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Old 05-08-2013, 12:29 PM   #1
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Thumbs up Frequency and varying intensity for strength

Lately I've been learning a lot about programming for powerlifting through my own experience. I've noticed that the stronger I get, the less often I can go heavy. In a fairly short amount of time I've gone from squatting with 315 for my working sets to using 475+, both from getting stronger and from moving into eguipped lifting. I used to be able to train every day, and go heavy (85%+) on at least one lift the majority of those days. Now I train 4 days a week, and only go over 85% for 2 sessions a week most of the time, and I still feel like I'm going heavy too often.

About a month ago I was still trying to go heavy as much as possible. I noticed that I would have a GREAT session, setting sometimes as many as 4 or 5 new PR's in a single day. I would feel so motivated from this that I would go into the next session a couple days later very excited, only to be let down when the weights wouldn't budge and my body felt like it was falling apart. It was at this point that I realized that I was going to have to plan things out more and make sure I was varying my intensity.

So far I've been doing most of my super heavy work on the weekends when I'm more free to spend hours training, and using my 2 weekday sessions to back off and focus on form while getting some volume in with lighter weights. I've even been hitting the gym in the mornings and doing extremely light weights for higher reps (8-12) to build my conditioning and keep me loose.

Did you stronger guys notice anything like what I've mentioned as you got up into working with heavier weights?
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Old 05-08-2013, 02:30 PM   #2
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I ma not one of these "strong guys" you are speaking of but it looks to me like you are talking about the westside barbell method. 4 days a week or so with one heavy day (Max Effort) and one form day (dynamic/speed day) for each lift
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Old 05-08-2013, 05:47 PM   #3
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Well it has been my experience that hitting weights above 90% week in and week out will leave you beat to hell. I did this when I first got into powerlifting because it was the thing to do. I was following the westide method as closely as I could. I made good gains for a while and recovered fairly well week to week. But when my strength got to a certain point, this type of training started having negative effects on my gains. My body didn't like it anymore. Fast forward a couple years and a lot of stalling in progress, I finally got smart. I realized that max effort work didn't cut it for me because my body couldn't handle it. I also realized max effort work was mostly ego work any way. I also found linear progression didn't woek as well as it once had. So I came up with my method that cycles volume and intensities. I don't do anything max effort anymore. I found that a few sets of heavy doubles beat a new max single any day. They also have more carryover. My body has also never felt better as a powerlifter. I am fresher when I get to the gym. I recover better and I'm stronger. My working capacity has skyrocketed as well.
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Old 05-08-2013, 06:13 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by schultzestrength View Post
Well it has been my experience that hitting weights above 90% week in and week out will leave you beat to hell. I did this when I first got into powerlifting because it was the thing to do. I was following the westide method as closely as I could. I made good gains for a while and recovered fairly well week to week. But when my strength got to a certain point, this type of training started having negative effects on my gains. My body didn't like it anymore. Fast forward a couple years and a lot of stalling in progress, I finally got smart. I realized that max effort work didn't cut it for me because my body couldn't handle it. I also realized max effort work was mostly ego work any way. I also found linear progression didn't woek as well as it once had. So I came up with my method that cycles volume and intensities. I don't do anything max effort anymore. I found that a few sets of heavy doubles beat a new max single any day. They also have more carryover. My body has also never felt better as a powerlifter. I am fresher when I get to the gym. I recover better and I'm stronger. My working capacity has skyrocketed as well.
Very interesting. Sounds like you've been through the same things I'm going through now. I have questions if you don't mind. As you cycle volume and intensity, do you move from a focus on one to a focus on the other? What I mean is, do you fade from having higher volume slowly to having higher intensity, and if you do, how long does it take you to make the transition?

Also, how does a typical higher intensity day look for you? Especially for lower body. I'm finding that I'm having a lot of trouble backing off enough, and the weights I'm using are leaving me with pretty intense back aches for days afterwards just because of the weights I'm moving.
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Old 05-08-2013, 06:32 PM   #5
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I have found frequent heavy training to be invaluable. I train heavy often but have to dramatically reduce the volume and assistance work. It is working like a charm for me, but I did spend 20+ years building a strength base first.
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Old 05-08-2013, 06:32 PM   #6
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First off my training would be considered high volume no matter what day it is. Some of my clients can attest to this. The cycling of intensity and volume relates to the main lift being done. This changes week to week. My high intensity days from my training for my last meet consisted of heavy doubles for squat or deadlift. But they weren't max effort. I couldve always done another rep or two or another heavier set. Down sets and accessory work added a lot of volume.
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Old 05-08-2013, 06:51 PM   #7
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I have found frequent heavy training to be invaluable. I train heavy often but have to dramatically reduce the volume and assistance work. It is working like a charm for me, but I did spend 20+ years building a strength base first.
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Originally Posted by schultzestrength View Post
First off my training would be considered high volume no matter what day it is. Some of my clients can attest to this. The cycling of intensity and volume relates to the main lift being done. This changes week to week. My high intensity days from my training for my last meet consisted of heavy doubles for squat or deadlift. But they weren't max effort. I couldve always done another rep or two or another heavier set. Down sets and accessory work added a lot of volume.
Very interesting. BTB, thanks for your input as always and Schultze, thanks for elaborating. I think I'm just going to have to do some experimenting and see what works for me. I've always believed in heavy training and I still do, but when I do a squat/deadlift session and 1. it takes 3+ hours to complete and 2. I can't sleep that night because of the pain in my back, to me that means that I need to rethink what I'm doing.

I think I may move away from deadlifting and equipped squatting too often. I think I'll just do those heavy only once every other week, if that, and stick with raw squatting and lower intensity deadlifts the rest of the time.
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Old 05-08-2013, 07:11 PM   #8
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A good example of a high intensity day from my last training cycle that I can remember off the top of my head was for bench.

I did 500x2, 515x2 and 530x2. My goal for the meet was 550-575. So the 530x2 was somewhere in the 92-96% range. Pretty heavy in my mind.
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