T Nation

Heavy, Light, Medium: Feedback on Program


#1

I’ve made a 15 week Heavy, Light, Medium/DUP program for myself that I’m finishing the first cycle of right now. I’m really happy with both the style of training and the results I’m getting. Especially since I’ve been stuck on my lifts for half a year.

It would be really nice to get some feedback on the program. Suggestions, improvements or comments are highly appreciated!

Some background:
I’ve been lifting weights seriously for 1.5 years now. I’ve run Stronglifts 5x5, the Texas Method and the general intermediate program from Strengththeory.com each for half a year. I really progressed on Stronglifts 5x5 until I hit a pleteau. Even after several resets I could not progress any further. I then switched to Texas Method for half a year. Loved the idea of the program, but found it to be too easy in the beginning, too hard very quickly and mentally tiring to go back week after week and do an even heavier 5x5. It is also possible that I was a bit sick of doing 5x5’s after Stronglifts. Switched to the strengththeory program and replaced one of the bench sessions by overhead press (as described as a possibility) to get some overhead work in as well. Found this program to be too low volume most of the weeks and too low frequency for the main lifts. However, I really liked ramping up the weights and dropping the volume as you go. I also learned a lot about how my body feels when I’m overreaching or not doing that much volume the last year.

Info:
Sex: Male
Age: 28
BW: 87 kg / 192 lbs
Squat PR: 142.5 kg / 315 lbs
Bench Press PR: 122.5 kg / 270 lbs
Deadlifts PR: 170 kg / 375 lbs

However, I’ve already hit both my squat and bench PR’s for several doubles and singles feeling really good the last couple of weeks. So, I believe the following numbers are cautious estimates of my current strength 150/130/180 kg (330/286/397 lbs) (not that it matters that much!). My semi-long term goals are getting a three plates bench, four plate squat and five plate deadlift. And I’m planning to join my first local powerlifting meet in January or February next year.

Sorry for all the info, I’m just trying to give enough context!

The program is described below. For Monday and Friday I do a linear progression of the weights for three months. Increasing both independently 2.5 kgs each week. I do this for four weeks using the first column rep-set scheme, then do a volume deload for one week. Then change to the second column rep-set scheme and continue the linear progression for four new weeks, do a volume deload for one week and then I do the third column scheme for four weeks. Then, I deload the last week before hitting new PR’s that Friday. Hence, in total I add 30 kg over the course of the 15 weeks to my training weight.

For Wednesdays I increase the weight a bit more by the feeling, but I start out with sets of 8 and work my way up to sets of 10 before I increase the weight and drop down to 8 reps again.

Monday (Heavy Day):
Squat: 5x5 / 6x3 / 10x1
Bench: 5x5 / 6x3 / 10x1
Deadlift: 2x3 / 3x2 / 4x1

Wednesday (Light day):
In this workout I hit a new set every second minute to get some conditioning in, some pump and prevent the weights from being all that heavy. Its a though workout while doing it, but I recover quite easily from it.
Front Squat: 4x(8-10)
Overhead press: 4x(8-10)
Pull-ups: hit a total of 40
Incline DB bench press: 4x(8-10)
Pendlay rows: 4x(8-10)
Some core work.

Friday (Medium day):
Squats: 2x3 / 3x2 / 4x1
Bench Press: 2x3 / 3x2 / 4x1
Speed deadlift: (5-8)x3*
End the workout with some bodyweight, complex or rowing finisher as long as I feel my recovery is good.
*For the speed deadlifts I start out with 5x3, work my way up to 8x3, before I increase the weight and go back to 5 sets. Always ensuring that the bar is moving really fast.

I plan to start my next cycle with 115, 100 and 140 for squat, bench and deadlift for Mondays (approx 75% of PR), depending of course on how my PR attempts go in two weeks. And 130, 110 and 110 for squat, bench and deadlift for Friday (approx 85 for squat and bench and 60% for speed dead).

If you read all of this you deserve a pad on the back and I thank you for your time! If you share your thoughts I would be really happy :slight_smile:

And to the ones who are going to say that I put way to much thought into the programming and that I should just focus on lifting due to my current level: I really enjoy the programming part. I find it to be very interesting and it helps me being consistent. And I’m truly giving the workouts all I got, seeing stars if that is what it takes to finish what I planed out. I’m aware of the fact that I need to put my heart into your trainings as well, its not just about the program.


#2

Nothing wrong with that. That was me until early this year. If I can give you any advice, it is to pick a proven program and go with it. Buy into it completely. It isn’t that you won’t progress your way; you’ll just progress better with a proven program. Having read what you’re doing I would think Cube may suit you. You could also try a Sheiko program, but I know less about them so harder for me to record. There’s also 531, which is awesome and I’m making better progress on that than I ever have.

Any one of those days will probably end up burning you out. Just saying.

So, those numbers are OK - especially bench - but I think you’re probably selling yourself short with your training in relation to your semi long term goals (BTW what’s the time frame?).

How can I describe this? I know I’d be a bunch stronger if I’d moved to 531 a year earlier. Arguably the same would apply to Cube or any other good program. Neither you nor I know enough to set out a good program, and that means no matter how much we commit to it we don’t do as well as with the same commitment to a proven program.

The best progress I had on my own programming happened in the three months just before I moved to 531. What I was doing was really pretty close to 531 without being it. Even that was not as good progress as when I started 531.


#3

I thought the cube method had you do each of the lifts once per week and that it relied heavily on accessory work? Due to this I discarded it as having too low frequency for what I want right now. I somewhat agree with the Sheiko suggestion, but if you think my Monday workouts looks hard, have you seen the Sheiko programs? They are a completely different level of craziness. Also, I do not have time to complete the long Sheiko workouts nor recover from them in my life right now… I’ll definitively do 5/3/1 at some point. I just wanted to try out DUP for now and as it is more of a template then a ready program, I had to make something myself.

I’m about to finish my first cycle now and I’m fine. And that is despite the fact that I did not implement the deloads on this run… Sure, they can be gruelling, especially the 5x5. I’ve always liked and recovered better from explosive and intensive work.

I was thinking that this is something I should be able to hit for sure by the end of next year. And that if I’m not closing in during the middle of the spring I need to reevaluate my training for the lifts that are not improving. I agree that I should aim even higher long term.

I do agree with this to a large degree. However, I wanted to try to take the things from cookie-cutter programs I know work for me specifically and combine them into a sound program that I can run. And then see where this takes me.

Thanks for the answer! I’ll try 5/3/1 at some point, but right now I want to try out this program or something similar…


#4

Sounds all pretty familiar, but in a good way.

You’ll do fine mate, same as I think I’m doing. You’ll definitely learn a fair bit.


#5

With your numbers, why do you think you’d do better on a program you’ve composed? Why not save yourself some trouble and injury and move to a program that have coached people to way higher than yourself? It’s important to have fun and to like what you do, but it isn’t heading results, whats the point? I would try your program first. Once you burn out on it in a couple of weeks, move to a proven program.


#6

I don’t believe that my program is optimal, if there is any such thing. I do however believe that I’ve combined things that I do know work for me into a program in a way that I’ve tried to the best of my efforts to make reasonable. There probably are off the shelf programs out there that would give me better progress, but I honestly also believe that there are quite a few of them that would leave me specifically of worse.

I’ve already tried three different programs consistently for half a year each. Stronglifts and the Texas Method are both very popular programs that has coached numerous people to great success (having in mind that they are a beginner and intermediate program). And the last, is written by a guy that definitively knows his share about powerlifting and programming, namely Greg Nuckols. Some parts of them worked for me, others did not.

And it is not like daily undulating periodization is not a thoroughly tested method of training. But there are not that many ready templates out there. So what I basically did, was to combine DUP with the existing layout of the Texas Method. But the style that Pendlay advocates with light day being light due to exercise selection instead of effort. Then I threw some block periodisation on top of it to have a volume, a strength and a peaking block that would offer some variate not only inside a week, but week to week over time.

As I’ve already stated above, I’m close to finishing my first cycle now and I’ve had some really nice progress and I feel fine. Which is a contrast to all of this spring and parts of last year, when I was on programs made by others. I’ve hit my previous PR’s for doubles and triples and I’m planning to test my new PR’s in two weeks. And that is even without the deload weeks that I’ve planned to add the next cycle.

I find the first block of 5x5’s to be the toughest and that block is basically the Texas Method with the power cleans replaced by speed pulls. Hence, pretty well tested. And if you compare my program with tested programs like for instance Sheiko’s as mentioned above, I find my program to be much easier to survive than his.

I perfectly understand if you are not willing to sit down and analyse some random person at the web’s programming. In particular if his lifts are not even slightly impressive yet. But, please don’t write my programming of as bad by default, just because it’s me who made it instead of someone else. I’ve actually tried to put a lot of thought into it. I borrowed from several known programs. Tried to evaluated it under by the scientific strength principles presented by Chad Wesley Smith. And found well tested set-rep schemes on t-nation, where I picked the ones that I believe suit me best. Especially keeping in mind that I can handle quite a bit of high intensity work inside a training and a week. And that my power evaporates quickly on high rep sets on big movement and that I find such sets to be much harder to restitute from and giving less back in terms of gains. Think 5x5 vs 6x3 or 10x1.

If you have any comments to the program as laid out or suggestions for training programs that adhere with the information I’ve shared about how I respond to training I would be delighted.


#7

My only problem with your basis behind it is you’ve modge podged a lot of of programs to make yours. Not downgrading your program, but a lot of work going into a program isnt a few days. A lot of these tried and trues out there work because they spent years perfecting it on many test subjects. Again, I see you’ve worked hard and put a lot of thought in, but you’re not advanced enough in my opinion to make your own program. One cycle really isnt much man. And sheiko was designed for geared lifters, and while everyone is different, most natural lifters cannot keep up. Plus he said as well that it wasn’t even.supposed to get out. It was never designed for public. Taking initiative and doing things on your own is a big part of lifting, so kudos to you on that. I just think you’d be better on a good program. 3 years of following programs to a t and eating your ass off should have resulted in higher maxes than you have. Leads me to believe you either didn’t eat enough or added in your own things to fit “you”.


#8

Personally, I like the layout of your program. I believe I’ve read in several places where many top-tier coaches and trainers have used principles and theories of other coaches/programs as the basis for their program so regarding the hodgepodge approach, I don’t think that’s unusual. However, I do have a question. In your heavy day and medium days you’re working similar rep schemes. What percentages are you using?


#9

If you by that mean that I’ve used tried principles within strength training and combined that with inspiration from various programs that have been successful for others and to some extent myself, then I think more or less every program out there is subject to the exact same critique. In my opinion you once again give critique without actually looking at the program.

I’m by no means claiming to be a programming expert, or even intermediate. But, as I said in my first post, programming is one side of strength training that I find to be very interesting and that this curiosity aids me in being consistent with my training. Because I want to see how I respond to the particular program I’m running at every time. In addition I’ve actually been thinking about how I wanted the program to be for months before I started it. In addition I’m close to finishing a cycle and I’ve made some changes to the original version based on these experiences. Definitively less data than for many other programs, but still data on me as an individual. I’m by no means a snowflake, but as I’ve tried to point out above I’ve always (I’ve been an athlete on national level for several years before I started to focus on strength training) responded better to short, explosive training repeated several times. And that is knowledge that I believe can make my training more effective already at an intermediate stage.

And this is based on my knowledge or my lifts? Because so far you’ve said nothing about the program or the principles I’ve based it on, which is the only thing so far you’ve access to that in some way is related to my knowledge. I understand that we are too many online who are trowing out programs for ourselves compared to the number of people who can give valuable feedback. Its the same problem as with trolling. It takes much more effort to give a reasonable answer, than to trow out some random garbage. I’ve really tried to post a program that is sound and not garbage. I’ve spent time on it. But still I dont expect anyone to actually sit down and give me feedback. If someone does however, I would be really grateful and I’ll try my best to express my gratitude.

I know! But it is still something and I just mentioned it again due to your suggestion of running the program for a couple of weeks until I burned out and that I then should start a proven program.

Did not know that, but appreciate the info. We can at least then agree on that sheiko is probably not the way to go for me.

As I’ve said two times above, I’ve been training for 18 months, running 3 different programs, each for half a year. I know that my lifts are by no means impressive, but as I did not manage to increase my lifts at all the last 6 months, I find it to be at least somewhat decent for the first 12 months. But yes, I’m hungry for way higher numbers! And I did in fact run all the three programs as prescribed, being very consistent. I also average my sleep at around 8 hours, almost never going below 7.5 hour for a single night. I consume alcohol very seldom and in small doses (2-3 beers or two glasses of wine). I’ve not eaten my ass of, but I’ve had a healthy diet with a lots of good food. Never feeling low on energy and always ready to train. I’ve gained 6 kg during these 18 months and stayed at approximately the same body fat percentage (20%). I’m getting comments about be much bigger from my friends. And people occasionally ask me how I train without knowing me beforehand.

I don’t mean to be harsh or disrespectful! I just get a bit frustrated because I feel you have little interest in addressing my questions or asking questions back to have a foundation to answer me on. And due to this I find our discussion to not be very constructive…


#10

I’m willing to bet you stalled on the Texas Method because you werent eating enough and/or gaining weight. Your program has the same progression rate as the Texas Method (2.5 kg per week) but is much more complicated. In the end the goal would be the same (add weight to the bar) and in the end, both programs do it at the same rate.

Why do you think the set and rep schemes you’ve chosen are superior to the Texas Method? Is there a reason other than


#11

Thank you! I’m be no means trying to be the da Vinci of training nor programming. And I guess most other people also are not. I mean, how many of the beginner programs today are based on ideas from Bill Starr for instance…!? There is no reason to reinvent the wheel.

I started the program after getting back from traveling three weeks this summer. During this period I did bodyweight training, jumping and sprints, but no barbells… Due to this I knew that the risk of starting too heavy was bigger than the other way around. Before I left I did a 5x5 with 120 kg in squats. So I just started my Monday workouts (5x5) with 110 kg and progressed from there. On Fridays I started out with 2x3 with 120 kg. Hence, I had big confidence in being able to progress for weeks on with particular this rep-scheme. It was a successful transition period without any problems, but still in an intensity range that I believed would give training stimulus. I did similar evaluation for the other lifts.

Now, as I’ve eased into the program in some sense. I’m thinking that 5x5 training is normally successful within the 75-85% range and that I’ll start my Monday trainings at 75% of my coming PR’s. I’ll then run a linear progression from there. If I do this for one month, I’m still below 85% and I should be fine moving on with 6x3 which should end around 90% of my PR’s. But the plan by this time (after two additional months of training), is that I’ve become slightly stronger and hence I believe that this should be ok.

For the Fridays I want something that is heavier than Mondays. In the beginning when Mondays volume is at its highest, it is ok that Fridays are a true medium day. I’ll start it around 85%, which is less than I did 6x3 with at the end of the heavy days last cycle. And then it will gradually move to towards doing my old PR for four singles at the end of the 15 weeks. Which I think should be feasible at my current level.

Just want to point out that the rep-ranges are not very similar. They are strength based both of them. But of Mondays I will be doing 5’s, 3’s and 1’s for volume, while on Fridays I’ll be doing 3’s, 2’s and 1’s with much less volume. So I’m seeing Monday as my volume/strength workouts, Wednesdays as my volume/conditioning workouts and Fridays as my strength/neural adaption/explosive workout.


#12

The main issue with the program for me was recovery, as for many others. And as food is highly relevant for recovery, there is no way for me to refute this. I do believe that my sleep was good and that general stress also was low. I did however, also gain some weight. It was definitively above my recoverable volume at that time, and I believe that either it was due to food or my actual recovery potential with the foundation I had at this point. Don’t know, could be both.

I also did not have time to wait more than 3 minutes between sets and I know that this is not optimal. But we all need to fit our training around the rest of our life. And that is just how the situation was for me at this point, with work, family etc.

I just want to point out, in case someone has misinterpreted my posts above, that I do not believe that any of the programs I’ve run are not good programs!

The programs does not have the same progression rate. Mine is slower. Think of it like this, most people can squat 75-85% of their 1RM for 5x5. This implies that a 2.5kg increase of your 5x5 weight corresponds to an 2.94-3.33kg increase of your 1RM. While, when I’m doing a 10x1, this is something that most people can do with 90% of their 1RM. Hence, if I increase my working weight with 2.5 kg for my sets of 10x1, this actually corresponds to an increase of my 1RM with 2.78kg.

And this will add up over time… Sorry, for going overboard with the calculations. Shorter version, it is harder to increase your 5x5 than your 1RM by 2.5kg. And for the same reasons, it is harder to increase your 5x5 by 2.5 kg than sets were you work closer to your 1RM by 2.5kg.

I’ve never said this. I do honestly believe that I respond better to higher intensities and fewer reps per set. And hence I’m willing to say that I believe the set and rep schemes are better for me personally. But I’m never going to say (unless I at some point ended up doing a large scale experiment to back it up) and neither believe at this point that my program is superior to the Texas Method for people in general.

Also, I’ve come to realise that I prefer some kind of block periodisation to a program beyond the scope of a single week and that it should be possible to progress on it for a longer time as laid out. I know other people also back up doing periodisation at an early training stage, among others Jonnie Canditio supports this in his description of his intermediate program. And as I pointed out, my program progresses slower than the Texas Method, and hence I believe I can run it longer as is, than the TM.


#13

And by the way. Unless I increase my lifts quite a bit during one cycle I might end up doing some of the 5x5’s (or some other range) from the end of my previous cycle, in the beginning of the new cycle. Making the progress of my program even slower…


#14

Its the same progression as the Texas Method dude. You add 2.5 kg to your working sets every week. Thats based off of poundage not off of a percentage of your one-rep max. You’re also using hypothetical percentages. You’re going to add weight to the bar a lot faster than a 500 lb squatter. And they will add it a lot faster than a 600 lb squatter all other things being equal.

Either way, the point is you’re going to have a hard time getting people to sign off on your program. We know for a fact that the Texas Method works. We know for a fact that these widely accepted programs that get around the internet work for thousands upon thousands of lifters. Your program may very well work for you, but noone is going to assume it will work better than something that we know for a fact makes lifters bigger and stronger. Even the vast majority of very successful lifters arent writing their own programs from scratch. They follow proven systems and make adjustments to address their weak points. If you just like to program yourself because you enjoy programming thats fine. But the truth is you’d probably make better progress following a proven program, or better yet training with a coach or team of other lifters. And i think thats the more common answer you will get when you ask people to look at a program that you’ve written from scratch.


#15

No, its not! Because adding 2.5kg to one set and rep scheme is not the same as adding 2.5kg to another that allows higher intensity. Its the same exercise, but a different application. In the same way as adding 2.5kg to your overhead squat is going to be harder over time than adding 2.5kg to your back squat. The later in both cases allow you to move more weight and is hence easier to increase by 2.5kg.

The progression is the same within my first block as in the TM, but not for the other blocks. And as I mentioned above, in addition my program will be recalculated after a cycle. Making it very much possible that the last weight you did 5x5 with in the previous cycle is appearing again in the beginning of the next cycle. Making progression even slower in my program.

Yes, they are hypothetical percentages. But they still make the point…

It was never my intention to begin with to get anyone else to run my program nor to say that it was better than some other program X. I was just wondering whether someone had comments regarding the set and rep ranges chosen, exercise selection or the training principles used. So that I could improve the program for my own training. Nothing more…

If it works me, as it seems like it is, I’ll be very happy and ask for nothing more from the program. I just wondered if someone had suggestions for improvements of this specific program.

Daily undulating periodization, block periodization, squat frequency of 3 times per week, bench 2 times a week, deadlifts 2 times per week and linear periodization are all proven systems. I’m not trying to reinvent the wheel…

Thank you! And my hope was that maybe someone would we willing to give me feedback on this journey, although I know it requires some effort and might be to much to ask for… But I thought it would be worth a shot.

There might very well be such a program and as I’ve said before in this thread, I’ll be happy to take any such suggestions and save them for later. Right now, I want to run the program I’ve laid out for little while… A coach or team would without a doubt be better! But unfortunately that is not a possibility for me right now.

This thread proves exactly this and I also to some extent anticipated that in my first post. However, I’m still hoping that someone will actually try to give me some feedback, as was my intent of starting this thread.


#16

Really?!

That’s pretty much ALL you’ve been given dude!

TL;DR you’re weak (yes, you are, you should be stronger after 18 months. Your bench is the only vaguely OK lift you’ve got), you’re inexperienced and your program sucks.

I tried to be nice, but apparently that didn’t get the message across.


#17

Dude, same. You try and be nice and comment on peoples posts like this to be helpful. Honestly in my opinion OP, just do the fucking program. Don’t come on here for advice if you know what you’re going to do. I’m not an expert, nor is anyone really on this forum, but it wouldn’t matter if we were. When people stronger than you and who have been training much longer than you try to help and you go on the defensive you look like an asshat. Either do the program or ditch it.


#18

Thats what everyone has done. You should be focused on the end goal of your programming which almost always is “increase my total.” You have had several people tell you that there are programs that will increase your total more efficiently than your program. You’re not focused on the bigger picture here and no matter what anyone tells you, you dissect their post sentence by sentence saying they are wrong. You weren’t looking for criticism. You were looking for validation…


#19

I don’t understand why everyone thinks programming is rocket science. All that is really needed is a reason for doing something and a plan of progression. A simple understanding of periodization and how and when to change variables when stalling. One will never reach their potential to the fullest on a cookie cutter program. 5/3/1 and Cube Kingpin are good programs as written and can be great programs modified around your needs and goals, but they have drawbacks like any and every cookie cutters out there. If I may make a suggestion though, here is how I would do it…

Day 1
Deadlift- Power
Squat- Strength
Bench- Hypertrophy

Day 2
Bench- Power
Deadlift- Strength
Squat- Hypertrophy

Day 3
Squat- Power
Bench- Strength
Deadlift- Hypertrophy

I would also wave the volume down and wave the intensity up as the program progresses week to week. The way I read your explanation of your speed pulls is virtually backwards. Reference Prilepin’s table for intensity and volume ranges go from there. I wouldn’t add much assistance at all and if you do, you can add a bodybuilding 4th day to focus on all the fluff stuff. Just keep the compound movements to a minimum or non-existant even better.
However you go about it good luck!


#20

I agree with this, but when you are a beginner who trains alone, has no coach, has never competed and can’t diagnose your own weak points, there is no constructive reason for you to write yourself a program from scratch and forego a system that has been proven to work.