T Nation

Rep Count & Muscle Signaling Per Workout?


Coach do you think there are important “signalling” that each workout should focus on and inteference to avoid? For instance, many think endurance training around the strength training period diminishes hypertrophy/strength gains. The signals are too different and actual interfere with physioloical adapations.

Similarly, do you think this applies PER workout, within each session? Is it better to do one rep style (say intensity, lower rep heavy explosive) one workout and then another more voluminous (8+ reps, moderate load) the next? I think they call it “concurrent periodization”?

Or is it ideal to stagger each intensity & rep zone every workout. The latter being how I’ve mostly trained and preferred to train. Ramp up a big movement in 1-3 rep range -> heavy volume 3-5 rep range -> assistance 8+ reps at the end of the workout. Even layers (the HDL is kind of like high rep while the ramp/clusters are obviously low rep).

Applied even more broadly, would training perfomrance (explosive o-lifts, gymnastic skill or calisthenic bodyweight practice) PER workout “interfere” with gains? I can’t believe the body is so rigid/inflexbile as to not adapt but I do think theres something to this, observing my own gains over the years…

Seems like more and more popular way of training is to separate the volume & intensity days…is there really signal “interference” when you do all rep ranges & skills/CNS exposure every workout? Should one separate?

Thank you


Specifically, endurance work done after strength training (same workout or even later in the day) can hurt muscle growth stimulated from the workout by inhibiting the mTor response stimulate by the workout.


I don’t think so. Here are some real life examples:

  1. Westside barbell: on one day they do max effort, so sets of 1 rep with 90-105% weights. But after that they do 4-5 assistance exercises for reps ranging from 6 all the way to 50+. Same thing on their dynamic effort day: 8-12 sets of 2-3 explosive reps but then 4-5 assistance exercises done for various rep ranges

  2. Most other powerlifters do their main lift heavy (1-5 reps) , do secondary lifts (compound movements to fix week point(s) ) for slightly higher reps (5-8) and do the remedial/hypertrophy isolation work for all kind of rep ranges… in the same session

  3. My layer system (you know it well, no need to explain it)

  4. My friend is trained by Josh Bryant, an amazing coach, and in a given workout he can do max effort, rest/pause or high reps and dynamic effort work in the same session

  5. The best strongmen I know also use at least 2 if not 3-4 different rep zones in a session.

  6. My 5 stars complexes (foundation of 6 weeks to superhero, but that I’ve been using for about 20 years) combine 5 type of contractions and always led to great results.

Of course you have other coaches who claim that if you change zone in a workout you decrease neurological adaptations… but I tend to go with real life results rather than theory in this case


Well nothing is ideal for everybody. And you certainly shouldn’t train all the rep zones and types in every workout. But you also need to understand that some type of contractions can potentiate other.

For example… doing heavy work (1-3RM) will potentiate work performed in the 3-6 zone. So by combining both you actually get more out of the 3-6 zone.

I find that doing work in the 3-6 rep range with enough volume improves the quality of speed work done AFTER. This is especially true of people who are decently explosive to start with. If you are explosive, you can actually create too much acceleration from the start of the concentric action. This forces you to start decelerating sooner. The result is less top speed and spending more time decelerating than accelerating. If you are fatigued from heavy work (but not pumped like crazy from high rep work) you can’t create as much acceleration from the start and you will actually be able to accelerate for a longer part of the ROM. Making speed work more effective.

Explosive work (jumps, throws, Olympic lift variations, jump squats, med ball throws) can potentiate heavy work (1-3 reps).

So the proper combination of various contraction types CAN make the training more effective. But one thing I noticed is that the more different types of contractions you have, the harder it is on the CNS.

For example this morning I did a pressing session:

A. Military press with cambered bar 15 x 1 @ 85% with 30 sec of rest

B. Close-grip bench press with cambered bar and 75lbs of chains per side ramp to 3RM

C. Eccentric overload close grip bench. 70% on the bar but an additional 20-25% of my max on weight releasers, lowering the bar in 5-6 seconds. 15 sets of 1 with 30 sec of rest

D. Close-grip triceps death set: around 60%… max reps, then without rest max reps off of 2 boards… 3 sets

And then 2 triceps isolation exercises for sets of 12-15

Felt great, good performance all around, but I did have a mini CNS “down period”. And it wasn’t the volume (15 sets sounds like a lot, but they are submax singles) since I’ve done more volume with less CNS impact.

So one has the weight the pros and the cons


I actually like that. I do 2 pressing workouts per week that are performance based and 1 chest/shoulders pump day… but my back work is pretty much all pump/volume (but also using moderate sets like sets of 6)… I only do one leg session and it is done performance style, mostly because I actually don’t want more leg size at the moment.


I’m going to have to use MS Word copy and paste function. Articles everywhere.


Hi coach, what about cardio(6/10 rpe) before weights? Is there a difference in before vs after in regards to inhibiting mTor? As one of your newer programmes has up to 20min before weights, thanks in advance


A short moderate intensity session prior to weight is fine. It’s the need to tap into energy reserves that will spike AMPK which interferes with mTor… Doing a fairly easy 20 minutes at the beginning of a session will not really tap into your reserves. But the same 20 minutes at the end, when you already used up energy from your lifting session is a lot more likely to inhibit mTor


Can we all take a minute to recognize CT dropping these huge, almost article length knowledge bombs in his forum for free pretty dang frequently? He really does love this stuff and it shows immensely with threads like this, his “frank hormone use” thread, and several others.

Thanks CT, dont ever change!



Dude, I’m still the 18 years old kid trying to get bigger and stronger and who gets excited to share his findings


Great stuff as always, appreciated CT

To me resisting the urge to do some moderate weight “explosive” work or higher rep assitance “muscle building” work after a proper ramp/heavy work at start of session is almost impossible.

And similarly I don’t enjoy going into the workout NOT doing heavy/priming stuff and instead just jumping into the higher rep stuff.

Still absorbed that prime CNS -> heavy stimulation -> use primed state to get more volume mindset thats been my go-to last decade basically lol, and hallmark of your training philsoophy so thanks for that

I notice the CNS fatigue as well (especailly if I go crazy with ring work at the beginning, then add ontop of it SGHP and finish off with bodybudiling work…volume matched it makes me feel like superman BUT sometimes i pay the price with sleep issues/disorientation the next day, it’s odd).

One step further, I’ve noticed a VERY useful bio-indicator during the workout to see if you’ll get any size gains or if you’ve exceeded your body’s training limit for that session (both from CNS & local muscle level).

You get the best gains if you focus on performance/aggression while LIMITING rest time…it produces the most aggresive mental mindset and the pump builds on one another.

However if you wait too long, or do too many random shits (skill work) in between your main lift, you will find your mental distracted AND the pump on the musculare goes down. Eventually you get to this weird mental state where you go through motion and the muscle doesn’t engage any more. 9 times out of 10 you will get ZERO gains from that session and the nedxt day will look smaller/deflated/flat lol.

Intraworkout btw helps a lot in this regard.

I guess that’s hitting the wall, but it’s something I"ve definitely experienced espeically when I train fasted and become to over enthusiastic in the session (gymnastic work + O-lifts + a compoudn strength + accessory)…

ANd you are the biggest 18 year old kid i’ve seen lol…

  • and introducing new stimuli and varied stimuli (CNS demanding stuff) to me is like extra stress.
    every new movement you do is like a few more hours at work. Lifestyle & stress are so huge and exert effects on endocrine to CNS…so its probably better to do simple workouts (or movements you’re used to) like LAYERS rather than say INDIGO Hypertrophy workouts when you’re stressed.

Or I’ve just been vastly overreaching (probably overtrained now) for years and not know it so body doesn’t respond at all! :frowning:


I also have some of your tendencies, and even though I know I shouldn’t I sometimes can’t resist adding too many reps to a workout. Or front load a workout with several rounds of muscle ups, box jumps, and then do a full routine. My biggest indicator is that I don’t enjoy competitive sports, and feel lethargic during games, when I overdo my training. When my workouts are short, heavy, and explosive, I feel energized in competition (soccer, boxing) and look forward to it.


That is a very interesting observation and I concur, at least in my case. My wife is the same too. I know people who are different but this certainly seems to be the case with a lot of people, especially those who are naturally more explosive