Just looking for some feedback on programming I’m currently doing. It’s a 3 day per week full body program and was hoping you could give me some pointers on assistance.
Back Squat 4x5 @65%
Snatch Grip High Pull (Hang) 5x3 @75%
Floor Press 5x1 @90%
Front Squat 4x5 @65%
Clean Grip Low Pull 5x3 @75%
Incline Bench Press 5x1 @90%
Box Squat (couple inches above parallel)4x5 @65%
Sumo DL 5X3 @75%
push Press 5X1 @ 90%
Next 2 weeks just rotate the intensity on each lift. Week 4 I test or raise everything 2.5% and repeat. After first 2 cycles moved squat from 315 to 350. Bench up 265 to 275 and sumo DL up 85 lbs to 355 (only lifted sumo before for 1.5 weeks) so working pretty well. Just hoping to put some assistance together that will help with weak points etc. Your thoughts would be greatly appreciated!
My response might seem a bit harsh, there is no ill intentions and if you read it throughly I think that you will gain a deeper understanding of how to plan a training cycle.
I honestly do not like many things that I’m seeing.
Why add assistance work if the program is working as is? Well, the rate of progress in the squat and deadlift are adequate (10-15% in 8 weeks is expected for someone of your level) but in the bench it might be a tad slow (but I don’t see any actual bench pressing in the program).
The program already seems to be mostly assistance exercises… an assistance exercise is a movement that is used to assist progress on the main lift. You mentioned the squat, bench and sumo deadlift as your benchmark lifts… any lift that is not one of those three lifts IS AN ASSISTANCE EXERCISE.
What is your goal (i.e. which lifts are you trying to improve)? Because the assistance exercises (any exercise that is not one of the “competed” lift) must be selected with the sole purpose of making the main lift go up. If it doesn’t do that (by addressing a weakness/sticking point) then it should not be included in the program. I do get the feeling that you just randomly picked a few lifts to include a squat a pull and a press in every workout, without rhyme or reason. That might work initially but if you want to get more gains you’ll have to pay more attention to your exercise selection, even if that means doing the same exercise(s) in 2 or 3 sessions.
So FIRST pick the three lifts that are your benchmark, those that you want to perform your best in. Program these first (I don’t like the way you rotate intensity and volume through the weeks, but that is another story)… they have to be part of the program: you have to practice them if you want to get good at them.
SECOND evaluate what is holding you back on each of the 3 benchmark lifts and if need be, select the assistance exercise that will fix that issue… I love high pulls (and low pulls) but they will do nothing to make your deadlift (much less sumo deadlift) go up. Heck, it might be possible that in some cases the best “assistance” is to do the “benchmark lift” again (e.g. sumo deadlift since you haven’t trained it much, the best gains will likely come from becoming better at the movement).
I get the impression that you kinda Frankensteined a program… it looks like you took elements from various systems/programs and tried to blend them together. Frankly I really don’t like what I’m seeing at all. You got okay results for the first 8 weeks, but nothing spectacular. I’m not criticizing but I personally do not like it. It looks like you wanted to use the 5/3/1 periodization (5/3/1), but with full body training (Starting Strength style), using many different lifts to make the main lift go up (Westside) and I just don’t like the end result.
I do not agree with the way the intensity/volume periodization is done either. The purpose of a periodized approach is to cycle intensity not only to manage fatigue on the individual lift, but also on the whole body. For example if we take something simple like:
Week 1: 5 sets of 5
Week 2: 5 sets of 3
Week 3: 5 sets of 1
Week 4: Deload then test
You will notice that you first accumulate volume which causes a systemic stress/fatigue as well as stimulate surcompensation via an increase in protein synthesis and glycogen synthesis… this week creates a larger depletion of your ressources and you grow stronger by restoring then increasing those ressources.
With sets of 3 you increase the neural demands while maintaining a decent volume so this weeks should leave you a bit more tired because you cannot yet recover physiologically from the higher volume week AND you create a decent amount of neural fatigue.
With the sets of 1 you give the muscles themselves a break… the lower volume will allow for maximal muscular recovery from the preceding two weeks. While the intensity is higher (90ish %) it should not cause much neural fatigue due to the submaximal nature of the work (1 rep at 90% is fairly easy). So what happens is that by the end of week 3 your body is restored and your nervous system is working efficiently.
The deload week (which might not even be necessary) allows you to get a peak in testosterone levels while keeping the nervous system sharp, ideally leading to a peak performance at the end of the week.
The problem with the way that you are doing things is that both physiological and neurological demands are always the same during all three weeks because you always have one lift in the 5 reps one in the 3 reps and one in the 1 rep zones. So you aren’t cycling intensity and volume at all, it’s stable.
- It just looks too easy for my taste. None of the training days or part of the training days are close to being hard. 5 reps at 65% of your max is about 15% below what can be done comfortably for 5 sets of 5, I’m not saying to go to 80%, but 65% for 5 reps will pretty much feel like a warm-up.
3 reps at 75% is also very easy. To give you an example the “easy days” in Russian-derived powerlifting routines at 3 reps at 80%. I’m not saying that 3 reps at 75% wont do anything, it will. But if you want to build strength 80% is probably as low as you should be looking to go.
1 rep at 90% is something I could probably do 50 times in one workout. On something like a snatch or clean & jerk, yeah, 5 x 1 rep at 90% is high intensity because of the nature of the lifts. But 90% x 1 on the bench press, squat and deadlift isn’t that hard.
NOW I’m not saying that you have to kill yourself in the gym at every workout. But once in a while you must go outside your comfort zone to force the body to adapt. And I do not see a single workout in there that will do that, especially since you have 4 days of a rest per week, which is a ton for the volume you are putting in. You WILL get some strength gains initially from improved neural efficiency, but it will stagnate pretty fast.
Doing the opposite (always going balls to the wall) isn’t any better, you’ll burn out and stagnate too.
If you want to do 5/3/1, do 5/3/1… if you want to do Starting Strength/Whole body training do Starting strength, if you want to do Westside, do Westside. If you like high pulls and stuff like that simply add them as assistance exercises to a straight 5/3/1 template… don’t try to be smarter than someone who has spent his whole life learning about strength (Wendler).
If you look at the most successful strength training approaches… 5/3/1, Hatfield’s 80 days cycle, Russian powerlifting training, Starting Strength, my methods, elite olympic lifting training, etc. They have ONE thing in common: they do the main/benchmark lifts often, in fact they are often the only lifts in the program. With what you are doing it feels like you are trying to either be too “cute” with your training (I hate the trend of people calling it programming) or are going with your desire to do many exercises over the desire to get strong in the benchmark lifts.