T Nation

The Magic Of 1 Lift Per Day

Just thought I’d share…for some reason over the years the program that induces the most radical and fast changes in physique centers around doing one lift over and over again.

Hitting a muscle group from different angles, lots of isolation and exercise variety etc. is fun…can provide a good pump…but never multiplies muscle quite like doing the same lift and focusing on different contractions every workout (layers).

Anyone else experience this?

I’m playing around with a Layers 2018 version (less intensive clusters & includes an auxiliary strength lift ramped up). It’ll probably look like a big lift/movement specific split but just wanted to focus on the 1 lift emphasis. Basically nothing else you do in a workout actually matters unless you hit that sweet spot (intensity/volume/focus) with one big lift!!

I did layers, the Thibarmy ones. I think it is excellent for strength and technique and I progressed veeery fast. But I don’t think it is enough aesthetic wise, you can’t hit all your weaknesses.

There is always the possibility of adding 1 or 2 “low stress” exercises at the end of each workout to focus on your weaknesses. If you have so many weaknesses that you can’t work on them all with those extra 2 exercises 5 days a week, then I’d say that you are simply not at a high enough level of development to use layers yet.

Don’t confuse a true weak point and having an emotional attachment to working a muscle. For example your triceps might be getting enough stimulation from the bench press and overhead press layer to grow at an optimal rate BUT you love doing direct arm work… it’s easy to convince yourself that your triceps are weak and need more work.

Doing more work for a lagging muscle is often necessary. The reason is that you might have an inferior recruitment of that muscle and because of that it is not properly stimulated by the big lifts because other muscles will take over. So doing isolated work for that muscle will both provide the lacking stimulation to make it grow but also teaches your nervous system to recruit that muscle better so that in the long run you will become better at integrating it in the big basic lifts.

BUT doing more work for a muscle that is getting properly stimulated by the big basic lifts because you are efficient at recruiting it could actually slow your progress down.


Yes indeed in that case there’s no problem. You’re very right with the emotional issue. We all have a muscle that feels underdevelopped. I was thinking about that very muscle when I wrote that (lateral delts, they loog really good while pumped, striated and all, but they always feel little compared to my front delts…)