T Nation

Stagnant Through Accommodation. Change Training Stimulus?

Hey Christian,
Quick question on your 2 programs ‘The Strength-Skill Circuit Method’ and ‘Look like a Bodybuilder, Perform like an Athlete’. I’m coming off 3-4 months of doing the Best Damn Program which I have thoroughly enjoyed with great results, but I’ve become stagnant through accommodation, so wanting to change my training stimulus/variation, particularly geared to more athletic performance and along with muscle building, that’s why I have highlighted the above programs.

Questions-

  1. In terms of the two programs listed above, I like the look of both and are very similar in approach, but which is better for continuing to build muscle mass off the back of doing the Best Damn Program? I’m leaning towards ‘Look like a Bodybuilder, Perform like an Athlete’ as I like the peak/3RM test weeks every 5th week. What do you think?

  2. How is the idea of alternating between performance/muscle mass work (‘Look like a Bodybuilder, Perform like an Athlete’) with a couple of 5 week cycles and hypertrophy work (Best Damn Program) for 4-6 weeks as a schedule to run. Using these two training stimulus to work off each other helping to achieve better results, could this work well?

Thank you,
Henri

Funny you mentioned this topic as I recently finished writing an article on the exact subject.

In it I recommend alternating stimulus in a 3-1 fashion: 3 weeks of your main stimulus and 1 week of pretty much the exact opposite.

Anyway, right now you should go with a program that is far away from the best-damn workout (both options you mentioned fit the bill) for a few weeks. Then I think the 3-1 strategy or 4-2 strategy would work very well.

That 3-1 or 4-2 strategy could work really well, fits perfectly with my diet (surplus 3 weeks, maintenance or deficit 1 week).

Question-
For the ‘Look like a Bodybuilder, Perform like an Athlete’ program that works off a 5 week cycle, how would I manipulate this to fit a 3-1 or 4-2 strategy?

Thank you,
Henri

Don’t do the test week. That will turn the program into a 4 weeks one, which will be fine with the 4-2 structure. Do the test week after 3 cycles (18 weeks) then take one week off.

Ok great that works.

Questions

  1. How do I reset my weights for a new cycle if I don’t do the week 5 test week?

  2. Out of interest, what is the benefit of changing the stimulus more frequency for less weeks vs doing larger blocks of each before changing? For instance 4-2 vs 12-4or6?

Thank you,
Henri

Adjust for a 3% increase

Simply to better prevent accomodation. I honestly have no scientific datas to support it, I’m going from experience with the athletes I’m training.

This is from the upcoming article:

A STABLE TRAINING LOAD LEADS TO BOREDOM AND MONOTONY

Boredom and monotony are often seen as the same thing. In training they are not exactly the same.

Boredom is when something no longer gets you excited, this obviously affects motivation.

Monotony is when the overall training stress of the session stays the same for long enough for that stimulus to no longer lead to adaptations/changes in performance. If you impose a stress on your body, it will adapt and get stronger. But if you keep imposing the same type of load over and over, eventually the body stops adapting (even if you try to add weight over time).

In both cases, lack of variation is one of the main underlying cause.

And by lack of variation I don’t simply mean changing the exercises or methods. It can simply be a matter of always using a similar training volume or level of effort.

At first, changing the exercise while keeping volume and effort the same will be enough to prevent monotony and boredom. But fairly quickly it’s not enough. That’s why you need to have frequent variations in the training load to allow the body to keep adapting.

And that doesn’t even mean constantly increasing the training load. See, periods of lower stress training make the body more responsive to the bouts of higher training demands. In fact, the greater the contrast is between the high and lower demand periods, the higher and more sustained the progression is.

That might be the real benefit of a deload week: not necessarily the recovery but making the subsequent higher demands periods more effective by decreasing training monotony.

An article by Carl Foster (“Monitoring Training in Athletes with Reference to Overtraining Syndrome” in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, July 1988). Found that the more similar the high and low load periods were, the less progress was made.

That’s the main reason why I like to throw in a bodybuilding week after three weeks of performance work. Both are essentially the opposite and that huge contrast makes the body more receptive to both phases and greater adaptations and gains follow.

This is a concept that I’ve been using for close to twenty years and I even wrote about it in the past here on T-nation (https://www.t-nation.com/training/program-shock-do-the-opposite ). At the time I didn’t fully understand the workings behind the strategy, but it’s something that I was doing with a lot of success.

Also, from a mental standpoint, the drastic shift in focus and mindset from one period to the next will have a dramatic impact on keeping your motivation and interest high, which will have a significant impact on the quality of your training.

Not to mention that it gives you a mental relief from always having to try to beat the logbook and use more weight.

4 Likes

Reminds me of your pendulum training!

Here’s one article for those that haven’t come across it previously

Yep, that was my first application of this concept… still good.

Just on deloads and taking a week off. I just read your article ‘Training Burnout: How to Spot it and Defeat it’, and its left me really confused after working off you other article ‘Progress Forever’ on Thibarmy.

Questions-

  1. With the current outline above 4-2 strategy, how should I use deloads, or not at all until after the 18 or so weeks?

  2. I’ve been following your ‘Progress Forever’ protocols and this year I’ve been doing the Best Damn Program only doing a couple deloads throughout this year as the program I have found to be not fatiguing as its such low volume and I live a pretty low stress life (work from home and workout at home). Weights have continually gone up and continue to be excited to train each week. So, I haven’t taken a week off since January when I had that month off.

So, on that, when is it best to take a whole week off from training vs when to deload? Is there a simple protocol you can give me to follow for future reference in terms of recovery benefits, etc?

Just a little confused to when if necessary you need to take complete week off and when I should deload.

Thank you,
Henri

The whole week off is only when you follow a high stress training plan and when you are starting to see signs of fatigue, drop in motivation or pain.

The way I do it is that the first week of each block is lower stress (low volume) and it is gradually increased over the 3 or 4 weeks of the block. Then the hypertrophy block provided a neural deload because of the lower intensity of work.

Oh ok so the hypertrophy work can be seen as a deload week/effect, obviously using more lower stress exercises as well, isolation/machine, makes sense.

‘The whole week off is only when you follow a high stress training plan and when you are starting to see signs of fatigue, drop in motivation or pain’

  1. So ideally you could follow the Best Damn Program year round and not take a week off, if have no signs from listed above, because its a low volume/stress program. That fair to say?

  2. Is there any notion to taking a week off that will help growth, or would instead as we have been discussing here, changing stimulus net the same if not better growth result, if still motivated and not fatigued?

Thank you,
Henri

Correct. Although some people have reported early signs of fatigue/loss of motivation because these sets are taken to failure. In which case they might need to deload by not taking the sets to failure for a week or two.

But I would still recommend not sticking to the program for a whole year, you do need some variation. At least change the exercises or methods once in a while.

That is actually a more complex question than you might think.

A week off doesn’t directly lead to more muscle. Protein synthesis in a muscle is elevated for up to 36 hours after it’s been trained. If protein synthesis is not elevated, you won’t really build muscle. So during your week off you do not have an elevation in protein synthesis meaning that you will not be build muscle. There is no such thing as muscle growth supercompensation during a week off (energy stores surcompensation is possible).

You can get the illusion that you are building muscle because by lowering cortisol and burning less glycogen you can increase intramuscular glycogen stores, making your muscles look fuller. But it’s not growth.

The way it can help is by keeping your body sensitive to training. If you always train (especially if always using the same type of stimulus) your body stops seeing the training as a stress and adaptation/growth is much much slower and sometimes there will be no need to increase muscle mass at all.

Taking a week off could resensitize your muscles to the training, something that Bryan Haycock called “strategic deconditioning”.

Yeh what I’ve been doing throughout the year is changing exercises which has allowed for continual progression and motivation.

Yeh that’s really interesting, thanks for sharing all of that.

  1. So on that, how do you know when to take a week off or to just change stimulus, what would be the best indicators?

  2. I’m finishing up the Best Damn Program this week, would I be best to take a week off or deload next week or should I go straight into the new stimulus of performance work with the ‘look like a bodybuilder, perform like an athlete, program?

Thank you,
Henri