T Nation

How to Train if You Don’t Have the Nervous System for Heavy Lifting?

Hey Christian,

In a recent article of yours you said, if one answers these with yes:

“ * Do you crash 2-3 hours after a heavy workout?

  • Are you moody or unmotivated the day after a heavy session?
  • Is your resting heart rate significantly elevated the morning after a heavy workout?
  • Do you have a drop in libido after a few weeks of heavy lifting?
  • Do you have problems sleeping when you train heavy, even when you trained early in the day?”

One is not made for heavy lifting. I answer all of them with yes. I thought that’s just the way you feel after going heavy. Been doing it for years with a few good results.

What would you recommend for these types of lifters, should I do the neurotyping test (will do it anyways at the end of the week) or do you have an answer without the test? I am high in both Dopamine, NA sensitivity and i have low serotonin.

Thanks Thibbs!

what’s your heavy workout look like ?

For the main lift it would be:
3x5 at 85-90% of max
Sometimes 3x3 at or above 90%

When I can’t go often (2-3x per week) I’m doing this for three exercises starting strength style. Squat press pull ups
or squat bench rows all 3x5

Do you think CT means not going under 6 reps when he says “not made for heavy lifting” ? Would translate to not going above 85%. I think he commented somewhere that heavy is 85 and above

even with low volume, low frequency you can’t recover well from heavy lifting damn. I thought that you were doing alot of volume mixed with heavy lifting

I’m watching my lifting sessions very closely because a bit too much )like heavy deadlifts) and I’m out for a week. After most really intense sessions I catch a cold too. I’m very careful

i know how you feel im exactly like you

How do you handle training? What do your workouts look like?

Im doing like you, 3 to 4 sessions per week, few exercises with low volume work. Its the best way i found to feel good and be able to push some heavy iron !

I liked the best damn strenght by CT if you didn’t try it ! and the best damn for naturel lifter. Low volume higher frequency bodybuilding might work too !

This is straight brutal. 3x5 at 90 percent and I for sure would be up all night. Maybe you are a beginner? I could handle that when I wasn’t lifting as much weight.

You need to moderate yourself a bit in the long term anyways.

I suggest you do something other than linear progression for a bit to see how you feel. I felt better doing DUP format training.

Speed days will get you strong too, and let you recover.

When going heavy, I do upper 80 and low 90 percent work with singles and doubles.

Yeah I would still consider myself a beginner to low intermediate strength wise.
A single at 92% is far from failure and a double at 89% too. Would be RPE 7-8 probably. Do you go anywhere near failure on the big lifts and how do you progress? Just calculate a new 1 RM and go then calculate the workouts for like 4 weeks?
I don’t fail on any lift usually but I do go to 9-9.5 RPE often. After 6 years of training I still don’t really know how to progress otherwise.

Correct me if I’m wrong, but it sounds like your goal is to get stronger. You can definitely do that lifting submaximally, which wouldn’t be as taxing on your CNS. Some submaximal methodologies are tactical barbell, Doug Hepburn progression, most 5/3/1 variants, Pavel’s Russian style programming. You have lots of options. Just educate yourself and spend time finding what works best for you.

Yes primarily to get strong. I did 5/3/1 as written but I had problems after a few weeks because the all out set was too taxing. I mean, it’s submaximal in the beginning but gets extremely taxing after a few cycles. It got to the point where the one week back off was not nearly enough to recover. I switched to a linear progression after 8 months of it. Linear progression is ok until it gets too hard, too. (Edit: with too hard i mean the day after the workout and the effects of it. I don’t mind going all out in a workout)

One problem I got is: I don’t like the idea that 8 reps are less intense than 5 reps if you go to say RPE 9 with both. In the end it’s one rep shy of failure for both. Correct me please if I’m wrong.
I hate 8+ reps but I hate it even more to have my CNS breaking down after a few weeks of training and feeling drained the day after a workout. So if it is the way to go, I’m gonna do it. I’m gonna get stronger if I’m lifting progressively heavier with 3 or with 8 reps. I’m not training for PL meets so I don’t care as long as I can train and get stronger.
What’s your opinion on this one?

“Well it depends on both the intensity and volume. For example doing 1 set of 2 at 92% and the rest of the workout uses weights in the 65-70% range will be less demanding than a workout where the heaviest weight is 85% but there is a lot of work at that load.

But generally speaking when I talk about “heavy” it is above 85%. 85-90% would be heavy, 90-95% very heavy and 95-100% is maximal”

CT said this. So under 85% is the way to go? Would probably be 6-8 reps and above

im not doing sets of 2 anymore, im a 3 to 6 kind of guys

Some general observations based on this thread so far… You need to find some way to cycle intensity. You can’t just keep smashing 3x5 at RPE 9 every day, as you’ve learned. I think some advanced lifters know their bodies well enough to cycle intensity intuitively, but the vast majority of people would benefit from a program. From what you’re saying, you sound like a type 3 to me. Find a program that works for that neurological type.

Regarding 5/3/1. If you’re feeling burn out, your TM may be too high. Also consider the PR set is not the same thing as an AMRAP set. The goal of the PR set is to do more reps at a given weight than you did last time. The goal is not necessarily to push to failure. You can do 5/3/1 with PR sets an never go above RPE 8. Last, you could try Jim’s “5’s progression”. Instead of traditional 5/3/1 sets, you do all main work sets for 5 reps, no PR sets. This is generally coupled with 5x5 FSL supplementary work.

I don’t enjoy higher rep sets for main work either. I lose focus along the way and do stupid things like forget to brace. I think you can still achieve your goals with sets of 5. Just be smart about intensity.

Thanks. Yes when I crash like atm I’m a type 3. In high stress phases I’m more of type 1 or 2. But the low serotonin seems to be the problem.

Ouch second that.

I did 5 sets of 3 at 80% last night on bench and squats and that was tough enough. one set of 3 at 90% would be a balls to the walls set.

Appreciate if you are a beginner this is going to be slightly different, but perhaps follow a dedicated strength program, as written, which would factor in your recovery.

@lordgains Based on your apparent goals, I’d suggest you follow one of the Beginner or Intermediate medium load programs by Sheiko. You’ll still get strong, but you’ll be lifting more in the 65-80% range rather than 90.

Could one of you comment on this plan?

Day 1: Squat 3x5 with 80-85%
Press 3x5 with 85%
Pull-Ups 2x4-6 with 85% and 2xBW

Day2: Squat 3x5 at 75%
Bench 3x5 at 85%
Rows Machine 3x5 85%

If I got the time I will split it up into 4 days upper lower with one heavy squat session (progressing linear) and one lighter squat session per week + 2-3 assistance exercises. On upper body day there will be two main lifts and 2-3 accessory exercises.

Maybe someone could comment on this too: my problem arises usually after a few weeks/months when the weight goes up on every lift and strength and muscle gains keep up but what was a RPE 7 in the beginning is now a RPE 9-9.5 due to increases in weight on the bar. If that happens, should I drop the weight back to where it feels like a 7? I could do that but that would probably be at the most 10 pounds above the starting weight. So I gained 10 pounds of strength in 3 months and I’m not very strong where that would be a good acceptable rate of gaining strength. How do you stay away from RPE 9-9.5 Sets and still make progress?

I will look into that. Thanks