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Programming for Absolute Strength

i’ve been training in reps of 5’s for a long time, but recently i’ve started considering switching to lower reps for absolute strength gains.

i’m also trying to lower my bodyweight, so i think it makes sense for this reason as well to train in a lower rep range.

what do you guys think of the following templates for increasing my 1RM bench and chinup?

Monday: 3x3 Bench/Chins
Friday: 2 or 3 heavy singles Bench/Chins

OR

Monday: 3x3 Bench/Chins
Friday: 10x3 Speed Bench/Speed Chins

i’m unfamiliar with the effect of lower reps on the CNS, so i’m unsure if the templates above would drive progress from week to week (adding some increment of weight every week).

what do you guys think of the templates above? any suggestions?

thanks.

I would be looking at doing more frequent workouts and total volume of the exercises. There’s only 12 REPS on working weight in a week in your first template.

Also, how much bodyweight are you looking at losing? What is your experience level? If you are pushing heavy weight with good technique, you are playing with fire to try to improve it drastically while losing weight.

can you be more specific? how frequently would you suggest i train? and in what set/rep range? if you could provide a sample template of what you think my training should look like i’d be much obliged.

i’ve been losing weight for a month now, down from 160lbs to 154lbs and trying to get to 145lbs. i guess i’m an Intermediate.

why do you say i’m playing with fire pushing heavy weights while trying to lose weight? i thought you’re supposed to keep intensity high and volume low while on a cut?

what is your height, how fat are you, what are you lifts, what are you training for, etc

[quote]FROGGBUSTER wrote:
can you be more specific? how frequently would you suggest i train? and in what set/rep range? if you could provide a sample template of what you think my training should look like i’d be much obliged.

i’ve been losing weight for a month now, down from 160lbs to 154lbs and trying to get to 145lbs. i guess i’m an Intermediate.

why do you say i’m playing with fire pushing heavy weights while trying to lose weight? i thought you’re supposed to keep intensity high and volume low while on a cut? [/quote]

With the playing with fire comment, you are right that you’re supposed to keep the intensity high and the volume low(er). Key words being KEEP and LOWER.

If you are pushing close to the weight you should be, trying to improve drastically in an exercise will mean either higher intensity or higher volume. Trying to do this while losing a lot of weight greatly increases your risk of injury.

Asking your body to get much stronger while you lose over 5% of your body mass isn’t too smart. Unless you haven’t been doing things right, or for very long, in which case you can improve no matter what you do weight and diet wise.

As for CNS fatigue, unless you’re benching 275+ and able to chin with 100lbs hanging off you, it is doubtful it’ll be a problem.

Give us your age, height, gender, training background and goals and then we can help. Without that then we are just guessing. Your goal weight is low for an average height male, whereas if you are under 5’ or an average female, it isn’t.

Let us know what you’ve done, what you expect, why you’re doing this and then you’ll get responses dealing with it.

I think it’s going to be as simple as keeping the volume on assistance exercises low and eating just slightly below maintenance. The key in my opinion is not to rush it. Let it come off sloooooow. Half a pound a week is not bad if you’re trying to get stronger at the same time.

i’m 18, 5’8", been training srsly for a little over 1 yr now (altho i took 5 months off during this period from an injury to my elbow cartilage).

i haven’t maxed out in a while, but i’m confident i can bench 200+, probably 205 (165lbs 5x5 is not hard).

chins i’ve been doing them on/off ever since i started training, but i re-dedicated myself to them recently and i think i can get 1 rep with +40lbs.

training background, i did rippetoe’s SS, then Texas. now i’m sort of doing my own thing, and it’s working. however, i still work in the 5-rep range, and this is the reason for my post.

right now i’ve been doing bench 3x5 on Saturdays and bench 2x5 on Wednesdays with the same weight, adding 2.5lbs/week. this has worked pretty well, even tho i have lost 6lbs in 4 weeks.

as for chins, i’ve just been doing 5x5 on Wednesdays and i add 2.5lbs/week, altho just yesterday i added a Speed day to Sunday (10x3@60%).

i’m trying to lose bodyweight because i’d like to get to the 148-weight class. i’d like to compete one day in this class.

i guess one of my main questions is:

is 5x5 good for absolute strength gains? especially when one is losing weight.

thanks.

At 18 and 5’8" (and I assume male) you will not stay under 148 while getting appreciably stronger, regardless of all other things. Accept that and change things accordingly.

With those numbers, I would also be training more than twice a week. I’d say 3x a week would help. 5x5 is good for strength gains so long as you continue to get stronger at it. Mix it up. If your 5x5 are stagnating, move to something like triples, doubles or singles to get handle something heavier for a couple of weeks. Then go back and see if you improve

Add accessory work. Rows, Lat Pulldowns, Dips, Military presses, DB presses, that sort of thing. Use them in a different rep range most of the time, like 8-12. Don’t get too caught up in it though, if you try a heavy weight and only get 5-6 it won’t hurt.

An example (please remember I don’t write programs for a living and this is just an example I made up):

Monday- 5x5 Bench, 5x5 chins, 4x8 DB Press, 5x12 DB Row

Wednesday- 8x3 Chins, 5x8 Military Press, 5x12 Lat Pulldown, rear delt/rotator work

Sat- 6x3 Bench, 5x12 Dips, 5x8 DB Rows, Lat pulldownx3 sets of 12-15

thanks for your input, but a goal i’ve had for some time is to hit 1.5x bench, 2x squat, and 2.5x deadlift (altho the deadlift one isn’t happening anytime soon lol) at around 150lbs before i decide to move up in weight. i’d like to concentrate on this for now and lower my bodyweight while at the same time gaining some strength.

i hope someone can answer the question i posed earlier:

is 5x5 good for someone trying to gain strength on a cut?

[quote]FROGGBUSTER wrote:
thanks for your input, but a goal i’ve had for some time is to hit 1.5x bench, 2x squat, and 2.5x deadlift (altho the deadlift one isn’t happening anytime soon lol) at around 150lbs before i decide to move up in weight. i’d like to concentrate on this for now and lower my bodyweight while at the same time gaining some strength.

i hope someone can answer the question i posed earlier:

is 5x5 good for someone trying to gain strength on a cut?[/quote]

And I quote:

frogg, you’re older than me. and i’m 19. LOL.

smoko, do you think it is widely accepted that volume is what primarily helps strength gains at the intermediate level? most volume i ever do is 5x5 0.0.

fine, typo. i’m 19.

[quote]kickureface wrote:
frogg, you’re older than me. and i’m 19. LOL.

smoko, do you think it is widely accepted that volume is what primarily helps strength gains at the intermediate level? most volume i ever do is 5x5 0.0.[/quote]

I don’t know what the consensus is on the boards, but I think it helps. Perhaps not how you’d think, but it still helps. It stands to reason that the more muscle you have, within reason, the greater capacity you have for training. You want every muscle involved to be as strong as possible, and by extension that’ll mean getting it bigger.
As an example, even with exactly the same max bench, it would be way easier on your body and you could do a lot more volume if you were 242 than if you were 142.

The thing is, unless you do enough volume, you won’t provide enough stimulus on your body to make yourself get stronger. It’s really hard to get that right with lower reps. If I did 5x5, all out, on every exercise, I’d be useless after the first 2 exercises. The weight would go down, and since I’m not doing much volume, without that extra weight I’m not really getting anything out of the exercise.
Higher reps negate that need to push yourself to the limit to get good results out of it. It also lets you train across more than one rep range in a session, so that provides a bit more stimulus as well. Plus you get a chance to find out what you respond to best.

An elite lifter could make good progress simply because they can push themselves a LOT harder and it places a lot of stress on their body doing just 1 or 2 sets all out. But frankly, everyone thinks they’re elite and they’re not. If you were elite, you wouldn’t be needing anyone to tell you what works best. Hell, I consider myself intermediate and my numbers aren’t that bad.