T Nation

HST Vs Bill Starr's Madcow 5x5

For a good balance between size/strength but moreso pushing towards size, what would you say would be the better routine? I realise there’s a lot of factors to think of such as how the individual responds to a certain type of training etc, but if you HAD to pick one of the 2 which would you pick, and if possible explain why.

I’m interested to hear people’s opinions on this:

HST - http://www.hypertrophy-specific.com/hst_index.html

Bill Starr’s Madcow 5x5 - http://www.geocities.com/elitemadcow1/5x5_Program/Periodized_5x5.htm

The thing about HST though is that there’s so much waiting going on before you do any decent work. E.g. you start off working out your maxes (15,10,5 rep maxes) then you take around 2 weeks off for Strategic Deconditioning.

You then still don’t start wokring with heavy weights for weeks as you’ll be doing 15 reps for 2 weeks, 10 reps for another 2 weeks, then finally you’ll be doing 5 reps for 2-4 weeks. It just seems like a load of unnecessary waiting to me and seems to be far more complicated than is necessary.

Another thing about HST is that it doesn’t include deadlifts whatsoever and I find that extremely odd considering that deadlifts are one of the best exercises you can do for all round mass.

Madcow 5x5 seems to me like a real solid straight to the point no Bullsh*t training method. It has it’s complicated methods but nothing like HST at all, and you start lifting heavy from the beginning which can only be a good thing.

It seems like I’ve answered my own question here as to which routine is better, but that’s just MY opinon & I’d like to hear what other people think. If many of you feel HST is better & provide a reason as to WHY it is better, I may see myself beign more inclined to try out HST than Madcow 5x5…

Bump, still looking for opinions.

The HST program has holes in it. There are limitations to it.

However, just because it includes four weeks of 10 to 15 rep lifting does not mean its bad for size. Many people have grown off of that rep range and even higher in some cases. You can tweak it however you like though. You can do a week of 15, a week of 12, a week of 10, a week of 8, and so on. Just as long as you are able to incrementally increase the load from workout to workout. See his FAQ section.

Do you want “some size” or do you want to be totally jacked? If you want to be really jacked, I do not think TBT programs are the way to go. This is just my observation of what the most jacked guys in the world are doing and always will do, I believe.

The HST program, since it is a TBT program leaves very little room for isolation exercises. And well, being that it is a TBT program, it carries with it, the drawbacks of all TBT programs. Leaves very little room, if any, for specialization and prioritization for bodyparts. And like all TBT programs, the last muscles trained receive the worst stimulation because of systemic fatigue.

You can incorporate deadlifts or any other exercise. The way Bryan Haycock outlines it is very imbalanced. Counteracting a quad dominant exercise like squats with only leg curls is a shitty idea if used over the long term. He included NO hip dominant exercises in the way he outlined it. Thats a recipe for injury and imbalance. It is very difficult to perform TEN exercises for the whole body in one workout. Aside from Boris Klein and Millard Baker, I have not seen or heard of any top guys using this program. And even the way Boris and Millard do their training is not TBT. They train six days per week, hitting each muscle two to three times per week, using HST in bodypart splits.

I tried the program for some time years ago. It was “OK”. Now, I think its a shitty idea for bodybuilding but that is just my opinion. In fact, I think TBT programs are not optimal for true bodybuilding, for those who want to get JACKED. TBT to me is useful for people who want general fitness, SOME size, and strength and conditioning programs. NO TRUE bodybuilders use TBT programs anymore.

Thank you very much for that reply. I have a question though, what do you mean by TBT? It’s an acronym I’ve never heard in the bodybuilding world before.

Also, to answer your question on whether I want “a little size” or I want to be jacked, I can answer that easily for you. If somebody said to me “you can look like Lee Priest/Markus Ruhl/Kevin Levrone etc RIGHT NOW” I would jump at the chance. I want to be as big as possible to be honest. I feel I’m already quite big for my age an my stats are below:

Age - 21
Height - 5,10"
Weight - 245lbs
Bodyfat - 14/15%
Experience - 6 Years
Insulin Dependent Diabetic

AAS Use - Just finished my first ever experience with AAS which was a 10 week cycle of Test-E. I’m not in the 2 week waiting period since my last shot before I start my PCT.

For 6 years I’ve used routines that I’ve made myself & never followed a true “cookie cutter” routine. I feel that I’ve done well with this, but felt like it was time to try something new & see what others were using, which is why I was thinking maybe Madcow or HST. I’m just not sure what to do.

EDIT: Just found out what TBT means (Total Body Training right?). Even though I’ve answered that question myself, I’d still appreciate some more advice from you as you seem like you know your sh*t to be honest. Thanks.

I used HST for a while- I got good results for 6 months or so, then started getting nowhere. I have really gotten the feeling that any rational program will work for a while, but then you need to change. I personally have not done as well with high volume programs for any length of time- I start to feel overtrained after a few weeks (might be due to age- I am 53 after all), but it still seems worthwhile for that time. I generally do better with HIT type programs, but again only for a few months. So I guess the bottom line is to just try one of the programs until you stop seeing improvement, then try the other!
Paul

[quote]Bricknyce wrote:
The HST program has holes in it. There are limitations to it.

However, just because it includes four weeks of 10 to 15 rep lifting does not mean its bad for size. Many people have grown off of that rep range and even higher in some cases. You can tweak it however you like though. You can do a week of 15, a week of 12, a week of 10, a week of 8, and so on. Just as long as you are able to incrementally increase the load from workout to workout. See his FAQ section.

Do you want “some size” or do you want to be totally jacked? If you want to be really jacked, I do not think TBT programs are the way to go. This is just my observation of what the most jacked guys in the world are doing and always will do, I believe.

The HST program, since it is a TBT program leaves very little room for isolation exercises. And well, being that it is a TBT program, it carries with it, the drawbacks of all TBT programs. Leaves very little room, if any, for specialization and prioritization for bodyparts. And like all TBT programs, the last muscles trained receive the worst stimulation because of systemic fatigue.

You can incorporate deadlifts or any other exercise. The way Bryan Haycock outlines it is very imbalanced. Counteracting a quad dominant exercise like squats with only leg curls is a shitty idea if used over the long term. He included NO hip dominant exercises in the way he outlined it. Thats a recipe for injury and imbalance. It is very difficult to perform TEN exercises for the whole body in one workout. Aside from Boris Klein and Millard Baker, I have not seen or heard of any top guys using this program. And even the way Boris and Millard do their training is not TBT. They train six days per week, hitting each muscle two to three times per week, using HST in bodypart splits.

I tried the program for some time years ago. It was “OK”. Now, I think its a shitty idea for bodybuilding but that is just my opinion. In fact, I think TBT programs are not optimal for true bodybuilding, for those who want to get JACKED. TBT to me is useful for people who want general fitness, SOME size, and strength and conditioning programs. NO TRUE bodybuilders use TBT programs anymore. [/quote]

Bryan Haycock states that there is no advantage in working the whole body at once, but in hitting every mucle group every 48h (3x a week), i beileve that the standard HST program is 3x week tbt because most people reading it on internet (non bodybuilders) can train 3x week, but not 6x.

Fair point. He has stated this. I still think it is a highly flawed program for several reasons.

[quote]Bricknyce wrote:
Fair point. He has stated this. I still think it is a highly flawed program for several reasons. [/quote]

I agree with you about the exercise selection, that probably sucks but its just a example, you can use other exercises (and thats what i´m doing).

I’m trying this program now, and its soon to tell about mass gains, but i’m really impressed with the fast gains in strength. I’m felling really under-trained, i trained yesterday and fell like i could do my next workout today rather than monday… but since the weights are going up i will keep with it and see what happens.

for HST–the first week of each rep range will feel like undertraining but the second week gets pretty tough. i was a bit foolish and threw in isolation exercises for my arm and ended up getting tendonitis in my elbow from working them out 3 days a week

HST worked for me for during its first run, but subsequent runs werent as successful for the most part. i actually found it beneficial for bringing up some lagging body parts. for my second run of HST, i added a couple extra shoulder exercises and saw some growth there where i had previously not seen any.

if i had to do it again, i wouldnt. i would do bill starr. but perhaps thats only because im not as strong as i want to be. HST seems to focus more on size while strength gains are a lot slower. id rather do bill starr’s 5x5 and get a lot stronger while looking a lot bigger. its worked for a lot of people and will continue to do so

I’ve tried HST before and had pretty good results. For mixed size and strength, try rotating GVT with 5x5 using a three day split (chest/back, legs, shoulders/arms). I go 3 on, 1 off, but you can space it however you want.

[quote]bulldogtor wrote:
for HST–the first week of each rep range will feel like undertraining but the second week gets pretty tough. i was a bit foolish and threw in isolation exercises for my arm and ended up getting tendonitis in my elbow from working them out 3 days a week

[/quote]

I’m doing some intense sets in this program, i was talking about feeling undertrained because i was used to doing more volume per workout, and in the end it feels not enogh work. The fact i droped deadlifts and leg curls because of a hamstring injury should be contributing to it.

Also, i’m doing arm isolation and didnt have problems until now.

As CT stated, a program is not bad as long as it is not irrational. I would not say that HST is irrational. I would say that it has too many flaws for my liking.

As stated above, it carries with it, the flaws of all TBT routines. I believe TBT routines are best suited for:

  1. Olympic lifting
  2. Off season S&C programs
  3. Busy folks who want general fitness
  4. Beginners in any area of strength training, including bodybuilders

Notice that I did not put bodybuilders on this list. Yes, some bodybuilers of the past did well on TBT or A/B programs. However, aside from some top guys using DC programs, which really is an A/B program (splitting the bodyparts into two separate workouts), NONE or NEARLY NONE of the top amateur or elite bodybuilders are training their bodyparts less than once every 5 days, and this is the minimum. Most train each bodypart every 6 to 7 days. Most or NEARLY ALL split their muscle groups over 4 days. Most train only 2 to 3 bodyparts per session.

I am saying this because I believe that if one wants to be successful, they might as well follow what successful people do and will therefore be successful as well. The same goes for bodybuilding.

As CT has stated many times as well, you do a lot of work for a muscle infrequently or you can do a little work frequently. So while it might seem like its OK to do a little work frequently for each bodypart within a TBT program, there are so many muscle groups to train in each session that the ones trained halfway to later in the workout will receive sup par stimulation. And being that you are training three times per week, it still leaves less workout time for each muscle group if you are planning on doing isolation exercises.

I think Bryan is a VERY intelligent guy and definitely has some good ideas behind his program. He once stated that his program is THE fastest way to gain size. I don’t know about that. A properly planned program with infrequent training could produce great results as well. Besides, you can only really gain 1/4 to 1/2 half pound dry muscle per week if you do everything perfect. And there are a whole lot of guys doing that with traditional splits.

I will also state that HST is not just about TBT training. He does have you detrain enough so that when you come back to training, you can use sub maximal weights for specific rep ranges and STILL grow. Its very planned and methodical and will allow you to grow because of such planned progressive overload.

Me, I rather just crack away at the weights; work up through a rep range, say 6 to 10, then raise the weight and fall back down to 6 to 8 reps again for each exercise. This is how many greats did it. Its the way my biggest bodybuilding role model did it, Dorian Yates.

[quote]Bricknyce wrote:
As CT stated, a program is not bad as long as it is not irrational. I would not say that HST is irrational. I would say that it has too many flaws for my liking.

As stated above, it carries with it, the flaws of all TBT routines. I believe TBT routines are best suited for:

  1. Olympic lifting
  2. Off season S&C programs
  3. Busy folks who want general fitness
  4. Beginners in any area of strength training, including bodybuilders

Notice that I did not put bodybuilders on this list. Yes, some bodybuilers of the past did well on TBT or A/B programs. However, aside from some top guys using DC programs, which really is an A/B program (splitting the bodyparts into two separate workouts), NONE or NEARLY NONE of the top amateur or elite bodybuilders are training their bodyparts less than once every 5 days, and this is the minimum.

Most train each bodypart every 6 to 7 days. Most or NEARLY ALL split their muscle groups over 4 days. Most train only 2 to 3 bodyparts per session.

I am saying this because I believe that if one wants to be successful, they might as well follow what successful people do and will therefore be successful as well. The same goes for bodybuilding.

As CT has stated many times as well, you do a lot of work for a muscle infrequently or you can do a little work frequently. So while it might seem like its OK to do a little work frequently for each bodypart within a TBT program, there are so many muscle groups to train in each session that the ones trained halfway to later in the workout will receive sup par stimulation.

And being that you are training three times per week, it still leaves less workout time for each muscle group if you are planning on doing isolation exercises.

I think Bryan is a VERY intelligent guy and definitely has some good ideas behind his program. He once stated that his program is THE fastest way to gain size. I don’t know about that.

A properly planned program with infrequent training could produce great results as well. Besides, you can only really gain 1/4 to 1/2 half pound dry muscle per week if you do everything perfect. And there are a whole lot of guys doing that with traditional splits.

I will also state that HST is not just about TBT training. He does have you detrain enough so that when you come back to training, you can use sub maximal weights for specific rep ranges and STILL grow. Its very planned and methodical and will allow you to grow because of such planned progressive overload.

Me, I rather just crack away at the weights; work up through a rep range, say 6 to 10, then raise the weight and fall back down to 6 to 8 reps again for each exercise. This is how many greats did it. Its the way my biggest bodybuilding role model did it, Dorian Yates. [/quote]

You made some good points, way better than saying “bodybuilders do that, so its the only way”… But one thing that people should keep in mind is that most people are not bodybuilders, just because one trains for more muscle and less fat, it doesnt make him a bodybuilder.

I’d consider a bodybuilder someone who competes in bodybuilding or a huge individual that could compete in bodybuilding but doesnt (i run sprints but i’m not a sprinter right?).

I found full body workouts work well for those who want to put on some muscle while staying lean with a less than perfect(clean) diet, if someone wants both the strength and size as well the conditioning (staying “in shape”) from weights is also a good option.

But my point is that people can get some good results from it in terms of size and strength because: first they havent reached the level of development of a bodybuilder that could demand more volume etc…per workout, second they probably dont even want to get in this level.

If we talk about bodybuilders its another story, some in the past used tbt routines with great results, no bodybuilder uses it now… but honestly i dont know how it would work, i’m not a bodybuilder, and i have never trained one.

By the way sorry for the doble posts… i dont know why my internet explorer is refreshing the page and it posts the message again…

Most of you guys are forgetting a big factor in why bodybuilders uses splits and high volume workouts.

Bodbuilders, namely those who compete or are in similar condition, almost always rely on steroids for their massive size. The use of AAS allows one to blast muscles hard and infrequently, while minimizing any chance of overtraining or catbolism.

However, individuals who are not using AAS would easily become overtrained on a typical bodybuilder style split (if training intense enough). Also, when you only work out a muscle once a week it takes up to 3 days at the most for your muscle to recover. That leaves 4 days of the week that your muscle is in a period of inactivity or possibly catabolic (if you’re overtrained).

Personally, I think that working large muscle groups frequently but not to the point of overtraining would work best for most natural bodybuilders. However, a split could be used for a few short cycles once in a while as a break from full body workouts but should not be the normal workout template.

[quote]MrQ wrote:
Most of you guys are forgetting a big factor in why bodybuilders uses splits and high volume workouts.

Bodbuilders, namely those who compete or are in similar condition, almost always rely on steroids for their massive size. The use of AAS allows one to blast muscles hard and infrequently, while minimizing any chance of overtraining or catbolism.

However, individuals who are not using AAS would easily become overtrained on a typical bodybuilder style split (if training intense enough). Also, when you only work out a muscle once a week it takes up to 3 days at the most for your muscle to recover. That leaves 4 days of the week that your muscle is in a period of inactivity or possibly catabolic (if you’re overtrained).

Personally, I think that working large muscle groups frequently but not to the point of overtraining would work best for most natural bodybuilders. However, a split could be used for a few short cycles once in a while as a break from full body workouts but should not be the normal workout template.[/quote]

This is fair reasoning. However, and again, ALL natural competitive bodybuilders use splits, just like their drug aided counterparts. Some even use high volume. Even some old timers, before the use of AAS, were using splits. There is not one competitor in natural federations, professional or amateur, like the OCB, INBF, and WNBF who is using a TBT program to compete. Most fitness models do not use TBT programs either. CT is natural and uses a bodypart split when in a muscle building phase.

If you induce enough mechanical stress, either through volume or other techniques such as drop sets, rest pause, supersets, and so on, you WILL NEED 5 to 7 days for proper recovery. And as Clay Hyght as pointed out, even if you did recover before the 5 to 7 day mark, it does not necessarily mean you are going to start going backwards. Lonnie Lowery once did some experiments in his exercise phys lab showing that you will need 5 to 7 days for muscle recovery if you induce enough mechanical stress, microtrauma.

I happen to be natural. My serious training friends are natural. We all use bodypart splits.

It is fair to say that most people who want SOME muscle and general fitness should be using A-B or TBT splits simply because these are the majority of people who go to a gym. The same people who are not going to be nearly as fanatical about sleep and nutrition requirements as I am. And this is FINE. Everyone has different desires and goals. I do not just want SOME muscle. I want A LOT of muscle. And the fact is that the most muscular people, bodybuilders, are using splits. A person whose foremost priority is working 60+ hours per week, has irregular sleep, might even have a job that has emergencies (ie: a doctor) and erratic hours, and/or has 2 to 3 kids should not be on a bodypart split. Such a person does not even have a life that allows them to be a bodybuilder anyway. Much of this is what is a priority to individuals.

[quote]MrQ wrote:
Most of you guys are forgetting a big factor in why bodybuilders uses splits and high volume workouts.

Bodbuilders, namely those who compete or are in similar condition, almost always rely on steroids for their massive size. The use of AAS allows one to blast muscles hard and infrequently, while minimizing any chance of overtraining or catbolism.

However, individuals who are not using AAS would easily become overtrained on a typical bodybuilder style split (if training intense enough). Also, when you only work out a muscle once a week it takes up to 3 days at the most for your muscle to recover. That leaves 4 days of the week that your muscle is in a period of inactivity or possibly catabolic (if you’re overtrained).

Personally, I think that working large muscle groups frequently but not to the point of overtraining would work best for most natural bodybuilders. However, a split could be used for a few short cycles once in a while as a break from full body workouts but should not be the normal workout template.[/quote]

I don’t think its fair to say all bodybuilders use AAS(although many “natural” use…), much less simply attribute one’s sucess to drugs. Most high level athletes are on drugs, but its not enogth to take you to that level, you still need do something right and work hard (and of course have the right parents).

I think (just a speculation, i dont know, i dont have experience with bodybuilders), that some bodybuilders could do well in tbt routines if they tried (as many in the past tried).
Lets not forget that its a lot of tradition. Take for example fighters who did for decades distance running everyday (because all fighters did), after some fighters started some other forms of conditioning with sucess, whilre many sill do it, distance running is not anymore a must for every fighter.

So maybe its possible that one mr.O uses TBT, and a lot of people jump in the bandwagon. Even if TBT sucks for bodybuilding, there will be people out there who can get away with it… its not the single most important aspect, you still have all the other training stuff(exercises, volume etc…), nutrition, drugs, genetics that play a role.

But one thing i agree with you: if one use drugs(doest matter if its a athlete,bodybuilder, regular joe) one of the biggest benefits of TBT, hormonal response, doest make difference because you have that (from the drugs) anyway.

really good thread so far

to the OP, u said that it seems like time is wasted with HST but with bill starrs 5x5 u dont even reach ur old maxes until the 4th week and dont start breaking those maxes until the 5th week

i’ve done both routines and both have worked well for me. A lot of what u gain will come from diet anyway. As far as what was more fun i’d definitely have to say the 5x5 because obviously heavy lifting with longer rests is more fun than higher reps with lower rest times where u dont really get many new personal records

as far as the whole TBT vs. Split thing is concerned i originally started with splits, then i started doing full-body workouts. Both work but last time i bulked for 10 weeks i did full body and it sucked. However that could have been something weird with my diet even though it was extremely clean or it could have been that i didnt stay on one routine long enough. either way after reading this thread i’m glad i’m going to be switching back to an upper/lower split at least instead of another tbt routine for now.

oh and also like the other guy said u can’t really base ur training off of what pro’s do. that would be stupid since they all are on steroids and all have amazing genetics. however i do agree that most even natural bodybuilders do splits. (to say that they all do isnt right though)

David,

Fair point as well. Perhaps it is not safe to say that all natural bodybuilders follow a split routine. However it is NEARLY all. I am going to see the INBF Hercules on June 28th, a pro qualifier for the WNBF (natural pros). I doubt even ONE of the competitors is following a TBT program. I think it is fair to take a look at what natural pros are doing since I am natural as well and would like to earn a natural pro card in the WNBF by the time I am in my mid 30s. I think it is useful to follow success and make adjustments for yourself as you go in reaching it.

There is nothing wrong with bodybuilers doing a stint of other training, TBT for example, for a period of the year. However, I believe that MOST of the year should be spent doing bodybuilding (split routines). Yes, some old timers used TBT. However, most did not have the level of development that we see in naturals today. I believe bodybuilders have evolved not only from drugs (everyone happens to think this evolution is just from drugs), but also from better lifestyles, better nutritional strategies, supplementation, and smarter training.

As stated before, TBT is NOT bad at all for certain purposes. However, for the BBer, it presents problems in that it leaves not enough room for isolation work and the muscle groups trained midway to later through the workout will always suffer because of systemic fatigue and also local fatigue from acting as secondary movers and stabilizers in the big lifts done during the earlier time of the workout.

BB is not just about the big compound exercises. Unless a guy is blessed with the best levers known to man, he must do isolation exercises to bring up lagging muscle groups. My arms always overpower my chest when doing any pressing movement, hence why I must do flies for complete development. I have had to use pre exhaust for some muscle groups as well as well as other workout adjustments. TBT leaves very little room for such adjustments.

People are also underestimating things with this overtaining stuff. You can be natural and recover from a large volume of physical activity! That is, if you take away time from other stressors in life. However, if you were to have NO real job or other stressful obligations and were getting paid to be physically active, you could work up to a very high level of physical work throughout the week. 20 hours of physical activity is not even uncommon for some college athletes. Granted, all of this activity is not all intensive work such as weight training and plyos. But it is a far cry away from the shitty 3 hours most people get, that is if they even attempt to get this much. Refer to JB’s G-Flux article.

another good post,

I agree with a lot of what u said there and i started with split routines and enjoyed them (except leg day lol) but part of that could have been being a newb to training. however even later on a push/pull/legs split worked fairly well. I think u can still gain a lot of size with full body training as i’ve seen many do it. Splits do leave more room for things like drop sets, supersetting same muscles, ect…, but full-body routines can involve specialization as well. and u probably shouldnt be incorporating intense training styles like drop sets, forced reps, etc…into ur normal routine anyway

I just started a thread like this leaning towards splits (Because of the explanations u’ve given actually), so im interested in seeing how that thread and this one go. I’ve seen a lot of great evidence towards both sides.