that alternating between dumbells and barbell every two weeks seems to give good results. I use this exercise in the 8-12 rep range for normall 3 sets. This seems to work best and keeping it in this rep range usually keeps me from having shoulder problems. This is a once per week exercise.
Dips are one of the best overall exercises out there. I find that variation on these is the key. I normally cycle the way that I do them. I will do them one way for 6 weeks, another way for 6 weeks, the another way for 6 weeks, then repeat. For example, I will do one set to failure once per week(adding weight each week) doing high reps(no less than 15 no more than 30) for 6 weeks. The second cycle I will perform 2 sets(adding weight each week) keeping the reps somewhat lower(reps from 8-20). Then for last 6 week cycle I will go with the volume approach and hit 5 sets of low reps in the 3-5 rep range. This is a once per week exercise.
COMPOUND UPPER BODY PULLING EXERCISES
Pullups and chinup should be a staple to upperbody pulling exercises. This will build the lats, forearms, biceps, traps, rear delts. I have found that there are 3 variations of these that work best for me. Number one is chinups(supinated/palms facing you)with a shoulder width grip, number two is semi-supinated chinups(palms facing each other) with a shoulder width or so grip, and last pullups(pronated/palms facing away from the body). I like to do 2-8 sets of these. I am partial to switching these every 4 weeks. I follow pretty much the same routine with each variation. The first week I will do 2 sets to failure, 2nd week is 3 sets of what ever I feel I can get consistantly(one rep or so short of failure) then week 3-4 I hit 5x5 adding weight to each set and upping it the next week, then I switch the type of pull or chin I am using for the next four weeks, etc. This is a once per week exercise.
Rows- I feel that any type of row is adequate. I like to stick to 2 sets of 8, using the same row 2 weeks strait and then switching. I go through a rotation using chest supported row, dumbell row, low cable seated row, barbell row, t-bar row. Once I get to the end I start over with the first exercise again. This is a once per week exercise.
Upright Rows, these are in my opinion the best exercise for rear delt and trap developement. I normally would do 3 sets of 8-10 reps with these.
This is a once per week exercise.
Squats and Deadlifts
Most consider these exercises to be the Holy Grail of weightlifting. I too believe this BUT they can make you or break you. My belief on these exercises is this. If your just starting out and arent experienced in them then dont start out doing them. Most will argue this point but I dont for several reasons. I believe before you start squatting and deadlifting there are a few things you need to strengthen first. Lowerback, abs, obliques, hamstrings, glutes, and of course quads. Personally I think you need to stick to doing lower back extensions(then onto good morning and stiff leg deadlifts), weighted situps and side bends, knee raises, leg curls, glute ham raises, and heavy leg presses before you begin to squat. I am not saying do not do the movement, I am just saying dont use it as a working exercise at first. I feel that the form of squats and deadlifts needs to practiced for a while before you start throwing on weight that will actually be a good working weight. Olympic weightlifters practice form on their events and I believe for safety reason that this should be practiced on squats and deads to find the form that feels the best and is safest for you. It wont be wasted time because you can be strengthening all the muscles involved at the same time, once you actually start squatting youll be less likely for injury because you can "feel" your form and you already have a strong base for it, the stabilzers and actual strength from the actual movement itself will come along fast once you get into it.
Here is how I used to squat, it seemed to work the best for me.
Week 1- 1x20
Week 2- 2x15
Week 3- 3x10
Week 4- 4x8
Week 5- 5x5
Week 6- 8x3
Week 7- rest
Week 8- repeat
For deadlifts, I would warm up and singles only until I maxed out. The thing is I would use sumo deadlift form one week, traditional form the next week, then I would do a week of light weight moderate reps(8 or so) with stiffleg deads, then start over.
Squats and deads only once per week.
Your only as strong as your weakest link. For most people their weakest link is in their abdominal, oblique, and lowerback muscles. I feel that decline situps, hanging knee raises, oblique crunches, and hyperextensions should be in every routine. I like to perform 3 sets of each of these exercises once per week using periodization from 20 reps down to 5 reps, dropping 2-3 reps per week(this will depend on how much weight you decide to add each week)
THE LEFT OVER ISOLATION MOVEMENTS
I feel that the exercises I listed above are all a person needs to just simply get big and strong. I do however realize that isolation work is needed from time to time. The only isolation movements that I find worthwhile for myself are lateral raises(side), hamstring curls, calf raises, tricep pushdowns or extensions, and bicep curls. Those isolation movements right there, added into the rotation of exercises I listed above should give you all the well rounded proportional muscle you would ever need. It is rare, but when I do use isolation movements thats where the HIT method comes into play. I find that anything over one set to failure just seems to slow my recovery and hurts my strength on the most important compound movements. I would only do each one of these once per week.
MY THOUGHTS AND EXPERIENCES WITH PARTIALS
In my experience partials are good for absolute strength in a certain exercise. Are they good for someone that just wants to add strength in all aspects, are they good for bodybuilding??? In my honest opinion no. I feel that they leave you unbalanced and they are very over-rated. If I want to add strength in a certain exercise I just dont do it for a while and do a full range of motion variation of it or I just simply change the rep range or weight. I feel that these are only useful in powerlifting or sport specific training.
I basically have 2 templates I follow. My first template is a 3 day split.
Day1-Push Day, Day2-Pull Day, Day3-Leg Day
My second day is close to the same but a little different.
Day1- Push/Pull/Push, Day2-Pull/Push/Pull, Day3-Leg Day
This is what I mean. On the first template I would do this.
Dumbell Incline or Dumbell Flat Press
Barbell or Dumbell Overhead Press
Closegrip Flat or Incline Press
Pullups or Chinups
For the second template I would do something like this. Now keep in mind that the first two exercises are super setted and the last is just a strait set.
Dumbell Flat Press or dumbell incline press
Dips or Closegrip Incline or Flat Press
Day3-pull/push/pull(48 hours after Day1)
Pullup or Chinup
Dumbell or Barbell Overhead Press
That is how I vary my routine. The first routine I normally use for bulking when i have a lot time to work out. The second routine I use mainly in the summer time or in a period of time that I know I am not going to have a lot of time to workout.
REST PERIODS BETWEEN SETS
I find that for me the best amount of time between sets for bulking/strength is 2-3 minutes and for cutting I would go for 30 sec to 1min 30sec.
08-14-2003, 02:24 PM #2
Excellent and thorough post...though I'm sure you in fact do this, I think you left out an important part that several newer or less experienced members may gloss over if they don't see such an addition in you post...that being the necessity of keeping a journal. While I can't speak for solidj55, I can't imagine he would have been able to arrive at many of those definitive conclusions with regards to rep ranges and frequency without such a vital training instrument. In the event that he doesn't, or did not at one point, I suspect he would be one of the first to tell you that he could have reached such conclusions much more quickly with the assistance of a detailed workout journal. Perhaps as long ago as a year (though probably less) I posted a thread on the importance of keeping a journal..i'm going to try to dig that up and bump it...then come back here to comment more specifically on some of the aspects of solid's specific training philosophies.
08-14-2003, 02:38 PM #3
My "treatise" and thoughts on periodization
Okay, while I can't find the exact thread right now, I do have the original post saved in my workout and fitness documents, as I often use these things as learning instruments for PT clients and such. It follows in its original format below. BigGreen’s Treatise on Muscle Confusion and Periodization
Firstly, what is periodization exactly? Simply put, it is (supposed to be) an intentional, systematic and methodical variation of the components of a training regiment as to prevent adaptation to such an efficiency that the body begins to rely on mechanisms other than muscular growth to meet training demands. It may occur on the micro level (varying an exercise or rep scheme) or on the macro (switching from a bodybuilding split to a powerlifting split). Within both, there are dichotomized extremes: some maintain (lee priest among them) that the same workout pattern for a particular bodypart should NEVER be performed twice in a row. Others (Matarazzo if I recall as well as Mel Siff at many levels) preach cyclical variations in which a workout split is employed for several weeks, before being switched to a (in some cases vastly) different split for another prescribed duration. Within the extremes are scores of other theories that advocate a conjugated method wherein the essential foundation of the program may remain inherently the same for incredibly long durations, but variables within it are altered dramatically every two to three weeks or so – the BASIC Westside philosophy comes to mind as a rather clear example of this approach. Whatever the method employed, periodization of any variety seems to be undergoing a rather systematic attack from opponents who insist it is a VERY HIGHLY advanced training technique, and has no place in the routines of intermediate or even advanced trainers. I would argue, and I would hope that many seniors, vets and mods here share the opinion, that introducing such principles into your training at a comparatively early intermediate stage are absolutely essential to long term progress at an efficient rate.
Allow me to begin by paraphrasing an article I read recently (forgive me for presently being unable to recall the particular magazine in which it appeared) in which the author made a vehement stand AGAINST the principle of periodization or muscle confusion (interchangeable terms for the purposes of this post – though not necessarily outside of it) largely on the basis of asserting that the muscle confusion principle deceives trainers into thinking they are making real progress, when in fact they are not. To bolster his claim, this author used the example of the bench press and pectoral strength (which he never equates with size, more than nominally defeating his argument from the onset, in my opinion). He hypothesizes and example in which a trainer has hit a plateau in the bench press in which he has stagnated at 200lbs for 10 reps. Muscle confusion and periodization (as he views it) dictates that the trainer switch to a new exercise and/or rep scheme to overcome this. In his case, he utilizes incline dumbbell presses, beginning at a set of 70 pound dumbbells for ten reps and quickly progressing through to 75’s, 80’s and maybe even 85’s for sets of 10. Thus, according to the author, the trainer is led to believe that muscle confusion is the greatest thing since dianabol ! However, returning to the bench press at the end of this month, the author insists that the trainer, having seen pectoral strength increase dramatically on incline dumbbell presses, rightfully expects to be capable of handling 200lbs for MORE than ten reps but will in reality likely experience regression in the bench press. He goes on to conclude that this is simply because the jump experienced in the incline press is representative of motor learning skills and subtle neuromuscular adaptations; and I am inclined to agree. However, I think that he, as well as most individuals employing periodization are missing the point. I hope to explain below:
At its core, periodization, per se, is not about making progress, it is about becoming self aware so that you might more efficiently make progress. For example, using the above example, though it might be unlikely to condense such findings into a one month period, suppose the trainer found that his bench hadn’t gone up, and maybe had even gone down, but the fullness of his upper chest, or delt-chest tie-ins had improved dramatically. Unless he is training specifically to improve his bench, I’m sure he could care less what he’s benching given such improvements. To quote Shawn Ray, “would you rather be able to bench 500 or look like you can bench 500?” While neuromuscular adaptations and the appealing learning curve of improved motor skills pertinent to a given exercise create the illusion of instant progress in periodization, its benefits are nowhere near so immediate, which is where the point is missed by many of the critics who maintain that simply adding resistance over time is sufficient to foster desired gains. For the sake of brevity, I’m going to forego any further arguments against or for periodization and hope that my tips for making it work (to follow) accomplish that end. Anyone can feel free to add additional comments, but I find the following to be critical to making periodization successful.
KEEP A JOURNAL: this is essential even if you never intend to undertake periodization and are reading this post simply to find ammunition to mock me. However, a training log becomes even more critical to the trainer utilizing periodization, and thus employing his own body as a lab. No credible scientist working today would conduct an experiment without taking copious notes, how is your situation any different? I learned this lesson the hard way. Before being inspired to keep a journal, I saw my bench shoot up 35 lbs at a 10RM while adding great size to my inner chest and upper arms and foolishly believed the trend would continue forever. When it inevitably did not (or I’d be benching in the high 800’s today), I desperately wanted to replicate those results some months later but did not have the slightest idea as to what variables in my training may have produced such desired results. If you take nothing else away from this thread, please learn from my costly error. After all, a smart mans learns from his own mistakes while a genius learns from both his and the mistakes of others.
KEEP A DIARY: What? How is this different than keeping a journal/training log? Maybe the pressures of school have finally broken BigGreen. As I already alluded to in refuting the article’s author above, and most of you should know, while there does exist a definitive and reliable correlation between strength and size, this is a long-term phenomenon and I believe it is highly possible to achieve fairly significant strides in size in many instances without accompanying strength gains of the same degree. Along those lines, a mere record of your progress under the bar will not suffice. Once every week (pick a day and stick to it) take a half hour or so to reflect. Sounds existential I know, but it works: what body parts experienced a particularly great pump? Which exercises seemed to foster a mind-muscle connection that might not have been there before? Did soreness persist for longer than usual? I could go on and on. Every third week, should you have the means, I believe it is essential to include in your diary photographs AND comments on these photographs, self-explanatory as they may be. Coupled with a record of your workouts and a more narrative analysis, these pictures should complete the puzzle and give you virtually all of the information you need to assess where specifically your progress is coming from.
MUSCLE CONFUSION DOESN’T MEAN “CONFUSE”: To the contrary, as I have mentioned, any periodization-rooted change, whether it means picking up a powerlifting routine, or simply substituting dumbbells for barbells for a spell, should be both methodical and rational. You should have justification for your actions. For example, I recently adopted a powerlifting style for a bit precisely for the reason that I felt I lacked a certain muscle maturity and needed to improve strength on the core lifts if I were to address this deficiency. Whether or not this proves to be the case is, at present, inconsequential. What does matter is that there was a well-thought out justification for my decision. If you simply change workouts at will, truly “confusing” the body, you will not only deny yourself the time necessary to assess these changes and invite psychological burnout, but likely confuse yourself, as there are only so many variables that one can realistically track at any given time.
CHANGE ALL THE VARIABLES (EVENTUALLY): While I advocate changing all variables in time (rep scheme, rest periods, volume, intensity, exercises, equipment and so on and so on) you will defeat your goals if you take muscle confusion or periodization to mean you must radically revamp each component simultaneously. If, for example, you go from a Monday, Wednesday, Friday split working each bodypart 3 times per week 5 total sets each time in a rep range of about 4-6 with heavy weights and five minutes rest to a six days a week split utilizing machines, with drastically reduced rest periods, dramatically increased rep ranges to 13-15 and only one working set per bodypart and gain ten pounds – CONGRATULATIONS! Now tell me which variable is most responsible for that ten pounds of growth. See the point?
While it involves a disciplined patience and relentless self-experimentation, undergoing such methodical training practices as an intermediate over a period of 3 or 4 years now (we’re in this for the long term, right?) and discovering how your unique muscles react to certain training stimuli, as opposed to randomly discovering somewhere in your thirteenth year of training that you THINK your calves MAYBE respond best in the 8-12 rep range with 5 sets for one month POSSIBLY followed by (YOU SUSPECT) a shock period of two weeks during which they’re hit every other day with 20-30 reps, seems to be the far more attractive option. Hope this helped people!
08-14-2003, 04:06 PM #4Member
- Join Date
- Jul 2002
I must agree what Big Green has added is top notch information. I have some more ideas to add to this, mostly to do with eating/rest but I dont have the time right now. Lets keep these posts going.
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