T Nation

Thib's Layer System

I keep hearing that you should not attempt this system if you are not using the recovery products used by the current model athletes in the program. I have been using the system for about 2-3 weeks now and feel like I gain each and every time. My peri-workout nutrition thus far has been 4 eggs and oatmeal an hour prior, and then 50 grams of protein (iso-con whey)during the workout and 50 grams protein and creatine after workout. I have taken to adding in some high protein pancakes after workout as well…

Since I have been using the system, I feel as if I push myself to another level that I did not hit before. So far I seem to recover fine. I don’t use any stimulants and feel great throughout the day. I have noticed my body is asking for more food now. I never noticed it before.

I am not advocating any system, just saying I feel great using the system without the great products offered by Biotest. Maybe I will slow progress after a few more weeks, but I am riding the train as far as it can take me. I feel my arms, traps, and chest have all come up in just a few short weeks.

I am nearly 35 years old, but I feel like recovery is going good so far. Wish me luck. And I wish you all good luck on your journey.

Maybe spoke a little to soon. Elbows are beginning to feel the wrath of Thib. Staying positive and pushing on.

So what is this system that you’re on? It would be nice if you actually explained it cause I have no idea what you’re talking about. Good job though.

Highlight all of CTs posts in this livespill.

http://www.T-Nation.com/strength-training-topics/2190

[quote]Kal-El wrote:
I keep hearing that you should not attempt this system if you are not using the recovery products used by the current model athletes in the program. I have been using the system for about 2-3 weeks now and feel like I gain each and every time. My peri-workout nutrition thus far has been 4 eggs and oatmeal an hour prior, and then 50 grams of protein (iso-con whey)during the workout and 50 grams protein and creatine after workout. I have taken to adding in some high protein pancakes after workout as well…

Since I have been using the system, I feel as if I push myself to another level that I did not hit before. So far I seem to recover fine. I don’t use any stimulants and feel great throughout the day. I have noticed my body is asking for more food now. I never noticed it before.

I am not advocating any system, just saying I feel great using the system without the great products offered by Biotest. Maybe I will slow progress after a few more weeks, but I am riding the train as far as it can take me. I feel my arms, traps, and chest have all come up in just a few short weeks.

I am nearly 35 years old, but I feel like recovery is going good so far. Wish me luck. And I wish you all good luck on your journey.[/quote]

System’s great, regardless of what PWO nutrition you use and I totally agree with you. Remarkable is an understatement. But I personally do really think you can push harder using the MAG-10, and notice a marked difference in my own work.

I’m not a supplement whore, because I believe that people should use what they can afford on their own budgets and that it is possible to get great results with hard work an without a lot of $$ spent on the “newest thing”…but I will be honest I really do feel different, so i would encourage you to try the same at least once. I mean, I noticed a big difference between whey pre/during and just after. Then tried MAG-10 (not stimulants) pre/during and after. Way less soreness for me doing the same workouts.

For the record, I really don’t think you could do the system effectively without anything before/during the workouts. I.e. no protein during. You absolutely have to have some fuel of some kind, cheap or not.

[quote]Aopocetx wrote:
So what is this system that you’re on? It would be nice if you actually explained it cause I have no idea what you’re talking about. Good job though.[/quote]

Well, if you are reading anything outside the forums on this site you should have at least heard of it since it has been the subject of most of the livespills for the last 4 months or more…

Super clif’s notes:

One and only one lift a day after your warm-up (warm-up is able to include light weight exercises, jumps, or explosive exercises like med ball throws, etc. Do whatever you want after mobility and stretching to warm-up, but keep it under 15 minutes)

Lift 5-6 days a week. Remember only one lift a day.

One lift a day Lift choices are: Front squat OR back squat OR trap bar DL OR regular DL, high pull OR power snatch, bench press/incline/decline tilt or regular flat , overhead press, power clean (in place of high pull or snatch), dead stop rows–similar to a Pendlay row.

Don’t put squat/trap bar day next to high pull/power snatch/ clean day, keep 1 or 2 days between them

Only one day a week for squats or regular/trap bar DL. No multiple sessions a week. However you can do multiple high pull or power snatch days in a week.

All lifts are done from pins in the power rack (“bottoms-up” lifts), or floor for DLs, or blocks above knees for high pull. But you Start every single rep from a dead pause, no touch-go. That why the blocks are there for pulls/snatch.

Loading scheme:

  1. work up to a max with clean form. If form breaks down you use the last one you did with clean form. Don’t fail a rep attempt here ever, so be conservative (no “true max”)

  2. use 90% of your last successful max in step #1 to do 3 cluster sets. 1 cluster set is: single rep, rest 10 seconds, single rep, rest 10 sec, etc. til you can’t do another rep only resting 10 second then rest. That is ONE cluster. Rest about 2 minutes between clusters

  3. use 65-70% of your max weight to do reverse ladders: 5 reps, rest 15 sec, 4 reps, 15 sec, 3, rest, 2, rest, 1 rep then isometric hold. Rest about 1.5-2 minutes between ladders. You do 3 ladders. These sets are called “HDL” sets for “heavy density lifting”. that’s his name.

  4. Go home. If you feel really good still, do a Pump layer instead of going home: this is one giant set without setting the bar down. use 40-50% of your max weight and do 5 reps, 5 sec isometric hold, 4 reps, 4 sec hold, 3 reps, 3 hold, 2, 2 hold, 1, 1 hold. Do 1-2 of those giant sets, rest 1-1.5 minutes.

  5. Go home.

I def will be keeping the protein during the workout. I agree it feels as if I am shooting it directly into my system. I then flush down another 50 grams after. So I am taking in arounf 100-125 grams of protein around workout.

I copied and pasted Information about the Layer System from the Livespills into this Training Log to help those out who may have missed a few key notes.

All of the info presented here is from Christian Thibaudeaus Livespill Posts.

LAYER SYSTEM PART 1 - RAMP TO MAX

This first layer is all about activating the nervous system, increasing fast twitch muscle fiber recruitment and building the capacity to showcase strength. You basically ramp up gradually toward your max for the day.

Start at about 40-50% and add 10-20lbs per set until you hit your max. Perform sets of 3 for the first 2-3 sets then switch to singles to reduce fatigue.
We want about 6-9 ramping sets including 3-4 heavy ones (above 90%).

LAYER SYSTEM PART 2 - CLUSTERS

Clusters develop the capacity to recruit AND stimulate more FT fibers. It is a very powerful method to increase size, strength and density (giving the muscles a harder look).
You use 90% of the weight you reached in your ramp.

One set has several reps (3-7) performed 10 seconds of rest between them.
You rest the bar on every rep, which is why it’s best to start from pins or a deadstart. You stop the cluster set when you cannot perform more reps. You do 3 sets.

LAYER SYSTEM PART 3 (OPTION 1) - HEAVY DENSITY LIFTING

This is the most effective way to stimulate as many fibers to grow as possible, especially now that the nervous system is “on”.

Each set is as follow:
5 reps/rest 10-15 sec/4 reps/rest 10-15 sec/3 reps/rest 10-15 sec/2 reps/rest 10-15 sec/1 rep

If you were able to get more than 17 total cluster reps over 3 sets, instead of 5-4-3-2-1 for HDL you do 4-4-3-3-2-2-1-1… you start with 65-70% and ideally would eventually be able to use 80%. Do 3 sets.

OR

LAYER SYSTEM PART 3 (OPTION 2) - EXTENDED SETS

For this layer we use 80-85% of the max ramp. Each set has two bouts of reps separated by 15 seconds of rest. You start the first bout by doing as many reps you can with 80% without major form breakdown. When you reach a point where you know that you will not be able to complete one more clean rep, you replace the bar on the supports and rest for 15 seconds. After those 15 seconds, you unrack the bar and try to do as many reps as you can again. Then the set is over.

Extended Sets is a layer that can be used instead of the HDL. Both work great and using both (either back and forth during a training cycle) or doing one method for one training cycle and the other for the next works great

LAYER SYSTEM PART 4 (OPTION 1) - MAX PUMP

This is an optional layer. The layer system is perfectly effective with just the first 3. But if you are using a powerful recovery agent like PLAZMA and want to take the pump to another level (driving more nutrients to the muscles) you can add the pump layer:
One set is: hold the weight in mid range (peak for pulls) 5 sec./do 5 reps/hold 4 sec/do 4 reps/hold 3 sec./do 3 reps/hold 2 sec/do 2 reps/hold 1 sec/do 1 rep…

There is no pause during a max pump set (the “pause” is during the isometric hold… which is actually the hardest part!). Use 40-50% of the ramped max and perform 2-3 sets.

LAYER SYSTEM PART 4 (OPTION 2) - Speed HDL

For maximum strength I recommend:
(layer 1) Ramp to max
(layer 2) clusters
(layer 3) extended sets
(layer 4) speed HDL… speed HDL is 8 sets of 3 explosive reps (50% of ramp) with 30 sec. of rest between sets.

GENERAL INFORMATION AND TRAINING SPLITS OF THE LAYER SYSTEM

The system is One and ONLY one lift a day.

CT is now experimenting with 3 sets of simply rowing as a finisher for the high pull/back days, but ABSOLUTELY NO second exercise after legs or pressing movements!

Answer to a question about pre pump work: I often do a low stress traps/rear delts move right before high pulls (kinda like a superset).

The only style of squatting CT allows is from the safety pins up–set the safety pins at the bottom of the squat, get under the weight, and squat it up, then set it back on the pins for rest between clusters or between each individual rep of the HDL sets.

This system is meant to be either 5 or 6 days a week.

Exercises for the Layer System: front squat, bench LOW incline tilt, high pull, overhead press, deadlift, bench decline tilt. All from pins except high pulls which are from blocks.
The snatch grip high pull, if properly done will do more than any other exercise (or even exercise combos) to give you the power look. It is amazing to build the delts, traps and mid back.

Its fine to do full ROM on the layer system… BUT extend the rest between reps for the cluster to 15 sec.

But many people I (CT) work with are actually doing only 5 weekly training sessions:

Bench incline tilt
High pull
REST
Bench decline tilt
Front squat or TBDL
REST
High pull

In fact the guy with the greatest gains overall so far is doing it like that.

Before doing the next split please read the note about it from CT.

(For a football player doing sprints, the best option for layers might be:)

DAY 1. Bench incline tilt layer
DAY 2. Power cleans or high pull from blocks layer
DAY 3. NO LIFTING
DAY 4. OH press from pins layer
DAY 5. NO LIFTING
DAY 6. Squat or TBDL layer
DAY 7. free day… that’s the only split I can recommend when doing sprint work.

CT has stated the following regarding this split: ‘‘I don’t like it… I made the football recommendation in a moment of weakness. The system is so powerful that I want everybody to use it! BUT I now realize that there is a very fine balance that you should not mess up with. When it comes down to it, you can do what you want. But I’ll be less lenient in the future… you do the system the way I do it, or do something else :)’’

For maximum strength I recommend:

(layer 1) Ramp to max
(layer 2) clusters
(layer 3) extended sets
(layer 4) speed HDL… speed HDL is 8 sets of 3 explosive reps (50% of ramp) with 30 sec. of rest between sets.

I personally like doing 2 workouts in a row with the regular HDL, then 2 workouts in a row with extended sets.

I’m talking about 2 workouts in a row of the same movement.

LATS AND BICEP WORK

On the ‘‘off days’’ is where you can do some lats and biceps work. These are the only two muscle groups that might need some additional work.

Note on Lats and Biceps work:
(1) I don’t like having lats 2 days in a row (wed/thu)
(2) I don’t like having lats work the day before high pulls (the lats are involved somewhat if you do the movement right)
(3) I don’t like biceps the day before high pulls (for the same reason)
(4) I don’t like 2 biceps workouts a week.

I find that I get all the lats development I want by working them once a week as ‘‘free’’ more ‘‘pump style’’ work.

And with only a small amount of biceps work thrown in there, my arms are bigger than ever.
If your recovery capacity isn’t great it’s probably better to do the biceps and back work at the tail end of an existing workout.

I DO NOT like chin-ups as a whole and much less as a layer movement. The reason I don’t like chin-ups is that it is VERY easy to get “false improvement” by slightly changing body angle, swinging or using most other muscles groups… and this often happens even in those with good form; it happens subconsciously. Chin-ups work OK if you are strong and do not go super heavy, focusing on the perfect contraction. Since the layer system is based on going heavy AND to your limit, it is a poor choice.

MAX RAMP/CLUSTER/HDL FOR BEGINNERS

The max ramp and cluster are very high intensity, especially for someone who has little training experience. While a scaled down version will not be as effective for an intermediate or advanced lifter, it might be for a beginner.

In that case I recommend ramping to a 5RM for the first 3 weeks and to a 3RM for weeks 4-6 (instead of ramping to a 1RM), then using 90% of that to do the clusters (you will obviously do more than 3-7 reps per cluster, maybe 7-12)

I also recommend 4 cluster sets and 4 HDL sets instead of 3

So you can use either a 3RM or a 5 RM, but not a 1 RM for your ramp.
Cluster sets are still single reps but you can expect to get more than 5 singles per cluster because your top weight is lower. You must still use between 6-9 total sets to reach your max 5RM or 3RM when ramping.

For example: If your max is going to be 200, then you need to reach your top weight on set 6-8 ish. Might look like 80x5, 100x5, 120x5, 140x5, 160x5, 180x5, 200x5 . If it ended up being too light you can take one more set (to be #9) and set a PR. Small jumps of 10-20 ish pounds.

Dan John’s One lift a Day program would be a lot simpler

Aragorn, what does your weekly workout look like, if it has been very successful? :slight_smile:

I was using a bastardized version of his Layer System, which is why I don’t talk about it–he has been adamant that people not advertise variations because a) he has a certain way he really wants things done, being that he considers this “the summation of all my training knowledge” and b) people will get confused or fuck up the system–or burn-out and blame him if they follow a variation from somebody else. Both of these concerns are definitely understandable from somebody who sees this as his Magnum Opus, so I haven’t written about it.

That said, my split has evolved pretty rapidly the last 6-8 weeks so it is hard to describe without taking a long few paragraphs…which I honestly don’t feel like taking :/. Also keep in mind while I do really enjoy physique benefits I’m fundamentally more strength oriented that bodybuilders, and I care about numbers more. But for a while I was doing 3 bench layers, all full bench with no pins, then it was 2 bench (incline and flat) and 1 OH press, now it’s 2 bench sessions. When I was doing 3 bench sessions I was doing 3 squat sessions following high frequency principles.

One day was both front squat and rev. band front squat to max singles or triples, then sometimes rev. band back squat for 1-3 reps. Next squat day was DE squats, 3rd squat day was repetition front squats using a HFSW kind of rep scheme and principle.

When I switched to the 2 bench sessions only, I took some time away from heavy leg training. Now I am back on, and following Thib’s 5 day split to the T. Throughout this all the only thing that has been constant is that my bench days followed the layer approach. Outside of looking much thicker in the upper chest from the incline tilt, my pin bench has gone from 340-400 lbs. My pin bench is between 10-15% lower than my regular bench with stretch reflex, so this means I am back around my best ever flat bench strength in the mid 4’s, possibly 450 (I haven’t re-tested and won’t for a while). Goal is a 500 lb raw bench by years end.

I snatch grip high pull 300 lb from the hang for whatever that is worth. I also just today did a high hang power snatch of 225 lb really easily, which matches my best power snatch from the floor. And I did it without having done a lot of high intensity hang power snatching. It should be noted however that I usually do the power snatch as a warm-up exercise every day I am in the gym. I currently don’t go up to 90% more than once or twice a week but I am performing the movement from the pocket or high hang.

[quote]Aragorn wrote:
I was using a bastardized version of his Layer System, which is why I don’t talk about it–he has been adamant that people not advertise variations because a) he has a certain way he really wants things done, being that he considers this “the summation of all my training knowledge” [/quote]

…isn’t every new thing the “summation of [insert trainer’s] training knowledge”?

[quote]The3Commandments wrote:

[quote]Aragorn wrote:
I was using a bastardized version of his Layer System, which is why I don’t talk about it–he has been adamant that people not advertise variations because a) he has a certain way he really wants things done, being that he considers this “the summation of all my training knowledge” [/quote]

…isn’t every new thing the “summation of [insert trainer’s] training knowledge”?[/quote]

Maybe for some people. If you’re cynical you could say that about everybody. I’ve never heard CT make that statement before a week ago, regardless of how enthusiastic he has been over his past training programs from HFSW, rings, concentrated loading, or anything else. Granted he is speaking about this in the context of a specific subset of lifters, but again, never heard him say that before.

Regardless, hey, it works for my purposes currently.

So it’s basically a specific protocol of set-rep schemes with some restrictions on exercises. Can’t see this to be magically, especially if your goals are aesthetics. But I might use some of the ideas for my strength work.

Might be an amazing program but I don’t want to have to pack a scientific calculator, abacus and graphing paper in my gym bag in other to plan my workout.

[quote]gregron wrote:
Might be an amazing program but I don’t want to have to pack a scientific calculator, abacus and graphing paper in my gym bag in other to plan my workout. [/quote]

Everybody wanna be a bodybuilder, but nobody wanna do no CONFUSING ASS CALCULATIONS!!!

[quote]gregron wrote:
Might be an amazing program but I don’t want to have to pack a scientific calculator, abacus and graphing paper in my gym bag in other to plan my workout. [/quote]

All you have to calculate is 90% & 65-80% of the top weight you reached that day. Your phone/ipod should be more then enough :wink:

This Layering system def makes your muscles feel all dense and what not, and im not using any peri workout nutrition.
If I take one thing from this program after I decide to move on, its definitely High Pulls. This exercise is giving me that 3rd look in my upper back. Shrugs aint got shit on high pulls!

[quote]IFlashBack wrote:

[quote]gregron wrote:
Might be an amazing program but I don’t want to have to pack a scientific calculator, abacus and graphing paper in my gym bag in other to plan my workout. [/quote]

Everybody wanna be a bodybuilder, but nobody wanna do no CONFUSING ASS CALCULATIONS!!![/quote]

Ha Ha…I can just hear Coleman’s voice.

[quote]Liv92 wrote:

If I take one thing from this program after I decide to move on, its definitely High Pulls. This exercise is giving me that 3rd look in my upper back. Shrugs aint got shit on high pulls! [/quote]
!
Yeah, no kidding. Same thing goes for apower snatches btw. Been using them for years, and I pretty much discovered if you do heavy power snatches you don’t need any shrugs. I love my olympic work