T Nation

Madcow - Advanced vs Intermediate


#1

I would like some help on deciding which of these to try.

Pertinent info

-21 y/o
-185 lbs
-lifting since 16
-using 5/3/1 for just over a year now, WSFSB for 2 years prior
-no physical activity outside of the gym
-main goal is strength gains
-will be maintaining weight

Current lifts

Deadlift - 445
Bench - 225
Squat - 340

I like the quicker ramping and shorter cycles of the advanced version but I am having some trouble understanding the program layout. I particularly find this quite ambiguous -

  • The easiest way to set this up the first time is to put current PRs in week 3 (with more experience and relevant lifts you might have new PR goals in both weeks 3 and 4). Your 5RM can be calculated and just drop off a given percentage for your 5x5RM (try 7.5% maybe) you get a week 3 figure for those lifts. Now back down to week 1. A conservative number to start with might be 80% of your Week 3 PR lift then split the difference for Week 2.

Can someone explain the above to me? I read it as "put your CURRENT PRs in week 3..." but then he goes on to say to calculate a 5rm OFF of the PRs(???) and then take a given % off of that ? and then the 80% thing? - is this off the reduced 5rm or the actual current PR or what??

I found the excel template for the Intermediate version so there is no confusion there.

The template seems to lay out some pretty lofty PRs- for example, in 12 weeks it has me adding-
90lbs to my deadlift 1rm
45lbs to my bench 1rm

These seems a little much.... can I really expect this kind of improvement?

What does the collective say?

Should I go with the Intermediate program given my lifts and training age?

Would love to hear about peoples experience on either of these.

Thanks.


#2

I thought advanced was a peaking program.

And no you shouldn't really expect those improvements in your lifts but it's set up as a linear periodization so whenever the program stalls, you reset and keep going. Your lifts will stall at different times. Squat might take 8 weeks before you can't hit the prescribed reps, deadlift might take 5.


#3

If you need to ask, you should do the intermediate.

Also, the advanced has LONGER cycles and slower ramping. The intermediate program has weekly cycles. The advanced has a 4-week volume cycle followed by either a deload or a multi-week peaking cycle.

I doubt you will be able to continue the intermediate program for 12 weeks. But even if you only do it for 6 before stalling, that is still a 5% gain in 6 weeks which is pretty good.


#4

As far as I know people run the advanced program for extended periods of time (I guess it is used to peak in the sense that there is deloading). The link I posted has a whole page on whether to choose the advanced or intermediate.


#5

Could you explain this a bit further?

I guess I was using the wrong terms - what I meant was that the advanced program has the "total tonnage" advance much more rapidly than in the intermediate program. Would it be correct to say that the volume progress faster?

http://madcow.wackyhq.com/geocities/5x5_Program/Differences.htm

Week one the total tonnage is the same(assuming same lifter) by week 4 the advanced program has you doing almost twice the tonnage as the intermediate program.


#6

Anyone else?


#7

The total tonnage doesn't really advance more quickly in the advance program.

I think the confusion is in the viewpoint.

In the intermediate program, you do a week of work, then raise the weight and repeat. This is a cycle.

In the advanced, you do 4-weeks of work then deload/peak then you would start over raising the weight and repeating (i.e. do the 4-weeks over but maybe with 5-10 lbs more on each lift). This (i.e. roughly 4-8 weeks) is a cycle. The weight ramps up quickly within a cycle, but at the start of the next one you would use week 1 weights + a few lbs, not week 4 weights.

Ultimately, it is intended that you make MUCH faster progress on the intermediate program. The advanced program is for when the intermediate stops working.


#8


#9

Another question - What have you guys done for assistance work ? The program calls for only ab work(all days), weighted hypers on monday and arm work on friday. I have seen that the #1 complaint is that the lower back takes a beating on this program. With that in mind why would someone do weighted hypers?

I just finished the first week and already have some persistent soreness in the lower back. So - I'm thinking of doing the following -

Monday - 2 sets of pull ups
2 sets of calves(whatever I feel like)
abs

Tuesday- 3 sets of calves
abs

Friday - 2 sets of tricep isolation
- 2 sets of biceps isolation

Is it pretty standard to not really do much assistance work on this program?

Thanks.


#10

Regarding your question on setting up the advanced version:

  • The easiest way to set this up the first time is to put current PRs in week 3 (with more experience and relevant lifts you might have new PR goals in both weeks 3 and 4). Your 5RM can be calculated and just drop off a given percentage for your 5x5RM (try 7.5% maybe) you get a week 3 figure for those lifts. Now back down to week 1. A conservative number to start with might be 80% of your Week 3 PR lift then split the difference for Week 2.

In this case, if your 5 rep max on squat was 100 pounds, and if you calculate your 5x5RM the way he suggests by subtracting 7.5% from that (which I'd argue is pretty aggressive for most people without very long rest periods), then your 5x5RM would be 92.5 lbs. That's your week 3 "PR" number. Week one you'd do 80% of that: 74 lbs. Week two you'd do 90% of you're PR: 83.25 lbs.

I'd suggest you do the intermediate version with your numbers. In the intermediate version lower back fatigue isn't nearly as significant since you aren't doing 5 sets across on back squats on Mondays, so the 2 sets of hypers won't really bother you.

That assistance routine you listed would be fine.