T Nation

Evolution of Best Damn Program for Natties?

#1

Has your thinking or feelings about the advice presented in the “Best Damn Program for Natties” changed at all in the last few years especially with many coaches like Mike Israetel advocating much higher volumes, frequency and less perceived exertion (concepts like Reps in Reserve) as one of the main drivers of progress for hypertrophy?

I found that using the program, I fizzled out VERY quickly, even when I used drugs. 2-3 weeks and my CNS was wrecked or I’d invariably get injured. However, I found that my strength did increase very quickly on the program, which makes me believe there’s something to it.

My Question:
For people like me who burn out quick, do you suggest just stopping the weights shy of failure and avoid the drop sets, myo reps, intensity extenders? Or maybe leaving them to just the last week before a deload?

And has your thinking evolved where you would change or advocate anything different for the program?

Thanks as always! You’ve always been the coach I’ve trust the most.

#2

I believe it has been suggested that if you can not handle the volume to take more rest days and roll over sessions.

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#3

Seems to me that if you can’t handle ONE working set, given the push/pull split, there is something seriously wrong with your recovery abilities… Especially if you’re enhanced.
Aaannndddd, I do not believe CT is influenced by anyone. He’s his own man and has his own training philosophy. Now, that philosophy has changed over the years, but that’s due to real world experience and growing older himself, not the opinion of another coach.

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#4

This program is made to be the most recoverable possible, how is that possible? What’s your strength and technique level (I’m assuming both are high but who knows)? Otherwise yeah there’s must be something wrong

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#5

CT’s article posted three days ago discusses pretty much exactly this.

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#6

Fizzling out in 2-3 weeks is extremely fast alright. What was your sleep like during this period? What was your diet like? How was your stress level? Participating in any additional physical activities? Surely there’s an underlying explanation as to why you couldn’t recover properly.

#7

yeah pretty much this. or one of his other programs without failure work like ‘Complete Power Look’

#8

Read my new article on the topic. This is covered.

#9

And I love Mike, and agree with most of what he says. And I agree that volume can have an impact on muscle growth. But it is not the main factor.

From a review posted by Dr.Stuart Phillips:

In contrast, RET (resistance exercise training) -induced muscular hypertrophy is primarily mediated by intensity of effort, which is achieved by performing RET to volitional fatigue and with an internal focus on contracting a muscle throughout the exercise range of motion. In addition, RET-induced muscular hypertrophy is augmented by increasing training volume, but with diminishing returns"

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/authShare/S2468867319300513/20190606T000700Z/1?md5=69999b519040c38d354a470ea1496643&dgcid=author&cookieCheck

As I point out in my article, a natural trainee need to decrease the RPE (rate of perceived effort) to accomodate a higher volume to avoid excessive cortisol levels. If you increase volume too much and decrease RPE accordingly you might miss out on the main hypertrophy stimulus.

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#10

CT’s article posted three days ago discusses pretty much exactly this.

Hi Chris, I couldn’t find anywhere in the article where CT talked about intensity modifiers on a program like this.

I like the old program. The strength and size came fast. Unfortunately so did the burnout and injuries. I’m wondering if applying this article’s current RPE setup to the old program would work just as well.

Week 1 - RPE 7
Week 2 - RPE 8
Week 3 - RPE 9
Week 4 - RPE 10 + intensity modifiers.
Week 5 - Deload.

#11

Blockquote Seems to me that if you can’t handle ONE working set, given the push/pull split, there is something seriously wrong with your recovery abilities… Especially if you’re enhanced.
Aaannndddd, I do not believe CT is influenced by anyone. He’s his own man and has his own training philosophy. Now, that philosophy has changed over the years, but that’s due to real world experience and growing older himself, not the opinion of another coach.

Nonsense - Everyone is influenced by the people that come before them, including CT who even said in an article once that he “stands on the shoulder’s of giants” meaning that he has built on the theories of those that come before and influenced him. That’s how science works, bro and it’s a positive thing.

Also, I’m one of the people that CT talks about in his latest article that is sensitive to intensity. I’m not sure how you train, but an all out, with a gun against your head set to failure should have you feeling wrecked. CT also used to advocate staying away from “training on the nerve” by keeping a few reps short of failure because of this.

#12

BlockquoteAs I point out in my article, a natural trainee need to decrease the RPE (rate of perceived effort) to accomodate a higher volume to avoid excessive cortisol levels. If you increase volume too much and decrease RPE accordingly you might miss out on the main hypertrophy stimulus.

This is what’s confusing me, because in your program the volume is increasing week to week as is the RPE, which is what happens in Mike Israetel’s hypertrophy templates as well.

Based on what you’re article recommends I could imagine this inverse scenario as being in line with what you’ve written.

E.g.

Block 1 – 65% of 1RM

  • Week 1: 4 sets of 12, RPE 7
  • Week 2: 4 sets of 11, RPE 7.5
  • Week 3: 4 sets of 10, RPE 8
  • Week 4: 4 sets of 8, RPE 8.5-9

Because this part in the article seems contradictory:

Blockquote * Higher intensity and lower volume is fine.

  • Higher volume and lower intensity (lower RPE) is fine.
  • It’s the combination of higher volume and higher intensity that’s problematic for natural lifters.

Can you please clarify? Thanks, and if my questions seem beyond the scope of the time you generously give on these forums I’d be happy to arrange and pay for a private consult as I’d really like to get this sorted as it’s tying my mind in knots, haha,

#13

It makes perfect sense. You are increasing the volume with each passing week (doing more reps with the same weight), and so the RPE must increase along with it. Your question seems to imply that CT is increasing both volume and RPE independently, when in fact they would be linked.

In your example you propose, how would doing 4 sets of 12 have a lower RPE of 4x8 at the same weight (65% of 1RM)?

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#14

Exactly. Here, just in this specific case, CT is basing RPE solely on the volume. I’ve definitely seen others connect that term directly to intensity (which is also a term that suffers from multiple uses), but that’s not what’s happening in CT’s routine.

#15

You are increasing the volume with each passing week (doing more reps with the same weight), and so the RPE must increase along with it.

CT writes in his article - * It’s the combination of higher volume and higher intensity that’s problematic for natural lifters.

That’s what’s confusing me. If increasing the volume AND increasing the RPE is “PROBLEMATIC”, why is it EXACTLY like that in the workout.

To clarify what I meant on my previous example, wouldn’t the volume decrease as the RPE increases??

This is what’s fucking confusing me so much with Mike Israetel’s recommendations and now, CT’s as well. He’s doing the EXACT same thing as Mike recommends and says he’s not.

Mikes Programs -
Start off low volume and low RPE
End with high volume and high RPE.

CT’s New Program
Start off low volume and low RPE
End with high volume and high RPE.

Am I the only one who can see the contradiction here with what’s being stated and what’s being recommended???

It makes sense that as the RPE increases, you’re going to have to LOWER the overall volume because you’ve hit it hard ONCE? Why keep hitting it with MORE volume and HIGH RPE??

#16

Well, I do see the source of your confusion, but, assuming I understand it correctly, I’ll try to explain the way I interpret it:

First of all, the article assumes that someone using this program has considerable muscular endurance and the ability to recover well between sets. Therefore, a person who fits this description would hit a similar RPE on each set, even that last one (I think generous rest periods are also assumed). If, on the other hand, an RPE of 7 on the first set leads to a much higher RPE on the final set, then the person probably shouldn’t be using this type of volume.

Based on that premise, if, in week 1, you only do 8 reps with a weight you could have taken up to, say, 13 reps, that gives you that lower RPE. A few weeks later, you’re taking that same weight to 12 reps in a set, much closer to your maximum, thus the higher RPE.

What’s not stated but is implied is the idea that if you truly are a volume lifter, your multi-week exposure to that same weight will likely raise your maximum along the way, meaning a weight that you could have lifted for 13 reps in week 1 has likely risen to a 14- or 15-rep maximum by week 4. Therefore, you’re able to make the volume prescription.

Does that clarify anything?

#17

Moving the same weight more times is more difficult. THAT raises RPE. Not sure what part of that concept you’re failing to grasp.

#18

Moving the same weight more times is more difficult. THAT raises RPE. Not sure what part of that concept you’re failing to grasp.

Are you reading at an RPE of 2, or is your “comprehension muscle” straining from under stimulus?

You’re not even landing anywhere within the ballpark of what question I’m asking, or content I’m discussing.

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#19

Kind of, but it’s separate to what I’m asking in this case.

I tolerate high volumes with RPE 7/9 loads really well. I could do 6 sets of 6 exercises with RPE’s - 7-9 and still feel fine physically and mentally.

However, I don’t progress that well. At those volumes I LOSE strength and stagnate weight wise despite sleeping 8 hours, taking drugs and eating 5-6000 cals a day.

Train me at low volumes with high intensity and my weights start flying up, my body weight starts moving initially… BUT after a month of this I feel like absolute dog shit on the daily and snap!, something breaks. My appetite goes down, I don’t sleep well. I’m always grumpy…Hi overtraining!

That’s pretty much the story of most intensity lifters.

I trained for 12 weeks under Jordan Peters who had me on a low volume program of rest pause and drop sets every workout. Works great for him and Corrine but it was the worst I ever looked and felt in my life. I was ground dogshit after that 12 weeks and looked like it too.

My original contention is maybe the original natty program is the Goldilocks sweet spot where you keep things ow volume and maybe stop at RPE 8/9 for all the lifts instead of adding the suggested intensity multipliers like rest pause, drop sets etc. Maybe beginners can handle that. Maybe guys that fool.themselves thinking they train hard can handle that. But for some of us who are advanced and working with different neurological profiles, we need to keep a bit in reserve each week and work up to that final week of all out intensity?

#20

Okay, I get what you’re saying, and my profile AND experiences are actually quite similar to yours (though I’ve never run assistance). Is it possible that we fall somewhere in between the intensity and volume groups? It appears so, and I would say that what you’re proposing would work very well for both of us.

I’m actually trying to zero in on a similar program right now, but I’m using just a tiny bit more volume than is proposed in the original (intensity) program, i.e. two top sets instead of one, not unlike the load days from Fortitude Training. I started with a RPE of around 7 and will see how high I can go in a single cycle. I’m also leaning a little more on the volume progression than on the intensity progression (as you’re proposing), but only by a little bit.

That said, provided I take substantial rest periods between each set, I still think I might be able to run this new (volume) program as written and plan on trying it at some point (for the record, I also crashed pretty early on the original program). If it likewise fails to work for me, I’ll just figure it isn’t written specifically for me.