T Nation

Drug-Free Powerlifting?


#1

There are a lot of articles written and various programs on powerlifting however most are aimed at lifters that use anabolic supplements and wear lifting gear which leads me to the question how can these programs be adopted for the drug free raw lifter ?

Would one reduce the volume and or frequency to allow more recovery time as that would seem to be the most logical thing to do ?

Also what drug free raw powerlifting programs would people recommend ?


#2

I’d say the vast majority of powerlifting articles these days are written by/for raw lifters than geared lifters. Raw powerlifting has exploded in the past few years, while multi-ply lifting has faded quite a bit. Single ply remains pretty consistent with the IPF, but still, you should be good to go with most of this stuff. Is there a specific drugged up gear using method you’re speaking about?

And when you say “powerlifting program”, are you asking for a peaking program to prep for a meet, or something more general?


#3

The Lilliebridges train with both low volume and frequency and I would be very surprised if I found out they were clean. Everything depends on you - work capacity, recovery ability, outside stresses, etc. Any program will be more effective if you are on steroids. If anything, it seems that enhanced lifters are more likely to train with lower frequency and higher volume per session because they will have longer muscle protein synthesis cycles than a natural lifter. The Norwegians mostly train 5-6 days a week full body and are crazy about drug testing. I have never heard of a “steroid-specific” program.

As far as geared vs. raw programming, raw lifters will need more focus on the bottom end (squat and bench in particular) so anything that has you using bands and chains every day will be an issue. You need to train your own weaknesses, not someone else’s. Any program that says you have to do a specific exercise (other than squat, bench, and deadlift) with no substitutions is questionable.

It’s hard to recommend anything specific, what have you been doing lately?


#4

Having been forced into a long lay off due to tennis elbow at the moment I’m just following a very basic linear 5x5 type program ( well work sets is only 3 really )

I’m not looking to change anything until I hit a natural end to the cycle in regards to adding weight each week but just looking a head, I’ve read quite a few excellent articles by Paul Carter who I respect however having read some of his later articles it has become clear that the things he promotes wouldn’t really be the best for someone who trains natural… nothing against those that choose not to you understand, I’m just interested to see how these things can be adjusted so that the natural and in my case older trainee can gain from them.


#5

What is Paul Carter saying that is only for enhanced lifters? Yes, he uses steroids and defends others who do the same, but I haven’t heard him promoting any crazy volume or frequency. You could look into the new book by Mike Israetel and Chad Wesley Smith, Scientific Principles of Strength Training. It is written for raw, natural lifters. There is no program laid out, but you could apply those ideas to any other template. And if you are doing 5x5 or 3x5 or whatever then you could switch to the Texas Method or an advanced 5x5 once you stall.


#6

[quote]tredaway wrote:
Having been forced into a long lay off due to tennis elbow at the moment I’m just following a very basic linear 5x5 type program ( well work sets is only 3 really )

I’m not looking to change anything until I hit a natural end to the cycle in regards to adding weight each week but just looking a head, I’ve read quite a few excellent articles by Paul Carter who I respect however having read some of his later articles it has become clear that the things he promotes wouldn’t really be the best for someone who trains natural… nothing against those that choose not to you understand, I’m just interested to see how these things can be adjusted so that the natural and in my case older trainee can gain from them.[/quote]

Could you give specific examples? Right now, your use of allusion and implication versus directly stated specifics makes it difficult to understand where the issues are.

And again, what specifically do you mean by a powerlifting program? Are you looking for a peaking program?


#7

So is there some kind of rep/set scheme or exercise that has cognitive abilities and knows you are using PEDs?


#8

When looking at a program, you should have an idea of whether it’s doable based on prior experience. There’s no point in doing something way outside your work capacity because you won’t be able to recover and will just waste time (you can make adjustments to make it doable). And just because you can’t do something now doesn’t mean you can’t build the work capacity to do it in the future. In addition to work capacity, the effectiveness of the movement selection and how you execute the lifts are just as important for progression. You aren’t guaranteed that doing more work will get you stronger. What works for someone else (a movement, program, workload, supplement, etc.) may not work for you.

All of the current programs available that I can think of can be done by a drug free raw powerlifter as long as they have built the work capacity for it. The only program I can think of that is debatable is the Bulgarian method and that can be adapted for drug free powerlifters.

IMO, you just need to look at what you’re currently able to handle for volume and do something slightly more for adaptation that is within reach. If that means adding 5-10 lbs to your training max then do that. If you want to add volume without intensity then add more sets. If adding volume doesn’t work, figure out your weaknesses. If that doesn’t work, you were probably wrong and need to re-evaluate.

This question is almost like asking what class can I take where someone won’t cheat on homework/exams. The answer is to do something that you can handle.


#9

@ Chris_ottowa What I’m getting at is when you read a routine written by such people as Paul Carter I can’t help but think that as long as the person works hard if using enhancers it’s bound to work for them but how would I adapt it for someone who doesn’t use enhancers.

@T3hPwnisher I’m a bit slow I don’t understand what your asking when you say " Could you give specific examples? Right now, your use of allusion and implication versus directly stated specifics makes it difficult to understand where the issues are " could you rephrase it for me ?

Yes I’m looking for a basic powerlifting type program as I would like to achieve certain goals with the big three by the time I’m 50 so this would seem the most logical way for me to achieve my goal.

@ cparker I think you know very well what I mean lol

@ lift206 thanks for your input what you say does make a lot of sense, but to help underline the point when you say "The only program I can think of that is debatable is the Bulgarian method and that can be adapted for drug free powerlifters " how would you adapt the Bulgarian method for drug free powerlifters ie where would you start ?


#10

[quote]tredaway wrote:
@T3hPwnisher I’m a bit slow I don’t understand what your asking when you say " Could you give specific examples? Right now, your use of allusion and implication versus directly stated specifics makes it difficult to understand where the issues are " could you rephrase it for me ?

Yes I’m looking for a basic powerlifting type program as I would like to achieve certain goals with the big three by the time I’m 50 so this would seem the most logical way for me to achieve my goal.

[/quote]

What specific advice does Paul Carter give that can only be used by drug users? What routine are you talking about?

It sounds less like you need a powerlifting routine and more like you want something to build a base with. I think 5/3/1 or the Cube method would work well.


#11

[quote]tredaway wrote:
how would you adapt the Bulgarian method for drug free powerlifters ie where would you start ?
[/quote]
I can only speak for myself, lifetime drug-free 40yo IPF raw lifter, but Bulgarian method is by far the best way to train, if you have consistent technique, a schedule that allows you to train every day and no ego about the load on the bar.

IME, enhanced lifters tend to use higher %, lower volume and less frequency.

I know, I just wrote that Bulgarian is the best method for a natural, lifter, while it calls for 100% every day…but your daily max is always in the 80-90% ball park of an all-out PR, so % aren’t that high, while volume sums up 'cause you train every day.

I also have trainees (raw natty) doing very good on Sheiko programs.


#12

[quote]cparker wrote:
So is there some kind of rep/set scheme or exercise that has cognitive abilities and knows you are using PEDs?[/quote]
It’s called the WADA method.


#13

[quote]tredaway wrote:
@ Chris_ottowa What I’m getting at is when you read a routine written by such people as Paul Carter I can’t help but think that as long as the person works hard if using enhancers it’s bound to work for them but how would I adapt it for someone who doesn’t use enhancers.

@T3hPwnisher I’m a bit slow I don’t understand what your asking when you say " Could you give specific examples? Right now, your use of allusion and implication versus directly stated specifics makes it difficult to understand where the issues are " could you rephrase it for me ?

Yes I’m looking for a basic powerlifting type program as I would like to achieve certain goals with the big three by the time I’m 50 so this would seem the most logical way for me to achieve my goal.

@ cparker I think you know very well what I mean lol

@ lift206 thanks for your input what you say does make a lot of sense, but to help underline the point when you say "The only program I can think of that is debatable is the Bulgarian method and that can be adapted for drug free powerlifters " how would you adapt the Bulgarian method for drug free powerlifters ie where would you start ?
[/quote]
Just chose a program that looks reasonable to you and do it. If you can’t make it through 3 weeks without needing a deload then the volume and/or intensity is too high. If it feels too easy then add more volume and intensity. It should be hard, but it shouldn’t kill you either.


#14

picking a training program really has little to do with whether or not you use performance enhancers in most cases. I don’t know why you believe this. I train EXACTLY the way I did before I started using PEDs. The only difference is I get better results now. I do all the same lifts, sets, reps, rest periods, number of training days per week, etc. that I did when I was natural.

So when you say ‘it’s clear that what Paul Carter says is not appropriate for a natural’, it tells me you are making assumptions you should not be making. You’re totally and completely wrong about this aspect of training.


#15

[quote]chris_ottawa wrote:

[quote]tredaway wrote:
@ Chris_ottowa What I’m getting at is when you read a routine written by such people as Paul Carter I can’t help but think that as long as the person works hard if using enhancers it’s bound to work for them but how would I adapt it for someone who doesn’t use enhancers.

@T3hPwnisher I’m a bit slow I don’t understand what your asking when you say " Could you give specific examples? Right now, your use of allusion and implication versus directly stated specifics makes it difficult to understand where the issues are " could you rephrase it for me ?

Yes I’m looking for a basic powerlifting type program as I would like to achieve certain goals with the big three by the time I’m 50 so this would seem the most logical way for me to achieve my goal.

@ cparker I think you know very well what I mean lol

@ lift206 thanks for your input what you say does make a lot of sense, but to help underline the point when you say "The only program I can think of that is debatable is the Bulgarian method and that can be adapted for drug free powerlifters " how would you adapt the Bulgarian method for drug free powerlifters ie where would you start ?
[/quote]
Just chose a program that looks reasonable to you and do it. If you can’t make it through 3 weeks without needing a deload then the volume and/or intensity is too high. If it feels too easy then add more volume and intensity. It should be hard, but it shouldn’t kill you either.[/quote]

I agree with this. Pick a program and try it out. Err on the side of too light. Sometimes I think people get analysis paralysis about this and it’s not really necessary.


#16

[quote]ouroboro_s wrote:

[quote]chris_ottawa wrote:

[quote]tredaway wrote:
@ Chris_ottowa What I’m getting at is when you read a routine written by such people as Paul Carter I can’t help but think that as long as the person works hard if using enhancers it’s bound to work for them but how would I adapt it for someone who doesn’t use enhancers.

@T3hPwnisher I’m a bit slow I don’t understand what your asking when you say " Could you give specific examples? Right now, your use of allusion and implication versus directly stated specifics makes it difficult to understand where the issues are " could you rephrase it for me ?

Yes I’m looking for a basic powerlifting type program as I would like to achieve certain goals with the big three by the time I’m 50 so this would seem the most logical way for me to achieve my goal.

@ cparker I think you know very well what I mean lol

@ lift206 thanks for your input what you say does make a lot of sense, but to help underline the point when you say "The only program I can think of that is debatable is the Bulgarian method and that can be adapted for drug free powerlifters " how would you adapt the Bulgarian method for drug free powerlifters ie where would you start ?
[/quote]
Just chose a program that looks reasonable to you and do it. If you can’t make it through 3 weeks without needing a deload then the volume and/or intensity is too high. If it feels too easy then add more volume and intensity. It should be hard, but it shouldn’t kill you either.[/quote]

I agree with this. Pick a program and try it out. Err on the side of too light. Sometimes I think people get analysis paralysis about this and it’s not really necessary.
[/quote]

^Seriously. I am “natty” as the kids say, and old, and have done multiple cycles of Sheiko, where I raised my maxes mid cycle, another supposed “high risk move,” and tried a few other programs, yet I didn’t explode. The only one that I couldn’t complete was the Cube “Kingpin,” but that was in August, when I switched from an AC commercial gym to a non-AC private gym. The 8 sets of 3 nearly killed me on one particular day, but I think that was more having to count above 5 in 90+ degree/humidity than anything else.


#17

[quote]TheKraken wrote:

[quote]ouroboro_s wrote:

[quote]chris_ottawa wrote:

[quote]tredaway wrote:
@ Chris_ottowa What I’m getting at is when you read a routine written by such people as Paul Carter I can’t help but think that as long as the person works hard if using enhancers it’s bound to work for them but how would I adapt it for someone who doesn’t use enhancers.

@T3hPwnisher I’m a bit slow I don’t understand what your asking when you say " Could you give specific examples? Right now, your use of allusion and implication versus directly stated specifics makes it difficult to understand where the issues are " could you rephrase it for me ?

Yes I’m looking for a basic powerlifting type program as I would like to achieve certain goals with the big three by the time I’m 50 so this would seem the most logical way for me to achieve my goal.

@ cparker I think you know very well what I mean lol

@ lift206 thanks for your input what you say does make a lot of sense, but to help underline the point when you say "The only program I can think of that is debatable is the Bulgarian method and that can be adapted for drug free powerlifters " how would you adapt the Bulgarian method for drug free powerlifters ie where would you start ?
[/quote]
Just chose a program that looks reasonable to you and do it. If you can’t make it through 3 weeks without needing a deload then the volume and/or intensity is too high. If it feels too easy then add more volume and intensity. It should be hard, but it shouldn’t kill you either.[/quote]

I agree with this. Pick a program and try it out. Err on the side of too light. Sometimes I think people get analysis paralysis about this and it’s not really necessary.
[/quote]

^Seriously. I am “natty” as the kids say, and old, and have done multiple cycles of Sheiko, where I raised my maxes mid cycle, another supposed “high risk move,” and tried a few other programs, yet I didn’t explode. The only one that I couldn’t complete was the Cube “Kingpin,” but that was in August, when I switched from an AC commercial gym to a non-AC private gym. The 8 sets of 3 nearly killed me on one particular day, but I think that was more having to count above 5 in 90+ degree/humidity than anything else.
[/quote]

I hear you on the old part. I’ve been fine tuning my training to doing less and less now that I’m over 50. Oddly, the less I do, the better my competition numbers are. I’ve pared down to no more than three days a week and very little accessory work.

Since very few of us make a living at this you try things and see what works for you.


#18

Thanks so much for all the replies and advice there are to many comments for me to answer them all but to some up I agree I just need to use a base program for the time being which is what I’m doing by following a basic 5x5 type program.

I have nothing against those that use enhancers with their training and as I’ve said I enjoy reading Paul Carters articles and have a lot of respect for the man, my point was as long as a person trains hard then if he’s using enhancers he’s going to make gains so if a natty were to follow a program the same program he wouldn’t see the same gains its as simple as that however I thought that if the same program could be adapted ( not so much a specific program ) it might still work well for a natty.

Thanks again everyone for the good advise its much appreciated.


#19

[quote]tredaway wrote:
I have nothing against those that use enhancers with their training and as I’ve said I enjoy reading Paul Carters articles and have a lot of respect for the man, my point was as long as a person trains hard then if he’s using enhancers he’s going to make gains so if a natty were to follow a program the same program he wouldn’t see the same gains its as simple as that however I thought that if the same program could be adapted ( not so much a specific program ) it might still work well for a natty.

[/quote]

I’m just going to say point blank that there is no adaptation required: you’ll simply not make as much progress as if you WERE being assisted.

Now, if your work capacity sucks, that might be a factor. That’s less to do with being natural and more to do with having a bad work capacity.

Just push yourself and try things out. Odds are, they’ll work.


#20

[quote]flipcollar wrote:
picking a training program really has little to do with whether or not you use performance enhancers in most cases. I don’t know why you believe this. I train EXACTLY the way I did before I started using PEDs. The only difference is I get better results now. I do all the same lifts, sets, reps, rest periods, number of training days per week, etc. that I did when I was natural.

So when you say ‘it’s clear that what Paul Carter says is not appropriate for a natural’, it tells me you are making assumptions you should not be making. You’re totally and completely wrong about this aspect of training.[/quote]

This is the only post I don’t understand as your actually contradicting yourself by saying " I train EXACTLY the way I did before I started using PEDs. The only difference is I get better results now. I do all the same lifts, sets, reps, rest periods, number of training days per week, etc. that I did when I was natural. " this is what I’ve been saying as long as you put the hard work in if your using PEDS than your going to get results no matter what your doing.