T Nation

For the T-Nation Devout


Disclaimer: If you are a newbie to weightlifting and/or T-Nation do not read the following. It is intended for the more devout and knowledged T-man/vixen and is actually intended to elicit some discussion about some "sacred cows" around here. Also, I've been known to say what I mean and mean what I say, so some-to-most of this is tongue-in-cheek/devil's advocate material.

I?ve been labeled as argumentative in the past and I?m tired of arguing about ID, so, I?m starting this thread out of frustration. Joe Weider and the newsstand BB Mags are correct in their training protocols, that's right, I said it. 3-4X10-12 on 20-30 different exercises for 2-3hrs. a day is not only a very viable way to lift, it's got history, and is good for weeding.

The ?hardcore? or ?underground? media will make assertions about hormonal milieu and overtraining and spout slogans like ?All show and no go!? and ?training to failure teaches you to fail?, but, it?s a bunch of hooey.

First of all, they?ll tell you that your workouts should be ~1hr. in length. They claim that much longer than this and your testosterone levels start to drop off. So? Testosterone levels are generally lower in leaner, athletic individuals.

As well; testosterone isn?t required for muscular growth. Testosterone has merely a loose association with muscle growth, muscle atrophy can and does occur in ?high testosterone? environments and muscle growth can occur in decidedly ?low testosterone? environments or environment where testosterone remains unchanged. In addition, some ?high volume? Olympic lifting based workouts have shown to boost testosterone levels.

So, what exact kind of exercise for that 1hr. causes a problem? Does my stretching count? Does two hours walking on a treadmill lower my T levels? For how long? Why do I care?

After they?ve espoused about workout length, they?ll begin to talk about overtraining. Overtraining and recovery capacity are two of the most misunderstood concepts of athletic training right above ?intensity?. It?s funny because usually these people will usually tell you that recovery is the most important aspect of training and then map out rep tempos and rest periods to the 1/10th of a second and want you to use 82.5% of your 1 RM for that day in order to achieve optimal TUT and appropriately stimulate growth.

What exactly are the units of overtraining or recovery? How much can the average person recover in 24 hrs.? It?s funny too because they act like it?s a limited commodity. Think of Casey Viator and ?The Colorado Experiment?, the guy gained 63# in 28 days. Even with ?muscle memory?, PEDs, and forced negatives, the fact remains that he gained 63# in 28 days. Arthur Jones himself gained 22# 13 days.

Are we capable of destroying 22# of muscle in workouts every 2 wks.? Are we rebuilding 22#? I don?t think so. If someone plateaus and/or overtrains, changes nothing except adding a little Vitamin T in the stack of arbitrary choosing, will he make gains? Why? Because of the additional stimulus? If the ?recovery machinery? is fried, why would the additional stimulus work?

With all of the amazing growth and recovery that the average human body goes through on a regular basis, why do we assume that our workouts are the biggest problem(s)? To put it another way, how does a generous growth spurt of 20#/yr. from the damage/recovery of your workouts compare to the ?recovery machinery? that builds 22# in two weeks?

Next, they?ll spout from one side of their mouths about functionality, and that the sets, reps, and exercises aren?t ?usable?. They just build ?showy muscles?. This is funny because if you were standing on the other side of their face, talking about ?purely functional? training, they?d tell you that there?s no such thing and that even bread and butter lifting exercises have little carryover to sport.

Which is it? In an even more ironic twist, if you ask a group of them about a sport like football, strongman/highland games, or UFC-style fighting and whether it?s more important to be big and strong or skilled and functional, you?ll get a 50/50 answer with each person saying the same thing slightly differently.

Last, ?Training to failure teaches you to fail!? Oh yeah? Well, ?You play like you practice!? so, ?practice at 90%, play at 90%.?, ?No pain, no gain!?, ?Go hard or go home!? etc. Too bad that these slogans and thought lines are as efficacious as the Winstrol and Bench shirt sitting alone in the back of Louie Simmons gym. Whew!

As I said, I?ve been reading lots of the ID thread, where we all seem to be experts, and I just got finished reading a thread where one member, registered for 1 mo., responded to another, registered 2 days, with advice on two options without having tried either of them. It got me thinking about the things we ?know?. Just so it is known, thinking and writing this rant made me uncomfortable. Interestingly:

?I've always thought that getting too comfortable was a bad thing. I don't like getting too complacent or too satisfied. I think that's how a man becomes stagnant ? stagnant mentally, physically, creatively, or financially. It can also get you killed.? Chris Shugart

T-Nation devout, light your torches and flame away. Rant over.



The answers to your questions can be answered really easily and you seemed to have missed the point of this whole board.

Anyone who's been around here long enough to remember the forum switch over, which I think had to be around a yr ago now, knows that this industry is full of different information!

Here's the answer: Everything works once. It's up to you to find out what works for your body. Let's not get into specifics here, but everyone's body is different. It's a simple fact, we're dealing with information that is taken to generalize, but you must realize that it's information and it's up to you how you use it.

It's simple...

I do appreciate your opinions and yes they may work for some and not for others. I'll tell you what, low reps high weight is workin real well for me right now and I found that out after I put faith in that. I've done the whole high volume, tut, you name it.. This is what's workin for me....you going to tell me differently, that's your game.

Anyways...just adding to this monster post, lucky I'm on lunch!




What's the point of this?

Hasn't it been said time and time again everything works for a little while?


If that's true, then why are there literally hundreds of programs on this site alone?

Why does Poliquin say things like 'You should really read about 5 hrs. a week for 5 YEARS before you can consider yourself knowledgeable on a subject.'?

Why hasn't everyone in every gym and musclemag figured it out?


Because they're willfully ignorant.



Check out the following threads;

Training to Failure?

Recommend Program to Get Cut

Heavy Duty
Pain for Life

Scrawny To Brawny, Is It For Me?
PharmD Pete

High Rep Training
Uscumla Beograd

Newbie Needs Help...

Hypertrophy Program

Let me ask you this, If you were going to teach a class "Athletic Self-Training 101", what would the curriculum be. As I said, I was reading the ID thread and it got me thinking about science, natural science, and anecdotes. A lot of sciences out there have very central ideas and core knowledge that can't/won't be overturned. If you walk up to a chemist and ask how will "A" react with "B" he pulls out a periodic table or textbook and goes to town (sure you can pick out a rare chemical and stump them, but that's the point, it's rare). Ask a physicist if I subject material X to 100 millirads of radiation, how "hot" will it be in 10 yrs.? Physical culture has no such codices or algorithms. I think JB has started to generate some very good ones for nutrition and there's some scattered pieces by Axileev, Prilepin, Simmons, et al., hell, even Vroom's started a 'beginners' thread, but I'm talking cradle-to-grave, the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth sort of stuff. Things like even the most fundamental chemistry or physics textbook would have.

Don't think in programs, think algorithms and systems. Draw it out on a flow chart or decision tree, that sort of thing. It just seems that I keep seeing new programs here on T-Mag, and while they are very good programs, they don't really fit into any sort of heirarchy or far-reaching scheme or have any sort of reference to one another. You get one person/program saying go to failure, everything else is worthless, the next saying fail on the last rep of the last set sometimes, and another saying never fail. As you said, they are all right in their own regard, but if it's just stab in the dark and see what works, what's the point of writing and researching it? If there's no predictability, and everything works once, then we're done. Writing new programs is just shuffling the cards and never dealing. Know what I'm saying?


I laughed out loud when I read that part and then I stopped because I know that shit happens on this board every day. This forum is full of self-proclaimed experts who simply repeat whatever has been said in the latest article by one of the strength coaches on this site.

I like this idea for a thread and I hope it actually stimulates some real discussion. I will try to stop back and check in with my two cents later.


Works for whom? How many natural lifters do you know that have gained training that way?

And how many of those lifters had work/school/family/social life commitments?


I know what you're saying, but here's the thing: training is as much art as it is science. In chemistry, 100cc of A mixed with 100cc of B will always produce reaction C. Always. The human body is different. Not everyone will respond the same way to routine A. Also, people/athletes have different goals. Routine A may be great for hypertrophy, but lacks in the area of developing speed-strength. For that, you need routine B.


"Let me ask you this, If you were going to teach a class "Athletic Self-Training 101", what would the curriculum be."

Probably the same as "PEDS 335: Advanced Conditioning Methodology" at the University of Alberta. I can't find the course outline right now, but in the past two months we've covered periodization and several methods of increasing all aspects of aerobic fitness.

Wouldn't be a very good "101" level course as you need to complete "PEDS 200: Exercise Physiology" first, which requires completion of 3 credits in anatomy and 6 credits in general human physiology...


everything works in the short term, and certainly if bodybuilding is ALL you do, then you will get bigger.

However, some of us are into more than just hypertrophy and want strength and other such goals. Overtraining to the point you're referring to will not yield that strength. It will also eventually decrease the body's ability to fight infection, etc.

Bodybuilders can do it, but they're on gear.

Again, as a short term thing, it'll work great for anyone. How long you can last without doing some adverse damage is debateable.


It's about choice. Surely you would not want every trainer in the world to agree on one paradigm - what would be the fun in that? You certainly wouldn't be able to make posts like this one :slightly_smiling:

You take the bits that you like from each article - some you may not like at all - and walk away with what works for you.


Good, I was worried that nobody was going to feel me on this topic. Please chip in your .02 at any time.


In school, everyone I lifted with would respond to two weeks of this (I know it's anecdotal, but we've had articles with "One time, I lifted with Mr. Olympia, and..."). Two weeks on, two weeks off and nobody had any problems for months, their bodyweight would fluctuate but always upwards.

"Works for whom?"-That is the right question! (Sorry, just watched I,Robot last night) How many programs are up on this site that don't answer that question? 100? 1000?

"How many natural lifters do you know that have gained training that way?" No offense to any of the trainers here, but look at the programs and ask the same question. Point to a research paper and they'll say things like "Only 30 untrained males? The results are crap!" and then they'll turn around and offer a program based on what they see gymnasts and their mechanic doing that they've tested on all 25-50 of their clients of mixed genders and training ages. Not that the program doesn't work and work well, just where's the theory? the method? the test?


MTB, you were one of the people I expected to really get this. You're right, the chemistry example was too simplistic an analogy. Let's take an entire field, like medicine, computing, or molecular biology and dial the clock back 50 yrs. do you feel that bodybuilding/weightlifting/athletics has progressed appropriately in that timespan? Admittedly, Paul Anderson was a freak, but 50 yrs. ahead of his time freaky?

I think you're starting to get at what I'm saying at the end of your post. If all of the "authorities" could reach some consensus, then there should be some sort of codex or algorithm that a vast majority of the population should fit into and be able to achieve, to a large degree, their objectives. From what I can tell, it doesn't exist. And you say it's an art, and you're right, it is. 50 yrs. ago it was an art. Medicine was an art 50 yrs. ago, computing was an art 50 yrs. ago, "molecular biology" was an art 50 yrs. ago. Doesn't it sometimes seem like we COULD be doing something wrong?


I'll say this, I haven't been subjected to the Canadian sport science education machine, but I hear nothing but superlatives about it.

Nonetheless, as I responded to MtB, Do you think the things you learn in PEDS 335 are the "be all end all" facts and rules that you would learn in a 300-level chemistry or physics class? Or is another genetic freak like Paul Anderson or brilliant coach like Louie Simmons or even just a "Russian Training Secret" lurking right around the corner waiting to annihilate what you know? Why is that even possible?


To answer that I would think NO. I can't imagine anyone coming along and just blowing everyone out of the water. I can't imagine people getting much bigger than they already are. Although I'm sure they thought that 50 years ago also. For training secrets, I don't think they're much more out there...My question would be, after all this time, all the different routines/styles, can there really be something out there that's totally new?


The problem with this outlook is when we look at the gains in the fields of science (you examples of biology ect.)you are talking about the discovery of common logic. Each field has it's own set of rules and laws that governs all work in that field. It is impossible to apply that paradigm to a human being because each person is a universe into them selves, with their own unique rules and laws. This is one reason I have a problem with the way many schools teach nutrition and physical sciences. They use the concept of common logic to apply a template to all persons. You have to eat "This way", you have to train "this way". They are trying to apply the same formula to a multitude of different systems.



Interesting idea for a thread.

That being said, I would like to address the issue regarding the training programs on this site. Are they optimal? Probably not. In my opinion, the "art" of training an individual consists to a lesser extent in being able to conceive training programs based on allegedly "universally valid" principles, but rather in determining which program and ultimately the implementation of which principles suits the person best. A standardized program - albeit a program developed to meet a wide variety of demands - stands no chance of meeting this criterion.

Furthermore, I believe most contributors on this site use their training templates as an example of the respective principles and the resulting programs are not meant to be set in stone. In contrast, it wouldn't be possible to expound comprehensively on the above mentioned "art" in the scope of a single article or even a series of articles, even if it were to become apparent that the "art" turned out to be more of a "science" after all.

Ultimately, it seems that we are condemned to do at least some of the thinking by ourselves...


Great post... especially this part