Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Weekly Q & A.......

Leave a name and a question!  Good read for single guys below.  Click on the pic to view bigger......


  1. Paul,

    Strong-15. Hasn't happened but just curious for future planning. Say you do the 1xAMAP week and it falls short of your planned attempt for that phase by at least 10 lbs. (we'll say for either squat or deadlift). Where would you go from there? Drop poundage off the planned attempt and try again, or run it again with the same weight and get a few more weeks of training behind you for another shot at it?

  2. hey paul, i just statred bill starrs big 3 program: squt, bench, clean 3 times a week, im sure you know what it entails. i love the simplicity of it and i feel great using the light medium heavy approach. however i want a pair of forearms so big they resemble a bowling pin. what do recomend for beefing up my popeyes?

  3. Hey Paul,

    I had an idea about retaining strength while dieting and I wanted to hear your thoughts on it.

    Basically, a couple times a day, you work up to a double or single that's heavy, but not quite max effort, say a double at 80% or a single at 85%. If you have weights at your home, this can take 10-15 minutes max. I admit it would be hard to do if you didn't have weights at your home.

    But the idea here is you get a lot of "cns bang" for your "glycogen buck" if that makes any sense...You're constantly stimulating your cns without requiring the recovery that traditional training requires. Perhaps this can not only be a good way to get stronger while on a big calorie deficit, but also a way to convince your body to hang on to muscle a little better too.



  4. Justin - Well if you read around you'll see I don't believe the CNS has anything to do with lifting weights, because well, it doesn't. It's broscience. Your central nervous system doesn't have anything at all to do with lifting. The only people that talk about this are guys on the internet.

    Second, it might work on a short term basis but eventually a calorie deficit is going to zap strength. The length of time for each person is just going to vary. It's better to do something like have a refeed the day before you lift and cut lifting back to twice a week if getting in better shape is your goal.

    Bigs - If you are programming properly for the first two phases there is almost no way this can happen. Remember the first two phases are based around your opener and second attempt so if you're not strong enough to make your opener you programmed badly. It might happen in phase 3 if you're having an off day, but I wouldn't worry about that one. But it should NEVER happen in phase 1 and 2.

    Nick - Forearms have a big mix of slow and fast twitch fibers and recover fast. So one thing I would do is get some dummbbells at home or load up a barbell and do either behind the back wrist curls or seated wrist curls and knock out 2 sets of 15-20 every day. Do this for a month.

  5. Hey Paul! I just joined a private gym with all the goodies a meathead like me could want. Everything I need to get bigger and stronger. But they also have tons of sleds, a wide selection of tires. I want to plug in two hard conditioning days into my M/W/F schedule. One quick and nasty session after deadlifts on wednesday and one day saturday. What are some tire flip / sled drag routines you recommend? Anything I SHOULDNT be doing?

  6. Pat - If they have any sledge hammers I'd do some tire sledge hammer work in intervals after pressing day. On the nasty session day do the sled work.

    nothing I recommend against really. Just get in shape man.

  7. No sledge hammers but I am pretty sure i could bring my own. What size should I get? 20lb?

  8. Hi Paul,

    Since last week I started on - I have some n00b questions,

    - I don't have dip bars (homegym, basically just a power rack), is there a substitute exercise, or should I invest in a pair of gym rings to hang up?

    - you seem to advocate not training for mass if you're not lean. I'm 5'7", 158lbs. Don't think I've ever been shredded but not fat either. Am I understanding right that I should condition before I start strength training?


  9. Job - do push ups instead of dips.

    As long as you're around the 10% range you should be fine.

    Pat - 8 pound. Go for speed so you really get worked.

  10. Any tips on strengthening grip? My deadlift could be so much better with a better grip. I do use the hook grip to satisfactory results but it's not where I want it. And also I feel I can squat more weight than deadlift which doesn't seem right. I am able to really pull the bar apart when benching but have not been able to utilize this technique with deadlifting, I just can't seem to get a good grip. I've abandoned the lifting straps per yours and others advice.

  11. I have a question about your Big - 54321 program for mass building. When you have run it, has it taken you into new territory? New PRs, etc. Or has it just been maintaining your strength ceiling and increasing you higher rep strength only. Curious. Seems to me if you ran it for a significant amount of time all strength levels would increase.

  12. Thx for never knowingly giving out.."the wrong advices." ;-)

  13. Here is a different kind of question for you... I am having trouble getting a good weight lifting program for my wife. Everything I know is geared towards strength/size which are not her goals at all. I've tried modified versions of things I have done which go well for a few weeks then she starts complaining its not what she wants to do or she doesn't see the point in doing the sets/reps I give her. Any suggestions?

  14. Anonymous - Check my early articles about weight training for women. Go back to the first month of the blog. It's not hard to find.

    Paul - No problem. LOL

    Zac - Yeah man, it's been my bread and butter for a long time and what I have used to gain the most mass and strength, I just never put it into a design like this. Run it as long as you're still growing and not getting too fat.

    Anonymous - Grip Strength -

    High Rep Deads plus long holds at the top for the last rep. So on the last rep before you put it down, hold it at the top for a good count of 10-12.

    Kroc Rows for set of 30-40

    Hanging Abs - If you aren't using straps here try increasing the reps each workout. The more reps = the longer you are hanging there = the more grip work you are doing.

    Rather than doing grip work try to figure out things like this that improve the grip with the shit you are already doing.

    Hope this helps.

  15. For Job:

    If you've got a power rack at home, just go up to Home Depot, get a couple lengths of pipe and lay those across your safety supports inside your power rack.

    Boom. Dips.

    You can also do this with two barbells, but I prefer the pipes because I want something with a bit more diameter for dips.


  16. Hi Paul,

    Just wondering if you could further elaborate on you pinion that the CNS has nothing to do with lifting weights?

    From 'Supertraining' - siff/verkhoshansky, there is a detailed explanation of basically you can get stronger by structural changes in the muscle (hypertrophy), or by function (synchronization/rate coding of neurons firing). I'm paraphrasing, and may have got the terms mixed up from what I remember, but basically this explains why a person that maintains an identical lbm can continue to gain strength due to becoming more efficient with the motor recruitment when lifting.

    Are you arguing against this statement or are you referring to something else with reference to CNS involvement? If so could you provide me reference materials as to why? I'm just curious on your stance, and don't take this as trolling or anything.

    Thanks in advance.

  17. Here is something I posted on it from a while back......

    Basically the CNS has nothing to do with lifting because it's hidden away in the brain and spine. The somatic branch of the periphrial nervous system is impacted by lifting.

    Basically there isn't anything peer reviewed out there or anything from the medical community that backs this whole CNS bullshit issue. CNS burnout and "training the CNS" is all a broscience myth. If there is a nervous system that is related to lifting it's the periphreal one. But the CNS? Not even possible. If someone had CNS "burnout" they would be in the hospital.

    Just an anecdotal way to show how silly this shit is, I've walked into the gym and tried to squat, and felt weak, heavy legged, and couldn't squat for shit. I was told I had CNS burnout. Yet walked back into the gym the next day and would have an awesome squat workout and maybe hit a PR (this has happened on many occasions). If CNS burnout existed it would be more linear. Then the recovery would be linear. It's not and there is no such thing.

    If lifting taxed the nervous system in this kind of way don't you think the medical community would be all over this? They aren't because it's just broscience and they know better. I have multiple doctor friends that are all lifters that laugh at this shit as well and don't even bother with it.

    Maybe I'll interview one of em about it in the future to further drive this point home.

  18. Paul-

    What do you think of this:


    I saw this on the show Tabboo on National Geographic and almost shit my pants. It is a for real thing.

  19. Paul I know a while back you posted a list of movements for minor muscle groups that you could do every day or every other day before training the big lifts. Do you still stand by that? And I cant find it in your blog to save my life.

  20. Yeah man. Stuff to get you warmed up and hit some weak areas before you hit the big lifts......

    before squats and deads -

    hip and thigh machine
    heavy calf work
    leg curls

    Before pressing -

    Bicep work
    Cuff work

    Basically something that works to get you pretty lathered up (no homo) before you hit the big stuff so that you're already feeling good and loose. I also recommend a general warm up like 5-10 minutes of walking and some stretching after your first few sets.

  21. can you write an article or alittel guide of how warm up correctly ?

  22. Paul,

    Your blog is an excellent resource for training, diet, and lift in general. My question is what is your philosophy for dealing with difficult people in life and at work?

  23. Paul where do you think somatic control of muscle contraction is initiated?

    And how are the CNS and PNS connecte? (physically and functionally)

  24. For Job. The backs of 2 chairs can be used for dips.

  25. DK - My philosophy about life in general is to be honest with people, even if can be hurtful at first, and to treat people with a certain layer of respect until they prove they don't deserve it. In other words, every person you cross paths with you should show some general courtesy to until it is no longer warranted. From that point you have to decide how to handle each individual and individual situations.

    Also, try to live life in a way where you never have to apologize for your words or actions. That's really it in a nutshell.

    Ash - I know where you are going with this. Voluntary muscle contraction is initiated from the CNS either from the brain, however the issue here is, either a muscle contracts or it doesn't. So the CNS is more like a light switch if you will. Either you turn the switch on or off. After the initiation happens from the brain, that's it. Trying to tie in training to that simple on or off switch is well, retarded.

    No offense but if you want to debate this stuff there's a board full of other broscience believers that will join right in.

    But there isn't a single peer reviewed study that talks about CNS burnout with weight training or talks about the importance of weight training as a way to "train" the central nervous system. Because well, it's retarded horseshit.

    See a real doctor OR reference the MAYO CLINIC, JOHN HOPKINS, and REAL MEDICAL MINDS please. This stuff is mythical broscience that is not substantiated by the medical community and never will be, because well, they know it's ridiuclous horseshit and so do I.

    I don't even get that deep into this subject other than to say that it's stupid horseshit because as I noted, I have several good DOCTOR friends who lift and are smarter than am I, and when I asked one about "CNS burnout" he laughed in my face and asked me who told me that shit.

    "Louie Simmons"

    "Where does he practice at?"

    I was too embarrassed at this time to continue the conversation.

    My best advice in regards to this is to stay off of boards, don't get advice regarding the central nervous system from fucking meatheads, and just lift weights. In the future I may grab two of my doc friends to interview for here to really shoot this nonsense into the dirt, but for now I don't care that much. Other than just to say, it's bullshit.

  26. No question here just wanted to say have a good Easter Sunday.

  27. Paul, I don't want to hijack this thread, but to D.K.'s comment; I agree with Paul, you have to treat people with respect and common courtesy. But, you don't have to be their best friends.

    At the school I work at there are 3 really bitchy ladies who talk about everyone and complain that no one but them does anything around the school. My solution, smile and say hello to them, but don't do out of my way to be friends with them. You don't need that shit in your life.

    Paul, and Jim Wendler's life approaches are simple; focus on what is important and let the rest fall to the side. A difficult person at work will still be difficult tomorrow. But the way to handle and perceive them. is a whole different story. Unless they attack you or your family, courtesy is all they deserve.

    Sorry about the hijack, BTW I have been able to lose 20 lbs. using Paul's advice and put muscle back on with not to much problem. Thanks Paul

  28. Thanks man! You have a good one as well!

  29. I'm going into a pretty hectic and stressful period at my job. I spend a lot of time on the move and often miss meals. I keep some protein powder under the desk to do what I can to keep up, but a man can't survive on whey alone. Any suggestions on extremely quick non-perishable meals? I'm thinking maybe bring a bunch of PBnJs from home or something?

  30. Protein bars, trail mix, peanut butter, canned beef stew or hearty chicken, throw a loaf of bread in there and try to go through that before the end of the week. Lots of options.

  31. I did a research proposal on fatigue mechanisms in neuro-morphology class I took over in the medical school a couple years back. The literature basically says that central fatigue (i.e. the CNS) is really only a factor in acute situations. In other words your "CNS" limits your ability to maintain maximal contractions during one set or session of exercise, but it does not appear to limit performance after several hours of recovery. There is no evidence that supports the notion that your CNS will limit your performance because you did something even the day before. Obviously we don't perform at a maximum level all the time, but exactly why is occurs is likely multi-factorial and not well understood in real-world situations.
    On to my question. In the past I've seemed to do best with my DL doing mostly singles and submaximal intensity (with an occasional "heavy" single, but not grind out efforts very often)and doing heavy back raises. The DL for reps approach just doesn't seem to work as well for me. Do you think I should go back to what has worked before or do you think I should give the DL for reps another try? I know I may have answered my own question, but wanted some other opinions as well.


  32. Sean - Again, I plan on getting several medical minds involved in this in the future but basically what you are saying is half wrong and half right.

    You can't "train" your CNS. Which is sort of what you are saying. As I noted before, the function of voluntary contraction is initiated from the brain, however once the brain turns that on there are a ton of things that happen that the "CNS" has zero to do with.

    In layman terms, it's still about getting stronger. I you get stronger, your brain tells stronger fibers to fire. Like a 100 watt bulb compared to a 300 watt bulb. You flick the light switch (CNS) but it's the bulb that determines how bright the light will be.

    Well, stronger muscles are still the be all end all factor in how much you are going to lift. Not your CNS.

    I personally don't understand the fascination with this bullshit by most guys, especially when it's all broscience.

    Do a google search for CNS burnout or CNS fatigue and tell me on the first 2 pages how many of those sites are lifting sites and how many are medical sites? I think we both know the answer there.

    As far as finding what works for you, I have found at various times that I did well with reps, and other times I did well with singles. This has nothing to do with my "CNS" and more to do with the fact that my body just responded better to certain stimulus at certain times than others. Why that is, I don't know, and I believe we can't know.

    I think the mental aspect of certain training methodologies is a big deal personally. In other words, your "buy in" to what you want to do. If you don't want to do 20 rep squats, you aren't going to. And if you do, the effort will be shit. If you want to pull singles and are geeked about that, you'll do well. Of course programming plays a part.

    Either way, this is not an area that I talk about as a REAL factor because not a single bit of it is proven other than theories and broscience. When The Mayo Clinic or the NEJOM comes out with some peer reviewed studies about this that support it, I will change my mind. But until then there is ZERO hard evidence to support it other than a bunch of guys making excuses for everytime they have a bad workout or feel weak.

    Just concentrate on getting stronger.

  33. Hey Paul, thx for all the infos you give, and thx for the opportunity to ask you something!!!

    I'm a student and currently would prefere, for economic reasons, protein shake and powders...what can be an adeguate substitute for pre-post WO?

    Milk, eggs or else? Thx a lot!!!!!

  34. Milk is just fine post workout. In fact, go with whole milk which has been proven to be better post workout than skim. Add in a cup of rice with some raisins and you've got basically a perfect PWO meal.

  35. Thx a lot man!!!!!! A banana is fine for the pre right?

  36. Sorry I wasn't clearer earlier. I agree with you completely regarding the "CNS fatigue" stuff. Central fatigue doesn't seem to play a significant role once your rest periods get beyond a few minutes, at least that's basically what I found in the literature. The motor cortex itself is capable to sending out a signal for a maximum contraction nearly any time. If you are interested seeing the literature I dug up on the subject, I still have it saved. Let me know and I can e-mail you what I have.
    I also don't think the DL training issue has anything whatsoever to do with "CNS fatigue".
    Anyway, it's good to see someone else out there willing to do some critical thinking and not just start spouting off whatever terminology they heard is some article without knowing what they are actually talking about.
    Keep up the good work.


  37. Sean - That's what I get for responding post workout when my brain isn't functioning at 100%. Yeah send it on over to me. Thanks!

    Silvio - Try some Rye Bread with jelly and some cottage cheese. Not much either. Like 2 slices and a cup of the cottage cheese. Works perfect and cheap.

  38. hi paul

    i know im a bit late with posting a question and i hope youll answer anyway:P

    if one can do alot of pull-ups/chins with and without weight even fatigued,would adding pulldowns into ones program be "overkill" since im doing variations of pull-ups and chins every other day.

    looking at emg numbers show that pulldowns are inferior to chins/pull ups but i would like to hear what your opinion are and maybe what other benefits there might be with pulldowns.

    -John , your trusted norwegian blog reader :P

  39. I like pulldowns as a change up to chins, and I am a decent chinner too (at least I like to think I am). I think more than anything I like em for the mental break up. Some days I just dont feel like doing chins, and do the pulldowns instead.

    You can always just switch em out. Pulldowns 1 session and then chins the next. I have actually found that this helped my chinning for some reason.

  40. Hi Paul

    I've spent a bit of time looking through old posts and would like to say how much I'm enjoying your blog. As I'm fairly new to lifting for purely strength gains (just done 3 real gym sessions haha) after years of conditioning work, could you recommend some worthwhile forums so I could continue to educate myself? I've just come to realize that being strong is more important to me than a 3 min 42 sec 100 burpee challenge or any of that kind of gig and I don't really know which forums are worth checking out.



  41. A great place for someone like you to start is with Mark Rippetoe's Starting Strength. I can't give a higher recommendation.