T Nation

Low & Heavy or Kill It with Supersets?


I have been doing DC training for a while (15 weeks) with decent results and was talking to a natural bodybuilder in the gym and he was telling me that I wasnt training right. So he said that the next week I could work out with him and he would show me his style of training. Basically what he does is a 4 day split, the normal chest/tris, back/bis, etc. So my basic method of training is more of a DC or a 5x5 training trying to lift as heavy as possible. I have been trying to add more muscle to my frame for the past few months.

Anyways I trained with this guy and he does supersets, with less weight than I usually lift and he goes until complete failure on each set of the super set and then on the 4th set he does a drop set on each of the excersises until failure. We were doing 3-4 supersets per each bodypart with a dropset until failure on the 4th set of each excersise. With this style of training, I got a huge pump and alot of muscle soreness. Granted this was a big change to the way that I have been training for the last year or so. For example, I was lifting 30% less weight per excersise but a shitload more reps. But I wonder is this a better way to train? He tries to get the biggest pump possible and tries to tear the muscle down to where you can barely lift the bar by the time that you are done with that bodypart.

The one concern is that my body just doesnt recover like it used to, I have always been slow to recover anyways even with 300g of protein a day (I weigh 180 now), should I train like this to add more muscle mass or should I continue a routine with heavier weight and mostly compound lifts? Or would it be better to change it up?


Why fix something that ain't broke? If you're making steady gains from DC, there's no point in switching methods.

Sure, his way of training is effective (he's living proof). But there are plenty of DC lifters who have something to show for it.


If you're asking questions like this I don't think you're advanced enough to be doing DC training.

You should have a good understanding of your body and how it responds to nutrition and exercise before even thinking of stepping foot into a DC routine.

Do what works, IE what makes you put more weight on the bar in the gym and eat ALOT.


Bro what works for this guy might not work for you and vise versa.If some guy just came up to me and told me I was working out wrong I would tell him to go fuck himself, Unless of course I though he had some solid credentials.If your trying to put on muscle then 5x5 and DC should work good.


Why would you give this particular guy particular credibility on what is correct and what is not even in general, let alone for you?

There are always various people with various views. Always has been that way and always will be.


Well, it's always good to change it up if your results are getting a bit stagnant. But to make more of a permanent change or not depends on your goals. Are you trying to gain sheer size and strength, or are you aiming more for aesthetic changes? The way you're lifting now is definitely going to increase your strength. But by following this dude's routine, you are targeting each muscle more directly, which will lead to a gain in size and increased muscle separation/definition.

The compound lifts are best for strength gains because they enable you to lift more weight due to the larger amount of muscles they work, plus the added complexity of the move when done explosively or especially maximally increases your motor recruitment. The combo of heavy weights and compound movements leads to more functional gains. Size will come along as well.

With the move toward more isolation movements, explosiveness and maximal force output is a non-issue, but muscle damage on a microscopic level is increased. The increase in muscular damage obviously leads to more strength gains as it grows back stronger. But because you lift lighter weights with less explosiveness or maximal contraction, the strength gains are through sheer muscle size increase rather than an increase in the muscle's efficiency. A good analogy I heard on this site is that your body is a factory. By using the first technique (yours) the factory gets a lot of work done because the employees are better workers. With the other routine, the factory gets more done because the factory has more workers. But with your current routine, you'll definitely still get bigger. The other routine will make you look more "cut" because you're targeting each muscle more directly, which leads to more separation and definition between each muscle. Plus your heartrate goes up higher and remains higher longer.

This is a simplified analysis here, but you get the point. Either way you'll get bigger, it's just a matter of deciding whether you want to gain more power and muscle efficiency or more of a defined look with your size increase.


I thought about a nice, articulate response, but I prefer to go with this.

Training just to be sore and get a pump is bullshit. Seriously. It's bullshit. Yeah, it might work some, but the most effective way to build muscle is by training at higher relative intensities (75-90% 1RM) and doing a good volume. Get your natural buddy to do sets at 80% of 1RM with 15 second interset rest intervals and see how he finds that.

Acutely changing training is always a good way to feel some DOMS, but that's not what training is all about either.

High volume training at lower relative intensities boosts mitochondrial protein levels and hypertrophies type I muscle fibers.

Yay. You'll have better endurance.


Oh yeah, while I'm in this thread, myofibril damage IS NOT the stimulus for hypertrophy. That has only been shown after acute eccentric training only. Does not happen with repeated sessions, and is not the stimulus for increasing muscle size.

Train heavy, stimulate your neuroendocrine response to resistance exercise, eat properly to facilitate protein synthesis in the myofibrils, and away you go.


I don't think you want to be doing DC just yet.
Especially not if you keep second-guessing yourself and don't really know how to train yourself.
DC was made to get advanced guys gaining again, beginners don't need a triple rotation and so on, probably going to hold you back more than help you.

Plenty of programs out there for you... Various 5x5/3x5 routines come with a great overall explanation, and then you could visit ironaddicts.com and/or read the "Professor X: a request" thread on here, along with Modok's and Fattyfat's t-cell threads etc.

Get as strong as you can for moderate to high reps on a few key exercises per major muscle-group and eat enough to be able to make strength gains at a good rate, that's most of what you need to worry about for now.


As monotonous as this thread may get from my addition, I am compelled to repeat that you aren't quite where one should be before doing DC. One might even be tempted to suggest that you haven't REALLY been training the DC way.
There are many proponents of the style of training you were shown(beat the muscle to death with reps, and then add a few more for good measure). However, training for a massive pump and to absolute failure each time seems counter-productive to me.
I'm assuming that you're not an advanced lifter, so I would suggest that you find a more sensible approach.


I don't even know where to begin...


As a dude who used to pant like a Malmute in Mexico after going up a set a stairs, I have to say...

Having some endurance ain't so bad.

To the OP, mixing it up isn't a bad thing, not one ideology is ever going to be the be all, but completely shifting gears into 180 degree different kind of training isn't the best thing either.


Ok man seriously, I have been training for 4 years steady now. You dont know me well enough by 1 f'ing post to say that I am not advanced enough and to eat more and lift heavy. Seriously a monkey could say that shit. The guy i am talking about is a friend, he isnt just a random guy that told me I dont know what the fuck im doing. I hold him in pretty high regard too. He is about 6'3 265 at 5-6% body fat right now, all natural. He has been training for his whole life. As for me, unlike some people on this forum I dont think that I already know everything about training. I like to learn from others and constantly be learning. And when i see a 265lb man beast talking i listen. I have just always been naturally skinny and never done many supersets, I have mainly always focused on putting all of my energy on 1 lift at a time to gain as much mass as possible.

He was just showing me what works for him and his methods are completely different than mine. I gave it a try for a week, I may incorporate some of it into what I am already doing but for the most part I have been getting solid gains for 4 years now doing what I have been doing. So if you are going to post eat alot and lift as heavy as possible, I learned that in 2005 when I got on this site for the first time and have been doing it every since, if you cant give me something that isnt a given dont post.


this is what i thought about his style from all the research that i have done too. But like I say when he talks I had to listen and consider what he had to say


Don't even listen to all of this bullshit on here man. Regardless of what anyone else says, pretty much any tried and true approach is going to work. Some work better than others, but that has as much to do with the goals you are trying to reach. Certain goals take certain approaches. The bottom line is that if you lift hard and go fullbore, no matter how many sets, reps, exercises, or body part splits you do, you will make progress of some sort. Whatever approach you take, just go fucking balls out and you'll make some serious strides.




I would suggest stay on the heavy routine, but I would bet that your carb intake isn't high enough which is a pretty standard mistake for people doing heavy training who are failing to add good mass. This doesn't mean go out and eat like a pig, just don't forgo eating carbs.

If you like the supersets or pyramid type ideas where you exhaust a muscle, fine, just do them after you've done some good heavy working sets (e.g. 3-5 sets above 70% 1RM) first.

My perspective on that type of training is that it builds musculoskeletal endurance, but won't do anything substantial for the size of the muscle. Will it help conditioning? Probably, but for size I need to be doing a good volume of working sets at high intensity.

If you think what he is doing is why he's a big as he is then try it out for a few months and see what happens.

If he's your friend, do you know his history as to how he got to the weight he's at? Did he just switch to this type of training since he's been big cause it gives him a better 'pump'?


I talked to him tonight after training and asked him where he came up with his methods of training. He said that when he first started working out, he went up to the biggest guy in the gym and asked him if he could work out with him and offered to pay him. Well the guy said that he would charge him $100 per week to train him. he did that for 3 months and developed his own style from that. And by the way my diet is good right now, plenty of carbs and protein. I work with a diabetic eductor and nutritionist and he also lifts hardcore, my diet is rediculous right now. I eat until I almost vomit everyday for the last few weeks trying to bulk, but anyways.
One thing about my friend is that his intensity is 150%. And i have seen some guys who have won Mr. Tennessee in the gym that dont train like this guy. He trains like if you are in his way he might just rip your f'ing head off. I train with intensity but he is on a level that I have never seen before, so I may not train exactly like him for what I am trying to accomplish. i will take a page out of his book and train with even more intensity than i was before. The way I have changed my workout is going back to a 4 day split, chest/tris, back bis, etc usual shit. Start each body part off with 2 heavy compund lifts, then 2 supersets for 4 sets each, with the 4th set drop setted until failure.
For Example: Chest Tris
Barbell Incline 5x5
Dumbell Flat bench 5x5
Hammer Decline\Hammer Incline superset for 4 sets then a drop on the 4th
Cable Flys 2 different positions 3 sets

Weighted Dips 4 sets until failure
Skull Crushers/ Close grip bench superset then a drop on the 4th
Straight bar pushdown pamls down/palms up superset 4 sets then a drop on the 4th

this is just an example, but I got my best gains in the past from a workout similar to this. So I am going to give it another run. Thanks to the people with good advise.