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Chad Waterbury and How I Failed

I was about to name this thread ‘I Hate Chad Waterbury’. But that would be wrong, because I don’t really HATE him, rather, I think a lot of his concepts are unnecessary and actually counterproductive for newbies.

I will say this now: This thread is not a stab at Waterbury, or his training principles, or his workouts. This is just some observations and conclusions that I, in my limited experience, have come to.

When I first started getting ‘serious’ (lets face it, for a newbie, being ‘serious’ isn’t really that serious) about building muscle, I read a shitload. I thought I knew everything. I made sure I picked a program written by a top coach, and thought my diet was perfect (but it was FAR from it).

I first did a Chad Waterbury program, I remember it was TBT. Now there are several reasons why I ended up looking worse a year later than when I started. I put on a bunch of fat, and I didn’t really get much stronger. I over-analyzed and I applied principles that I read were important, but I think now a newbie should NOT apply these:

  1. You have to switch up your training every 4 weeks
  2. You need to train different muscle qualities in a muscle if you want to train it several times a week
  3. Don’t train to failure.

These were topics that I read from Chad Waterbury a lot, and while they are important for the more advanced trainee, I think they are absolute codswallop for a new trainee, and will only CONFUSE a newbie. Here’s why I think so:

  1. A newbie should NOT switch up training every 4 weeks. It is simply not enough time to properly progress and set up momentum for a strength program. Rippetoes, one of the best newbie programs IMO, has you going full bore until you can’t gain anymore. A newb can and should be staying on the same program for as long as possible so he can milk everything from it and get his CNS to develop proper efficiency on the big lifts, and not change everything up all the time.

  2. You dont need to do 1 day 3x8, 2nd day 8x3 and a 3rd day 3x5 if you want to train a muscle 3x a week. I personally think it confuses the shit out of a newbies CNS, and takes away from the main focus at this point which should be MORE WEIGHT ON THE BAR.

  3. I think it can be safely said that a newbie doesn’t know how to completely trash his CNS and really ‘overtrain’ himself by training to ‘failure’ 3x a week. I think telling newbies (who don’t have proper experience of what it’s like to actually train very hard) not to strain or lift to ‘failure’ is a great way of telling them to be lazy, and hold back.

Now after writing this I am NOT saying that I am disagreeing with Chad’s principles, not for more advanced or intermediate lifters anyway. I do however believe that programs like TBT are wrong for newbies, and don’t provide a chance for a new lifter to really get a feeling for how exercises work his muscles and how his body handles them.

I also think that newbies can be cursed with an enormous desire to be big and strong. I know I was. I wanted to build muscle so bad that I read and read and read, and it all backfired. I switched programs too soon, I was paying too much attention to TUT, rotating loading parameters, “should I stop this set now, because Chad said I shouldn’t train to failure”, are dumbbells better than barbells?, etc.
And a year later I felt crushed. Because I had utterly failed at what I poured so much time, emotion and resources into. I got ‘analysis paralysis’ and now I am paying for it.

If I could go back and tell myself, the newbie whose brain was overflowing with all of this useless bodybuilding nonsense that was unapplicable to me, if I could go back and tell myself just 3 things, they would be this:

  1. Pick a handful of exercises
  2. Get as strong as you can on them
  3. Eat lots of meat and vegetables

Thats it. Nothing about workout frequency, failure training, or any other bullshit that I didn’t NEED. I just needed to get my ass under HEAVY WEIGHT and get stronger while eating enough healthy food. I don’t understand why I couldn’t get this. I wish I would have picked the simplest routine possible.

I am not an advance lifter. I am still trying to get past the ‘shit’ stage. Which is why I made this thread. I didn’t post this in the ‘Beginners’ section, because I want to know what other more experienced lifters think. What do you think about routines like TBT for newbies? Did you make great gains as a beginner on stuff like this? OR do you, like me, think it is just over-complicated bullshit for a beginner?

Candy, a lot of people forget that this site is not a health and wellness site, but a BODYBUILDING site! So a newbie here generally still has a couple years of lifting experience!

If you have never lifted a weight in your life, then switching routines every 4 weeks obviously makes no sense and I don’t think any coaches here reccomend that…In fact I have seen Waterbury advise AGAINST TBT for newbies suggesting that you start with something like ABBH.

Congratulations on learning that there are no Magical Programs that will make you ripped in 4 weeks, it’s a valuable lesson!

Add weight to the Bar, Do your Compounds, and eat loads of clean foods and you’ll make progress guaranteed!

You did a program that wasn’t designed for a newbie and complain that it didn’t work for you as a newbie. I’m not exactly sure what you mean by training different muscle ‘qualities’ but how does TBT not do that? Waterbury DOES routinely recommend against TBT for newbies, instead opting for something like ABBG or even Big Boy Basics for rote beginners.

Even though it’s not designed for newbies, I’m still wondering how you didn’t add strength if you were training with sufficient intensity. Not training to failure does not mean a pansy-ass workout. You should’ve still been reaching near failure on your sets and possibly failing on the last set of an exercise.

Go back and read everything Chad ever wrote, don’t blame him for putting more fat on in a year. He lays it out pretty simple, if you can’t pick it up read it again, all of it!

If you looked worse a year later you were probably not eating optimally or as dedicated as you need to be to reach your goals. This has absolutely nothing to do with Chad Waterbury, his older programs are 6-8 weeks anyways.

Chad provides great writing and programs, what you do from there is up to you. If you get injured doing one of his programs, is it his fault?

Why don’t you:

  1. Pick a handful of exercises
  2. Get as strong as you can on them
  3. Eat lots of meat and vegetables

Do this for a year and see what happens. In the meantime I will continue to get ripped doing Chad’s programs.

I find a few things in working with newbies. They are weak, what strength they do have for a given muscle group is drained almost completely with one or two exercises.

I believe the best method is to do three days of fullbody training sticking with three different workouts and keeping rep ranges around 10-12 increasing weight when possible keeping form and tempo under control. I believe you can only get so far with fullbody training though, and after 2-3 weeks an individual can benefit much more from bodypart splits.

Scott Abel said your body needs the most muscle mass to make it through a workout using the same muscle with different exercises keeping strength levels relatively high the entire time.

In other words, if you were to do 3 chest exercises back to back with a 2min or so rest the ability to produce relatively high levels of force consistently through fatigue is the best way to put on muscle. I agree with this wholeheartedly, except I believe this to be less effective with legs which can be more productive on very few exercises.

Also, look at the big guys in your gym. Every single one will do a bodypart split. Fullbody training has other excellent applications. However, where building muscle is concerned it is flat out inferior.

God don’t get me started on CW.

…All I’m gonna say is he hates bodybuilding.

[quote]mtd25 wrote:
Go back and read everything Chad ever wrote, don’t blame him for putting more fat on in a year. He lays it out pretty simple, if you can’t pick it up read it again, all of it!

If you looked worse a year later you were probably not eating optimally or as dedicated as you need to be to reach your goals. This has absolutely nothing to do with Chad Waterbury, his older programs are 6-8 weeks anyways.

Chad provides great writing and programs, what you do from there is up to you. If you get injured doing one of his programs, is it his fault?

Why don’t you:

  1. Pick a handful of exercises
  2. Get as strong as you can on them
  3. Eat lots of meat and vegetables

Do this for a year and see what happens. In the meantime I will continue to get ripped doing Chad’s programs.[/quote]

Good that his stuff has worked for you. Why don’t you go back and read my post and see that I am not hating on Chad, rather, that I feel his ideas confused me and over complicated everything.

I never said that purely following his methods led me to ruin. What I am saying is that I think I wasted a shitload of time doing overly complicated shit with a hoopla of scientific words. Maybe I am a dumb hillbilly but a year ago shit like 3 different rep ranges in a week and doing 10x3 on the bench press (which is totally unncessary IMO for someone starting out) confused the shit out of me and steered me away from the big picture of just adding weight to the bar and training like a maniac.

And why are you talking to me as if I am clueless newbie? I am not a fat emo fag crying in the gym corner about Chad Waterbury ruining my life. By ignoring the information from practically every fancy article I have ever read and instead pounding down the protein and just lifting harder than ever, I have gained more strength and size in the recent 4 months than I have in the previous year.

"1) Pick a handful of exercises
2) Get as strong as you can on them
3) Eat lots of meat and vegetables "

This is exactly what I am doing. This is exactly what I am going to continue to do until it stops working (hint… never).

“If you looked worse a year later you were probably not eating optimally or as dedicated as you need to be to reach your goals.”

yes I ate retardedly. I ate way too many carbs and not much protein. I trained like a pussy. But it didn’t help that I was overcomplicating everything by switching programs every month and worshipped Chad Waterbury as a god. I plan on sticking to my current routine for as long as it lasts, that maybe 6 months, or 2 years.

[quote]Fulmen wrote:
God don’t get me started on CW.

…All I’m gonna say is he hates bodybuilding.[/quote]

Could not agree more. I think his concepts are way overrated and his physique is something I would not aspire to look like.

[quote]jsbrook wrote:
You did a program that wasn’t designed for a newbie and complain that it didn’t work for you as a newbie. I’m not exactly sure what you mean by training different muscle ‘qualities’ but how does TBT not do that? Waterbury DOES routinely recommend against TBT for newbies, instead opting for something like ABBG or even Big Boy Basics for rote beginners.

Even though it’s not designed for newbies, I’m still wondering how you didn’t add strength if you were training with sufficient intensity. Not training to failure does not mean a pansy-ass workout. You should’ve still been reaching near failure on your sets and possibly failing on the last set of an exercise. [/quote]

yes I did train to near failure (or what I percieved as it).

I don’t want to turn this thread into a discussion about how to train on TBT or ABBH. Thats not the point.

The point here isn’t even exactly about Chad Waterbury. I am regretting I even mentioned him in the title.

The point is that I believe nowadays things are FAR TOO OVERCOMPLICATED FOR NEWBIES. Newbies should just be told to lift hard and eat enough food. That is all. I didn’t even read about the intensity part when I started. Yes go ahead and laugh at how ridiculously stupid that sounds but I honestly didn’t know the meaning of hard work, or what it is to really push yourself in the gym. What I thought as failure was probably only the minimum level of intensity that I should have trained at, and instead I was purposely avoiding this becasue of all this unnecessary information in my head.

It is only recently that I have actually been reading here (on these forums) about the importance of simply getting as basic as possible and focussing ONLY on progressive poundages with adequate food and recovery. For some reason, on other places as well, this kind of knowledge seems hard to come by.

I honestly believe that I would have faired much better if I would have not even found the internet, and instead would have been forced to find a powerlifting gym and learn from them. I also do not believe I am the only person who feels this way.

Now go ahead, and flame me. Tell me how wrong I am and how Chad Waterbury is a god. I am waiting for it.

All programs are good, if applied right.

Sure this program may not have been perfect for you, but the fact of the matter is, if you weren’t making progress, you either weren’t lifting heavy enough or you weren’t following the diet correctly.

I think 4 weeks is a fine amount of time to switch things up, just dont switch the exercises completely, switch grips, or bench angle, etc.

Were you keeping a log during this one year period, and if so, did you end lifting much more than you started?

Oh, and frequency may be one of the most important concepts for a newby. Lifting is a new skill thats being acquired, and the higher the frequency, the faster your going to learn the skill.

When you are learning a sport, you dont do it one time a week, you practice sometimes up to 5 times a week. Thats the reason even newbies should be concerned with HFT

There is not one approach or system that is going to work for everyone.

That being said changing workouts every 4 weeks is not a good idea if you are progressing with your current workout. So this applies to advanced trainees as well.

[quote]austin_bicep wrote:
Fulmen wrote:
God don’t get me started on CW.

…All I’m gonna say is he hates bodybuilding.

Could not agree more. I think his concepts are way overrated and his physique is something I would not aspire to look like. [/quote]

I’m sure Chad hates bodybuilding, its the reason he is a rich man.

The man trains people for a living, he obviously doesn’t have time to be in contest shape when he is building a brand name. He believes in total body workouts. He’s a smart man and when he talks I’m going to listen, T-Nation is going to listen. Beginners need information and he has a knack for providing it in easy, fast digesting goodies, like whey protein.

[quote]mtd25 wrote:
austin_bicep wrote:
Fulmen wrote:
God don’t get me started on CW.

…All I’m gonna say is he hates bodybuilding.

Could not agree more. I think his concepts are way overrated and his physique is something I would not aspire to look like.

I’m sure Chad hates bodybuilding, its the reason he is a rich man.

The man trains people for a living, he obviously doesn’t have time to be in contest shape when he is building a brand name. He believes in total body workouts. He’s a smart man and when he talks I’m going to listen, T-Nation is going to listen. Beginners need information and he has a knack for providing it in easy, fast digesting goodies, like whey protein.
[/quote]

Name one pro bodybuilder that implements Chad Waterbury’s principles.

[quote]Der Candy wrote:

If I could go back and tell myself, the newbie whose brain was overflowing with all of this useless bodybuilding nonsense that was unapplicable to me, if I could go back and tell myself just 3 things, they would be this:

  1. Pick a handful of exercises
  2. Get as strong as you can on them
  3. Eat lots of meat and vegetables

Thats it. Nothing about workout frequency, failure training, or any other bullshit that I didn’t NEED. I just needed to get my ass under HEAVY WEIGHT and get stronger while eating enough healthy food. I don’t understand why I couldn’t get this. I wish I would have picked the simplest routine possible.

[/quote]

This is actually a great post, everyone is getting defense about the CW thing which is not the purpose of this post! what I took out should be the take home message. If you are just starting out don’t over complicate things!

Lift progressively heavier and eat lots of good food.

He writes programs for thousands of bodybuilders on this site. The man has a book out, an ebook, and is putting out another one sometime soon.

If I’m not mistaken he works at or recently worked at an MMA institute. The man trains athletes, bodybuilders are athletes.

He doesn’t hate bodybuilding.

Chad Waterbury is one of the world�??s leading experts on developing muscle for the goal of enhancing performance. His novel training methods are used by athletes, bodybuilders, figure models, and fitness enthusiasts of all ages and from all walks of life. He has an M.S. in Physiology from the University of Arizona, and he specializes in the neurophysiology of human movement and performance. He currently trains, consults and lectures around the country, and also contributes to numerous newsstand and online publications.

Obviously Waterbury himself hasn’t built an impressive physique through his own training principles, but we understand that the guy is busy… I guess… But who do we see that has built an impressive physique using Waterbury routines?

Besides, of course, complete beginners who will make progress on any routine. Although, as the OP pointed out - and I agree with him - it is probably bad for beginners to be exposed to most of the stuff Chad Waterbury is putting out there.

I guess I disagree, most beginners need structure as far as which movements to train, how often, and set/rep range. If you go to the gym without a plan and workout what you feel like working out, you won’t be able to track progress without a plan. You’ll be bench pressing 3 times a week that a lot of beginners start out with.

I agree lift heavy shit and eat lots of quality foods. You will grow, but if you had a plan, given to you by a great writer, maybe you would grow faster.

Good day gentlemen.

[quote]Der Candy wrote:
The point is that I believe nowadays things are FAR TOO OVERCOMPLICATED FOR NEWBIES.
[/quote]

You can say too complicated for advanced lifters too. You can gain for a long time on simple (did not say easy) routines.

Here are a couple of things I think are over rated:

  1. Rep speed

It does not matter. Pick a speed you are comfortable with and that is not too slow but no need to be explosive, just be consistent from set to set and from work out to work out.

  1. Periodization

Overkill for 99% of the people that are not into competition. You can’t really plan for when you are going to feel great (push harder) and when you are not going to feel less great (sickness, overwork, lack of sleep, etc) and need to back off the intensity and workload a little.

  1. One size fits all routine

Everyone is different. It’s probably impossible to write a routine that takes everyone’s differences into account, but it should at least acknowledge these differences. For example, rep and set schemes should be always adapted to the individual. Some people will never gain an once of weight with high reps and for others it’s the opposite. So the best designed program will always work great for like 10% of the people, give average or less than average results for like 40% and will do nothing (or worse make them lose muscle) for the remaining 50%.

Hence know thyself.

I know this isn’t exactly what the original poster wanted, but I’m confused as to why Waterbury’s programs, when implemented correctly as prescribed, should be avoided by beginners? What are central to his programs that result in such a statement?

I can see how the advanced bodybuilder may not benefit very much from total body workouts. I’m personally not at that level, but I’ve heard numerous other people say that and I’ll trust them. But I fail to see why the beginner or intermediate lifter should avoid programs like CW’s that maximize variability.

One distinction that should be made is what is a beginner? CW says in his book a “true” beginner who is just picking up weights for the first time should just do something basic. But his definition of a beginner for his programs is someone who already has a solid base.