Weight Training 7: All The Lifts, All The Time27 Jul 2020
Let's switch things up and talk about my training before it actually takes place.
I want to rethink my long-term training strategy, but that will require a fair amount of reading and planning.
In the meantime, and with the gym reopening, I want to get back into powerlifting training. The approach I want to try this time is practicing every lift (bench, squat, deadlift) every workout, thrice a week.
There's a twist, I would work in different rep ranges during each workout:
- Squat 3x, Bench Press 6x, Deadlift 12x
- Deadlift 3x, Squat 6x, Bench Press 12x
- Bench Press 3x, Deadlift 6x, Squat 12x
I've actually been told after this was written but not yet published that this is an existing training programmation concept: Daily Undulating Periodization (DUP).
There are a number of reasons I want to try this approach:
- I haven't worked with heavy weights in a while due to quarantine (and even before, I wasn't working very heavy). I miss it, and I think I could use the stimulus.
- The high volume will help me recover my previous level of performance faster.
- Hopefully, it could also help me go beyond my previous peak. Powerlifters programs typically train the lifts more than what I've ever been doing. That was under Stronglifts, and was per 2-week periods: 6x squat, 3x deadlift, 3x bench. (1) I haven't trained liked that in more than a year however.
- That's also how I see most competent powerlifters around me train. (2)
- Alternating rep ranges should help relieve the stress of repeating the same movement pattern over and over, and help develop different "strength qualities". (3)
- Practicing the same lift often means there's less pressure to perform great or improve the lift during each given workout. It also gives three vectors on which to improve (one for each rep ranges) for the same lift.
- It's a similar approach to the proven 5/3/1 program (reviewed), but which dips in bodybuilding rep ranges (6+) instead or staying within purely strength-focused rep ranges (1-6).
(1) That's not enough deadlift and bench, and in a sense too much squat, because all these trainings were in the same rep range — at the end of that period, that was one heavy set of 3 followed by two lighter sets of 3.
(2) The guy with the biggest bench press I met (not sure about the exact number, but he casually benched 160kg for a couple reps) told me he got there by benching every workout. Clearly it works for some people.
(3) It's difficult to explain, but anyone that has lifted seriously knows that squat your max for 3 reps feels very different than squatting your max for 12 reps. The difficulty and challenges are not the in same place. The hope is that the aspect that are most stimulated when working in that rep range will improve and carry over to the other rep ranges.
That being said, the approach also comes with risks, most notably the risk of increased fatigue because of the increased volume. To tackle this, I've made multiple resolutions:
- Be very mindful of fatigue, and don't try to macho it up. Since every lift is practiced every workout, there is not less incentive to do this.
- Stay shy of failure, which takes a big toll on your body. This is standard training advice, but I've never practiced it, as Stronglifts is a beginner program. (4)
- Instead, try to stay within the feasible range. Occasionally trying to go heavier and failing is okay. Or use double progression.
- One question that is not entirely settled: per-workout volume. It's planned to adapt this depending on fatigue, but I might dabble in some formal scheme, drawing inspiration from Reactive Training Systems (RTS).
- Another RTS idea: Use pivot blocks (essentially extended deloads with complementary work) whenever progress stop.
- And in fact, try to predict when progress will stop by tracking your Time To Peak (TTP: the number of weeks you can train before progress stops). Curious to see how that one works out.
(4) Some will argue that beginners should also stay shy of failure, which is fair enough I suppose. I actually have no idea if there is a definitive word on this.
... all the while cutting.
This might not be optimal in order to make strength gains, but should be fine as long as I don't overtrain.
The rationale is that the strength stuff is fun, and interesting to investigate, but I don't attach much value to reaching particular strength milestone. On the other hand, I do attach some value to getting to a leaner body composition.
I have some more meditations on this, but I will have to wait for another post!