T Nation

Training Till Depressed: Results

Chad Waterbury:

? Lagging body parts can be trained up to 10 times per week using five, twice-daily workouts or three, three-times-per-day workouts along with one workout for the fourth day. Every third or fourth week those same lagging body parts should only be trained once.

Charles Poliquin:

? It’s backed up in the scientific literature that you can train a muscle up to nine times a week, as long as you give it some time after to rest. In other words, if you don’t train to the point of depression, it doesn’t really work.


I recently increased my arm size from 17 7/8 inch to 18 5/8 inch in 5 weeks by training according to the above made statements.

Now before I continue allow me to express how ?miraculous? those gains are for me.

If anyone has the right to claim he is a hard gainer it is me. At 16 I weighed a mere 116lbs and that was after two years of powerlifting and Olympic lifting (yeah, sad huh?). It took me two years more to get to 156lbs and another two years to get to 195lbs. And that?s at 6? by the way.

Most muscle groups grew at the same pace but to say my arms have a hard time growing is a super understatement. Squats (315lbs, 30-37 reps, 3 times per week) and milk didn?t make them grow; Deadlifts (currently 615 lbs is my 2 rep max) do not make them grow. Rows (315lbs for 20 reps) don?t, split training doesn?t, and traditional specialization programs hardly add any size.

At my current bodyweight of 230lbs I can squat 10 sets of 5 with 405lbs, Bench well over 400, Military Press 225lbs for a set of 5 and well, yada, yada, yada.

Basically, I can push and pull till the cows come home and hardly add any size to my arms at all. Hell, after 20 reps of rows with 315lbs the only part of my body that?s tired are my hands! No pump whatsoever in my biceps. I can do close grip pull ups and dips with 135lbs around my waist and get a swole back and chest and add virtually nothing to my arms.

And there is nothing wrong with my eating habits either. Although I am never hungry I still forced myself to eat more then 4000 calories a day every single ?bulking? cycle I have ever done. Amsterdam Animal and Prof X would have been proud :)although they would have probably been scratching their heads as to why I wasn?t gaining much.

I have always had the benefit of good coaching since my uncle was one of the top Olympic lifting and powerlifting trainers in Holland and he too many a times scratched his head not knowing why I wasn?t gaining faster.

I have bulked up over the years and the highest I got was 269lbs. My arm size at that weight?
17 inches.
Yep, pathetic. I could squat 585 at the time without a suit, and did bent rows with 385 for sets of 12 but still no real size on the arms. I have experimented with every program you can imagine and they stayed 17 inches.

Eventually I got so frustrated that I slimmed down till 225lbs so that I would look symmetrical at least. I focused mainly on strength.

That is till Mr. Waterbury started writing about high frequency training.

The first time I did his 6-9 full body sessions a week I gained one fourth of an inch on my arms in 6 weeks, while losing 5 lbs of fat!. I have been a fanboy every since :slight_smile: Problem was that I added an inch every where else so I was still stuck with a symmetry problem. I added another fourth of an inch with his perfect 10 program (well?my version of it?a bit higher volume) and I added close to the same with Staley?s EDT arm program (8 weeks).

And then I got stuck, again. Tried intense bulk for a while and again gained size everywhere and only increased the size of my arms marginally. Could not get them over 18 inches, no matter what.

Slimmed back down for a while and then both Waterbury and Poliquin piqued my interest when they made the statements above.

I figured what have I got to lose and started training 9 times per 7 days.

Note: since Charles had not gone into specifics I did do things a bit differently then what his current article describes.

Now I made, I think, several mistakes but first let me tell you what I did and then go over what I could have done better.

For 17 days IN A ROW, I did 1-2 sessions a day consisting of a full body exercise and 6-9 sets of biceps and triceps work.

For example:

Monday:
Deadlift 3-5 sets
Incline curls 3x8
Incline Triceps extensions 3x8
Scott curls 3x6
Tate presses 3x8

Perhaps a ten minute period of scapular/rotator, abdominal and/or forearm and calf work

Monday PM:

Snatch 3x5
Barbell curls 4x6
Close grip Bench press 4x6
Pull ups 2x6
Dips 2x6

Tuesday:

Powerclean 3x5
Cable curls 6x10
Pushdowns 6x10
Wrist curls 3x25
Crunches 3x25

The other ?full body? exercises I used where Squats, Box Squats and Front Squats on Wednesday and Thursday and Snatch Grip Deadlift on box, Step ups and Split Jerk on Friday and Saturday.

Where I differ from Poliquin, and I did not know, so I followed what Chad suggests, is that I did a completely different arm session each time I stepped into the gym. I constantly changed parameters and exercises!

In line with what Poliquin mentioned after 12 days I did start losing strength and perhaps should have stopped but I did another 5 days because I kept growing. I guess here I differ from Poliquin as well because I actually grew 3/8 of an inch in the first 17 days (and yes I was ecstatic!).

By now I, save for the growth (#2) and not losing any weight, I exhibited every one of the signs Poliquin mentioned:

  1. Lose strength
  2. Lose muscle
  3. Be chronically overtrained
  4. Experience aching tendons and joints
  5. Be brutally sore (and train right through it)
  6. Be mentally depressed

I lost 20-30% of my strength (although oddly enough after the first week I had actually gained some), I felt chronically tired with deep, deep fatigue in my arms, hands and shoulders. Joints and tendons hurting quit bad and I was so sore I could hardly fall asleep.

I realize I was mentally depressed when watching one of my favorite shows: Stargate Atlantis. The Tao of Rodney episode. I?ll never forget. One of the main characters received, by accident, some superpowers but they are killing him slowly. During one of the scene?s where he is saying goodbye to one of his friends, he hugs the guy and heals the scars of his buddies back. The look on his face made me spontaneously burst into tears. I started crying uncontrollable for at least 5 minutes!

According to Poliquin I guess I was ready :slight_smile:

I immediately took a week off!
I gained another 1/8 inch in the week rest that followed and when I resumed training for another week (I did 4 two a day sessions and one high rep flushing session that week,) I noticed I had gained a lot of strength as well as another 3/16 of an inch. After two more days of rest the total growth was 6/8 of an inch in 32 days. A bloody miracle when it comes to my arms. And my look has dramatically changed!

The strength gains by the way are unreal. I am not going to list all exercises but to give you an idea: I usually use 275lbs for 3 sets of 12 for close grip bench presses and I do that now with 315lbs! And it feels light!

What would I do differently?

Looking back I think my mistake was to train too long in the beginning. 10-12 days in a row is long enough. I agree that 10 - 12 days with 4-5 days rest is the best way and thus you can do this twice in a month. I also believe I did too many heavy sessions (2-3 reps)and should have limited those like Waterbury suggests in his 30 day mass plan.

My soreness and pain and discomfort as well as my depressed state were really bad. I really needed more then 5 days (I took 7 days) to recuperate (and then had to drag myself back to the gym).

Now Poliquin suggests doing the same exercises, all sets till failure, with the same parameters. That will get you overtrained faster, NO DOUBT. But boy, losing size in the order of 12-15lbs? That part I did not get. That seems a lot, especially since I actually gained some weight and strength in the first week.

But then again, I only did arms and forearms and the compound exercises I did not do till failure (I actually got stronger on every single one of them too, not by much but still).

What Poliquin suggests is for overall increases of size and I am curious if training with the same exercises and parameters will lead to a greater rebound effect.

Intuitively I believe Waterbury?s high frequency system is a better version of this (two weeks of 6-8 full body sessions, with constantly changing exercises and parameters, followed by a week of training only 3 times focusing on strength) but then again, I might be wrong.

Both coaches certainly have more in common then not. Berardi stated on his website that Poliquin was very impressed with Waterbury?s work and Charles doesn?t seem to compliment easily.

What would I recommend?

I have been training for over 20 years. Powerlifting, Olympic lifting, strongmen competition, martial arts, bodybuilding and sprinting. Often I did these at the same time! There have been many months where I trained 6 days a week with weights while sparring another 3 times so I am used to doing a lot of work.

I would recommend for those who want to give Ploquin?s program a try to first get used to full body sessions by doing a month of Waterbury?s HF program.

Do 2-a-days, 2 days a week, then 3 days per week for two weeks and then take a week off.
Follow that with Waterbury?s 30 day mass program increasing your capacity to work for 10 days in a row. Take 5 days of and then to Poliquin?s program.

Long ass post, I know, but I hope it will help some of you.

Good luck to all who are going to try this.

Marc

Thanks for the post, it was very informative. I’m actually about halfway into a “training till depressed” program right now because I realized that a family vacation is coming up and I won’t be able to train then so I might as well make that my recovery week.

I feel like absolute shit. The worst part about it is not even the muscle soreness, I’m pretty used to that by now. The all-around fatigued and shitty feeling is much worse.

Oh well, what doesn’t kill me makes me stronger, right?

What did you expect would happen when you didn’t do direct arm work?

Seriously all it proves is your arm training was ineffective.

Contrary to popular belief squats and milk don’t increase fucking biceps size, especially if you aren’t training biceps…

The CP and CW articles are great and as they’ve mentioned, nothing new.

This is how training still goes on in the various countries I’ve been too while out in Asia (since plane fare is so cheap from where I live). From the dank dungeon gyms of India and Pakistan to the slightly better gyms of Malaysia and China and all the way back to Afghanistan - people train till they simply cannot move, every joint aches, they can’t sleep and can’t lift anymore - then they quit, yes, literally quit - the bug gets the better of them because they start to look so much better and then repeat the whole damn process.

Overtraining is such an “American” concept - in the rest of the world, you’re just a lazy bastard :slight_smile:

Basically, training year round month after month is a pretty alien concept - and the physiques out here are very, very impressive considering they don’t have access to or care for American methods.

I’ve NEVER heard of it anywhere else - of course I haven’t been to the best Russian facilities yet (but have it planned for December) so we’ll see.

Amir

[quote]ill wrote:
What did you expect would happen when you didn’t do direct arm work?

Seriously all it proves is your arm training was ineffective.

Contrary to popular belief squats and milk don’t increase fucking biceps size, especially if you aren’t training biceps…[/quote]

gtfo

[quote]ill wrote:
What did you expect would happen when you didn’t do direct arm work?

Seriously all it proves is your arm training was ineffective.

Contrary to popular belief squats and milk don’t increase fucking biceps size, especially if you aren’t training biceps…[/quote]

Thank you!

I don’t know where the idea that leg workouts made your biceps bigger came from. Apparently people took the whole “squats produce a lot of GH and T” out of context. To the point where a leg movement would bulk up your arms, makes no fucking sense in my mind.

Thank you for taking the time to write that. How do your joints feel now? Do you think that it has hurt them long term or that they heal to better health after training? I know when I first started deadlifting I learned it from a guy who was 38 years old from Serbia and he would rest when life made him rest. Otherwise he was squatting and benching or deadlifting and benching along with assistance work everyday. He hardly ate protein, didn’t eat much food, drank every night and was a big mo fo who could dead 495lbs everyday of the week and I’d seen him dead 6 plates each side after some forced time off. I inevitably did the same and it got me deadlifting 405 within months. I remember waking up barely able to move and thinking I’ve got to go to the gym to work the pain out and I’d end up pulling a PR. It was sick and I loved it. I don’t know why I ever stopped training like that…

My joints have been fucked for several years and hurt worse all the time. I’m trying the 30 day program actually to try to help the joints…my thinking it is a unilateral only training and should help them. If it works out then I’ll keep going with the VHF training and resting. I’m 6ft 3in and 235lbs and am tired of being at this weight, I’m also tired of being in pain…

Great post IamMarqaos (good timing too with these articles coming out).

I’ve always been a believer in this type of training from time to time. How often do you think you could realistically do it? I’m interested in others thoughts as well.

I haven’t done it in a long time, but I recall being reluctant to redo this style of training until the memories of depression and insomnia faded.

My only issue with this is I do not like to be deppressed. I like to work hard, but…

[quote]ill wrote:
What did you expect would happen when you didn’t do direct arm work?

Seriously all it proves is your arm training was ineffective.

Contrary to popular belief squats and milk don’t increase fucking biceps size, especially if you aren’t training biceps…[/quote]

sigh…
what part of “I tried every program out there” or, “traditional specialization programs did not work” did you not get?

I never NOT trained my arms, I merely wanted to point out that heavy rows, presses, squats and deads, as well as extreme bulking didn’t do much for me when it came to my arms. Neither did arm programs comparable to what coach Thib suggests (no snub at him at all).

The only thing that realy took me to the next level is a very high frequency of training. The last 30 years bodybuilding has been about massive volume, once per week, for size and that doesn’t do anything for my arms.

Super high frequency was not something I had considered till Waterbury and now Poliquin mentions it as well and voila, I am closing in on 19 inch arms.

Great stuff, Marc. I’ve been thinking of doing something similar, and this is a great template. Thanks!

[quote]StandTall wrote:
Thank you for taking the time to write that. How do your joints feel now? Do you think that it has hurt them long term or that they heal to better health after training? I know when I first started deadlifting I learned it from a guy who was 38 years old from Serbia and he would rest when life made him rest. Otherwise he was squatting and benching or deadlifting and benching along with assistance work everyday. He hardly ate protein, didn’t eat much food, drank every night and was a big mo fo who could dead 495lbs everyday of the week and I’d seen him dead 6 plates each side after some forced time off. I inevitably did the same and it got me deadlifting 405 within months. I remember waking up barely able to move and thinking I’ve got to go to the gym to work the pain out and I’d end up pulling a PR. It was sick and I loved it. I don’t know why I ever stopped training like that…

My joints have been fucked for several years and hurt worse all the time. I’m trying the 30 day program actually to try to help the joints…my thinking it is a unilateral only training and should help them. If it works out then I’ll keep going with the VHF training and resting. I’m 6ft 3in and 235lbs and am tired of being at this weight, I’m also tired of being in pain…

[/quote]

My joints feel fine now, but it a while. The increases in strength I received from doing this program seem to really help too.

The nice thing about a lot of sessions a week is that you are trying a lot of different exercises. I found that floor presses are better for my joints but equal to my triceps, then rack lockouts for example. Skull crushers always hurt my elbows but decline db extensions do not.

Oftentimes we stick with the tried and true and do not use enough variety in out training. High Frequency training kind of forced me to look for different exercises.

At your height I would recommend trying elbows tucked in floor presses for triceps (let triceps touch ground, not elbows) or board presses if possible. Tate presses feel good to me as well both inclince and flat.

I have increased the width of my grip in the close grip BP slightly and started pressing straight up and down and that works too.

I agree that the 30 day plan and the exercises in it will help you. Based on Mike Boyle’s writings I started using more unilateral exercises in the last 5 months and the difference is amazing. Hip pain gone, knee pain 95% less, shoulders are perfectly fine and elbow is less (but still not where I want it to be).

Cool story of the guy who taught you the deadlift. My uncle trained a guy like that. He’d come to the gym at least twice a week drunk and still outlifted us all :slight_smile:

Good luck with the 30 day mass plan. Consider using some different exercises when you return to normal training, it did wonders for my joints and my size and strength have obviously benefited.

Marc

If anyone has read any of Stew Smith’s programs, he recommends something similar to up your push-up numbers. Do 150 in as few sets as possible for 10 days, then 5 days rest. Interesting. . .

[quote]Ruggerlife wrote:
Great post IamMarqaos (good timing too with these articles coming out).

I’ve always been a believer in this type of training from time to time. How often do you think you could realistically do it? I’m interested in others thoughts as well.

I haven’t done it in a long time, but I recall being reluctant to redo this style of training until the memories of depression and insomnia faded.[/quote]

I think that taking it to this degree, till depressed, is only needed to overcome a real bad plateau so perhaps 1-2 times per year IF you handle being depressed well.

My arms really needed this. After working out for 25 years and trying everything out there and not have them 20 inches obviously they needed something extremely drastic. How many people really need to do something drastic like this to get a muscle to grow?

Unless you are in a similar situation as I was I would recommend to do it once, as an experiment maybe.

Waterbury’s 30 day mass program seems a much better option (I did my program before that was published) and you can do that several months out of the year.

Hope that helps,

Good luck with whatever you decide.

By the way, in regards to the memories of depression fading…that’s a great remark and people really need to consider that because it might effect your training for weeks or months after and then it is certainly NOT worth doing this program.

Anybody with a history of battling depression should stay away from this and not even think of it.

Marc

[quote]pat36 wrote:
My only issue with this is I do not like to be deppressed. I like to work hard, but…[/quote]

Then I recommend you NOT do it. THere are many ways to apply the principles of what Charles is suggesting here.

The 30 day mass program is great.

Chad’s ultimate Triceps program is build around overreach and rebound and so is Alessi’s article “20lbs of untapped muscle”.

Check those out.

Good luck!

IamMarqaos,

Can you tell some good exercises, uniteral if possible, good for building the chest? Seems to me like floor-presses etc are best for the triceps.

[quote]Misterhamper wrote:
IamMarqaos,

Can you tell some good exercises, uniteral if possible, good for building the chest? Seems to me like floor-presses etc are best for the triceps.[/quote]

Elbow tucked IN is mostly triceps. Elbows flared out (see the pic in Waterbury’s latest article), I found, is mostly chest. This goes for both barbell and dumbell.

So if you want a unilateral exercise try to do elbows out, NOT letting the elbow touch the floor, only the triceps (adding a slight pause in the position really helps too).

Of course you can do one arm presses, and flyes, with elbows flared out on a flat, incline and decline bench.

I like lean away (try to get as horizontal as possible) dips too. I learned the movement from a gymnast. Great core exercise as well.

One arm push ups (feet really wide) are great too but you might have to work up to that.

I recently bought the Blast Straps from Dave Tate’s site and do push ups and dips that way and boy does that add a twist to chest traning.

Of course cable crossovers with one arm are possible but load might be an issue.

Hope that helps.

Thanks for the reply. Yeah he is still one of my best friends. At the time he was about 5ft 10in and 230lbs big fella. He is still in great shape.

I’m looking forward to seeing what happens and will try your suggestions, I appreciate the thread and responses.

BTW some people are idots here, don’t wrry about the people that don’t read a whole post or who focus on one thing you say and don’t have the ability to descern the message. You see it all the time in the response to the authors too. :slight_smile:

[quote]IamMarqaos wrote:

My joints feel fine now, but it a while. The increases in strength I received from doing this program seem to really help too.

The nice thing about a lot of sessions a week is that you are trying a lot of different exercises. I found that floor presses are better for my joints but equal to my triceps, then rack lockouts for example. Skull crushers always hurt my elbows but decline db extensions do not.

Oftentimes we stick with the tried and true and do not use enough variety in out training. High Frequency training kind of forced me to look for different exercises.

At your height I would recommend trying elbows tucked in floor presses for triceps (let triceps touch ground, not elbows) or board presses if possible. Tate presses feel good to me as well both inclince and flat.

I have increased the width of my grip in the close grip BP slightly and started pressing straight up and down and that works too.

I agree that the 30 day plan and the exercises in it will help you. Based on Mike Boyle’s writings I started using more unilateral exercises in the last 5 months and the difference is amazing. Hip pain gone, knee pain 95% less, shoulders are perfectly fine and elbow is less (but still not where I want it to be).

Cool story of the guy who taught you the deadlift. My uncle trained a guy like that. He’d come to the gym at least twice a week drunk and still outlifted us all :slight_smile:

Good luck with the 30 day mass plan. Consider using some different exercises when you return to normal training, it did wonders for my joints and my size and strength have obviously benefited.

Marc[/quote]

It only lasts about a week and if you take a week off you feel great.

Just something to think about.

[quote]pat36 wrote:
My only issue with this is I do not like to be deppressed. I like to work hard, but…[/quote]

[quote]IamMarqaos wrote:
Misterhamper wrote:
IamMarqaos,

Can you tell some good exercises, uniteral if possible, good for building the chest? Seems to me like floor-presses etc are best for the triceps.

Elbow tucked IN is mostly triceps. Elbows flared out (see the pic in Waterbury’s latest article), I found, is mostly chest. This goes for both barbell and dumbell.

So if you want a unilateral exercise try to do elbows out, NOT letting the elbow touch the floor, only the triceps (adding a slight pause in the position really helps too).

Of course you can do one arm presses, and flyes, with elbows flared out on a flat, incline and decline bench.

I like lean away (try to get as horizontal as possible) dips too. I learned the movement from a gymnast. Great core exercise as well.

One arm push ups (feet really wide) are great too but you might have to work up to that.

I recently bought the Blast Straps from Dave Tate’s site and do push ups and dips that way and boy does that add a twist to chest traning.

Of course cable crossovers with one arm are possible but load might be an issue.

Hope that helps.[/quote]

Thanks for the response. :slight_smile:

But isn’t it bad for the shoulder-joints to ‘bench’ with flared-out elbows, and flyes too? Isn’t it bad too, even with uniteral work? Guess I’ll have to try it out, but would love your response to it too.