T Nation

Current Training

My current split involves chest/back on mondays/legs on tues and arms/shoulders on thurs. I thrown in cardio on days off. I am doing 4 sets on each ex. using the yin yang principle and using 3 different exercises. The first ex. I use 6 reps/ 2nd ex 10 reps/ 3rd ex 15 reps… trying to get at all the muscle fiber types. Is this to many sets? Too much? Wrong mix?

Thanks in advance for the feedback


What type of exercises comprise your workuts? Are you doing any compound movements (squats, deads, bench,etc.)? And lastly, what are you goals? What do you want to achieve?

Thanks for the reply.

Chest/Back: Barbel Bench/Flyes/Dumbell Incline

Quads/Hams: Squat/Front Squat/Curls/Extensions/Good Mornings/Lunge

Shoulders/Arms: Dumbell Military/Lateral Raise/Front Raise/Tricep Extensions/Hammer Curls/Incline Curls/Tricep Dips

Goal is gaining size and strength.


Your style of training presents numerous problems: by constantly exposing your body to a full range of rep ranges, you diminish the effectiveness of periodising reps and as consquence weight over time. E.g. a trainee who performed sets of six reps for a period of time and then as staleness set in switched to sets of 10 reps, would recieve a greater stimulus than a trainee who performed sets of six, ten and 15 and then switched to sets of ten; you cannot optimally target different threshold MU’s in the same workout, either you are holding back in your early sets of six and thus not optimally training those higher threshold MU’s or you are going full on, and your latter sets with higher reps are compromised due to fatigue and energy substrate depletion, either way you lose out. Your volume also seems very high to me. I always liked the Ian King quote of not confusing what is optimal with what is achievable. Finally and I don’t mean to sound harsh, but really the final answer to your question rests with you. If you keep an accurate training diary the answers will provide themselves. It will involve trial and error, but this is what must happen if you are ever to develop a training regimen optimal for you. Even the most well read instructor can only narrow down the parameters in which this process takes place, record your workouts, record your results, and you will arrive at the answer you seek.

Gotta agree with maxxed. However, have you ever thought of a 5x5 program? If gaining size and strength is indeed your goal, a 5x5 style of program may be your key. You would perform that routine for 6-weeks and then go into a bulking routine (as a 5x5 routine would prep your bod for such a thing).

Sorry, but I have to completely disagree with you guys. John, I think your idea of targeting all of the fibers in one workout is highly effective, and I have had great sucess with myself and many clients doing so. Louie Simmons uses a system such as this to elicit concurrent strength and hypertrophy which I learned about at a Poliquin seminar a few years ago. The first half hour of the workout is dedicated to low rep heavy weight such as 5x5 or a hundred other possibilities with long rest. The second half hour would be high rep, inadequate rest, etc. By saying that there is no where to go after this microcycle is limiting loading parameters to sets and reps only. For your next microcycle, try manipulaitng tempos a way you have never done, like 8010, or 2015*0, or use a powerlifting cycle, or a trillion other ideas.

Thanks for all the feedback.

I had gotten the parameters of this routine from the “Simpleton’s Guide to Charles Poliquin Training Principles II”. TC in this article seems to lay our a rep progression. (From 6 up to 12-15) within the same workout. I may have mis-read but did not think so. My concern was the number of sets. What is ideal?

My plan is to burn through this training cycle
and do a Masss phase (Using Mag-10) as my next cycle.

I greatly appreciate the feedback. You people know exceedingly more than I do on this stuff…


I agree with Marc, in my most demanding and productive training phase I do 4, 8 and 12 rep drop sets. That way i hit all muscle fibres. My physique has gained in leaps and bounds since doing this

John, number of sets is highly individual. If you are eating and sleeping adequately and are young (in your 20’s) you may be able to recover from 25 sets in a workout. I used to make the mistake of never prescribing over 20 sets/workout to clients- forgetting to look at the results. I’ve found many people that make significant progress workout to workout with around 25 sets. For the most part I would reccomend less sets for the lower body as it takes longer to recover. Experiment, and track your progress, if your poundages/volume increases from workout to workout, you are doing things right.

Thanks for the feedback… very very helpful. One last Q… For higher rep sets, should I reduce the number of sets?


High rep sets target lower threshold motor units and their corresponding Type I & IIA fibers which recover faster between sets, but require less total sets. SO yes, if you are doing sets of 15, two sets is all you will probably need depending on how many exercises you are doing.

I agree with you Marc, strength and hypertrophy may be pursued as concurrent goals, however for optimal achievement to occur, at least in the case of force production capacity, attention must be restricted to training for this quality. Over a set period of time a trainee who focused their attention exclusively on strength training and didn’t split their time between training for this quality and training lower threshold MU’s would show a greater increase in the tested criteria. Hypertrophy though is a different kettle of fish altogether. As you know people have put on muscle mass using all manner of rep/intensity protocols from very low reps to very high reps and everything in between, the fact that no-one can still say how precisely hypertrophy occurs makes a mockery of anyone claiming to know the best way to pack on the mass. That is why I ended my response with the advice of allowing a training diary and trial and error to determine what was optimal. To say that you and some of your clients have found a certain method to be effective and so too therefor will JK, is specious reasoning. Regarding tempo manipulation as a means to combat accommodation, I agree with you up to a point. I maintain however that the most powerful stimulus is achieved through rep and consequent weight periodization.

Maxxed, I am still trying to figure out where you stand, so far all I can see is numerous contradictions. First you say JK’s program will not work because somehow he is going to expire a significant amount of energical substrates performing low repititions? Is that a Weider principle I missed? Then you say well maybe it will, check your logs. Then you say that it won’t work for increasing force production capacity, (JK apparantly maxxed would prefer if you concentrated on your force production instead of your own goals), then you say that most programs will work for hypertrophy. What? I will agree with your closing point that repitition brackets are the first loading parameter that the body adapts to, but the variety in this program will offset the adaption phase longer than a fixed bracket program. Tempo manipulation was one suggestion that you will notice I followed with “or a hundred other options”. You sound like you might have some good ideas, I just wish I could figure out what they were. JK- how is your program going?

Here’s my two cents on this mess. This argument of recruiting all the various fiber types can get nasty depending on many factors such as, % of 1RM for each set, speed of movement etc…The Type I’s are recruited first for muscle tensions up to about 25% of 1RM, the Type IIA are recruited next and the Type IIB last. Since fibers are recruited as needed, provided intensity is high enough and the set is taken far enough you can recruit all the various muscle fibers in one set (not meant to be support for HIT). Now I’m not recommending this is what you do, I’m just saying that if your intensity is appropriate you will activate most of the muscle fibers. Don’t forget speed of movement, both a small load accelerated rapidly and a heavy load accelerated slowly involve the Fast Twitch fibers. Just to add more confusion to the mess here is a worth wild quote form Mel Siff. “Research reveals that this high intensity is not necessarily dependant on the use of 1RM but the degree to which the relevant muscle fibers are recruited during the effort. In this respect, the terms fast twitch and slow twitch do not necessarily mean that fast movements recruit FT fibers and slow movements recruit ST fibers. To analyze the involvement of different fiber types, it is vital to determine the force that needs to be produced.” So keep in mind Newton’s 2nd Law of Motion, Force is equal to Mass x Acceleration…low forces will involve ST and high forces FT. Within F=MxA you have factors that also influence force production like stretch reflex, length tension relationship, angle of pennation, prior DOMS, and muscle cross-sectional area….it can get complicated and ridiculous.
Now that I’ve probably confused JK, here is my best advice. I wouldn’t worry too much about recruiting Type I’s anyway, they don’t hold much potential for size or strength, and provided you are lifting heavy enough with varying accelerations you’re going to take care of the other fibers. Just stick with what you’re doing for a bit and see what kinda results you get. Simply, if it works for you do it, if it doesn’t dump it. My prior rambling was meant to show just how deep this argument could get, and also how meaningless it can be. Just work hard and make sure your reps and sets are relevant to your goals and you’ll do fine…Ahhhh my mind feels stimulated.

To Marc: Drop me a line sometime, I still have my old school e-mail address from the Edwards Hall days.

Nick, thanks for the response you big bully. By the way, I had lunch with Dr. Siff the other day, and he wants me to tell you to stop hiding in his bushes and peeking in his windows. I think your response was full of more valuable info than 4 years at CSU’s exercise science program. You know I can talk about muscle fibers all day, maybe we should start our own thread instead of butting in on poor JK’s. I agree with you about the type I’s being worthless to recruit for hypertrophy’s sake, but don’t you think there is a significant difference in the loading parameters required to optimally fatigue the Type IIA/IIX/IIB continuum? On a neuromuscular continuum chart anything from 70.3%-78.6% should do a good job of activating possibly all fibers, but only fatiguing IIA’s & IIX’s. The IIB’s may be activated, but definately not fatigued which Telle describes as nessecary for a training effect to occur. Conversely anything from about 85.6%-100%RM should once again activate all fibers, but only do a good job of fatiguing the IIB’s, waving to the other fibers as it passes. And if you think I can remember your dorm email address, I guess I need to start ingesting more nootropics. Let me know what you think about my neuromuscular diatribe, we haven’t had one of these conversations in years. Did you read my article in NoahSports? I have the same email as well (the opposite of catabolism9)

Hi Marc, to be honest with you I see no contradictions in my beliefs. JK’s post stated he was training to hit all of his muscle fibres or in other words train for multiple qualities. I believe over a short period of time at least as far as the quality of strength was concerned he would see a better return on his time invested if he restricted his activities to the pursuit of this quality. A simple statement, but one I believe to be true. If however his goal is hypertrophy then all bets are open. People have packed on mass using numerous set/rep/intensity schemes and the idea that there is any one type of training that will best elicit a hypertrophy response in all trainees is a ludicrous one (As ludicrous as suggesting that because a training protocol worked for you and your clients it will also work for JK). What I did not say however was that “most programs will work for hypertrophy”. The fact is the only real way to determine what is optimal for the purposes of hypertrophy is to keep an accurate training diary and see what produces the results, or, as we say here in Australia what puts the runs on the board (it’s a saying related to cricket). Again a simple belief but one I believe to be true. So where are the contradictions? But thanks for your supercilious response and for putting words into my mouth, I found it to be a unique and refreshing experience.

Marc, I’m in agreement with you in terms of loading parameters required to optimally fatigue the Type IIA/IIX/IIB continuum and all other points. My post was more on mere activation of fibers, I could have really rambled on if I got into the nitty-gritty of optimally fatiguing certain fibers, but I think we have probably already scared ole’ JK. Keep up the neuromuscular diatribe, you know I’m always down; I need to keep my weightlifting lobe of my brain polished and finely tuned.

Maxxed, you don’t make sense to me, I don’t make sense to you, your responses make me grow weary. Your comments and your perception of my comments make me feel like I’m conversing with my high school French teacher. Go drink a VB, cheers.

""Sometimes I lie awake at night, and I ask, ‘Where have I gone wrong?’ Then a voice says to me, ‘This is going to take more than one night.’ "
-Charlie Brown.
By the way I drink redback.

Thanks for all the discussion. Very interesting and a great learning experience.

I am finding that a 5 day rotation/split is working except that I think that I need to lower the number of hi-rep sets I am doing.

Also a question, is it better to try to stick with one weight for all sets for a specific exercise or reduce rate to maintain form and TUT?