T Nation

Program Critique: Primarily for Size Secondarily for Strength


Good Morning CT!

I’m 34 years old, 200 lbs and around 12% BF. I’ve been training for around 15 years and was hoping you could spare a few minutes to look at the below program I’ve been following. The primary goal is hypertrophy with strength being secondary. Upper chest and shoulder width need bringing up.

Day 1 -
Heavy Compound lifts

  • Barbell Incline Bench - 3 rep sets ramping up using 20 lbs increases until I hit my 3 rep max
  • Barbell flat bench - Same
  • Deadlift - Same

Day 2 -
Isolation to failure

  • Push ups using bands to failure using 3 rest pause sets
  • DB Chest flies with bands to failure using 3 rest pause sets
  • Cable chest flies to failure using 3 rest pause sets

-Barbell high pull 3 sets of 8 reps
-Cable rows to failure using 3 rest pause sets
-Cable lat pull down to failure using 3 rest pause sets

-Donkey calf raises to failure using rest pause sets and drop sets

Day 3 - Off

Day 4 - Heavy compound
-Seated Barbell shoulder press - 3 rep sets ramping up using 20 lbs increases until I hit my 3 rep max
-Front Squat - Same

Day 5 - Isolation to failure
-DB Rear flies to failure using 3 rest pause sets
-Incline lateral raises to failure using 3 rest pause sets
-Incline side lying DB lateral raises to failure using 3 rest pause sets (learned this variation from you)

-Lunges holding DB’s to failure using 3 rest pause sets
-Drag sled

Day 6 - Off

Day 7 - Arms and Abs
-Incline DB hammer curls to failure using 3 rest pause sets
-Incline DB curls to failure using 3 rest pause sets
-Standing DB curls to failure using 3 rest pause sets

-Cable tricep pressdown to failure using 3 rest pause sets
-DB skull crushers to failure using 3 rest pause sets
-Close grip bench press from pins to failure using 3 rest pause sets

-Ab work using wheel and standing cable crunches

Day 8 - Off

Day 9 - Repeat

Thank you for taking the time!


Why is EVERYBODY 12% body fat. If you didn’t have it measured or have picture for me to assess do not mention a percentage… 99% of the time it is inacurate and most of the time a gross underestimation. Notice that… look at everybody who past their stats… they are ALL 12%… isn’t that weird?


Normally |I so not do program critique, it takes too much time for what I have available. But I have some free time today because I did a seminar this weekend so I’ll make an exception.

BUT you want me to critique a program YOU HAVE ALREADY BEEN DOING … but you DO NOT MENTION HOW YOU IT HAS BEEN WORKING FOR YOU!!! Are you getting results? Are you recovering well (feeling energetic and motivated)? Are you enjoying it? Etc.


And please explain your logic behind the program. At the moment I just see a bunch of random stuff thrown in together, Help me help you by explaining your thought process and what you hope to accomplish.

Right off the bat it looks to me like WAY too much neurally demanding stuff but it is so confusing that Its hard to analyse without understanding your logic.


Thank you for taking the time! I do appreciate the effort that goes into reviewing something of this nature.

Results have been good, size has been increasing along with vascularity. My body/muscles have been recovering fine, but I feel burned out and often feel like I need two days off whereas I may only have 1 day off planned. Brain fog and weak feeling grip some days.

The logic has been somewhat based off of my understanding of how you have trained previously; somewhat derived from double stimulation.

As an example, day 1 train chest and back primarily with compound, heavy lifting not to true failure. Day 2 is then isolation movements for chest and back training to complete failure. Rinse wash and repeat.

For the past few years, I’ve struggled with finding an optimum balance between progress and burning out. I would love to be able to trim any fat that you see on the program to improve my workouts, primarily geared toward motivation and recovery.

I’ve considered taking two weeks off and doing nothing but neural charge training, but haven’t yet pulled the trigger on that.

  1. I’ll post more comments later, headed to the gym

2.Double stijmulation is NOT something I often use. It’s something I use ONLY for a weakness and ONLY as a last resort

  1. Typical signs of neural burnout, as I suspected way too much high neural demand stuff (going to failure has the same impact on the CNS as a maximum lift).


Just do this, some similarities to what you posted but much better…

Yeah as CT said forget about failure stuff/rest pause


Btw an increase in vascularity if it happens without a change in body fat can actually be bad. It could mean an increase in blood pressure which is a sign of CNS fatigue


It’s interesting that you mention this because the days I’ve felt the most vascular lately, I’ve also had the highest blood pressure readings.

I’ve mostly been having a heavy day followed by a high rep pump day for the same muscle groups. I do feel like I’m grinding myself down and having less and less productive workouts or having to take 2-3 days off versus my scheduled 1.

Do you think I should take time off or do some neural charge workouts for a week or two? How do you think I can better orient my training above to prioritize CNS recovery and also shoulder width and upper chest?

Below is a relatively recent pic of myself with my son swimming. I don’t have any posing but can snap some later if it helps. I’m 6 foot as well, which in my opinion makes my 200 lbs much less impressive.

Thanks again CT!


Also based off of this article:

I was thinking about following something like the below maybe ramping up to my work weights and then using straight sets of 8 x 4 sets per lift. I added additional shoulder work on Day 1 because I hate my shoulders and want them to be capped off better.

Day: 1
A1. Trap bar shoulder press
A2. High pull
B1. Incline Bench

Day 2:
A1. Front Squats
B1. Calf raises
C1. Drag Sled
D1. Abs

Day 3:

Day 4:
A1. Lateral raise variations
B1. Biceps
C1. Triceps

Day 5:

Day 6:
A1. Stiff legged deadlift
B1. Cable rows
C1. Lat pulldowns
D1. Drag sled

Day 7:


I know, I take my BP every day and noticed the correlation and it also correlated well with neural fatigue