Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Weekly Q & A

Leave a name and question home girls.


  1. Hey Paul,

    I had a question about your dieting strategy of always keeping fruit on hand. How much fruit is too much? I am consuming about 3-4 apples, 6-8 clementines, and 2-3 bananas per day. I am 6'3" 231lbs (formerly 237) and I am just trying to get my ~18% bf down to a more reasonable level before I continue bulking again.

  2. Hi Paul,

    Thanks for the programs. Awesome work.

    I have a question regarding the back-off sets in the big-15 program. I understand that to move on to the 3rd week, you need to beat your first week's back-off reps (12-15, according to your ballpark).

    But for weeks 3 and 4 (and then 5 and 6), do you have an approximation for reps to shoot for in the back-off sets? I apologize if it is in the pdf and I missed it.



  3. Jay -

    I try to keep a general rule of thumb of nothing less than 10 reps on my back offs when I am in mass building mode.

    Kyle -

    If you want to work it that way that's fine. Just make sure you are limiting your carb intake to fruit only then. Then it will work very well.

  4. Sorry, I don’t want to be pushy

    I had a question about your dieting strategy:

    do you think that “eating everything under the sun” strategy for gaining mass is suitable for average Joe how is thirty – forty years old and seeking for mass? For an skinny fat men would be better the clean eating mass gain diet ?

    Tks, Marius

  5. Marius -

    EAting everything under the sun is usually reserved for really skinny young guys.

    Clean eating for mass is what I will normally suggest for guys that are 25+ and already lean.

  6. Hey Paul,

    Got a deadlift stalling question. I find when I'm failing a PR attempt lately I feel that I'm too far forward to engage my hips/glutes to lock it out, I don't think I'm getting enough power off the floor and/or my setup is off putting the weight too far in front for me to lock it out. It makes it to my knees or slightly below but can't seem to make a solid transfer. Any suggestions?

  7. Pull off of blocks for the next 6 weeks. Nothing higher than 4" blocks however, so the bar should hit you at midshin. If you bought my big15 program just plug it into that spread sheet. So you'll be pulling high reps on the back off.

    This is exactly what I had a problem with as well. This will help when you go back to the floor because you will be in a better leveraged position. I think you'll find from the blocks you will feel weak as shit. If so, then we're right on track.

  8. Hey Pauly C,
    Do you see any problems with running the strong15 plan for deads and the big 15 for everything else? I ask bc my glutes are already freaking huge compared to everything else, and I don't want too much hypertrophy in the ass region.
    Thanks a lot.

  9. Your butt can't get too big. Just get some of the fat off of it.

    You could mix em I suppose however that's kind of bastardizing it. There is a synergy involved with each program. The squat and dead help build on each other with the volume and being put together.

    I need my ass to get bigger. I don't think it can be big enough!

  10. How do you progress from one cycle of Big 15 to the next? I would just add 5 or 10 lbs to the max for each lift, like with 5/3/1, but I wanted to know your thoughts.

  11. You don't even have to do that Justin. You could leave it the same until you have hit some PR goals.

    I did this, and still do this, for long periods when I am trying to gain mass.

    If you look at the 5/3/1 cycle I have been running right now I haven't changed the weights at all. They haven't moved, but that's because I am dieting and wanting to get leaner.

    But either way, if more size is the goal keep the reps on the higher end. As I noted in the other question, I try not to get below 10 reps on the back off sets when I am training for mass. So If you ran a cycle and made 8 reps in week 6, you might want to keep the same max plugged in right? Then try and get 10.

    But getting back to how I've run these things, I love keeping the back off sets pretty much the same for a while and trying to constantly break the rep PR's on them. So for bench 335x15 has been a goal of mine for a while. When I start eating again in a few weeks and go back into mass gaining mode, 335 will probably be the heaviest I ever go even if I do two cycles back to back.

    Another example would be the squat. I would like to hit 475x15 and 500x12 so I probably won't go higher than that in either cycle as well. I also want to deadlift 500x20 so I will chase some high rep deads too.

    See where I'm going with this? I pick some goals for my back offs, and I tend to chase those for a while. So pick some goals you'd like to hit in terms of reps, and make those your last two weeks of the cycle. Take a week off, then go at it again. I find this rewarding and fun. I figure when I can squat 500x12+ raw, pull 500x20 and bench 335x15 I'll blow by 1800 raw fairly easily when I switch over to my meet training. Not only because of the strength, but because of the mass gain from achieving all of those rep PR's I am after.

    That's a long post but I wanted to give some insight there.

  12. Ok Paul, I'll run the big 15 as is, my wife likes the glutes anyways

  13. Hey the women like some junk in the trunk just like us man.

  14. Paul, looking forward to my building phase starting this monday, the one you outlined in the book! one thing I want to do is bring up my yoke. I amthinking of adding hang cleans before squats and deadlift days! 3-5 sets. I am getting back into dead's as well, took some time off of them and I know one thing, deadlifts hammer the traps..thanks for the programs!


  15. This is not a bad idea at all Greg. I put shrugs in there on both squat/dead days for that very reason. But adding in the cleans will help the yokeness too.

  16. Are you one of the people from Kansas who love Jayhawk basketball or one of the people who hate them?

    I have been a kansas fan forever (if they are a three seed or better I gotta pick them to win it all), and if I win my pool I am going to buy your programs with the money I win.

    So in conclusion, I just wanted to give you another reason to rock chalk jayhawk.

  17. Thanks PAUL, I will probably do shrugs on DL day and the cleans on SQUAT day! Have you ever done farmer walks? the times I have done those, those wrecked my traps big time..Depending on how I feel, I will do those but the only bad thing, doing those in a commerical gym blows...b/w the looks and folks standing around with there thumbs up there ARSE makes it tough but skrew it, I will do them here and there...Thanks

    Greg M

  18. Greg - I haven't done farmers walks in forever but I REALLY want to get them in there soon. Everyone says they are the shit for trap development and you get some conditioning in to boot. This seems like an awesome win.

    Jayhawk - To be honest I'm completely indifferent. I am originally from Louisiana so I'm an LSU fan and generally pull for the SEC in everything. One of my good friends played football for KU so I pull for them when he's around if that counts. LOL

  19. hi paul!

    I think your books are great. Thank you for your effort! I have two remaining questions:

    1)What is the main advantage of 54321+ over just ramping up to a lets say top set of 3 and then do a backup?

    2)Have you ever been running 54321+ in a two days a week setup? (And of course, if yes, question three would be if you would mind outlining it?^^)

    Thanks in advance


  20. Bernhard - You have to think about the application of it. As I noted, the 54321 is really the primer for the main set, which is the back off. So the single you do is nothing more than a warm up to make the back off set easier. Doing a top set of 5 or a hard triple actually will take away from the back off set a little bit.

    Two week setup was just like all my two week set ups -

    Day 1
    incline db
    barbell rows

    Day 2
    Squat/dead (alternate each week)
    SLDL/leg Press (alternate each week)
    Calf Raises

    Then every other week I'd do some heavy PBN and arm work.

  21. Hey Paul,
    Really need you´re help here. Currently training like this
    Squat top set of 12-15
    Leg Curl 2x8-12 (leaving a rep in the hole)
    Leg Extensions 2x8-12
    Calf raise 2x20
    Bench top set of 8-12
    Seated DB Shoulder Press top set of 10
    Latpull 2x8-12
    Tri Pressdown 2x10-12
    ez Curl 2x10-12
    Parallel Grip DL top set of 8-12
    Seatd leg Curl 2x10-15 (leaving a rep in the tank)
    Leg Press top set of 20-30
    Calves 2x10
    Incline DB bench 2x8-12 (not all out)
    Milli Press top set of 10
    Cable Rows 2x8-12
    Tri pressdown 2x10-12
    Db Bi Curl 2x10-12
    Wed Repeat
    Goals: Getting as big as possible.
    Problem: I am gaining bodyweight but my Pressing moves stagnated after one "cycle" of progress. No fuckin idea why. I know it is hard to help over the net, but you might be able to.
    Thanks Odem

  22. You probably started off way too heavy. This is almost always the problem with an early stall.

    I will start my mass building phase in about two weeks. WAtch how light I start off.

  23. Paul,

    What kind of "blocks" do you use for block deadlifts?

  24. They have some really strudy wooden ones at the gym I go to that have padding on top. If you don't have some, use the Reebok steps. I have used those for the same thing. Works just fine.

  25. Paul - I've made a kilo friendly version of your big15 spreadsheet which rounds the numbers to the nearest 2.5 - I changed the formula to (for example) =ceiling(b1*40%,2.5)
    This is 40% of cell b1 rounded to the nearest 2.5.

    I've been doing my 5,4,3,2,1 waaaayy too heavy - back off starting now.

    As discussed previously I shall reduce (possibly slash) the number of exercises as my non-gym related stresses increase - keeping the big "cycle" lifts in there (squats, deads, overheads, bench - maybe chins on overhead day)

  26. i was wondering how you set up your martial arts training? days times and how they work with your lifting and conditioning schedule?

  27. When I am training martial arts on my own essentially, I do all of my heavy bag working, my boxing, and work on other stuff by myself on conditioning days.

    When I am going down to the studio to train with the guys I usually train 3 days a week and lift on two days of the week, sometimes three. So basically what happens is, martial arts becomes my conditioning. At Krav we condition pretty hard anyway so I just use that for my conditioning.

  28. What do you do when you have a run of a few weeks when you're low on motivation for the weights, Paul?


  29. Get away from the gym until I feel myself itching to lift again. So no lifting at all until you feel that.

  30. Quick Q - what would percentage would you take off from Squats and Deads for someone wanting to start avoiding the use of a belt (I think near zero for deads - but a reasonable amount for squats) ?

  31. Probably start at 70% of your max or so and go from there. Don't be surprised if you feel weak as shit at first. It WILL come back however.

  32. Paul,

    What are your thoughts on Wendler's bulking and dieting advice of:

    3 big meals and drink a weight gain shake after each meal for mass

    3 big meals and drink a protein shake before eating for weight loss

  33. Jim actually did the dieting one and lost weight on it, so he has merit behind it. I don't even think it's a bad idea.

    My only issues with the 3 big meals for bulking and a protein shake after is, you're going to feel full as shit for hours, and feel pretty poor. I'd just split the shakes in between each meal by 2 hours or so.








    Like that. That's old school and it works.

  34. Eric Lilliebridge has said on his log that he dislikes shrugs and loves upright rows. Is there a safe way to do upright rows or are you destined for shoulder "issues" ?

  35. Just do em lightish, and don't pull above the low pec line. Learn how to squeeze your traps when you do em.

    Upright rows are a cosmetic exercise. In other words, they don't have much of a use except for making your traps bigger. So learn how to squeeze the traps at the top and flex them at the bottom to get the most out of em.

  36. Paul,
    Big fan of your work. I have been using 5/3/1 and I feel like I want to build a little more mass while I use it. What are your thoughts on this:

    Upper Days:
    Main Lift

    Lower Days:
    Main LIft
    Lower Body Lift

    I would probably be using either 50% sets or Rest Pause


  37. Remember that mass gain is going to be driven more by how much you are eating. So long as you are lifting heavy and recovering it will happen if the calories are high enough.

  38. OK Paul, I know I'm really jumping in late here. I read your ebooks and I like both programs. I'm 51 and not really wanting to gain much weight, if any. But I would like to get my lifts at least close to where they were when I competed. Could I just run the Strong-15 indefinitely, or would I be better off on the Big-15 even though I'm not looking for a lot of mass? I was leaning toward the Strong-15 just for the 2-additional singles programmed in. I'm always afraid if I back-off the amount of weight too much, I might not get it back(hey-it's how guys in their 50's have to think sometimes!)
    Thanks, Paul

  39. Yup, just run the strong15. You'll be good to go.

  40. Paul, your favorite routine for strong15, do you keep the 1-2x10-12 stuff regular or do you use some PIT now and then? Probably doesn't matter, just wondering what you'd do before I begin.

  41. I usually have that built in (on paper) going into a mass phase.

    but i will give you a little hint/tip here. If I have 1-2x10-12 it generally means it's a straight set.

    If it's 1x20-30 it usually means there is a PIT involved. Because of the higher reps. Should make sense. So some rest/pause or a 50% set.

  42. Paul,

    What do you think about using pure compound lifts (dips, chins, presses, squats, deads, rows) for assistance lifts when using 5/3/1?


  43. Awesome idea. That's my recommendation.

  44. Paul, planning to start LRB-365 for the new year. I am currently using Carb Nite as my diet of choice. Do you think it is ok to continue with Carb nite on LRB-365. I know you have outlined 2 diet plans in the book but just wondering what your thoughts were seeing how your are running Carb Nite yourself.

  45. Also a good spot in the LRB-365 you could add in some over head press work. Don't want to bastardize the program.