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A six week possibility?

After reading through some of the enlightening past threads here on frequency of training and duration of sessions, I was thinking of putting together a six week trial run of a program that centers on the core lifts (deads, squats, rows, dips/bench, presses, pull-ups), that can be done 3 or 4 days a week, with varying rep schemes and thus intensities. Something along the lines of 5x5, then 10-12x3, then 2x12-15, with the exercises always remaining the same. I would love to hear what you all think, especially those that contributed to those past threads - Joel, Timbo, EC, Greek, Glute and others. I personally will be somewhat hypocaloric while doing this to see how this works while dieting down a bit. Any takers on this one? Thanks guys…

While dieting, I recommend keeping the intensity high. You may want to try 5x5, 10x2-3, and the a wave loading program such as 3,2,1,3,2,1,3,2,1.


Ok, Joel. Let’s say we are at maintenance calories, even slightly hypercaloric. I remember you saying something about varying the intensity during the course of a training week, let’s say. What then?

I think that it could definitely work. Recall the following excerpt from LL’s report on Kraemer and Fleck’s report in Chicago:

"Drs. Bill Kraemer and Steve Fleck

Perhaps the preeminent resistance-training scientists in the world, this duo covered the gamut, including data on how training volume is directly related to GH release and how “undulating periodization” (day-to-day variations of reps per set) was superior to straight, monotonous training.

This latter habit is a rut many of us fall into despite years of experience. Indeed, the majority of bodybuilders become set in their ways. We can all use a reminder of just how much better proper periodization really is. Here’s a tip: try undulating rep schemes from low (say 3-5) to medium (perhaps 6-10) to high (even 12-20) within the same week.

[Note: For a similar program, check out TC’s “Oscillating Wave” article that was written four years ago.]

The theory is that the largest Type-II motor units (with many fibers innervated by a single nerve) usually only become stimulated with heavy low-rep exercise. Conversely, adding in higher-rep days allows the big motor units to “rest” as the smaller ones cyclically rotate among themselves to handle the poundage. Cool eh? Strength, power, lean-body mass, and even body fat all significantly improve over six-month periods. If you respond like the subjects in these studies, you’ll break out of a plateau and see gains that you thought were impossible."

I’ll be performing a similar protocol in the next month for my lower body as I do some upper body rehabilitation/structural balance training.

If your goal is purely in the body comp. area I suggest you change up your excersizes along with the changing the other parameters of the training
(i.e training frequency, volume, intesity and density). as charles staley once noted, staying with the same excersizes results in only their negative effects ading up and their results diminished.

anyway I feel that what will work best for you is what you are most untrained at (which I don’t know what it is)

If you give some background on your previous training and your goals I and others can be more helpfull.

Oh, I just saw that you menat changing reps/sets scheme within a 6 week mesocycle.

I meant changing the excersizes you do every 4-6 weeks if your goal is strictly body comp.

besides that It looks fine to vary the sets/reps like that although:

Two things
A.be sure to follow the principle of progressive overload - a bit tricky on this kind of a routine. I’ll advise calculating volume (total poundage) intesity (toatl poundage/RM) and density (total intensity/time) for every workout so you know you are progressing (or not). it’s also a good way to avoid overtraining.
B. if youve mainly done bodybuilding routines till now go for average reps below 5. if youve mainly done powerlifting routines till now go for average reps over 8.
(again assuming your goal is body comp.)

hope this helps

EC - yeah, what they said! Kidding. That is what I seem to like most about an approach like this. Cycling through the motor units, as far as that is REALLY possible, complements what Joel wrote in another thread about the nature of short and brief(er) workouts. It’s all about staying fresh and ahead of the fatigue/overtraining curve, about allowing recovery to supercede some of the continuous stagnating effects of repetitive rep ranges and/or intensities. I personally feel it would be alright to stick to the same exercises for about six weeks if approaching things this way.
Glute - been lifting for about seven years now. 29 years old. I am not really sure about coming at this with specific goals in mind, more a small discussion of the topic and perhaps an exploration of the use of this as a “lifestyle” way of lifting. Personally, I’m a bit tired of either trying to get bigger or conversely more cut. I am thinking of going slightly hypocaloric while cycling this way and see more how I feel in general.

Glute - Right!! I also wanted to explore the notion of increasing strength while cycling this way as it pertains to the thread on needing to get stronger as a pre-requisite to growth. I would love any thoughts on ways to incorporate progressive overload into such a varied rep scheme. Let me go over yours again. Thanks, bro!

When dieting, I don’t recommend dropping the intensity below 80% of 1RM. I think it’s much more valuable to concentrate on strength instead of wasting your time with higher rep schemes. What are you going to get out of it? Hypertrophy? No. Strength? No. Still, I think you can benefit by varying the rep ranges weekly as I stated in my first response.

When on a mass phase, I think it can be very valuable to to vary the intensity weekly so long as the volume remains high.


Joel - so I take it that with your original rep scheme you don’t really see a problem with taxing out the CNS? Could that be carried on for six weeks?

Also, Joel, I agree that generally it is a waste of time while dieting to spend too much time at higher rep ranges - based, I feel, on the severity of the calorie restriction and macronutrient ratio. Would probably be tough to get through such a workout, depending. Also, this may sound out of sorts in general, but I’ve read here somewhere about the use of resistance training as a “tonic” for the CNS and/or body in general. This may sound really stupid, but, with such a constant focus on either hypertrophy or strength, might there be another goal or aim? I cannot really find the word or term for what that might be, but it would certainly use resistance training as a tonic of sorts. Something that resets or patterns CNS stimulation before moving onto hypertrophy or strength phases. I guess I am talking about another type of phase that might even, dare I say, fortify a mind/body connection. I hope to hear from you and others (Timbo where are you?) so as to maybe clarify my thinking or expound on this a bit more. Thanks so much.

I’m thinking about combining the above statements with joel’s new 5x5 routine. Since the new 5x5 is on a 5-day cycle, 4 days on, 1 day off, it could allow for some sweet variability…

Say that I do 5x5 for one cycle. The next cycle I could do the same exercises, but change the intensity, allowing me to do, eg. 4x10 of the same exercises. This way you stimulate both types of muscle fibers, ie. get both strength and hypertrophy going at the same time. I’m thinking your body would have a hard time adapting to this, so you could keep doing your favorite exercises for quite a long time. Any thoughts on this?

I think i have totally missed the point on this one…
Are you saying that you will do a workout on ,say monday, covering the full body following one specific rep schem (eg 5x5) then tues/thur/fri, do the same workout (as in exercise selection) but differing loading parameters (eg wave loading or 3x10)
Is that right?

This is exactly the type of thing that my latest article talks about; it should be up at T-mag very soon.


Delano- Yes, six weeks is more than fine.

Also, in reference to your other question, you could def spend some time between phases conducting exercises that you are motivated to perform and enjoy conducting w/ overall lower volume and intensity to allow for some CNS recovery before going all out again.


No, Whetu, i meant do two excercises a day in 5x5 fashion, different exercises every day, four days in sequence, followed by one day of rest.

Once you finished the four days and rested, you would do the same two exercises per day but in a 4x10 fashion. For example:

Day 1 (5x5)
A1) Bench Press
A2) Wide Squats
B) Dumbell Curls

Day 2 (5x5)
A) Narrow Deadlifts
B) Power Cleans

Day 3 (5x5)
A1) Weighted Dips
A2) Narrow-Grip Chin-Ups

Day 4 (5x5)
A1) Narrow Squats
A2) Seated Arnold Press

Day 5 Off

Day 6 (4x10)
A1) Bench Press
A2) Wide Squats
B) Dumbell Curls

Day 7 (4x10)
A) Narrow Deadlifts
B) Power Cleans

Day 8 (4x10)
A1) Weighted Dips
A2) Narrow-Grip Chin-Ups

Day 9 (4x10)
A1) Narrow Squats
A2) Seated Arnold Press

Day 10 Off

I realize these perhaps aren’t the ideal exercises, this was just for example’s sake…

Again, I think it has a lot of merit for hypertrophy, but I don’t recommend going below 80% 1RM during a diet phase. So, I wouldn’t go with 4x10; if this were a hypertrophy phase, you could great vary the rep ranges, and that is what my article talks about.


Joel, your article sounds really interesting. Can’t wait to take a peek at it.

Hark - that looks good. We are sort of on the same page.

I want to clarify and expand a bit on some things stated earlier on. What I originally had in mind was an attempt to bring together different ideas I had seen pop up recently in training threads here. It would seem to draw from CDub’s Diversity for Hypertrophy, some of Joel recent changes with RRD, the idea behind the “health” lift talked about in Pavel T’s Strength for the people, Greekdawg’s thread and others. Calorically, we speak of hyper-, hypo-, and maint. levels, but no intermediate phase in lifting between hypertrophy or strength. Could there be an equivalent? It’s just a thought, maybe there is nothing really there. Maybe an intermediate phase is more important than we give credit for or emphasize. Things to think about maybe?

I would approach it this way: Six core exercises to cover the whole body. Three picked for a two week phase, other three for another two week phase. Then I might use the varying rep ranges/intensities three days a week for two weeks. Switch to the other exercises for the following two weeks. Then perhaps back to the initial exercises with maybe a slight increase in poundages.

I would think that this shouldn’t be used for too long if you’re interested in not straying too far from normal strength levels. Perhaps keeping your higher intensity days nearer to pure strength phase levels would be beneficial. I am only speculating here. The advantages might be found in easing off the CNS but still stimulating it while still managing to bring increased blood flow to the muscles with the higher rep work. I think we could cover the whole body sufficiently by switching back and forth every two weeks (maybe sooner?). This is as a sort of intermediate “recharge” phase between the two traditional phases. Again, just some thoughts. Thanks!

Doesn’t OVT’s use of both high & low intensity on each day achieve what you’re talking about?

What you are talking about is called a “taper” period or recharging period, and this is the time your body actualy gets stronger and nervous adpatations occur.
we can’t progressively overload ourselves in a linear fashion, otherwise you would be adding poundage every workout. a “recharging” period should be an integral part of the training, soviet periodization puts it at 3:1 ratio i.e three regular training cycles and one taper cycle, AT ALL levels of the cycles (meaning your 4th workout and your 4th week and your 4th month of tarining should be taper periods)

what is a taper workout? the russian basic guideline(just basic you can experimant) is to cut either the number of sets in half or the number of reps in half, using poundages of about 80% RM . these are the guidelines for strength athletes, for you just cut the total volume in half, and use moderate intensity and low density in your workouts. the taper workouts are actualy fun and you can play with stuff that you didnt do before, because you are not fatigued.

although taper is for strength - the fasciliation of strength gains will result in higher loads in future mass cycles, and CNS rest will help psychologicaly.

If you want to invest in a book get
R.A roman(sp?) “Training of the Weightlifter”, or “supertraining” by siff and verkhochansky.

the subjects of periodization, taper peiods, rep/set/ waving and others are covered extensively there.

hope this helps