Sunday, February 28, 2016

The Two-Barbell "Plus" Program

High-Frequency Training for Muscle and Strength with the Two-Barbell "Plus" Program

Matthew Sloan demonstrates more lean muscle built with HFT

     This is part of my on-going series on how to build muscle and strength fast by using low-rep, multi-set, high-frequency training.  If you haven't read my other, recent posts on the subject, you may want to do so before continuing with this article.  If not, then this article certainly stands on its own two feet.

The Two-Barbell "Plus" Program
     This program begins with its starting point something that I have, in the past, called the "two-barbell rule".  (Others, such as Dan John, have certainly written about it as well.)  The two-barbell "rule" says this: at the start of any workout, begin with two barbell exercises before proceeding to anything else.  I recommend using it in conjunction with my "Big 5" rules.  In summary, even though I have discussed this a lot lately, the Big 5 rules go something like this:
  1. At each workout, squat something heavy.
  2. At each workout, press something heavy overhead.
  3. At each workout, pick up heavy stuff off the ground—barbells, dumbbells, sandbags, kegs, you name it.
  4. At each workout, drag or carry stuff for time or distance.  This generally means farmer's walks, sandbag carries, sled dragging, or the like.
  5. Eat a lot of calorie-laden, nutrient-dense food each and every day.
     If you were to combine the two-barbell rule with the Big 5 rule, a couple of workouts might look something like this:

Workout A: barbell squats, power snatches, dumbbell overhead presses, and sandbag carries

Workout B: power cleans, deadlifts, one-arm dumbbell snatches, farmer's walks

     Of course, a couple of workouts in a row would look the same way even using a "3 to 5" style program as discussed in my previous HFT post.  The key with the "two-barbell workout" is this: at each workout, the beginning two barbell exercises are going to be performed for multiple sets of each exercise.  After they are performed, feel free to stop the workout with these two exercises, or add another one, two, or (at the most) three exercises.  But the third exercise (onward) would all be performed with minimal sets.
     This program is great for those of you who like to spend more time in a workout doing more quality sets per exercise, and those of you who generally like to do one or two exercises in a workout anyway.  I, for instance, personally favor this kind of program.  Especially if I'm trying to focus on getting really strong on just one or two exercises.  (All of you powerlifters out there, or, especially, you push-pull lifters, this would mean you.)  This is also the kind of workout that would generally be favored by Olympic weightlifters, who need a LOT of work on back squats, front squats, and the two Olympic lifts themselves.
     Keep the first two exercises at an average of 8 sets each if you decided to utilize this program.  Take your time in working up in weight to a top set, or a top sequence of sets.
     Here is what I have in mind for an example workout:

1. Squats: 5 sets of 5 reps (adding weight with each subsequent set), followed by 3 sets of 3 reps with a weight slightly heavier than the top 5-rep set.
2. Power Cleans: 5 sets of 3 reps (adding weight with each set), followed by 3 sets of 2 reps, with a weight slightly heavier than the top 3-rep set.

     At this point, you could certainly stop the workout, or feel free to add an exercise or two at the end of it.  Any additional exercises performed would only be done so for a couple sets of each exercise, with rep ranges in the 6 to 8 range.  None of these sets should be taken to failure, but they should be close, within a rep or two of reaching momentary muscular failure.
     Train as many days in a row as you want before taking a day off.  As with most HFT programs, you want to train a minimum of 5 days each week.  If you don't mind being spontaneous in your training, then just take the day off whenever you feel as if you need it, or just whenever "life" gets in the way of things.  If you prefer a more regimented training schedule, then I recommend beginning with a 3-on, 1-off system, and just adjust things from there.  (It could be a 4-on, 1-off is better for some people, whereas others—low-volume lifters, as I refer to them—would benefit more from a 2-on, 1-off schedule, but the 3 day program is a good starting point for most.)
     Here is an example of 3 days of workouts to give you an idea of what a series of workouts should look like:

Day One: 
1. Squats: 8 sets of 5 to 3 reps
2. Power Cleans: 8 sets of 3 to 2 reps
3. Chins: 2 sets taken almost to failure, using bodyweight
4. Dips: 2 sets of 6 to 8 reps

Day Two:
1. Deadlifts: 8 sets of 3 to 2 reps
2. Bench Presses: 8 sets of 5 to 3 reps
3. Farmer's Walks: 2 sets for distance

Day Three:
1. Squats: 8 sets of 5 to 3 reps
2. Push Presses: 8 sets of 5 to 3 reps
3. One-Arm Dumbbell Rows: 2 sets of 6 to 8 reps

     Your strength level would depend on just how high you push your first two-barbell exercises in terms of sets.  For those of you who are really strong, you may need 12 or more sets before you are finished.
     Also, advanced lifters may want to eventually do some "back-off" work with this kind of program. If, for instance, you work up to a max triple on an exercise, and that takes you 11 sets, then you might finish off with 5 sets of 5 reps, or 2 sets of 8 reps—something such as this.  But save this for when you have the strength to make it worthwhile.  Otherwise, it will just cut into your recovery ability.

In the next HFT post, we will look at a program that uses multiple exercises (6 or greater) per workout.  Until then, come back to Integral Strength often for other, different articles, and don't forget: train hard first, eat big second, and read a lot of articles here third!

Sunday, February 21, 2016

The Big 3

Manipulating the Three Primary Training Variables for Awesome Results and Quick Muscle Mass Gains

by Matthew Sloan

C.S.'s note: While editing this short article of my son's, I resisted the urge to make a few changes.  I will let Matthew's thoughts speak for themselves, and, in the future, he and I will both write a more in-depth article—or a series of articles—on styles of workouts that "work" when the 3 variables are properly manipulated.

Matthew Sloan demonstrates the lean muscle mass he has developed while practicing what he preaches.

     Anyone who is serious about getting real results from training(whether it’s strength or muscle gains), should be following an effective training program.  (As my father has often written—quoting the late, great Vince Gironda: "Are you on a training program, or are you just working out?") There are countless programs out there, and they are all different in their own unique ways, but they all have one thing in common if they are to be effective. All effective training programs manipulate the three main training variables for specific purposes. These three variables would be Volume(the amount of work), Frequency( how often a lift or muscle group is being trained), and Intensity( how much weight is being lifted). All of these variables are important, and should be manipulated, depending on the results one wishes to achieve. So here are some advantages, disadvantages, and differences in each one, and how to correctly implement these three variables for optimal results.
Volume
      Let's talk volume first. High volume training is often used by bodybuilders and especially the “pros”. You often see guys in the gym training on a “bro split”( a program in which you train one body part a day, once a week). Guys will come in on Monday, better known as “national chest day”, and completely annihilate their chest by doing anywhere from 20-30 sets. Unfortunately, for natural lifters (especially beginners) this type of training is very ineffective due to the inability to recover, resulting in a very low frequency of training (training a body part or lift once a week). As the great Lee Haney once said, “Stimulate, don't annihilate”.  Inability to recover quick enough is the main disadvantage to high volume training, but what if you could recover quickly from a lot of volume? That question brings us to the effectiveness of high-volume training. High-volume training is very useful—and effective—for those who have high work-capacity or good genetics. Not all of us will have “good genetics” but all of us can increase our work capacity, allowing us to progressively increase the volume of our workouts. This is the key to the variable of volume, it is simply just a “weapon in your arsenal” to progressively overload your muscles. Progressively increase your volume over a span of time, give your body time to recover, remember to stimulate a muscle and not always annihilate it, and you will have the variable of volume mastered.
Frequency
     The next main training variable is frequency. Frequency goes hand in hand with volume because when one of them is high, the other is usually low. You rarely see a program training high frequency, high volume, and low intensity. Using a high frequency training program is what I personally believe to be the most effective way for most people to train. It is very effective because of one key reason: muscle protein synthesis. Whenever a muscle is stimulated, protein muscle synthesis is “started” and lasts for 48-72 hours. This is very important because muscle simply grows during this process, so wouldn't it be beneficial if your muscles were undergoing muscle protein synthesis all the time? This is possible if you are training a muscle 3-4 times a week, in other words: high-frequency training! It is simply better to stimulate the muscle more frequently rather than “annihilating” a muscle less frequently. 
Intensity
     The intensity variable is the most difficult variable to master, in my opinion. It is difficult because there is only one way in which you can ensure that you are using the correct amount of weight your program calls for based off of your set/rep scheme. This is by using a percentage-based program (this system uses percentages of your max lifts to determine the amount of weight that should be used).  (C.S.'s note: I generally loathe percentage-based systems—for more on reasons why, search some of my past articles that deal with H-L-M training, or Westside-style workouts.)  This system is effective, but very complicated, and unless you're an advanced lifter, your max lifts can change often (I will do an article purely dedicated to percentage-based training in the future). So what would a high-intensity training program look like? Something such as this: 10 sets of 3 reps with 85-90% of your max, or it could be something such as a double-ramp style of training with the set/rep scheme like this: 2sx5r,3sx4r,4sx3r,5sx2r. Although this style of training is used by almost all powerlifters and strength athletes—predominately in Eastern European countries—it can also be used by bodybuilders if programmed correctly. (My father has multiple articles on Integral Strength about this type of training for bodybuilding.) The primary advantage to correct manipulation of the intensity variable is it allows you to easily overload your muscles. Simply increasing weight used on your lifts every 1-2 workouts is a simple and effective way to progressively overload your muscles. Monitor your intensity and manipulate it in accordance with your volume and frequency, and you will continue to grow and make “all kinds of gains”!


Monday, February 15, 2016

It Came From the '90s: Brooks D. Kubik's Dinosaur Training

Build Massive Arm Size and Strength with this Singles-Oriented Dinosaur Program


The great Bill Pearl demonstrates just the kind of mass that is built with classic, basic "Dinosaur-style" training.

     It really doesn't seem that long ago.  The '90s, though seemingly in a distant past for many younger lifters these days, seems as if it was just yesterday for me.
     In the late '80s, early '90s, I got serious about weight training, and I spent the first seven years of the decade, or so, performing bodybuilding workouts.
     I was a bodybuilding addict.  I tried almost every form of bodybuilding training under the sun, while also attempting a hell of a lot of different diets and supplements.  (Supplements, for the most part, didn't get "advanced" until the early '00s—when creatine came on the scene mid '90s, it was absolutely revelatory, and it relegated all other supplements to sub-par status.)  (Some of those other forms of training and dieting, I've already mentioned in other "It Came from the '90s" posts, so please pilfer through this blog if you're interested in them.)
     But in the late '90s—1997, to be precise—it all shifted for me.  I began training at a hole-in-the-wall, hardcore, chalk-slinging "lifters" gym in backwoods Mississippi, where my wife and I had just moved due to her job relocation.  (I made most of my money at the time from training others, and from writing, so it mattered not where, geographically, I lived.)  At this new gym, I had no intention of ever doing anything other than bodybuilding, but the gods of power-building, powerlifting, Olympic lifting, and strongman training saw my Fate as something other than that—and from seemingly nowhere was bestowed upon me the desire—and, soon, the knowledge—to move some seriously heavy iron, with physique aesthetics soon a distant memory.
     The gym had very little other than heavy barbells and dumbbells (it had a pair of 180-pound "homemade" dumbbells that I was dead-set on benching for at least a triple), paired with more than a few lifting platforms and heavy-duty squat racks.
     The lifting gods were kind in their quick grace—a veteran lifter handed me a copy of Brooks D. Kubik's "Dinosaur Training: The Lost Secrets of Strength and Development", published just a year before in 1996, and a binder full of "Westside Barbell" articles photocopied from magazines, and printed off the internet.  (The internet was in its infancy.  I didn't even have access to the internet at the time, and, in a few months, when I finally did, everything was slow as hell—it was all "dial-up.")
     I hardly ever looked back.  Although I "played around" with bodybuilding training off-and-on, and continued to write some bodybuilding articles, I have, more or less, been a serious strength trainer ever since.  I competed in multiple powerlifting meets for the next 10 years or so, and published more articles than ever before due to my "innovative" strength articles, which were really nothing more than re-hashed stuff from old-time lifters, bodybuilders, power-builders, and strongmen.

Enter the Dinosaur
     As the years went by, I achieved the most results by using "hybrid" Westside workouts, and, eventually, Russian-style programs that I found to be hands-down the best for elite, and advanced, lifters.
     But for the first two or three years, until around 1999, I built all of my base strength and power with programs decidedly similar to, and inspired by, those found within the pages of "Dinosaur Training."  This training is the best "style" for the vast majority of beginning and intermediate lifters.  In fact, if you're not going to use Bill Starr's basic programs, then you can't go wrong using one of Kubik's basic-as-hell, but also tough-as-nails programs.
     Actually, there are quite a few programs that fit under the guise of "Dinosaur Training", but one of my favorite programs of his is the "Dinosaur Arm Training" that was first featured in the May, 1998 issue of IronMan Magazine.
     Use as written, and I can guarantee bigger, thicker, stronger, and more dense arm muscles as a result.
C.S. does some farmer's walks—one of the mainstays of all of Brooks Kubik's Dinosaur Training programs.


Dinosaur Arm Training Program
     Here is Kubik's advice, in his own words, from the pages of IronMan:
     "Unless otherwise indicated, do three progressively heavier warmup sets, followed by three work sets with your top weight.  Train on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday."

Day One
Aerobic warmup x5-10 minutes
Parallel Squats  6x5
Bench Presses  6x5
Lat Pulldowns or
   Weighted Chins  6x5
Bottom-Position Close-Grip Bench Presses  6x5*
Sandbag or Thick-Bar Curls  6x5

Day Two
Aerobic warmup x5-10 minutes
Bottom-Position Close-Grip Bench Presses  5-6x1*
Thick-Bar Curls  5-6x1
Sandbag or Barbell Overhead Presses  5x failure
Sandbag or Thick-Bar Curls  5x failure
Hang from Chinning Bar  1x failure

Day Three
Aerobic warmup x5-10 minutes
Deadlifts, Stiff-Leg Deadlifts, Partial Deadlifts,    Dumbbell Deadlifts, or Power Cleans  6x5
Incline Dumbbell Presses, Flat Bench Thick-Bar    Presses, Flat Bench Dumbbell Presses, or Dips  6x5
Hammer Curls  6x5**
Bench Press Lockouts  6x5*
Farmer's Walk  1-2x failure
  or Sandbag Walk  2-3x failure
C.S. lifts over 500 pounds—and the pain shows!


*Performed with a thick-bar in a power rack.

**Preferrably using thick-handled dumbbbells.





Sources:
"Dinosaur Training: The Secrets to Building Jurassic Size and Strength," by Brooks D. Kubik.  May, 1998 issue of IronMan Magazine

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Where Pharaohs Go to Die!


My Dramatic Transformation Principle Experience

by Jared Smith


Jared demonstrates some of the mass he's built using the principles in this article.


There are things in this world that can never be eclipsed. Upon the sands of a fallen empire—and in the ruins of rust-covered gyms around the world—they will forever be. The pyramids have been a symbol of power and mystique not just for the Pharaohs of old, but for every gym rat and serious bodybuilder to ever grasp a barbell. Though some things stand the test of time and cannot be replaced, they can be learned from and, thus, improved upon.

Most bodybuilders who have trained for even a short period of time, have performed a standard pyramid. Starting with a higher number of reps and building up to an apex, the pyramid usually ends there. Unfortunately, this is short changing potential gains in hypertrophy. Once the apex is reached, the nervous system is primed and ready for intense muscular contraction. The heaviest set serves as the "switch" that turns on the machine. With the nervous system excited, you can now squeeze that muscle as if it owes you money. After all, a pyramid doesn’t have only one side.

For a long time I used “heavy drops” to get more out of my heavier workouts. During these sessions, I would build up to my apex set, drop the weight after a sufficient rest period, and perform higher rep sets—this worked like a charm for a while. Like anything else, this does not work forever and, so, must be tweaked. Thanks to a man named Kris Gethin, I found a program that would allow me to (a) flood the muscle with blood and (b) move some intense iron at the same time.

If you are familiar with some of my other articles here at Integral Strength,you know that I am a huge proponent of priming a muscle then pumping it into oblivion. The style of training I am about to describe will do just that—and then some! This will promote sarcoplasmic expansion (cell swelling) like you wouldn’t believe, and test your threshold for pain.

Welcome to DTP! 
DTP, or Dramatic Transformation Principle, is based around picking just a couple of exercises for antagonistic body parts, and working them into the ground. You will construct one side of the pyramid, starting with anywhere from thirty to fifty reps and building up to an apex of ten to five, while increasing rest periods after each successive set. Upon completion of that, you then build the other side of the pyramid, starting with another heavier set, then going back down in weight with each set, decreasing the rest periods as you go.

Why it works!
The harder the contraction the better, and without a primed central nervous system, this will never be maximized. The first set will act as a "wake-up call" to the nervous system and it will activate neurotransmitters. In addition to waking up the body, this will also promote blood flow to the connective tissues which will prevent injury. After the initial set, I guarantee your joints will feel "like a million bucks", so to speak, which will amp you up even more for the heavier sets to come. Though you may be sucking wind after performing a set of fifty, the pump will make you almost forget about the gasping, thus, making you want to tear into your next set!

There are some who will argue that the pump does not cause muscle growth, and they are correct. Yes, I said that! While they are correct, they are also wrong. There is not one singular mechanism that causes growth. Cell swelling is correlated with hypertrophy, but, then again, so is mechanical trauma. With this program, you get both, and the added safety of having the joints well prepared for the sets that will cause the trauma. The pump indirectly will cause growth due to the fact that it enhances your enthusiasm about training. Nothing will make you want to pound out some hard, heavy reps like feeling “swole’’!

Details of the Devastation 
Each of these “complete pyramids” will be performed with minimal rest between sets. After the first superset, you will rest for thirty seconds, then forty five, then a minute, then ninety seconds, and, finally, two minutes. Upon reaching the apex, you will rest two minutes, then begin going back down the other side, reversing this order. This will make it tougher as you go along. The lactic acid surge will be agonizing, and the pump will be almost unbearable, but if you get through it, you will experience a euphoria that can only come from completing a grueling session!

The Meat and Potatoes
Workout 1:
Chest/Back 
Superset one: Incline Dumbbell Presses/bent over dumbbell rows (to the waist)8x 30,20,10,5,5,10,20,30

Superset two: Flat dumbbell Presses/bent over dumbbell rows ( arms bent and raising out to your sides squeezing your scapula together torching those traps!) 8x 30,20,10,5,5,10,20,30

Decline sit-ups 5x Failure. The number of reps here is not important at all. Squeeze until they cramp on each set, regardless of how many reps that takes!

Workout 2: 
Legs
Leg Presses (feet low on platform and around 9 inches apart)/ calf raises 5x 50,40,30,20,10

Leg Presses (feet high on platform and shoulder width)/Calf raises 5x 10,20,30,40,50

Leg Raises 5x Failure. Performed in the same as previous ab workout.

Workout 3:
Shoulders/Traps
Behind the neck barbell Press(or in front, whichever you prefer.)/ Upright rows 5x 40,30,20,10,5

Seated dumbbell Arnold Press/Dumbbell Shrugs 5x 5,10,20,30,40

Workout 4:
Arms
Cable pushdowns/cable curls 5x40,30,20,10,5

Skull crushers/barbell curl 5x5,10,20,30,40

If you cannot complete the number of reps designated, don’t sweat it. Simply "rest-pause" until you’ve hit the numbers. You may have to go beyond failure a couple of times, and that is perfectly fine! This is not meant to be easy. Like the building of any monument, it will take tons of sweat and effort. The epic tombs of the Pharaohs weren’t built easily, and neither is a massive physique.

It is now time to go build your own monument. Approach this pyramid with the determination of a warrior-king riding into battle. Leave your sweat and blood upon the sands of the gym, and let any weakness within you die and be forever buried within this place…..where the Pharaohs go to die!


Friday, February 5, 2016

High-Frequency Training with the 3x5 Program

Build Muscle and Strength With This Basic 3x5 HFT Program!
Matthew Sloan—at just 16 years of age—has built plenty of lean muscle and an aesthetic physique using HFT programs almost exclusively

     After my last several posts on HFT, I thought it would be good—based on several emails that I have received, with readers pondering how to properly apply the HFT principles—if I did a few posts with specific methods of training.  These posts will take out more of the guesswork from planning, and then implementing, a HFT plan.
     Keep in mind that these programs are just examples.  You may need to make your own adjustments based on genetics, past training history, etc.  But, for the average lifter, these programs—as examples—will be good on setting you on the correct path.  Some of you may need more training, and some may need to be less, but stick with the programs as I recommend them before deciding that you need to make personal changes.
The 3x5 Program
     I like to (generally) begin a lifter on what I call the "3x5 program" when they first embark on HFT.  It's easy to program compared to some of the other programs (we will get to the other programs in future posts), and, for the most part, the lifter has less questions when employing it, and seems to "get in the groove" of training fairly quickly.
     The 3x5 program is simple.  Here are my "rules" when using it: 
     Train a minimum of 4 days per week, 5 to 6 will be even better.  When first starting on the program, I think that the easiest thing to do is train on a three-on, one-off program.  Once again, this takes all the guesswork out of training.  But, if you prefer more flexibility, then do as I recommended a few posts ago: just take a day off whenever "life" gets in the way.  The important thing, however, is to train frequently.  You will not be doing a whole lot of work at each training session—no matter what form of HFT you are using—and so it necessitates very frequent training.  4 days minimum, period.
     Use 3 to 5 exercises at each training session. Choose 3 to 5 exercises that work a wide range of movements and muscles.  I generally recommend a lower-body pulling exercise, a squatting exercise, an upper-body pulling exercise, an overhead pressing exercise, and an upper-body pushing exercise when using 5 exercises.  So, for instance, this might mean squats, deadlifts, chins, military presses, and bench presses on one training day, and front squats, power cleans, one-arm dumbbell rows, behind-the-neck presses, and weighted dips on another.  If you choose 4 exercises, then drop the upper-body pushing exercise, and if you do 3 exercises, then drop the upper body pushing exercise and the upper-body pulling exercise (but keep in mind that this is not a "hard" rule).  I would much rather one of my lifters—if he is using just 3 exercises—choose push-presses, deadlifts, and squats over deadlifts, bench presses, and chins, as an example.  (Feel free to throw in some barbell or dumbbell curls on some days, but just don't make direct arm training a daily thing.)
     Perform 3 to 5 sets, of 3 to 5 reps, on each exercise.  These sets should include "warm-ups".  Let's say that your first exercise of the day is the bottom-position squat, then your sets may look something such as this:
135x5
175x5
205x5
225x3
275x3
     The last set is the only one, in this instance, that is close to being all-out.  Use the same scheme, or something similar, on the other exercises.   Depending on how "big" the exercise is, however, depends on whether all of your sets are "ramps" (as above) or whether you fit in some "straight" sets as well.  So, let's say that your second exercise is chins, and, since most people can't use much weight on the exercise, your set/rep scheme may look like this:
bodyweight x 5
25 pounds (via weight belt) x 5
50 pounds x 3
50 pounds x 3
50 pounds x 3
     Also, keep in mind that you could do all of your sets with 5 reps—you don't have to go down to 3 reps on each exercise.  In fact, if you're after more muscle than strength, then it would probably be best to stick with 5 reps.  Keep in mind as well that you don't have to do 5 sets, either.  On some exercises, 3 will be plenty.  Program according to how you feel on each particular training day.
The Program on Paper
     Pretty simple and easy to program, huh?  However, just to make it even easier to understand, here is what several days of training may look like (please keep in mind, however, that this is just an example, too):

Monday:
Squats: 5x5
Deadlifts: 5x3-5
Behind-the-Neck Presses: 5x5
Weighted Dips: 5x3-5
Weighted Chins: 5x3-5

Tuesday:
Goblet Squats: 5x5
Power Cleans: 5x3
One-Arm Overhead Presses: 4x3-5

Wednesday:
Front Squats: 5x3-5
Power Snatches: 4x3
Military Presses: 5x3-5
Behind-the-Neck Chins: 3x5

Thursday:
Off

Friday:
Repeat Monday's workout

     At this point, you could repeat Tuesday and Wednesday's workout on the next couple of training days, or you could begin mixing in other exercises, or mix and match which days you do the above exercises.  But don't use too many different exercises—the less advanced you are, then the less exercises you need to use.  You should be constantly pushing for heavier and heavier weights on the last set of each exercise, and too many different exercises makes it hard to do that.
     If your goal is to really increase the weight on a certain exercise—as competitive powerlifters would need to do—then feel free to perform each exercise on each training day.  The more often you perform the exercise depends on the nature of how your body adapts to it.  You could squat at each training session, bench press at every-other training session, and deadlift at every third training session.

     In the next couple posts on HFT, I will go over a program that only uses one or two exercises in a training day, and another program that uses as many as 10 to 12 different exercises on each training day.
     Until then, train hard and frequent!

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

High-Frequency Training Trouble

Telltale Signs That Your High-Frequency Training Might Be Causing You Trouble!

     In my previous post, I listed some of the benefits of HFT (high-frequency training).  The benefits are great—trust me, and I don't want to discourage anyone from setting foot on the HFT path.  But, to be honest, this kind of training is always best utilized by lifters who know their bodies well, who understand when to push it hard and when it's time to back-off.
     This is not to say, of course, that HFT shouldn't be done by any lifters who are not advanced.  While it's not the form of training I recommend for the beginner—that would typically be 3-days-per-week, heavy-light-medium training—its perfectly fine for intermediate lifters.  (While I'm on the subject of "beginners" and "intermediate", realize that you are still a beginner if you haven't built an appreciable amount of muscle and/or strength, no matter how long you've trained—even if it's years.)  However, when lifters who are not advanced take up this form of training, I've noticed one of two things sometimes happen.  Either the lifter (a) doesn't push him/herself hard at all because he/she is concerned about "overtraining", performing such little work that they might as well not even train, or (b) the lifter goes overboard, and does too much training, leading to possible overtraining and/or injuries.
     What follows here is for our "b" lifters:
Bradley Steiner to the Rescue
Bradley Steiner on the cover of his training booklet "12 Keys to Bodybuilding Success".

     When I was younger—and when Iron Man Magazine still kicked ass in its sheer amount of training information—Bradley J. Steiner was one of my favorite authors to read.  His column, and occasional articles, were all informative in the pages of Iron Man, and were frequently entertaining to boot.  While I didn't always agree with the man (and probably disagree with him even more as I grow older and—hopefully—wiser), a lot of his opinions held a great deal of validity.
     He once wrote that there were 5 "telltale signs of training trouble"—warning signals that you were headed towards serious problems if you didn't make adjustments to your program.
     Here are the 5 training problems (in Steiner's own words) that must be nipped in the bud, and I find these to be highly applicable when it comes to HFT:

1. "You experience deep-felt fatigue and exhaustion following your normal workout.  Proper training should leave you with a pleasant muscle fatigue, and no more.  Within an hour, you should be feeling exhilarated and vibrant."

2. "You lack the desire to train.  The idea of a hard workout appeals to you about as much as that of painting your house or mowing the grass on a football field.  Rather than looking forward to a good workout, you look for ways to avoid the gym or to slide through the exercises with less than top effort."

3. "The weights seem extraordinarily heavy.  They feel so heavy that you have to use very sloppy form to get out the desired number of sets and reps.  This should happen occasionally, as there are times when you have more or less energy.  When it happens frequently, however, look out."

4. "You feel totally wiped on your non-training days between workouts.  In this case, your recuperative powers are not working right, and you're probably overtrained."

5. "You make zero progress for long periods.  If you stop making gains or find yourself regressing, your training is definitely off base."


     If you are going to set off on a course of High-Frequency Training, you would do well to always keep these 5 signs of training trouble in the back of your mind.



Sources:
"Telltale Signs of Training Trouble" by Bradley J. Steiner, published in the November, 1991 issue of IronMan Magazine.