T Nation

Pavel and High-Frequency Lifting

This question is for anyone who’s experienced positive or negative results from multiple sessions per week of the same exercise. NaturalMan, Jay, are you out there? I’m intrigued by the concept of not training to failure and repeating the lifts frequently throughout the week, but I’m confused as to whether your results were preferentially hypertrophy or strength gains. I’ve been training for years but always seem to get burnt out and stagnant results after perpetually going to the gym to “better the last performance.” Are there others out there that don’t make dramatic improvements on Poliquin-style “hobble for a week” routines? I’m not looking for the easy way, just a productive way. Thanks.

Try it.

initially, it is strength gain. all strength is, is your brain learning to recruit enough fibers to do what you are asking it to do. I made the change because I thought it foolish to train and wipe myself out for up to 3 and four hours or more after a 1 hour training session, and being so sore it was painful to stand up from a chair or do other every day tasks. alternatively, 30 minutes or at the most 45 minutes in and out, actually feeling BETTER than before I started. was an easy choice. Now, if I bench, 1 rep at 225,(I havent the courage for no warm-up) 1rep @ 275 and then one and only one money set. deadlift similar, 1 rep@225 and then to the 2 money sets, in between these I do standing military press. then two sets weighted chins, then out the door. I am gaining in size and strength, use no supplements beyond protein.
What are your goals?

Yeah, what are your goals, stength and size, or relative strength.

Read the artical “From Russia with Love.”

Thanks guys. My major goal would be to increase absolute strength as opposed to simply relative strength, with any increase in muscle mass as a welcomed addition. I have ordered Pavel’s book, but I’m interested if you guys would suggest any tweaking of his recommendations. I plan on implementing this style of lifting for the exact reasons Jay mentioned, but I don’t want to bust my ass only to find out the pitfalls you guys already know. I have started with 3 sessions/week of cleans, squats and bench, each for 2 sets of 3 reps after a warm-up. I also perform chin-up ‘ladders’. I know this program will not likely yield much in terms of hypertrophy, but I wanted to ease into the multiple session approach. I intend on changing the exercises every 4 weeks for variety. NaturalMan, I know you’ve suggested upwards of 4-5 sessions/week of bench, but do you have to ensure that the goal of those workouts is improvement in relative strength as opposed to hypertrophy? Would you cut back on the workout frequency if your primary goal was mass, or is that simply overcome by proper diet and exceeding my caloric requirements? Thanks again.

If you want to maximize size with Pavel’s type of training, you need to do many sets (10-20) of 4-6 reps and only take 45-60 seconds rest between sets. The weight should be somewhere around 85% of max weight for the recommended reps. I believe that the first set is 90% of your 5RM for that lift. The weight is reduced to 80% of that weight for the remainder of sets. There is a small chapter in Pavel’s book that explains this training. If you only want to increase strength, then follow Pavel’s original method of doing 2-3 sets.

If you’re going for Hypertrophy use his “bear” program. Nate dogg described it pretty good. I understand as follows. 1st set: A weight that could have been repped 6 times in good form, however, perform only 5 reps, rest 3 minutes 2nd: Use 90% of the first set’s weight for another 5 reps and then rest another 3 min. Then, you’ll reduce the weight for the last time to 80% of the first set. Stay at the weight for further sets of 5 until your form begins to break (a sign that you are approaching fatigue). Regarding rest periods for the 80% load, 1 to a max of 1 1/2 min. (try to shoot for 1 though)for larger Movements, i.e. deads, squats, benches, chins. With smaller movements (calves, curls, etc. aim for 30-60 sec. rest. Never go to failure, stop the set short if you have to. frequency for muscle groups 2-4 days each a week. Example would be to bench 3 one week, bench 4 the next. keep alternating. Squat twice and deadlift once one week, next week squat once and deadlift twice. keep alternating. The reps are low because even though it’s a hypertropy workout you’ll be using heavier loads that a typical 10 rep workout. You’ll be doing multiple sets (up to 10!); however, because of the low rest period you’ll be surprised how quick you’ll get through them. Heavy load and multiple sets will ensure that the higher threshold fibers are not only being recruited, but also recieving enough time under tension over the course of the workout to induce hypertrophy. That’s pretty much my understanding of Pavel’s hypertrophy template. Geez, did I just write all that :slight_smile:

I think that you will want to tweak it a little, which is normal. I used to chronically change routines all the time. I know question the adaptation excuse/explanation and its validity. In addition to the above suggestions on Pavel’s bear, I would offer the suggestion of focusing your routine enitely on strength for about 2 months if not more. Yes I am a proponent of 5x/week, I take off Friday and Sunday. In and out, form perfection, complete fatigue avoidence. I am toying with the Idea of doing something really drastic and wacko, akin to the Poliquin arm cure. Instead, deadlifting one set every hour one weekend, in an effort to complete 20 sets,70% 1rm for 3-5 reps, whatever mood strikes me. I am real curious. Should I get the grapefruits, I will post my results. Nuff tangents, just try it

NaturalMan thanks for the added details. Have you used this type of workout? If yes, what kind of results did you get? I’m thinking about trying it out for a month or so and see what happens. It will feel strange to not take any sets to failure.

Jay, would that be greasing the groove?

It would be along the lines of greasing the groove, but the frequency is more than I have seen or heard performed. i have heard mentioned 1 or 2x/day, at most.

You know Brian, I have wondered the same thing. Pavel had an example that mentioned Ed Coan and said that he lifts a weight he could get 8-10 reps with but only does 6 or so (I don’t recall the exact numbers). But if you don’t better the last performance, then how is someone supposed to progress? I mean, if say I can bench 225 lbs for 12 reps to failure but only do 6-8, how does that stimulate growth? No mater how you cut it, you must fatigue the msucle to make it grow. Most trainers in any average gym repeat lifts several times a week (non-failure) and make scant progress.

This style of training is the essence of Dave Draper’s approach. Lot’s of free articles on higher volume, less intense, giant set or super set trining done more frequently at his site. My arms have really respondd to it.

I’ve actually done that sort of frenzied Poliquin Arm Cure- type routing for the bench press once, but I performed sets of only 1-2 reps, my goal being to increase strength. I did about 25 sets of this. Along with it, I added in 5 hypertrophy sets just for kicks. Happy to say that my rep-maxes were noticeably up the next time I worked out.

PS, you don’t work to fatigue. Instead, add the smallest weight increments like 2.5-5 .lbs instead. Then, once the weight is near a max, go back down heavier than the start of the last cycle and start another cycle. Few olymic lifters or Powerlifters ever go for all out Maximums outside of competion.

If doubtful, why not try it for 4 weeks? The worst thing that can happen is little or no gain, but you’ve not spent nearly as much time doing it. I challange anyone to try it with full effort and fail. I’ve also read here that there is correlation between fatigue level and gain. Before an ugly pissing match begins, is there anyone that doubts that the nervous system is slower to recover than the muscles themselves?