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Old 01-20-2013, 10:55 PM   #1
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Default Programming Question For Experienced Competitive PLers

So, on one end, you have beginners who can make linear progress, add weight every week and set new PRs almost every week...

On the other end, you have guys like Wendler, Lilly, et al. who report that after years of training they are burnt out and fed up with standard programming because it beat the crap out of them, injured them, etc., and performance stopped or regressed. These guys usually end up finding/recommending an ME/DE/RE based method with sub-1RM percentages and infrequent, well-spaced PR attempts. These PR attempts are often 10+ weeks apart.

So, here's the question:

Has anyone found that once weekly PRs stop happening, you can go to programming where PRs are expected every other week, then every third week, then every fourth, and so on? Or, do you tend to hit a hard wall and it's goes from weekly directly to 10+ weeks with no gradual transition period?
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Old 01-21-2013, 07:34 AM   #2
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I think that all depends on how close you approach true maxes in the gym. If you have a bunch of PR's that are very close to your true max then you are not going to make as much "progress" as you would if you always leave something in the tank. This is why you hear a lot of guys say that as well as the ever popular "don't miss a bleeping weight" and don't forget "save it for the meet". It's all about building confidence.

Another technique to use when you hit a wall is to dust off some old exercises you haven't done in awhile. Hopefully that serves the dual purpose of confidence building and strength building. If not then you should start program hoping like everyone else.....just kidding
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Old 01-21-2013, 07:53 AM   #3
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There are a lot of possible answer relating to all types of programming, this is a huge, huge question. So the most useful advice I can give you is one of perspective. When gains dry up from week to week then start thinking like this:

This is what I did leading up to x lbs in the Squat.

So that means this is what I need to do to reach x +10lbs in the Squat.


Start thinking in those terms, it's no longer about inevitable weekly progression. It now becomes about setting up entire weekly and monthly cycles to reach that extra 10lbs.
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Old 01-21-2013, 09:06 AM   #4
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I tend to approach things in terms of reps. Adding a rep every 2-3 weeks is still good progress. Adding a rep every other week still adds up to a 40-50 pound ish gain on a lift per year.

Once you are progressing slower than that you really have to trust the process and look at things as yearly goals. You also have to stop dicking around in a sense and start getting a bit more focused.

Like checking the log books from the past year to see what is really working and what isn't working. We can get away with a lot as intermediate lifters, meaning you often see guys say "that wasn't working well" when it actually added 20 pounds to their squat in 10 weeks.

You need to look for things that were working and maybe return to them, making necessary adjustments.

This approach can also help you to analyze what isn't working any longer. Sometimes we miss the big red flags. For example, I never trained over 85% because I was into "muscle building". I hit a good stall on my squats and bench for over a year. It wasn't until I started training with heavier weight that I started to see some progress again.

Complicated question. Not sure I added much. A lot of this just comes down to patience, persistence, and intelligent tinkering. My goal this year is to add 50 pounds to my 3 lift total. That's a lot of training for little return, but if you want to see progress it's the journey you have to take.
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Old 01-21-2013, 10:10 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ehubbard View Post
I think that all depends on how close you approach true maxes in the gym. If you have a bunch of PR's that are very close to your true max then you are not going to make as much "progress" as you would if you always leave something in the tank.
^^That's it in a nut shell^^

The intensity takes it toll after a while and your body needs a break. Some are very good at auto-regulating the intensity, others need to program it in.
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Old 01-21-2013, 02:37 PM   #6
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Good points so far.

Also this might be a little controversial, I hope not, but after a certain number of years the programming etc really doesn't matter. After a certain numbers of years, and everyone who has posted so far has trained for over 10 years will know how to progress and know how to train themselves. So that much really doesn't yield a great deal more.

The biggest differences will come from small changes and improvements in form and efficiency. That is the type of thing which will push you from a 400 to a 500 squat and then enjoy the resulting mass increases from that. This is where training around like minded individuals will net you gains, people who can accurately pinpoint small minor form deficiencies which will consistently hold you back.
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Old 01-21-2013, 09:10 PM   #7
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Thanks, guys!

I have lifted a long time and have that intuition in general, but I have never run a true PL program for very long.

For now, I'm making linear progress and should be able to safely add 10# per week for a few more months until I get in range of my prior PRs.

Its in anticipation of that I asked my question (in a pure PL context). I don't want to slow down PRs too much and lose momentum, but I also don't want to rush them and risk spine injury (had a prior L5-S1 microdiskectomy in 2000) or hit a wall.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ehubbard View Post
I think that all depends on how close you approach true maxes in the gym. If you have a bunch of PR's that are very close to your true max then you are not going to make as much "progress" as you would if you always leave something in the tank. This is why you hear a lot of guys say that as well as the ever popular "don't miss a bleeping weight" and don't forget "save it for the meet". It's all about building confidence.

Another technique to use when you hit a wall is to dust off some old exercises you haven't done in awhile. Hopefully that serves the dual purpose of confidence building and strength building. If not then you should start program hoping like everyone else.....just kidding
Great input, thanks! I am trying to overcome prior program ADHD and make minimal changes to keep progress going...no more program jumping here (I have in the past). I think the rotation and variety you infer will be exactly what I'll need without ditching the basics.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Fazc View Post
There are a lot of possible answer relating to all types of programming, this is a huge, huge question. So the most useful advice I can give you is one of perspective. When gains dry up from week to week then start thinking like this:

This is what I did leading up to x lbs in the Squat.

So that means this is what I need to do to reach x +10lbs in the Squat.


Start thinking in those terms, it's no longer about inevitable weekly progression. It now becomes about setting up entire weekly and monthly cycles to reach that extra 10lbs.
Right on. I'm just looking to you guys for a sense of how that PR interval changes after "weekly." Not that I'm chasing PRs only, but I want to plan in advance and set my expectations realistically. Do you remember when your beginner progress stopped and you had to get creative? What did it look like?

Quote:
Originally Posted by BendtheBar View Post
I tend to approach things in terms of reps. Adding a rep every 2-3 weeks is still good progress. Adding a rep every other week still adds up to a 40-50 pound ish gain on a lift per year.

Once you are progressing slower than that you really have to trust the process and look at things as yearly goals. You also have to stop dicking around in a sense and start getting a bit more focused.

Like checking the log books from the past year to see what is really working and what isn't working. We can get away with a lot as intermediate lifters, meaning you often see guys say "that wasn't working well" when it actually added 20 pounds to their squat in 10 weeks.

You need to look for things that were working and maybe return to them, making necessary adjustments.

This approach can also help you to analyze what isn't working any longer. Sometimes we miss the big red flags. For example, I never trained over 85% because I was into "muscle building". I hit a good stall on my squats and bench for over a year. It wasn't until I started training with heavier weight that I started to see some progress again.

Complicated question. Not sure I added much. A lot of this just comes down to patience, persistence, and intelligent tinkering. My goal this year is to add 50 pounds to my 3 lift total. That's a lot of training for little return, but if you want to see progress it's the journey you have to take.
Sure. Once I reestablish old PRs, I will be happy with a +5# new PR, trust me!
You make a good point...I have been noticing the value of PRs in the doubles, triples, etc. as a way to keep progressing and feel some accomplishment.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Off Road View Post
^^That's it in a nut shell^^

The intensity takes it toll after a while and your body needs a break. Some are very good at auto-regulating the intensity, others need to program it in.
I have been sporadic at times.... too much enthusiasm or momentum at times makes for quick stops...I have also erred in changing my approach as I get nearer a PR. just minor things in the routine that threw me off. I want to say I can auto-regulate, but I tend to over think and program more...I'll have to dwell on this and see what I can find....cool, thanks!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Fazc View Post
Good points so far.

Also this might be a little controversial, I hope not, but after a certain number of years the programming etc really doesn't matter. After a certain numbers of years, and everyone who has posted so far has trained for over 10 years will know how to progress and know how to train themselves. So that much really doesn't yield a great deal more.

The biggest differences will come from small changes and improvements in form and efficiency. That is the type of thing which will push you from a 400 to a 500 squat and then enjoy the resulting mass increases from that. This is where training around like minded individuals will net you gains, people who can accurately pinpoint small minor form deficiencies which will consistently hold you back.
I know what you mean by the awareness that comes with experience...I have that, but not in a PL context....more in the natty BB and GPP arenas. That's why I'm here. Guess more experience will help!

Good comment. I will probably not have a serious lifting community around when I start breaking new ground... I'll see what mileage posting vids of lifts gets me when I get stuck... There is wisdom in the council of many!

Awesome, thanks all!
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Old 01-22-2013, 04:30 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jdmalm123 View Post
Right on. I'm just looking to you guys for a sense of how that PR interval changes after "weekly." Not that I'm chasing PRs only, but I want to plan in advance and set my expectations realistically. Do you remember when your beginner progress stopped and you had to get creative? What did it look like?
I gave a very vague answer on purpose, it varies so much. I stalled at a 200lbs Bench for 3 years for example, but my deadlift rose to 450lbs relatively quickly. You'll know when you've stalled because well, you've stalled!

The first and most simple change I made was to take a light week every 3rd week. So in effect I went from 1 week cycles to 3 week cycles.

Quote:
Originally Posted by jdmalm123 View Post
I know what you mean by the awareness that comes with experience...I have that, but not in a PL context....more in the natty BB and GPP arenas. That's why I'm here. Guess more experience will help!
Not so much awareness or experience, no. I'm sure you're perfectly aware and have the experience.

I mean that no matter how experienced you are, and this is probably true moreso at the later stages of your training career, these minor changes in form can potentially yield massive results. Konstantinov for example was already an accomplished 700+ Deadlifter before he tried to roundback his lifts, that one change propelled him from 'good' to 'legendary'. That's the type of thing I'm talking about. It's not awareness or experience, it's the willingness to learn and refine what you already have. Everyone who's posted in this thread has had results which set them apart from the average Joe, so the basics are obviously down pat. But what takes you to the next level are more than likely minor tweaks and not major overhauls.

I have given you powerlifting examples because that is my background but this applies to all areas, to bodybuilding as well.

You should never be unwilling to learn. When you do, you'll stall. I hope you get the point I'm trying to make.

Last edited by Fazc; 01-22-2013 at 04:33 AM.
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Old 01-22-2013, 08:42 AM   #9
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Are you building up to that or are you jumping in feet first?
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Old 01-22-2013, 09:15 AM   #10
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It is not just about 1 rep Prs, and that is what a lot of people forget. I can still make constant gains being what most would consider a strong total. I just find ways to hit various prs. Is it a 2board, 1 baord, full range. Did I hit a PR triple in the squat? Did I hit a new double PR in the deadlift. I take my lifts for what is there that day. Each person is different. I wouldnt want to miss a squat or raw bench (equipped people miss all the time) and deadlift I have a different idea about that in the gym. I want to miss every now and then so i know where I am missing and can fix that point.


LOL not sure I really answered your question, but here is a straight fwd one. There is more than one way to skin a cat. Look back at your logs, when were you the strongest, what were you doing, and find a way to create that as a peak for a meet!
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