Strength Training for Singles 2014: Eight-Week Workout Cycle II

Discussion in 'Training Information/Training Regimens' started by Bare Lee, Oct 4, 2014.

  1. Bare Lee

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    Time to drop the physics and place your faith in the squat god. Only he/she can help you now. Reason has failed. Squat and pray.

    Butt seriously, I think if you feel comfortable in your technique, it should be pretty easy to test your real deadlift. Besides making sure you have a stiff, neutral back, it's probably the easiest lift technique-wise. Then again, I'm wondering when I'll next feel the urge to test my true 1RM. I'm pretty satisfied seeing gradual improvements in my 5RM, and it's a lot less taxing mentally. I think there's also something of a trade-off between the intensity of heavy singles, and the ability to do lighter quintuples more frequently. I dunno, I guess I'll just stick to the 6x10 plan and do singles whenever I'm in the mood.

    Anyway, you've established some kind of ratio, now it's a matter of what you make of them. I'm wondering if, as seems to be the case, now that my Cable Row and 1-DB Row are close to 1:1 with my Bench, if it really makes sense to hold back on the Bench until my Squat, Deadlift, and OH Press catch up. Maybe they never will. Maybe as I get stronger on the latter lifts, my Bench will continue to increase without much effort? The nice thing about those ratios, even if we don't follow them that strictly, is that they get us thinking about these sorts of things. At the very least, I'm pretty sure I'm doing the right thing by putting my weakest lifts, as judged by those ratios, first in the routine, and often adding extra sets to them.
     
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  2. Sid

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  3. Bare Lee

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  4. BroadArrow

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    well, since the holiday will hopefully mess up the rest of the week for normal things (which is the purpose of holidays, after all), i suppose it is not too early to throw some ideas around for the next cycle.

    i think i want to go to maybe the polar opposite of this cycle's approach (but still within the strength plane, rather than moving into a bodybuilding one; not that i'm worried about gaining weight since i haven't gained an ounce over the last, uh, year?). i think i want to try the "full body workout" approach and combine it with "moderately high frequency". within a single day's workout, i'll put the lifts i care about most toward the front. between workouts, i think i will try to continue to sneak the loads up by 5lbs each time as much as possible. however, with the potentially increased density, i'll allow for more "go by feel" because i want to squeeze it into about 40min rather than 90... also, i'm thinking about cutting back to one night a week for volleyball since it seems like either my wife or myself has something going on every night which ain't so great for getting children or ourselves to sleep on time.

    sample plan:

    squats (full depth) 1x6 lighter warmup, 3x6 working (starting where i left off previously at 90lbs and keep marching upward)

    cable-1-arm-bent-over-rows 3x7 (starting at 30-40lbs)

    overhead press 1x6 lighter warmup, 3x6 working (resetting since i reached my max, so maybe back to 0.75*85 = ~65lbs and go up)

    deadlift 1x6 lighter warmup, 3x6 working (keep on going, 175lbs and on)

    chest press 1x6 lighter warmup, 3x6 working (start at #11)

    i would then try to do this collection of exercises 4 or 5 times a week.

    now what happened to the pull-ups? i've made pretty significant improvement in those. yesterday, i collaborated with my two-year-old to install tiny shelves on my home-office door jambs that i can set a piece of wood across and do pull-ups on. at the moment, i have a flat piece of wood (leftover hardwood floor, actually) which is pretty hard on the fingers. i might scrounge a round piece of wood from the brush pile tomorrow and see if it will support my weight. anyways, the plan is to do pull-ups throughout the day as my exercise to break up the monotony of tapping away on my laptop.

    also, i broke out with the tape measure to try to figure out how far the travel of the chest press handle is as compared to the amount the weight stack gets elevated. it turns out to be (+/- error) 28" of hand movement for 24" of weight movement. so the force on the handles, on average, is going to be about 6/7 of the stack weight (which is in 10lb increments). the #13 approximate maximum that i can do currently is about 130 * 6 / 7 = 111lbs. which is slightly lower than the ratio target. working backwards, my pin setting for the target would be 129 * 7 / 6 / 10 = ~15. well, i have actually done that at some point in the last 6 months, just not tonight... so i seem to be strangely balanced to a first order approximation.
     
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  5. Sid

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  6. Bare Lee

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    Cool, that's pretty similar to the approach Abide and I have adopted, so it will be interesting to compare notes. I don't think I'll change anything for the next cycle, except maybe mix in a few doubles or singles once in a while, but I think five reps or your six reps is a pretty good count for general purposes. And doing the six main lifts more frequently seems to be getting good results for me. Of course, it's always hard to compare the approach you're doing to the one you're not doing, but after reading through those articles I linked to in my last comment, it looks like others have had good results too.

    I liked the reasoning in one of the articles, that people who use physical strength in their jobs have no trouble doing it day in and day out. I came to the same conclusion a few months ago. Plus, I really like how a higher frequency approach forces you to select only the essential lifts. It's taken me a while to convince myself that that's all I need, but I think, for the most part, it's true, at least at the novice and intermediate levels.

    I got a doorway bar similar to the one Sid recommends: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B001ND04U4/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o00_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1
    I'm not sure why I got this one instead of the one Sid linked to. It holds up to 300 pounds and goes 2inches wider. Maybe it was the customer reviews.

    I got a doorway dip station I was going to use with the doorway chinup bar:
    http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0064OQFBO/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o09_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1
    But it bent under my weight, so I returned it. It might be best to pay a little extra to get a doorway chinup bar that has proven durable, for me at least, if you're going to go that route.

    My intent was to do a grease-the-groove thing like you're planning on doing, but for the moment, I've decided to give myself a full 48 hours or 72 hours of recovery. When the other lifts start to plateau, or when I reach certain goals, I may focus on Pullups, but right now they're behind Squats, OH Press, and Deadlifts in priority. With my Pulldowns, I'm just 10-20 pounds away from having my body rise, so either I'll start weighing or strapping myself down, or start doing higher reps at my current max of 190. Of course, losing my belly would help with the pullups too. Maybe I'll start doing some assisted pullups once in a while?

    Rogue C-70 bar is due Friday. I'm jumping up and down inside.
     
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  7. Abide

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    Ha don't get too excited or else you might get disappointed when just a bar shows up.

    Looked through some of those frequency articles which was one of the reasons I was a little concerned about the weight loads. The universal is high frequency forces lower intensity. I think using the 85/80 of your 1RM might be a little high if you are doing these lifts 3 times a week. For example on my deadlift I think 150 for a 3RM and 140 for a 5RM are reasonable maxes, but when you take 80% of these weights its significantly less than your 1rm
    ------------1RM--3RM--5RM
    Max ------165 -- 150 -- 143
    80% ------133 -- 120 -- 115
    85/80% ---------140 -- 133

    Anyway I am thinking that if you are gaming your 1RM levels it might be fine to do the 85/80 of 1RM but if they are reasonable accurate a 20kilo difference is pretty significant? I notice that my squats are skewed towards the lighter end because my 1RM isn't really known. But on the rest it seems right. When I use 60kilos for the press I am good for one set of 5's which means I should likely do two sets at closer to 55% if the goal is to leave the workout relatively fresh.

    Make logical sense? Been thinking about the easy part in the easy strength program and since we are doing higher workloads maybe I need to drop some weight?
     
  8. Abide

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    BTW I did high bar squats EMOM 5 x 2 today. It was good, felt a little tired on the bike but that might have been due to the headwind more than the squats. I think for squats I am going to stick to this pattern for a while and then the 2 x 5 for almost everything else. I do agree with you for general strength goals, such as ours, working in the 3-5 range is more beneficial and less risky than hitting singles regularly. I just have to make sure the thighs stop growing with all the biking.

    So I think my only goal for next year on the bench will be 1 x 10 x 100kgs., maybe a 3 x 75kg for the press and just slowly work up the squats for 2.
     
  9. Bare Lee

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    Yah, some of the articles recommend as low as 50-70% 1RM for five-rep sets. I dunno. For the Squat, Deadlift, and Bench, my weight increments were based on experimenting in last cycle, not on abstract percentages, but it turned out that, after doing 2-3 sets of singles at about 95% my true 1RM, three reps was around 85% for three sets, and five reps was around 80% for two sets, so I drew up that chart with those percentages for all the lifts. It also makes it easy to compare the relative level of each lift with respect to the others.

    In this cycle, I've mostly stuck to five-rep sets, and bump up the weight whenever it starts to feel easy.

    I think, like you suggest, the discrepancy between my percentages and the ExRx recommendations might be that we're doing multiple sets, but also, we're doing training maxes, not true, PR-type maxes. And then, for me at least, I think I'm allowed to take some percentage of weight off because I'm not a 25-year-old guy in his prime.

    So all three of those factors--multiple sets, training maxes, age-adjustment--might be behind my additional 5% decrease from the experts' numbers. I dunno, I just know that 85% for triples and 80% for quintuples for 2-3 sets, six lifts per workout seems to be sustainable for me, and I'm making gains. So, unless I notice signs of overtraining, or I begin to stall in my gains, I don't really see any reason to change anything. When it comes time to do singles again, I'll know. It will be a feeling I get during a workout, or maybe in the psych-up during the day before the workout. Until then, the 6x2x5 plan is very satisfying. And occasionally bumping up the weight 5-10 pounds is enough challenge as it is.

    My workouts don't feel easy, but I'm not exhausted afterwards either. I could get through them quicker by taking 10-20 pounds off of everything, but for the moment, I'm willing to commit 45-60 minutes three times a week to a moderately intense workout. That is, the 625 (six lifts, two sets x 5RM) scheme feels like a good optimization, in combination, of intensity, frequency, volume, density, and safety. Seems superior to the 3x5 or 5x5 schemes (Rippetoe or Stronglifts), which favor intensity over frequency by only having you do three lifts per workout, but more sets.

    So I'm not sure why you'd want to make your workouts easier, unless you're feeling signs of overtraining, or it's becoming a mental burden. Looking at your log, you seem to be going a little light relative to your strength levels. Is it so that you can get through the workout quickly?

    Today I'm going to try to get my Deadlift 5RM to 300, and my Squat to 220, as a sort of conclusion to this cycle, knowing that Friday's workout could be interrupted by family stuff. That projects to about a ten pound increase in my Deadlift 1RM, to 375, and restores my Squat to my 1RM of 275. So it's been a successful rehab. I'm also thinking of moving the Deadlift back towards the beginning of the workout, maybe even first. It's such a great primer for all the other lifts.

    I've also been thinking about pushing the bench a bit, as long as it doesn't lead to front-back imbalances again. It would be really cool to get up to 300 1RM, and it's beginning to seem kind of silly to wait for the Squat to catch up. The Squat is a long-term project, but the Deadlift and Bench could probably go up more quickly. I wouldn't be surprised if I add 10 pounds to both next cycle, maybe even more. That would project to a 400-pound deadlift sometime late spring or summer of next year.

    I like your idea of doing Squats 5x2. I've been thinking of making them more of a 3x3 lift myself. Might lead to faster strength gains and less interference with running than doing them 3x5 as I have been doing them. As long as I can maintain the solid feel I have going right now.

    Yah, I'm setting myself up for disappointment with the bar. If it's not significantly better than the Body Solid bar, it will have been a waste of money. But having the right equipment and set-up can really make a huge difference in enthusiasm and confidence, so hopefully it will be worth it and make me even more committed to consistent lifting. If nothing else, it will be nice to have knurl marks again.

    Same with running. It's so much more pleasant to run down by the river or around a lake, that it's worth the short drive. I'm thinking of running out to Como Lake tomorrow morning, as a commemoration of Thanksgiving. I haven't run that route in something like a year or more. It's a nice 7-mile distance.
     
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  10. Sid

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    I don't necessarily recommend that specific doorway pullup bar. You might do just as well heading down to your local sporting goods store. Those doorway bars are ok. Probably not good for someone over 200lbs, in case you decide to do weighted exercises. I have a power tower now.
     
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  11. Bare Lee

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    Yah, I figured it was more of a general suggestion. I just wanted to let y'all know which one seemed good to me. The one I got is super solid, so it's just a matter of how strong your door jamb or trim is.
     
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  12. Sid

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    Definitely agree. I didn't feel comfortable with the doorway one, due to hearing the door frame creaking. They may not hold even 200lbs. They have ones that will bolt into the studs in the walls or ceiling, too.
     
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  13. Abide

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    Yeah a lot of it has to do with the time commitment, if I am hitting heavy sets of everything it takes significantly longer to get through everything and then I start losing the motivation towards the latter half of the workout. There is also some lingering tiredness from the cardio stuff too.

    I have been tinkering with doing lifts 1x10 a bit this week and that seems to help too, so bench heavy then press 1 x 10. But I kind of want to figure out what is the most optimal, so maybe moving through 3 workouts a week at a heavy but lower weight but within time constraints 10 minute warmup and 30 minutes for the lifts is better than pushing lifts on a regular basis. Kind of the punching the clock concept and really working the volume piece of 3 good workouts a week, but not the type that leaves you feeling it for a day. Even to the point where you could do subsequent daily workouts and not have any lingering fatigue.

    I could go for a 3 plate bench some day. I think it might be pretty difficult though unless you are satisfied with a certain weight. btw how's the bar?
     
  14. Bare Lee

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    Maybe you could alternate doing three lifts at a heavier weight and three at a lower weight. You'd still be getting in the 3xweek frequency and some decent intensity as well. Alternate Squat with Deadlift, Rows with Pullups, and Bench Press with OH Press? So something like this:

    Deadlift
    Squat
    Row
    Pullup
    Bench Press
    OH Press

    Deadlift
    Squat
    Row
    Pullup
    Bench Press
    OH Press

    Yesterday I did something different, I put all the 'performance' lifts (Deadlift, OH Press, Squat, Bench Press) first, and then 'supporting' lifts (Rows and Pulldowns) after, except I didn't have time for the latter. I got this distinction from T-Nation's Christian Thibaudeau. I did this for the reason you mentioned, to have maximal energy and motivation for the hardest lifts. I was trying to PR in the Deadlift and Squat for training 5RM, and made it: 2x5x300 for the DL, 2x5x220 for the Squat. A very satisfying conclusion to this cycle. I now feel pretty confident about a 400 DL sometime next year, and at least a 320 squat. My squat technique really feels solid and automatic these days.

    So anyway, the idea would be to always do the performance lifts first, and then the supporting lifts afterwards, and maybe blur the distinction somewhat between the supporting lifts and assistance lifts. That is, keep doing the rows and pulldowns/pullups every workout as part of the six essential movements or force/direction pairings, but be a little less strict about reps and intensity. So, for example, do 2x10 rows, as I have been doing with the cable rows occasionally, or sometimes really blast away at heavy pulldowns using several different grips. Or do a circuit of DB rows, hyperextensions, loaded carries, and Russian twists. Something like that. So with the performance lifts, I'm always doing 2x5 @ 5RM, always striving to add weight, but with the others I'm adopting more of a volume approach, as Christian says, while at the same time trying maintain a 2:1 = back:front rep ratio, and a 1:1:1 = bench:row: Pulldown/pullup load ratio. It also makes sense to only worry about maintaining a fairly constant five reps for the performance lifts, since they're the only lifts where RMs really makes sense, and is easy to judge. I guess that's why they're 'performance' lifts to begin with.

    I sometimes forget you do a lot more cardio than I do, but cycling is pretty easy to modulate to a nice easy pace, unlike running, where even slow paces take their toll on the legs, right?

    Finally ran again this morning. Fartleks the second half. Like you say, for someone like me, running a 5K 3-4 times a week is probably adequate. I think I may just run Fartleks for a while, running at my target pace of 8-9mm, and then walking when I can't keep it up any longer. Now that I'm forced to wear footwear, I can walk without worrying about my feet getting cold. Hopefully the running portions will eventually phase out the walking portions and I'll be able to run 3-6 miles at a decent (for me) pace. Funny, I didn't feel any interference from the prior day's squats.

    Bar's already in Minneapolis, delivery tomorrow because of Thankstaking Day today. I should be able to use it in Friday's workout. I wonder why they didn't make it an even 6' and add 2 inches to the area between the sleeves?
     
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  15. Sid

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    I don't know if any of you use protein powder. I'll use a scoop, rarely two a day.

    FYI, Nutrabio.com has a coupon code: BLACKFRIDAY14.
    It looks like the discount depends on the order total.
    $0-49 4% off
    $50-99 8% off
    $100-149 12% off
    $150-199 16% off
    $200+ 20% off

    I use the unflavored Whey Protein Isolate, mixed with water. Tastes milky.
    http://www.nutrabio.com/mm5/merchant.mvc?Screen=PROD&Product_Code=WPI15

    Under the Supplement Facts tab, the nutritional info indicates that it is essentially protein, calcium, and potassium, without the cholesterol and sodium that a lot of others have.

    Anyway, happy Turkey Day!
     
  16. Bare Lee

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    Thanks for the tip Sid!
     
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  17. Abide

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    Yeah I was thinking that method exactly but I think doing lower weights or higher reps for the 2nd lifts might not be the most efficient way to go. The problem I am finding myself in is also not knowing when to increase weights. At this point nothing is getting easier the more I do it. So maybe hitting the 80% 5rm for a couple of weeks and then increasing my 1RM then adjusting again might give a little more structure but still be doable every day. Once it gets heavy I can always back off again and drop 5 or 10 kilos. I like the light stuff but sometimes a 10 rep set at 75% can wice you out as much as a heavier set of 5.

    Yeah the bike should be easy going but I tend to push it regladly which probably isn't a good idea.

    I missed my run this week and now I am kicking myself. Running is such a pain these days for some reason. WhIch is funny be cause now I have the motivation to do it. Plus I hate running in Chicago maybe I should hit up BA to find me some trails.
     
  18. Abide

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    Really stoked about my workout today. After reading your post about finishing the cycle off on a good note I went ahead and did the same. I got up 2 x 5 x 140kg on the DL and 2 x 5 x 100kg on the bench. I will put together an excel file to help illustrate my thoughts above.

    edit: I ate like a pig last night and wondered if that helped? Hmm.
     
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  19. Bare Lee

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    All I can say is that around 80% for 5 reps feels pretty good to me; challenging, yet sustainable on a 3xweek basis.

    But I know what you mean about not being sure when to increase weight. I've been increasing it steadily for the Squat and Deadlift, but that's only because I was rehabbing this whole cycle. For the Bench, I bumped it up 10 pounds when it started to feel easier, but maybe I could've bumped it up earlier? For the OH Press, I may have bumped it up too soon, as I have trouble completing two full sets of 120. But no harm done taking it down to 115 for the second set if I'm not feeling it, right? I know eventually I'll solidify at 2x5x120. I guess mentally, once you attempt an increase, it's hard to let go of it even if you find out you weren't quite ready.

    So if you're looking at my progress over this cycle, I only made bone fide progress on the Bench probably. On the other lifts, I was either building back up, or discovering what my true training 5RM was. In the next cycle, I'll be lucky to add more than 10 pounds to the lifts I think, which, over a year of 8-week cycles, wouldn't be too shabby, but I do envision a curve of diminishing returns over each cycle, as I get closer and closer to my potential. Hard to be sure though, because I've never trained this well and this consistently before.

    I don't know if I'll test 1RMs until I'm close to 400 for the deadlift, and 300 for the squat, according to the percentage projections. It's pretty satisfying for me now to just keep plugging away at the 2x5 scheme. It's challenging, but mentally, I don't have to psych myself up as much, because I know I pretty much got it. The worst case is just missing a few reps, but outright failure isn't possible. Plus, it's kind of dangerous to fail a squat. With the five-rep protocol I always have a good feel for whether or not the next rep is doable.

    I really enjoyed the fartleks the other day. The running feels smoother at a slightly faster pace, and the walking intervals seem to leave my legs in better shape the next day than a slower paced, steady run. Still, I would like to be running half-marathonish distances again by spring, even if it's just once or twice a month.

    Nice job on the lifts! The more I think about it, the more I think I'll start treating the Bench Press as a normal lift, and push it just as much as the Squat, Deadlift, and OH Press. As long as my shoulder doesn't mind, why not? Once my t-grip bar arrives, I should have a more objective measure of where my row stands. Doing the DB rows, it's kind of hard to say if half the weight per hand really is equivalent to my bench, because, unlike the bench, there's more room for interpreting strict form. But I think it's pretty close now.

    Yah, you gotta eat properly if you want to progress with your lifts I think. During my two weeks of not running, I gained back the four pounds I lost during my three weeks of daily 5Ks. But I can't diet. I gotta lose it with cardio, that's what works for me.
     
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  20. Sid

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