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Heavy Lifts: is less really more?

Answered on September 12, 2014
Created March 25, 2013 at 2:13 AM

So right off the bat I should mention I think guys like Martin Berkhan, Andy Morgan, and Lyle McDonald are some of the best out there in terms of the content they offer freely to the public. I had the opportunity to hire and work with Andy Morgan which taught me a lot and cleared up a lot of stupid ideas I had. I've never gotten anything less than amazing results from applying the simple principles they discuss at length. Usually, I start to move off track when I try to tweak things or cut corners without any real knowledge of what I'm doing. I've learned this the hard way over the last year (binging and following up with 24-40 hour fasts instead of sticking to 16/8 consistently and watching my macros or trying to go into deep ketosis to lean out etc)

Once again I'm heading down the road of changing up a proven system. When I hired Andy, I was told to lift three times a week (bench, deads, squats and maybe weighted chin ups) and to rest the four other days of the week. Standard recomp. -20% maintenance cals on rest days and 20+ on training days. I was instructed NOT to do cardio, HIIT, CrossFit, or any other little catalysts to fat loss since the rest days are for just that - REST.

That said, I now belong to a CrossFit affiliate which I pay a LOT of money for and have close to a year left on my contract. That membership is not going anywhere so I'm going to work with it. I still plan on doing my heavy lifts, but I am considering attending classes (WODS) on a few rest or training days. Additionally, my friend has been doing CrossFit for over a year and literally squats something like 6 days out of the week. His 1RM has gone up doing this. His schedule totally defies what I thought was true - that doing more exercise or working out on rest days would not help with strength.

My question is this - is less, with squats or deadlifts, really more? Is there anything to suggest my friend's volume of training might actually be the way to go? Again, I will be in an energy deficit over the course of each week so maybe that's why it would be a bad idea for me to do the same thing. Maybe he was doing this with a surplus of energy, although I should mention he stays pretty lean and isn't putting on a huge amount of fat.

Really curious... If anybody has some research that could back either approach or anecdotal support that would be great.

1edb06ded9ccf098a4517ca4a7a34ebc

(14952)

on March 25, 2013
at 07:56 AM

I'm not really all that familiar with what MB does or says he does. I know he's a fan of chins, squats, and deadlifts (less so). I am too, definitely and especially for the strength based parts of my workouts in the 5-8 rep range. But I don't train one rep maxes on these lifts and they're not all I would perform ever. Talk about a great way to develop joint and overuse issues later in life. I think we have the tendency to overcomplicate things too much with everything nowadays. Just get in there and move some weights. Mix it up but stick to the basic movements as the core of your lifting...

D05f3050dc3d973b8b81a876202fa99a

(1533)

on March 25, 2013
at 04:23 AM

extensive then what he openly writes about. I have noticed that with my own body, as well as some of the client photos on LG and rippedbody.jp, the three day split seems to produce an almost overdeveloped midsection that sort of dwarfs arms, shoulders, back etc. I'll do a little research before coming up with my own program. Thanks for the info though.

D05f3050dc3d973b8b81a876202fa99a

(1533)

on March 25, 2013
at 04:22 AM

That's interesting, I'd never heard of the distinction before but that makes sense. It does kind of defy Martin Berkhan's personal results though, unless you're suggesting A.) gene expression can improve drastically over time as it appears to with his current physique or B.) that he's not being totally honest about what he does in the gym. I think I remember reading that he's added accessory lifts over the years which may account for his incredible results. I can't quote it directly, but he says he does "accessory workouts" before and after his reverse pyramid sets which may be more-

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1 Answers

1
1edb06ded9ccf098a4517ca4a7a34ebc

on March 25, 2013
at 03:49 AM

First, just clear the terminology up a bit (my own definitions). High Frequency Training (HFT) means training the same body part or group of body parts a greater number of times per given time period (typically measured in times trained per week). High Volume Training (HVT) means training the same body part or group of parts a greater number of times per training session (typically measured in sets per workout). Higher volume means lower frequency, and higher frequency generally means lower volume. There's a trade off because you can only recover so fast and from so much work.

HFT is great for beginners and/or exercise specific strength athletes (power lifters). It's good for beginners because it trains your CNS and muscle fibers fire forcefully and recover. It's good for strength athletes because it's typically made into lower volume, lower rep workouts with a full day of rest between), so that give you enough time for your CNS to recover between workouts and can have your muscle fibers firing at full force (and therefore lifting more pounds). A typical HFT program will have you alternating workout A (upper body) with workout B (lower body) on an every other day schedule. For instance, Workout A on Monday, Workout B wednesday, and A again on Friday. The next week do B on MOnday, A on Wednesday, and B on Monday. Generally focuses only on compound or olympic lifts. No isolation or refining exercises. Reps are usually between 1-6 and it works what is known as MYOFIBULAR hypertrophy.

HVT is great for non exercise specific strength athletes and those looking to radically improve body composition and build an all around nice looking and strong physique. This type of training (working with 16+ sets and 3-6 different exercises for each major muscle group). Generally splits are done so that you work each group a total of 1 time per week. DOMS (Delayed onset muscle soreness) is significantly greater with these workouts. These workouts work both Sarcoplasmic and Myofibular hypertrophy because reps are more varied, between 6 and 15, typically. An example of a HVT routine would be MOnday legs(20 sets/calves (5 sets). Tuesday chest (16 sets)/triceps (9 sets)/ Thursday back(16 sets)/biceps(9sets), Saturday shoulders(16 sets)/delts(5 sets). Exercises are a mix of heavy compounds and lighter (12-15 rep) isolation movements.

Personally I started training with HFT, and I think it's excellent for beginners who need to get accustomed to moving heavy weight, train their CNS to recover, and just accumulate some foundational mass. The first book I bought was by Dr. John Berardi called "Scrawny To Brawny" and I had good success on a HFT. However, after the first year I began switching to HVT routine, and this is where I really fell in love with training for the sake of training, regardless of the physical benefits. I feel also that these programs, which I develop myself, allows for more detail oriented improvements. You want wider lats? Do wide grip pull ups and wide grip rows. Want to build your serratus? Do straight arm pull downs and dumbbell pull overs. Want to build striations in your delts? Do some supersets. This is where it becomes like an addiction. I honestly wake up every morning excited to train, and go to bed anxious for my next day's workout.

I recommend experimenting with both. Once you know how your body reacts, you can probably just start developing your own hybrid routines that work on your own weaknesses and don't just broadly strengthen your body. Make sure compound lifts are always teh bulk of your routine though (rows, presses, chins, dips, squats) and add in accessory/isolation movements as the finishing touches. Like pair 2-3 compounds with 1-3 isolations per muscle group per workout with 3-6 sets per exercise. Start heavy compounds, then move onto isolations.

All in all I think neither protocol HFT or HVT was more important. HFT was critical to getting started and HVT was equally necessary to adding more details that I desired. Think of it like a painting. The HFT is great for getting the rough outline on the paper. BUt HVT is what shapes and shades it.

That's the way it is for me, at least. Hope that helps. Neither is better. Neither is really less than the other either. THey're different.

1edb06ded9ccf098a4517ca4a7a34ebc

(14952)

on March 25, 2013
at 07:56 AM

I'm not really all that familiar with what MB does or says he does. I know he's a fan of chins, squats, and deadlifts (less so). I am too, definitely and especially for the strength based parts of my workouts in the 5-8 rep range. But I don't train one rep maxes on these lifts and they're not all I would perform ever. Talk about a great way to develop joint and overuse issues later in life. I think we have the tendency to overcomplicate things too much with everything nowadays. Just get in there and move some weights. Mix it up but stick to the basic movements as the core of your lifting...

D05f3050dc3d973b8b81a876202fa99a

(1533)

on March 25, 2013
at 04:23 AM

extensive then what he openly writes about. I have noticed that with my own body, as well as some of the client photos on LG and rippedbody.jp, the three day split seems to produce an almost overdeveloped midsection that sort of dwarfs arms, shoulders, back etc. I'll do a little research before coming up with my own program. Thanks for the info though.

D05f3050dc3d973b8b81a876202fa99a

(1533)

on March 25, 2013
at 04:22 AM

That's interesting, I'd never heard of the distinction before but that makes sense. It does kind of defy Martin Berkhan's personal results though, unless you're suggesting A.) gene expression can improve drastically over time as it appears to with his current physique or B.) that he's not being totally honest about what he does in the gym. I think I remember reading that he's added accessory lifts over the years which may account for his incredible results. I can't quote it directly, but he says he does "accessory workouts" before and after his reverse pyramid sets which may be more-

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