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Confused: 8x3 in Big Boy Basics

Ok so I decided to take a break from 5x5 and give CW’s program a shot. I’m just a confused one thing. In the program for day 1, it says that for the bench press you shoud do 8x3 with a 5RM load. Since 205 is my 5RM, I did it for 8x3. Thing is, I began struggling after my 4-5 set for 3 reps (got spotted for last reps), and by the time I got to my 7th and 8th set, I could barely move the bar for 1 rep. Should I decrease the weight 10 lbs and work my way up?? or stick with the same weight and hope to improve on my sets??

I think CW would suggest that you complete the recommended amount of reps even if you have to lower the weight slightly. (I do remember reading that, but I don’t remember what article).

Someone will correct me if I’m wrong.

Let me preface with I didn’t read the article.

I would say lower the weight to get the reps in.
Secondly, does the article tell you how much rest time to take? Maybe you aren’t recovered enough.

I bought a sports watch with a timer on it, expedites my workouts and keeps things rather uniform.

The program says to rest 1 min between sets, which is what I was doing at first until I got to the last few, after that I was just taking 3-4 min rests. Would it be ok to increase rest periods??

[quote]NeedforStrength wrote:
The program says to rest 1 min between sets, which is what I was doing at first until I got to the last few, after that I was just taking 3-4 min rests. Would it be ok to increase rest periods??[/quote]

Are you pairing exercises for antagonistic muscle groups? I know that CW is a fan of doing so, so if he is suggesting that you rest 1 minute between sets I assume this is what he has in mind. In actuality you’ll be resting somewhere around 2+ minutes between sets of the same exercise.

If you’re not pairing your exercises, then 1 minute is definitely not enough time to recover from sets of 3.

I just finished my 3rd week of BBB. I can’t do 8x3 with 5RM either. I pushed the rest out to 3 minutes on the 7th and 8th set but only got 2 reps each. Just drop the weight so that the last rep of the 8th set is a huge struggle or increase the rest a little. Maybe 2 minutes but not more.

Waterbury tends to pair the higher reps sets, not the lower rep sets.

haha I’m an idiot I just read through the article again. I forgot to pair the exercises yesterday. That’s probably the reason I burnt out quickly lol. I got just a couple of questions about hand spacing as well, CW says to use a 24 inch spacing on the barbell, is putting my pinkies around the ring in a wide grip an equivalent length to 24 inches?

also, for the db standing shoulder press CW says to use an 18 inch hand spacing semi supinated throughout the movement, does this mean I’m just pushing the weight upwards straight and not bringing the dumbells together at the concentric portion?

My gym doesn’t have a wide enough bar that allows me perform semi supinated pull ups with 18 inch hand spacing, could I just do pullups with an 18 inch hand positioning with palms facing away rather then each other?

[quote]skw wrote:

Waterbury tends to pair the higher reps sets, not the lower rep sets.[/quote]

That wouldn’t make much sense though. You need considerably more rest time between sets of low reps than you do between sets of higher reps.

So, in the name of efficiency you pair two exercises (for antagonistic muscle groups) so that you wind up doing the same amount of work in less total time. Plus, by working out one muscle group the antagonist is forced to relax (reciprocal inhibition) and can’t provide even as much resistance as normal (due to it being fatigued from it’s own set), which some argue can actually improve performance.

Keep in mind that pairing (do a set of A1, rest, set of A2, rest, another set of A1, etc…) is different from supersetting (set of A1, set of A2, either rest or another set of A1, etc…). Supersetting is great for higher rep sets while pairing is great for lower rep sets.

[quote]NeedforStrength wrote:
haha I’m an idiot I just read through the article again. I forgot to pair the exercises yesterday. That’s probably the reason I burnt out quickly lol. I got just a couple of questions about hand spacing as well, CW says to use a 24 inch spacing on the barbell, is putting my pinkies around the ring in a wide grip an equivalent length to 24 inches?

also, for the db standing shoulder press CW says to use an 18 inch hand spacing semi supinated throughout the movement, does this mean I’m just pushing the weight upwards straight and not bringing the dumbells together at the concentric portion?

My gym doesn’t have a wide enough bar that allows me perform semi supinated pull ups with 18 inch hand spacing, could I just do pullups with an 18 inch hand positioning with palms facing away rather then each other?

[/quote]

I honestly don’t like exact measurements like that (they don’t take into account the limb lengths of the lifter, what equipment they have available to them, focusing on minutia takes focus away from the real important stuff).

I’d say just follow his suggestion to try to do as exact of antagonistic movements as possible. So, if you like to measure your bench grip width putting your thumbs on the edge of the knurling (rough part of the bar), then use that same grip width for your rows. If you’re doing close grip bench and your pinkies are on the inside edge of the knurling, then do rows with that width grip.

Yes, changing the degree of supination, exact hand spacing, etc… will have a little affect on what part of the muscle is emphasized. But regardless, if you continue to add weight to the bar, eat enough to sustain growth, and rest enough you will get results.

Just be consistent and do the best you can do.

Good luck.

The below is directly from the article. Note, CW doesn’t say to specifically use a set hand spacing. He says that if you use a certain hand spacing, use that with the antagonist. Just like Sentoguy mentioned. Also, his sample plan doesn’t have the normal A1, A2 pairing. Without reading the article discussion, my guess would be that CW wants you to just do the exercise for 8 sets before moving on. However, I recommend reading the article discussion since it could answer your questions.

[quote]4) Set/Rep Volume

As a general rule of thumb for inexperienced trainees, I like to use a set/rep volume in the 24 to 30 range. For example, 8 x 3 or 3 x 8 per body part works well for the lower end of the range. A set/rep scheme of 10 x 3 or 3 x 10 works well for the upper end range. I recommend you start with a volume of around 24 and increase from there if you feel your recovery allows for it. (Just multiply the sets by the reps to get your number.)

  1. Training Intensity

The only time you should flirt with failure is on the last rep of the last set for each body part. If you reach failure before that time, decrease the load by 5% for the next workout (using the same method) the following week. If you don�??t feel like you’re approaching failure on the last rep of the last set, increase the load 5% for the next workout the following week.

  1. Method Cycling

The simplest way to alternate training methods (sets and reps) without driving yourself into a frenzy is to simply switch the set/rep scheme for the subsequent workout for the same upper or lower body training day. In other words, if you performed 8 x 3 on day one for upper body, switch to 3 x 8 for the next upper body workout of the week.

  1. Antagonist Exercise Selection

Antagonist refers to opposing exercises. In other words, an upper back exercise is an antagonist to a chest exercise, and a biceps exercise is an antagonist to a triceps exercise. When creating a program, I like to use exact antagonist exercises.

What in the hell does that mean, you ask? For example, if you choose the barbell bench press as your chest exercise for your upper body workout, I recommend a rowing movement with the exact same hand spacing/position as the bench press. So if your index fingers are 24 inches apart when bench pressing, the rowing movement should consist of a palms-down hand position with exactly 24 inches between your index fingers.

Another example would be with pull-ups (or pulldowns depending on your strength levels). If you execute a pull-up with your palms semi-supinated (facing each other) and 18 inch spacing hand position, then your antagonist exercise would consist of standing dumbbell shoulder presses with a semi-supinated hand position that’s 18 inches apart throughout the movement. Got it? This is actually much simpler than it sounds if you think about it. Just remember to press and pull with the exact same hand positions.

[/quote]

[quote]Arioch wrote:
The below is directly from the article. Note, CW doesn’t say to specifically use a set hand spacing. He says that if you use a certain hand spacing, use that with the antagonist. Just like Sentoguy mentioned. Also, his sample plan doesn’t have the normal A1, A2 pairing. Without reading the article discussion, my guess would be that CW wants you to just do the exercise for 8 sets before moving on. However, I recommend reading the article discussion since it could answer your questions.
[/quote]

You are correct that in the article he doesn’t specifically say to pair the exercises. But having read several of his articles in the past (as well as tried a number of his programs) and judging by the fact that he mentions “Antagonistic” exercises I’m assuming he intends one to pair the exercises.

There are also 4 exercises in the first day (which would also lend itself to pairing) and 1 minute rest between sets of 3 would mean that you’d either not even come close to finishing all your sets with 3 reps. Or you’d have to drastically lower the weight (which would kind of defeat the purpose of doing the lower reps in the first place). He also says specifically to use a 5RM.

I haven’t read through the article discussion thread though, so I’d definitely agree that would be a good place to check. His locker room would be another good place.

In ABBHII CW has the low reps as straight sets and the higher reps as giant circuits with 4 exercises. CW seems to use pair and superset interchangeably.

But, I think what Sento wrote makes a lot of sense.

http://www.T-Nation.com/findArticle.do?article=307hyper2

I would suggest resting longer between sets

The program is faulty…

5RM is meant to be 7RM…

I’ve done BBB a few times, and you can do the exercises as either straight sets or paired. If you are doing straight sets, then you will need to drop the weight a bit to complete all the sets. If you pair the exercises, you’ll be able to use closer to your true 5-6 rep max as the rest periods between each set will be longer.

I don’t advise increasing the rest between sets. The workout will take too long if you do that.

It’s a good program that I made a lot of progress with. I’m doing a slightly different variation of it now.

You just keep doing the best you can, and after you get all 8x3 you add weight.
If you are doing 3 3 3 3 2 2 2 1 that is fine, as long as you are getting at least 15 or so total reps. It may say on the article, maybe chad has some imput, its his thing.