T Nation

Keep Training Simple


#1

I know that many successful programs out there rely on percentages, planning and "science." However I question whether it is the best way of going about making progress.

I propose this for two reasons:

  1. People around the world have been getting bigger, stronger, faster, leaner, better, more athletic etc. for decades without fancy programs. I feel that many were successful due to hard work and consistency rather than "science." How many strong people out there have ever heard 5/3/1, Westside and Russian training manuals? I say most have not(think prisoners, guys who have just gotten strong from training and people with lesser means.) Many people do not have access to this information.

  2. The human body is a living, changing adaptive organism. It is not a machine that works by plugging in certain weights, numbers, percentages and weights. There are too many factors in life that fluctuate daily (stress, energy, diet, genetics, sleep etc) to try to program so rigidly.

So what really matters?

For me.."Prinicples I believe in are"

-Get stronger but use a certain volume. Low volume/HIT type training never has built my strength, it only tests it.

  • Low reps (1-5) build my strength WAY better than higher reps. I know some people that this is not true for.

  • Train optimally, not maximally. I don't think maxing out in any rep range is that useful. That is testing strength, not building it and it burns me out. I like to train sub maximally with more volume.

  • Progress slow and when I am ready to. I don't believe in rigid training parameters. I like to maybe work in a certain % range of my 1RM on a big lift but auto regulate based on how I feel that day.

  • Only prioritize 1 or 2 lifts in a workout. Everything else is for support and cannot be given the same priority.

  • Train for multiple qualities, size, strength speed in the same phase. I don't like going weeks without doing high or low reps. I like and need the mix of both and think its the best way for me.

Im sure many of the things I said here are not new or revolutionary but wanted to start a discussion. I just feel too many coaches and trainers are trying to reinvent the wheel when it comes to training. Some are just looking to make a quick dollar on newbies and desperate trainees.

PS- That being said 5/3/1 is the best program that I have followed and obviously it does work well for many and Westside lifters are very successful. So these programs to have merit.


#2

Are you wanting people to debate this with you, or is this some sort of declaration?


#3

I agree with the general theme of your post. I believe that BY FAR, the most important thing to realizing success in strength training is CONSISTENCY. The reps/sets/percentages are secondary to this. I have already stated on here in a few threads my belief that the actual program being followed is of much less importance than the fact that you are actually following a program that you have chosen through to completion.

I personally have experienced gains in strength and mass and athleticism by following programs that are extremely different from one another in terms of the above stated parameters. I think that with the information overload created by the internet, we have a tendency to overthink and unnecessarily complicate our training. Any program that works is simply a variation of slowly increasing the stimulus on the system (#reps, #sets, lbs) and recovering (eating, sleeping) properly consistently over time. That’s it.


#4

How strong are you?


#5

You can have principles you believe in AND keep training simple AND still program effectively. 5/3/1 is absolutely the best at this in my opinion.


#6

I don’t think 5/3/1 is that complicated. What it really excels at is giving people progress markers every week by letting them hit rep records at different percentages, thus giving you a bit of variety. It’s easy to fuck up progression by being too impatient. If you’re an experienced lifter, autoregulation can do similar things for you.


#7

[quote]ANIMAL M0THER wrote:
How many strong people out there have ever heard 5/3/1, Westside and Russian training manuals?[/quote]
For sure people were building strength before organized and labelled routines were popular, but it’s not about the brand name, it’s about the underlying principles. Other than genetic freaks who can build muscle and strength from absolutely anything, there are almost always common threads to the training of all successful lifters.

I disagree to an extent. Autoregulation and adapting for individual variables is one thing, but a 43-year old mother of twins, a 32-year old accountant, and 21-year old lacrosse player could do the exact same program and get relatively-comparable results, as long as their goals are the same (obviously) and as long as they can handle the given workload. Programs get “popularized” (for lack of a better term) because they work, repeatedly, on anybody for whom the program is appropriate.

I’d just like to point out that four or five of your six personal principles are absolutely in line with 5/3/1 training. Looking at it from another perspective, I’d also say that five of your six principles are absolutely in line with traditional Westside methods. If you were born 70 years ago or born today in North Korea with no Internet and no library, but still came to the same conclusions about your training, doesn’t that say some about those principles? There just might be more to “fancy programs” than you’re realizing.

The most successful plans have more in common than many recognize. Like the old saying goes, get 10 top coaches in a room and they’ll agree on 90% of things. Get 10 amateurs in a room and they’ll argue about 90% of things.

I definitely agree with this. Unfortunately, it’s now profitable to overcomplicate things for the sake of sounding qualified. I think it’s especially an issue with the generation of Internet-grown “trainers”, who are most often just guys who’ve built good bodies for themselves (and a large Youtube/Instagram following) with little to no actual experience training clients.


#8

My issue right now is whether or not to design my own program or just follow a 5/3/1 or Cube Method etc.


#9

[quote]ANIMAL M0THER wrote:
My issue right now is whether or not to design my own program or just follow a 5/3/1 or Cube Method etc.[/quote]

If you were really sure of your stance in the 1st post, you wouldn’t be asking this question. Your results should dictate your actions.


#10

I agree with most of the things you said, OP.

I would only add that focusing on compound lifts is most effective, which I’m sure you believe because you said it’s wise to focus on one or two lifts in any given session. Anyway, you can’t go wrong if you’re consistent and are making progress in terms of weight lifted, number of reps for a given weight, etc etc, as long as your nutrition is good (something else that I believe is over-complicated by things like macros!).


#11

[quote]nighthawkz wrote:
I don’t think 5/3/1 is that complicated. What it really excels at is giving people progress markers every week by letting them hit rep records at different percentages, thus giving you a bit of variety. It’s easy to fuck up progression by being too impatient. If you’re an experienced lifter, autoregulation can do similar things for you.[/quote]

I agree with this, but another thing 531 taught me was you don’t need to train maximally all the time to make gains. In fact, often this will burn you out instead. With joker sets you can still lift heavy when you feel like it and I often surprise myself with how much I can lift relative to the weights I have been training with, rather than being disappointed at not being able to improve on 3x5 at a heavy weight.