Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Mismatched training ideologies

No big introduction.  You'll get it.

HIIT and Low Carb - Horrible fucking combo.  

"I have an idea, I'll starve my muscle of fuel, then ask them to do anaerobic training.  I love catabolism!"  

Doing sprints and hills and sledge hammer work and all sorts of shit like that works great for burning fat, but the point of it is to actually jack the metabolism so that your BMR in increased for the day.  In other words, you burn more calories doing nothing for the rest of the day than you usually do, because of the interval work.  The problem is with guys who lump in HIIT with low carb.  This is a terribly combination.  If you notice, even low carb guys replenish glycogen with a post workout drink or meal.  But you're supposed to do similar work with sprinting and stuff, on low carbs?  Dumb.  Enjoy losing hard earned lean mass.  

If you're going low carb, do steady state cardio.  It's not very taxing and since you are probably already in a calorie deficit from going low carb, you don't need a ton of it.  30-45 minutes 3-4 times a week at a solid pace will work fantastically.  

Geared style training for raw guys -

With training geared to mimic shirts and suits, you end up training to top portion of each lift.  Box squats unload the quads, board presses train the lock out, too much tricep work, too much hamstring work, too much assistance and not enough emphasis on quads, shoulders, back, and the bottom portion of the lifts.  

Yes I know that some guys have benefited from geared style training but I won't waiver from the fact that they would be much better off training the big 3, and focusing on the strengthening the bottom portion of the lifts rather than doing shit like reverse band work.  

Getting big and lean -

You can't.  One requires a calorie surplus, the other a calorie deficit.  Some novice types can pull this off at first for a little while, but that's about it.  Make up your mind which one you are doing and just go after that.  When you're done, go after the other one.  Again, you can't serve two masters.  

Getting strong and building endurance -

This one isn't happening either.  The more cardio and conditioning you add in, the more strength you're going to lose, unless you balance your strength training down in such a way that you are just trying to maintain what you had.  I've seen guys recommend that a guy train just as much to maintain strength during a hard conditioning phase, as when he was training just for strength alone.  This is full retard.  And if someone tells you this ignore them.

When I am in a conditioning phase or trying to drop fat I narrow down lifting to twice a week.  And there are times I've matched PR's doing this.  This means strength levels are still doing really good.  I have never been able to train 3+ times a week while also doing tons of conditioning, and been able to maintain strength.  After a while the body is just going to decide what energy source gets precedence.  During a lot of hard conditioning, it will be that.  So the smart choice is to trim training down to bare minimum levels, and focus on just keeping what you can.  Doing a shit ton of lifting during these times makes no sense.  

This goes the same for guys who are in a sport.  Trim lifting down to twice a week and practice that sport.  

Using powerlifting to gain mass - 

I had a dope tell me once that "I don't want to do bodybuilding style training for mass, I gain mass on powerlifting training."  This asshat hadn't gained any quality weight in years he would later tell me.  He just did not like bodybuilding style training.  He said he did not feel "athletic" when he did it (WTF does that mean?).  

Lower reps will build some mass, but not like medium to high reps as heavy as you can go.  It's not even close.  Yes, if you are eating a shit ton the scale will move but is it quality?  No.  I know, I've done it.  I've talked to a shit load of guys who have done and we all said the same thing.  It's not a good route to go.  If you want quality mass you have to eat good and train in a bodybuilding style manner.  Go as heavy as you can, with medium to high reps.  The guys I find that complain about this the most, are the fat lazy guys that only want to do singles and doubles.  There is no real mass to be had there in comparison to what heavy high rep work will do for you.  


  1. WRT powerlifting/bodybuilding and mass gains;

    What's your opinion on 10x3 as opposed to 3x10, assuming 60 sec rest between sets with both protocols. Heavier loading on the former, possibly more fatigue with the latter.

    Would you expect any measurable difference between the two?

  2. Short rest periods can make a difference there.

    However, it's kinda like asking is 1x20 is the same as 2x10. A balls out set of 20 on the squat is very much different than 2 sets of 10 with that same weight.

  3. HIIT & Low Carb: Yes I am very guilty of this one and you are absolutely right, its a pile of shit. The only reason I was doing it was to maintain a lower body weight for law enforcement academy. Yeah, I lost weight, muscle weight!

    No longer in the academy, and back on the carbs and loving it. Hitting PR's most weeks and feeling and looking a lot better than the skinny/fat look that I was starting to take on.

    Good post Paul.

  4. "He said he did not feel "athletic" when he did it (WTF does that mean?)." Brilliant.

    I fell victim to the low rep strength training for a while, wondering why I wasn't gaining any muscle. I was told to work in the 5x5 rep range by a PT, and while my main goal was to rehab an injury, I admit to expecting monster gains to go with my monster strength. Not true. There's so much stuff out there that bundles strength and muscle gains together though, and it's confusing for newbies like me. That shit needs clearing up!

    Appreciate the HIIT low-carb hating as always.

  5. I think that one of the biggest issues with guys that prefer low reps is that they are also out of shape, and generally rest forever between singles or sets. If you're going to do singles, then be snappy about it. This 4 and 5 minute shit is nonsense. Training is still training, and it should make you better in prep for competition.

  6. Should guys obtain at least 2x bodyweight in both squat and deadlift before they embark on a bodybuilding programme?

    And would your philosophy of training programme cover newbies as well?

  7. Will - It all depends. If he's after more mass, then just get after mass building. It really doesn't matter what his lifts are at that point if his primary goal is just to get bigger.

    Yes my programs can be used by novice guys if taken in the proper context. I cover that however.

    I honestly think a Cradle to Grave type book would be an awesome thing down the line. And if I can reach some goals this year I may do that. But it would be long and encompassing.

  8. Damn I love this blog. Caught onto it about 2 months ago. Good stuff.

    I was able to jump from 220 with a well defined midsection to the low 230's with a very defined midsection(no idea what my bf% was, nor do I care) while training for football. But I guess most people don't train 4-6 hours a day, I also was 21.

    I tried the low carb and HIIT, and boy did I hit a wall of no energy and feeling like shit, with a huge decrease in performance.


  9. There are probably about a thousand stories like this out there Rob. Training isn't like peanut butter and chocolate where its two great tastes that taste great together. Often times people mix two training methodologies that do NOT taste great together, and end up looking and feeling like shit.

    Glad you like the blog.

  10. Hey Paul you talk so much sense and cut through the crap
    I've got a little soft round the midsection recently. However I've got 4 weeks with no distractions apart from the chance to train. I'd really like make the most of this chance to lean up before I hit another strength phase.
    been suffering paralysis by analysis and not sure how best to go about it. Thinking 3 weight sessions a week (upper, lower, upper), fasted cardio and maybe a hill session. Lowish carbs on off days, moderate on.

  11. 4 weeks -

    calories = bodyweight x 10 with protein at 1 gram per pound (so figure that in when you go to count calories)

    fasted cardio in the morning for 45 minutes every morning

    Lift twice a week - squats and deads on one day (heavy/light and light/heavy week to week) with leg curls, abs, and calves. Then two presses and two pulling movements on the other day. Like bench/incline then chins and rows.

    If you're going to do interval training do it twice a week but do it after you have had some carbs so you're not running on empty.

    Good luck.

  12. Powerlifter Doug Young would have Strength and Bodybuilding days in the 70s. I think Ernie Frantz did the same thing.

  13. This is true. Lots of guys in the 70's who did powerlifting did a lot of bodybuilding when not preparing for a meet. The difference now is, guys are basing their training year round on just doing singles, double, and triples with the big 3.

  14. Hi Paul.

    I just want to start off by saying that you are so right about people (like me) try ti imitate people who train with gears but I don’t and the fact that I sometimes WANT to convince myself that getting big and lean at the same time is possible. The pursuit of a body one desire is dangerous thing when applying methods and stuff one shouldn’t be doing.

    For a long time I liked to do 5x5 routine with different variations either on the movements or the split.In my mind I feel 5rep will give me both strength and also the size, at least that Is what I like to think. Looking back at my old pictures and strength stats I can see that i haven’t build any significant “new” muscle mass by doing 5x5 for over a year regardless off how my diet has been.

    However by doing high rep 9-12 or even more always seem to deliver the results that I want BUT just because someone that are succeeding with the 5x5 program I feel that I also should benefit from it even if the facts ( my training journal) says I don’t. (maybe slight increase in strength around 5kg,that’s it).

    I think you bring up a lot of good stuff and especially when people over analyze they become paralyzed by it and then progress stalls.

    Recently I discovered that I got AC Arthritis because I incorporated standing military press into my program again EVEN though I knew I shouldn’t perform that exercise. That movement/exercise have always given me problems with my shoulder although incline bench and standing DB don’t, funny. But I remember why I started doing M.presses again and it was because some “big dude” said that you can’t get strong and gain more muscle mass in the shoulder area with DB. And I at that point bought into that crap…FUCK! Broscience can be dangerous combined with a weak mind topped off with an old injury.

    *btw..ever had shoulder problems by doing overhead press, standing or seated?
    I personally get problems when I barbell flat bench and any kind of barbell overhead press but not incline.I know that you do incline and have problems with flat bench but do you ever get problems from the incline press in the shoulder area other than elbow? the motion is pretty much in between both problem “angles”.

    *also I like your rep scheme/range where you pump out some mid-ranged reps around 5-9 and then a back off set and often it’s a lighter weight on high reps. But have you tried doing one or two high rep set (9-15+++)and then increase the weight for an all out set within heavy to mid-range rep (4-8 ish) instead?

    sorry for my long post and maybe even poor grammar.


  15. John - I've never had any issues overhead pressing, but plenty benching until I brought my grip in.

    Incline has never given me a problem with anything, and actually feels like the most natural pressing movement for me. My incline is generally not too far below my bench. 20-30 pounds at most.

    Yes I've done that before (the going heavier after the back off set) however it just doesn't feel as good to me.

  16. i have to disagree with you about the last metodology , because is not like poerlifting or strenght training is all about singles, triples doubles or sets of 5, at some point you have to do high reps to get strong, specially if you follow a periodization scheme and you must go through an hypertrophy mesocycle.
    and even if you do low reps in the big lifts, all the assitance work is ussually done with high sets, high reps.
    see the the ipf bench worldrecord

    you can gain mass training like a powerlifter

    but trying to look like a bodybuilder training like a powerlifter, well that is a missmatch

    and the 5x5 sucks by the way

  17. This isn't about IF you can gain mass training like a powerlifter, it's that it's substandard in comparison to training for mass like a bodybuilder.

    Just like you wouldn't train like a bodybuilder to build your 1 rep max. Can you increase your 1 rep max training like a bodybuilder? Of course. Is it substandard in comparison to doing singles, doubles, and triples? Yes.

    If you want to get big, train like a bodybuilder. If you want to get maximally strong, train like a powerlifter.

    When you think about the most heavily muscles guys on the planet bodybuilders are walking all over powerlifters in that regard. It's not even close. So training like a powerliter to gain mass is in fact a mismatch, because powerlifting training is not really meant to get you as big as possible.

  18. Hi,
    What about HIIT on low-carb non-ketogenic diet (~100-150g of carbs daily)? I've read some opinions that pre-HIIT meal consisting of carbs and protein should deliver enough energy and prevent muscle loss. It works for me so far, but I'm considering switching to some steady state cardio. Thank You for such a great reading!


  19. Yeah but as you noted, have a small meal a little while before hand with some protein and carbs in it. Then it's fine. The biggest issue is people doing HIIT in a fasted state.

  20. Hey Paul! Currently Im doing a BB split called max-ot.Not sure if your familiar. Since I workout alone at home, I do around 6-8 reps. My split looks like this:

    (mon) Chest/tri
    BB bench 3x6-8, Incline DB bench 2x6-8, weighted dips 1x6-8
    Lying tri ext 3x6-8, Incline tri ext 2x6-8

    (tues) Back/bi
    50 pullups, BB rows 2x6-8, DB rows 2x6-8
    BB curls 3x6-8, DB curls 2x6-8

    (thurs) Legs
    Squats 3-5x6-8, SLDL 2x6-8

    BB OH press 3x6-8, DB OH press 2x-6-8, Side raises 2x6-8, Rear raises 2x6-8, BB shrugs 3x6-8

    Right now my main concern is putting on more size, not increasing my 1 rep max. What do you think of the program for size? Thanks for your help! Nick

    1. I thought max-ot was supposed to be 4-6 reps?

      For size? I think the reps are too low.

    2. Yeah, the reps are 4-6 but since I workout without a spotter, I bumped up the reps a little to 6-8. The program states that in order for your muscles to grow, you have to overload them with heavy weight in order for them to respond.Makes sense but I know there are different ways to attack it. Just wanted your opinion!