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Best Training for Naturals Program: 5 Days/Wk? Cardio? Vit C?

Hi Coach,

Couple of training-related questions:

  1. Probably one of your least favourite questions: I cannot fit in 6 training sessions as I do the 5/2 diet for lifters recommended by TC, and since fasting and lifting is no bueono, I am limited to 5 weekly sessions. I assume that increasing the volume of the 5 workouts to accommodate for the missing 6th one is against the basic premise of your approach. Would stretching 6 sessions over say 8 days instead of 7 be acceptable? Or should I just do 5 sessions and not worry about that extra one? Of course, I understand this is no longer ‘best’ based on your recent recommendations, but I will be happy to settle for ‘very good’ by CT’s standards’ at this point.

2 and 3: I just saw your airdyne rec for cardio. Could it be integrated into your best workout plan for natties as a 1-2x conditioner or would one be better off not upping the training volume at all outside of the program outlined? What are your views on the every minute on the minute type of conditioning workouts in light of the lower volume approach? I’m thinking DL at 80 %1RM performed every minute on the minute for a total of 14-16 rounds. Same thing with bench, but probably 2 Reps every minute on the minute at 80%.

  1. Vitamin C: Yay or Nay? I understand that periworkout nutrition, and especially carbs should suffice prevent excessive spikes of cortisol post-training. In this context, do you recommend the use of supplemental vitamin C at all?

Thank you again for all the good work, sir!

That’s what I do personally… 3 on/1 off… I use a slightly different set-up as the article. It will be detailed in a second article soon. I divide the body in 3 groups instead of 2, pull/push/legs and have 5-6 exercises per session.

It can be added but at a reasonable amount since it does use up a lot of glycogen. Twice per week is likely fine, not exceeding 12-15 minutes of work.

I don’t really like it. I prefer to use weight lifting to build strength and muscle and conditioning tools for conditioning.

I personally use vitamin C post-workout. I do believe that it helps lower cortisol. I’m debating whether taking it pre-workout would work best though.

Thank you coach! About vitamin C, the post workout window has indeed been speculated as suboptimal time to take it:

But then again, it did not seem to blunt your progress all that much so perhaps it might be the case of majoring in the minors.

CT, in some a few month old training articles you come to the conclusion that 4 big training days per week is optimal and that 2 on 1 off 1 on 1 off … works best ! Did you change your point of view due to the lower volume per session or how do i fit the different recommendtions in categories ?

I guess the 3 on 1 off - 6 training days in 8 days is your new approach to building maximal muscle and the 4 day per week is with higher volume and more hard sets for building strenght and size ?

Over the past year I experienced having problems recovering from workouts, really for the first time in my life. And as a result my progress stagnated, I actually regressed a bit in some regards. So I knew that recovery was my main issue and I started to look for ways to better deal with recovery.

My first attempt was reducing the frequency of training. I made that choice for two reasons:

  1. My training sessions were fairly high volume and I didn’t want to change that
  2. I looked at what many elite powerlifters and strength athletes were doing and they were, for the most part, training 4x a week.

So i decided to keep my volume high and reduce the frequency.

At first it worked great. Likely because 4 hard sessions per week is easier to recover from than 6 hard sessions a week (duh!).

But after about 2 months I started to have recovery issues again. When I had two sessions in a row I would often have no energy or drive for the second workout. And on my days off I would often feel flat and mentally drained.

That led me to the conclusion that too much volume in a workout by itself could be detrimental, even if you have plenty of rest days.

So I decided to go low volume. I confess to having watched Dorian Yates’ DVD and tried his way of training. I liked it. It felt my psychological profile and focusing on doing only one all-out set was liberating. I could go REALLY hard without having the instinct of holding back for the next set. It really changed my training mindset for the best.

And it worked. Again for a few weeks I recovered well.

I didn’t have problems with recovery but even though my performance in the gym was improving, I wasn’t gaining muscle mass like I expected.

So I went back to the drawing board and studied some more. And remembered how well a high frequency had worked for me.

So I decided to keep Dorian’s style of one all-out set per exercise, keeping the volume per session super low, but training more often and that’s when gains started to come quickly.

It’s been a few months now and I’ve played with my training’s structure. I keep the same principle of one all-out set but played with different splits and frequencies. So far the 3 on/1 off has worked best for me and I’m recovering fine.

Now, strength might be a different animal because you need to “practice” heavy lifting to get maximum results. So that requires more sets. But since low reps sets rarely tap into glycogen stores, doing more heavy/low reps set can be fine for cortisol as long as you rarely go above 90% and do not go to failure.

I just wrote a plan combining strength work and my low volume approach. I don’t want to give too much away but each workout has one strength lift that is periodized over 12 weeks and then the hypertrophy work which is done for one all-out set with a different intensification method on every phase.

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Nice. When do you plan on releasing this strength/high frequency program?

Thank you CT for your explanation ! It helps to explain !

CT - Should we be in a calorie surplus while following the standard “Best Damn Plan For Natural Lifters” ?
I’m onto day 6 tomorrow, and while i’m not experiencing recovery issues, man im buggered upon waking, once i’m into training half hour later i’m good to go !!

Unless my programs mention that it is a fat loss program, it should be oone on a caloric surplus. Being on a caloric deficit changes your physiology by keeping cortisol more elevate during the whole day and changes how training should be planned.

Hi CT,

I have been following your “best damn workout plan for natural lifters” for a few days now.
I like it but i have few questions regarding the plan.

  • Can i change some exercises?
    for example: db flyes instead of cable crossovers
    goodmornings or sdl instead of leg curls
    shrugs instead of front raises (my traps are lagging behind)
  • Why no calf exercises?
  • Can i do some hiit afterwards? (i am following a carb backloading protocol)

Thanks in advance!

hi CT,

i’m now following your “best damn workout plan for natural lifters”.
I did some sessions untill now and i like it. But i have some questions:

-Is it a possibility to change some exercises?

For example: dumbell flyes instead of cable crossover
goodmornings instead of leg curls
shrugs instead of front raises (my traps are lagging behind compared to my front delts)

-Why no calf exercises?

  • Can i add some hiit-sessions? (i am following a carb backloading protocol)

Thx in advance!

Hey man, CT answered this for me, i added in calfs on all 3 push days, this was his answer to what special technique to use for the calves.
For calves I would only use one method:

Hold the stretch position 2-3 seconds on each rep
Lift to the contracted position without creating any momentum (so on the slowish side)
Hold the peak contraction 2-3 seconds on each rep
Do that for 8-10 reps to failure and then hold the stretch position WHILE KEEPING THE CALVES TENSED as long as tolerable.

Hope that helps.

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This sounds perfect. It’s what I’ve been trying to set up for the past couple weeks but haven’t felt confident in it yet. I often like to design my own programs but sometimes it’s nice just to get a program from someone I trust so I can just do it without second guessing. That time would be now. I’m in a very difficult and competitive field of study and as it is exam season I pretty much have no time to devote to thinking about training–just barely the time to actually train itself.