Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Weekly Q & A.......

Remember - leave a name with your question.

321 go


  1. I recently started Madcow 3 day a week program. I enjoy squat ting 3 days a week and I like all the lifts it calls for but I have noticed that the heaviest sets I'm usually a little short on (probably started too high) I've just adjusted downslightly on that one set and have been fine. This is week 3. I've been lifting for 15 years and my goals are to enter a powerlifting contest (get the big 3 up in weight and get stronger/bigger). Is Madcow not a good choice for me? I looked at the westside barbell template with the dynamic and max effort and it looks good too. Any tips as to programming? Thanks! Sam

  2. Paul,

    Have you not caught the newest X-men? Doesn't jive with the comic book really, but it is tons better than the Last Stand bullshit where they killed everyone for no reason.

    -- Dee

  3. Dee - Have not caught it yet but intend to. Will updated when I do.

    Sam - MadCow is a good program for base strength building and mass building (to a lesser degree). But if you plan on doing a meet it's not really ideal. You can use it and maybe even do fine, but you'll need to practice some singles for a few weeks before hand. My program has three phases for prepping for a meet over a 10 week cycle. This is more ideal than madcow for powerlifting meets.

  4. What color singlet are you wearing for your meet? Haha


  5. Most def pink with yellow stripes.

    Eric Lilliebridge and I have a running joke about the fact that I don't wear a belt, so I should wear a skinny pink belt for my squat attempts.

  6. Will you be filming the event Paul? It would be excellent to see how you did.

    Wishing you all the best for the meet.

    (oh and don't forget the pink sweat band to complement your attire - ha!)

  7. They usually have someone doing video there but I'm sure the little lady will video all of my attempts. I'll be posting em up.

  8. Hey PC,

    First off, good luck staying healthy these last few weeks and I hope you post a big-ass total at the meet. I'll be looking forward to the results.

    I've been doing some AM fasted cardio. Just walking, getting my heart rate to 120BPM. This is for fat loss, but also just because I feel better when I walk, plus I get some sun and fresh air. I do this about 4 days a week, lift the other 3 (lifting in the PM).

    I want to start replacing this steady-state, low intensity cardio with some tempo runs, ie. higher intensity. Should I do this in the morning, fasted? I know you wrote about NOT doing low-carb and HIIT, and it made sense. I'm wondering if it's just a stupid/counterproductive idea to do tempo runs on an empty stomach a few days a week, assuming that I eat carbs the rest of the day.

    Hope this question is clear.


  9. Don't do HIIT in a fasted state. This is a no no. Just like you wouldn't try to lift in a fasted state. If you want to include a HIIT session do it one afternoon on the day after your lower body work. That's how I would approach that.

  10. Paul, I was linked to your blog by some guys on Ironage. Your advice (especially regarding your lack of assistance exercises) has been invaluable. I tried looking up what you thought on rest pause training and couldn't find much. I'm talking of working with say 90%-95% or your max and just doing singles with low rest periods rather than the DC way of doing it. Like say 10-12x1 with 30secs-1min rest. I'm just wondering what your take is on that for weaker guys like myself. I just feel like doing reps at a lower weight doesn't do much for me but using something closer to my max and doing double or even triple the amount of total volume I seem to like a lot better.

    I just think this idea of heavy weight and high reps only works if you are already strong. What about when you can't rep 315 in the squat yet?

  11. Paul,

    Currently doing your Big-15 program, enjoying it thus far and looking forward to some solid gains in size/strength.

    I've read a couple of your posts here and on the P&B regarding your stance on training primarily for size. Specifically, you've mentioned time and time again that there is merit to the way bodybuilders train, as they are the biggest people on the planet.

    My question is, whats your interpretation of a pure bodybuilding split (i.e.- how would you set one up for yourself) and how does it differ from your Big-15 template?


  12. Joe - Yes I would say there is a difference. My philosophy is based around getting as big as possible, but it doesn't take into account the things that a PURE bodybuilding model would. Like weak bodyparts, or the issue of really learning how to work the muscle rather than move the weight.

    If I were a bodybuilder I would probably train each body part twice a week, then vary my volume based on strong and weak bodyparts. For example my triceps are a strong bodypart, but my biceps are weak, as is my chest. So I would do a lot more volume for chest and bicep work in comparison to say triceps and back work.

    Robbie - If you can't squat 315 in the squat yet then just stick with some very basic programs. Things like doggcrapp are for advanced guys who have put their time in, and more importantly, know how to channel the right kind of intensity to make those programs work.

    If you're not squatting 315 yet then something like starting strength by Rippetoe is a great starting point.

  13. Paul,

    First off, love the blog! One of my favorite places to come for training info and insights.

    My question is about the Big-15 program. Is this something you would recommend for people going through a fat loss phase? Or would you suggest something more strength-based and less hypertrophy-based?

    If so, any recommendations? Maybe even a tweaked Big-15 program?

    Thanks, and keep up the awesome blog!


  14. For loss I always recommend the same template.

    Lift twice a week,conditioning 3 times a week.

    Remember in a fat loss phase you are not going to get stronger. The best way to hold on to as much strength as possible is to not ask your body to do a ton of work, and to try your best to maintain strength built when calories were higher.

    So I don't recommend the big15 for fat loss, since it is built around big eating.

  15. Paul-

    Your opinions on carb back-loading? I discovered it about 2 months ago reading Muscle and Fitness. In it Brian Carroll states he lost 7% bodyfat in 7 weeks and his strength went through the roof. He has totaled 2700 pounds...

    You can read about it here:

    Seems to discredit the loss of strength/size during fat loss argument?? I am trying it right now. I have put on a bit of size and my strength has jumped up a ton, but I am still leaning up (or at least staying where I was fat wise) despite adding 10 pounds of bodyweight.

    What do you think?



  16. Not for me. But thanks for the link Rick.

  17. I know you used to be a DC guy. What made you stray away from the training? Was it injuries or to focus more on powerlifting? I tend to train DC for the most part and then run your stuff if I want to drop a powerlifting meet in.

    Thanks as always.


  18. Abe - Great way of training, but I did it for over 2 years and just got kind of burnt on that style. I really wanted to get out of the hole I was in size and strength wise at the time, and that did it. But you have to REALLY want it, to train like that week in and week out, even with the breaks in there. I did at the time, but that kind of training doesn't appeal to me at the moment. It doesn't mean that in a year or two or something down the road I wouldn't do it again, just not now.

  19. Hi Paul,

    you've got an excellent blog. Due to a different time zone this question comes a bit late, but hopefully you can answer it anyhow. A big problem. So here goes:

    I've been doing non-competetive natural raw powerlifting some years, last spring started "Westsidish" ME-training, good gains, changed it to SQ/BP/DL (different ME-exercise) two/three times / week, even better gains for 2 mo, until my elbows began to hurt (inside of elbows, forearm, biceps; hellish!!). First thought it was BP, but noticed that it came mostly from SQ. Took a couple of months totally off from SQ (doing DL and FSQ or Zercher once a week, no problem). Yesterday tried it again, and it started to hurt (inside part of the forearms, lately done extra work for DL grip) while warming up (20-70-100kg), so it's not the weight on the elbows, but apparently the stretch/arm position. Done cold, medicine, wider grip (as possible in power rack), wrist straight and bent, thumb with fingers and normal grip, pulled upper back even further back, streching (chest, forearms, biceps), time off... Any suggestions for rehab, technique... or in general: how to get back to squatting? I mean if I can't squat, I can't be a fucking powerlifter!! "When in doubt, squat!", yep, right...

    Thanks and have fun in Chicago!!

    Risto from Helsinki

  20. You have the same problem as Adam. Getting the elbows too close to you and supporting too much of the weight. When that happens you need to move the elbows out wider and put the hands on TOP of the bar. Not on the underside of it. This should make sense when you go to squat if you think about it.

  21. I've got a question about figuring out calorie requirements. I've been lifting for 12 years and in that time gone from Obese (320lbs) and weak to Bloated (251lbs) and decent strength/conditioning - Deadlift and Bench are stuck at 585/405 and I can run hills or roll in BJJ after deciding to cardio my way down from 275 to 250 about 2 years ago (thus, my bench and deadlift being stuck).

    The problem is, for that 12 years I've been in a cycle of undereating and insane binging. This year I decided to just eat like a sane person and keep my calories to what I thought was a sensible amount - under 3k. It worked at first - 10lbs off eithout any neurotic dieting or cardio but I hit a plateau and tried to get past it with increased work and fat burners. Got burnt out (joints and libido said FUCK THIS SHIT) and the weight started piling back on (253 this morning) and I instantly gained 2" at the waist.

    Everyone I've talked to says my maintenance levels should be close to 4k. I've been slowly increasing my calories to that for the past month without any change in body comp. My question is - what now? Have I screwed my metabolism?

  22. Screwed it? Probably not.

    However you had it right the first time, when you decided to eat like a sane person, but got frustrated.

    Think long term and not quick results.

    Go back to 3K a day diet, lift 2-3 times a week and get your cardio and conditioning in 2,3,4 times a week. This is not going to happen overnight, so be patient with it. Get your actual fitness/conditioning level high and just keep the diet clean. It will happen but you need to be patient and let it happen over a long period.

  23. paul,

    love your site, best information available without all the bullshit and hassle the other sites have. my question is this;

    my training schedlue is as follows:
    monday- back & biceps

    Tuesday- Legs

    Wednesday-Chest, shoulders, tri's

    Thursday- back & biceps

    Friday- legs

    Saturday- Chest , shoulders, tri's

    Do you think this would be over training if training for MASS for somebody to do if they were using gear?

    Conditiong wise, there is 2 days a week to throw in of usually bag work, days vary on that, depends on the mood and how hard the lift session was.

    thanks in advance and thanks again for the awesome site!


  24. Dave - That's all going to depend on the individual. I also can't tell a whole lot just by looking at a split. There are a lot of factors that go into a training routine and the recovery part behind it. You just need to remember that in the gym you stimulate growth, then you grow at rest. If you are lifting 6 days a week then doing conditioning as well, when are you recovering and growing?

    The best way to figure out what you can tolerate is to start at minimums then add a little at a time and see how you do. I would cut it back to 3 days a week of lifting then two days of conditioning and go from there.

  25. Paul - forgot to mention that the plateau lasted for 4 months during which I worked myself into the ground. I'll start dialing the calories back, but in the future, what do I do when I hit long periods during which I don't lose any fat?

  26. First, get your body fat tested and keep a strict diet and training journal. Then get it the bodyfat retested every 3-4 weeks. It may move very slowly and if you were very obese at one time it may take a while for you to get your body to where you want it to be. You didn't get obese in 6 months, don't expect to get lean in 6 months either.

    Just think long term, think of the journey and keep at it.

  27. paul,

    thanks for speedy response, i wasnt really sure if i would be over training or not due to the high energy levels i keep 99% of the time. but then again my calorie intake is around 4500 a day, and my rest is solid every night. i feel good over-all its just one of those things i couldnt be sure about because ive been giving each muscle group 48 hours to recover.

    sorry i didnt give more information before, it slipped my mind, but i have trained now for 2 years solid with pretty good nutirtion and kept a low body weight and body fat around 10%, until now deciding i wanted to bulk at least 15 lbs.
    i have plenty of time to rest and to recover since my job is home based and part time for now.

    so are you saying that on a 3 day split u only work each muscle group the one day a week and its enough to stimulate growth, given that workout intensity is high enough?

    thanks again,


  28. Alright, thanks for the perspective. Guess I should get back to work on those 100m hill sprints.

  29. Dave - Again, that's all relative. Even with a home based job (I've had that before too) I didn't train more than 3 days a week lifting. I recently ran 4 days a week and it worked well for about 6 weeks, then I could tell it was getting harder and harder to recover for me.

    If you can handle, have a go at it and see what happens. I just know when I get into 600 pound squats and deads and such, there is no way I'm training more than 3 days a week. But I know guys plenty stronger than me that do. So again, your mileage may vary.

  30. right on, makes perfect sense. thanks .

    happy fathers day. i hope its a great one!