T Nation

Structured vs. Unstructured Workouts

I usually take a extended periods off from lifting, up to two years, and then make a “come back” first usually with sporadic unstructured workouts typically they are brief, lift workouts. I’ll always make tremendous strength “recoveries” (re-gains)do just about anything for reps - high, low, medium.

Then when I start to feel great I’ll formalize my training and then the gains take big dump. I’ll add additional lifts and do what is “best” for increases in power/ strength. Has anyone else experienced this? The layoffs are usually preceded by major back spasms.

Examples are: a year and a half ago I built four stone retaining walls at my house over the course of two weeks using many stones that I could only roll into my subaru using a ramp. I gathered all of them from ditches in the country. I could lift and carry some of the smaller stone but they were still in excess of 100#'s.

I decided to test my deadlift after the walls were built and pulled 525# with 50#'s of chains for a rep and didn’t go heavier because I didn’t have any more weights, I also benched 350# with the chains as well after not having benched, or lifted anything besides the rocks for a year. I didn’t lift for a year after this and came back to it this spring and was up over 600# in the deadlift, without straps, after a month and out of boredom repped out at 315# in the dead with straps at 39 consecutive reps. My squat sucks now but I don’t really like to do them anymore.

I don’t do cardio in fact I was very sedentary other than walking the dog. I have always been a meat eater though and according to friends always look like I’ve been training. I’m a slim looking 6’2", 250# bw.

Maybe this is a stupid thread and I’m not sure what my point is but does anyone else relate?

'stop being such a marshmallow, you’re going to have to mentally force yourself into evolution, thats the problem i was having, there is no thumbs up beer drinking pothead long hair bitch who gets big and becomes an alpha, i want to prison rape the bitch in your avatar.

adopt the mentality you will need to succeed.

peace. ’

Edit: get an avatar.

Thanks for the advice. I’ll look for a suitable avatar that will meet your request. I may be a marshmallow, real injuries could have caused this.

A point that I didn’t make very well is that I was curious if any other lifters out there have come back from extended layoffs to experince some still credible strength? If so, when you are first retraining are you just testing your strength with random workouts, realizing decent strength increases. Deciding that you are now something special you say to yourself “just think what I could do if I added this, or lifted 4 times per week” only to find that the newly added structure to your training was a deteriment to the once rapid strength development.

Overtraining may set in or some other possible explanation. What I have experienced is once I go back to the sporadic randomness the strength and or high rep sets really take off. Example: when I pulled 39 reps at 315# I did the following- Monday 315# by 30 reps, Wednesday-415# by 15 reps, Friday- 500# by 5 reps. The following monday I pulled 315# 39 times. The reps in the week prior were not done to failure, I was just hitting pre-determined rep numbers to get a feel for pulling high reps.

I’ll attempt to redirect this thread a little since it would appear that I may be the only person on T-Nation that has not lifted consistently for the last decade or two. In my original post I made mention of moving many stones, many heavy stones, for a period of two weeks.

Some were carried, some were rolled, some in a wheel barrow. Anyway, this was exhausting yet I had to build four walls so I kept on with it almost everyday until finished. I noticed that from this activity I had a decent carry over to max efforts in the weight room.

Had I been training I’m sure I would have been stronger but I still felt strong after building the walls.

Does anyone one include regular training with stones and if so does it appear to lead to or support improved strength in the weight room or otherwise.

I know some of you must go outside and pick things up from time to time.

Since no one else is commenting or interested in discussing strength training without controversy (apparently), I will discuss this and other topics amongst myself and hopefully be able to spark some interest.

Yes, I have noticed, self, that rolling, lifting, and carrying heavy objects leads to increased strength in other strength/power movements. This is just my experience but it seemed to work pretty well. I’m thinking about implementing some heavy rock carrying into my schedule, may be once a week for starters. I think I’ll use heavy enough rocks so that when I pick them up I will nearly crap myself, in the very least I hope to rip out the crotch of my newest pair of khaki’s. Some will be so heavy and ackward that I will only be able to roll them. Why is that self? I think that this will help develop another dimension of strength that my barbell workouts do not address. What a great complimentary workout idea. Keep us posted on the results. Will do.

Other personality…
That’s stupid, picking up rocks won’t make you strong. You have to go to a gym, wear spandex or at least think about wearing spandex, tighten up your weight belt between sets of everything, grunt alot - especially after a set is over and you are drinking your carbo-power koolaid, then go stand behind the girl on the hammy curl machine and wait your turn. Then, you have to do rack pulls from just below your nutsack with 1000lbs or 455 kilos because that is teaching you how to strain. Superset that with heavy deadlift singles from the floor of around 250lbs in a sumo style, grunting constantly. Then workout in a canyon to help develop your grunting tone and volume. This method will develop confidence which will allow you to freely grunt whenever and where ever you wish. After you complete a series of grunts, which by week two should be roars, you should consume 1/2 gallons of breast milk from any non-human bi-ped. Studies have shown that mountain gorilla colostrum is truly superior to any other colostrum so milking a female mountain gorilla, in the wild of course, should then be the next step in your training to producing ultimate strength, power, and beauty.

On neck training,
Here is a method that has worked great for me to increase the measurement of my neck, and consequentially my head, that’s the head above my shoulders: Go to a quiet, comfortable room with a mirror hanging on the wall, floor or ceiling. Look deeply into the eyes of your reflection, which isn’t really you because you are you, you are not a reflection so if anyone ever tells you that you can see yourself in a mirror they are lying to you and are plotting something against you, for which you need to take pre-emptive measures, typically in the form of murder. While looking at your reflection, use both hands to squeeze the front half your neck. If you do this long enough lymph fluid will fill your neck and cranium and you will now be a jelly head with a thicker neck, dead, but you’ll look better, bigger, whatever.

Personality III:
LAME, LAME, LAME
You can not become bigger, sexier, musclier, whateverer without training to failure. I read on the internet the best one rep to failure movement that will produce better results than anything. I’ll tell you all but make sure you remember where you heard this: Stand fully erect under the loader of a large tractor, with your hands on the underside of the loader bucket arms are fully extended upwards. Now, have someone drop the loader bucket on top of you but have them do it as a surprise to you because this increases the excitability of your muscle fibres. In this single rep you will strain more than you have in your entire life and have acheived complete failure in approximately one second. After all you must train to failure to make gains. It is impossible to fail more on any other exercise.

Edit: Please do not actually attempt to milk a gorilla, choke yourself, or drop a hydrolic loader bucket on your head. These are all very advanced exercises and can be dangerous to under-trained inexperienced lifters.

P.S. murder is never the right answer in the above mentioned training recommendation. Sorry for the confusion.

Personality IIII
LAME, you suck.

Blujay:
You suck!

Depending on the program I don’t think formalized training is to blame. It’s always easier to make quick gains when you are out of shape and weaker than you were at your best, once you are getting closer to previous strength levels and you are starting to get properly into shape, that is where the battle starts, thats where you have to fight for your gains.

K, there is more than one person trying out the T-11, and apparently it doesn’t always give you good trips.

[quote]molnes wrote:
Depending on the program I don’t think formalized training is to blame. It’s always easier to make quick gains when you are out of shape and weaker than you were at your best, once you are getting closer to previous strength levels and you are starting to get properly into shape, that is where the battle starts, thats where you have to fight for your gains.[/quote]

Have you taken extended periods of time off from lifting in the past, and if so have you noted a reasonable amount of retained strength? I have seen some former trainees that have lost any resemblance to someone who has ever trained. And yet some can walk in after years of “rest” and do some semi impressive numbers imediately. Any thoughts on that?

Thanks.

[quote]DoubleDuce wrote:
K, there is more than one person trying out the T-11, and apparently it doesn’t always give you good trips.[/quote]

No T-11, but lots of coffee this morning, lots of coffee

thanks

[quote]bluejay wrote:
Since no one else is commenting or interested in discussing strength training without controversy (apparently), I will discuss this and other topics amongst myself and hopefully be able to spark some interest.

Yes, I have noticed, self, that rolling, lifting, and carrying heavy objects leads to increased strength in other strength/power movements. This is just my experience but it seemed to work pretty well. I’m thinking about implementing some heavy rock carrying into my schedule, may be once a week for starters. I think I’ll use heavy enough rocks so that when I pick them up I will nearly crap myself, in the very least I hope to rip out the crotch of my newest pair of khaki’s. Some will be so heavy and ackward that I will only be able to roll them. Why is that self? I think that this will help develop another dimension of strength that my barbell workouts do not address. What a great complimentary workout idea. Keep us posted on the results. Will do.

Other personality…
That’s stupid, picking up rocks won’t make you strong. You have to go to a gym, wear spandex or at least think about wearing spandex, tighten up your weight belt between sets of everything, grunt alot - especially after a set is over and you are drinking your carbo-power koolaid, then go stand behind the girl on the hammy curl machine and wait your turn. Then, you have to do rack pulls from just below your nutsack with 1000lbs or 455 kilos because that is teaching you how to strain. Superset that with heavy deadlift singles from the floor of around 250lbs in a sumo style, grunting constantly. Then workout in a canyon to help develop your grunting tone and volume. This method will develop confidence which will allow you to freely grunt whenever and where ever you wish. After you complete a series of grunts, which by week two should be roars, you should consume 1/2 gallons of breast milk from any non-human bi-ped. Studies have shown that mountain gorilla colostrum is truly superior to any other colostrum so milking a female mountain gorilla, in the wild of course, should then be the next step in your training to producing ultimate strength, power, and beauty.

On neck training,
Here is a method that has worked great for me to increase the measurement of my neck, and consequentially my head, that’s the head above my shoulders: Go to a quiet, comfortable room with a mirror hanging on the wall, floor or ceiling. Look deeply into the eyes of your reflection, which isn’t really you because you are you, you are not a reflection so if anyone ever tells you that you can see yourself in a mirror they are lying to you and are plotting something against you, for which you need to take pre-emptive measures, typically in the form of murder. While looking at your reflection, use both hands to squeeze the front half your neck. If you do this long enough lymph fluid will fill your neck and cranium and you will now be a jelly head with a thicker neck, dead, but you’ll look better, bigger, whatever.

Personality III:
LAME, LAME, LAME
You can not become bigger, sexier, musclier, whateverer without training to failure. I read on the internet the best one rep to failure movement that will produce better results than anything. I’ll tell you all but make sure you remember where you heard this: Stand fully erect under the loader of a large tractor, with your hands on the underside of the loader bucket arms are fully extended upwards. Now, have someone drop the loader bucket on top of you but have them do it as a surprise to you because this increases the excitability of your muscle fibres. In this single rep you will strain more than you have in your entire life and have acheived complete failure in approximately one second. After all you must train to failure to make gains. It is impossible to fail more on any other exercise.

Personality IIII
LAME, you suck.

Blujay:
You suck! [/quote]

Hahaha.

Bluejay, interesting ideas. In my experience, different sports/physical activities can have an impact/carryover on your lifting. A key example that I have is that during my rugby season I may have lifted weights a few times. After the season my weighted chin max actually increased and my deadlift was around the same. Lifting rocks is good exercise, and if it makes you stronger I say go for it. Experiment with different things, see what gives you the results you want and go from there. There is a place for both structured/unstructured workouts.

If lifting rocks , etc. works well for your deadlift but has no carryover to benching or squating, include some of them in your routine as well and see how it works. You may find that just doing something different, not nessecarily the rock lifting itself, works for you. Also, just an increased work capacity could play a role as you say you were very sedentary and did no cardio. Hope that helps.

[quote]Tstud_9 wrote:
Bluejay, interesting ideas. In my experience, different sports/physical activities can have an impact/carryover on your lifting. A key example that I have is that during my rugby season I may have lifted weights a few times.

After the season my weighted chin max actually increased and my deadlift was around the same. Lifting rocks is good exercise, and if it makes you stronger I say go for it. Experiment with different things, see what gives you the results you want and go from there. There is a place for both structured/unstructured workouts.

If lifting rocks , etc. works well for your deadlift but has no carryover to benching or squating, include some of them in your routine as well and see how it works. You may find that just doing something different, not nessecarily the rock lifting itself, works for you.

Also, just an increased work capacity could play a role as you say you were very sedentary and did no cardio. Hope that helps.[/quote]

Thanks that is insightful, after being sedentary my work capacity I’m sure was down from my trained capacity. I also find sprinting to benefit my deadlift as well. The more consistently I sprint the more weight or reps I can achieve in the deadlift.

I actually did feel as though the rocks had an immediate carry over to my bench but that was in a relatively untrained state. So I suppose I could have pushed a car and felt strong before reintroducing myself to the bench. Strain is strain perhaps regardless of how you develop the ability.

Typically I’ll deadlift for a month prior to reintroducing myself to the bench press and that seems to put me ahead of where I would be otherwise. For me deadlift is less taxing mentally than bench so coming into a new beginning with the bench already revved up always makes it a happier experience. I’ll put the rocks to use and see what comes of it.

Thanks for playing.

I have to apologize, this seems to be becoming my own personal happy place to puke up drivel, seemingly constantly. I will post video of a 35+ rep set of 315lbs in the deadlift, as soon as I do it.

Maybe tonight, maybe by monday. I know that many people feel that e-numbers, in weights lifted, are lies so I will post my truth, if any one gives a poop.

My first effort with the deadlift on friday yielded only 20 reps. I wasn’t comfortable, I hadn’t deadlifted since before the 4th of July and really haven’t squatted either. I am hitting it again tonight and am hoping to get 25 or 30 reps. I am guessing it will take another week before I go 35 reps. I will post when it happens.

When I don’t deadlift for more than a few weeks I feel the same way. Others have recommended doing speed deadlifts to keep the form down.

30 reps tonight, hope to hit 35 to 40 next monday.

Interesting.

I can’t think of a better strengthening and conditioning program than rolling/carrying very heavy rocks for a year. You never really laid off training, just changed training modalities.

I’ve had a theory that high rep deads might lead to a bigger max, but you seem to have put it into practice.

I can’t do it myself as I train bench and squat as well and have absolutely no conditioning. Conditioning does allow you to move bigger weights due to improved cellular efficiency.

To answer your other question - yes, there are people who train with stones. DaddyZombie over in the Over 35 Lifter forum is one such. Just about any strongman competitor on the site would be some others. I’ve hoiked around rocks in the 80-100+ lbs range for fun, but not as a training regimen.

Come to think of it, that would be a great thing to do in the mornings down at the beach…

The other thing is that if it is the only lift you are doing as training, it is one of the greatest exercises for having a systemic effect. That is, it affects every muscle of the body. It being the only exercise you’re performing permits you to recover from repeated sessions of high rep sets. The randomness in weight and reps keeps the body from adapting, so it is possible to keep increasing your max in that manner though it is hard to plan your progression.

With a “formalized” training regimen, you have to build that weight/set randomness in or else you will stall due to successful adaptation. Or you have to switch to different movements periodically to keep progressing.

All of these are priciples discussed in articles on the site.

Hope that was helpful.

[quote]skidmark wrote:
Interesting.

I can’t think of a better strengthening and conditioning program than rolling/carrying very heavy rocks for a year. You never really laid off training, just changed training modalities.

I’ve had a theory that high rep deads might lead to a bigger max, but you seem to have put it into practice.

I can’t do it myself as I train bench and squat as well and have absolutely no conditioning. Conditioning does allow you to move bigger weights due to improved cellular efficiency.

To answer your other question - yes, there are people who train with stones. DaddyZombie over in the Over 35 Lifter forum is one such. Just about any strongman competitor on the site would be some others. I’ve hoiked around rocks in the 80-100+ lbs range for fun, but not as a training regimen.

Come to think of it, that would be a great thing to do in the mornings down at the beach…

The other thing is that if it is the only lift you are doing as training, it is one of the greatest exercises for having a systemic effect. That is, it affects every muscle of the body. It being the only exercise you’re performing permits you to recover from repeated sessions of high rep sets. The randomness in weight and reps keeps the body from adapting, so it is possible to keep increasing your max in that manner though it is hard to plan your progression.

With a “formalized” training regimen, you have to build that weight/set randomness in or else you will stall due to successful adaptation. Or you have to switch to different movements periodically to keep progressing.

All of these are priciples discussed in articles on the site.

Hope that was helpful.[/quote]

I actually only moved rocks for about two weeks and that was a year and a half ago.

Initially when I come back to training the high rep deads do help prepare me for max efforts down the road but I don’t feel that they increase my max. In fact, I find the opposite to be true. When I train singles for extended periods of time and then attempt high reps (typically to punish myself for missing a max)I can get over my high rep trained best rep number. So what is the point of training high reps? I don’t know.

In the near future I will add snatch grip deads while standing on a platform to put the bar at a further deficit, I’ll rotate this in with the conventional style.

True I do not squat heavy right now. I lift in my garage without a power rack or squatter and I fear failure.

Bench, I can touch and go 420lbs right now but I don’t spend a great deal of time trying.

I also do whip snatches a couple of days per week so I share my energies for the deadlift with other lifts. So maybe hoisting rocks would kill me at this point.

I’m in the midst of an ‘experiment’. Last week I dropped 385 midway on conventional deadlift. This week i’m doing masonry labor. For the past two days i’ve been working with an ~80lb jackhammer breaking concrete steps apart.

Trying to pull that out of the concrete when it gets stuck /running the jackhammer, and carrying heavy blocks has been very tiring. I’m done with this type of work tommorow and will return to heavy deadlifts next week. Will let you know how it goes.

[quote]bluejay wrote:
skidmark wrote:
Interesting.

I can’t think of a better strengthening and conditioning program than rolling/carrying very heavy rocks for a year. You never really laid off training, just changed training modalities.

I’ve had a theory that high rep deads might lead to a bigger max, but you seem to have put it into practice.

I can’t do it myself as I train bench and squat as well and have absolutely no conditioning. Conditioning does allow you to move bigger weights due to improved cellular efficiency.

To answer your other question - yes, there are people who train with stones. DaddyZombie over in the Over 35 Lifter forum is one such. Just about any strongman competitor on the site would be some others. I’ve hoiked around rocks in the 80-100+ lbs range for fun, but not as a training regimen.

Come to think of it, that would be a great thing to do in the mornings down at the beach…

The other thing is that if it is the only lift you are doing as training, it is one of the greatest exercises for having a systemic effect. That is, it affects every muscle of the body. It being the only exercise you’re performing permits you to recover from repeated sessions of high rep sets. The randomness in weight and reps keeps the body from adapting, so it is possible to keep increasing your max in that manner though it is hard to plan your progression.

With a “formalized” training regimen, you have to build that weight/set randomness in or else you will stall due to successful adaptation. Or you have to switch to different movements periodically to keep progressing.

All of these are priciples discussed in articles on the site.

Hope that was helpful.

I actually only moved rocks for about two weeks and that was a year and a half ago.

Initially when I come back to training the high rep deads do help prepare me for max efforts down the road but I don’t feel that they increase my max. In fact, I find the opposite to be true. When I train singles for extended periods of time and then attempt high reps (typically to punish myself for missing a max)I can get over my high rep trained best rep number. So what is the point of training high reps? I don’t know.

In the near future I will add snatch grip deads while standing on a platform to put the bar at a further deficit, I’ll rotate this in with the conventional style.

True I do not squat heavy right now. I lift in my garage without a power rack or squatter and I fear failure.

Bench, I can touch and go 420lbs right now but I don’t spend a great deal of time trying.

I also do whip snatches a couple of days per week so I share my energies for the deadlift with other lifts. So maybe hoisting rocks would kill me at this point.[/quote]

I hate you naturally strong bastards. Hate! HATE!!

Snatch grip on platform is a super exercise and would make a great rotation. Super taxing, though.

Whip snatch: I know not this exercise. Please describe?