T Nation

Best CT Program for a Skinny Guy?

Honestly I think you’re trying to do too much. If you get a big squat, Deadlift, bench, overhead press (push press), SGHP, or clean, do some chins, activate your nervous system with jumps (box jumps, weighted squat jumps), or throws (MB or explosive push-ups), do some loaded carries or sled pushes or pulls, then get out of the gym & eat…you will be jacked …form, technique, stimulate (if your performance is improving you have the right dose, if it’s not get an extra helping of rest, recovery, & eat more), if you’re in the middle of your workout & your performance drops you’re done for the day…that’s just my take on it

[quote]sput79 wrote:
Honestly I think you’re trying to do too much. If you get a big squat, Deadlift, bench, overhead press (push press), SGHP, or clean, do some chins, activate your nervous system with jumps (box jumps, weighted squat jumps), or throws (MB or explosive push-ups), do some loaded carries or sled pushes or pulls, then get out of the gym & eat…you will be jacked …form, technique, stimulate (if your performance is improving you have the right dose, if it’s not get an extra helping of rest, recovery, & eat more), if you’re in the middle of your workout & your performance drops you’re done for the day…that’s just my take on it [/quote]

Thanks, I definitely appreciate the input. But, a little confused; what I posted above is basically what you’re proposing, no? Big movement, followed with some assistance (chins/dips), then carries. Only addition would be forearms/calves stuff at the end.

Perhaps I’m just not currently working hard enough, but I’d like to think that I’m going pretty damn hard/heavy, and with short rest intervals, and still don’t get tired. That’s the main reason that I’m looking for more of a focused volume-based attack than 531. Even working with at-or-beyond training maxes for heavy singles-triples, and working in drop sets of 10, I’m not getting fatigued with my current approach.

Maybe I just need to try harder? Or maybe I’ve got better genes than I thought? I dunno, all I know is that right now, I still don’t feel “worked” until the volume well surpasses “normal”. So I figured that sticking to ONE big lift/movement pattern per day, and beating the snot out of it may help to fry the fibers better. That, coupled with more frequent (but shorter) workouts sounds more like what I respond well to. On paper, anyway.

But yes, I will definitely be upping both carbs and total calories well past what I am comfortable with.

What about 5/3/1 makes it “low volume?” BBB or even FSL done for AMRAP or rest pause style are more than enough stimulus with big exercises to induce growth IF YOU EAT ENOUGH. Another thing–you say you have shit squat form and lose your deadlift form at 315. Perhaps the problem isn’t the program; perhaps the problem is you are too weak in the big money movements. Because squats and deadlifts for 5x10 with appreciable weight is really fucking hard.

I would suggest you strengthen your squat (front and/or back squat) to good depth and build up your strength there along with the deadlift. And whatever you say you are eating, it’s clearly not enough. If you don’t take care of these two things, no program will deliver the results you want.

For the most part that’s what you have. I would personally get rid of grip or calf work, unless your grip is holding you back on the deadlift. Most skinny guys don’t get enough of the proper nutrients, so doing extra stuff takes away from the bigger more bang for your buck stuff. That’s my take on it. Just trying to help you out.

Thanks Jason, I think that’s a pretty accurate assessment. I never claimed that 531 was bad or flawed; far from it. I just think that, as you pointed out, I’m not able to move enough weight safely/cleanly right now. Since the program focuses on low rep work, that means I’m doing medium weight for low reps; not a recipe for size. That’s why I thought that working on form with a program that is more frequent and a bit higher in rep range might get me in the right direction.

Maybe I’m wrong and just need to be patient with what I have, but in looking over the layers system and the indigo protocols, it just seems a lot more interesting and in my wheelhouse.

[quote]sput79 wrote:
For the most part that’s what you have. I would personally get rid of grip or calf work, unless your grip is holding you back on the deadlift. Most skinny guys don’t get enough of the proper nutrients, so doing extra stuff takes away from the bigger more bang for your buck stuff. That’s my take on it. Just trying to help you out. [/quote]

Ah, got it. My grip IS actually in need of work, as I tend to lose the bar at 275-315ish when going for more than 1 rep at a time. Calf work is purely aesthetic, so I can scrap that and save the gas for the big lifts. Good call.

[quote]Apothecary wrote:

[quote]sput79 wrote:
Honestly I think you’re trying to do too much. If you get a big squat, Deadlift, bench, overhead press (push press), SGHP, or clean, do some chins, activate your nervous system with jumps (box jumps, weighted squat jumps), or throws (MB or explosive push-ups), do some loaded carries or sled pushes or pulls, then get out of the gym & eat…you will be jacked …form, technique, stimulate (if your performance is improving you have the right dose, if it’s not get an extra helping of rest, recovery, & eat more), if you’re in the middle of your workout & your performance drops you’re done for the day…that’s just my take on it [/quote]

Thanks, I definitely appreciate the input. But, a little confused; what I posted above is basically what you’re proposing, no? Big movement, followed with some assistance (chins/dips), then carries. Only addition would be forearms/calves stuff at the end.

Perhaps I’m just not currently working hard enough, but I’d like to think that I’m going pretty damn hard/heavy, and with short rest intervals, and still don’t get tired. That’s the main reason that I’m looking for more of a focused volume-based attack than 531. Even working with at-or-beyond training maxes for heavy singles-triples, and working in drop sets of 10, I’m not getting fatigued with my current approach.

Maybe I just need to try harder? Or maybe I’ve got better genes than I thought? I dunno, all I know is that right now, I still don’t feel “worked” until the volume well surpasses “normal”. So I figured that sticking to ONE big lift/movement pattern per day, and beating the snot out of it may help to fry the fibers better. That, coupled with more frequent (but shorter) workouts sounds more like what I respond well to. On paper, anyway.

But yes, I will definitely be upping both carbs and total calories well past what I am comfortable with. [/quote]

  1. Fatigue has nothing to do with gains, drop that mentality right now. The only measure of progress is progress itself!!! The goal of STRENGTH TRAINING is to build strength (and power), NOT to burn energy or make you suffer. If you are able to consistently add weight to the bar you are likely doing something right. If anything you should leave the gym more energetic that when you came in.

  2. Forearms work is a waste of time and energy if you are (a) deadlifting without straps and (b) doing carries such as farmer’s walk (without straps) © doing chin-ups … always invest where your training money will have the greatest return and unless your grip strength is holding you back and need to be strengthened, forearm work is never a good investment. And if you DO need to improve grip strength, forearm work is not the answer, grip work is (pinch grip deadlift, thick bar holds, pull-up hanging, etc.)

  3. Calves work is not necessary if you do big compound movements like deadlifts, squats, power cleans, high pulls and do weighted carries. Nothing will build the calves like loaded carries and prowler pushing.

[quote]Apothecary wrote:
Thanks Jason, I think that’s a pretty accurate assessment. I never claimed that 531 was bad or flawed; far from it. I just think that, as you pointed out, I’m not able to move enough weight safely/cleanly right now. Since the program focuses on low rep work, that means I’m doing medium weight for low reps; not a recipe for size. That’s why I thought that working on form with a program that is more frequent and a bit higher in rep range might get me in the right direction.
.[/quote]

My recommendation if you are that “skinny” and “can’t move much weight” would be to pick three main movements and train them 3-4 days a week (e.g. deadlift, bench press, front squat) and to that add 1 main assistance movement per day and 1 isolation exercise. The main movements are done for 3 sets of 3, then 3 sets of 6. The assistance lifts for 4 x 6 and the isolation movement for 3 x 8-12. For example:

DAY 1
Front squat 3 x 3, 3 x 6
Bench press 3 x 3, 3 x 6
Deadlift 3 x 3, 3 x 6
Bent over row 4 x 6
Barbell curl 3 x 8-12

DAY 2
Bench press 3 x 3, 3 x 6
Deadlift 3 x 3, 3 x 6
Front squat 3 x 3, 3 x 6
Push press 4 x 6
DB lateral raises 3 x 8-12

DAY 3
Deadlift 3 x 3, 3 x 6
Front squat 3 x 3, 3 x 6
Bench press 3 x 3, 3 x 6
Leg press 4 x 6
Leg curl 3 x 8-12

*NOTE: After the main work you would do loaded carries 3-5 sets of 1 minute with as much weight as you can

*NOTE 2: Notice the rotation in the order of the main movements, very important so that each main movement is done once a week in a fresh state

[quote]Christian Thibaudeau wrote:

[quote]Apothecary wrote:

[quote]sput79 wrote:
Honestly I think you’re trying to do too much. If you get a big squat, Deadlift, bench, overhead press (push press), SGHP, or clean, do some chins, activate your nervous system with jumps (box jumps, weighted squat jumps), or throws (MB or explosive push-ups), do some loaded carries or sled pushes or pulls, then get out of the gym & eat…you will be jacked …form, technique, stimulate (if your performance is improving you have the right dose, if it’s not get an extra helping of rest, recovery, & eat more), if you’re in the middle of your workout & your performance drops you’re done for the day…that’s just my take on it [/quote]

Thanks, I definitely appreciate the input. But, a little confused; what I posted above is basically what you’re proposing, no? Big movement, followed with some assistance (chins/dips), then carries. Only addition would be forearms/calves stuff at the end.

Perhaps I’m just not currently working hard enough, but I’d like to think that I’m going pretty damn hard/heavy, and with short rest intervals, and still don’t get tired. That’s the main reason that I’m looking for more of a focused volume-based attack than 531. Even working with at-or-beyond training maxes for heavy singles-triples, and working in drop sets of 10, I’m not getting fatigued with my current approach.

Maybe I just need to try harder? Or maybe I’ve got better genes than I thought? I dunno, all I know is that right now, I still don’t feel “worked” until the volume well surpasses “normal”. So I figured that sticking to ONE big lift/movement pattern per day, and beating the snot out of it may help to fry the fibers better. That, coupled with more frequent (but shorter) workouts sounds more like what I respond well to. On paper, anyway.

But yes, I will definitely be upping both carbs and total calories well past what I am comfortable with. [/quote]

  1. Fatigue has nothing to do with gains, drop that mentality right now. The only measure of progress is progress itself!!! The goal of STRENGTH TRAINING is to build strength (and power), NOT to burn energy or make you suffer. If you are able to consistently add weight to the bar you are likely doing something right. If anything you should leave the gym more energetic that when you came in.

  2. Forearms work is a waste of time and energy if you are (a) deadlifting without straps and (b) doing carries such as farmer’s walk (without straps) © doing chin-ups … always invest where your training money will have the greatest return and unless your grip strength is holding you back and need to be strengthened, forearm work is never a good investment. And if you DO need to improve grip strength, forearm work is not the answer, grip work is (pinch grip deadlift, thick bar holds, pull-up hanging, etc.)

  3. Calves work is not necessary if you do big compound movements like deadlifts, squats, power cleans, high pulls and do weighted carries. Nothing will build the calves like loaded carries and prowler pushing.[/quote]

Thanks for taking the time, CT.

  1. I guess I just assumed that I should be barely able to walk after leg day, unable to wash my hair after push, etc since that’s how I remember it being in High School and college. But my weights are still going up, so that’s really all that matters.

  2. Sput also caught that, and I’ll definitely be following that advice. However, I do have grip issues. I pull until the grip becomes limiting, then I strap up for the rest. Is there a better way to build strength, or something to do on push/legs days to help get my grip up to par?

  3. Will drop all calf work, esp now that I’m adding in carries. No prowler, sadly.

And since I have your ear, just a quick question. Been reading the Indigo protocol workouts, and really like both the performance and the hypertrophy layout. My question is, for someone trying to add mass and build proper technique, would that style of “do the big basics everyday” work better than a Layers/HDL system that focuses on only one movement per day?

Just my two cents but if CT took the time to lay out a program for me, I would take his advice. I’m tall and skinny too but I’ve gained 10 lbs on CT’s programs and significantly increased my strength on the core lifts. Don’t over think programming too much, just put in the work, nail your peri-workout nutrition, eat clean and big and monitor your progress. You’ll be amazed at the improvement in 6 months time.

Personally I wouldn’t think about hypertrophy layers or Indigo workouts until you’ve lifted your way out of beginner status with at least a 315 squat, 405 deadlift, 225 bench, and 185 press.

[quote]jpg2219 wrote:
Just my two cents but if CT took the time to lay out a program for me, I would take his advice. I’m tall and skinny too but I’ve gained 10 lbs on CT’s programs and significantly increased my strength on the core lifts. Don’t over think programming too much, just put in the work, nail your peri-workout nutrition, eat clean and big and monitor your progress. You’ll be amazed at the improvement in 6 months time.[/quote]

In all fairness I think he posted his reply before my last post showed up

[quote]Christian Thibaudeau wrote:

[quote]jpg2219 wrote:
Just my two cents but if CT took the time to lay out a program for me, I would take his advice. I’m tall and skinny too but I’ve gained 10 lbs on CT’s programs and significantly increased my strength on the core lifts. Don’t over think programming too much, just put in the work, nail your peri-workout nutrition, eat clean and big and monitor your progress. You’ll be amazed at the improvement in 6 months time.[/quote]

In all fairness I think he posted his reply before my last post showed up[/quote]

I did, and apparently my edit didn’t stick. So, again, thank you so much for the time you took to lay this out for me! Will definitely take your advice on this, and looks like a great setup.

For the frequency, you mentioned 3-4 days/wk. Knowing me, I’d probably opt for 4, so would I just repeat one day (and if so, does it matter which)?

And for the 3x3 and 3x6 sets on the basics, I’m assuming I drop the weight on the 6 sets; what kind of % 1RM’s would you suggest? Ramp to 3RM for the first, then back off 10-20% for the 6’s?

[quote]mrjasonbbc wrote:
Personally I wouldn’t think about hypertrophy layers or Indigo workouts until you’ve lifted your way out of beginner status with at least a 315 squat, 405 deadlift, 225 bench, and 185 press.[/quote]

Excellent goals to shoot for this year. Getting close to a few, just need to get used to squatting properly and work my way back up. Planning to exceed at least those numbers on the other 3. Thanks for the help and inspiration, and reality check.

[quote]Apothecary wrote:

[quote]Christian Thibaudeau wrote:

[quote]jpg2219 wrote:
Just my two cents but if CT took the time to lay out a program for me, I would take his advice. I’m tall and skinny too but I’ve gained 10 lbs on CT’s programs and significantly increased my strength on the core lifts. Don’t over think programming too much, just put in the work, nail your peri-workout nutrition, eat clean and big and monitor your progress. You’ll be amazed at the improvement in 6 months time.[/quote]

In all fairness I think he posted his reply before my last post showed up[/quote]

I did, and apparently my edit didn’t stick. So, again, thank you so much for the time you took to lay this out for me! Will definitely take your advice on this, and looks like a great setup.

For the frequency, you mentioned 3-4 days/wk. Knowing me, I’d probably opt for 4, so would I just repeat one day (and if so, does it matter which)?

And for the 3x3 and 3x6 sets on the basics, I’m assuming I drop the weight on the 6 sets; what kind of % 1RM’s would you suggest? Ramp to 3RM for the first, then back off 10-20% for the 6’s?[/quote]

  1. As a fourth day I would suggest an easy day where you can work on your perceived weeknesses, abs, biceps, traps, grip strength, etc.

  2. Well, you do not really “ramp” in the traditional sense I’ve been using it (doing 6-8 sets gradually working to a max) … you do 2-3 lighter but progressively heavier sets until you reach your training weight. For the first workout use 85% of your 1RM for your sets of 3 reps. If you can complete all 27 reps with 85% (3 sets of 3 = 9 reps, 3 training days = 27 reps/week for each main lift) add 5lbs for the next week (2.5lbs per side for a 5lbs total, not 5lbs per side). If you once again complete all 27 weekly reps, you can go up another 5lbs the 3rd week. IF YOU CANNOT DO 27 REPS stay with the same weight for the next week.

For example if you get:

DAY 1
Bench press 3 x 3 @ 200
Deadlift 3 x 3 @ 300

DAY 2
Bench press 3 x 3 @ 200
Deadlift 2 x 3, 1 x 2 @ 300 (could only get 2 reps on the last set)

Day 3
Bench press 3 x 3 @ 200
Deadlift 2 x 3, 1 x 2 @ 300 (could only get 2 reps on the last set)

It would give you 27 reps with 200lbs on the bench, so you can go to 205 for the next week but on the deadlift you only got 25 total reps at 300, so you stay at 300lbs for the next week.

Note that even if you could not complete all the reps on day 2, you kept using the same weight. That’s what you do, the set of 3 is only a target and when you complete all 9 sets of 3 reps over the week it means that you can go up in weight.

  1. For the sets of 6 go with 20% less than for the sets of 3 (for example if you used 300 x 3 it would mean using 240lbs for your sets of 6 reps)

[quote]mrjasonbbc wrote:
Personally I wouldn’t think about hypertrophy layers or Indigo workouts until you’ve lifted your way out of beginner status with at least a 315 squat, 405 deadlift, 225 bench, and 185 press.[/quote]

I don’t have any of those numbers and used the layers/indigo workouts to success in my last physique comp. Perhaps adjusted for height…

And if you get stronger on the main lifts while practicing them often (which layers does) and sensibly (ramp up CNS/back off work with heavy weight) which layers does, why not do them

[quote]-Sigil- wrote:

[quote]mrjasonbbc wrote:
Personally I wouldn’t think about hypertrophy layers or Indigo workouts until you’ve lifted your way out of beginner status with at least a 315 squat, 405 deadlift, 225 bench, and 185 press.[/quote]

I don’t have any of those numbers and used the layers/indigo workouts to success in my last physique comp. Perhaps adjusted for height…

And if you get stronger on the main lifts while practicing them often (which layers does) and sensibly (ramp up CNS/back off work with heavy weight) which layers does, why not do them[/quote]

I think that body weight has to be factored in to some extent. if you are 150 those lifts are pretty darn strong and fairly advanced for a natural trainee, but if you are 220 they are what I would say average (except for the 185lbs press, which is pretty strong if done strictly)

Amazing, thanks so much for answering all of my questions so quickly and completely, CT!

Can’t wait to hit this at 100% next week. Sticking to it to the letter and trusting in your expertise.

What if you’re 135 and shredded (:…need to eat more and more carbz…

[quote]Christian Thibaudeau wrote:

[quote]Apothecary wrote:

[quote]sput79 wrote:
Honestly I think you’re trying to do too much. If you get a big squat, Deadlift, bench, overhead press (push press), SGHP, or clean, do some chins, activate your nervous system with jumps (box jumps, weighted squat jumps), or throws (MB or explosive push-ups), do some loaded carries or sled pushes or pulls, then get out of the gym & eat…you will be jacked …form, technique, stimulate (if your performance is improving you have the right dose, if it’s not get an extra helping of rest, recovery, & eat more), if you’re in the middle of your workout & your performance drops you’re done for the day…that’s just my take on it [/quote]

Thanks, I definitely appreciate the input. But, a little confused; what I posted above is basically what you’re proposing, no? Big movement, followed with some assistance (chins/dips), then carries. Only addition would be forearms/calves stuff at the end.

Perhaps I’m just not currently working hard enough, but I’d like to think that I’m going pretty damn hard/heavy, and with short rest intervals, and still don’t get tired. That’s the main reason that I’m looking for more of a focused volume-based attack than 531. Even working with at-or-beyond training maxes for heavy singles-triples, and working in drop sets of 10, I’m not getting fatigued with my current approach.

Maybe I just need to try harder? Or maybe I’ve got better genes than I thought? I dunno, all I know is that right now, I still don’t feel “worked” until the volume well surpasses “normal”. So I figured that sticking to ONE big lift/movement pattern per day, and beating the snot out of it may help to fry the fibers better. That, coupled with more frequent (but shorter) workouts sounds more like what I respond well to. On paper, anyway.

But yes, I will definitely be upping both carbs and total calories well past what I am comfortable with. [/quote]

  1. Fatigue has nothing to do with gains, drop that mentality right now. The only measure of progress is progress itself!!! The goal of STRENGTH TRAINING is to build strength (and power), NOT to burn energy or make you suffer. If you are able to consistently add weight to the bar you are likely doing something right. If anything you should leave the gym more energetic that when you came in.

  2. Forearms work is a waste of time and energy if you are (a) deadlifting without straps and (b) doing carries such as farmer’s walk (without straps) © doing chin-ups … always invest where your training money will have the greatest return and unless your grip strength is holding you back and need to be strengthened, forearm work is never a good investment. And if you DO need to improve grip strength, forearm work is not the answer, grip work is (pinch grip deadlift, thick bar holds, pull-up hanging, etc.)

  3. Calves work is not necessary if you do big compound movements like deadlifts, squats, power cleans, high pulls and do weighted carries. Nothing will build the calves like loaded carries and prowler pushing.[/quote]

I want to make a note on #3. I have not done a set of calves in years and after the first couple times of doing loaded carries (Farmers Walk to be specific) my calves were actually sore. And I had no idea I was even working them.

[quote]Christian Thibaudeau wrote:

[quote]-Sigil- wrote:

[quote]mrjasonbbc wrote:
Personally I wouldn’t think about hypertrophy layers or Indigo workouts until you’ve lifted your way out of beginner status with at least a 315 squat, 405 deadlift, 225 bench, and 185 press.[/quote]

I don’t have any of those numbers and used the layers/indigo workouts to success in my last physique comp. Perhaps adjusted for height…

And if you get stronger on the main lifts while practicing them often (which layers does) and sensibly (ramp up CNS/back off work with heavy weight) which layers does, why not do them[/quote]

I think that body weight has to be factored in to some extent. if you are 150 those lifts are pretty darn strong and fairly advanced for a natural trainee, but if you are 220 they are what I would say average (except for the 185lbs press, which is pretty strong if done strictly)[/quote]

I was gonna say im 150, and no where near that and doing Indigo Hypertrophy, thats almost advanced to elite level lol