T Nation

Picking Thib's Brain


#1

Hey Coach,

I have a bunch of questions I would love to hear your opinion on, and it seemed quite douchy to open a load of threats, so I list them here. Maybe it will be some kind of Thibs's thoughts:)
Feel free to ignore questions that you not wish to anwser.

  1. Is there going to be a Thibaudeau's log 3?

  2. What are your thoughts on the DUP method?

  3. Have you ever prescribed the DUP method?

  4. What are your thoughts on 5/3/1 (power look had a similar weekly frame)?

  5. For athletic (and physique) goals, is it appropriate to ONLY use CAT for the main excercises (conventional deadlift and back work not included)?
    Side note:By this I mean purposely trying to maximally accelerate the bar at every moment, not just doing speedwork.Some reps will be quites slow. But you already knew that probably.

  6. Should/can athletes also workout hard with high frequency, or would this
    interfere with sport practice?

  7. Is it for most athletes appriopriate to just train strength (with some mobility/hypertrophy/muscular balance training) and view their respective sport as their conditioning, speed and skill training? Or is extra energy system and/or speed training required for optimal performance?

Thanks in advance coach!


#2

[quote]Panopticum wrote:

  1. Is there going to be a Thibaudeau’s log 3? [/quote]

Maybe. It turned into more of a Q&A section which is the purpose of my forum. So it was kinda redundant. And now that I have a weekly blog it isn’t as useful.

[quote]Panopticum wrote:
2. What are your thoughts on the DUP method?
[/quote]

It’s a good way to train. I’m a frequency guy myself and for a large part of my own training career I trained the same lifts (of their variations) 5-7 days a week with variable intensity. All Olympic lifters train that way.

But I wasn’t aware that someone was trying to cash in an claim the “method” as his own since it’s been the way many elite lifters have been training for decades.

[quote]Panopticum wrote:
3. Have you ever prescribed the DUP method? [/quote]

Until you asked about it I wasn’t aware that someone made it a “method”. To me it’s a fairly normal way to train since I trained like that for over 8 years. And yes I have been using something similar with clients for over 10 years. But not the “method” as it is marketed.

[quote]Panopticum wrote:
4. What are your thoughts on 5/3/1 (power look had a similar weekly frame)? [/quote]

Just because two programs use the same training split doesn’t make the programs even remotely similar. To me the split is probably the least important element of a program. Volume, lift selection, training methods and intensity are much more important and are what make programs different.

5/3/1 doesn’t appeal to me personally. I once tried to do it and stuck with it for 2 weeks. It doesn’t fit my psychological profile. That doesn’t mean that it’s not a solid program though.

[quote]Panopticum wrote:
5. For athletic (and physique) goals, is it appropriate to ONLY use CAT for the main excercises (conventional deadlift and back work not included)?
Side note:By this I mean purposely trying to maximally accelerate the bar at every moment, not just doing speedwork.Some reps will be quites slow. But you already knew that probably. [/quote]

Yes I know what CAT is. No method or way of lifting is so effective that it should be the universal way of doing all your reps all the time. I believe in variation mostly through changing the way muscles contract (no so much in changing the exercises themselves) as such I like to use various repetition styles.

[quote]Panopticum wrote:
6. Should/can athletes also workout hard with high frequency, or would this
interfere with sport practice?[/quote]

If volume and intensity are well managed it would not be more of a problem than less frequent splits.

[quote]Panopticum wrote:
7. Is it for most athletes appriopriate to just train strength (with some mobility/hypertrophy/muscular balance training) and view their respective sport as their conditioning, speed and skill training? Or is extra energy system and/or speed training required for optimal performance?

Thanks in advance coach! [/quote]

Extra energy systems work is needed if it is holding the athlete’s back despite his sporting practices. Nothing is ever “always needed”. Training should be aimed at improving factors that the athlete doesn’t have enough of to perform optimally.


#3

Hey Coach,

  1. I was interested in starting a high frequency routine, just because I enjoy training as much as possible.
    I was wondering which principles should I follow in order to squat, press and clean daily?

  2. Another I wanted to ask you is your personal approach regarding pull ups or rows. You do think their are necessary movements in order to have a good looking back or are deadliest and power cleans enough?


#4

Sir Thibaudeau,

You couldn’t have done a better job!

Could you please elaborate on the importance of volume, intensity, excercise selection and split. I’ve been stressing the split alot in my own programs lately.

I wasn’t trying to be rude when I explained CAT:) I gave the explanation to make sure I wasn’t interpreting it wrong. Came across quite rude maybe. Apologies.
The reasons I asked for the universal CAT aproach, was that 1)some coaches (Dan Blewett comes to mind right now) advocate max speed on every excercise which isn’t done for (strict) hypertrophy, and 2) atheletes are supposed to be fast I figured, why not let them always try to be as fast as possible. Too simplistic probably.
Would things change if the sets, reps and intensity change from day to day?
Like benching CAT-style 3x a week: monday 5x5 double progression with chains, wednesday 5x3@70% for speed and friday 4x8 with paused excentrics for example. (If those things even would work.)

Maybe one more question: could you please explain/name the source of the periodisation used in power look? I found it elsewere too, it seems too me like a kind of strength building flowing into a peaking cycle…

BTW. I like your blogposts alot, a real other perspective. Always nice to hear someone like you give your opinion. I always found it a pity that I couldn’t hear more thoughts of late legendary coaches. These little gems influence me far more than most complex programs.


#5

[quote]Panopticum wrote:
Could you please elaborate on the importance of volume, intensity, excercise selection and split. I’ve been stressing the split alot in my own programs lately. [/quote]

That is more an article topic than a Q&A forum one.

But think of it this way. What are you trying to accomplish with training? You are either trying to make your muscles contract stronger (produce more force), faster (produce more power), larger (increase hypertrophy) or be able to contract hard/fast for longer (strength and power-endurance). There are other things of course, but these are the key ones.

To do that you need to…

  1. Load the muscles or movement patterns you want to improve. The key element here is selecting the best exercises to accomplish that. Basically exercise selection determines which muscles will get stimulated (so which will improve) and what coordination patterns will be programmed.

  2. Train the qualities you want to develop. Strength, power, hypertrophy, resistance/endurance… you need to select the training parameters that will maximize the development of these qualities. If you want to improve the capacity of the muscles to produce a maximal amount of force and you decide to do sets of 20 reps with 50% of your maximum, you will not develop what you are shooting for. In that regard if the exercise selection allow you to load the proper muscles, the selection of the intensity zone (percentage of your maximum at which you train) will determine what qualities you are improving.

  3. Give the muscles enough stimulation to force adaptation, but not so much so that you will exceed your capacity to recover. Training is like getting a tan: with the proper amount of sun exposure your skin will get darker. Too much time under the sun (especially if the sun is intense) and you will burn, too little and your skin tone will not change. It’s the same with training and this is where volume comes into play. You need enough mechanical work to stimulate changes, but not so much so that you “burn”. The proper amount of volume is th3e trickiest thing to plan because what is optimal depends on individual tolerance for physical work as well as intensity of training; you can’t tolerate the same amount of brutal hard intensity as you can low intensity work for example. So exercise selection determine the structures that will get stimulated, intensity determines which quality is worked and improved and volume is responsible for the magnitude of the changes taking place.

These are the “big 3” of training adaptations.

To these you can add…

  1. Muscles might need to produce force under different circumstances/conditions. For example throwing a punch and holding an opponent to prevent him from moving require different types of muscle contractions. You need isometric strength (holding strength: being able to produce a lot of force without movement, or hold certain positions solidly even when under load), eccentric strength (yielding strength: being able to absorb external force and resist it without losing control), concentric strength (overcoming strength: being able to force a resistance to change direction and/or speed)… and even within these 3 major types of actions there are subdivisions… explosive strength, ballistic contractions, shock absorption, etc as well as actions combining various types of strength in one movement (reversal strength for example: absorbing an incoming force, stopping it’s movement, reversing it and then projecting it in the other direction). All these types of actions and contraction types have different motor patterns. For example the muscle fiber recruitment pattern during maximal eccentric, isometric and concentric actions are different. This is why you cannot only train using one type of contractions and hope to maximize performance under all conditions.

  2. You might also need to improve things like the capacity to recover your capacity to produce force during a very brief period of time. An athlete who can do a max effort then be able to recover 90-95% of his capacity to produce force in 30 seconds will have an advantage over and athlete who can only recover 60% of his capacity in the same period of time. Training density (the amount of work done per unit of time… or specifically playing with the rest intervals during training) can thus become an important variable to play with.

As for the training split, it’s main role is simply to take the weekly workload you have to perform during a week to get the adaptations you want and divide that workload in a rational matter to avoid being unable to recover and show positive adaptations. In other word the training split should itself be determined by the training strategy you decide to use.

For example if you decide to use both a high intensity and high volume of work for a muscle/movement pattern you will not be able to train that muscle/pattern often. Not only that you need to organize your training in such a way that the brutal session doesn’t have a negative carryover over another session. For example doing a brutally hard shoulder workout might negatively affect your capacity to train chest for 1-2 days (maybe even 3).

But if you decide to go with a lower volume approach you can train each movement pattern/muscle more often. So really the split is subordinate to the type of stimulation you decide to use. This is why I see it as a secondary training parameter.

[quote]Panopticum wrote:
The reasons I asked for the universal CAT aproach, was that 1)some coaches (Dan Blewett comes to mind right now) advocate max speed on every excercise which isn’t done for (strict) hypertrophy, and 2) atheletes are supposed to be fast I figured, why not let them always try to be as fast as possible. Too simplistic probably. [/quote]

This is a simplistic way of looking at training and performance. The subsection on the different types of contractions might have shed some light in that regard. Sports is not just about being explosive. It’s about producing force under various circumstances.

I’ll use myself as an example: at one point I did all my lifts from pins (for example bench pressing starting the bar 2" from the chest on pins on every repetition). During that time I didn’t really pay attention to how I lowered the bar (I should have), sometimes I even almost dropped it down to save energy to get more reps in. I trained like that exclusively for about 4 months. At one point I could lift 425lbs on the bench press like that (starting 2" from pins, from a deadstart). When I decided to test my regular bench press I couldn’t get 365 (I had done over 400 in the past). What happened is that I felt weak lowering the bar down, lost control, lost strength trying to bring it down properly and then lacked the capacity top stop the barbell and reverse it’s action. My muscles were very strong CONCENTRICALLY (to lift the weight) but my eccentric and reversal strength were detrained.

While explosive/CAT is super important. If that’s all you do you might lack performance in some type of muscle actions.

From experience THE MOST EXPLOSIVE ATHLETES ARE THE MOST PRONE TO INJURIES. I always compare explosive athletes to F1 racing cars: high performance but very fragile. IMHO it’s because their explosive concentric strength is out of balance with their other types of contractions and their tendon strength (which is strengthened better with an emphasis on eccentric and slower movements) is too low for their capacity to produce power/strength.

For example I believe that in Crossfit the high injury rate is in part due to a lack of eccentric/isometric strength relative to their concentric strength. All their movements are done as fast as possible and often lowered fast too, without much of an effort to control or slow down the weight (to go faster)… kipping pull-ups (especially butterfly kipping), kipping handstands, Olympic lifts, box jumps, KB swings…all are lifted explosively and lowered without slowing down the resistance. As a result they become super efficient at one type of muscle action and stay weak in others.

[quote]Panopticum wrote:
Would things change if the sets, reps and intensity change from day to day?
Like benching CAT-style 3x a week: monday 5x5 double progression with chains, wednesday 5x3@70% for speed and friday 4x8 with paused excentrics for example. (If those things even would work.) [/quote]

Yes and no. Changing the type of muscle action will work. But it has to be done in a smart way to elicit certain specific changes. And there is a place for not trying to explode on the way up of a rep, even on big movements.

For one thing, always trying to accelerate as much as possible can lead to getting very strong in certain ranges of motion and weak in others. Why? Because when you become super explosive you can produce so much power/acceleration in the initial part of the range of motion that the bar gets a lot of momentum. So in reality in the later parts of the movement the bar provides a lot less resistance because momentum takes away from the resistance: if the barbell is moving up with acceleration you don’t need to push it as hard to continue pushing it up… for example it’s much easier to push a car that is in movement than a car that is at deadstop.

Chains and bands obviously help with this: the increase in resistance in the later part of the range of motion compensate for the decrease in resistance due to the momentum. And these are great tools. But they also make the movement more neurologically draining and this has to be taken under consideration when programming the training. Lifting using only the required force production (trying not to produce maximum momentum/acceleration) can allow you to strengthen the whole range of motion equally at a lower neurological cost.

And while being explosive is key in sports. Do not forget that strength is the foundation on which power is built (power = force x velocity… or force x distance/time). So while explosive/CAT movement should play a significant role in an athlete’s training program, methods building overall strength need to be used to.

Another thing to consider is that a lot of athletes lack stability/postural strength to maintain proper lifting form when doing explosive exercises. You will see this mostly with lifts like squats, front squats and deadlifts. Some guys will have perfect form when they simply focus on lifting the weights, but when they try to be explosive their technique and posture goes to hell. And often it’s not even due to not thinking about proper technique, it’s that the muscles involved in maintaining perfect lifting posture aren’t strong or efficient enough to withstand the sudden change in speed and force production.

[quote]Panopticum wrote:
Maybe one more question: could you please explain/name the source of the periodisation used in power look? I found it elsewere too, it seems too me like a kind of strength building flowing into a peaking cycle… [/quote]

It’s loosely based on a 1976 (or is it 1974) Russian periodization plan than was used for squats by Olympic lifters. It was then adapted by Dr.Fred Hatfield (nicknamed Dr.Squat because he has a PhD and a 1014lbs squat) for a full powerlifting cycle. Both my 915 and Power Look program use that periodization approach as a foundation but it’s modified a bit.


#6

Another thing… simple rule of thumb. Coaches who preach about only one type of training normally lack vision and always miss some pieces of the puzzle.

Coaching is NOT about applying a training system: it’s about fixing problems that an athlete have. And if you stick to only a few tools that fit your own ideology you will rarely be able to do a great job.


#7

And understand one thing: from a money-making perspective it’s much better to design one training system and ride it to hell, market it and only talk about that as if it were the best way to train.

But that just doesn’t work in real life. Sure the training program is very important, but adapting it to fix issues that an individual might have is more important and if you stick to a rigid system/ideology you can’t do that properly.

That’s why people often accuse me of changing my views about training. It’s not that: I’m more of a problem solver than a program designer. And the tools I develop to fix certain issues will not always fit in with the previous methods I develop. And to be honest that sometimes upset people who are used to coaches always promoting the same thing.


#8

Thank you for this, very well put. Many people are overly loyal to one method or training style and lose the ability to adjust when their needs change etc.; I think it would help a lot of lifters to read over this and think about their aims and training choices once more, especially “intermediate” lifters who have spent time following basic programs and are struggling to progress further.


#9

Thanks for sharing this with us CT . I really like how you put things in a simple and clear way.

@Panopticum these 2 articles, by CT, explain (even more) about your questions.

Game Plan => https://www.T-Nation.com/training/game-plan

Super Beast => https://www.T-Nation.com/workouts/super-beast


#10

Holy moly, Im gonna reread this a couple if times the next days to let this sink in. A lot of pieces just fell together in the training puzzle. Those comments about different kinds of muscle contractions opened my eyes. Do you take interns? Because I’ll be on my way to Canada! If I can learn half of what you know…

Thanks alot for the pieces helton! Gonna read them tomorrow


#11

[quote]Panopticum wrote:
There was more info in this post then there can be found on bodybuilding.com!

Holy moly, Im gonna reread this a couple if times the next days to let this sink in. A lot of pieces just fell together in the training puzzle. Those comments about different kinds of muscle contractions opened my eyes. Do you take interns? Because I’ll be on my way to Canada! If I can learn half of what you know…

Thanks alot for the pieces helton! Gonna read them tomorrow

[/quote]

I’ll make one of the worst marketing moves in the history of mankind but if you do a google search you can find free pdf downloads of my second book “Theory and Applications of Modern Strength and Power Methods”. It’s basically about exactly that: training all the different types of contractions.


#12

Thanks for writing this. Great stuff.


#13

Thank you so much, I will read your book soon!

Well, if you would be so kind once more. Quite a controversial question but…low bar or high bar squats? Or both?
Also, it will clear things up around your ratios-article. My deadlift is much more than 120% of my high bar, but much less higher then my low bar. (Long limbs still make my deads relatively high).

I recall an article where you claim high bar thrumps. Nut it could also be you said full range/ATG squats are great and there was a pic of a guy doing high bar.


#14

CT answered that on livespill and his Log2. Unfortunately TNation has a very bad search engine.

JoeyS wrote:
Mr. CT,

For the Squat reference from yesterday’s article, did you mean low-bar power squat or high-bar oly squat?

Thanks!

CT’s answer:
I answered that in the livespill for the article.

I do not want to start a debate. I deeply respect Mark Rippetoe and we see eye to eye on most things… with the exception of the low bar squat!!!

To me the proper squat almost everybody should use is the olympic/high bar squat.

YES the low bar squat allows you to use more weight. Which is why it is a popular style in powerlifting where the sole purpose is to lift the most amount of weight.

But you are lifting more weight only due to a mechanical advantage, not through greater muscular work, and specifically not more muscular work from the muscles you want to develop.

Mark often say that if you are front squatting (quads dominant) then you do not need to be high bar squatting… well I’ll use the same argument: if you are already deadlifting, why use the low bar squat since both are essentially the same movement with a different way of holding the bar?


#15

Thanks Helton!
You sure help out quite a bit!

I agree, the search engines are less than awesome. Most of the time I can’t find what I search (I know the threat), but get random midway pages of unrelated threats.


#16

O my god, very interesting. CT, thanks for the book, I’am printing a lot of your notes like this one, and with this book is going to help me a lot to understand, But all this it does not replace all the information you are going to let us know in your new book. coming soon?