Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Continuing the discussion...

Rick and Geoff (I will hit Geoff's comments tomorrow) have had some great comments and questions and I wanted to continue the discussions...

Rick had asked about individual variances in program design and the fact that some people can handle much greater workloads than others. And all I can say is yes.
Individual variation is a huge factor but instead of wondering where that variation lies I would recommend beginning a program at the low volume I recommended and building slowly from there until you find "the sweet spot". This can result in a little bit of a porridge discussion (too hot, too cold, just right for those of you not getting the analogy).
You will more than likely build the volume to a "too hot" level (too much work - decrease in performance) - then back off to a too cold level (not enough work - no real progress) and then find the "just right" level - (right amount of work and continued progress).

Expanding on this - I recommend a base of low volume strength training - but I implement "volume" routines a couple of times a year such as the squat cycle I am on now and the RSR (russian squat routine for my deadlift in the past) - the issue comes when you never step down from the "peaking" or volume routine. That is when you are looking for trouble.

Most people I talk to are amazed that I squat 2 x a week - so there we get into a discussion of where your max and your training level are for you. If your max is 1000 in the squat then I would expect you to be able to knock reps with 500 any day of the week and twice on Sunday. If your max is 1000 and you try to keep pushing 900 around you are headed for a fall.

So planned periods of higher volume based off of and returning to a lower volume base is the way to look at it. And people do train themselves to handle sick workloads but I prefer to find out how little I can do and still make progress.

And -

We also get into individual diet, sleep and recovery habits - Proper nutrition and 8+ hours of sleep a night are said to help with recovery (not that I would know anything about that!). So stress from commuting, work, family, money, etc....all zap recovery ability and have to be taken into account. It is the rare individual that can commit their life to the demands of optimal recovery and survive some of the training protocols out there.

So - Combine life, recovery and training and see where things balance out and you can never remove the x-factor of the genetic marvel who comes along and can just do things others cannot.


Rick said...

Thanks for the response Brett, and it is clear that we pretty much agree on the volume stuff.

Maybe I am reading what you are writing wrong, it is hard sometimes over the net to get a point across, but I disagree with this statement: "the issue comes when you never step down from the "peaking" or volume routine."

Now, I agree there is an issue when you don't back off from the higher intensity stuff, i.e. very heavy weights for singles to triples. However, volume work doesn't really need to be backed off as volume, imo, helps the body to recover from higher intensity workouts.

Here is what I am trying to say: you do a 16 week 'peaking' cycle, and once you come off that cycle you need to do volume work. Lighter weights, higher reps. This will allow you to recover from meet attempts, which we both know can take upwards of a month to recover 100% from! Keeping high volume in, for example, 4-5 sets of 10-12 reps, on the assistance work, will train muscle hypertrophy and recovery while coming off a peaking cycle, but also while ON the peaking cycle. IMO, volume doesn't need to be adjusted this way, however as far as volume being the number of workouts per week, that certainly does need to be adjusted to fit the individual.

My typical work week starts on Sundays with heavy squats (sets/reps based on cycle) followed immediately by heavy deads (reps/sets based on cycle). I then do 4x10 on the reverse hyper with 400+, glute hams for 4x10+, pull-down abs, maybe some side oblique work, and then we typically pull the Prowler for 30 minutes. This destroys me, and I spend the remainder of the day eating and eating more. However, I do not squat or deadlift heavy again until the following Sunday, providing me with 6 straight days of rest. I do do some close stance high bars, above parallel, to aid the deadlift, superman's, abs, and calves on Thursday but this is not extreme and easy to recover from. Tuedays I do chest,tris and back. Wednesdays I do bis/shoulders, Fridays I do chest, tris, and back again.

I am lucky enough to get 8+ hours of sleep a day and I eat 8 meals a day as well. Plus, my job is fairly easy, high mental stress, but not physically demanding.

I once read that there is no such thing as overtraining, just under-eating. If you think of a weeks worth of workload combined not only in the training of max strength, but adding hypertrophy and power into the mix, I certainly think the average man can take himself up to 6 days a week without much of a problem. Now, if you are doing heavy singles and triples 6 days a week, that is going to cause a problem!

I once read an article where the writer said he was always tired when he trained 2 times a week so he went to 3 and he was still always tired, so he went to 4 and he was still always tired, so he went to 5, etc. The point being, nothing realy changed except he got stronger, bigger, and better, but his recovery time never really changed.


Brett Jones said...

We are not that far apart - I was referring to the peaking phase and higher volume work in the main lifts (people hit a peak and want to ride it too long spending too much time at 90+% 1RM). The volume in assistance exercises can remain high or normal but the intensity should rotate on those as well.
8 meals a day and optimizing recovery is one of the reasons higher volume training can succeed but very few actually do what is necessary.
I have deadlifted 5 x week for several weeks but it was low volume starting at a low percentage of 1RM and building from there. Now I only pull once a week at most and only heavy every few weeks because squats and lack of sleep force me to adjust to my recovery ability.

If I do volume work for assistance work it is usually Kettlebell swings or snatches and I vary the volume and intensity.

Thanks for giving a look at your training program - looks brutal on Sundays.

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