Monday, August 2, 2010

Weekly Q&A



  1. If my main pressing goal is to drive up my military press, is it worth while to include incline bench and behind the neck pressing? keeping total volume the same, like if I press 3 days a week should I do a different movement each day or just military each day?

    best regards,

  2. Personal favorite diet/strategy for cutting the extra chub?

  3. Hi Paul
    Please can you confirm a typical days eating or if still as listed a few weeks ago. Also, are you still not using Protein powder? Been off the supplements myself for a while now and looking for meal ideas.


  4. how did you get to be so cool? (srs) what is the best conditioning for your buck? i don't do much conditioning, and i'm suffering for it. i have been on wendler's 5/3/1 for a long time and recently started doing the boring but big, and hopefully that will help, but aside from that, what is the best you can think of that affects strength the least, since that is my priority? thanks.

  5. Adam -

    If you are looking to improve your conditioning then doing some conditioning work after lower body work days (like squats or deads) is a good place to start. If you are in bad condition and don't want it to negatively impact your strength gains start with some walking at a brisk pace for 15 minutes minutes with a progression scheme.

    So if you are at home/gym, then walk for 7.5 minutes from the house/gym, and make a note of where you are at. Then walk back in the same 7.5 minutes. Make sure you time it. The next time you walk, try to beat your distance. Never exceed the 15 minutes. If you have to do a little jog sometimes, then walk after a few weeks, that's ok. Do this twice a week after lower body days.

    If you only have 1 lower body day do it after the workout then the day after an upperbody session. When you feel like your condtioning improves to a solid level let me know and we'll go from there. Good luck!


    Anonymous - Eating

    A typical day lately has been like so....

    breakfast - two english muffins with 2 whole eggs and 4 egg whites with 1.5 ounces of cheese.

    lunch - 1 can of tuna with two slices of bread and mayo and 1.5 apples

    snack - cottage cheese with 1 cup of pineapple, 15-20 almonds, and 1 cup of grapes.

    dinner - generally 5-7 ounces of chicken, fish, or beef, with a large salad with oil/vinegar and quite a bit of fruit afterwards

    snack at night - usually the same as before with the cottage cheese.

    I do in fact have a scoop of protein powder now and then if I am in a hurry but I stick with the food 90% of the time. Hope this helps.

    Jonathan - There are a lot of ways to do this but I think currently this might be my favorite diet. Basically limit the grains as much as possible, eat your fats first (almonds, peanut butter, etc) to slow the absorption of carbs into the blood stream, then eat all of the veggies and fruit you really want. Protein intake is around a gram per pound bodyweight.

    I've done the no and low carb thing and I feel awful most of the time until I adjust. I prefer something I can stick with instead of a temporary diet, so when I need to make changes to gain mass I have little to change.


    Anonymous - Pressing

    That's a solid plan IMO. Bill Starr was big on pressing 3 times a week to drive up the press. What I would do is actually overhead press twice a week, then incline once a week. Do high rep dips to round it out.

    So something like this...

    Day 1
    Seated Military Press/Press Behind the Neck - 2x5, back off set of 8
    Dips - 4 sets of 10-20 reps

    Day 2
    Incline - 5x5 same weight (be conservative)
    Front Raises - 3x12

    Day 3
    Standing Press - 5/4/3/2/1
    Dips - 4 sets of 10-20

    A couple of points here. Be CONSERVATIVE with this much volume. If you push the weights too fast you will get overtrained and you will get injured.

    Second, do cuff work after two of the sessions. Both internal and external rotation.

  6. Paul,

    I am training for a push/pull meet which is in November (about 15 weeks out). I train 5/3/1 and in the past I followed the program as written, then threw in some heavy singles close to the meet then deloaded the last week. I have some numbers I really want to hit in November and was thinking about trying a peaking program, but really don't have a clue what I'm doing. I have the Ed Coan tapes, but they are like 20 years old and the intensity at the end seems nuts... can you point me in the right direction?


  7. I think Jim's 5/3/1 program is fine for getting ready for a meet.

    Here is what I would do. Set aside 8 weeks.

    6 weeks of training -

    1 week deload -

    The week of the meet -

    Now follow me here.

    For the weeks leading up to those 6 weeks just get the reps in. Be fresh when you start your final 6 weeks.

    The 6 weeks of training will be two 5/3/1 cycles back to back. No deload.

    The 3rd week you want to triple your openers.

    The 6th week you want to triple something that is around 92% of your planned second attempt.

    Use the lower percentages as your "assistance" work and bust out the reps on those hard.

    So on week 1 you do 65%, 75%, 85% x 5 for each. Just hit the 85% x 5. then do 75% for reps and 65% for reps. Leave about 2 reps in the tank each time. So you're not training to failure, but it certainly constitutes hard work.

    On the final week of training don't do this. Just get the reps in and make sure they feel strong and fast. So train your nuts off for the 5 weeks, then the 6th week get your planned weights in. Rest up the 7th, get your first and second attempts in at the meet, then bust for a PR on the third.

    Hope this helps.

  8. I have a 9 year old interested in sports and lifting. Currently, I have him doing simple bodyweight movements. Assuming his interest doesn't wane, how and when should I introduce him to weight training? Any special diet recommendations? TIA

  9. How far should be the hills in order to be effective for conditioning?


  10. TIA - Great question. I have an 8 year old that is getting ready for gymnastics after summer and she has been training all summer. Chins, push ups, dips, lunges, bodyweight squats, and sit ups. This has been awesome for her and I hope the training has been awesome for your son as well.

    I wouldn't sweat introducing him to weights until puberty. That's my general guideline. So around 14 or so for the majority of young men.


    Hills - This is a difficult question to answer. I guess just speaking plainly, long enough to allow you to run. If I HAD to put a length on it, I'd say 30-40 yards would be a minimum, but you could even condition on a shorter hill, it would just be somewhat of a pain. I think the hill I train on is around 80 yards. This seems to be about perfect for me.

  11. Paul,

    Clarification on peaking for the meet... just want to make sure I have this... I got the first 6 weeks down, but when you said "On the final week of training don't do this. Just get the reps in and make sure they feel strong and fast. So train your nuts off for the 5 weeks, then the 6th week get your planned weights in. Rest up the 7th, get your first and second attempts in at the meet, then bust for a PR on the third."

    do you mean that I do a normal deload for week 7 and then take take week 8 (week leading up to the meet) off compeletely? Sorry if it's obvious and I missed it.

  12. Yeah deload like a normal deload the 7th week but don't lift at all the 8th week going into the meet. So you won't lift at all 7 days out from the meet.

    Let me also clarify the other parts.

    Week 3 you will do 5/3/3 <- Do the triple with your planned opener.

    Week 6 you will do 5/3/3 <- Do the triple with around 92% of your second attempt. On this week don't do any of the high rep down sets. Just hit the triple in the final week. Then do the normal deload, and then take the final 7 days before the meet completely off.

    Hope this clarifies it.

  13. movements that you think people shouldnt be doing in the gym???

  14. Anything that hurts them.

    Anything on a wobble board or swiss ball.

    Anything that isn't awesome.

  15. Doin tons better man. Thanks for asking.

  16. Floor press..yes or not
    for the raw bencher ?

  17. So long as it doesn't aggravate anything, and as an assistance movement? Sure. Run it and see how your bench moves with it. Just be smart with the volume if you're still benching with it as well.

    I have been using the dumbbell version for my rehab and actually like it a ton. Better than the barbell version for me.

  18. Paul,

    I think I'm onto something, but want to see if you've done anything like this before I send my Mensa application in. I alternate a focus on strength for one week with the following week on hypertrophy/volume. Week 3, back to strength with a little more poundage added, rinse and repeat cycle forever. My hopes are that you retain the effects of those initial weeks of a linear periodization model. As an example, the strength week bench day would be 2 board presses at 315x4x5, then next week is full presses at something like 240x5x8. Chinups on strength week would be weighted at something like 60(lbs)x4x5, next week is just bodyweight pulls for BWx6x12. You get the idea. I don't see the downside yet, if the ultimate goal is purely strength increases. The higher volume week provides some respite for the joints and the volume seems to help with recovery. I've been doing this for 8 weeks after many cycles on 5/3/1 and the results seem to be great for someone who has training for a few years (and gains are getting slower and harder). I'm sure this isn't anything revolutionary, but it has been a nice change from banging my head on a never-ending wall of high %1RM /low rep training. Thx again for putting out the Q&A.

  19. I've done something similar in the past where I had a strength day with low reps and then another day (same muscle groups/movement patterns) where I chose high rep movements or lighter movements, i.e. back squats one week then fronts the next or 1 legged squats, etc.

    This is actually very interesting, esp for an offseason type program. Keep me updated on how you do with it and the whole lay out.

  20. Hi Paul
    Not sure if this Q&A is still live, if it is I'd be interested to hear your top 3, 5 or 10 (or whatever numbe is appropraite) training books?

    Love the blog and glad to hear the bicep is on the mend!


  21. Thanks Dan.

    Here are the ones I would include....

    Starting Strength - Obviously the be all-end all of books for how beginners should train.

    Jim's 5/3/1 - What can be said about Jim's book that hasn't already been said about Afghanistan?

    The Complete Keys to Progress - The John McCallum classic.

    Brawn (the first one) - McRoberts first book that centered around smart routines and basics rather than the injury boogeyman.

    Super Squats - The 20 rep squat classic with a gallon of milk to gain weight.

    Encyclopedia of Modern Bodybuilding - You gotta have Arnold in there. The way he shaped lifting still has an impact to this day.

    Bigger Muscles in 42 Days - No joke here. I used this book back when I was a teenager. It's a superslow protocol book, but what I really got out of it was HOW TO EAT. I really learned how much I needed to eat to get big and without this book I don't know that I ever really learn that lesson. The training was brutally tough too, super-slow or not. Giant sets of squats/leg presses/leg extensions/squats again are hard no matter how the hell you do it.