Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Weekly Q & A

Leave a name and question.......



  1. Hi Paul. A quick question about the 4 way split 3X per week presented in the Big 15 book and the coresponding spreadhsheet. If i do the program 3 days at week and the progresion like you explained, it takes 8 to 9 week to complete de whole cicle. Is this ok ?

    Tks, Marius

  2. I'm glad you brought this up.

    The answer is yes and no. I always recommend seeing how you feel at the 6 week mark, and if poundages are still climbing. If so, run it out for the next 2 weeks or so then take a week off if needed.

    You gotta remember, I don't believe in deloads. Either be in the gym to kick ass, or take time off until you feel refreshed again. I know deloads are all the rage for the past few years, but people got big and strong as shit without ever using deloads and I found them a hindrance.

    So just see where you are at come week 6. If you need a week off, take it. If you're kicking ass, finish out the cycle then take a week off.

  3. Hey Paul, what is your opinion on the guillotine bench (wide grip, lowering the bar above the neck/upper chest) as a assistance exercise for pec strengh? Thanks.

  4. Awful. I am all for saving your shoulders, and this should be renamed the shoulder destroyer.

  5. Howdy Paul,

    For the last 3 months I've been squatting once a week for 3 sets of 5 across (then doing a few front squats after deadlifts on deadlift day), increasing the weight each week. Just yesterday I squatted 405#x3x5, a benchmark I'm pretty happy with. But I am feeling done with the 3 sets of 5 for a while, and am thinking about taking a month or two and peaking with the goal of hitting 500#. Maybe 3-4 weeks working up to one max set of 5, working up to 440#x5, then 3-4 more weeks doing triples, up to 475#x3 or so, then going for 500#. How does this sound as a plan? Thanks!

  6. Sounds like a plan. you shouldn't be too far off from 500 if 405 for sets of 5 has been doable. But that stuff varies for everyone. If 440x5 goes then you're right there in ball park range.

  7. Paul,

    Best website ever! Thanks for all that you do for us lifters out there. More of a philosophy questions that anything...

    I am a former football player (as most of us are) and am trying to get back into the strength game. I have lifted on and off for the better part of a year and a half or so. My lifts are...
    Bench 200, Squat 250, Dead 305, OHP 140, pretty pedestrain lifts. Consistency I think over the long haul will help me improve the most, however if you were to give an idea of what to do to get started on that life long trek to strength what would you suggest?

    I have been thinking about using your ADD Guys Guide to Mass program on elitefts. I would appreciate any advice. Thanks!

  8. I think the main thing is you have to decide on is what philosophy you can best buy into. The guys that I see that bounce around for years and make little progress or quit, are guys that bounced from routine to routine, and from idea to idea.

    I call them intellectual trainers because the idea of new training methods appeals to them more than meaningful progress. I know quite a few of these types actually.

    If I could start over this is what I would have done for the first 5 years.....

    Squatted and Pulled every week. On the same day.

    Focused on bench, incline, and overhead pressing.

    Focused on chins, rows, shrugs, and curls.

    And that's about it. In fact, well that's what I'm still doing today. My ADD routine is a great place to start and puts all these things in place. My current training doesn't look a lot different than that now.

  9. Ok Paul - my dilema is that my ability to get to a "proper" gym is very limited with my new job and the shifts I do.
    There is a small gym at work which has very limited equipment. A smith machine, a bar with those hex plates, dumbells to 25kg (55lb) and a pulldown, cable row thing.
    So I think I'll do Squats, Bench and Deads at a "proper" gym as and when I can get there.
    As for stuff at work - the exercise list looks like something like Smith machine bench or incline, Speed skater squats, clean and press, pulldowns (chins), bent over rows, t-bar rows, stiff leg deads, smith machine shrugs, lunges, cable rows and all the isolation rubbish (flyes, curls, shoulder raises etc)
    I think if I focus on one of the "bigger" movements (A press, the skater squats and a deadlift/row) even though they are the poor cousins of the proper stuff they should be ok for when I cant get to a rack, a bench or some round plates - shouldnt they ?

  10. Yeah you'll be fine.

    Sometimes the situation isn't always ideal. Just bust ass, focus on progression on what you have and you'll be fine once you get back to something that is ideal.

  11. With your above post in mind, where would you personally through in shrugs on the Strong15?

  12. On the assistance day with back and bicep work.

  13. Hey Paul,

    What's your thoughts on BCAA, and is your program primarily for someone on the juice? I don't mean that in any disrespect - thanks.

  14. I love the Scivation Extend stuff. I can't recommend it enough.

    I don't have juiced and non-juiced programs. I think guys not on gear can train 6-7 days a week and be fine, or 2 days a week and be fine. It's all about a persons recovery ability, and how they spread out volume and PI.

  15. Paul, when was the last time you competed in a PL meet and what did you total? Do you have plans to compete again? Enjoy your blog...

  16. My last meet was a couple years ago. I had been sick for a month and had lost 25 pounds by the time I arrived (I weighed in at 217). I had paid my money so I figured screw it. I opened with 455 on squats, then went to 500. All felt light, so I figured I'd hit 550. I unracked it, felt like, sunk it and tore my adductor right off. I opened with bench at a measly 315 and it felt light in my hands but I couldn't push with my legs so I didn't take another attempt. So I took a token dead at like 145, called it a day and got drunk. Since then I haven't competed though I know I'm good for more than 1700 any day of the week no belt/no wraps. I'd like to get an 1800 TRULY raw total on the books (no belt or wraps) at 242 and then hang em up. I really want to get back to fighting and martial arts in the next year. So I'll take a meet sometime at the end of this year and whatever happens happens.

  17. Possibly dumb question... I've pretty much never done shrugs. I've seen decent programs that list them and others that don't. In general should I be doing them and what lifts do they benefit besides shrugs obviously? I think all the dumb people at the gym ruined that lift for me since they use it as an ego lift (only barbell lift they do with decent weight), anytime I see people loading up a lot of weight I think they are going to do something cool but it just turns out to be shrugs.


  18. I've noticed in a few of your posts and articles that you've mentioned Ken Leistner. He was a guy whose training philosophies I liked. Did you train with Leistner? Thanks.


  19. Andy - LOL! I don't know why but I find that funny. Shrugs will help your deadlift with stabilization from the floor. If you've ever pulled something heavy enough you will know that feeling of your traps feeling like they are going to be ripped off. Big strong traps will pretty much help every row and deadlift variation. Plus, big traps are pretty much the most awesome thing ever.

    Geoff - Never trained with Ken but chatted with him a bit back in the day. I also have one of the very few tapes of his workouts ever released. One of the first few that have the full workout (including 407x22 on squats) with the music playing in the back. They made a second tape later that just had the highlights.

  20. In another post, you mentioned that you don't have any love for the push press.

    I was just wondering why that is. Does it tear up your shoulders or something or do you simply find that it offers little or no carry over to regular strict pressing?


  21. My zealotry doesn't allow me to like it.

    I know lots of guys that have good push presses but can't strict overhead for shit. I think the true test of pressing strength is being able to push X amount over your head without the momentum of your hips.

    Like I said, I'm a zealot. ;)

  22. Paul thanks for the response above. Would you reccomend your big15 and strong15 programs for someone with relatively weak starting strength?

  23. I'd recommend Starting Strength by Rippetoe if you're a real rank beginner.

  24. you think the clean and its variations are bad for the shoulders ?

  25. Hi Paul,

    My left bicep has recently become very weak, without any sudden injury that I noticed. I know you've dealt with bicep issues recently. I'd welcome your input on how to treat this so I can get back to making progress.

    The pain is where the bicep joins the forearm. No bruising. Developed gradually over several months, felt most while chinning. It had been getting worse in the prior few weeks as I increased my weekly chinup reps, obviously too quickly. The elbow has been bothering me from all angles for months, probably from poor squat form (pulling down). Tricep strength is not affected.

    At first I just backed off a little, but that wasn't enough. So as of this past week my treatment is:

    - Daily high rep dumbbell curls 3x25
    - Massage, mobility/flexibility work
    - Daily icing
    - Substituting for the lifts that hurt, or at least reducing weight until it doesn't hurt. (i.e. high bar squat instead of low bar, no chinning, light cable rowing feels ok, light OHP - had to reduce this by 25 lbs., considering eliminating it.)

    My questions are:

    1. Am I doing everything I should to make this heal?

    2. Am I putting the bicep at risk by continuing to deadlift, even though deadlifting doesn't hurt and strength in this lift hasn't been affected? Should I go lighter on deads for now, or elminate them altogether just in case?

    3. Under normal circumstances (no injury), which bicep is more at risk when deadlifting - the supinated arm, the neutral arm, or doesn't matter?

    4. I've been focusing on gradual fat loss (losing 1lb or so per week) for several months, while lifting with a minimal program twice a week to maintain strength. Will the calorie deficit impede healing? Should I stop the calorie deficit and return to a fat-loss focus only when I can lift normally, so I can best maintain strength/muscle? (I'm currently around 16-17% bodyfat, aiming for 10-12% so I can start getting stronger again.)



  26. Mike - I would get it checked out by a professional. It's possible you have a nerve problem causing that bicep not to fire correctly. If so, it will just take time. But def see a doctor about it to make sure it's not anything more serious.

  27. Paul,

    What lifters would you say influenced your philosophy?

  28. Just years of trying things out. Finding out what worked and what didn't. Then seeing that repeated again and again over time.

  29. Paul,

    Planning on using an A/B split you reccomended a while back.



    My question is about conditioning, should I do a hard session after my lower day? Thanks

  30. Either right after or the next day.

  31. Great split that you have lay out for what you will have done for the first 5 years of training. I was looking for something just like that, so thanks for that paul.

    What kind of pull after the squat do you recommend? I hope it is a romanian deadlift.