Q&A – 17

Greetings. I hope everyone had a delightfully arousing week. It’s PR Friday, so post your training updates or weekly PR’s to the comments. I do read the comments and I like to see how everyone is doing and identifying any problems you may have in training (since I can address the topic in a post).

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This week started with a 70’s Big Female post discussing how to program pull-ups depending on the ability of the trainee. It was followed up by the strangely popular post that expresses irritation over bros in the gym and provides some ammunition to support why you train the way you do. On Wednesday we discussed shorter training sessions to maximize a positive hormonal response. Then on Thursday my mate Shannon Green from Australia showed us some strongman programming templates. Now let’s get on with the bloody Q&A.

Maslow asks:

Any recommendation for number of reps and sets for lat pull downs for a female who fits in that category? I’ve been having her do 3×8 with a weight that she can just barely do for 8 reps. I figured it’s important to build some mass in there so I did x8 instead of x5 but I don’t really know if that makes sense. Thank you.

Dear Maslow,

You’re doing it right. Girls in this area of adaptation — typically limited in lifting experience and can’t do a pull-up — will benefit from establishing some musculature. But since they are girls, they will increase musculature slowly, so they require an accumulated work load over a period of time to do it (guys are the same way, but faster). I like to implement a combination of higher and lower rep schemes in the same week to work both the hypertrophy and strength ranges respectively.

Note that using pull-downs (close grip or underhand) is a method I implement early on and try to transition into a progression like this post. I’ve even used some rowing machines (like the Hammer strength row) with girls who need upper back and shoulder musculature, but those girls eventually learned and perfected the barbell row and use it exclusively now.

karibot says:

Justin: A few weeks ago, I saw a bro testing his nose breaker 1 RM *on an Olympic platform*. That’s right. He put a BENCH (scrrrrrape) on the fucking platform.

Dear karibot,

There was a kid doing deadlifts with a trap with the large, iron 100 pound plates on a platform. The platform is one of those stupidly expensive ones with the nice glossy finish, and the octagon plates were destroying it. I stopped him and asked him to move it onto the rubber flooring since he was ruining the platform and, “If (he) ruined the platform, then I wouldn’t be able to use it. And that wouldn’t make me happy.”

iamperfet says:

I want to approach these squat rack curlers and tell them, ” Hey, there’s some set weight bars over there that you could easily curl and not take up the SQUAT rack.” I feel like they’d feel their pride was hurt and not respond well. Has anyone ever done this?

Dear iamperfect,

Yes. I do this. Two days ago a guy was in a squat rack doing some (shitty) rows with 135, and I said to myself, “Oh, fuck this.” I walked over and (respectfully) said, “Excuse me. Would you mind moving to this other rack? We need to squat and this rack is safer.” I get pissed off when people are doing stupid shit, but it’s usually out of ignorance, so I’m rarely a dickhead. The fact that I’m typically bigger than them usually results in a QED, but being nice about it will convince most strangers to do what you ask. If they didn’t, then I would politely explain a few points in support of what I want and need. If they denied me, which has never happened, I would acidly say something like, “Yeah, because taking a rack for fucking curls makes a lot of sense,” while walking away. I have no qualms about being a dickhead, especially with “stuff in the gym”, but I highly recommend that you are all respectful and nice first. While I never did stupid shit in a rack, never walked in front of anyone, and always squatted to depth, I still probably did stupid things years ago. Acting like a “lifting tough guy” only makes you as much of a douche as them.

gumbo asks:

Justin – you’ve mentioned ascending sets a few times (like with 3×3 for Press).

What do you think about a reverse pyramid set, like Martin Berkhan uses? You warm up, hit your top set, then drop the weight 10% and add another rep, then the drop the weight again and add another rep. Eg.: Squat 250×5, 225×6, 200×7. What sort of trainee might benefit from this?

I squatted 245 3×5 on a LP recently, but the heavy 3×5 sets across for squat just leave me with nothing in the tank, totally wiped out.

Dear gumbo,

I program descending sets as well as ascending sets, but the context of when I program them is dependent on the situation. It’s typically on a heavy where the lifter wants to be fresh for their heaviest set. However, the overall tonnage will typically be lower with descending sets because the weight typically has to drop lower. For example, if I do 190×5, 200×5, and then 210×5 on press, then my top (and final) set won’t be as heavy if I had done the heavy set first. However, if I did 215×5 or 220×5 first, I would probably not be able to do 200×5 as a second set. I would be safe in doing 190 or 195×5, but the 200×5 would may not go (I don’t know, I’ve never done it like this). The point is that the overall work load of the press will most likely be lower with descending sets compared to ascending sets.

Another example is Alex, Mike’s brother, who is getting ready for the Arnold. I wanted him to squat 550×2 last week, but he had mentioned how he had been using descending sets (I typically like ascending sets for powerlifters for several reasons). So he smoked 550×2 and then wasn’t able to double 530 (he singled it), and then doubled 510. If he had done ascending sets, he probably could have gone 520×2, 535×2, and 550×2. If he had done 20 pound jumps instead of 15 pound jumps, he could have gone 510×2, 530×2, then 550×2 — but he would have gotten the double at 530 instead of missing it due to doing 550×2 right before it. In that comparison, his tonnage would have only been different by one lift, but these things could matter in more advanced trainees.

criedthefox Says:


i’m not in the business of disagreeing with Doctors (most of the time), nor saying I want to spend 24 hours in a gym…but don’t bodybuilders spend hours in the gym doing like 260 sets of tricep work? They have no problems with building lean mass. GRANTED it helps that they’ve got syringes hanging from their ass…but what i’m saying is wouldn’t bodybuilders and their size and the fact that they’ve been training the way they have for decades be a pretty strong case against this doctors theory?

Dear criedthefox,

First, this isn’t just a “theory” from Dr. Pascuale; it’s been researched. How thoroughly and how much it can be generalized, I admit I don’t know (I don’t have access to a university style journal thing right now and I spent half an hour trying to find studies the other day, but this was something we talked about in class when I was in school). But despite the fact that we don’t have the literature review in front of our faces, you know that this is true to some extent because if you train for too long, you feel beat down.

Secondly, even though you pointed this out, I don’t think you fully appreciate this statement: the bodybuilders you are referencing are on fucking steroids. Again, I don’t care that they are and don’t look down on them for doing it, but the “hormonal” game is not the same for you as it is them. If we’re only looking at testosterone and growth hormone in response to short and intense training sessions (which would not be the only thing effected, mind you), and a bodybuilder is supplementing with one of those things, then his hormonal profile functions in a different way than you. If he has much higher amounts of testosterone artificially put into his body, then the normal drop off due to training won’t occur for him. That’s why when people are “on”, they don’t get tired, don’t get sore, and feel like they can train forever (depending on what they are using and stuff).

Supplementing hormones will definitely change how a hormone normally occurs naturally. C’mon man.

Content below this message is part of the update on 2/3/2012

bohdi asks:

Anyone have a good source from which to find weightlifting shoes with a half inch heal? Most of the places listed back from the previous 70sbig posts on shoes are not available anymore. Maybe I’m just an idiot but I am struggling to find a shoe with heal that isn’t 3/4 inch.

Dear bohdi,

This isn’t what you were asking, but the significance of a half inch heeled shoe is over exaggerated. Plenty of people are strong as a result of a 3/4 inch heel. If someone required less of a heel to improve deadlift mechanics, then they typically use a flat shoe or deadlift slippers (which are much less expensive). I wouldn’t stress over trying to find a shoe with these requirements. As for the gear FAQ, I just updated it. It’s painstakingly clear to me that you did no or absolutely little searching on this site or the internet. I forgive you.

strongerthanyesterday asks:

@Justin, whats the time frame for someone doing snatch, c&J and squat- is 15 ish minutes for each lift realistic as well? do you have any suggestions for tapering? I have a meet in two sundays and today I can do a light lift, on Friday I am gonna go heavy cuz I will be at a gym in california that I always max at and they have nice bars, so what do you suggest I do the last week before the comp. I was thinking only hit crisp medium weights early part of the week, then light crisp lifts on friday, rest sat, lift sunday. Also, anyone have any experience with keeping a pendlay bar in an open air area? I think I need to buy one cuz my york power bar is gonna break my wrist by not spinning, but I use it in an open air sunroom taht gets significant moisture and I dont want to ruin a nice bar. Maybe glenn could comment on this bad boy?

Dear strongerthanyesterday,

Training specifically for a goal will be different than a general approach for the “short session” emphasis. However, if you’re snatching and cleaning, then you should be able to do both of those in 45 minutes in an up tempo workout. This is why many weightlifters will have multiple sessions in a day with a 20 minute rest or breaking for lunch — they take advantage of the same principles that were laid out in the “short session” post. But, it just depends on the situation and the lifter.

Your plan for the meet is a good one. Some people are able to go fairly heavy early in the week while beginners would probably do well to hit successful medium weights to build confidence. You won’t get any stronger in the last week, but you can improve your ability by getting proper rest. Your plan to hit some light weights at the end of the week is a good one and is my standard approach for “newer” lifters. I also fully support Doogie’s comment that you have already seen.

As for keeping a bar, don’t leave it outside. It would still function decently enough (depending on it’s moisture exposure), but if you’re going to spend money and rely on it, then bring it inside and store it in a corner or a closet when not in use. There’s no sense in leaving it outside unless you sleep and live outside all of the time. If that’s the case, send us a video tour of your house.

willey asks:

He was saying to cut down on rest between sets (3-5mins on squats), but I’m routinely needing up to 7 mins on my work sets of squats, and I think I’m nearing the end of progress on SS.

Is it worth trying to throw in conditioning right now, or would that cause me to fail from too much training since I’m already struggling hard to keep progressing, or should I wait until I fail/rest/switch programs in order to throw in some conditioning work?

Dear willey,

Without the context of your program, you’ll obviously require the longer rest periods for your sets of squats to continue accomplishing your daily goal. If you’re almost done with the LP, then don’t worry about conditioning as it will inhibit necessary recovery. Sometimes in a linear progression, “failing” is just the end product of chronically going beyond the limit of what would be a “good stress” for the body. In other words, if you get to the point of finally failing after already doing several resets, it’s the result of too much stress and not enough recovery over a period of one to several weeks. This can be helpful from a psychological perspective (to learn what this feels like), but I’d rather avoid it as a programmer. With respect to the conditioning, just wait for the program adjustment. Don’t simply “rest” and try to continue your LP because it will only delay the inevitable, and natural, need to change the stress application.

A general point on the “shorter session” concept is that it will depend on the context of the program and goals. If you are prepping for a power meet or only care how strong your squat is, then yes, you should be fully rested. I thought I made this clear in the post. Instead, you guys that obviously need more rest should look to see how you can trim the fat off your workout. Are you fucking around talking to a friend for two minutes every five minutes? Are you just sitting around until you “feel” ready? If you start quantifying the length of time you spend resting and the length of the session, you’ll start to see how much time you waste. This may or may not be relevant to you. It is to me.

And lastly, a word on 5×5 in the Texas Method

Several people have asked and informed me that a lot of fellas are wanting an elaboration on what I meant when I referenced not being a fan of 5×5 on a TM. This isn’t a new concept, and I’ve mentioned it on this site a few times, but I can understand the confusion. I didn’t make a huge deal about wanting to decrease the volume in the Volume Day of a TM in the first e-book, but I did talk about it. I even gave examples of Chris doing 3×5. I purposely didn’t make a huge deal about it because it wasn’t the focus of the book. It is, however, the focus of the second e-book. I originally did not intend so much time to pass in between the release of the books, but it’s actually a good thing for the reader. There have been a handful of major changes I’ve made to the “advancing” chapters — things I would consider a “breakthrough” in how to program late stage intermediate lifters. It has given me more time to use trial and error from good and bad results.

With that being said, the e-book has been written, but I’m still in the editing process and updating some of the chapters. I’ve had unnecessary and necessary delays, but I also care about giving my customer a very good product. I can assure you that the content in this e-book blows the first one out of the water in terms of quality and applicability not just to TM users, but all intermediate level lifters (which includes pretty much everyone here).

As for the drop of volume on the Volume Day, it is explained in very fine detail in this new e-book. There’s an entire chapter talking about why to do it. In the mean time, I suggest that has been using 5×5 for at least two months to start dropping it down. If you don’t want to, that’s fine. But I know that it works better, and all of the reasons — more than you could ever want — are in this next book. The results also speak very loudly. Mike’s brother Alex just squatted 550×2, Chris squatted 635×2 on his third double the other day and will hit between 650 and 665 at the Arnold. Mike has done around 550×2 and will hit around 585 at the Arnold despite having to do a PT test in the last month. In any case, decrease the total volume and see what happens (if you need specifics, use 3×5, or if you’re scared, use ascending 5×5 with 20 pound jumps or something). If you’re training for a powerlifting, you’ll get a huge boner over the content in the next e-book.

With that being said, I will re-double my efforts to finish the text and get it to you. I’m excited for everyone to see and use it — it will be one of the most useful things I’ve ever written.

Have a good weekend. Who do you have in the Super Bowl? Follow Facebook or Twitter for discussions on it.

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