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Type 3. Where Did I Go Wrong?

Hey CT, I became aware of his existence this year( I’m from Brazil). At that time I read almost all of your articles, around 90%!

I train for 7 years. Basically I always use the same exercises, I do not like changes, very anxious, my mind does not turn off when going to sleep, I stress easily. I believe to be type 3. However, I can not train lightweight, only heavy weights, low volume. I feel better this way.

I have always added weight to the bar progressively.

I’m a little strong because of my body weight (154lb)
Totally natural.

  • I trained 2x a week. (I already tried AB 3x in the week, ABC, pull / push but did not have good results)
  • I like 5~8 rep. I hate high repetitions. Except Squat x20
  • In most years I’ve built my body into a full-body AB 2x routine. ***
  • As a variation I tried a single routine repeated 2x in the week:
  • In the first workout of the week I would go to failure in the squat and deadlifting.
  • I always go beyond failure in the rest of the exercises.
  • I’ve always used only 1 set.
  • second practice of the week I stopped 3 rep before failure in all exercises. ***
  1. Full squat 1x20 (230lb) to failure.
  2. Pullup 1x8 (66lb added to the body) until failure. followed by 5 rep of forced negatives.
  3. Dip (66lb add to body) same technique of exercise 2 ****
  4. Deadlifting 1x6 (385lb) to failure.
  5. Incline Flye Dumbbell. 1x8 (57lb) failure and forced negatives.
  6. standing calf raises 1x (I usually do not count rep, I do not tolerate, using drop sets) total weight of the machine.

I progressed for 1 year. I immediately staggered. ***
I did not go to failure for a few weeks, it was not the solution.***
I started training 3x every 2 weeks. it was not the solution.***

I went back to my routine AB 2x (it was the routine I used over the years)


  1. squat
  2. Pullup
  3. Incline Dumbbell Flye


  1. Dip
  2. Deadlifting
  3. standing calf raises

(training methods were exactly the same, failures, forced negatives, rep, 1 set …)

-The first training of the week was heavy, until failure.
-The second workout was light, stopped 3 rep before failure.


*week 1
training A = heavy
training B = light

*week 2
training A = light
training B = heavy

Doing this training, I started to progress again and my weights went up, for a few weeks, soon after I began to regress! ***

I started training 1x a week in the AB routine. It worked in the beginning. soon after I began to regress.

I started training 1x every 9~10 days, even AB training. It worked for a while. And as always, I started to regress.

I was annoyed and decided to take a vacation. But I’ve never been back to training for 3 years.

Where did I go wrong?


er… actually try a Thib program exactly as written -his templates are never 2 days a week.
This below is a good start, also eat plenty and stop going to failure on big moves like deadlifts…

This is in large part your problem.

Going to failure should not be done on squats or deadlifts, much less by a type 3. It is complex to explainbut the end result is that the cortisol increase will be too high.

Going beyond failure can be done on some programs (see my Best Damn Workout for natural lifters) but for a type 3 understand that it might be too much to handle.

The only 1 set can work too, but as you progress you must increase volume to keep progressing.

I have written programs with only 1 work set per exercise, but they use a high frequency of training ( 6 sessionsper week) so the total weekly volume is higher.

Volume and frequency are inversely proportional. If you have low volume you must have a higher frequency past the beginner stage. If you have a lower frequency you must have more volume.

So at 2 sessions a week and 1 work set per exercise it is not almost impossible to give your body, at the level it is now at, enough volume to continue growing.

I doubt that. I’ve written about 500 articles on Tnation and around 200 on my own web site. I started writing articles for Tnation in (I think 1999). So unless you have read all my articles in the archive you have not read 90% of my articles.

Furthermore, the way you train is not even close to how I recommend people to train.

Hey Coach,

Speaking of,

I’ve started going back to some of your older stuff and reading them. I know this is a vague question so you can give a vague answer, but is there anything you don’t really agree with anymore? I know you’ve written an article or two about stuff you’ve moved away from, but would you say for the most part you still would recommend, say some of the programs you were putting out 15-20 years ago?

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The idea promoted by Mike Mentzer and some HIT advocate that when you start to stagnate it’s because you are overtraining and thus need to train less often is deeply flawed and does not respect human physiology.

See for natural trainees training frequency is important because the workout is the trigger that initiates protein synthesis. The more often you can trigger protein synthesis the more muscle you will build. By reducing training to once a week or even less frequently, the little amount of protein synthesis that you stimulate during your one workout will lead to a very small amount of muscle mass. But because you detrain for 7-9 days you actually lose your gains. What we call “gains” really are physiological adaptations. Adaptations are made by your body not to look better but to be able to face a stress… in the case of more muscle, we build the muscle so that if we are faced with hard physical work again we will have more muscle to be able to do it will less stress.

But if the stress issuper infrequent the body actually loses the adaptations because they are not often needed and the body doesn’t want to carry extra tissue for no reason.

Furthermore, Type 3 overproduce cortisol and cortisol is the hormone responsible for “getting rid” of the excess muscle. Not surprisingly decreasing frequenc made you lose muscle and strength.

The rule of progressive overload is that when you train with weights, your body gets used to it… better adapted. As a result it needs more stimulus to continue growing. This doesn’t only come from adding weight (because there is a limit to what we can add… even adding only 5lbs per week would mean gaining 250lbs on a lift per year, within 4 years we would all be benching 1000lbs) but also from increasing weekly workload/tonnage. This can be done either by doing more volume per session or more sessions (or a combination of both).

I’m not saying to do high volume training. Excessive volume is the no.1 enemy of natural lifters. But over time, as your body becomes better adapted to training, you need to increase the workload gradually. I like to increase frequency first.

While a Type 3 should not train more than 4x per week. You should have started to train 3x per week for a while (maybe a few months), that would have led to more gains, then to 4x per week. Once 4x per week led to stagnation you could have added a small amount of sets per workout. This would have been a veru gradual process, maybe taking you 2-3 years. But gains would have increased.

Instead you did the exact opposite.

Sure! Anybody who doesn’t evolve for 18 years in our field is an idiot!

I cannot pinpoint a specific article. But I used to recommend a lot more volume than I do now. I worked with elite athletes who had a very high tolerance for volume. Myself always tolerated volume very well as an olympic lifter; then I moved on to training bodybuilders who used drugs and who could also tolerate a shit ton of volume because of drugs. As might understand, it was easy for me to believe that everybody should do a high volume of work. So that’s what I wrote about.

But when I started working with average folks I learned that too much volume was one of the worst things to do.

I was in a weird situation in that right from the bat I started working with pro athletes and high level amateur athletes when I started out as a coach (got lucky). I moved on to regular Joes in the second half of my career. Which is the opposite of what most people do.

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thank you brother! I read this article !, I need to review my concepts!

I have always read and followed the methods of Arthur Jones, Ellington Darden, Stuart Mcrobert and John Christy.

So I learned that as you become stronger, you would get more damage from training, so you would need to decrease the volume and frequency to have an optimal recovery.

But I have reached the point where I need to review my methods and train again according to your ideas!

In this section, do you mean that I should have trained 3x and 4x a week using my full body routine?

my AB 4x routine or my “unique” routine repeated 4x a week?

Wow … this goes totally against everything I’ve been doing, it’s interesting.

or do you refer to the 4x pull / push routines? (I know you recommend it)

I was hoping to try this frequency with the routines I have been accustomed to doing for years. But I’m afraid it’s excessive.

It was incredible that you answered me with such a content, I am very happy and grateful. It’s a great learning experience. I’m going to print !!! thank you very much.

That’s just not true. As you gain experience your body is better adapted at handling physical stress and you need more work to continue progressing.

The body adapts to training by increasing its tolerance for exercise. So that if the same stress presents itself again it will not pose a stress anymore. So when you are more experienced your body is more adapted and the workout you did 1-2 years ago, does not represent a stress anymore and so there is no reason for the body to adapt.

Look at competitive lifter, they all add tonnage/volume as they gain experience.

The exception is when they reach a SUPER high level they might beed to lower the volume because the heavier weights represent a greater systemic stress. BUT very few people will get there.

Than I can’t help you because these authors preach almost the opposite of what I believe in. They make a good argument “in theory”, but it is just not physiologically accurate. If it were accurate, you have have continued progressing when you lowered frequency and volume… but the opposite happened.

It worked at first, when you were a beginner because the stimulus was high enough to promote adaptation. But as soon as your body was adapted to that level of stress you stopped progressing.

The big problem with people who try to go from HIT to volume training is that they do not make a gradual transition. They go from low frequency/low volume to high frequency/high volume and they crash and automatically assure that adding volume doesn’t work.

This is like going from kindergarder to university. It’s impossible to do it in one step and in a few weeks. It has to be done over years, step by step.

3x a week can be:

Day 1 - Whole body
Day 2 - Whole body
Day 3 - Whole body

Day 1 - Whole body
Day 2- Upper body
Day 3 - Lower body

*I believe that for maximum results your should train a muscle 2-3 times per week.

If you are training 4x a week you can do:

Day 1 - Lower body
Day 2 - Upper body
Day 3 - Lower body
Day 4 - Upper body

Day 1 - Push (quads, pecs, triceps, deltoids)
Day 2 - Pull (hamstrings,back, biceps, traps)
Day 3 - Push (quads, pecs, triceps, deltoids)
Day 4 - Pull (hamstrings,back, biceps, traps)

Actually, this is from an article (Ironman, John Little) where Mentzer laid out his “most productive” workout as relayed in 1993:

Workout 1 (Monday)

Leg extensions 1 x 6-8
Leg presses 1 x 6-8
Squats 1 x 6-8
Leg curls 2 x 6-8
Calf raises 2 x 6-8
Toe presses 1 x 6-8

Dumbbell flyes or pec deck 1-2 x 6-8
Incline presses 1-2 x 6-8
Dips 2 x 6-8

Pushdowns 1 x 6-8
Dips 1 x 6-8
Lying triceps extensions 2 x 6-8

Workout 2 (Wednesday)

Nautilus pullovers 2 x 6-8
Close-grip pulldowns 2 x 6-8
Bent-over barbell rows 2 x 6-8

Universal machine shrugs 2 x 6-8
Upright rows 2 x 6-8

Nautilus laterals 2 x 6-8
Nautilus presses 2 x 6-8
Rear-delt rows 2 x 6-8

Standing barbell curls 1 x 6-8
Concentration curls 2 x 6-8

That’s about 18 work sets and he performed it every other day (not 3 days per week but 7 workouts in 2 weeks). It is also practically a push/pull split although he did only 2 work sets for hamstrings and put them with quads, chest and triceps on day 1.

That works out to about 63 work sets every 7 days.

BTW a friend of mine was trained by Mentzer during his peak. And Mentzer would actually do SEVERAL “warm-up” sets prior to his all-out sets. While they were not to failure they were heavy and close to failure and would be defined by most as “work sets”. He simply only counted the sets where he went to failure as work sets. He also trained 3 and even 4 days a week during his prime as a bodybuilder. He invented his Heavy Duty methodlogy only after he was done competing.

But interesting to see that he used the same split as I did.

interesting … could you give me an example of this super high level?

in theory, when doing my one-time 2x workout in the week, I trained the muscle at the same frequency as upper / lower 4x or pull / push 4x a week.

but from what I understood of his articles, in practice it is not the same thing, by the factor of stimulating the protein synthesis.

although the muscle was trained at the same frequency / volume, it would be 2 days of stimulation for protein synthesis vs 4 days.

I did heavy duty in the past, for a few weeks … I had only been training for 1 year

it was “exactly” that training that you posted, but divided into 3 workouts. training 1 monday, training 2 Wednesday and training 3 Friday.

2x relatively heavy “heating” sets.
1x set to failure.

I remember that I lost 8lbs

this was my first experience with a high intensity workout.

but interesting that I became stronger, I increased considerably the load in all exercises.

From there, I met the methodology fullbody / hit … and I followed until the last day that I trained.

really. I once saw a video in which he made several heavy heating sets. but only disclosed a single set to failure.