T Nation

The Non Thibaudeau Thread


There's no way CT can answer all of our question personally. I'm sure he doesn't want to and the commitment would be huge.

With that in mind lets talk CT's training philosophy amongst ourselves without asking the chief for comments.

Lets start:

I never have so much fun training has i do when i do 1-5 explosive reps for a set - Waterbury first got me thinking about explosive reps - not that i never done it a lot instinctively when i first started training at the age of 12 or so. I'm sure CT wouldn't take credit for this basic protocol but he's stressed it a ton in his recent work. Why?

Because it works!


I'll double ramp whoops start twice.

This is my last 7 days of fun training.

Last 7 days i used HFT based on HPM and CT's first person article a few years ago.

Dec 3th - OHP - 4x5@55-70%, DB bench press - 2x5@55%
Dec 4th - OHP - 3x3@55-60%
Dec 5th - DB bench press - 5x5@55%
Dec 6th - OHP - 8x3@55-85%
Dec 7th - off
Dec 8th - OHP - 4x3@55-65%, DB bench press - 5x3@50%
Dec 9th - OHP Personal record!

I also done deads and squats but less frequent.

I LOVE HFT! Technique is huge. This way you can practice it ALOT.

Edit: I used a basic ramp for my OHP PR. Sets of 3 up to about %75, 10lb increases, then i went with singles. This was not planned.

Side note: I have never trained the OHP seriously and i haven't trained consistently for close to a year. I have a drinking problem and only been training sensible for 10 or 12 weeks. Much of that time i was drunk. Like now LOL!

Anyhow, my PR was 170lbs STRICT. :slightly_smiling: I'm sure i could of gotten more but avoiding grinding reps is very very good advice.

I'm sure i can do a 185+ push press. I done 176x3 a few weeks ago.


It wasn't until I started reading and watching Thib's material that I realized how Chad Waterbury was on to something as well. I love the performance style workouts. I still thnk CT's best article yet is "The Rep".

Not counting reps has been a huge benefit for me. I could listen to CT all day.


I followed a number of Waterbury's stuff. However, using a ton of exercises and rep ranges doesn't work for me. I would venture to say it doesn't work well for most people.

He got the HFT and explosive rep stuff right but his super HFT programs suck. I actually looked at The Next Frontier Program again the other day. It won't work.

Its kind of funny: A lot of coaches think you should use a bunch of variations to AVOID overtraining. I believe they have it totally opposite. Your body gets accustom to doing the same lifts alot - building up tolerance.

Doing 6 different exercises each session with HFT makes no sense to me. I'm lucky if i CAN do 3!! Not including assistance type work IE upper back.

Side note: Its in strength coaches self interests to make this shit complicated. Pick a handful of exercises and practice. For performance at least.

I don't have any problems with size. I'm FAR from a well developed physique but i have been over 200lbs since i was 12 years old. Right now i'm 275 at around %22-25 bodyfat. Most of my friends would just day, "Brad's, got a beer gut". I'm not a slob.


Good points about Waterbury. I didn't like the rep range theory he had either. Christian's idea of not counting reps, sets and focusing on staying in a zone is better imo. It's as if CW was on to something but not the part about listening to your body.


His rep range theory sucks. I believe he figured some good stuff but he's a marketer %100. Totally, profit driven. Capitalism. I have his first book lol Its pretty good, still better then a lot of shit.

You got me thinking dude about not counting reps.:slight_smile: I guess thats why i LOVE singles training. :slight_smile:


His rep range theory, from what I have read on this site, is to stop the set when the bar speed is considerably slower and reach a certain number of reps, say 25. This is pretty much what CT is saying, though he does not want you to count the reps, but you end up getting at least 25 quality reps in. So I see the difference as basically one says count and another says do not. Waterbury's seems better in theory because you have a way to measure yourself, i.e. getting done in a certain amount of time, while CT's is better because it aims to allow you to use the "zone" to your advantage.

In reality, Waterbury's might be better for someone starting out because these are the people that are usually extrinsically motivated, i.e. beating times. CT's is better for people like us who view lifting weights as a privilege and really get in the zone while doing it.

Nonetheless, the fast rep speed is an awesome technique, but CT does credit himself for it by referring to "his rocket launch rep style" or something like that in the first HP mass article. It is clearly not his original idea, as Olympic lifters have been doing it since the Greeks, though in those lifts you have no choice but to lift as explosively as possible.


@ Canada, complete agree my (presumably) fellow countryman

I'm on my second week of HPMass, so I don't want to "plan the parade route" yet, but I've been consistently adding volume that has surprised even me. Let me say that when you get into the program, and on the SECOND day of one of the hardest (but most fulfilling) ball-busting workouts you've ever done, you do it again, and do it better - it's unbelievable!

Another thing that amazed me was being able to ramp up to my squat max training weight (265, ass 3 inches from floor at max depth), do many sets in max training zone, and then going right into deadlift MTW. I've generally re-ramped up, but now I realize what a waste of time that is.

I also leave the gym with so much energy after a neural charge day I'm jumping up and trying to touch everything that appears just out of reach (usually tagging it too).

All in all, I feel like a kid getting his first solid training gains again.

So, not to plan the parade route, but CT may be on to something here (as if there's any doubt =P)


I guess i meant i don't like undulating periodization and high reps - 8 or more - for the basic lifts. I really like 3 reps which Waterbury made popular on this site.


Using olympic lifters as a template for perfect bodybuilding repetitions seems like a fairly original idea (certainly in the last 50 or so years). I would give CT a bit more credit in that regard. But I could be wrong.


High frequency, yes (but for me, being older, that means about only 3-4 days per week training). Focus on big moves, yes. Max acceleration, yes. Those are the common themes and pre-date CW and CT but both have explicated those concepts and made them more accessible).

But I can see using full body workouts centered on 2 "pressing" lifts with maybe one other auxiliary move done with less overall work. No matter how you cut it, there is a certain economy and practicality to full-body training, especially if you have a job. So here, I agree with CW.

As per CT, I prefer lots of Ramping Triples on a particular exercise (e.g., standing press) followed by a Max Reps set with about 20% less weight. This seems to get everything accomplished and can be done always (I dislike CW 8-10 sets using same weight and much prefer ramping). There is no need to work in higher or middle rep ranges ever (periodization theories are popular myths, but myths just the same). I believe CT is right on his pressing focus with some auxiliary work vice the popular "balanced" approach; I think CT is innovative on that point.

For me, Standing Presses, Front Squats (mostly), Deadlifts, and Bench Presses, form the core of my work with Benches done only 1x per week and lots of small ramping to keep max weight lighter and spare shoulders. Add just enough assistance (for me, Rowing/Chinning moves) and I'm done. I have completely stopped isolation moves like curls and my arms look fine, shoulders especially so, and with Front Squats (that permit a full ROM) my thighs are finally looking good.


Very true in that he applied it to bodybuilders, but the idea of compensatory acceleration of sub maximal weights has been discussed and advocated on this site before.


Having tried both Waterbury's and CT's approach to lower reps, I can say that ramping is definitely better. It sounds strange, but sometimes I think that just the act of changing the weight after every set forces you to keep focus, as opposed to keeping the same weight as Waterbury would say.

However, I really liked CT's idea of ramping and then dropping the weight for one set and performing a max rep set, and for some reason that idea totally disappeared in the HP mass program. There is just a ramp up and down in your range, and then switch to another exercise.

And CT and Waterbury both agree on the full body workout thing, though CT does not say it explicitly. Notice in the original article that when he focuses on three upper body pressing exercises, he "practices", in his words, a lower body press, and vice versa. That is by definition a full body workout.

However, Roygion, I disagree that with you saying there is never a reason to use higher rep ranges. Switching rep ranges after a good amount of time can lead to new gains from the newer stimulus. That might be why so many people are getting good results from CT's new programs, as there may have been more "traditional" training done before.

And I am failing to see why it is a good thing that pressing has a clear preference over pulling. I see this leading to postural problems and injury. Note that CT has not been doing HP mass for that long, and the i,Bodybuilder program was much more balanced. I am open to change, but I still see a program that focuses on the back of the body as one that it better for overall strength and injury prevention. Numerous coaches have expounded on the notion that the power is in the back of the body.


Hi, Doctor,

I think the rep range switch is a myth and there is evidence that exposes it as such. I think what happens is a temporary edema from the new stimulus and not truly added muscle. This soreness and edema fools people into thinking they are 'bigger' but then it goes away. But this is a minor disagreement.

I think the pressing lifts require much greater skill and the added practice for that is necessary. I think one must also do pulls but these need not require the sets, ramping, and overall volume, that is all. If you are concerned about the back, ramping Deadlifts gets lots of back work. It is just that CT calls deadlifts 'presses' (and in one sense he is clearly right). Also note the various Squats work the back quite heavily.

And on upper body 'pulls', I think things like face pulls and chins/rows are all that one really needs, but again, these need not be done ramped or for many sets, just has to be in the routine. So, I am not saying to avoid pulls, but rather, I agree with CT on his focus on presses with pulls as auxiliaries.

Interesting your take on CT using 'full body', though he states he is against full body. Personally, I think the volume way too much on this program but the principles are good. I think many will get tendonitis (elbow or shoulder) if they do 3 pressing movements per workout and all those sets per exercise; just my guess.

I do train full body--every other day, so I do lifts 3-4 days per week, taking one 'off' day between work days. I focus primarily on one upper press with lots of sets and one lower 'press'. And then add some sets of auxiliary pulling work. I rest 5 minutes between upper/lower body work. And I do use a back-off set (max reps) after each press. So far so good.


Thibs has said hes trained like this basically his whole career, also there isn't a preference to pressing, he has also addressed this and that really there is more volume for the upper back than pressing and how to add extra back work if you still feel its lacking.


Royion have you tried dropping chinups and pulldowns for a few weeks? CT mentioned that excessive lat work hurts his shoulders. I found the same thing. I haven't done near has much lat work the last few weeks. My shoulder has really come around since i started training again a few mths ago.

There's seems to be some confusion on the assistance exercise selection also. It does not include direct lat work. IE chins and rows would be for lat and bicep work not assistance for the pressing muscles.


I agree - and this definitely remains to be seen. However, I assume if CT more explicitly talked about what type of effect the staggered assistance work on pressing days was meant to accomplish, we'd see that among other things it aids with posture.

For example, I've been doing dumbell rows, per Dan John's recommendation, as assistance work - 90 degree (or lying down) dumbell rows with emphasis on jamming them into your arpits (for maximum rhomboid work), with a hold at the top. I do these staggered in with my flat bench. The amount of overall volume you get in throughout an upper body pressing day is large, and I've had large amounts of tightness in my back. So even though the day is focused on pressing (which leads to that caveman look), my posture has improved from the tightness in my back keeping my shoulders in a more rearward position. I also feel much more solid on my bench.

So that is one specific example, but I can see how the staggered assistance work will fit in to the program, aiding in performance, physique and postural gains.

But, I'm only two weeks in, so I can't honestly say 100% that this type of training vs. standard periodization will work. I do strongly believe that CT's training methods, both current and in the past, are excellent and will work for a large number of people.


yes, exactly the point of ramping is to RAMP the CNS rather than actual way of loading as CT said, and he is right... sometimes.... (i trained similar to this for longer time, using various east european routines) I GET BETTER PERFORMANCE IF I DO 6X3 with the same weight, then I just keep the same weight cause sets 4-6 are really PERFECT ones as far as my performance, so as i said, getting max performance is the goal, not the actual loading... sometimes I ramp up, the power is not there, so I go back down... then up again... its gets better, so again I go all the way down and climb it up for even BETTER performance, the one I'm after... there I stop... basically I did 3 workouts then and there... and sometimes i ramp up and just keep doing sets using 75-85% until performance drops a bit (sometime i stop before that)... of course i always try to get as much volume as possible in 75-85% range

to cut it... ramping has its place, but straight weight can be used too... it has its place...

HP mass is a set of principles rather than actual workout that CT recommends... workout is just LEVEL 1, and uses the most basic set of principles... and he's right about that... I mean some people cant get it THIS SIMPLE, imagine if CT would throw in more advanced stuff right of the bat...

i think CT said there is nothing wrong with full body except that some people get it as they have to do every muscle, from every angle in every full body workout... there we get a problem... but if you look it like this... sheiko is full body, and WSB is upper/lower (sometimes even full body)... i mean who cares if routine packs on muscle :slight_smile:

you can always add various circuits at the end... max rep, isolation, strength etc.... coupled with sled and eccentric less stuff... it is fair amount of bodybuilding work... if you look at it closely, everything is included in this HP mass based routine...

pressing doesnt have clear preference... it just again CT is right about that not every muscle has to be trained equally... lats/bis simply require different way of loading... and you load every muscle with the type of workout they need... after all MOST back muscles are worked more than pressing muscles sometimes... again, you work rear delts, rhomboids, traps every workout, so why do you think this leads to postural problems???

look, muscles on the back of the body are real delts, traps, rhomboids, hamstrings, glutes, lower back... WHICH ONE OF THESE MUSCLES IS NOT WORKED ENOUGH... I mean you work them EVERY WORKOUT...

I met this guy at european championships held in Vrsac in 2003 and 2003 (IPF, EPF)...

looks like a ramping???

here is he benching... http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z8Sjbxz8ZI4&playnext=1&list=PLC048B452507A465E&index=67

he is like 50 years old... i trained similar to this... and still i prefer this type of training... and I can assure you its builds muscle... look at any east european routine... it has similarities...


btw on my avatar... it is MY BACK... i did nothing but the deadlifts 2x per week... 5x benches, i squatted 3x per week... maybe i did like max rep on chinups once per week when friend came buy and bragged about his cin-up performance... it is 5 years ago... truth is my arm size suffered a bit, but with staggered set approach i'm bringing my biceps up a bit... (its not that I need it, its just to the shirt fits better)


Hi, Canada,

The reason I keep the compound back exercises is that it enabled me to fully drop direct biceps work. I have never experienced what CT says that it hurts shoulders, but I weigh only 200 lbs so chinups may not bother me like they do him. But I may add or substitute trap work and direct work for the upper back and rear delt area.

The biggest thing I learned from CT to spare shoulders was doing bench press AFTER standing pressing. Many might be loathe to do this but I could care less. But I also find similar results by just doing lots more sets of benches (micro ramps) on their own, and that volume keeps the top weight down. I also do not bother with incline presses as upper pecs are very much a matter of genetics and get hit anyway with the other work.