T Nation

Rotate Between Ramping to 3, 2, and 1RM

I’d like some advice regarding which max I should ramp to at this point, and how I should rotate from here on out.

For about 3 weeks, I was ramping to a 3RM, which I then rotated to a 2RM for two weeks, and now I am just about to finish a week of ramping to a 1RM. My first instinct is to go back to a 3RM and start again, ramping to a 1RM once every 6 weeks or so. Yet, I realize that I am working with the kinds of weight that will make real strength gains during that 1RM week.

Here is my reasoning, as well as how each workout looks like: Note that each number indicates the layer method used for that workout; when I “ramp to 3RM,” that template is used for every lift, and for that specific week. I only ramp once per session, which is followed by a density layer.

1.Ramp to 3RM (~90% of 1RM)
Density layer @80% of ramp; 30 reps as quick as possible (~70% of 1RM)

2.Ramp to 2RM (~95-98% of 1RM)
Density layer @80% of ramp; 30 reps as quick as possible (~75% of 1RM)

3.Ramp to 1RM (100% of 1RM)
Density layer: 20 reps @85%; 10 reps @80%, each timed (very similar to both templates above) Note that here I am working with true 85 and 80% of 1RM.

Going off of CT’s "know your percentages: article, only on my 1RM ramp workouts am I truly working in the 80% range for an extended period of time. I have been making steady gains during the other ramp sessions, and worked up to new 1RM’s on every one of my lifts, so I like rotating between 3,2, and 1 RM ramping.

My main question, as alluded to earlier, is if I should continue ramping to 1RM for another week BEFORE rotating back to a 3RM, or if I should just go ahead and begin the rotation again once this week is over, in which case I’d have ramped to a 1RM, as well as worked within the 80% range, for one week out of the past 5-6. Any thoughts would be greatly appreciated. I hope I made sense; if I had more time I would have been able to be more succinct. Sorry for any inconvenience.

Me? I’d go back to 3.

But I’d just ask him here… or just post a link back to this thread: http://tnation.T-Nation.com/free_online_forum/micro-pa-users/christian_thibaudeau_log_1_?pageNo=23#bottom

Ok, I might have to ask him there. Sometimes he ventures to this forum, though, so I figured I’d post here first.

See, my main intention is to increase strength, and CT advocates the 80% range for this goal, but I don’t work within this range for too long when ramping to 3 and 2 RM; it’s only when I’m ramping to 1RM that I stay within the desired range for an extended period of time. I wanted to know what CT thinks about this, and if I should do two rounds of 1RM, instead of my scheduled one.

Perhaps:
Ramp to 3RM for 3 weeks; 2RM for two weeks; 1RM for two weeks; repeat.

Oh, well, you triggered my memory.

There was this thread: http://tnation.T-Nation.com/free_online_forum/sports_body_training_performance_bodybuilding_thibaudeau/max_muscle_layering

[quote]Christian Thibaudeau wrote:
Periodize:

Week 1: Ramp to 3RM, 3 cluster sets, 3 HDL sets
Week 2: Ramp to 2RM, 4 cluster sets, 2 HDL sets
Week 3: Ramp to 1RM, 5 cluster sets, 1 HDL set
Week 4: Ramp to 1RM, 3 HDL sets, 2 max pump sets

Repeat[/quote]

Cluster sets were at 90%.

And do that, then do 4 weeks of the strength template:

[quote]I also found that while HDL-type work (5-4-3-2-1, extended sets, hard 5, etc.) can help you build more muscle, they work best when used in short cycles. For the first 3-4 weeks they lead to rapid changes in muscle mass and look. However much past that it will actually have detrimental effect on strength progression which will eventually hurt your overall progress.

So every 4-5 weeks it is a good idea to use a strength-based layer phase.

  1. Ramp to a training 1RM (maximum without form breakdown or having to psych yourself up before the lift)
  2. 3 sets of clusters with 90% of your 1RM ramp (if you can’t get 3 reps, decrease the weight on the next set, if you can get 6, increase it)
  3. Lower back down to 70% and ramp up to a 2RM
  4. 2 sets of clusters with 90% of your 2RM (same recommendations as with the previous cluster)
  5. Lower back down to 70% and ramp up to a 3RM
  6. 1 set of clusters with 90% of your 3RM (same cluster rules)
  7. Lower to 70% do ONE max reps set, (NOT extended sets)[/quote]

And repeat.

Since the cluster work is 90% of the ramp, you’re basically doing cluster sets with 80% the first week, 85% the second week, 90% the third week, and then just volume work after the ramp at 65-75% the fourth week.

So, my thoughts.

Maybe something like this would work well:

Week 1: Ramp to 3RM, density work at 90% 3RM (~80% 1RM)
Week 2: Ramp to 2RM, density work at 90% 2RM (~85% 1RM)
Week 3: Ramp to 1RM, density work at 90% 1RM
Week 4: Ramp to 1RM, density work at 70% 1RM

Since you’re working with higher percentages, it might just make more sense to do time-based density work rather than total reps. The total reps will drop week-to-week since the intensity goes up.

And since you’re not doing HDL work, you can probably repeat that indefinitely.

I’m very intrigued, and heavily considering your recommendation. Hopefully CT will find his way over here and chime in, too; I’m interested to see what he might think of this. Just so I understand completely, you state:

[quote]LoRez wrote:

Maybe something like this would work well:

Week 1: Ramp to 3RM, density work at 90% 3RM (~80% 1RM)
Week 2: Ramp to 2RM, density work at 90% 2RM (~85% 1RM)
Week 3: Ramp to 1RM, density work at 90% 1RM
Week 4: Ramp to 1RM, density work at 70% 1RM
[/quote]

When you say density work, are you referring to the kind I’ve been doing, or clusters? I know that later on in that post you mention the time-based density layer; I just need to clarify, but I’m almost certain you’re suggesting: a ramp, followed by (lets say 8-10 minutes) of reps done at 90%, and not specifically cluster sets. This would differ from my usual 30 reps with the stop watch going. Not sure if I mentioned that before, but I always time myself and try to improve each workout.

So, if I’m understanding your correctly I am really liking this template!

When I said “density work”, I mean like you’ve been doing, not clusters. By time-based, yeah, something like as many reps in something like 8-10 minutes. And then just progress by getting more reps in next time.

So yeah, exactly.

This is just my own take on things based on my own experiences. I also would like to know CTs thoughts on things.

[quote]MikeMezz wrote:
Perhaps:
Ramp to 3RM for 3 weeks; 2RM for two weeks; 1RM for two weeks; repeat. [/quote]

That’s not bad.

Although 4weeks/3 weeks/1 weeks might work better… no need to test your 1RM too often unless you are a competitive lifter

[quote]Christian Thibaudeau wrote:

[quote]MikeMezz wrote:
Perhaps:
Ramp to 3RM for 3 weeks; 2RM for two weeks; 1RM for two weeks; repeat. [/quote]

That’s not bad.

Although 4weeks/3 weeks/1 weeks might work better… no need to test your 1RM too often unless you are a competitive lifter[/quote]

Great! I’ll do that, then. How does the density portion look? Should I stick with my 30 reps @80% (timing myself to measure progress), or switch it up to what LoRez was suggesting? Thanks!