T Nation

Different Loading Variations

Hey CT - I’m just curious how you would recommend rotating in chains with the layer system. I’m following the periodization scheme that you have previously outlined (Accumulation, Intensification, Transformation) with a 4 week strength phase inserted in between each of those. So basically a 6 month cycle.

I was thinking of using chains on an exercise (decline bench for example) and using it for 2 months (one hypertrophy phase and one strength phase). Is this too long? Should I only use them for the strength phases? I’m new to chains so I’m not really sure when the best time to use them is. I think the easy answer is to just rotate them in when progress stalls, but it also seems to make sense to stick with the same loading variation for an entire 4 week phase at the minimum.

Also, should the same loading variation be used on both the incline and the decline at the same time or should they be staggered.

I guess this question could also be applied to exercise variations as well (standard barbell vs swiss bar vs DS bar etc)

I’m OCD with how I plan these variations out so I like them to fit nicely in 4 week blocks, but I know this isn’t necessarily the best approach. Curious to hear your thoughts.

Am I over-thinking this??

Thanks for your time. Your advice is the best.

Anyone else’s advice or experiences are also welcome.

Thanks!

[quote]JMo_19 wrote:
Hey CT - I’m just curious how you would recommend rotating in chains with the layer system. I’m following the periodization scheme that you have previously outlined (Accumulation, Intensification, Transformation) with a 4 week strength phase inserted in between each of those. So basically a 6 month cycle.

I was thinking of using chains on an exercise (decline bench for example) and using it for 2 months (one hypertrophy phase and one strength phase). Is this too long? Should I only use them for the strength phases? I’m new to chains so I’m not really sure when the best time to use them is. I think the easy answer is to just rotate them in when progress stalls, but it also seems to make sense to stick with the same loading variation for an entire 4 week phase at the minimum.

Also, should the same loading variation be used on both the incline and the decline at the same time or should they be staggered.

I guess this question could also be applied to exercise variations as well (standard barbell vs swiss bar vs DS bar etc)

I’m OCD with how I plan these variations out so I like them to fit nicely in 4 week blocks, but I know this isn’t necessarily the best approach. Curious to hear your thoughts.

Am I over-thinking this??

Thanks for your time. Your advice is the best.

Anyone else’s advice or experiences are also welcome.

Thanks![/quote]

Progress is not linear… training is not about adding 5lbs of weight under the same condition every few workouts, but rather about placing the biggest training stimulus possible on the muscle.

I personally change bar and conditions often, I do not use chains for 4-6 weeks at a time or even use a precise pattern: in throw them in there one every few workouts. The key is sticking to the same basic patterns and training hard regardless of the conditions of performance.

Thanks for the response.

Ok, so I’m basically over-thinking it. So as long as I have the overall structure in place (Accumulation phase, Strength phase, Intensification, etc) than I should stop worrying so much about fitting the variations in and just make changes as I go? For example, if my next 4 weeks looks like this:

Wk 1 - 3RM, 3 Clusters, 3 HDL
Wk 2 - 2RM, 4 Clusters, 2 HDL
Wk 3 - 1RM, 5 Clusters, 1 HDL
Wk 4 - 1RM, 3 Clusters, 1 HDL

It shouldn’t matter if I used a swiss bar for the first 2 weeks and switched to regular BB for the last 2 weeks? In other words, could I change between different bars and/or loading variations without worrying about how that fits into my overall periodization scheme?

Over-thinking…I know haha :). These things stress me out for some reason

[quote]JMo_19 wrote:
Thanks for the response.

Ok, so I’m basically over-thinking it. So as long as I have the overall structure in place (Accumulation phase, Strength phase, Intensification, etc) than I should stop worrying so much about fitting the variations in and just make changes as I go? For example, if my next 4 weeks looks like this:

Wk 1 - 3RM, 3 Clusters, 3 HDL
Wk 2 - 2RM, 4 Clusters, 2 HDL
Wk 3 - 1RM, 5 Clusters, 1 HDL
Wk 4 - 1RM, 3 Clusters, 1 HDL

It shouldn’t matter if I used a swiss bar for the first 2 weeks and switched to regular BB for the last 2 weeks? In other words, could I change between different bars and/or loading variations without worrying about how that fits into my overall periodization scheme?

Over-thinking…I know haha :). These things stress me out for some reason
[/quote]

Correct… (1) correct exercises selection (2) proper lifting schedule (3) optimal loading parameters (4) maximum effort applying the plan (5) keeping a fast workout pace… Focus on these things

Thanks CT. I tend to complicate things unnecessarily!

Workout pace has actually been my focus these past few weeks. It’s an area I need improvement. I’ve cut down the time it takes me to max ramp and no decrease in performance. Feels way better. I can really notice the difference in how I feel during and afterwards because of this. I’m an idiot for not focusing on this earlier.

[quote]JMo_19 wrote:
Thanks CT. I tend to complicate things unnecessarily!

Workout pace has actually been my focus these past few weeks. It’s an area I need improvement. I’ve cut down the time it takes me to max ramp and no decrease in performance. Feels way better. I can really notice the difference in how I feel during and afterwards because of this. I’m an idiot for not focusing on this earlier. [/quote]

No you’re not… we’ve been told over and over that you must rest longer when going heavy… how many times did we actually wait 2-3 more minutes than necessary, fell out of the zone and ended up having a bad workout… not to mention almost trippling workout time without doign mroe work.

I don’t like to take much more time than it takes to change the weight except brief rests between cluster sets

[quote]sput79 wrote:
I don’t like to take much more time than it takes to change the weight except brief rests between cluster sets[/quote]

Yah same here…until I get in the 90% zone, then I’ll take around 90 seconds. I used to take 25-30 mins to ramp up my 1RM. Lately I’ve cut it down to 15-20…maybe a little longer if I’m having a good day and try to push the enveloppe. Although, given that we can adjust the 2nd and 3rd clusters, there’s really no need to push it too much on the ramp I’m finding.

Do you take any rest between the last set on the max ramp and the 1st cluster? I used to, but now I’m finding performance is the same if I jump right into it. So I don’t see the point in resting at that point anymore.

[quote]Christian Thibaudeau wrote:

[quote]JMo_19 wrote:
Thanks CT. I tend to complicate things unnecessarily!

Workout pace has actually been my focus these past few weeks. It’s an area I need improvement. I’ve cut down the time it takes me to max ramp and no decrease in performance. Feels way better. I can really notice the difference in how I feel during and afterwards because of this. I’m an idiot for not focusing on this earlier. [/quote]

No you’re not… we’ve been told over and over that you must rest longer when going heavy… how many times did we actually wait 2-3 more minutes than necessary, fell out of the zone and ended up having a bad workout… not to mention almost trippling workout time without doign mroe work.[/quote]

So true!

JMo your not alone man.I tend to complicate these things as well.That’s the great thing about having CT around,give’s us the direction on what really matters.Which i truly need at times haha.

Lately I just load up the cluster & go…I’ve done a whole layer strength workout in 20 minutes, lots of PRs & a fantastic pump!

[quote]sput79 wrote:
Lately I just load up the cluster & go…I’ve done a whole layer strength workout in 20 minutes, lots of PRs & a fantastic pump![/quote]

Yes, it’s all about results, performance and doing the things that makes a muscle grow… NOT about how much time you spend in a building called “the gym”.

[quote]Christian Thibaudeau wrote:

[quote]sput79 wrote:
Lately I just load up the cluster & go…I’ve done a whole layer strength workout in 20 minutes, lots of PRs & a fantastic pump![/quote]

Yes, it’s all about results, performance and doing the things that makes a muscle grow… NOT about how much time you spend in a building called “the gym”.[/quote]
This has been a hard one for me to grasp but finely with you driving it into my head that’s what i focus on now.Always had a mind set that i had to spend a certin amount of time draining myself during my sessions.Now it’s all about performance and a fast pace,and i don’t even look at the clock anymore.With the focus on this and the layer system w/outs my body and mind set has changed more in the last few months than in years before.Once again thanks CT.

Exactly! I’ve made things as simple as if I’m not getting stronger or doing more or the same amount of work in less time, then something needs to change. It’s all about strength & density.

How have the shorter workouts affected your “susceptibility” to fat gain? I used to justify high total quality volume as not only stimulating growth but also providing a huge cushion to eat more and at least FEEL more calories partitioned to muscle or certainly away from fat. Theonly way I could do that without “burning myself/cns” was to extend workout duration significant ly while still maintaining focua and brisk pace.

It sounds like CT is more about the concentrated/short workouts now, at least for mass gain, so I’d be curious to hear thoughts on body comp. My experience in the past was as workout volume/duration went down, I had to consciously eat less as the same appetite I had would cause softness/smoothing.

I’ve been gaining muscle & losing body fat really. I see your point with more volume as I used to use the Train Like An Athlete Look Like A Bodybuilder program & style of lifting. As long as you feel more activated in your nervous system when you leave than when you came in I think you’re fine. I have an idea for eating and then auto regulate which I feel is the real key to success.

[quote]jppage wrote:
JMo your not alone man.I tend to complicate these things as well.That’s the great thing about having CT around,give’s us the direction on what really matters.Which i truly need at times haha.[/quote]

Hah for sure. Sometimes I need a kick in the ass to stop over-thinking and come back to what truly matters the most.