T Nation

Long Term Approach - Low Volume/Frequency?

What kind of sets/reps are you doing on the conservative days?

I’m not super familiar with DUP but my understanding is that it’s based around waving your rep/set schemes. So first workout might be 8x3 at 80%, next workout 5x5 at 75%, next workout 4x10 at 60%, then repeat (example I just pulled off the top of my head). My approach isn’t completely unlike this, but I would consider it more movement/goal focused.

Basically, I squat and bench twice a week, both on the same days. One day will be bench focused, with secondary squats, other day will be squat focused with secondary bench. Deadlift day is in between and follows pretty much the same pattern as the other primary days.

The secondary work I do for squat and bench is basic Westside style dynamic effort training. 50, 55, and 60% bar weight +25% band tension performed at 6x4, 8x3, and 12x2. All relative to week 1, 2, and 3. All sets done near EMOM. The focus of this day is to work on the explosive concentric (I do controlled eccentrics, opposite of the fast eccentrics done by Westside). Using accommodating resistance is extremely important because it allows you to practice a competition similar movement while reducing load in your most vulnerable positions (bottom of squat: low back and hips, bottom of bench: shoulders and elbows). I recommend using any variations that bother nagging issues, so for example I don’t do any low bar squatting here since low bar squatting every week lights up my shoulders and elbows.

The primary work for the 3 week block is split up into three focuses: “Max effort” (not true Westside max effort), variation/weak point work, and technical practice.

The “max effort” week is literally just working up to a top set of 85% for a AMRAP in the competition movement, with near perfect form. Basically, if I hit a weight for 5 or more reps I assume my 1RM has improve by a couple percent, move my training weights up a bit and repeat the cycle a little heavier. The focus here is not only to test strength but to practice the mental preparation and focus needed to hit a single heavy set.

Variation/weak point day is just picking 2 or 3 variations of the main lift that exaggerate your weak points. Some examples… deadlift might be 5x5 TAG block pulls just below the knees (for strengthing glutes and hips) followed by 3x3 deficit pulls (for practicing/strengthening leg drive), bench might be 4x3 cambered bar, 4x4 spoto press, and 4x5 board press (I personally can handle a lot of bench volume). Of the three days, the weak point work days are the ones I’ll be most conservative on, since they are arranged to be before a Max Effort day. If this sounds like a lot of volume, keep in mind much of this is reduced ROM and the percentages are kept pretty conservative.

The technical practice days are the highest volume days of the cycle. Generally it will be around 10 total working sets of 3-5 reps of the competition movement, or slight variation for injury prevention (I use SSB squats to protect shoulders and elbows). But again, it is performed at a conservative percentage, basically if you focus more on the weight feeling heavy on any of the reps than you focus on your queues and technique, the weight is too heavy. Generally, sets of 5 will be in the 60-70% range and 3s will be 70-80% (maybe slightly higher on bench).

@FlatsFarmer I think this answers your question but let me know if you need something more specific.


@tasty_nate - I’m just curious but what does your full 3 day split looks like (if I am reading that correctly)? Based on reading this looks like it’s something like this:

Squat Focus
Bench Press Secondary

Deadlift Focus

Bench Press Focus
Squat Secondary

Cool stuff, good answer Nate. I like your program style.

I like the way you wave and control the weights and use the variations to stay right in the “Effective Training Zone” or Goldilocks Range for gains week after week, vs linearly driving the weights up into the too heavy to be effective Danger Zone.

Did you come up with this yourself, or is this (smart) “Method” used by a particular coach?

What about the assistance stuff?

That’s the feeling that I get now, but when they first started talking about it, it was a step in the right direction because a lot of other coaches and programs were all about beating the crap out of yourself and expecting a sudden boost in strength at the end.

Interesting to hear how you train nowadays, sounds like it’s working well for you too.

I just came across this video of Dave Ricks squatting 612x5 for his 60th birthday. But yeah, his programming sucks and he needs more volume.

That’s an awesome write up man. Thanks a lot.

So DUP is basically waved intensities and volume.

So say you do squat, bench deads on M W F.

Week 1 you’d do

Monday :Heavy squats 87-90% range 1-3 reps

Wednesday : strength bench 78-80% 4-6 reps

Friday : deads volume 60-70% 10-12

Week 2

Monday squats strength 78-80%

Wednesday bench volume 60-70%

Friday deadlifts heavy 87-90%

Week 3

Monday Squats volume 60-70%

Wednesday Bench heavy 90%

Friday deadlifts strength 80%

So basically every three weeks you’re rotating through all ranges in all lifts but never going heavy on all three same week. I heard about it through Erin Blevins

I think Nate is using similar principles except his frequency for squat and bench are higher so you’d rotate through the workout types faster. @tasty_nate is your setup something like this?

Week 1
Day 1: Heavy Squat, Light Bench
Day 2: Mod Deadlift
Day 3: Light Squat, Heavy Bench

Week 2
Day 1: Mod Squat, Mod Bench
Day 2: Light Deadlift
Day 3: Heavy Squat, Light Bench

Week 3
Day 1: Light Squat, Heavy Bench
Day 2: Heavy Deadlift
Day 3: Mod Squat, Mod Bench

There’s different ways to do DUP and I have actually never heard of doing it the way you describe. The typical setup would have you squatting and benching at least 3 times a week with a day for hypertrophy, a day for power (submax work), and a day for strength.

Mike Zourdos, who was all about DUP for a while and seems to have helped popularize it, started using it in a more linear progression format (I knew a guy who was coahced by him). The way it went, the standard setup was squatting and benching 3 days a week (upper/lower if you can train 6 days a week) and it was all about varying rep ranges. Deadlift was trained mostly with singles and not a lot of volume. So the first week of the cycle you would start off with 10’s, the next day 8’s, and then 6’s, the following week 9-7-5, and so on until 5-3-1 at the end then taper for the meet.

Haha I almost wrote up a bunch more detail but then thought “nah I’m probably already giving way more than these guys are interested in”. So here’s the full scoop…

Week 1

Day 1: High Volume Bench Focus and Secondary DE Squats
4-6 sets of 5 reps around 75%, then 4-6 sets of 3 around 80%
6x4 SSB squats 50% + 25% band tension, EMOM
Day 2: Weak Point/Variation Deadlift
3-5 sets of 5 rack pulls just below knees, maintain TUT for whole set. 75-80% comp pull
2-4 sets of 3 2-3" deficit pulls, high focus on setup/technique. Around 70% comp pull
Day 3: Modified Max Effort Squats and Secondary DE Bench
Work up to a single top set AMRAP at 85%. Should stop when you think you could still grind out one more ugly rep.
6x4 bench (can use variations if desired) 55% + 25% band tension, EMOM

Week 2

Day 1: Weak Point/Variation Bench and Secondary DE Squats
4-6 sets of 3 cambered bar bench 65-70% comp bench max, 4-6 sets of 4 cambered bar Spoto press (stop and hold where a straight bar would touch your chest) a little heavier, 4-6 sets of 5 reverse cambered bar (or board press, basically reduced ROM) a little heavier.
8x3 SSB squats 55% + 25% band tension, EMOM

Day 2: Modified Max Effort Deadlift
Work up to a single top set AMRAP at 85%. Should stop when you think you could still grind out one more ugly rep.

Day 3: High Volume Squats and Secondary DE Bench
Same protocol as high volume bench, can use SSB or variation to protect shoulders/elbows. Percentages 5-10% less.
8x3 bench (can use variations if desired) 60% + 25% band tension, EMOM

Week 2

Day 1: Modified Max Effort Bench and Secondary DE Squats
Work up to a single top set AMRAP at 85% competition bench with pauses. Should stop when you think you could still grind out one more ugly rep.
12x2 SSB squats 60% + 25% band tension, EMOM

Day 2: High Volume Deadlift
Similar protocol as high volume squats, but I’ll do sets of 3 comp stance/style and sets of 5 opposite stance doing a controlled, maintained TUT touch-and-go.

Day 3: Weak Point/Variation Squats and Secondary DE Bench
3-5 sets of 3 paused squats at 55% of your no-wrap squat, then 3-5 sets of 2 at 75% pin squats with pins set so hips stop 2-3 inches above parallel.
12x2 bench (can use variations if desired) 65% + 25% band tension, EMOM

Total number of sets and exact percentages depends on individual factors. Some guys fall apart with more sets and some can go forever. However, percentages used never vary more than +/- 5%. Basically, the AMRAP days dictate your current strength level. If you hit 5+ reps (again, with good form) then you can add a couple percent increase to your effective 1RM and as such all the working weight of the next block.

Mandatory accessories are direct ab work and reverse hyperextensions 2-3x weekly, taking care to “wave” loading and effort here as well so you don’t wreck your abs 2 days before an AMRAP squat/deadlift. Some pulling movement every day as well, with a heavier focus on deadlift days (again, reduce load here on the deadlift day before your AMRAP squat). Same with shoulder work. I really treat the shoulder work as a recover method, go higher reps and ROM and pump blood in the area. If you feel like you need more direct lower body work, walking DB lunges, belt squats, and occluded leg press are my go-tos. The main thing with accessories is to make sure you never screw up your next main lift workout by going too hard on them.

Some things to consider… although this might actually look like it’s pretty high volume, in reality you’re only having one high volume day each 3-week block that is the full ROM competition style movement. Everything else are reduced ROM or accommodating resistance to reduce loading in your most injury-prone positions.

I actually came across this sort of by accident. 2 and a half years ago I was coming back from loosing 25-30 lbs in a summer because of school stress and wanting to compete again. I couldn’t train more than 3 days/week because of school, so I sat down and wrote out a 14 week program that was the original iteration of this program. Before this, my comp best was 570/360/600. Running more-or-less this same idea from December 2015 to July 2016 my total went up to 655/402/622, which is still my best total to date (that will change next weekend). Before this, most of my experience was running the old Shieko programs and some other modifications of “daily max” type stuff I tried. I had also just started hearing about DE and CAT style work, so I sort of combined the Shieko stuff with CAT work in a way that would let me squat and bench twice a week without beating myself into the ground. There really wasn’t a ton of programming knowledge that went into it, I just sort of took the basic concepts of what I wanted and tried to logically balance everything as much as possible.

After that July total, I spent the next year or two in a pit of USAPL-manlet-style high volume high frequency training that lead to me being bigger a weaker than ever before, and eventually rupturing my L5/S1 disc. After recovering from that (the better part of half a year) I knew true high freq/vol was out of the question. I messed around with some standard Westside style conjugate training for a bit, picked up quite a few things I liked about that, and then eventually dusted off that old training program and applied some modifications to come to what I’m running today.


I like what you came up with. Nice past lifts, good luck next weekend!

Delete that post and sell an ebook.

Yeah that rings a bell with what I’ve heard about DUP before. I definitely wouldn’t call what I do DUP, more like weekly undulating periodization with some conjugate concepts thrown in.

The thing I don’t like about this and a lot of other programming methods I’ve seen is that they all feel like the end goal is completion of the sets as prescribed, whereas my perspective is that the reps/sets/exercise selection should be a means to accomplishing a specific goal. Take two lifters, both doing 8x3 squats at 70%. Lifter A see’s the goal as simply completing the sets with passable form. Since the loading is significantly submaximal for an 8x3, not much internal focus during the sets is required to accomplish this goal. Lifter B see’s the goal as treating the weight as if it is 100%, developing as much internal pressure and tension and mentally running through and practicing every queue. They see that since the weight is submaximal, they don’t have to dedicate mental energy to just making it through the set so they are able to focus that energy on the perfect practice of each set.

Both lifters trained significantly under their MRV and probably had a garbage “training efficiency” from the simplified perspectives some people use, but you can’t tell me that lifter B didn’t get much, much more quality, transferable work in than lifter A, even though they both did the exact same rep/set scheme.

I could rant all day about this stuff… @FlatsFarmer I probably do need to just write a damn book lol


Now I feel like you were trolling us, or testing us with your casual dismissal of Prilleprin’s chart.

I know what you mean about “using” the workout and the program vs “winning” workout the program. I like the way your set up keeps you right in the zone. Like the changes are only in there so you can keep doing the same thing over and over.

Yeah, what you are talking about there is the whole concept behind CAT, for maximum training stimulus you have to apply maximum force, and with proper technique of course.

Haha I genuinely was curious what everyone else thought! I legitimately have no formal education in anything related to lifting.

@chris_ottawa that’s interesting that the concepts are in line, I’ve never really dug deep into CAT or any other training methodology, just sort of learned enough of the high-level concepts and experimented with trying to apply them to my own training. Maybe if I were more diligent I wouldn’t have wasted two years on high volume + high frequency nonsense (or maybe I would have learned what I needed to do it correctly).

1 Like

Louie Simmons actually got the idea for speed work from Fred Hatfield’s concept of CAT. From what I understand, they were already training like that in Russia (submax weight with max force)

Some people make a lot of progress very fast with that sort of training, but it looks like a lot of them end up with a bunch of injuries too. You can only push yourself to the limits of your ability to recover for so long before something goes wrong, and connective tissue recovers more slowly than muscles.

All the coolest coaches are no more than 2 steps from Russian stuff.

Man this is a great write up. Seriously you should write a book/ create an app something to push this. I’ve seen some garbage cookie cutter programs out there that ppl pay for and you have variation to target weak points, intensity control and progression built in. Well done and good luck at you meet coming up.

1 Like

I’ve used CAT style training in the past. For strength it works great. It’s a great way to increase your max without lifting max weight. I used it particularly for singles.

Josh Bryant I believe did an article based on Fred Hatfield’s training you can search for. It seems to explain things well.

Matter of fact after I get my shoulder fixed my contest prep will be strictly CAT style.

1 Like

The thing is that there appear to be significantly different methods used by Russian lifters and their coaches. The typical Russian style training is high volume submaximal work, but then you have people like Andrey Malanichev (one work set, no assistance work) and Sergey Ponamarev (pretty much the same with some assistance work) so maybe things aren’t as straightforward as we would like to believe.