T Nation

THIB'S TIP: Strength-Focus Layer continuous ramp

Two of my favorite approaches to adding on tons of strength are the layer system and the continuous ramp approach.

The layer system blends 3 types of stimulations: maximum/near-maximum ramp, cluster/90% work, HDL work with 70-80%. While the HDL portion gives you the best pump, it is really the ramp and especially the cluster that stimulates the most growth and strength gains.

The continuous ramp uses 3 variations of the same motor pattern and you ramp them up all three, starting with the “weakest” and finishing up with the strongest.

A good approach is to combine both.

Here is an example for the explosive pulls:

  1. Snatch-grip high pulls from blocks ramp to 2RM
  2. 1 cluster set on SGHP with 90% of the 2RM
  3. Snatch-grip chinese pulls from blocks starting with the cluster weight and ramping to your 2RM
  4. 1 cluster set on SGCHP with 90% of 2RM
  5. Snatch-grip low pulls from blocks starting with the previous cluster weight and ramping to 2RM
  6. 1 extended set with SGLP with 80% (max reps/15 sec rest/max reps)

For the slight decline bench press I would use the pin height… for example:

  1. Slight decline bench from pins, 3" from chest ramp to 2RM
  2. 1 cluster set on slight decline bench with 90% of the 2RM
  3. Slight decline bench from pins, from mid-range from starting with the cluster weight and ramping to your 2RM
  4. 1 cluster set on slight decline bench with 90% of 2RM
  5. Slight decline bench from pins, last 4-5" of ROM starting with the previous cluster weight and ramping to 2RM
  6. 1 extended set on “no.5” with 80% (max reps/15 sec rest/max reps)

CT, when performing these two layer systems, is it sufficient to alternate between the two every 3-5 weeks, and for someone who is just getting acclimated to the layering concept, which layer do you recommend starting with?

Also, since it’s best to rest for a few minutes between sets (I typically rest for 2-3 minutes between sets and as much as 5 minutes before the heaviest singles on days that I feel a little drained) is it appropriate to perform a few band pull-downs or pull-aparts or something relatively eccentricless for a few reps between each set in order to make use of the down time?

Or is it best to just rest and gather yourself for the next set each time?

CT what is the reasoning behind SGHP cluster sets between each ramp on the decline tilt bench?

I think those are typos. Since you’re only supposed to focus on one exercise per workout, those should just be the exercise you just ramped to. CT can correct me if I’m wrong though.

Ya I was thinking that was a possibility I was just unsure because he wrote it twice

[quote]DBCooper wrote:
CT, when performing these two layer systems, is it sufficient to alternate between the two every 3-5 weeks, and for someone who is just getting acclimated to the layering concept, which layer do you recommend starting with? [/quote]

The two examples given are only on two exercises, it was just an illustration of how to set-up the general structure. I wasn’t implying only doing these two exercises. Just how to apply this type of training on a movement.

[quote]DBCooper wrote:
Also, since it’s best to rest for a few minutes between sets (I typically rest for 2-3 minutes between sets and as much as 5 minutes before the heaviest singles on days that I feel a little drained) is it appropriate to perform a few band pull-downs or pull-aparts or something relatively eccentricless for a few reps between each set in order to make use of the down time?

Or is it best to just rest and gather yourself for the next set each time? [/quote]

Who says that it’s best to rest for a few minutes after a set? Personally if I rest more than 2 minutes I get out of the zone. I value workout rythm as much as other loading parameters and I try to decrease rest intervals, but only as far as performance allows.

[quote]GeneticSynergy9 wrote:
I think those are typos. Since you’re only supposed to focus on one exercise per workout, those should just be the exercise you just ramped to. CT can correct me if I’m wrong though.[/quote]

Correct… it’s not one workout… it’s 2 examples of how to apply the system to an exercise. You only do one main exercise per workout.

[quote]JoeAnderson wrote:
CT what is the reasoning behind SGHP cluster sets between each ramp on the decline tilt bench?[/quote]

Yes, it was a typo

[quote]Christian Thibaudeau wrote:

[quote]DBCooper wrote:
CT, when performing these two layer systems, is it sufficient to alternate between the two every 3-5 weeks, and for someone who is just getting acclimated to the layering concept, which layer do you recommend starting with? [/quote]

The two examples given are only on two exercises, it was just an illustration of how to set-up the general structure. I wasn’t implying only doing these two exercises. Just how to apply this type of training on a movement.

[quote]DBCooper wrote:
Also, since it’s best to rest for a few minutes between sets (I typically rest for 2-3 minutes between sets and as much as 5 minutes before the heaviest singles on days that I feel a little drained) is it appropriate to perform a few band pull-downs or pull-aparts or something relatively eccentricless for a few reps between each set in order to make use of the down time?

Or is it best to just rest and gather yourself for the next set each time? [/quote]

Who says that it’s best to rest for a few minutes after a set? Personally if I rest more than 2 minutes I get out of the zone. I value workout rythm as much as other loading parameters and I try to decrease rest intervals, but only as far as performance allows.[/quote]

I say it’s best to rest for a few minutes :slight_smile: No, I understand what you’re saying. I like to keep the rest periods shorter, maybe one minute at the most, between earlier sets and gradually extend them as I get closer to maximal weights. But now that I think about it, since the goal is not to hit a true max for that day but whatever can be accomplished with pretty strict form and without psyching oneself up beforehand, I can see where anything over maybe 90 seconds is detrimental.

CT, With these workouts and all layer workouts, is it better to try and beat you 2rm or 1rm from the previous workout or just strive to reach your 2 or 1rm for that day even if its less than the last workout? I have a problem with always feeling the need to beat my previous workout, and I think it may be hurting my progress.

[quote]PaddyD wrote:
CT, With these workouts and all layer workouts, is it better to try and beat you 2rm or 1rm from the previous workout or just strive to reach your 2 or 1rm for that day even if its less than the last workout? I have a problem with always feeling the need to beat my previous workout, and I think it may be hurting my progress.[/quote]
I simply try to beat at least ONE part of the previous session. There’s no way you can continually beat your 1RM or 2RM. So maybe it’ll be one more rep on the cluster sets. Or one more rep on the extended sets. Just aim for at least one “win” from the session.

[quote]PaddyD wrote:
CT, With these workouts and all layer workouts, is it better to try and beat you 2rm or 1rm from the previous workout or just strive to reach your 2 or 1rm for that day even if its less than the last workout? I have a problem with always feeling the need to beat my previous workout, and I think it may be hurting my progress.[/quote]

CT has mentioned in the past that the RMs shouldn’t be the focus and is rather just a way to ramp up the nervous system for the subsequent clusters. However, I also have this same problem and as a result my max ramps take too long bc I take longer rest periods in order to ensure I can ramp up as high as possible.

Would it be better to increase tempo at the expense of the 1RM? Maybe the 1RM will only suffer for a few weeks until I can adapt to the increased tempo.

Has anyone else struggled with tempo issues on the max ramp layers?

Don’t forget one thing: you cannot beat a PR every week. Heck, even only adding 5lbs per week means 260lbs per year! If you bench 315 now, you would bench 575 at the end of the year and 835lbs two years from now… it doesn’t work that way.

There are several ways to progress…

  • improving your 1RM
  • improving your 2RM
  • improving your 3RM
  • improving your cluster load
  • improving your total cluster reps
  • doing more cluster sets with the same weight
  • using more weight for HDL work
  • doing the same weights everywhere, but easier (dominating the weights more)
  • improving technical mastery
  • doing the same workload in less total time
    etc.

CT–regarding this and the strength focused layers (NOT the continuous ramp method, the other thread)–do you think for high pulls it is advantageous to work in slightly higher rep ranges? Both for this and the non-ramp, as so:

PULLS:

ramp to 2 RM (instead of 1 RM)
2 clusters at 90%
Drop to 60% and ramp to 3 RM instead of 2
cluster
Drop to 70% and ramp to 4 RM instead of 3
Hard 5’s

Or for this particular continuous ramp to work at a 3-4 RM continuous ramp instead of a 1-2 RM

@CT. what are you’re thoughts on starting a snatch pull from blocks continuous ramp with power snatches from blocks? I was thinking of adding power snatches to keep good mobility in my shoulders and maintain some athleticism. Thanks.

[quote]Christian Thibaudeau wrote:
Two of my favorite approaches to adding on tons of strength are the layer system and the continuous ramp approach.

The layer system blends 3 types of stimulations: maximum/near-maximum ramp, cluster/90% work, HDL work with 70-80%. While the HDL portion gives you the best pump, it is really the ramp and especially the cluster that stimulates the most growth and strength gains.

The continuous ramp uses 3 variations of the same motor pattern and you ramp them up all three, starting with the “weakest” and finishing up with the strongest.

A good approach is to combine both.

Here is an example for the explosive pulls:

  1. Snatch-grip high pulls from blocks ramp to 2RM
  2. 1 cluster set on SGHP with 90% of the 2RM
  3. Snatch-grip chinese pulls from blocks starting with the cluster weight and ramping to your 2RM
  4. 1 cluster set on SGCHP with 90% of 2RM
  5. Snatch-grip low pulls from blocks starting with the previous cluster weight and ramping to 2RM
  6. 1 extended set with SGLP with 80% (max reps/15 sec rest/max reps)

For the slight decline bench press I would use the pin height… for example:

  1. Slight decline bench from pins, 3" from chest ramp to 2RM
  2. 1 cluster set on slight decline bench with 90% of the 2RM
  3. Slight decline bench from pins, from mid-range from starting with the cluster weight and ramping to your 2RM
  4. 1 cluster set on slight decline bench with 90% of 2RM
  5. Slight decline bench from pins, last 4-5" of ROM starting with the previous cluster weight and ramping to 2RM
  6. 1 extended set on “no.5” with 80% (max reps/15 sec rest/max reps)[/quote]

CT, what is the setup for the dead squat launch?
would it be this?

  1. Ramp to a training 1RM (maximum without form breakdown or having to psych yourself up before the lift)
  2. 3 sets of clusters with 90% of your 1RM ramp (if you can’t get 3 reps, decrease the weight on the next set, if you can get 6, increase it)
  3. Lower back down to 70% and ramp up to a 2RM
  4. 2 sets of clusters with 90% of your 2RM (same recommendations as with the previous cluster)
  5. Lower back down to 70% and ramp up to a 3RM
  6. 1 set of clusters with 90% of your 3RM (same cluster rules)
  7. Lower to 70% do ONE max reps set, (NOT extended sets)

[quote]jormanders74 wrote:
@CT. what are you’re thoughts on starting a snatch pull from blocks continuous ramp with power snatches from blocks? I was thinking of adding power snatches to keep good mobility in my shoulders and maintain some athleticism. Thanks.[/quote]

If your power snatch is higher than your high pull (which is what that continuous ramp implies) it tells me that you have not mastered the high pull yet :slight_smile: A high pull normally falls between 115 and 130% of a power snatch.

So if you want to do a continuous ramp I’d do:

  1. Power snatches from blocks
  2. Snatch-grip high pulls from blocks
  3. Snatch-grip low pulls from blocks

@CT. My power snatch is lower than my high pull, and my power snatch is in the percentage range you specified. Thanks though, you answered my question.