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Questions Regarding Waterbury Method Program

Hi everyone.

in the near future, i will be trying out waterbury’s method, which in case you don’t know about you can find it here: https://www.t-nation.com/workouts/waterbury-method

so the program sounds good to me, but i’ve good a couple of concern and questions regarding it:

  1. i know the article refers to the program as one for hypertrophy and strength but i’m asking this just in case i have overlooked something: will this allow me to add size? i don’t mind getting stronger but muscle mass is what i’m really after.

  2. the article says that the initial load for all exercises is 80% of 1RM, that is my 6RM. what i believe he meant is that it’s the load i should use for the 10x3 exercises. how about the 4x6 ones? how heavy should i go on those?

  3. how should i go about determining the initial loads? actually, i’ve never followed a serious program with a pre-defined load scheme, so i don’t really know the best and most precise way to know what my 1RM is (i should probably just look that up on google but since we’re here already…)

  4. as far as exercises go:
    in day 1: can i use cables instead of a barbell for bicep curls? i just happen to feel them more when working with cables. The same goes for the French press
    in day 3: upright rows never felt good to me. also, i can’t really feel the middle delt working versus the traps. i want at least an exercises that focuses on the side delts. can i substitute upright rows with dumbbell side lateral raises? and if so, should i keep 4x6 on these or should i up the reps?
    also, i don’t really feel my delts with the military press. i can feel them firing a lot more with the seated db version. should i opt for that one or just man up and do the military?
    in day 5: not really a fan of decline bench, since my chest is kinda bottom heavy, and i would like to give some more emphasis to the upper chest to develop it a little more. can i put db incline press instead?

that should be all. thank you guys in advance!

  1. Hypertrophy means size. Strength and hyper trophy are not mutually exclusive.

  2. For all exercise, as explained in the article. If you don’t know it, take a week to get adjusted.

  3. Take a week to get adjusted.

  4. Day 1. Semantics. If you replace an exercise, make sure it is the same.
    Day 3. See day one.
    Day 5. See day one. Incline and decline are not the same.

Give in to the work out and learn. Unless you have over 10 years experience in the gym, just humble it, do as he says and believe in the process.

Thank you for your reply

So regarding the load, if I take a weight I can only lift for 1 set of 6 reps to failure (it’s what 6rm means, isn’t it?) how am I supposed to do 4 sets of 6 with that load?

I was coming off if 8 months 5/3/1, so I know my numbers.

It’s hard, so sorry but, suck it up buttercup. :slight_smile:

Wait till you add weight.

And if it was easy, you would find it on another web site.

It’s easier to recover from a “max” set of curls or hanging leg raises than a set of squats. Most of the 4 x6 stuff work is for “smaller” exercises.

Waterbury says 80% = 6 Perfect Reps. In my mind there is a little difference between smooth, perfect reps and “true failure.” You will have to get a feel for this difference on your own. Everyone goes through this when they get on a structured plan for the first time.

Also, it’s pretty common to take 5% off the first time you run a program to get a feel for it. If you start out just a little too light, the program just works longer. If you start out too heavy, you tend to crash early.

Did I say I want it to be easy?

I’m asking just because I wasn’t sure about what 80% of 1rm really means, I thought it would actually be impossible to do 4 sets of 6 with a weight that allows me to do one set of 6, not just hard.

Apparently I just misunderstood what he meant so thank you for the explanation @FlatsFarmer

So one more question regarding the exercises which are supersetted: do I need to take no rest whatsoever in between those or can I take like half a minute? And once I’ve done the second exercise, if I’ve rested, do I take the full minute of rest or just proceed to doing the next set once the time is over (accounting for the short rest I took in between the superset)?

I even put a smiley face and you still got your feelings hurt. Damn, soft crowd.

Your basic problem is being over analytical. Back to basics.

He explained 4x6 so I was going under the assumption you read the article.

Superset is a basic load scheme. Two exercises performed back to back then short rest. Rest period is one of Waterbury’s progression model. Yes, it takes a bit to get in the groove.

The point of the program is “density.” You are using “low” reps and “high” sets and “short” rest periods.

You should be able to get through the 2 exercises without rest. Think of it as two halves of the same Set. If you need much rest between curls and skull crushers, or RDLs and calf raises, you should probably take a little weight off.

Part of the Superset idea is that the 2 exercises are like “rest periods” for eachother.

If you are used to Rip-style training, or high-school every set to failure+forced reps style of training, this Waterbury set up will be a big change for you.

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I will give you my opinion and trust you will decide what’s best for you based on your own personal research
Hypertrophy is size. This program WILL pack on size if you work hard and eat a surplus of calories to support recovery and growth. Nutrition is where most people fail. ANY decently laid out program will yield results
That being said, I personally favour CW lately! The guy is a genius
As for replacing exercises, some may not agree but I recommend it. Like you, I have zero use for decline benches and prefer to hit incline. It’s still an upper body pressing movement!
Again, just my opinion. Use at your discretion and make your own choices
As for loading parameters don’t over analyze it. I find you can determine the right loads by starting off with a load lighter than you think. ?ets say you’re doing OHDP’s and your math calls for 4 X 6 with 85’s. Start your 1st set with 65 for 6 and see how that feels. Jump up to 70 for 6 reps next set if 65 was too easy. 4 or 5 sets done increasing by feel like this will quickly make you realize if 85’s are too heavy or not.
Build your way to your starting point. It is not wasted effort to start off like this IMO. The main ingredient for growth is progressive overload.
Start. Progress slowly!

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Thank you guys for all the feedback.

So I’ve been doing the program for a week and I’m loving it.

Got a question though: I would like to add some sets of face pulls and lateral raises at the end of each workout, do you guys think that’s workable?

I’m thinking maybe 4 x 12-15 of face pulls on each of the three workouts and 4 x 8-15 of lateral raises on Monday and Friday since I’m already doing them as a part of my Wednesday’s workout.

I know you guys told me to stick to the program as is, but can adding those two exercises do anything but good?

What do you guys think?

Facepulls are fine and recommended by a lot of people for shoulder health, also not too taxing and you can do them everyday with no problems.
Lateral raises 3x a week is quite excessive, once would probably be sufficient.

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@hugh_gilly I’m asking this because I want to learn, don’t mean to challenge what you said but: how are laterals any more taxing than face pulls?

Also, I’ve heard that if you want to become better at a movement or, in this case, develop more the muscle involved in that movement, increased frequency is one of the ways to go.

Personally, I would like to work up to doing laterals three times a week (even doing 4 sets thrice would result in 12 sets a week really isn’t super high volume if you ask me), as I’m already used to doing them twice per week and in this program I only get to do them once a week. While this is fine for other lifts, the middle delts don’t really get a whole lot of work from compound movement

What’s your take on that?

I’ve only done lateral raises once a week so I can’t tell you from experience.

Given that:

  • most intelligently designed programs recommend Facepulls as assistance work

  • Most intelligent coaches recommend them as well

  • They have no adverse effects on recovery

I’d say you can do them 3x a week. I personally do them twice a week after upper body and could do them more.

Lateral raises will affect your recovery as they use your Traps and Delts affecting your pressing strength.
I haven’t seen a program recommending Lateral Raises 3 x a week and I’m guessing there is a reason for the absence of them.

Just keep in mind once you change a program around it isn’t the program that you are doing, its your own version of a program, and I can assure you that the program designer, Waterbury, knows a bit more than either me or you.

i’m back here with a couple of questions.

i just got to the end of week 3 of this program, which means that next week will be the last one.

(you can check my progress in this thread Samul's Training and Nutrition Log)

now i’ve got two questions.

  • should i do a deload week after the next one? i know i probably should but, how should i structure it? should i turn down the volume, the intensity, both, or what?

  • what do you recommend i do next? i was thinking maybe another cycle of waterbury method with different exercises, but i would like to try something else as well. i wouldn’t mind going for another program from him, as i’ve been loving the one i’m currently doing.

what’s your take on this?

If you enjoyed it, and it “worked,” I would run it again. 4 weeks is a brief exposure to something that is good. Now that you’ve been through it once, you should understand it and know what’s coming, so you can do it “better.”

Regarding the deload, how do you feel? If you’re still going strong, just “reset” back to Week 1 of the program. But this time, begin with 82.5% weights, instead of 80%. This way, you reduce (or deload) the weights, while still going forward.

Thank you, got it

However, if I’m going to run it a second time, I would definitely change something.

First of all, as others have noted in my log thread, the rep range in accessory/arm training is quite low, with 4 sets of 6 for triceps, biceps, and delts.

I’ve actually been doing 4x6 on laterals as well to take a break from the excruciatingly painful 15+ rep sets that I’d been doing for the past 2 months

So some modifications I would make instantly:
Bring the cable curl / rope push away superset from 4x6 to 4x10
Bring the Tricep pushdown (on its own) from 4x6 to 4x6-8
Bring the standing calf raise / lateral raise from 4x6 to 4x10

I think the other ones are fine with 4x6 (I’ve been enjoying doing slightly heavier leg curls).

Then, since I’m really reaping no benefits from dips or the Bb bent over row, I would change that superset with the Chest press machine and the t bar row.

Finally, I’ve noticed that my shoulders don’t get hit a lot on this program. There’s only one day with direct work, such as the OHP and laterals.

I would like to bring the laterals to 2x week and add in some rear delt work (face pulls, cable pull aparts)
Is there any way I can do this without ending up overreaching? I’ve noticed that the workouts have been just hard enough to get to the end but with virtually no energy left to do anything more, so adding a bunch of exercises may definitely burn me out

Any suggestions?

How much weight are you lifting for your major compounds?

Hey, thank you for taking interest in my training

You can find all my stats in my training log, which I think I linked just a couple of posts above

Took a look at your training log. You’re pretty much the same stats as me, hah. Height and weight wise at least. As for your modifications…


I ain’t much into bodybuilding so isolation work has pretty much been non existent in my training until this year but I don’t think most of this matters much. Changing a tricep push down from 4x6 to 4x6-8 really doesn’t matter. Same logic with the curls and calve raises.

As for the laterals and rear delt work, you can look into adding some band pullaparts/face pulls between your sets or at home before you go to sleep. I’m sure doing some light banded lateral raises with them won’t hurt.

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T-Bar rows swapped for BB rows seems fine. It’s common for dudes to like 1 more than the other.

A few more reps on curls seems like a pretty minor change too.

Start slow with the delt raise add ons. You said you were out of energy, so you probably won’t be able to do much damage. Get tough, but don’t get stupid.

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