T Nation

General Questions About CT's Programs


#1

Hello TNation members and CT,

There are a lot of programs of CT - as you may know, e.g. 915 build for bad, hp mass, super hero, "layer system" etc. and my questions regarding these programs are:
(Although CT would not like these kind of questions, I believe that they are worth asking)

1) which program is the "hardest" one regarding recovery, volume and intensity?
2) which program made one to build the most muscle and made one to get stronger?
3) what is your favorite CT program?
4) what is his best work in your opinion?

Even though every program has its own goal, I think that one can still give general answers for it.
Thank you for reading (:


#2

[quote]Immunion wrote:
Hello TNation members and CT,

There are a lot of programs of CT - as you may know, e.g. 915 build for bad, hp mass, super hero, “layer system” etc. and my questions regarding these programs are:
(Although CT would not like these kind of questions, I believe that they are worth asking)

  1. which program is the “hardest” one regarding recovery, volume and intensity?
  2. which program made one to build the most muscle and made one to get stronger?
  3. what is your favorite CT program?
  4. what is his best work in your opinion?

Even though every program has its own goal, I think that one can still give general answers for it.
Thank you for reading (:[/quote]

Dude, in all my career I write a ton of programs so it’s kinda hard to answer these questions. Even if you only take the programs I published on Tnation that is quite a few!

  1. Of the more recent programs I’d say that the 6-Weeks to Superhero and the Indigo programs are the hardest to do and recover from.

  2. The original layer system and strength-based layer system (30 days cycle) seems to produce the largest amount of strength gains, or more specifically the most rapid. The 915 program gives more long term strength gains in my experience. The Built For Bad circuits gave me great gains in size, strength and hardness

  3. I don’t have one… I am constantly changing my own program. When I find that I figured out something I want to learn something new. While most people use programs to get gains, I do programs to learn something new that will make me a better coach… a great approach for a coach, a very bad one for an athlete :slight_smile:

  4. I will let others answer that.


#3

3.) i find build for bad magical :slight_smile:


#4

I agree with CT answer.
1)build for bad gave me a lot of size too (I was doing the modified version with mTor activation). My last work out of that program lead me to a new PR at the trap bar deadlift and it wasn’t my goal. I gain strengh too on every lift. Finally, I found it to be very metabolic, looking for my breath sometime especially after SGHP.

  1. Original layer gave my a lot of strengh but be sure to respect the plan. A bit more work and you’ll feel probably drain after a while.

  2. 10 days cycle gave me a lot of strengh too. I end up my last 1rm ramp with a new pr on squat and I wasn’t shooting for that!

  3. heavy single lead me to gain in size especially for shoulder. I was doing push press as main lift for overhead pressing.


#5

I’ve only committed to trying the layer system from CT, and I followed it for about 2 months. I got really good results. My bench shot up from “weak and neglected” (had a touchy shoulder for the last two years or so) to beating my all-time PR, and my squat/deadlift made alot of progress as well, even though I didn’t break my all-time 1RM. The only thing is that I felt pretty burnt out after awhile… I think maybe I wasn’t eating enough at the end to support my workouts.

The other thing that worked really well for me is the Carb Cycling Codex. I did that for about 6 months straight and lost about 3-4% BF while gaining 3 kg. Not a workout, per se, but still some CT wisdom that was a game-changer.


#6

My $0.02:

  1. Superhero was an amazing metabolic stim, but I was only able to last 4 or 5 weeks the three different times I went after that. As written, there is a ton of volume that requires a lot of mental endurance to complete.
  2. I hit several PR’s doing HP Mass. I made a couple PR’s doing layers, but felt the gains stalled after 4-6 weeks.
  3. An oldie - Warroom Strategies for Fat Loss - dropped 35lbs in 5 months, and gained or maintained all my lifts. Almost as effective as Superhero, but was sustainable for a longer period of time while still making progress. Just had to mix up the lactate work frequently to keep the stimulus going, doing movements my body was “inefficient” with.
  4. CT’s best work is likely going to be his next project. His passion to innovate, building on his previous work, will undoubtedly produce some great new stuff.

#7

to 1) While I did the 915 program of CT, sometimes I had a hard time to recovery because the heavy weights can be very taxing.

to 2) and 3) I had the best results when I tried the 10 day cycle of layer, so basically it is also my favourite work of CT.

to 4) I agree with orcrist, I also believe that CT will develope his best work in the future!

I have never done HP mass before, how is the HP mass compared to the 10 day cycle of layer?


#8

I have never done the 10 day layer cycle, but I have done HPMASS 3 times and am currently on Week 3 of a 4th cycle. HPMASS increased my 3RM on the bench by 30lbs in 6 weeks and my Front Squat by about 30lbs give or take as well(I can’t remember exactly).

I’ve done a few versions of a layer system and have found that compared to HPMASS, the layer system is more neurally demanding, while HPMASS has MUCH MUCH more volume if you do it as written.


#9

Layers style programming has worked well for me. Layers introduced me to the SGHP, which has since become my favorite lift and, in my opinion is one of the best upper back mass builders there is. My love of SGHP led me to follow CTs High Pull Blitz and my 1RM went from 275 to 315 in 3 weeks. My traps and rear delts are noticeably bigger as a result. I plan to revisit the SGHP blitz again in the future. I am currently doing a BP program and incorporating layers on my other lifts. When I finish the bench program I may try HP Mass, but it is going to be hard to walk away from layers.


#10

[quote]Colbstar wrote:
I have never done the 10 day layer cycle, but I have done HPMASS 3 times and am currently on Week 3 of a 4th cycle. HPMASS increased my 3RM on the bench by 30lbs in 6 weeks and my Front Squat by about 30lbs give or take as well(I can’t remember exactly).

I’ve done a few versions of a layer system and have found that compared to HPMASS, the layer system is more neurally demanding, while HPMASS has MUCH MUCH more volume if you do it as written.[/quote]
Hey colbstar could you rehash your hpmass setup?

So 3 pressing movements, 1 lower body, chins/face pulls staggered in between, ramp up to 3 rep training max, wave load… No back off sets (higher rep)?

Do this 2 days, third day lat bicep, 4th/5th reverse upper bod/lower bod emphasis, 6th day repeat

Sticking to the weekly prescribed volume progression? Or more auto regulatory now and doing as much volume (aka reps of 3 dominant explosove reps) on a movement as possible?

I’m going to do this again and the instinctual/auto regulatory feel of this style is great. How are your phsyiqe/ size gains? Thanks


#11

@Sigil: I did HPMass

Mon & Tues: 3 upper pressing with rhomboid, rear felt exercises, etc staggered in, follow by 1 lower body exercise

Wed & Sun: Neural Charge

Thursday & Friday: 2 lower body, 1 upper body (staggered sets of TRX reverse flies, etc…) then lots of prowler work

Sat: Lats & bis + prowler for lats & bis

and got amazing results from it… it seemed to work better for me with just one lats and bis day. For as long as I had been lifting my results blew me away.


#12

Sigil,
I set some big PRs with HP Mass, following the exact loading scheme CT prescribed, waving the load each set, added a wave each week for three weeks, then increasing weight. You don’t want to go all the way to your 3RM, stick with the load as written. You are doing the same pressing workout on consecutive days, it is a ton of volume. I did Push Press, then shallow incline, then board press on Day 1/2, followed by Cleans on Day 1, and Front Squats on Day 2. Both days I did sled work after that.

Day 3 was usually a rest day. I was doing chins, rows or facepulls on Day 1/2 between my other sets. I think CT recommended against alternating sets of rows and presses, but I didn’t have a problem doing it as long as I didn’t do too many all-chin-up days.

On Day 4/5, I did one weight lift (I did mostly cleans, but you could probably do SGHP), then a squat, then one press, followed by a ton of sled work. I have a homemade dragging sled, no prowler. On Day 4, I went a little heavier on the OHP, and on Day 5 I did a flat bench or board press.

On Day 6, i usually only did some mobility, some curls and lighter sled work to aid recovery. A bunch of these days I did an low-intensity outdoor activity instead of another lifting session.

High volume under partial fatigue with mod hvy weights for tons of concentric patterning, no max lifts, minimize eccentrics, minimize higher-rep sets (except for lats/bi’s).

A few things I learned on my set up:

  • Don’t get cute. Stick to the plan. Ideally this program is handed to you by a coach who will hound you, so you are not doing any thinking for yourself. I usually have my daily plan in my head when I get to the gym. For this thing, it was all written out on paper and I just crossed off sets as I went.
  • Before attempting this, do a program with a bunch of HIIT conditioning. If you don’t have strong wind and CV recovery, you will not be pushing yourself hard and fast enough through all these sets to get the benefit. I treated each workout kinda like a Crossfit WOD, done as fast as I could with good form. It was like a WOD with purpose.
  • A sled or prowler is an absolute must. If you can’t get the eccentricless volume, you are wasting your time, IMHO. I regretted every workout where I cut short the sled work. If you have to autoregulate to less work for any reason, I’d drop back bar weight or take sets off the 2nd/3rd wave, and do more sled, versus doing all the bar reps but skipping the sled.
  • Diet, especially peri-workout, has to be dialed in. The metabolic demands of this program are very different than say a 5/3/1, or even layers, where muscles get a couple rest days. If you haven’t experimented with food and supps to where you are confident you know how your body responds, I wouldn’t try this program unless you had all the Biotest supps and/or stronger stuff (ahem). In other words, it is not likely to help a beginner that much, unless they are well-coached through every workout.
  • I like to push myself for PR’s, so this program annoyed me at first. Then I figured out two things I could push myself on: 1) I tried to set a PR every week for total weekly sled dragging volume. 2) Shortening workout time (like escalating density). Weeks 2 and 3 have progressively more sets, so I had to compare to the previous week 2’s and 3’s, respectively.
  • HP Mass requires a lot of weight changes on the bar, done with very little extra time, so I eventually got stir crazy sliding on/off 5’s and 10’s thousands of times.

All that said, I strict-pressed bodyweight (a 40lb PR) after running this program for a summer. When I switched to a program with more classic weight lifts, I hit PRs in those every week for a month.

Happy training!


#13

Oh shoot, Sput reminded me about the neural charge workouts. Yeah, those are a must, also. I almost always did only bodyweight stuff for those. Those were really important because with all the volume, I didn’t have the “juice” to get going a lot of days. The NC’s kept me from getting too stale and lethargic. I didn’t do that much work on these, but I still used my full peri-workout nutrition protocol. Really helped with recovery.


#14

Colbstar, can you please clear this to me, how the layer system is more neuro demanding as HP MASS.? In layer system you work each part of the body one time at week and with the HPMASS you work every day the same body part. I’ve doing the layer system, but not the HPMASS.


#15

Thanks for the share guys. Orc I don’t have sled unfortunately but not focused on leg hypertrophy relative to upper bod.

Ct any thoughts on this? How would you rank hpmass and any changes you’d make to it now? Thanks


#16

[quote]orcrist wrote:
Oh shoot, Sput reminded me about the neural charge workouts. Yeah, those are a must, also. I almost always did only bodyweight stuff for those. Those were really important because with all the volume, I didn’t have the “juice” to get going a lot of days. The NC’s kept me from getting too stale and lethargic. I didn’t do that much work on these, but I still used my full peri-workout nutrition protocol. Really helped with recovery.[/quote]
They really are! They are perfect in every way. I actually add neural charge workouts on any program that calls for off days. THAT is how powerful they are!


#17

[quote]Rickectonomore wrote:
Colbstar, can you please clear this to me, how the layer system is more neuro demanding as HP MASS.? In layer system you work each part of the body one time at week and with the HPMASS you work every day the same body part. I’ve doing the layer system, but not the HPMASS.[/quote]
From experience, if you do the HPMASS CYCLE and actually follow the progression model with the correct weights for you, you will feel like you could press everyday no problem. You will most likely WANT to add performance days. That’s how the submaximal waveloading can be very, very addicting.

The layer system is sort of on the other side of the spectrum, in terms of frequency, because the demand on the body is much more specialized because you lift with one exercise per day. Because of this, I PERSONALLY tend to always go overboard on layers, pushing it to the limit on days that I probably shouldn’t because the frequency of each lift is maybe twice a week.
Also, if you use a 1RM, the neural demand is simply greater than if you use a pre planned MTW that should only be difficult to get 5 reps.


#18

[quote]-Sigil- wrote:

[quote]Colbstar wrote:
I have never done the 10 day layer cycle, but I have done HPMASS 3 times and am currently on Week 3 of a 4th cycle. HPMASS increased my 3RM on the bench by 30lbs in 6 weeks and my Front Squat by about 30lbs give or take as well(I can’t remember exactly).

I’ve done a few versions of a layer system and have found that compared to HPMASS, the layer system is more neurally demanding, while HPMASS has MUCH MUCH more volume if you do it as written.[/quote]
Hey colbstar could you rehash your hpmass setup?

So 3 pressing movements, 1 lower body, chins/face pulls staggered in between, ramp up to 3 rep training max, wave load… No back off sets (higher rep)?

Do this 2 days, third day lat bicep, 4th/5th reverse upper bod/lower bod emphasis, 6th day repeat

Sticking to the weekly prescribed volume progression? Or more auto regulatory now and doing as much volume (aka reps of 3 dominant explosove reps) on a movement as possible?

I’m going to do this again and the instinctual/auto regulatory feel of this style is great. How are your phsyiqe/ size gains? Thanks
[/quote]
Yes, that’s how I set it up. A few things that I’ve been taking note of that I’ll give you some insight about though:

Even though I’m following the progression model, I actually prefer an auto-regulatory approach. It allows me to be much more involved with my workout - which is something I love to do.

The 2 days in a row is PERFECT. I love focusing my efforts to one part of the week.

I don’t like doing lats/biceps after Neural Charge workouts. One day where you hit them hard with fatigue training seems to satisfy my bodybuilding fix to use machines and pump work.

The sled work is very important, as stated above. If you add this work, YOU SHOULD NEVER BE SORE FOR LEGS! *Assuming your peri-workout protocol is on point.

HPMASS caters itself to 2-a-day training. If you are a bit of a stimulus addict, this program is for you.

I actually don’t like doing staggered work that much between sets of pressing because it takes me out of the zone. I prefer to add lots of sled volume for mid back, traps, rear delts, and rotator cuff as assistance work. OR band work.

Physique wise, my legs always grow on a cycle. I’m actually getting some veiny shoulders which is really nice as well. Training twice a day has kept me really lean too.

If you can’t get in any sled work, the max rep set stuff will help add some volume BUT in my experience, DO NOT EMPHASIZE THE ECCENTRIC and also do it on the 2nd pressing day, not the 1st. I’ve tried to do it on both days and my performance the next day suffered.


#19

I also prefer ramping each movement from a feeler set instead of starting the next pressing exercise on its MTW.