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BendtheBar 05-09-2012 08:07 AM

Q&A: Ask the Fazc
 
Q&A with our resident strength wizard, Fazc.

Fazc 05-09-2012 08:25 AM

Thanks Btb.

I answer a lot of questions via PM, which is fine, but it means others can't benefit. So feel free to pop your questions here to do with general strength training, raw or single ply powerlifting and diet for the above. A thank you goes a long way!

Ask away! Fazc.

BendtheBar 05-09-2012 08:37 AM

I'm going to start with a question you've probably answered before, and that is rather vague, but one that will probably be asked over and over again on this forum during the coming year:

When am I ready to start using lower rep sets, in particular heavy singles, doubles and triples? At what point in strength training should a lifter consider using lower rep sets?

Fazc 05-09-2012 09:23 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by BendtheBar (Post 239855)
When am I ready to start using lower rep sets, in particular heavy singles, doubles and triples? At what point in strength training should a lifter consider using lower rep sets?

Generally I want to see a lifter getting the sets/reps and overall volume in as a beginner. Something like a Starting Strength approach but with higher overall volume. It's only after a solid foundation has been built that I'd move a guy on to lower rep sets. So what's a solid foundation?

1) A good level of form on all of the main lifts, you need to be able to do these intensively without hurting yourself. Squat, Deadlift, Bench Press, Overhead Press, Chins and Rows.

2) A good degree of strength on the above. Something like 100 for sets of 10 on the Squat and Deadlift and 80kg for sets of 10 on the Bench Press.

3) A good handle on diet, no excessively unnecessary bodyfat and/or losing weight to normalise bodyweight.

4) A good handle on rest and recuperation.

Once a guy has accomplished the above. The introduction of lower rep sets would be a good idea. Probably for a heavy day, while still maintaining a decent level of volume for the other days.

LtL 05-10-2012 04:29 AM

How do I decide which weightclass to compete in?

LtL

70sBB 05-10-2012 06:55 AM

I have a newb question about volume. Assuming someone is focused on getting stronger is there any benefit at all to destroying a muscle group with up to 20 sets a week? Will volume training help build more muscle and as a result more strength?

Fazc 05-10-2012 08:10 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by LtL (Post 240122)
How do I decide which weightclass to compete in?

After a few years of consistent training and eating you'll have a rough idea. It'll be where you body is strongest while still maintaining a decent level of condition. That's your starting point. After that things get a little more complicated in my opinion.

Do you really care about peak performance? If you do, then consider that often what this means to one person will mean something completely different to another.

For example I know of one British Strongman who just recently dominated U80kg BSM. He Benches 400lbs raw and pulls over 600lbs and his overhead strength is phenomenal. This guy is completely ripped at around 190lbs. He cuts water weight prior to the competition to make weight. Now this same guy could easily walk around at 200lbs even 210lbs and still be lean by anyone's standards. But he watches his diet all year like a hawk and is still able to pull off the trick of being massively strong at that bodyweight.

He could be still be a decent 100kg lifter, or he could absolutely dominate at 80kg. Most guys who fall into the 'strength' umbrella love training, but completely scoff at diet and conditioning. But look at what the top guys are doing, this stuff makes a difference.

I still think no matter what your history, if you've been training for a long while and eating heavy you should force yourself to undergo a diet phase where you maintain your strength and get leaner. It would surprise many a former fatty what they learn about themselves and their preconceived opinions on how heavy they need to be to lift what they do, and also just how much fat they are carrying needlessly.

All of this goes out of the window if you're very tall and naturally thick boned because once you're in the Open category you should take advantage of no-upper weight limit and get as massive as possible.

Fazc 05-10-2012 08:23 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by 70sBB (Post 240141)
I have a newb question about volume. Assuming someone is focused on getting stronger is there any benefit at all to destroying a muscle group with up to 20 sets a week? Will volume training help build more muscle and as a result more strength?

For a newb, no. I really don't think there's much need. Also a newb by definition won't have the necessary form and discipline required during heavy work to be able to do all of those sets safely.

Ideally he'll be doing 3 sets per bodypart 3 times a week. 9 sets total per week. He just isn't ready to be destroying himself with 20 sets a week. It's not safe and it's not necessary for strength gains early on.

That will change later on, when form is better, he has the ability to push hard and has gained some strength and muscle to safeguard himself from injury. I regularly do 24 sets per bodypart a week and I don't consider that a big deal, it's just my usual workload.

MikeM 05-17-2012 09:44 PM

Are we short changing ourselves when it comes to squats?

I have noticed a marked improvement in my squats by squatting very regularly. 3x a week (HLM), but also BW squats and Squat jumps on the off days. I do not work out on weekends.

Also why do deadlifts seem to be so taxing to even try more than once or twice a week (2nd time with a variation)? If squats benefit from more squatting (my hypothesis) why do deadlifts regress from more repetition, and I know they do from experience, when you deadlift more often? Do I need more variations in deadlifts to reap results? Or is it better left alone? Some say your deadlift increases simply by leaving it alone and increasing overall strength, ie squats.

?

Fazc 05-18-2012 12:58 PM

Few answers to that Mike:

1) The quicker you recover, the quicker you will get stronger. If you can train, recover and go again stronger in half the time the next guy takes you will be stronger quicker. To enable you to do that there a multitude of factors involved, some of them we can change, some we can't:
  • Genetics: Not much we can do here.
  • R&R: Sure there is plenty we can do to get more rest and recuperation, but in the grand scheme of things and compared to our ancestors physical over-exertion is hardly the scourge of most modern people.
  • Eat better: Again a lack of food is hardly the scourge of the modern man.
  • Stretching: Enabling better form through dedicated stretching. This is something which ranges from "yeah I should do more" to "no it's useless" which really is a shame. Dedicated stretching can transform your squat from looking awful to looking passable or better.
  • Specific strengthening: Related to the previous point, specific strengthening exercises to enable better form. For example specific thoracic work can really help people who Squat bent over.
  • Practice: Related to what you said, practice, practice, practice helps and allows for active recovery.

The first few points there you can't do much about and/or are largely taken care of but what about the last few? Are they honestly been given full attention from the "eat more and squat" crowd? I rarely find that's the case. Going to the gym is fun, sure it's fun to pretend we're the cast members of 300 and/or Vikings and/or it's a life or death battle against the iron (whatever the hell that means) but let's remember it's probably the least stressful event of our day. Training is the easy part, stuffing your face afterwards is the easy part but the rest is harder, much harder and it could be what separates a 400lbs Squat from a 550-600lbs one.

So yeah Mike, there are plenty of things you can do to enable you to Squat more frequently and squatting more frequently *as long as you recover* will speed up your gains.

2) On a related note, the reason pulls are generally not trained as often as Squats is that 'in my opinion' the strongest position for the Squat is relatively safe and natural for the human body which is why load is distributed evenly and recovery happens faster. Therefore frequent Squats are usually productive as long as the person can Squat to at least a decent standard. This is also the reason that Benches can be performed frequently by those who can actually Bench safely and have put time into making it a safe lift for them (strengthening the back, lats, traps. Stretching the shoulders etc)

On the flip side the strongest position for a Deadlift is usually one which involves a slow grind with a compromised back position. So the alternative and one which people have picked up on is to use variations of the Deadlift, usually short range (partials) or arch-specific (RDLs/GMs/Dimels) with the addition of some heavy, grinding round back (SLDL/Deficit) pulls thrown in there.

3) Regarding volume. Everyone needs to put in some serious volume *at some point*. I think that's the main reason for stagnation amongst trainees who have started off with high volume routines and moved to low volume route. They move to low volume and reap the benefits of increased strength as they are effectively *peaking* but they stagnate and usually then blame genetics or any other number of factors (anything but actually finding a solution, God forbid we start actively search for something different).

Cycling through periods of high volume/frequency and low volume/frequency is usually the best solution. It is the contrast which forces growth. That is the reason behind the 2 week heavy 1 week deload that I use.

You can look up 'Elevating the Pyramid' by Bill Starr which I've posted in the articles section for more details on this building up of volume.

Faz


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