T Nation

Different Intensities of Exercise


#1

From what I understand, there are mainly three intensities for any workout.

Type 1. Low weight high reps : 5+ sets of 15~25 reps
Type 2. standard way : 3~4 sets of 10~12 reps
Type 3. High intensity way : 1~3 sets of 2~5 reps(or mixture of type 2 and 3, drop sets etc.)
(These numbers are approximates)

For fast muscle gain many people would say Type 3. But I noticed that with this way it is difficult to increase weight consistently.(At some point I couldnt lift heavier. Every week I would be stuck with same weight and same rep..) So Instead staying with type 3 for months, I tried type 2 with lower weight for 1month. When I tried type 3 again, I could carry much heavier than before. Now I didnt try type 1. But I know it also has its benefits.

My question is if there is any magic periodic cycle to change from one type to another.
Ex) Type 3 (1week)->Type2(2weeks)->Type1(1week)->Type2(2weeks)->Type3(1week)
Like should the interval be larger? or different order?


#2

What you are referring to is known as periodisation and it’s how powerlifters have trained for years and many bodybuilders also use it to some degree. There have been many books written on the subject as it is complex with many variables but there no doubt are some good articles on this web site on the subject. Do a search and you should find what you are looking for.

The answer you will get though isn’t quite as black and white as what you may be after. For example some coaches like a 4 week block of strength training (1-5 reps) and then a 4 week block of hypertrophy training (6-12 reps) .
Some methods have a shorter cycle of only 2 weeks .
Western periodisation starts with reps say around 8-10 and works all the way down to a single over a period of say 16 weeks.
A more modern form of training is to include both. This could mean hitting bench press for 3-5 reps and dumbbell slight incline bench press for 8-10 reps in the same session.

Is there a " magic periodic cycle" as you put it? Well probably not or we would all be doing it but there are certainly cycles that suit some people more then others. The key is to find what works best for you.

In the meantime do some reading and learn more about periodisation .

Edit: Here is an article which gives a basic understanding of training in cycles and also gives an example of how to put it into place.


#3

[quote]hoffnung8493 wrote:
From what I understand, there are mainly three intensities for any workout.

Type 1. Low weight high reps : 5+ sets of 15~25 reps
Type 2. standard way : 3~4 sets of 10~12 reps
Type 3. High intensity way : 1~3 sets of 2~5 reps(or mixture of type 2 and 3, drop sets etc.)
(These numbers are approximates)

For fast muscle gain many people would say Type 3. But I noticed that with this way it is difficult to increase weight consistently.(At some point I couldnt lift heavier. Every week I would be stuck with same weight and same rep…) So Instead staying with type 3 for months, I tried type 2 with lower weight for 1month. When I tried type 3 again, I could carry much heavier than before. Now I didnt try type 1. But I know it also has its benefits.

My question is if there is any magic periodic cycle to change from one type to another.
Ex) Type 3 (1week)->Type2(2weeks)->Type1(1week)->Type2(2weeks)->Type3(1week)
Like should the interval be larger? or different order? [/quote]

I think you’re a bit confused on a few key terms. Let’s talk about rep ranges rather than intensity, because this seems to be roughly what you were driving at.

Or if periodisation is what you were looking for, try these:



#4

Thanks for the link!! I have been watching youtube videos in ATLEAN-X. He kept mentioning about these transitions but he never explained when to do which. He just said that its his job as trainer… So I just got curious. Thanks again!


#5

[quote]hoffnung8493 wrote:
Thanks for the link!! I have been watching youtube videos in ATLEAN-X. He kept mentioning about these transitions but he never explained when to do which. He just said that its his job as trainer… So I just got curious. Thanks again![/quote]

I would be very wary of internet experts who use phrases like “that’s for me to know and you to find out”.


#6

Alternating between hypertrophy training and strength training is definitely the way to go. When I’m in a hypertrophy phase, I’ll generally stay in the 6-15 rep range and add volume every week, using intensity techniques on my top sets. During a strength phase, I’ll still do some hypertrophy work, but my main lifts are anywhere from 5 reps to supramaxial holds (or heavy lockouts).

One helps the other.


#7

I just train for everything all at once.


#8

[quote]T3hPwnisher wrote:
I just train for everything all at once.[/quote]

yep.


#9

I don’t think I could hit a serious strength program, include the amount of volume that I respond well to, and still recover from week to week. When I go heavy, I have to keep the volume a lot lower. When I’m in a hypertrophy phase, I build it up pretty damned high.

I’ve never tried it, though, so I can’t say for sure.


#10

[quote]JayPierce wrote:
I don’t think I could hit a serious strength program, include the amount of volume that I respond well to, and still recover from week to week. When I go heavy, I have to keep the volume a lot lower. When I’m in a hypertrophy phase, I build it up pretty damned high.

I’ve never tried it, though, so I can’t say for sure. [/quote]

I legitimately don’t know what would be an example of a “strength program”. Do you mean a peaking program by chance?

In my experience, strength is built alongside with hypertrophy. The issue is that many consider “ability to move heavier weights” to mean strength, when in many cases it’s more an issue of refined technique and skill. I find the actual moving of heavy weights to be taxing, which is why I generally save that for contests, but the building of the strength that is recruited in that process is usually accomplished while I am also getting bigger.


#11

[quote]T3hPwnisher wrote:
I legitimately don’t know what would be an example of a “strength program”. Do you mean a peaking program by chance? [/quote]

Exactly this.

The origin of periodisation was a plan developed for OLYMPIC LIFTERS to manage training stress by focussing on specific skillsets at different levels of intensity and volume through several phases, including a restoration phase, leading to achieving peak performance at a competition without burning out.

The term “strength training” becomes redundant unless one is peaking for an event, especially when it comes to non-complex lifts. Since the base of muscle is already there, the trainee already possesses that “strength”. Technical perfection and getting used to performing optimally under heavy loads simply allows him to express the strength he already has.


#12

Yeah, that’s exactly what I mean; developing the ability to handle heavy weights. Of course, if you build up to 315x10 from 250x10, you’ve built strength. No debate there.


#13

I truthfully can’t see much reason for a non competitive trainee to follow a peaking program. Heck, I compete and I don’t even use them


#14

It’s not really a peaking program, per se. It’s just a short period of reduced volume and increased intensity.

I’ve been thinking about dropping it from my program, though, because the whole time I’m going through that heavy phase, I just want to go back to high volume.


#15

[quote]JayPierce wrote:
I’ve been thinking about dropping it from my program, though, because the whole time I’m going through that heavy phase, I just want to go back to high volume. [/quote]
Is the heavy phase doing its job though at ratcheting up the weights for your volume phase? Since you’re endorsing the approach, I’m assuming it is.

So why would you drop it?


#16

[quote]JayPierce wrote:
It’s not really a peaking program, per se. It’s just a short period of reduced volume and increased intensity.

I’ve been thinking about dropping it from my program, though, because the whole time I’m going through that heavy phase, I just want to go back to high volume.

[/quote]

Why not both?

My program tends to be using the first movement of the day to work up to a heavy intense lift and then chasing after it with volume. A lot of programs out there are like that (5/3/1, Cube/Cube for Strongman, Westside for Skinny Bastards, etc).

If I’m losing weight, I’ll dial back the volume a touch I suppose, but I don’t really see too much of a need for phases for a natural non-competitive trainee. You can most likely still make great progress in strength and size at the same time.


#17

[quote]LoRez wrote:

[quote]JayPierce wrote:
I’ve been thinking about dropping it from my program, though, because the whole time I’m going through that heavy phase, I just want to go back to high volume. [/quote]
Is the heavy phase doing its job though at ratcheting up the weights for your volume phase? Since you’re endorsing the approach, I’m assuming it is.

So why would you drop it?[/quote]
Yeah, it does the job. Plus, pushing heavy weight is fun as hell. I doubt I’ll change it, but the thought has crossed my mind; could I make the same progress if I left out the heavy phase?


#18

[quote]T3hPwnisher wrote:

[quote]JayPierce wrote:
It’s not really a peaking program, per se. It’s just a short period of reduced volume and increased intensity.

I’ve been thinking about dropping it from my program, though, because the whole time I’m going through that heavy phase, I just want to go back to high volume.

[/quote]

Why not both?

My program tends to be using the first movement of the day to work up to a heavy intense lift and then chasing after it with volume. A lot of programs out there are like that (5/3/1, Cube/Cube for Strongman, Westside for Skinny Bastards, etc).

If I’m losing weight, I’ll dial back the volume a touch I suppose, but I don’t really see too much of a need for phases for a natural non-competitive trainee. You can most likely still make great progress in strength and size at the same time.[/quote]
I might try it, but I’m skeptical of being able to recover from high intensity coupled with the volume I use.


#19

[quote]JayPierce wrote:

[quote]T3hPwnisher wrote:

[quote]JayPierce wrote:
It’s not really a peaking program, per se. It’s just a short period of reduced volume and increased intensity.

I’ve been thinking about dropping it from my program, though, because the whole time I’m going through that heavy phase, I just want to go back to high volume.

[/quote]

Why not both?

My program tends to be using the first movement of the day to work up to a heavy intense lift and then chasing after it with volume. A lot of programs out there are like that (5/3/1, Cube/Cube for Strongman, Westside for Skinny Bastards, etc).

If I’m losing weight, I’ll dial back the volume a touch I suppose, but I don’t really see too much of a need for phases for a natural non-competitive trainee. You can most likely still make great progress in strength and size at the same time.[/quote]
I might try it, but I’m skeptical of being able to recover from high intensity coupled with the volume I use.[/quote]

I find that the body is capable of handling way more than most people think it can, but your experiences may vary.


#20

For whatever reason, I found a personal limit when I was hitting a fair amount of intensity and volume in the same session, on the same lift, 3x a week. Everything was just hurting, and it had some effects on my mood.

One option would have been to just drop the frequency down to 2x a week, for that lift trained like that. Another option was to just separate the “heavy” and “volume” work from each other on alternating training days. I didn’t explore those though.

I have found that some amount of “volume” work is necessary for me to make progress. My current view (which I’ve seen elsewhere too) is that you need both types of work to make progress: you need the volume work to build muscle, and the heavier work to learn how to better use the muscle. The first is more structural, and the second is more neural.

If you use heavy work all the time, without ever dipping outside of that, you get really efficient at using the muscle you have, but eventually you hit a point where you can’t get much more efficiency out of things. That’s the point where you need to do something to build muscle. At least that’s been my observation.

I don’t have enough experience to know what works well for concurrently working on both. For the small amount I’ve used my current routine, it’s worked well. Basically the structure is to do some heavy work first, 5 reps at ~85%, then a single at 90% and 92%. This basically “ramps up the nervous system”, getting all the motor units firing. And then finish with an AMRAP set at 65% focusing on maximal time under tension. Once you hit 20 reps in the AMRAP set, bump the weight up on all sets and repeat. I haven’t used it long enough to know how sustainable it is long term.

Assuming this continues to work well, I’ll likely continue to use the same ideas, if not the exact same structure.