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Weight training and nonlinear periodization

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  • Weight training and nonlinear periodization

    Anyone here using this in your programming? This is when you train across various rep ranges to allow for different kinds of adaption. Say one workout you do sets of five then the next sets of twelve and then the following sets of eight. That kind of thing. Of course you need a calculator/chart to pick your working weights so they are based on the same 1 rep max.

  • #2
    Actually the first workout I ever did was 10-8-6 or something like that.

    Bottom line for me was always effort. One in the tank ain't bad, but if I could get two more it was time to move the weight up. I'm not much for calculators in the weight room. Anyway, yeah its a fine idea and there are lots of variations. Like 5-3-1 has the ancillary work in the higher rep zones.

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    • #3
      I do a bastardized version of 5/3/1. The first week is sets of 5, and the second involves working up to a max single. The first week stresses my body enough for it to adapt and become stronger.
      In matters of style, swim with the current. In matters of principle, stand like a rock.

      This message has been intercepted by the NSA, the only branch of government that listens.

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      • #4
        Originally posted by StupidFatHobbit View Post
        Anyone here using this in your programming? This is when you train across various rep ranges to allow for different kinds of adaption. Say one workout you do sets of five then the next sets of twelve and then the following sets of eight. That kind of thing. Of course you need a calculator/chart to pick your working weights so they are based on the same 1 rep max.
        Most intermediate programs use non-linear progressions. Cube, Conjugate, 5/3/1....
        The Champagne of Beards

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        • #5
          I do sets of five all the time, but some days it's more sets of 5 than others. The more sets of 5, the lighter the weight. It's nice to have a day when the weight isn't so darn heavy and it's nice to have a day when I don't have to kill myself with so much volume. And it keeps my mind off all the stress of thinking every single freaking time I go in there I have to lift more than last time.
          Female, 5'3", 50, Max squat: 202.5lbs. Max deadlift: 225 x 3.

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          • #6
            Originally posted by sbhikes View Post
            I do sets of five all the time, but some days it's more sets of 5 than others. The more sets of 5, the lighter the weight. It's nice to have a day when the weight isn't so darn heavy and it's nice to have a day when I don't have to kill myself with so much volume. And it keeps my mind off all the stress of thinking every single freaking time I go in there I have to lift more than last time.
            Yeah, you can do sets of 5 and vary the intensity and volume too. Still non-linear.

            I'm going to switch to HLM once I stop hitting PR's on 5/1. I'll squat 3 sets of 5 each session, 3 sessions per week, but at different intensity levels (heavy, light, and medium) and organize my other lifts so that there's one day of all the relatively heavy lifts (heavy squats, bench press, deadlift), one day of light (80% weight squats, press, power cleans) and one day of medium (90% squats, paused deadlifts, heavy weighted dips) each week.
            The Champagne of Beards

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            • #7
              IMO I think you're trying to over think/engineer your workout. Gaining muscle is an adaptation to the body's perceived survival threat. Getting a tan is an adaptation to survival threat. How easily you tan or how easily you gain muscle is based upon your genetics.

              What matters most in the weight room is effort under load.
              Would I be putting a grain-feed cow on a fad diet if I took it out of the feedlot and put it on pasture eating the grass nature intended?

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              • #8
                Originally posted by Scott F View Post
                IMO I think you're trying to over think/engineer your workout. Gaining muscle is an adaptation to the body's perceived survival threat. Getting a tan is an adaptation to survival threat. How easily you tan or how easily you gain muscle is based upon your genetics.
                Yeah, and your level of tanning/training advancement.

                Originally posted by Scott F View Post
                What matters most in the weight room is effort under load.
                I agree with this, but you get to a point where you're lifting a significant enough percentage of your genetic potential that you'll overtrain if you overdo the effort every workout. That's one reason why non-linear or undulating linear periodization is useful (and, in some cases, absolutely necessary in order to continue to make progress).
                The Champagne of Beards

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by RichMahogany View Post
                  Yeah, and your level of tanning/training advancement.



                  I agree with this, but you get to a point where you're lifting a significant enough percentage of your genetic potential that you'll overtrain if you overdo the effort every workout. That's one reason why non-linear or undulating linear periodization is useful (and, in some cases, absolutely necessary in order to continue to make progress).
                  It depends on how often you work out. Myself, I average once to twice per week of weights, tops. Twice is two days in a row and then ~6 days off. If someone is really trying to push their training max then, yeah, occasionally/periodically push up the frequency to shock the body by over-reaching and then give it the down time to recover. But for longevity, over the years, I've watch trainees putting in too much volume from trying to over think (over plan) their weekly/monthly training routines. I used to train using planed personalization. All it really got me was overtrained, and that was probably due to paying more attention to the plan instead of how my body felt (including motivation to keep it up).

                  Today I use a primal paradigm to weight training. The body still thinks it's living in the ice age having to fight/struggle for survival. To build muscle I want it to believe it was in a battle for survival. So I hit the weights hard (HIT), and then by eating well send a signal to the body that there's plenty of quality calories (enough animal fat - hunting it good) out in the environment so that it can afford the extra muscle. Biologically, evolutionarily, there is no other reason for your body to put on extra muscle other then as a survival stagey. Muscle costs calories. Like Neckhammer said, Bottom line for me too was always effort [under load]. If I'm overtraining then I'm trying to, consistently, workout too often.
                  Would I be putting a grain-feed cow on a fad diet if I took it out of the feedlot and put it on pasture eating the grass nature intended?

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Scott F View Post
                    It depends on how often you work out. Myself, I average once to twice per week of weights, tops. Twice is two days in a row and then ~6 days off. If someone is really trying to push their training max then, yeah, occasionally/periodically push up the frequency to shock the body by over-reaching and then give it the down time to recover. But for longevity, over the years, I've watch trainees putting in too much volume from trying to over think (over plan) their weekly/monthly training routines. I used to train using planed personalization. All it really got me was overtrained, and that was probably due to paying more attention to the plan instead of how my body felt (including motivation to keep it up).

                    Today I use a primal paradigm to weight training. The body still thinks it's living in the ice age having to fight/struggle for survival. To build muscle I want it to believe it was in a battle for survival. So I hit the weights hard (HIT), and then by eating well send a signal to the body that there's plenty of quality calories (enough animal fat - hunting it good) out in the environment so that it can afford the extra muscle. Biologically, evolutionarily, there is no other reason for your body to put on extra muscle other then as a survival stagey. Muscle costs calories. Like Neckhammer said, Bottom line for me too was always effort [under load]. If I'm overtraining then I'm trying to, consistently, workout too often.
                    Interesting. Who do you think makes faster progress for longer, someone who works out once every 7-14 days, or one who works out 3 times/week according to a paradigm that's as appropriate as possible for his level of training advancement (linear periodization for a novice, undulating or non-linear microcycles for an intermediate, drawn out mesocycles for an advanced lifter)?

                    If you don't mind me asking, how much progress have you made since you started working out according to your current regimen?
                    The Champagne of Beards

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by RichMahogany View Post
                      Interesting. Who do you think makes faster progress for longer, someone who works out once every 7-14 days, or one who works out 3 times/week according to a paradigm that's as appropriate as possible for his level of training advancement (linear periodization for a novice, undulating or non-linear microcycles for an intermediate, drawn out mesocycles for an advanced lifter)?

                      If you don't mind me asking, how much progress have you made since you started working out according to your current regimen?
                      I began lifting at age 19 with a body weight of 175lbs. Today I'm 56 with a bodyweight of 205+ and BF not above 15%. I'd have to loose 10-15lbs to be at 10% (It'd mostly mean giving up 1-2 glasses of wine every night with cheese) At 19 I worked out 3 days per week according to CW and made noticeable gains within a month. Then I found Franco Columbu's Winning Body building book (https://encrypted-tbn3.gstatic.com/i...d2nK6wHqXDk9OH). I was hooked from the progress and Franco's split-routine made sense to my teenage mind. So I switched to his recommendations, ended up getting overtrained (nobody outside of professional bodybuilding had heard of steroids in the 1970s) and then a debilitation low back injury that sidelined my for more then a year. When I got back to lifting I was reading Mike Mentzer's stuff. Here was a Mr Universe working out less often and less volume in the gym than I had been doing. So I order his stuff out of curiosity. I've been doing some version of HIT ever since. Where I had stalled with Franco I was making gains with 4 days per week of HIT. I never did steriods. But even with 4 days per week I'd get overtrained and have to back off.

                      I just always had it in my head (CW) that he muscle needed to be worked at twice per week or decomposition would happen. Because I would overtrain I began backing off the intensity and experimenting with personalization. This is in my late 20s and early 30s. I can't remember the specifics. I was doing a lot of experimenting from stuff I'd read (which was mostly from magazines or the occasional book I'd buy since there was no internet) to keep from overtraining. None of the periodizations stand out in my mind because I didn't make any better progress.

                      The routine in which both a friend and I made the most muscle gains in the shortest time period (6 weeks) was using Ellington Darden's High Intensity Bodybuilding book. (I remember enough that I can pretty much outline the routine if you want it.) It was full body 3 days per week (so we were getting more rest days per month/week). In that 6 week period I gained 14lbs (my memory is is good when it comes to results) over that time period. At first I was gaining at a rate of about 2lbs per week. Before that I would've never believe that much muscle building per week was possible, esp without steroids. My friend (the gym owner) gained 16lbs. HIT was new to him. At the end of the first two weeks on this routine he weighted himself and then asked my "Are you gaining weight?" I said, "If your scales are right I'm up 4lbs." He was up 6lbs. My bodyweight went from 202lbs to 216lb of very noticeable muscle gains The problem is, it was still too much weekly volume to keep us from getting overtrained. And I can imagine readers saying to themselves right now "that's why you plan a periodization routine." Maybe/Maybe not.

                      I made my best strength gains when I was 47 years old workingout each body part only once per week on 3 days per week. I'd do chest, shoulders, and triceps on Mondays, Legs on Wednesdays, and back and biceps on Fridays. I got up to a 365lb bench doing a heck of a lot less volume training then I did in my 20s....when I was struggling to get over 300lb in the bench. At 47 I was warming up with 300lbs. Because of that low back injury early on and subsequent low back injuries that followed at work I don't/can't do heavy all out squats so I rely more on leg presses. What I learned, however, from the the Darden routine was that my legs responded much better to the 15-20 rep range. BTW I think I could've gotten better on the bench then 365 but my collar/shoulder joints went to hurting. Turns out I had arthritis in those joints from too much lifting earlier on. At the time I thought about this but...on a split routine of 4 days per week the shoulder joint is getting abuse every workout.

                      If you've ever listened to any of his youtube videos I sort of came down the same road as Dr Doug McGuff (https://www.youtube.com/results?sear...20mcguff&sm=12) . He was doing the Nautilus routine and "feeling like beat up dog shit" much of the time. Now he workouts once per week for 15 minutes. I think his Big 5 and Big 3 one-set per exercise workout is ok for most people but I think the body, generally/genetically, can handle a bit more. Today, my routine is compound workouts using his Big 5 with core work on, usually, Monday followed by a full-body workout again on Tuesday doing isolation work. For example, squats/leg press on Monday. Leg extension and leg curls on Tuesday. Then not weights until the next week.

                      How's that working for this 56 year old? I'm at 205lbs, people who know me are have a confused look when I tell them I only lift once or twice per week for 30 minutes or less. The only public weightlifting place near me is the local hospital's rehab. They sell month memberships of $30 per month or $5 per visit. They have good Cybex equipment, if you are familiar with it. I have my own equipment. My squat rack looks similar to yours. But I will occasionally go to the hospital as a change of pace. So I you are familiar with Cybex, except for the overhand pull down crunch machine, I max out all their Cybex equipment on the sets. The weightstacks need more weight to keep under 12 reps. On their 390lb leg press I usually quit at 25 reps because my heart rate is maxed. You asked about progress. When I lift I go more for feel. Does the weight feel heavy enough. I'm no longer interested in charting my progress. I can say, however, I've gotten stronger on the hospital's equipment. When I was younger it was macho-ego shit. Today my focus is fitness longevity/sustainability.
                      Last edited by Scott F; 01-14-2014, 04:52 PM.
                      Would I be putting a grain-feed cow on a fad diet if I took it out of the feedlot and put it on pasture eating the grass nature intended?

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                      • #12
                        I personally don't think it makes much difference with say doing sets of 5 reps as opposed to doing sets of 10-12 reps, the largest difference is made by varying the time under tension.

                        Now if you were to alternate sets of 5-10 with sets of 20-30.....now that is comparing apples to pears !

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                        • #13
                          I hope strength and tanning aren't linked in the individual. It's bad enough I'm female and old but I'm also blond haired, blue eyed.
                          Female, 5'3", 50, Max squat: 202.5lbs. Max deadlift: 225 x 3.

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by sbhikes View Post
                            I hope strength and tanning aren't linked in the individual. It's bad enough I'm female and old but I'm also blond haired, blue eyed.
                            So's the Governator. Complexion = irrelevant

                            @Scott F

                            Man, that's really cool to see how alternating programs have affected your results. I definitely believe in listening to the body as much as possible. One big issue I find is if I'm out of the gym for too long, I noticeably stiffen up. Even if I work light, I need to do something to keep my muscles and joints mobile. Have you had any issues with this or used any strategies to avoid it?

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                            • #15
                              I never really got stiff after a month layoff. Even though I thought I need to lift twice per week to make gains once I got to a point of overtraining and laid off I really did lose strength. Mike Mentzer once wrote about doing a worlds strongest man type completion and thought he needed to drop some bulk so he quite lifting. After a month of not lifting he thought he only lost a couple ponds.

                              I know the tanning analogy is used a lot but it works. Does it make sense to periodize your effort to get a tan? How well you respond to that specific stress is dependent upon your individual genetic potential. Being blonde and blue eyed I don't tan well. But, admittedly, I think I respond well to weight training. Some people, however or unfortunately, aren't going to respond to weights with the results they're looking for so they change up routines look for that edge.

                              With tanning you can see your genetic potential. In the book I mention, The Sports Gene (btw YouTube it), the author talks about distance runners who are similar builds with similar times at the beginning of the season will respond differently to the exact same training. Genetically gifted distance runners respond better from one training season to the next.
                              Would I be putting a grain-feed cow on a fad diet if I took it out of the feedlot and put it on pasture eating the grass nature intended?

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