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Long Term Approach - Low Volume/Frequency?

Recently I have been reading Sergey Ponamarev’s Instagram posts, he coaches Marianna Gasparyan and CC Ingram (Top 2 female lifters), Danny Grigsby (900+DL, 800 or so squat). He is saying that the way most people are training is not efficient, too much volume and not allowing for recovery, he says that his lifters don’t train a lift more than once a week. This is totally contrary to what a lot of people are preaching these days, but it looks like it’s working for his lifters so it’s hard to say it’s wrong.

Of course drugs are another issue, but he says that most programs wont work well for people who neither take drugs nor are genetically gifted. Based on what I have heard from other coaches, the main difference between natural and drugs is that you get better results with drugs, so basically the same program might only give minimal results for a natural lifter.

In my case, I have been training hard and making meagre gains on bench and trying to avoid elbow tendinitis, plus recently I was having some issues with something in my back/hip that screwed up my squat and deadlift training. I can see why more of a long term approach makes sense because if you go all-out you will wear yourself out before you get far. It seems like the main advantage of higher frequency is that you learn proper technique faster, but once you get past that stage maybe a more conservative approach could get you further.

@Reed - I think you might have something useful to add here

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I posted this somewhere else. But when I ran JTS I ached all over and developed ant shoulder impingement. My bench was stronger but deadlift and squat decreased. I think over the years when it comes to strength gains squatting 1x and deadlifting 1x is fine for me and I make good progression. I think squat/dead they are both to neurally taxing and use a lot Of the same muscle groups to be hitting them 3x week each.

Well, if your lifts are going down then something is definitely wrong. What JTS program were you using?

For the last while I have had one main squat day and I squat before deadlifting but light, like 60% for a few doubles, just for some technique practice. I think I could probably do without that.

As far as bench, for a few weeks I didn’t deadlift at all and was only squatting real light, nothing more than 315x5x5 since I was having some pain in my back/left hip. I thought that with less total work my bench would make better progress, but it seems like I’m making no gains. This is with benching twice a week. The thing is that if you are fully recovered then you would expect to at least match last week’s performance, right? If you have less total stress than normal and have been eating and sleeping well then why should performance not be at the same level as last week? Could it be that despite not being sore the muscles are still not fully recovered?

Another thing, there was a study not long ago (I think Schoenfeld was involved, he was talking about it at least) that compared doing one work set to something like 5 work sets. The single set group gained just as much strength as the multi-set group, although the multi-set group gained more muscle mass. So the impression that I get from this, plus other things along the same lines, is that maybe the least volume necessary is a better way to approach training for strength. Volume for hypertrophy is another story, and it looks like moderation is the key there, but you will need more than a couple sets to gain mass.

As I’ve gotten older, I able to handle upper end volume less well.
The stronger you get the harder it is to recover, and doing total body training or multiple days of the main lifts will beat you up.
I no longer compete, but getting beat up on volume on my main lifts never helped me.
I’ve always tried to get intensity on my main lifts, and add volume with lower intensity on your 2nd or 3rd lift. So called supplemental and accessory work.
Good luck. The journey is the best part.

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I ran the jts AI program. It started my MRV. Very high and very high frequency. Pressing 4x weekly squatting 3x, deadlifting 3x. The pressing wasn’t to bad but low bar squatting that much wrecked my shoulders and the deadlifting finished what was left.

Now I’m just working up to a top set of 5 then 5x5 drop sets for the most part with 12-15% decrease in weight from top set and strength has been climbing back up. Also I’m doing a little easier variation of each lift. I’m using ssb and parallel box to save shoulders and helps low back. M-W-F-Sa
Saturday and just standing press and some shoulder health movements.

As far as your issue that’s kinda odd. I mean I’d think if nothing else if you were pushing a lift hard and then cut back you’d have an upswing in strength just because the decrease in stress, volume etc. did you change diet or anything like that? I think for me bench and the pressing anotherday is pretty good so 2 pressing days may be better for you than 1 even if you switch out press for bench variation.

Yeah, I can’t handle heavy low bar squatting more than once a week for long before my arms and shoulders start to hurt. They don’t give a lower frequency option? Based on all the stuff Chad said in his videos it sounds like he favors a lower frequency approach except for lightweights and girls, like 2x squat and bench, 1-2x deadlift.

I didn’t change anything except that I haven’t squatted or deadlifted anything heavy in about a month. Basically I’m getting frustrated with slow progress on my bench and I started wondering if maybe just benching once a week might somehow work better for me. It seems like I make better progress on squat and deadlift by not doing a ton of volume, so theoretically it could work for bench but I’m not really sure about it. A few years back I was benching 3-4x per week but eventually I stalled and cut it back to 2 days, now I’m not really getting anywhere with that either.

On my 2nd bench day I usually do close grip and OHP. Seems like doing the exact same thing twice a week would be a bit redundant.

In some of James Strickland’s videos, he has blocks where the bench accessory day is a true accessory day. There’s no benching with a bar, just some pre-hab, then super light dumbbell pump work, then some shoulder and tricep isolation work plus a pullover in there somewhere. He seems to use weight that is really, really low stress and just focusses on getting blood to the area.

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We basically follow that each lift once a week system. It works a treat.


Yeah, I have seen a few of those videos, it is more like a recovery session than any sort of actual training.

If it’s working for you then there is a good chance it would work for me too, me and you are about the same age, weight, and PL total.

I think I will give it a try for a month of so and see what happens. If my bench goes nowhere or I forget how to squat then I can always switch back.

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Well, the program is based on your calculated MRV and MED. they start you on the calculated MRV and based on what you put into the program and send back it adjusts how much volume you do. I was putting in high fatigue ratings and the next cycle it removed 1 set weekly on each lift lol which was barely noticed.

Also the MRV isn’t based on 1 session. It’s based on weekly. It had me at 14 sets of squats and broke them up between 3 sessions for example. So the frequency of the program isn’t really adjustable other than you can do 3-4-5-6 days a week however the same amount of volume would be crammed into 3 sessions opposed to 5 for example. It would suck.

That doesn’t sound very good at all. I remember @guineapig was on the JTS AI thing and it didn’t make a great impression on him either. It kind of looks like they are just trying to figure out how to take the most clients possible since otherwise they would need a whole team of coaches to take everyone who comes to them, plus the high volume/frequency fad is still going strong in some circles so they are basically giving people what they want and making cash at the same time. And they can also claim to offer a “totally customized program” based on the minor adjustments and exercise options. A clever marketing strategy, but perhaps not the best for real-world results.

I used to post on the RTS forum when that was still going and I knew a guy who was on their “group coaching”, that thing was basically the same without the variations in volume. The guy was getting beat up from too much deadlifts, his deadlift was actually going down and previously he was making good progress with just a few hard sets each week. He asked them about how he should go about cutting back deadlift volume and they told him to either switch to a different group or get customized coaching (which obviously costs more). It raises the question, should the program be designed to suit the athlete’s needs or should the athlete conform to the program? I think the answer is obvious.

As for this low frequency/low volume thing, there are actually quite a few lifters who train like that, it just doesn’t get a lot of attention because there is nothing exciting or complicated about it. Ray Williams, Kevin Oak, Eric Lilliebridge, those guys all train each lift once a week and they are some of the best lifters. Or you can look at how Dave Ricks trains (there is an article on mystrengthbook), one heavy top set on each lift once a week and easy assistance work, he doesn’t increase weight or reps on the assistance work at all for the whole training cycle. Only difference with him is that he does have a light squat day and bench day, but he’s doing a couple sets of 8 with 50%, basically active recovery work.

I’m on my second cycle of the program currently. I’ve had great success with my bench press and decent results on my squat. It actually does a pretty good job of targeting your weaknesses with proper assistance movements and variations. It’s also very good at systematically progressing you over the course of a training cycle.

What I don’t like is that the daily volume is very high for deadlifts (6x5 currently) and squats that it tends to just trash my lower back, but it’s a bit hard to change the programming for that without it also affecting my prescribed sets and reps for bench.

Bodybuilding. Pump work. Main lift variation. This should be done most of the time. Not focusing on strength. Not focusing on weight. Focus on unloading the joints and making the muscles work.

There is no reason in the world that your peak strength would not reach full potential in 8 weeks of competition prep.

For example: A friend of mine is a bodybuilder. Weighing 235, hadn’t done a competition deadlift for 3 years. One day decides to see how it feels. Pulls 600x3.

If you wanna stay healthy in the long run and compete then only draw on what you need when you need it. Believe me, I wish I had believed or listened to this advice earlier.


How would it affect programming for bench? If it tells you to do 6 sets and you know that’s too much then you could just do 3-4 instead, that’s what I would do.

Well the AI thing does conform to you it’s just over several blocks. There’s a fatigue measurement, the higher you rank fatigue on a lift, it’ll lower the weight in the back off sets and when you send in the block with the information, it’ll adjust your volume based on fatigue ratings. So it does adjust to the athlete however it isn’t real time like a human couch. They tell you that it’s between cookie cutter program and having a live couch. Better than one and not as good as the other. It’s priced 27 monthly so not terrible.

I just felt the time for it to adjust to what I really needed wasn’t worth it. The block to block adjustments it made were very low even when rating fatigue really high.

That is a major problem, you could end up wasting weeks and months of training.

Yep and not to mention I was digging A huge hole in the mean time. I know that style works for some ppl. they have had some great lifters come out if there but I don’t think it’s for me.


I will never, ever go back to high frequency + high volume lifting again. Did that for 2 years and all that came from it was 2 years of no competition PRs in the squat and dead and a ruptured L5/S1.

I currently split my training up into a 3 week block, 3 days each week waving intensity and volume throughout to keep fatigue in check. The only high intensity work I do is a single top set each week in one of the 3 lifts, done for a strict-form AMRAP at 85%. So, over the course of 3 weeks there are 3 sets that are taken to high intensity. Everything else is conservative enough that even on a crappy day the work could be completed with high quality. Peaking for a meet is a bit different, but not much. Currently 1.5 weeks out and I’ve never felt this healthy and strong going into a meet.

Personally, the whole “maximum recoverable volume” stuff JTS pushes always felt like a sales gimmick to me.


I’ve seen some good lifters talk about stuff similar to this. Is it anything like DUP?

Edit: I didn’t say that implying you aren’t a good lifter lol