T Nation

PT w/EC: 8/22 and 8/25


I'll be on tonight. In light of the fact that I lifted at a commercial gym today, as a jumping off point, I'd like to make the observation that one's strength is inversely related how many Abercrombie and Fitch sleeveless t-shirts one owns. Funny how that works, huh?



I need to switch up my training for my next phase to work more on building up some weak areas (arms, calves, traps, hamstrings) while maintaining size and strength in my chest, back, upper legs, glutes. I'm also burned out from all the heavy lifting and full-body workouts.

If you've seen my "Nate Dogg in Training" thread in the Physique/Photo forum, you've seen my training for the past four months and progess (mostly intensification/strength training).

If I want to switch it up and still do a three-day-a-week routine, how would you suggest I go about that according to my goals above?

I was thinking that I should either do:

Day 1) Back, biceps, abs

Day 2) Legs, calves and abs

Day 3) Chest, triceps and shoulders


Day 1) Upper body (horizontal push/pull)

Day 2) Hip dominant, calves and abs

Day 3) Upper body (vertical push/pull, biceps/triceps

Day 4) Quad dominant, calves and abs

Any suggestions? Also, how should I structure sets/reps?

I use four-week phases where I increase volume each week and decrease on the fourth week (similar to what you and CT suggest).


Nate Dogg


Hey Nate!

I like option #2 better, although I'd tinker with it a bit so that you could hit everything in the three days.

Day 1) Hip dominant, single-leg, calves, core (lateral flexion), vertical pull, rotator cuff prehab

Day 2) Upper body (horizontal push/pull), glute prehab, core (trunk flexion and hip flexion)

Day 3) Quad dominant, single-leg, calves, core (rotation), vertical push, rotator cuff prehab.

Try shuffling things up week-to-week. Maybe hit your squats heavy the first week and then go with more reps the following week.

Also, regarding the four-week phases, I've actually found more success in terms of strength gains when there is a subtle reduction in the second week of programming (i.e. high, medium, very high, low) rather than just continuous building, which seems to be more valuable for bodybuilding purposes.


Thanks for the feedback, EC! Good way of setting it up on a three-day-a-week plan. I like that idea.

But my goal is more "bodybuilding" since I've done a good job of building up my strength. I need to start looking good naked.

The third option is based on Charles Staley's new article "The 21-Day Itch" as that sounds pretty cool since I'll have a strength day, Olympic lifting day, bodybuilding day and strongman day. But it still doesn't address my weak areas (arms, calves, etc.).

Any thoughts based on that?


To be honest, the best thing I ever did for my physique (and this is a sentiment shared by a ton of powerlifters) was to stop worrying about bodybuilding and just focus on getting stronger. The chips really fell into place for me, and I think you'd see the same thing. It makes lifting a lot more enjoyable when you can measure progress by the weight on the bar instead of just how good your pump is or whether you think you might have gained .243785 pounds of lean body mass in the past week.

Calves are going to be stubborn no matter what, and arms aren't far behind. If you truly want to specialize on these movements, then you need to give them priority in your programming and take down the focus on the other stuff. Your body has a limited recovery capacity.


Well, that's what I have been doing. Focusing on strength (and I did gain size as a result). I'm not interested in just getting a pump. I also can't lift more than 8 reps without feeling like I'm wasting my time and only getting a pump. I now see how "training age" will cause a trainee to lower the amount of reps needed to elicit various goals. Thus, the reason I've stayed with less than 8 reps in most of my training lately.

Screw calves! And I guess I could just make some minor alterations to hit the arms a little more but still focus on my overall goal of more size and strength. Hmmm...maybe I will give Charles' new program a try.

I just can't fathom doing a "bodybuilding" workout and doing multiple exercises for the same bodypart and getting the pump for every workout all week long. I actually get bored doing that. It would be better if I had a strength day, bodybuilding day, conditioning day and strongman day, as I've really enjoyed using heavy sled pulls, sandbag carries and car pushes in my routine.

I'm beginning to lean toward the 21-Day Itch now. :wink:

I need the variety and the "fun."


Right on, Nate. I love it when people answer their own questions; it makes my life easy!

If you're having fun, you're going to be making better progress. Period.



Hey! I own A+F shirts! Some of there stuff is good and some of it is ridiculous. I don't wear them to the gym though.

If I have only two days to lift and want to get my strength back after 2 a days what would I focus on? Keep my muscles balanced too because of all the pushing and colliding?

I read an article from CT about a bobsledder who only lifted for strength 2 days a week and kept his strength.

Got some suggestions or something I could throw together?

Thanks EC

-Get Lifted

P.S I may be able to get in a 3rd day...


Full-body twice a week will do the trick. Devote one day to near-maximal lifting for the lower body, and the other to near-maximal lifting for the upper body. Fill in the cracks with rep work aimed at keeping you healthy and maintaining your size.

Exercise selection would depend on your strengths and weaknesses and your sport/position.


Quick question Eric concerning posterior chain stiffness. The past few weeks after doing heavy GMs my whole posterior chain has been seizing up on me. It seems like no matter what type of static stretching I do afterward i cant get rid of it for weeks. Any thoughts or recommendations?


Give me a little more info, and we'll see if we can fix you up.

Is it really the entire posterior chain, or just the lower back, glutes, or hammies?

When does the stiffness kick in - immediately after the session or a day or two later?

Is it pain or stiffness? If it's pain, what is the nature of the pain?


It actually runs from the middle of my back all the way down through my hamstrings. Originally, it kicked in the day after but the soreness never left and when i went to do my GMs the next week I felt I was going to snap in half and the same for the week after. During the initial workout everything went great it was only after that it all went down hill. I have tried doing some light active recovery work with dB swings and snatches coupled with stretching and it has helped but I still cant shake it. Any ideas?


Mr. Cressey,

If I work out abs 3 days a week dividded like so: hip & trunk flexion, lateral fexion, and trunk rotation.. how would I 'work in' exercises like the barbell rollout?

Does that fall under hip & trunk flexion?


That is pretty strange. How often are you training your GMs again, and what kind of working environment do you have?

One thought that comes to mind is that you might have tweaked L5-S1, the most commonly injured intervertebral disc. It would explain the radicular pain to the lower extremities, although this is really just a shot in the dark over the internet.

If I was you, I'd skip my next GM session and see how I responded; this isn't an exercise you want to be messing around with when you're unsure about your health.


Trunk flexion/stabilization...more of the former.

Call me Eric! :slightly_smiling:



Are you still answering questions? I can't believe I missed this. Darn.


I already asked Dan John this question and now I just wanted your opinion. I read somewhere that to train the deadlift you should not train the deadlift and instead perform exercises that carry over to the deadlift. the deadlift should just be tested every now and then. I can kinda of attest to this because even with a belt my lower back is beat after deadlifts and itt akes me a while to recover. I am making progress though and I know constant practice with adequate recovery is the key to strength gains. How did you train your deadlift?


Just a little quick something to think about and something I discovered the hard way. You can train the deadlift like you suggest, but it is the typical "American" way of looking at things.

The only way your body is going to become neurologically efficient at deadlifting is to deadlift. Having strong glues, lower back, etc. will only go so far. The trick is to teach your body to fire the proper muscles at the proper times.

In addition, a good morning will do nothing for the static strength that is required in the mid and upper back to be a good deadlifter, not to mention grip and a myriad of other things. Ultimately, you must find out what works for you. Just my .02


I'll be on tonight to get to these questions and any others you might have.



1) Do you think it is okay to train deads more frequently than every 7 days, i.e Pavel style which can be up to 5 days a week.

2) I want to start doing sumo deads, but I don't want to lose the gains I made with conventional deads. Is it best to train both styles concurrently or to alternate them?

3) I am a little confused about supplemental and accessory work. Why are these lifts often trained with bodybuilding parameters i.e- 4x10 or 3x10 etc.. Wouldn't strength gains be better if lower reps were used?

I promise no more questions. Thanks Eric.