T Nation

Bill Starr's HML: Which Way is Right?

Dear community,

I have a question regarding the H M L approach and applying it the right way.

I want to start a programm based on Bill starrs heavy medium light approach-but there seems to be 3 ways to apply it:
1.the HML days are beased on the weight of the heaviest session

2.the HML days are based on a percentage of 1RPM regardeless what rep set scheme is used.

3.The HML days are based on the workload done

Further illustration-an example means more than 1000 words so here you go:

Example 1: BASED ON THE HEAVY DAY

say you bench 3x the week flat

MO HEavy:

5x5 with 5x5RPM

wed medium:

5x5 with 90% of the weight used on monday

friday light

5x5 with 80% used on monday

Example 2 BASED ON THE 1%RPM

MO Heavy:

3x3 (95%of 1rpm)

Wed: Medium

5x5 (with 85% of 1rpm)

Friday light

4x10 (with 75% of 1rpm)

Example 3 BASED ON WORKLOAD

Mo: HEAVY

4x10 with 4x10’RPM

WED: MEDIUM

5x5 with 5x5 RPM

FRiday: LIGHT

3x3 with 3x3 RPM

So what exaclty does HEAVY MEDIUM LIGHT MEAN?

I would really appreciate valid input!

thank you in advance,
science

You should pick up Mark Rippetoe’s book. Practical Programming for Strength… He devotes quite a bit of time discussing Bill Starr and HML.

As far as your question, based on what I have read in the above book, Heavy/Medium/Light is a function of both intensity (% of 1 rep max) and the volume used (repsxweight).

I don’t want to Plagiarize the book, but for example, a set of 3 with 95% would be considered heavy and so would a set of 10 @ 70%. The book gives you a table with examples of heavy, medium and light loads.

My opinion is you need to decide your goal (Strength, hypertrophy, etc) and select the correct rep scheme… or you could just purchase the book.

Practical Programming covers more of the “Texas Intermediate” method and likens it to Bill Starr’s.

Rippetoe does go on to explain H-M-L as follows: I’ll use sets of 5 reps as an example
Heavy = 1 set of 5RM.
Medium = 5sets x 5reps @ 70%-85%.
Light = 2-3sets x 5 reps @ 50%-65%.

As an intermediate level program you should strive for weekly PR’s

in that book is there a full program? Also anyone try it and what were their gains?

Thank you for the replies,

i have the book-but i am still not sure for the proper application:

I bench currently 3x the week:

mo 5x5 with 5x5rpm
wed 5x5 with 90%of monday
frid 5x5 with 80% of monday.

i am stalling know for 3 weeks-so i thought to take the next step and change the medium workout to the heavy one, like the book suggests.

Because i also want to gain weight,i thought of doing for the heavy day 4x10 with 4x10RPM-it constitutes a heavy day for this set/rep scheme-does that fits the bill?
so:
mo:5x5 with 5x5rpm
wed:4x10with 4x10 RPM
frd:5x5 with 80%of mondays load.

Is that the way its meant to be?
Or does the light day also has to be changed to 4x10(with80%of wednesday 4x10 load)

Does the 4x10 affects the performance of the 5x5 day in a positive fashion? Or is the weight too light to drive the lifts with 5x5 up?
As i understood in the book that when using the texas method you do 5x5 one day and 1x5 the other.
Here the 5x5 has the purpose to drive uzp the 1x5 weekly Prs.

When doing my example the 5x5 seems to drive the 4x10 up.but what should i do to improve the 5x5´s?

hope its not TOO weird-what do you think?

The Texas method seems to make more sense to me. The 1x5rm heavy day is low in volume as the 5x5 medium day is the high volume day.

If I am understanding you, your bench has stalled, but adding more volume will most likely not lead you to improvement.

If you want to focus more on hypertrophy you could use the Texas method with high reps for a 4-6 week block,
Heavy = 1x10rm
Medium = 3-4x10rm
Light = 2x10 with no more than 80% of heavy day.

then cycle through a five rep block.

[quote]danjo228 wrote:
The Texas method seems to make more sense to me. The 1x5rm heavy day is low in volume as the 5x5 medium day is the high volume day.

If I am understanding you, your bench has stalled, but adding more volume will most likely not lead you to improvement.

If you want to focus more on hypertrophy you could use the Texas method with high reps for a 4-6 week block,
Heavy = 1x10rm
Medium = 3-4x10rm
Light = 2x10 with no more than 80% of heavy day.

then cycle through a five rep block.[/quote]

Hey good answer,thanks!!!

I understood it that way,that when you stall,you change the medium day to the hard one.(starr)

And I thought “hard” would mean a set/rep scheme which is “hard” work in itself. Like 5x5RPM 4x10RPM or 2x15RPM.

The more I understood,the higher the weight,the greater the disruption and the more tissue involved.That are rippetoes words.

Regarding this theme i own also the book:nonlinear periodized programming by fleck and kraemer,which have a picture of a “stress pyramid”.
In this pyramid you see the highest stress and the lowest one.
So the higher the intensity and the higher the volume the more stress you have.
logicAL.
But also in this pyramid high volume and mid intenstiy equals lower volume and higher intensity from the stress factor.

So i thought,that a higher volume day in my case would drive the 5x5 up (cause of more stress during the week) and also gives some more hypertrophy.

So why you think thats not possible or does not work?
BTW: I am glad thta someone seems to answer questions like they were asked.like that.

Just call me strange, but it drives me crazy to see people ask questions and in response get someone’s autobiography.

I too see “hard” as you do. Rippetoe explains the the 1x5rm as heavy purely in an intensity sense. It is low in volume to aid in recovery of the 5x5 medium day. He states the medium day is where the real work is being done.

I’m sure there are people who can gain off of 4x10 and 5x5 in the same week, but if not, it may be too much volume and they should try the Texas Intermediate.

It’s not just b/c I am over 40 y/o now, but when I was in my teens and 20’s, I would respond better I controlled my volume.

[quote]science wrote:
danjo228 wrote:

Regarding this theme i own also the book:nonlinear periodized programming by fleck and kraemer,which have a picture of a “stress pyramid”.
In this pyramid you see the highest stress and the lowest one.
So the higher the intensity and the higher the volume the more stress you have.
logicAL.
But also in this pyramid high volume and mid intenstiy equals lower volume and higher intensity from the stress factor.

So i thought,that a higher volume day in my case would drive the 5x5 up (cause of more stress during the week) and also gives some more hypertrophy.
So the problem with this theory is you brought up your volume, but you kept your relative intensity high. I don’t have a problem with bumping up the volume if your training has stalled, but if the increased volume doesn’t bring your lifts up, or worse drives it down, then it has to be too much. I’ve read a lot lately about cranking up the volume for a week in an effort to overreach, then bring it back down.
[/quote]

Thanks again for your time and respond.

The only thing i am not sure is,when which scheme to include and when not.

Sure its a matter of goals.

If 5x5 is my first hard day,which difference it will made when my second day is 3x3 for example or 4x10?

In the first case the goal is more towards max.strength-cause the load is simply higher and more useful to recruit the fast twitch fibers and CNS development.

In the second case the 4x10 is a classic hypertrophy workout scheme so quite different from the load regarding 5x5.

if you do 5x5 and 4x10 the same week it has a kind of conjugated/undulated periodization-which is also a type of programming.You concentrate on 2 qualities-hypertrophy and strength.

I am simply not sure which way is right.Should i focus on one quality ore more?

IF max.strength is my goal it will sure my smart to keep 5x5 and 3x3 the same week.

But if hypertrophy is to be forced-will a 5x5 and 4x10 will work,or would it better to pick 2 hypertrophy paramters-say 4x10 and 6x6.

My question regards not really only volume,but simply the parameters and the bodys response to it.

MY best last programm was the AOW which had a 4x6 day a 8x3 day and a 4x10 day in it.

I stalled but stronger and bigger 3 months later,changed the exercises and paramters and was not able to increase anymore.
I am not that advanced though-my best bench was 90kg 5x5RPM with 90BW and 186cm height.

After this i tried both bill starr versions form madcow but didn´´t responded-thats why i thought ,more volume could be a solution.

The question only for me is,if the paramters in the same week should be identical regarding the goal ONE goal and that perhaps i need more work regarding a strength quality to achieve progress again.

In the AOW i did 3 different exercises for chest-one day bench one day decline one day incline.

Thats why i now switched to bench only, to perfect my skill regarding this motion.(the exercise switching before didn´t do sth for me)
PErhaps at the AOW -when my bench day was 10x3 this work was enough to drive my bench up to this point-and so it could be,that i simply need more work to “practice the bench”

So to come to the point again-do you think-if i can handle the volume- a 4x10/5x5 day will work for this purpose-or do i need now to invest simply more work for a specific quality to develop it and don´t focus on 2 components (Strength and hypertr.)

Hope i don´t bother-so i appreciate the time you have already invested!
science

If you can handle the volume, then maybe it will work for you. There are people who break all the rules of physiology yet make great gains, but I really think you should focus on 5x5 for a 4-6 week phase and then 4x10 for another phase.

I’m not a big fan of “Undulating Periodization”

What’s the AOW?

ok thanks again for your fast reply-AOW is the art of Waterbury.

So in this sense:

mo:5x5

frid:1x5
(and if i stall right away-should i up the volume on fridy to perhaps 3x5?)

later:
mo:4x10

frid:1x10
(and if stalling right away switch to 2x10? and if still stalling 3x10?would be logic to slowly increase volume to measure an effect or does the reps HAVE to be changed too?)

Monday is your best set of 5 for a limit, wed would be 80% of mondays top set, and fri would be 90% of mondays top set. Im using the squat for the example

This is the order if you like to squat heavy on mondays. Monday would be heavy for squats, light for power cleans, and medium for benching. Wed would be heavy benching, medium cleans, light squats. Friday would be light bench, heavy cleans, and medium squats.

The goal is to try to increase your top set of 5 each heavy day where the others are contributing to workload but not causing too much CNS fatigue.

And remember, Starr’s 5x5 is ramping and not straight sets. Straight 5x5 is Rippetoe’s style. I can honestly say both work well, but the Starr routine takes less time and works well when your low on energy and want an effective program.

thank you gainera but as mentioned above i tried madcows2 approach on ramped sets and i lost my strength and even not reached my former PR I reached through higher volume-the art of Waterbury. so my conclusion is to upper the work capicity/volume cause of my experience.

Rippetoe and many others suggest that if you stall out after 3-4 weeks, perform an unloading week to recover and get back at it. Everyone wants to add more when they stall/plateau, but that almost always contributes to overtraining.

This also depends upon your level of training. Rippetoe calls the Starr and Texas Methods, Intermediate Level. Intermediates don’t make gains as rapidly as novices do, but still quicker than advanced.

Emm… call me ignorant, but I thought that Bill Starr’s 5x5 was:

Monday Heavy

Wednesday Light

Friday Medium

Here:

http://stronglifts.com/bill-starrs-strength-training-program-the-big-three/

Or here:

http://www.deepsquatter.com/strength/archives/manrodt4.htm

P.D: Sorry for not posting the links altogether xD

I stand corrected. In “Practical Programing” by Rippetoe he has it H-M-L.

It’s kind of funny that Starr is H-L-M and the Texas Intermediate is M-L-H.

Thanks for the linkies and correction JPuxHenri. Both links say that the Starr method is geared more towards the beginner/advanced beginner. Rippetoe has it with the intermediates.

This could be a reason Science has been stalling with it. He’s become a bit more advanced for the program maybe? With novices, they can recover from the stall by adding volume, but the more advanced lifter the opposite is often true.

Jpuxhensri-thanks for the links.

although the different applications for M H L are in itself logic-but compared too each other contradictionary.

I think i stalled because the volume seems to be too low on madcows stuff.

there must be a reason,why i progressed so well with AOW (i included deloads every 3 weeks) and not even reached my old PRs with MAdcows routine.

Actually my last experiment has been an intentsity cycle (like brawn,christy) with an A-B format 3xthe week.
So i benched 3x in 2weeks with 5x5.
This was suggested by MHEDI-the guy from stronglifts who was really helpful.

I made a long deload-cause thought overtraining is the problem of 2 months and slowly increased the weight from the beginning.
I was able to make a PR of 90 5x5 (which is ok but not THAT outstanding-my old pr before was 90 3x5)
I then increased to 92,5 and crushed down to one(!) set with 3 reps.

This was the time i thought i did too much so i started the linear cycle by madcow2
I don´t even reached 85kg for one set of5-so i am really sure the volume was too low.
In real its only one work set-the rest are warmups-so a big difference to the programm before.

Now I am currently on a 5x5 only once a week to try a middle solution.I know train 2 times not 3 times the week and ordered microplates to perhaps bust through my plateau.
I did another intensity cycle (build up for 6 weeks again) where
I started microlading now with 87,5kg 5x5 and currently i am at 88,5kg.
The weight really feels more heavy each time so i don´t have the impression i adapt to it and being sure to stall and 90kg or a bit short of it again.

Its unbelieveable how much time you can waste.damn it.

Cause of the mentioned facts i thought or better hope-that the ramped sets where too less,5x5 3x in 2 weeks too high and 5x5 1x the week too less.
Thats why i want to try to incorperate the LMH or HML (wtf?!) schedule to slowly increase the work capacity.

I really hope not being that advanced (although training for nearly 10 years-which lots(!)of stalling and experimenting like mentioned above)
which will be quite embarrasing with these stats.

thanks for listenining.