T Nation

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



You cannot use linear periodisation forever. That is a beginners only tool. If LP worked over time everyone would be deadlifting 500kg.

Look into some proper pwerlifting training templates, like Sheiko, and progression principles. But yes you will need to move away from the idea that you can just do 3x5 every week and expect that to be heavier every workout.


I saw that the beginner Programm is very percentage based. I don’t know if lifting 160 pounds in the squat at an estimated 1 RM of 225 for 4 reps will increase strength.
I didn’t lift for 4 weeks now because of an illness. But I’ll do a linear progression until I’m close to my old lifts or until it gets strenuous. Let’s say I’m at an estimated 1 RM of 270 pounds in the squat I would lift at the most 225 for 2 reps. That can’t be hard or productive I think?
If I’m squatting 225 for 5 reps on an everyday basis, would you recommend these percentage based PL Programms or am I too weak? I suppose I’m too weak for that to work.
(Lost a lot of weight the last weeks, so I think that would be realistic right now)


You need more variety in intensity and volume. Doing work at say rpe 5 or 6 even at low reps is important for developing good form.

You say your 1 RM squat is about 270. I would have you do your heavy work at like 235 for doubles.

I do my volume work sometimes as low as 60 - 65 percent. Do sets of 5+ at these lower percentages.

Two programs I have tried and recommend are the Calgary barbell 16 week, and the cube method. Both are free. I bet you would gain much more and feel better using one of those programs.


If youre squatting 225 for 5 reps then 225 isnt your 1RM, so why would you calculate your work sets of 160 using 225? That makes no sense.

If you can squat 225 for 5, your 1RM is clearly much higher.

If you use a proper 1RM, then yes using 70-80% for multiple sets of 3-5 will absolutely make you stronger.


That’s just a misunderstanding. The first example was for a general novice. What I calculated at the end was applicable to me.
My 1 RM would be 270 in that case.
Thanks still.
And thanks for the answer.


Will look into those. I will try one of those for 6 months probably. You think that’s a fair shot or too short to tell?


Not to short. Cube is done in 10 week cycles. Calgary Barbell program is 16 weeks. You should be able to tell after one cycle if it is right for you. Be conservative with your training max.

Cube does one heavy day, one volume day, one speed day and one assistance day. You can auto generate a program at blackironbeast.com. That is what I used. I put about 30 lbs on the squat and deadlift, and 10-15 lbs on the bench each cycle I did.

Cube is known for managing fatigue very well. I would say that it is harder than the Calgary program though. This will come down to what you pick for your training max.


Got any ideas of a 3 days per week program? Or could I do cube method without the BB day?
I don’t like getting to creative with programs of others, because if it doesn’t work it’s always: you didn’t do it exactly as written


You could skip the BB day, or do it when you have time for a 4th day.




There a very nice and good answers, I just would reinforce that you can´t be training hard and heavy all the time. Maybe it wouldn´t be a bad idea to cycle intensificaction and accumulation cycles, for example; you wouldn´t only give some “rest” to CNS but also to soft tissue. Or you could also try using “lighter” weights for explosive movements in order to stimulate the type IIB fibers in reality they are now called IIX since IIB are only present in animals) without being as taxing as 90% 1RM lifts

Hope my comment can help you


By the way CNS system is the king of al, if you get to really know YOURS you will understand how exactly stimulate it through training, nutrition and recovery in order to get what you want. I see it as the ultimate barrier to performance, but also as the most sensible and earlier indicator of fatigue.
I know 2 guys that train heavy (5/3/1) and bith get good the results, the funny thing is that the one who gets better results (in his 40’s) from it is the one who suffers A LOT with erection the training day and the day after. the other guy also gets good results (in their 50’s) but not much as him loves that training system NOT just due to the results, but due to the fact that after training his libido goes through the roof as crazy, he says that sometimes is even uncomfortable for him how horny he gets!!! CNS is a marvel


One more thing
If you want to monitor your CNS and detect early signs of fatigue to avoid it, maybe it would be a good idea to monitor you HRV (Heart Rate Variability); the bigger the variability the “fresher” your CNS is. if it starts to diminish that is a sign of an uncomplete recover or an early sign of fatigue. I have no experiencie with it in general as well as in weightlifting.

There is an article regarding HRV here on T nation’s archives. Maybe CT had used it; I don´t know


Thanks man! He said he used it I think.
I would buy one, and will definitely in the future, but it’s too expensive atm.

I’m early twenties and as soon as work and training stress combine, I get the libido of a 55+ year old. So not going balls out all the time will be the way to go.

The thing I didn’t understand from CTs article was that he said some people just aren’t made for heavy loads which if i get it right means training under 85% all the time. That seems counterproductive to me for strength or muscle gains. And I wanted his opinion on it. He also said it’s especially people with low serotonin (I’m definitely one of them) that this applies to.

Although there were a lot of good ideas and great advice on here, which I will definitely use, I think CT said something different. He didn’t say “not made for heavy lifting often”, he said “not made for heavy lifting” period. (Maybe he can comment @Christian_Thibaudeau ) Which to me indicates I should try higher reps with the big lifts. For the next few weeks i will process linear nearing my old numbers, then I’ll switch to the cube method or something similar. Maybe I’ll do a few months of higher reps before that though. Like 6-8 on bench, squat, pull ups, rows, DLs. I’m not gonna train above RPE 9 too. See where that leads me. I’ll make adjustments based on the way I feel the day after a workout.