T Nation

When To End a Session


CT, I know you have mentioned in the past that a workout should NOT be a "checklist" of sets/reps/exercises to do, but should accomplish a specifc goal (stimulate without exceeding your capacity to recover).

I have to admit that because of the way the layers are set up (Ramp, 3 clusters, 3 HDL for example) I often have been guilty of doing all the sets/reps even if I am feeling more and more run down or performance is dropping dramatically as the sets go on.

I have noticed that if I finish the session even when I am getting more and more "drained" towards the end, the workout the following day(s) suffers.

Would it be wise to cut the workout short if I start to feel myself tip into that fatigued state? It doesn't happen often, but I think I'm finally learning my body well enough to know when it is happening. Seems kind of like an "on the fly deload" which, while a single training session might be cut short, would allow you to train for longer periods of time without accumulating unnecessary and detrimental fatigue.


I’ve been doing the Layers for 4 weeks now…

If 1 part is causing issues, then I follow the below:

a) Rest longer to see whether I can recover (works sometimes)
b) Kick that part of the layer out and move to the next part
c) Call it a day and go home.

I follow the “do not grind” philosophy ; (though on 4,4,3,3,2,2,1,1 - I have been guilty of being so pig headed trying to complete LOL)


For me, this is a tough one. Maybe due to the fact that I am in the gym training no more than 45 min. after I wake up. I train around 4:45am but I know what you are talking about. While doing these layers, usually around week 3 or 4 of a cycle I just feel a bit weaker. Not really overtrained, but just not “right”. 1rm may decrease by 10 lbs. for that week.

BUT… I do think you have to distinguish that fine line between over-doing it and just wanting to pack up and leave because you don’t “feel it”. Sometimes we definitely just have to suck it up and push through that workout for the day (a mind over matter thing). Yet sometimes it’s a legit plea from the body (basically your body giving you the middle finger and saying, “the hell with you and your mind, I’m done”)

I tend to err, probably to a fault, on the side of pushing past what my mind says and busting out all specified sets/reps. Is this right? Probably not, but there is something to be said for committing to something and sticking with it even when the body isn’t fully cooperating.

Interestingly enough, I have only experienced strength decreases on the pressing movements, never on the high pulls. Possibly due to the fact that it’s next to impossible to “grind” out reps on the SGHP, while on the incline/decline tilt press you could take 5-6 seconds to push out that final rep.

Just my two cents Lonnie.


i seem to remember that when the CT first casme out with the layer it was the ramp, clusters, hdl.
we all did this with great gains.
CT had modified it because he said after about 4-6 weeks, it was for lack of better words "too much"
i think he then modified the hdl portion. then he came out with the 10 day mini cycle.
i suggest you read all of CT’s forum posts that were created by him. i think you will find very interesting info there.
all the best


@JBal - I’m trying to determine if its better to commit to the plan or pack it up every once in a while. I have only ever packed it up once, but I’m just starting to wonder after about 10 years of this stuff if its not a bit wiser to prioritize recovery a bit more and cut a set here and there if the body is obviously getting beat down.

Case in point, on some of the Extended Set HDL’s my reps will go something like 10-3, then 7-2, then 4-2 … Huge performance drops.

I’ve also noticed, now that I’ve done enough training cycles and come back around to 1RM’s, that the “quick” strength gains from the beginning have fizzled out and my strength is fluctuating much more than it used to. Just wondering what element I should change in order to get moving forward again, or if this is normal and should just keep on keepin’ on

@Dom - Thanks, I actually use the Hypertrophy layers which wave the HDL (Week one is 3 sets, week two is 2 sets, and week three is only 1 set).


Do you think it has anything to with your peri nutrition. I thought I remembered you saying you do Mag-10 pre and post workout. Could nutrition be a bit low for this type of training? I wonder myself because I have very limited funds to spend on supps.


@jbal: You know its funny you mentioned that but when I went from 3 Plazma intra workout to 2 servings my recovery wasn’t as good. I was doing the layer system with the Max Ramp, Clusters & HDL. But then again I was in a fat loss phase where my calories were much lower than usual so that would’ve been a factor but the cool thing was I was still able to break PRs on all my lifts.


I’m in to week 5 now, and i have found that the more I bust my ass to nail a killer max for the day, the quicker I burn out on the clusters and HDL. Kinda “duh” stuff here, but just something to think about I suppose. I have taken to really getting a lot out of the ramping phase, taking sometimes 12 attempts on the way up to a max i never thought I was capable of.

I can say this: those workouts turn into near physical impossibilities to complete rep for rep, but I feel like a fucking beast afterward. When my HDL peters out because my max was stupid heavy, I focus harder on the pump layer to fill in the volume that may have gone missing.

I guess I can also say this: the gains in my maxes have so far been nothing short of astounding to me. I added over 20kg to a 3RM in 3 weeks.


i had to discipline myself to not go overboard on the max portion. i do a lot of sets most of the time, but, i stop before i get to that grind reps.
i found that with this, the rest of the layers were more productive, and stimulating.


@ Silver Ace:

I little off topic but wanted to catch you… when you were doing the original strength layers and doing the “back down to 70% and ramp up to 2 RM / 3 RM” what weight jumps were you using…5lb, 10lb or 20lb?



When you go back down to 70% and start to ramp back up to 2 or 3rm, the weight jumps will be bigger. Only shoot for 4 or 5 ramp sets in order to hit your max. As CT has said, since the nervous system is already “turned on” from the initial ramp, there’s no reason to take another 8-12 sets to ramp to the 2/3rm. Saves both time and energy to focus more on the actual work/cluster sets.

Still waitin on the naked selfie!! LOL



LOL, love you.


…but yeah I’m going to ramp 20lbs. and then 10 and 5’s as get closer to RM on those babies. I was doing 10’s and 5’s and prob a bit too much work involved. Especially High Pull Days, those are d-r-a-i-n-i-n-g, and the 70% ramp was prob over taxing. Good to know.