T Nation

Mass Building w/ Basic Programming


#1

CT,

Looking for some thoughts on a couple of questions. First, I weigh 147 lbs and stand 6', so my goal at the moment is to put on 25 lbs. My current best lifts are |
Squat: 245x5,5,4| Deadlift: 295x5| Overhead Press: 100x4,3,2|.

At my size, people are told to get stronger, however I feel my leverages are not making this easy.
I've found high rep squatting to be favorable in terms of putting on size to my legs, as well as all around gain, so I designed a rough routine around the old time idea of 20 rep squats.

Tuesday:
Squat 1x20
Overhead Press 5x5-7@80%
Partial Deadlifts (below the tuberosity) 4x3
Alternating*

Thursday:
Power Clean 4x2
Squat 3x7
Overhead Press 4x4-6@85%
Alternating*

Saturday:
Squat 4x4
Overhead Press 3x3-4@90%
Romanian Deadlift 5x7
Alternating*

Alternating*: Barbell Rows 4x8 || Pull Ups: 45#x3 as many sets as possible; BW AMRAP

Adding 5 lbs/wk to each squat session
Adding 2.5 lbs/wk to each overhead session
Adding 10 lbs/wk to each DL
Adding 5 lbs/wk to Power Clean, Barbell rows

Intent behind this:

  • Don't like the large amounts of exercises in most hypertrophy program. I am using the high squat volume in order to facilitate the weight gain (along with copious amounts of food of course)

  • Love the DL, but I fear even at once a week it would eat into my recovery. To still get some work in, I put in DLs from blocks, the RDL, and the power clean.

  • I value the overhead press over the supine press, thus I train it as my main pressing movement.

  • Trying to keep it simple.

Questions:

-Are most hypertrophy programs centered around lots of exercises?
-Anything I can do to modify the routine to be better suited towards my goal?
-Would the old school 20 rep squat routine written as is be the better way to go instead of reinventing the wheel so to speak?

-U.P.


Long Overdue Thanks and Looking for Technique Critique
#2

Edit - I didn’t see this was directed to CT before answering, sorry. I have greyed out the text in case you want to read it still, but to make it less visible and not clutter up the thread.

[quote]Answers:

  • Yes, the “logic” behind it is trying to hit as many different muscle fibers as possible and initiating as many mechanisms for hypertrophy as possible (Heavy loading, pump work, explosive work, etc…). Is it “correct” ? It seems to work, you would have to try this and see if it works better than those types of programs or not to get a definitive answer for your body.

  • Its very jumbled and I’m not sure why you are using the rep schemes you are using. They seem random

  • Probably. Why not try a tested program instead of this made up one when it is relatively clear you have no idea what you are doing (based on your height and weight, I’d say you do not have the proper experience on gaining mass to effectively design your own program, I mean no disrespect at all)

  • Why not just do a tried-and-true program that thousands have already used successfully like the original 20 rep squat program this seems to be based on, Starting Strength or even 5/3/1? They all are dead simple like you want and 5/3/1 can easily be adjusted to be more favorable to the over head press.[/quote]


#3

I have no offences to be taken; it’s all a learning process no?

The rep schemes are pretty random, just different ways of getting volume in with a good weight and on par farm.

I thought about going the original 20 rep squat routine, but I wanted to change a couple exercises and thought that might just be butchering the program.

Really just focusing on the 20 rep squat, with the other 2 days being a medium day to recover a bit and another day to get some heavier squatting in. I didn’t feel the rest needed too much focusing on, as it’s not the focus of what I’m going for.


#4

[quote]UnknownPerson wrote:
Adding 5 lbs/wk to each squat session
Adding 2.5 lbs/wk to each overhead session
Adding 10 lbs/wk to each DL
Adding 5 lbs/wk to Power Clean, Barbell rows
[/quote]

That wont always be possible. If it were you’d add at least 250lbs on each lift every year.

For someone in your situation I prefer to use the double progression.

For example for the strength movements start with the 6-8 rep range (for the power clean use 3-5). Let’s say that you decide to do 4 sets of 6-8 reps. Select your first training weight so that you can do 4 x 6 with that same weight (same weight all 4 sets).

The goal is to work up to 4 x 8 with that same weight. Once you hit 4 x 8 with the same weight, you are allowed to add weight at the next session. Don’t make jumps that are too big, 5-10lbs is enough… slower progression means progressing for longer and building more muscle.

For example if that session one you get 4 x 6 with 200lbs you keep the same weight for the next session.

If at your second you get 8 - 7 - 6 - 6 still keep the same weight

If at the third you get 8 - 8 - 8 - 7 still keep the same weight

If at the fourth you get 8 - 8 - 8 - 8 you add weight

You might go up to 210lbs which will likely bring your back down to 6 - 6 - 6- 6

etc.

Once you get stuck and can’t add reps or weight for more than 3 workouts for the same lift in a row, change the rep range… for example either 3-5 or 8-10 using the same principle.

You can keep the 1 x 20 on squats once a week if you find that works for you.

[quote]UnknownPerson wrote:

Intent behind this:

  • Don’t like the large amounts of exercises in most hypertrophy program. I am using the high squat volume in order to facilitate the weight gain (along with copious amounts of food of course)

  • Love the DL, but I fear even at once a week it would eat into my recovery. To still get some work in, I put in DLs from blocks, the RDL, and the power clean.

  • I value the overhead press over the supine press, thus I train it as my main pressing movement.

  • Trying to keep it simple.
    [/quote]

  1. I don’t like using a lot of exercises either. I’m a big basics kinda guy. You will never see me criticize someone for using less exercises and focusing on the money ones.

  2. I love the squat, love it. BUT it’s effect as a whole body builder is a bit exaggerated. Sure it can have a slight effect on overall growth, but it will mostly build the lower body and a bit the lower back and abs. Don’t see it as a whole body movement. There are plenty of olympic lifters squatting huge weights everyday that have huge legs and no upper body.

  3. The deadlift is a great strength lift, but not necessarily the best muscle builder. It’s greatest asset is thagt it spread the load over many many muscles, which is great for strength. But I feel that it doesn’t stimulate that much muscle except for the lower back, glute and hams (and some traps)… it is also a leverage lift… I’ve seen plenty of guys with almost no muscle deadlift big weight and I’ve seen very muscular guys not being able to deadlift. I like the deadlift as a movement to be in a program, but it will not necessarily build everything up.

  4. 100% in agreement with the overhead press. But for full development you’ll still need something like a floor press, bench press or dip as assistance.

[quote]UnknownPerson wrote:
Questions:

-Are most hypertrophy programs centered around lots of exercises?
-Anything I can do to modify the routine to be better suited towards my goal?
-Would the old school 20 rep squat routine written as is be the better way to go instead of reinventing the wheel so to speak?

-U.P.
[/quote]

  1. Those using traditional bodybuilding training tend to use a wide variety of exercises to “hit the muscle for all angles”, which is a fallacy. IMHO most bodybuilding are based on tradition (this is what the pro bodybuilders have been using for years), but the problem is that this tradition has been built around a crowd of people (pro and high level amateur bodybuilders) that use copious amounts of performance-enhancing drugs like steroids and growth hormone. These change the way the body respond to training and thus make the application of their method to natural, non-gifted people, less than effective IMHO.

Also worth considering that these routines appeal to the insecurity of those who decide to add muscle: we always tend to want to do more exercises “just in case” … or “to make sure that I’m not missing out on anything”… the problem is that the body has a limited capacity to adapt to training stress and spending training money on garbage volume can actually limit your capacity to grow… someone using drugs do not have that problem because the drugs increase the body’s capacity to tolerate and recover from training stress.

  1. I talked about it earlier: have a more logical progression model. Do not pick reps at random and stick to at the most 2 rep schemes… 1 for the main movements and 1 for the assistance work for example. Use the double progression method I explained earlier… do not be in a rush to go up in weight, shoot for progression in reps first, then weight. If you force yourself to add weight every week you will hit a plateau really fast.

  2. It’s not my kind of training so I can’t really comment on that.


#5

I’ve run a couple different 20 rep squat programs, and put on a fair amount of weight doing it, but I agree that their ability to make you bigger overall is exaggerated.

What they are very good for is teaching you how to push yourself hard, when it gets hard, which is something that many other programs don’t do very well. If that’s something you need to work on, that’s a good way to do it.

Personally I think weighted dips go well with overhead press. (I would also use weighted full ROM pullups, as much for elbow and shoulder health/mobility/stability as for muscle building benefits.)

Also, I think the deadlift, if you manage intensity and volume well, isn’t too hard to recover from. Work capacity can be built up and you can always drop the intensity down (and bring reps/sets up) when you need to. However, I think block/mat pulls are a better option than pure deadlifts for muscle building, but like CT said, the majority of the muscle goes to the hips/glutes, hamstrings, and low back. This, in my mind, helps build a good foundation for a better overhead press.

In short: in my own experience, I’ve found everything CT said to be true for me too.


#6

CT,

That makes a lot more sense. I really appreciate the depth of your response. With said information taken in point:

Tuesday:
Squat 4x6-8
OHP 4x6-8
Barbell Rows 4x6-8
Assistance

Thursday:
Squat 4x6-8
OHP 4x6-8
Barbell Rows 4x6-8
Assistance

Saturday:
Squat 4x6-8
OHP 4x6-8
Barbell Rows 4x6-8
Assistance

Assistance work:
Pull Ups/Dips/Romanian DLs 3x10-12

Using the double progression for all movements; Rep scheme for strength movements being your suggested 4x6-8, and the rep scheme for accessory work being 3x10-12.

I felt it would maybe make more sense using:
Barbell row as a strength movement
RDL as an assistance movement.

I really enjoy the power clean even though my technique could use some work; would adding it in before squats make for too many exercises? Or would this be focusing on something that’s not in line with my goal?

Also, would super setting the Pull Ups/Dips like so be beneficial: Pull ups, 15 sec. rest, Dips. 2 minutes rest. Repeat. | Or would this be better done as just Pull ups, then dips, then RDL?

You have my sincere gratitude for taking the time to help me with this.

-U.P.


#7

LoRez,

It’s humbling to have one experienced as yourself weigh in. No pun intended.

My background before I started weightlifting was in distance running, of note I ran a marathon back in 2011. I haven’t found pushing myself to be an issue, however I do find myself regretting doing so much running and hope I haven’t done too much damage.

I plan on working up to the weighted dips and pull ups again.

At the moment, I can get 3-4x10 on dips with just bodyweight fairly easily, so I suppose weight should now be added to those.

Pull ups I can get 4x3 with 45# added, sometimes 3x5 with 45#, but I don’t feel I’ve progressed as well as I should have with them.

So I’m thinking of getting my sets of 3x10-12 and then adding 5-10 lbs and working up from there on dips/pull ups.

I am somewhat concerned weighted dips will eat into my recovery for overhead pressing. Have you found this to be an issue?

-U.P.


#8

[quote]UnknownPerson wrote:
It’s humbling to have one experienced as yourself weigh in. No pun intended. [/quote]
I have a high post count, but I’m not anywhere as experienced as you think I am.

There are several very strong and experienced posters on this site though. I’d suggest taking a look through the training logs section, look at the numbers people are putting up, and asking questions there too. Some of the stronger lifters on this site: Alpha, T3hPwnisher, DoubleDuce, SteelNation, SnodgrassStrong, FarmerOwen, Loftearmen, hungry4more, HeavyTriple, and many others. And in the Micro-PA section, you have Amit Sapir, Mark Dugdale and of course, CT.

[quote]So I’m thinking of getting my sets of 3x10-12 and then adding 5-10 lbs and working up from there on dips/pull ups.

I am somewhat concerned weighted dips will eat into my recovery for overhead pressing. Have you found this to be an issue?[/quote]
I haven’t found that to be an issue personally. I also think you’re overly concerned about things eating into your recovery. I would just suggest making sure you have a good idea of what your most important goals are, and adjust everything else as necessary. That includes sleep, external stress and diet.

So, for instance: You want to get bigger arms and chest, and you find the dips are doing that for you. But you also want to improve your overhead press. If improving the overhead press is more important, adjust your dips so they’re not hindering improvement with your press. Or the other way around.

It’s a bit of a winding road to read this, but you may be interested in an article called “The Quest for a Stronger Overhead Press” by Bill Starr. Can be found with a google search. In it, he suggests some ways to use the weighted dip to help the press.


#9

CT please correct me if I am wrong, but I dont think you are suppose to do the double progression 3x a week like that, every other day with the same lift.

To get more familar with CT’s programming style, check these programs out for programs that are very simlar to what you are describing. Very basic, focusing on big lifts, and all written by CT:

The Indigo Project Programs:
http://www.T-Nation.com/workouts/indigo-project (Pick the Hypertrophy or Strength)

The 915 Program (Get 15% stronger in 9 weeks)

Russian Strength Skill (5 days a week, alternating 2 big lifts a workout, and a “manual labor circuit” on day 5)

PIck which one you like most, run it for 6-8 weeks, then either evaluate if its working or move on to one of the other ones.


#10

[quote]Lonnie123 wrote:
CT please correct me if I am wrong, but I dont think you are suppose to do the double progression 3x a week like that, every other day with the same lift.

To get more familar with CT’s programming style, check these programs out for programs that are very simlar to what you are describing. Very basic, focusing on big lifts, and all written by CT:

The Indigo Project Programs:
http://www.T-Nation.com/workouts/indigo-project (Pick the Hypertrophy or Strength)

The 915 Program (Get 15% stronger in 9 weeks)

Russian Strength Skill (5 days a week, alternating 2 big lifts a workout, and a “manual labor circuit” on day 5)

PIck which one you like most, run it for 6-8 weeks, then either evaluate if its working or move on to one of the other ones.[/quote]

You can do the double progression 3x a week… but you wont be able to progress at every workout. And on some workouts you might have a slight regression due to fatigue. So ideally I’d stick with each lift/muscle group twice a week while using the double progression system.


#11

[quote]Christian Thibaudeau wrote:
You can do the double progression 3x a week… but you wont be able to progress at every workout. And on some workouts you might have a slight regression due to fatigue. So ideally I’d stick with each lift/muscle group twice a week while using the double progression system.[/quote]

Would it be beneficial to use the same rep range both workouts, or change it for the second one?


#12

[quote]Lonnie123 wrote:

[quote]Christian Thibaudeau wrote:
You can do the double progression 3x a week… but you wont be able to progress at every workout. And on some workouts you might have a slight regression due to fatigue. So ideally I’d stick with each lift/muscle group twice a week while using the double progression system.[/quote]

Would it be beneficial to use the same rep range both workouts, or change it for the second one?[/quote]

If using the same lift I would use the same rep range until the rep range “stops working”