T Nation

Looking For A New Program


#1

Hi

For the past 7 weeks, I’ve been doing CT’s Best damn workout. I liked it so far but I’m kinda getting bored (as I believe is pretty normal for a lot of people after some time doing the same program).

I’m looking for some input as to what to do next.

I would like to do a program centered about size gains with some more volume than I’m getting used to, as BDW is very low volume. I want to train anywhere 4-6 days a week (if less than 5 days a week maybe could throw in a conditioning session as well).

Since I’m getting a bit bored of the heavy rest pause sets in BDW, I would love to do a program which has a good deal of pump/volume work, and isolation/mmc exercises.

I was actually thinking about trying out Paul Carter’s 500-rep shoulder workout, as I love working the delts (soayb3 it’d be a good move to choose a program that allows for some flexibility so I can plug some of CT’s growth factor techniques into shoulder days, as they worked great for me in the past), but it’s a 6-week program and I want to keep “bulking” for 5 more weeks before beginning a quick fat loss phase in April.

I will do some research myself tonight but in the meanwhile, I would love to hear what programs you guys have been liking and hear some suggestions about which program could fit the bill according to the characteristics I listed.

Thank you!


#2

CT has a program called HSS-100 that might be a good fit for you. Pretty sure there’s lots of volume in that one.


#3

5/3/1 Building the Monolith. Good volume, lots of challenge, 6 days of training a week that has less than 5 days of lifting and conditioning sessions.


#4

I took a look at the program (had already read about it in the past but never really considered doing it) and it sounds interesting.

However I saw that Chris divides the progression into multiple phases, each lasting 4 weeks. Do you think I could just do the program with “in the middle” parameters for 5 weeks? Could that work?


#5

I’m sure you could take any of the sections that appeal to you and run it for an additional week. That wouldn’t really be doing the program in the truest sense, but for your purposes I’m sure it’d be fine.

What’s the plan for the fat loss phase and after?


#6

Training wise, I think I will do CT’s BDW2: A low volume, low cortisol approach might be best for retaining muscle.
Might add some conditioning but I’m not sure.

Diet wise, I like Chris’s interval approach: 3 weeks of hard dieting followed by 1 week at maintenance. I’m thinking about making the phase last 8 weeks (so 2 interval “cycles”).


#7

I’d suggest then just staying the course. If you’re bored try new exercises or some of the different methods.

I’m talking out of my ass here though as the BDW and I are not a match for one another.


#8

You’re on the right track @mr.v3lv3t.

7 weeks isn’t a long time. I’m changing exercises or methods every 3 weeks on Best Damn. If you don’t like the rest pause then try the clusters. If you’re not getting a pump or MMC on Best Damn then you’re doing it wrong.

Slow eccentrics (mTor), fiber fatigue (myo reps), and 6-8-10 drop sets should be resulting in muscle pumps, MMC and a little pain if you’re pushing yourself.

The only thing that should change about your training during a cut is your expectations. Lifting for hypertrophy and to retain muscle is the same. Your diet determines the physique changes.


#9

Fact is, I really can’t fully grasp how I should go about bringing those higher rep sets to failure. For example, when I have to use the 6 8 10 dropset, I can either end up using a weight that allows me to get the reps but I can’t feel the right muscles working, or I choose a weight that allows me to do the reps correctly but I don’t feel like I’m giving it all (like, when I switch from the 6 to the 8 rep weight I feel like I could have done a couple more reps if I had cheated a bit).

Same for the mTor sets. I feel like I could eek out some more reps if I did a 4 or 3 second eccentric on the very last reps. Is that worth it or should I end the set as soon as I can’t complete a technically perfect rep?


#10

There’s a happy medium place you can find when it comes to form. A tiny bit of body English on a row or pull down to get some extra reps is a good thing.

You might try different techniques on each exercise too. I’ve been struggling to find a good way to do rows (both technique and exercise). I haven’t been feeling much so I keep trying new things. Slow eccentrics on the chest supported Hammer row have proven to be good. Pendlay rows with the MYO reps was good too (just tried that Saturday).

I have the best luck with 6-8-10 sets on isolation exercises like cable curls & press downs, reverse and regular fly’s, etc.

Don’t forget to do the loaded stretch on the slow eccentrics. I’m not getting a stretch on a lot of stuff so I do an isometric hold in the “stretched” position. That’s the bottom position on machine bench, the arms extended position on rows, and the first half inch of movement on leg extensions and leg curls.


#11

@JMaier31 So in your opinion, is it needed to use all 3 types of technique for every muscle in a week?

Yesterday I did some searching and I found a thread where a guy was asking to add growth factor sets for shoulders into the program, and CT basically gave him green lights as long as another shoulder movement was taken out. I’m thinking about doing shoulders with growth factor sets only for a bit.

Also, I’m interested in knowing more about how you have been training. I took a look at your log yesterday but I didn’t quite grasp everything. I saw you added traps but it also looked to me like there was more stuff.

Care to explain the changes you’ve made from the original program and how they’ve been working out for you?

Thank you!


#12

LOL! I’m not surprised unless you’ve been following along for awhile. I’ll do my best to clarify my mess.

First and foremost, I had hip surgery December 20th to repair a torn labrum. Right now I’m limited to single-leg leg pressing no more than 80 lbs on the Cybex machine with my repaired hip. I can also do split squats, lunges, and leg extensions but everything is light. Due to those restrictions I can’t squat or deadlift or do the recommended exercises in Best Damn 1 or 2.

I also like 5/3/1 and have committed to doing some version of it all year. After some consideration I decided to combine the two programs. Best Damn uses rest/pause sets and there’s a 5/3/1 template that also uses rest/pause sets. The catch on the 5/3/1 version is that it does not use R/P for squats and deadlifts—only bench and overhead press. Due to the similarity in programming for the rest pause (two working sets followed by the out R/P set) I decided using 5/3/1 percentages would be worth a shot (and hopefully works). I might change my mind when I’m able to do lower body again.

So that should cover the background and foundation of my program. What you see in my log is 5/3/1 with rest/pause on bench and seated smith OHP (seated so I don’t load my hip too much). For upper body lifts I’m able to follow Best Damn and I’m using a combination of everything except cluster sets. For lower body I’m just doing what I can.

I’m on week 4 of the combined program. During my last three week cycle I was doing myo sets on single-leg leg press (good leg only). It was tough. The leg press locks in the up position so it’s tough to go to failure with only one good leg! I also tried single-leg squats using the Smith machine. Leg extensions are the easiest thing to do right now. For this current three week cycle I’m not really going to push my legs. I’ll just do the same amount of work with each leg so my right leg won’t be getting pushed as much as it has. I’ll be able to do the mTor (slow eccentric) sets with both legs on leg extensions but other than you won’t see any intensification techniques on leg exercises.

My hip is also the reason you’ll see hip abduction and adduction, glute extensions, and hip extensions. I’d much rather do squats, deadlifts, lunges, etc but I’m not quite there yet. I did try a 6-8-10 drop set on the glute machine and it smoked me yesterday! That might be an underrated piece of equipment.

Hopefully that helps explain why my program looks so messy. Let me know if you have any other questions.

I don’t think it’s necessary. I think CT gave it to us for variety and so we could do a mixture of loads. The rest/pause sets are heavy with lower reps. The myo reps are an intermediate range with intermediate loads (more like traditional hypertrophy loads), and the mTor sets are lighter weight with a slow tempo to increase time under tension.

A lot of people have had success by programming different phases into their training. They’ll do 8-12 reps per set in a dedicated hypertrophy phases and then throw in a phase of heavier training in the 4-6 rep range. The more traditional, textbook programming follows this. There’s a hypertrophy phase, strength phase, and power phase programmed according to the sports season. Bodybuilding has expanded on these basic principles and added a lot of other techniques.

A study cited by CT himself at one point showed that going to failure with 8 reps achieved the same hypertrophy as going to failure with 30 reps. The key was going to failure.

I haven’t had rest/pause sets in my rows or back training for the past couple of weeks because I didn’t feel anything in the muscles. I am also dealing with nerve damage in my right arm from my stupid crutches. I don’t think all of my muscles are firing but through trial and error I’ve found that myo reps on the rear delt machine and slow eccentrics on J Rope Pulls and chest supported rows work. I’m going to try DB rows for the first time this week using the rest/pause technique.

If you have a muscle group or type of exercise that isn’t working with one of the techniques then don’t worry about it. Do what works for awhile and then come back to the technique you’re not using down the road and try it again.


#13

Very thorough post, thank you!

Here’s a question that I have wanted to ask for a while.
I know about the study you mentioned about going to failure but I can’t help but think that going to failure on a high rep set is much more difficult than with medium reps.

See, if I’m doing a 6-rep set of presses, you bet I will know once I can’t do another full rep.

But how about a growth factor set of lateral raise variations? I’ll get to a point where I have to cheat the way up and eventually the pain will have me give in. But being unable to complete another rep, gun to the head? No way!

I’m asking this because from now on I will substitute my rest pause ohp and lateral raise dropset with growth factor sets and I want to make damn sure I’m getting everything from them.

Also how many sets do you think I should do? Since the program calls for 2 preparation sets, should I do a total of 3 growth factor sets per workout? From one point, I don’t want to end up doing too much volume. From the other though, I can’t help but think back of when I used to do 3 sets of 5 different growth factor exercises.

One more question. I just saw this

And it looks good since it also uses only one set. I’m thinking about introducing this in place of mTor exercises for arms, since i haven’t felt them well so far

What do you think?


#14

I think the rest/pause technique is to put your body under heavier loads. It’s a good part of a complete program, but it’s not the only part. Two days a week of mTor or drop sets is still going to equal or exceed most programs. Keep that in mind when comparing programs.

For OHP (if done standing) you can switch to push press and then push jerks if you think you need more volume that day. It’s a mechanical drop set; each technique is a little easier on the delts (but it won’t feel that way!).

Don’t confuse pain with progress. I can go run hill sprints after eating a burrito and puke my guts out. I can also do a smarter workout and improve without the puking.

I had to take a break and browse the growth factor program.

That looks like it doesn’t follow the high frequency, low volume approach of Best Damn. You could probably get away with doing one superset on each push day but you wouldn’t be following the Growth Factor program.

You might have to ask the man himself about that one.

In regards to sets, I think it’s best to follow the program.

Forgive me for bouncing around. I’m reading through the Growth Factor article as I respond.

Looking at the 5 supersets I don’t see failure in any of them. That makes it hard to progress (or at least to track it), especially on the lifts that use multiple weights. I guess you could go to failure on the last exercise and try to beat the reps from the previous week?

This is more of a personal thing. I’m past the days of going in and lifting by feel. I track my numbers and try to improve every week. Years of not doing this has caused me to waste precious time while making little to no progress.

I don’t think there’s anything wrong with the growth factor training. It will definitely cause fatigue and stimulate some growth. I just don’t think it lines up with the Best Damn philosophy. Again, it’s not wrong, but they are two completely different approaches to training and should probably be kept separate. The only superset that I would add to Best Damn is the DB Press Multi ROM. I’ve been using that approach for a while on certain movements and really enjoy it. I’m not doing it now because I don’t need it with Best Damn.

This isn’t a whole lot different than mTor sets. All of these articles started popping up after the study and article came out (at least I recall seeing this one first):

I think that CT has picked the best option using this research and trial and error. I’ve noticed that CT’s stuff changes over time and it’s because he learns and makes adjustments. Why not trust his experience?

He keeps putting out new/different stuff because he knows people need to follow something they enjoy, but he thinks Best Damn is the best way to go.

It seems like you’re like CT in that you get bored quickly. Your initial question may have been the best thing to ask. It might be time for a different program altogether. If you don’t want to do Best Damn or you can’t keep from removing things then just find a new program and follow it 100%.

The problem with the Growth Factor program is that it’s not a stand alone program.

Perhaps you should start a new thread and ask CT how to do that specific program with Best Damn or with another stand alone program. Obviously, you don’t want to only train shoulders for the next 4-5 weeks.

I think we’ve come full circle and haven’t accomplished anything except that you want to do Growth Factor Training :smile:


#15

I’m doing it Seated, with db, but I guess I could do a mechanical dropset by switching from the Seated position to standing and then push press.

Chris said you could use either the whole workout or just some supersets as a standalone.

Chris was asked about this and said that you could substitute a shoulder set with a growth factor one on BDW. There I was asking for your thoughts on the matter.

In an update thread (named “update to growth factor training: width complexes”), CT said you should go for max 10 reps on the first exercise and max reps on the other ones.

It’s good to track weights and I’m doing that too. But what I’m forcing myself to do on this program is to avoid chasing weight at all costs (which eventually can lead to bad form and little recruitment for the target muscle), trying to progress in other ways like getting a better contraction or a couple more reps.

I don’t doubt his experience in the slightest. In fact, the method I proposed in substitution for the mTor sets is written by him as well. I personally haven’t liked the mTor sets for arms on this program: I don’t feel the stretch on Incline curls and it took me some time to get the hang of the technique for the Tricep push aways. Anything that will allow me to get better results from my arm training is welcome (as I would like to bring up my biceps at the moment).

I’m not sure if I should do that or, as others suggested, just man up and keep doing it. Don’t really want to short circuit my results.

I saw that Chris had posted a split that could be employed to use growth factor training for all the major muscle groups. Problem is, he didn’t include exercise selection or anything else, so I would have to design it myself. Could be fun as I always wonder about program designing, but ever since I’ve been on the forums, most users have scared me away from trying to do it (maybe rightfully so, haha).

Anyway, I really thank you for taking the time to answer my questions. I know I might sound like I’m challenging what others say but the reality is that I value the opinion of you guys a lot, and you look very legit and knowledgeable to me. I’m just trying to learn as much as possible.


#16

It looks like you have all of the info; now it’s time to make a plan!

If you sub a growth factor set for mtor sets then I would do one warm-up or prep set and then run the super set all out.

I’m currently maxing out reps on each technique and then adding weight. I do everything the same each week with the prep sets and then increase weight if I hit 12 reps on the MYO reps, 10 reps on the mtor reps, and with the rest pause I am following my 531 weights (which I’ve kept the same for two cycles to really compare my reps at each weight).

I found that I like the machine curls the best. I don’t get a stretch but I do an isometric hold with the weight stack just barely hovering so it’s the longest range of motion I can get. I’ve only been doing triceps twice a week and I do myo reps on press downs and the mtor reps on overhead rope extension with the cable. I can actually get a stretch on that one.

You know from following CT that the mental aspect is a big part of the equation. I think you should keep doing best damn and substituting the growth factor stuff where you can to make it the best program for you. It sounds like CT has given you his blessing and some advice on how to do that.

I’m just trying to help and share my experience. Hopefully you don’t ever see me get all stubborn and acting like I know everything!


#17

Unfortunately I haven’t got a curl machine in my gym so I guess I have to work with what I have. Anyway, today I gave the “multi hold” set which we talked about earlier a try for Triceps, using rope overhead extensions. I am blown away by how good my triceps felt. I can’t wait to try out the biceps version, with the cable curl!

That sure doesn’t sound like you!
:slight_smile:


#18

Do you have a preacher curl setup? If you do then drag it over to the cables and you’ll get the same effect as a machine.

My gym is amazing. It’s the YMCA but they have 6 locations in my city and several others in the surrounding towns. The equipment was just replaced too. I usually go to the Downtown branch and they have a Texas Deadlift bar and two American Barbell Power Elite bars in addition to the usual generic ones. Each branch has a lifting platform too. The only thing missing is strongman implements and a space to use them.

I’m spoiled when it comes to equipment!

Glad to hear the over tricep extension worked for you! Don’t be afraid to change the order too. Full reps/top half/bottom half some days and then the typical bottom half/top half/full reps.


#19

Quit doing that worst damn workout and do nsuns 6 day squat.


#20

sarcastic? …