T Nation

New Article Question: Program Design

  1. Are the 3 main exercises used as double progression method? (Main lift 2-5 reps and if goal is size 6-8 on assistance lifts).

  2. How many sets are done on the main lift and assistance lifts?

  3. Can you give an example of the isolation lifts done at the end? Example tricep extensions for 3x12 double progression …or something like 1 all out rest pause set, say dumbell tricep extension 30 lb dumbbell for 10, 4, 3… or even 3 sets of max reps ex. Barbell curl for 15, 12, 10…Which is best?


|I did not mention any sets/reps scheme in the article. The purpose was not to hand out a program butr iot explain how to design one. When I say 2-5 reps or 4-6 reps or 6-8 reps I mean doing sets with loading schemes that fall in these zones.

For example myself on my main lift I like to ramp to a solid 2RM for the day then do 3-5 sets of 2 reps with 20lbs… OR today I ramped up to a 2RM then did 2 reps EMOM (every minute on the minute) with 30lbs less, for 10 minutes.

Could also be a\ double progression approach… basically any scheme using the recommended number of reps.

Again I did not give a specific loading scheme. For the main lift I will anywhere between 4 to 10 work sets. For the assistance lifts 3 or 4 normally.

Any bodybuilding method can be used, understanding that the more intense the method (e.g. rest/pause, drop set, etc.) the less sets per exercise you should do.

I normally do not like the double progression scheme with anything over 8 reps

I’m going to hijack this thread and ask some questions of my own…

  1. Is this setup with a relatively low frequency per lift likely to work just as well for a smaller, weaker individual who won’t be able to inflict as much damage to his body as a bigger, stronger person?

  2. To what do you attribute such a massive increase in your deadlift? I mean of course it’s a good program but there’s got to be something else going on here too?

Sure, just do more sets for the main lift.

  1. finally being recovered. I had been in a constant state of accumulated fatigue for the past few years. I actually didn’t notice it because it felt like my normal state.

  2. I changed deadlift style (to sumo) and use Chris Duffin’s technique, made a big difference. I feel like I’m only limited by my hamstrings now. I have the back and quads strength to lift more.

Would it make sense to combine the setup with a step-loading pattern with an increased workload over 3-4 weeks followed by a deload, or would that just make things needlessly complicated for no real benefit?

Hi CT, would you structure the program different if the main objective is fat loss? When and how would you incorporate cardio? More carries? Less isolation/volume?

I would do more carries on the squat and deadlift sessions and increase their length. I don’t like to do cardio around training because it raises AMPK which turns off mTor… when training you are activating mTor which amps up protein synthesis… if you turn it off by doing cardio it’s a bad idea. Personally I want to lose fat right now so I’m doing easy cardio on the non training days… I’m talking cardio that doesn’t require recovery… like fast walking on an incline for 30-45 minutes

Read my tip on deloads… I prefer to use the first week of a new phase as a “deload”… the new exercises or methods will force you to go a it easier anyway, I hate to waste a week by deloading when the first week of the next block is automatically going to be less intense anyway.

You can use a step-like approach for the weeks though.

How are you structuring the week diet-wise? Off days no carbs? Training days medium-high carbs? What would be a nice approach according to this program design to lose fat and gain (or retain) strenght?

Read my previous article on turning rest days into growth days. Understand this: when I design programs it is always with the goal of gaining maximum strength and size. I rarely write a program with fat loss in mind (unless it is specified in the article). I do not really like when people ask how to use one of my growth/strength programs to lose fat since it is sure to limit the effectiveness of the plan.

CT it may just be a mental thing, but is training each group only once a week enough to result in maximum growth? It seems that everything you hear is frequency, frequency, frequency. Thanks for all the advice you post up.

You are not training each muscle one a week.

When you squat and deadlift all of your lower body muscles are involved… YES the squat is more quads dominant and the deadlift is more posterior chain dominant, but in both cases all the lower body muscles still work and receive a training effect.

When you bench and overhead press all the pressing muscles also receive some stimulation. Granted the delts will work more in the overhead lift and the pec less… but in both there is still activity from the delts, pecs and triceps, enough to stimulate them.

The back is trained on the deadlift day but when you bench press properly it is involved in the bench also, in fact I often get a lats pump from the bench. And if you do loaded carries on both lower body days, the back receive some work there too.

Only the biceps receive some stimulation only once a week. But you can do a few sets on the upper body days if you want.


Always love digging through this forum for the wealth of info you drop here, thanks for that. A question from a stimulus addict that might help out others in this thread.

Do you have any general rules for “Training minimums” or Maximums ? I know Waterbury has his rules (15 reps for strength, 25-50 for hypertrophy depending on initial load) so I was wondering if you had any generic recommendations based on your experience with your trainees.

This could be a form of a “training insurance” for us stimulus addicts that let us know we have crossed a threshold of training for the minimum, and dont want to go beyond for a maximum. I understand there are individual differences, as many as there are trainees, but since you have trained thousands I wonder if you have picked up any trends.

Wow!! I literally was debating all week since you put out the Growth Day article whether or not to ask (or hoping someone else on the forum would ask) for a recommendation on a training split, glad I waited, so awesome you put this follow-up article CT!

My only other 3 questions were going to be…

  1. Could calves, forearms, neck and possibly abs be trained on a growth day since they usually recover quickly?
  2. If not, could you add those in as a 2nd night time session during the Training days if someone trains with limited time during the mornings?
  3. How do you feel about Two-a-day Training sessions if you do Strength work in the A.M. and light Pump work in the P.M. with this program? Would it matter as long as you stick with not training at all on Growth days?

Thanks CT!

Nah, I prefer to do add them to a normal workout. I wouldn’t actually count them in the workout volume really. But I prefer to not do any muscle stimulation on the growth days.

Yes that’s fine but try to hit the small muscles that were somewhat involved in the prior session and that wont have a negative impact on the next session.

Hum there are pros and cons to doing two-a-days.

Pros: you will be fresher for the pump work since you’ll have some recovery time and a few more meals in you. It might increase protein synthesis for slightly longer. You might have a better mind-muscle connection in the second session because the muscles will be more sensitive.

Cons: you miss out on the activation effect of the heavy work. Doing the heavy work then moving on to the isolation worl will help you recruit more muscle fibers in the isolation work. It can easily make you do a loit more training volume and as a result you might hurt your progress.

From my experience, twoi-a-days often end up being of an excessive cumulative volume. And since it is divided into two sessions you rarely notice it.

I feel that two-a-days are an acceptable occasional strategy if that is the only way to get all your work in, but it should not be a usual training approach. Especially if you know that you are prone to doing too much.