T Nation

Training Approach with Unpredictable Schedule


Not sure if this should be in this forum or Powerlifting. I’m dabbling in powerlifting currently and over the next few months would like to add on some muscle in the muscle groups involved in the powerlifts as well as a bit of isolation stuff for curls. (I might be wrong but Hypertrophy might be a more straight forward goal and better suited to my circumstances right now)

So the thing is over the next months I’m gonna be on an unpredictable training schedule. I don’t know which nights of the week exactly but 3-5 nights per week maybe an hour give or take twenty minutes per night. So programs that are strictly scheduled don’t really work well. It’s not really the best circumstances but I wanna make the best of it.

I think I can fit in plenty of lifting during the week overall though. Day to day it might be a bit chaotic but the total stuff you do at the end of the week and over greater periods of time is more important right?

So I’m looking for some guidance for a training approach that can work with this schedule. So like some way to gauge how much volume to do and or how heavy. I’ve heard of autoregulation and stuff but I’m not really familiar with how to apply it.

Exercise selection, equipment, slow bulk diet and other stuff is pretty much sorted it’s just how to train.

I’m thinking of chopping up my training into a split with Squat/Quads, Bench/Push, Deadlift/Pull/Hamstrings so I can get it done in an hour give or take. So when I can Maybe use the bench day between taxing lower body lifts. Could a simple approach like starting off conservatively with weight and then doing 5 sets of 8-12 on each exercise and adding weight gradually work?

GuineaPig’s Training Log

Jim Wendler Krypteia




That makes sense, although what I would do is have two different upper body workouts so it’s 1:1 upper/lower training. Then just do your workouts in order on whatever days you can. You could have one bench day focused more on the competition bench and pecs, the other day focused more on triceps and shoulders. If you have time I would recommend throwing in some light squats on the deadlift day, but if you only have about an hour it might be too much.

From what I have seen with you, I think you would do well in PL (sq+dl in particular) if you can find the time to train consistently.


Yeah something like that. So it’s like the training split is sorted out. How about ideas for how much to do in the workouts?


It sounds like time could be more of a limiting factor than work capacity or recovery. What I would do is try to keep rest periods short, like 1-3 minutes between sets, maybe a couple more minutes if you are moving onto another exercise. This can actually help with hypertrophy too since it increases metabolic fatigue, which is one of the factors involved in hypertrophy.

The downside with that sort of training is that you will have to keep the weights light, to keep you from getting weak you could first work up to a heavy set of 5 reps or so, then take maybe 15-20% off the bar and do sets of 8-10. Another strategy that could also work is doing cluster sets, which you are sort of doing already with short rest. Basically just submaximal work with short breaks, something like 65%x5x5 with 1-2 minute breaks. It seems to me like you might have to do more total reps like this to get equal hypertrophy, but it’s also easier to get more volume in and will help to prevent form breakdown since you aren’t pushing close to failure, at least not until the end.

The total volume you want to do is going to depend on you, there is no blanket recommendation but Mike Israetel’s MRV talk gives us some decent guidelines. For hypertrophy, that would be 15-30 hard sets per bodypart/movement pattern per week, so 7-15 sets per day more or less plus upper back work is the range you should be aiming for, although 15 sets is probably too much for most people.

Start off with less, add a set here and there for the first couple weeks until you are pushing close to the limit, continue for a couple more weeks then deload and repeat.


It’s gonna come down to recovery.

If I’m in your situation not much is gonna change in what I do. Squat, bench, pull, bench rotation regardless of if its over the course of 7 days or 14 days. You are better off having more days off than on if you want to work heavy 5s and 3s so how you recover from workout to workout is gonna be the deciding factor.

I personally would not waste time on down sets and light stuff in the competition lifts. Work up to a heavy set of 5 or 3 and stick with that weight each workout. Master the weight. This should give you a good 30-45 minutes of work. Take the next 15-30 min and pick ONE body part to support the lift and beat the living piss out of it.

For example, lets say you work up to a heavy 5 in the bench and have about 20 minutes left. Lets say you have weak triceps and struggle locking out heavy weight. Hit those triceps with a ton of volume using multiple exercises. I did 300 tricep reps after my bench workout Friday night. Moderate to light weight and whatever rep ranges it takes to smoke those triceps. The following workout, do your shoulders the same way. Just one body part. The reason for it is you are already hammering those body parts heavy with the bench press. Give extra attention to the lagging body parts.