T Nation

intensity levels and CT

I have began a routine based on the 4 week block structure outlined in Christian Thibaudeau’s “Black Book of Training Secrets.” Following his block structure, with an emphasis on gaining mass, the set/reps schemes are as follows:

(4-5 total exercises used each session)
week 1: 3x10
week 2: 3x10, 3x8
week 3: 8/6/4, 8/6/4 (wave loading)
week 4: 2x8, 2x5

The split:
Monday: Chest/back
Wednesday: legs/abs
Friday: triceps/biceps

The first week went well. However, Thibaudeau recommends in boduybuidling type workouts to use close to your best on each set for the desired number of reps. Today was my first day in week 2 and I found that after completing the 3 sets of 10 for the bench, I could not increase the weight one damn pound when moving to the 3 sets of 8 in the same exercise. I found that I was fatigued to the point where 8 reps was all I could handle with the 10-rep weight, and actually had to DECREASE the wieght for the last 2 sets of 8.

Does anyone have any recommendations about intensity levels that should be used when working within the confines of the 4 week block structure outlined by CT? Percentages of 1RM?

Any help would be appreciated…

Your body is not used to the work capacity necessary to complete such training. It will adjust after awhile in many cases. What kind of rest intervals are you using? You might have to increase this slightly or you can reduce the intensity used. Every subsequent set from the original will produce a certain amount of fatigue from the original, depending on your work capacity in that range, if you are training close to failure. You have to improve your work capacity in order to complete the workout as prescribed. If your work capacity sucks, then your sets will look something like:
3x10- 1x185/10reps, 1x 185/8reps, 1x 185/6reps
3x8- 1x 175/8reps, 1x 175/7reps, 1x 175/4reps

Obviously the intensity was too high for the athletes work capacity. The WC is the detrimental factor. Extra GPP work can help improve this and there are other factors such as nutrition as supplementation that can improve this as well, such as buffering agents like sodium bicarbonate.

Thanks for the response. During this week, I’m using 90 second rest intervals, but am alternating between antagonistic muscle groups (i.e. chest/back: A1) bench press, A2) Weighted parallel grip chins)
The scenario you described is exactly what I’m experiencing. I’m thinking my current lower work capacity may be due to nutritional inadequacy. I’m currently following the anabolic diet by Mauro DiPasquale. I used his system when working out in an HST-style program and had some pretty good gains - especially in the strength department. However, with the large increase in volume and workout intensity (working closer to my max more often instead of only once every 2 weeks as with HST) I should probably bump up my calories, maybe reintrodude some post workout carbs.

I’m getting frustrated as I’m not used to working with higher reps and I’m finding that I fatigue so damn quickly. As a side note, I performed an 8 week cycle of OVT with great success, again, using a low carb approach, and THAT is some serious volume. However, each set was no more than 5 reps. Working out in the 8-10 rep range has me spinning my wheels…

There’s your answer indeed. Your training thus far has mostly focused on lower reps which works mostly the easily fatigued fast twitch fibres. Now that you are going beyond that fatigue threshold, the fast twitch fibres are failing and yet the slow twitch fibres are basically ineffective from lack of training. It’s western periodization at it’s finest. :slight_smile:

Damn western periodization, damn it to hell. I know HST is an “abbreviated” form of Western periodization, and that’s what I’m trying to avoid by following CT’s methods. Each 4 week block is supposed to address several aspects of training: strength, hypertrophy, and power. Now, each 4 week block is also meant to focus primarily on one aspect, but the others are not to be neglected, but will just make up a smaller percentage of the total lifts.

By structuring one’s workouts in the manner in which CT describes, they are supposed to avoid the pitfalls of Western periodization. The 4 week block stucture is supposed to be set up as follows:

week 1: introduction loading (basically, get the athlete/bodybuilder used the the exercises that will be employed for those 4 weeks)
week 2: base week (high volume for “structural adaptations”)
week 3: Shock loading (volume is lowered somewhat, intensity is greatly increased)
week 4: unloading

[begin new 4 week block with different exercises, perhaps switching emphasis, in my case, possibly from hypertrohpy to strength]

I guess I’ll just keep plugging away and hope the variety of rep schemes during each week will allow for a more complete recruitment of lower and higher threshold fibers. But man, is it every a psychological bitch to go through reps 1-7 so easily and all of a sudden hit a wall on rep 8, barely being able to eek out 9 and 10…