Friday, November 18, 2011

Friday Q&A.........

Leave a name and a question.

Still working on the transcribing for the roundtable between Jamie and myself.  Hope to be done with it this weekend.


  1. Paul,

    Don't sell yourself short on Big 15. After running Strong 15 with great success, I'm on week 1 of Big 15. Big 15, with the couple fewer sets, I felt like I could really nail the AMAP set. My hamstrings called in sick today after squating last night! I figured I'd try 6 weeks of this and circle back to Strong 15. I ended up stalling for my third lift on squat and bench (probably moved up too much) but hit every deadlift. Any advice on that? I also did the crossfit thrusters after my squat sets and I'm trying to learn how to power snatch. Any thoughts or tips on crossfit or power movements? Thanks as always! Sam

  2. Sam - I think you answered your own question. Program the squat and bench a little lighter. Almost everyone programs those lifts too high.

    Crossfit - Everyone hates it, but the fact is, we are in such a fat ass epidemic in this country that I am all for anything that gets the average person off the couch and moving. Second, I've seen too many shots of hot crossfit chics in yoga pants to hate on it.

    I personally do not do, or like, Olympic lifts. Mainly because I suck at them. But if you like em, have at it.

  3. Paul I know with the Strong15 you prefer people to train one movement a week. And thats fine for my pull. But with my squat and bench they seem to always respond better to twice a week training. So how would you do this? I know you like training bench and incline in the same week. Any suggestions would help.

    Rev. Dr. Mr. P the III

  4. Do a light squat on deadlift day.

    For pressing I have a separate day where I do press behind the neck and db bench press.

  5. Paul, I've been working for the last six or so months on increasing my chin-ups. I started off barely being able to do 1 strict, and now I can do several sets of 6-10.

    The gains initially came while I was on a general athleticism phase when I lost some body weight, but now I'm at the end of the first few weeks of a strength phase and my weight has gone up a lot. I believe it's mostly muscle as my waist line has not increased much if at all. However, I now weight more than I ever have in my life, and I think this is starting to hamper my chin progression.

    I'm currently doing chins 2X a week on Bench and Press day super-setting with all my pressing movements. I don't do any other biceps or vertical lat work. Should I add some of that in, is there something else that might help, or is this simply something I have to live with while I'm in a strength increase phase, and revisit when I'm in, or coming out of, a conditioning phase?

  6. Nilster - Don't chin for the next three days have set aside for chins. So if you are chnning twice a week don't chin week 1, then don't chin the first chin workout of week 2. Chin the following one. Get back with me after that. Do some lat pulldown for 1 workout and some rows. That's it. Give everything a chance to have some localized recovery for a little bit and see what happens.

  7. How do you feel about cheat days followed by low calories/low carb days depending on your goals vs same calories/macros in daily?

    For example when trying to lean down, eating +4000 cals before 2 training days, then -2500 for each of those training days, vs eating -350/day ?

  8. Here's what I can't stand about crossfit, and maybe its just the fact that I've spent the last 6 years living in either Boston or New York which are far more bottom line driven cities than others, but its the audacity with which they attach a pricetag to their services or facilities. TPS in Everett, MA has been one of the best powerlifting gyms in the country for the past 10 years or so. Membership there? $25/mo (it may be slightly higher since they relocated into a ridiculously nice new facility, but still...) Any of the crossfit places that I've looked at because they advertise that they cater to powerlifters run at least 5 times higher than that, plus I can only lift in a specific 2 hour window 3-4 days a week. If crossfit is what they do and that's all it is and they want to soak their patrons for all their worth, that's fine by me. But don't try to attract powerlifters and then try to rip us off and force our lifting into the very specific class type schedule that crossfitters use. It's not the crossfit itself I have a problem with (although seriously...the form most of these people use is horrendous), it's the way they market it. Crossfit is the Scientology of weightlifting.

    Sorry for the rant.

    Also, I suppose I should ask a question: I know you don't particularly advocate carb back loading, but have you seen the dangerously hardcore site run by Kiefer?
    Not defending the philosophy since I've never tried it, but it seems like a lot of what people refer to as carb backloading hasn't been implemented properly.


  9. Shanks - I am ok with carb back loading and do kind of a carb backload myself with my cheat meals. I generally drop carbs hard the day before that workout and then use the 3-4 window after to cheat in. Sometimes that turns into a whole day however. LOL

    Anonymous - Not my cup of tea. I know someone mentioned someone on some other board did this but I personally think it just evens out. Ask Jamie how long he has been dieting in a big deficit to get to 7% bodyfat. People want their cake and eat it too. Fact is, you need to be in a calorie deficit long enough to peel fat off. I think the way you are talking about you just end up balancing out a lot. Just my opinion.

  10. Was just wondering how you felt about it from a performance standpoint. I was planning on a 3000 to 4000 cal deficit weekly, but am really an all or nothing type of person.

  11. Maybe I need to address this more but the fact is, if you want to lose fat, you will be hungry.

    I know some lard ass from some board dropped some weight like this but the fact is, where you're a rotund grossly obese fat guy, you can do just about any "diet" and clean shit up a few days a week and lose weight. If you aren't already lean and you want to be lean, then you will need to be fucking hungry. and you'll be hungry quite often. Hunger is a signal to me that I know I'm dieting correctly. I've heard people say if you shouldn't be hungry if you are dieting correctly.

    Bull-fucking-shit. Ask any competitive bodybuilder if they are hungry when they are dieting for a show. 100% of them will say yes. You need to be in a calorie deficit to lose fat. Your body will let you know this by signalling.....drum fucking roll....HUNGER. It will want you to eat. Sometimes fighting off the hunger feels almost impossible. If you have not experienced this, you may not have dieting long enough or hard enough.

    I am not saying you need to feel ravenous all the time, but the fact is, you can't lose fat and feel satiated all the time. Sometimes you're gonna eat or have a shake and NOT feel satiated and still feel hungry as fuck. This is not just part of dieting, but a requirement to some degree.

    Yes, you can do some things to stave it off a little like drink crystal light, chew gum, and eat zero calorie jell-o but the fact is, you can't have this huge calorie surplus multiple days a week and lose fat. Unless you are/were a fat tub of lard and doing anything in the way of cleaning something up worked.

  12. If I eat a ton of carbs before I lift I feel like I need to lay down and go to sleep. I actually do better on just a little bit of food or none at all.

  13. so you are saying even if your TEE weekly is 21k, and you eat 18k cals with 2 7k cheat days, you cannot lose fat?

  14. I'm saying try it. If you're not overly obese let me know how it goes.

  15. There was some dude that wrote an article a while back on t-nation about the fact that he was stuck fat loss wise, and couldn't get any leaner until he dropped his cheat day for a long while. Having two cheat days a week isn't just about calories in vs out, it's about a lot of things. I don't know anyone that has gotten shredded keeping two cheat days a week in.

    Like I said, do it and send me pics and let me know how it goes. I am friends with a shit load of competitive bodybuilders and fitness models who diet as their living and none of them do it like this.

  16. Ok thanks, was just seeing how crazy I could get with the whole cals in vs out thing. Do you see a problem with a 8000 cheat day with 6 1700 days which would be about 3500 cal deficit weekly? I am loving the LRB template, and will be purchasing the big15 and strong15 as soon as I drop to single % and ready to gain some weight.

  17. Why not just eat 18K calories 1 day a week and not eat the other 6 days. It's the same for the week right. So the results would have to be the same right? Right? That's where you're going with this.

    See it doesn't work by numbers so easy does it? What it sounds like is you want to try to justify a way to stuff your face every week. If you want to get lean, get your head into that frame of mind and drop this "cheat all day once a week" bullshit. Won't happen.

  18. Paul -

    just got turned onto your blog a couple months ago. You fucking rock, lots of good info, funny shit, and more you share on this sight. You are a source of inspiration, so i say Thank You.

    Happy Friday bro.


  19. Thanks man. Have a good one as well.

  20. Paul, over the years I've found that I make my best injury-free progress with 2 training days a week. Can you give me your thoughts on my program:

    Day 1
    A) Front Squats - working top set of 3 and adding 5lbs next week (reset 10% when I can't get at least 3 reps and start over)
    B) Pullups - alternate weighted/bodyweight weekly
    C) Standing Shoulder Press/Incline DB Press

    Day 2
    A) Deadlifts - working to top set of 5 and progressing similar to front squats
    B) DB Split Squats
    C) Dips - alternating weighted/bodyweight weekly

    I also do steady state cardio 3 days a week for 30-60 min and extra upper back/shoulder work.

    Thanks for your advice. I try to check out your blog at least a few times a week. Good stuff.

  21. Hey Paul,

    I just recently stumble upon your blog as well and I really appreciate everything you've shared.

    I have 2 things. First, you may know but your feed is not working. I've been stayin up to date but some people may be missing out.

    Second, I would be interested on hearing more about your experiences with high frequency training. I know you don't train high frequency, but you said you have in the past with good results. I'm sure some of it will get covered in your round table with Jamie, but I respond really well to high frequency so more info is always good.

    Thanks again!

  22. Thanks alot for the fast and direct answers Paul. My attempt at cheating the system won't work.

  23. Anonymous - It isn't about cheating the system. It's just about doing things a certain way long enough to know how your body will respond.

    Victor - Thanks for the update on the feed.

    I actually did great with high frequency training early in my training, when I was younger. I wasn't very strong then (not that I am now, but I'm stronger), and I had little stress in my life. If I were wealthy and could just live to train, it's possible I would train more often but I'm not entirely sure. 4 days a week seems to be the most I can tolerate and feel good/strong. Again, if you eliminate other life stresses maybe that changes.

    Zaj - The one thing I would do is squat one week and front squat the next week there, if you are hell bent on front squatting. Also alternate chins and rows each week.

  24. hey paul, just wanted to say that you have an awesome site/blog here, def the best for a raw lifter your knowledge and insight is much appreciated.

    I had a question about alternating lifts,specifically the bench press, i read an article written by marty gallagher about how he recommends doing db bench and incline bench for 4-6 weeks to restablish homeostais, i hope i have that right lol, after doing a 12 week bench cycle with your normal,wide,close grip, just wanted your opinion on if you think its necessary to drop the main lift for a certain period of time.

    Thanks, Chris

  25. Marty is a really smart mother fucker and I like where he is going with that.

    I am def down with dropping the main lifts for a while, esp if you are not training for a meet. I think mentally it's good to get a break and I also think it's important to shore up some musculature in other areas that may end up weak(er) because of too much emphasis on 1 movement.

    So I endorse Marty's idea there.

  26. thanks for the quick response, paul, yeah the article was posted on the purposelyprimitive site a few years ago, def old school., doesnt get any simplier or basic then marty gallagher lol, i found the wide grip benching (index on rings) really helped with my bottom end strength but are pretty hard on the shoulder/pec area im thinking about switching to either incline press or db press

    I had a follow up im currently trying to design a bench specific template, im thinking about running a upper/lower/upper split, should i do squats and deads on the lower day or alternate them from week to week, and would it be okay to add a light bench day on the second upper body day i.e. 50-60 % for 2 x 8-10, instead of doing overhead work

  27. Squats and deads together is fine, or you can do em on separate days, still alternating heavy and light. Like so.......

    day 1 - upper

    day 2 - squat heavy/dead light

    day 3 - upper

    day 4- squat 60%/dead heavy

    day 5 - upper


    day 1 - squat heavy

    day 2 - upper

    day 3 - deadlift light/heavy back work

    day 4 - upper

    day 5 - squat light

    day 6 - upper

    day 7 - dead heavy

    Or something like that.

  28. wow, those are some pretty cool templates, think im just going to stick with a 3 day a week template upper/lower/upper, maybe do squats/rack pulls one week, deads/partial squats the next on the lower day.,and do the light bench on the last upper day.

    what grip width would you recommend for a raw bencher?, generally i go pinkies on the rings, just seems to feel safer, but then you see these freaks like dennis cieri who go pretty well max grip width raw

  29. Those were for 3 days a week. I just put em in that order.

    I bench close grip. Easier on the shoulders and has more carryover into sports/athletics.

  30. Paul,

    When it comes to assistance work, would you suggest strict form with lower weights (isolation exercises) or heavier weight with a little cheating?

    When I say "a little cheating" I don't mean humping up a curl or bench. But rather a little knee bend on heavier shrugs, or a little twist on some DB krocker rows.

    I completely agree with (and train by) the "train movements rather then muscle groups" theory and I was thinking that a little cheating on some heavier assistance work fit that theory.


  31. All depends on the movement. With shrugs it's not bad to do some cheating. But I don't like the whole sloppy row bullshit personally. I think that's an ego lift. The point of a row is to work the rhomboids. How do you know if they are doing the majority of the work if you're just dry humping the weight off the floor?

    With traps, even if you're humping the bar a bit the traps do almost all of the work. Just so long as your shoulder are actually moving upwards, and it's not retarded.

    For assistance I am very strict. But that's just me.

  32. Not a question, but I hit a 500lbs deadlift PR today following the strong 15 program. My original plan was to hit 480 by the end of the cycle, but I felt so good today I went for broke. It paid off.

  33. Awesome news Ramon. I'm getting a ton of emails about guys hitting PR's. Always awesome to hear about this. Now on to 510!

  34. I tweaked my lower back and have decided to lay off deadlifts and olympic lifts for a few weeks and see how it feels. I'm using the LRB 3 a week template. Any suggestions on what to replace the pulling work with? I was thinking about hitting traps hard, since they are a weak point of mine.

  35. Just go with some rows and chins or rows and pulldowns for a while, and make sure to get in rehab work if it's really a low back strain. I suggest stretching your piriformis to see if THAT is what it really is.

  36. Paul,

    I recently hit a 540 dead (20lb PR or so) and would like to hit 560 during my next training cycle. During my last cycle I emphasized rows,chins, stiff legs, and rack deadlifts from mid shin. I believe these all helped to pull a PR of course, but found the rack deads particularly interesting since that specific height is a complete "deadzone" for me as far as leg drive goes. My best rack pull was a tough 545 a week before I pulled 540 from the floor. It almost felt like the floor pull was easier. Now for my question...

    I read your "Adding 100 pounds to my deadlift" article and found the bastardizing gillingham program to be interesting since it includes rack pulls from mid shin, stiff legs, etc. But I've also wanted to run strong-15 for the dead to see how it would work for me since I like having exact weights to hit and a cycle laid out. Is it possible to work rack deads into the strong-15? Or would you recommend the "bastardizing gillingham" layout?

    Thanks paul

  37. Dan,
    I will be writing a second version of the strong-15 that includes a block deadlift phase. And yes, I find the same thing. That pulling from mid-shin is essentially harder than pulling from the floor and that it makes pulling from the floor easier. This is exactly why it works.

  38. Hi Paul,

    You mentioned recently that pressing should be done thumbless, does that include btn pressing and push pressing? I've tried it on your advice from the front and it definitely feels nicer but I'd be more than a little worried I would lose the bar on btn push press.

    Also, I think your trap spec idea is really interesting and it will be exciting to see your results. From what I can tell you are still losing weight so any trap gains will be especially impressive. Do you think that it is possible to improve other bodyparts on a deficit if you give each one a specialisation phase or are some muscle groups going to be too big to gain that way? Perhaps it would be counter productive to try and run several specialization phases while trying to lose weight anyways.


  39. I do all my pressing thumbless. On push press I agree, I think going thumbs around would be better because it's a more explosive movement.

    I think you can improve a specific bodypart a bit on a calorie deficit like I am doing. Obviously I think that will vary depending on bodyparts, liek legs I'm not sure because it's such a large bodypart. The calories required I think would need to be more. But something like traps or tricep/biceps? Yeah, I think it's possible.

  40. Paul, what do you think about a thumbless grip for bench? I started messing around with it a bit after switching to thumbless for overhead press, but I'm still not sure if I like it or not

  41. I have been using a thumbless grip for bench for decades. It does take some getting used to.

  42. What have you found to be the benefits of a false grip for bench?

  43. I feel like it does the same thing for bench that it does standing press. Puts the bar in a stronger path line. Not everyone feels this immediately though. It took me a while. On the standing press it seems more immediate.

  44. Thanks Paul, i really appreciate it. I really enjoyed reading the roundtable today too

  45. Fantastic blog Paul,I hope you know there are tons of people out there who appreciate how committed you are to it.

    Heres my questions if you've got a spare sec, if you've answered similar ones elsewhere I haven't found them:

    1. You've hinted that you think its possible to make good gains training only twice per week, would you simply use more intensity and fullbodies, or something more exotic? Is there anything in your ebooks about it?

    2. How do you feel about tailoring working set reps according to the fibre composition of the bodypart when hypertrophy is the goal? ie. Lower reps for the fast twitch dominant triceps and higher reps for the (generally) slow twitch back? The 80% test seems to have a few major flaws if you ask me and why should the non-dominant fibres get neglected?

    3. I know you're not keen on push pressing but surely its a good choice for nice slow negatives? (again if hypertrophy is the goal) Have you never found any benefit from them at all?

  46. 1. For twice a week training I usually squat and deadlift together or I will squat one week and deadlift the next. The other day I do all of my heavy pressing on. You certainly could do fullbody on it but I generally go to twice a week to give me even more recovery if I concentrating on conditioning or fighting.

    2. I have tinkered with that idea but the issue there is, everyone is different in that regard. So you don't know exactly how accurate you would be. You'd be going blind off an anatomy chart.

    3. I never found any benefit from push presses. To me you might as well sit down in a rack with the bar sitting on the rails at forehead height and push from there.

  47. Last round of Rua vs Henderson - should it have been 10-8 for the draw?

  48. Fuck yes. That's exactly what I had. Both me and my fight coach were watching it and said "draw" because of that round. It was clearly an 8-10 round and no one scored it that way which made NO FUCKING SENSE.

    But both of those guys are warriors. I hope either guy gets a shot at Jon Jones and beats his ass.

  49. Paul, what websites or blogs do you follow? Thanks.

  50. Not a whole lot anymore. Every once in a while I check into elitefts or t-nation or I read what someone sends me. I don't really look at what other people are doing for programs or programming much anymore, I try shit out for myself.

  51. Paul,

    Due to work and other things I am only able t train early in the morning (at 5:00). This makes it difficult to eat breakfast before training. Should I jus drink a shake and go at it or prepare a meal the night before? Thanks

  52. Dave - One great thing to do, that I like, is to put a scoop of chocolate Syntha-6 in coffee. Just use a really big coffee mug. This would be perfect.