Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Weekly Q & A

You know the drill.  Leave a name and a question......


  1. PC,

    First off, thanks for everything you contribute to our little community. It is much appreciated.

    In the past two months, I've cleaned up my diet, and began to eat healthy food--'eating clean'.
    I'm wondering, how do I progress from here? When progress stalls, do I continue to drop calories? Do I add cardio? Do I drop my 'cheat day' in favor of a single cheat meal?

    How should this look?

    Or should I just order some Halodrol and not sweat this whole 'diet' thing too much?

  2. Hi Paul,

    I notice you do a fair bit of work in the very high 20-30 rep range. I hardly see anyone doing this. Why do you do utilise this range as opposed to a rep range of say 12-15 and what are the benefits?

    Btw your recent posts on Proper Programming and Common Sense are 2 of the best you've written, so thanks for those.

  3. Charlie - Just stay the course. Be strong, be in shape, eat correctly. Give it time.

    J-C - I use those rep ranges to move as much blood as possible through the tendons and create more structure strength. Heavy weight is not what builds the tendons over time. It's blood being forced through them, and you do that best with higher rep sets. Again, always know why you are doing what you are doing.

  4. Hey Paul,

    I only have acess to gym rings, dip bar and pull-up bar (weight plates to hang on are there too). what would you suggest? dips and chins? or something else? lower body? Thanx!

  5. Dips, chins, and whatever else you can figure out on there upperbody wise.

    Lower body - squats, lunges, 1 legged squats, sissy squats.

    Do with what you have available and make the best of it.

  6. Whatsup Paul. I've got a nutrition question for ya. I believe you said that one can either cut or gain in cycles, but not both. I was just curious what your take is on diets that claim to be able to achieve both by altering the carb and calorie levels, a sort of carb cycle. So on days off you eat low carbs low cal, this is when your cutting fat. On the heaviest days and hardest workouts you eat high carb and high calorie to gain mass. On other training days you find a happy medium.

    Your thoughts? Have you ever tried something like this?


  7. Carb cycling. The LRB has a type of carb cycling built into it, but the matter of fact is, losing fat requires a calorie deficit and gaining mass requires a calorie surplus.

    If you have a deficit one day, but a surplus the next day, you essentially maintained. I know some people think it's possible to gain mass and lose fat but it really isn't. Christian Thibedeaux has really exhausted this topic and so has Casey Butts I believe. There is no diet or training way around it.

    Pick one and go after it.

  8. Hey Paul, stupid question that I feel has been covered in the training program PDF's I ordered (but I just can't find the answer again):

    I recently benched 305 and would like to run the strong-15 to hit 315. I'm kind of confused on how to use the spreadsheet though with the openers and all that since I won't be doing a meet and just want to get stronger. How would I do so?

  9. Again please, Paul! ;-)

    Whats your opinion on chest expander pulling or all band stuff? Like curls or tri push-downs for assistance / rehab?

    what do you do to prehab / rehab? things like foam rolling, stretching?

  10. Anonymous - Set it up LIKE a meet.

    I'd go 250 first phase, 280 second phase, and 315 third phase.

    Kikolu - I like that stuff for things like pushdowns and leg curls. I do a lot of foam rolling and stretching I just don't document it in my blog.

  11. Paul,

    I like to use a fat bar for my OHP, as well as cleaning it from the floor. I'm using 80% of my max running 5/3/1, so the weight isn't much, but I have to get used to holding onto that mother fucker before the Highlander next fall. I also do power cleans as a quick warm up for my DL on Friday. I OHP on Sunday, do you think I'm messing with my recovery by doing this? I figured the adding pulling will help my clean, and so far I feel AWESOME. I may have answered my own question, but I would like your opinion.

  12. As you noted, I think you answered your question.....

    When you start to feel something slide, like strength or just feeling "good" then drop it and see if it doesn't help.

  13. Paul,

    First off wanted to say thanks for your blog, you have really been a huge help on a lot of subjects for me. I just had my first meet this weekend,went 8/9 and won juniors and took 3rd in 198lb open. Thanks.

    Secondly, how do you feel about programming power cleans in to an off season training schedule. I will be alternating squatting and deadlifting Sundays and benching Thursdays or Friday. I would do the cleans on tuesday with upper back and some pre-hab work. Sound good or not so much?


  14. Parker - Congrats on the meet! That's a great job for a first meet.

    That sounds fine. A solid sounding setup.

  15. I am not sure I have been doing barbell rows correctly, maybe bending over too much. Any advice on how to do them properly, pic/video link?


  16. Hey Paul,
    Thanks for an great blog. I have a question regarding deadlifts. I am pulling conventional with a VERY rounded back. I have always done this and before some ankle surgery shenanigans I was pulling around 500 on a weekly basis. Some experts are telling me that I should rather switch to sumo, but in all honesty I prefer the rounded back thing. It feels natural and I haven't had problems with my back. Should I listen to the form police or can a rounded back just be my body's natural position for picking shit up with?


  17. Paul,
    What is the best exercicie to hit the long head of the triceps without hurting the elbow?

  18. Chris - Depends on what you mean by rounded back. If you watch KK's videos he has a rounded upper back, but his lower spine stays neutral. If this is what you are doing, you should be ok.

    If you are getting super sore in the erectors it means you are rounding at the low back, and this is bad. I don't just mean general soreness, I mean severe soreness. If you get super sore in the upper back/trap area, you are good to go.

    Sergio - MY very own PJR pullovers. I still need to film these so people can see how they are done correctly.

    Andy - Do these.......


  19. Hey Paul,

    I have my first meet on 12/10 and they use a monolift, I have never used one...will it be a shock to the system to use one for the first time at my meet?

    Also what percentages do you recommend for my attempts? I have heard anywhere from 85, 95 105 to 95 100 110, Im thinking 95, 97, 102...I know its a little comical to be thinking about percentages but I guess Im a bit nervous and dont want to shit the bed.



  20. cain or dos santos? call it!

  21. Geoff - Cain.

    MTA - Never used a monolift. Just tell em you're walking it out.

    Well you should have something in mind for what you want to hit. So we will call that variable 100%.

    Just go 85% 92.5% 100%

    That's almost always how mine line up. It's light and doable for the first two and leaves room for error. Also, you should have hit that 92.5% in training already so you know you are good for it. Then take the 100% after that or judge based on how the second attempt felt.

  22. PC--thanks for offering a little perspective in response to my original question.
    Follow up question:

    Sprinting is outdoors is awesome but impractical, treadmill work makes me want to blow my brains out, and as the winter cold settles in, the amount of grad school work heats up, making long-duration cardio increasingly unfeasible.

    Any suggestions for tabata-style conditioning? I was thinking a 10 minute walk on the treadmill to warm up, then do the 4 minute tabata work with burpees or something. A lot of the stuff, like kettlebell swings, seems to add additional work to my lower back, which is something I think could be counterproductive, given the amount I tax it already with, you know, real lifting--squats, deadlifts, etc.

    So, any HIIT suggestions that aren't sprints and aren't too taxing on the lower back?

    Would like to hear your thoughts on all this.

  23. Paul,

    I made some videos to analyze my form and it's only my upper back that is bending. My lower back stays arched and I have never had ANY problems with my erectors. That answers it for me then. Less chit chat, more deadlift.
    I currently have a goal of 550 at a bw of 180 - I'll let you know when I get it. Thanks for the advice!

  24. Charlie - Bag work or shadow boxing. Do 2 minute rounds with 1 minute rest. Start with 5 and see how you feel. You don't have to go all out, just light and make sure you breathe properly.

    Chris - Glad I could help.

  25. Hi Paul (or anyone else),

    This may have been asked before, but do you have any good recommendations for jeans that fit leaner guys with big legs/ass like yourself? most options at department stores are way too tight. sorry for injecting a fashion question into the fitness blog. thanks!


  26. I get my jeans at Buckle. Pricey but worth it.

  27. How tall are you? You mention that you fluctuate between 230-240lbs. I weigh the same at 6'1", but you look much larger than me.

  28. 5'11" I also may be leaner than you as well (not passing judgement) but 240 @ 10% is bigger than 240 @ 15%. Esp as far as looking big goes.

  29. Hey Paul, I am about to start the program outlined in an article you have over at elitefts called "The young, skinny, training with add guy's guide to gaining mass and strength" and I have a question. when you say work up to a top set, how much should you increase the weight each set? thanks in advance!


  30. Garrett - Just try to make it an even distribution over each set. So if your top set is going to be 300 go 115, 135, 185, 225, 265, 300. Something like that.

  31. Paul,

    Just wanted to get your opinion on a basic philosophy shared by two strong motherfuckers that had me thinking. Babyslayer from bb.com and Professor X from t-nation (going to assume you've probably heard of them at some point..if not, they're two strong, big bastards and decently lean to boot) have recommended simply gaining all the mass you want to over a long period of time, and then shedding the fat as opposed to the phase strategy of gaining for a bit, cutting, going back to gaining etc.

    Babyslayer also mentioned a gaining strategy that kind of caught my attention based off something I've sort of done by instinct for awhile. He recommended that if someone wants to gain and minimize fat gains to eat at maintenance everyday, except you pick two days you perform a lift you want to perform and on that day you put down one big cheat meal pushing the cals up there. His reasoning was he found that in his experiences the next time that lift came around, he was stronger on it; although he didn't really know why or have a reason for it.

    Opinion on these thoughts?

  32. Well that's one way to do it. I was 280 for a few years but I felt like shit the whole time.

    My take on it is this. If you are a competitive strength athlete and you do it to boost powerlifting or strongman or whatever, that has merit. If you are a bodybuilder and you're trying to push your size limits up to a new level and trying it out, I understand.

    If you're doing it because you want people in the gym to notice you, or for own personal vanity, then it's fucking retarded. Gaining weight so you can be "the big guy in the gym" reeks of deep seeded insecurity to me.

    Be strong, be in shape. Becoming a hot dog neck rolled fat guy for the sake of doing it doesn't have any merit to me. Keep the bodyfat in check. Shelby Starnes has written plenty about this and how once you get fat, the body just becomes more adept at getting fat. So there is a point of diminishing returns.

    For example, if you "bulk" to 350, then cut to 260, fact is, you prolly only needed to get to 300ish for that to happen.

    Being fat sucks. I'd rather be 240 and be able to fight and run and have a 1600 total than be 300 and breathe heavy sitting on the couch with a 1900 total.

  33. Have you ever tried Jamie's (Lewis) style of training? ie. high frequency?

  34. Not the way Jamie runs it. I've done lots of high frequency training though.

  35. Question if you don't mind answering it. It seems like my squats are interfering badly with my deads, and have been for a long time. I think my back is the issue, for some reason my squats keep stapling me, so they are more like a good morning. When it comes time to do deads later in the week, I've got nothing to give them.

    Any thoughts? Deads used to be my favorite lift, and I love squats as well. Now the squats just feel like junk, and the deads haven't moved in forever.

  36. Squat one week, deadlift the other.

    Or squat heavy one week and pull light right after, then squat light the next week and pull heavy block deadlifts from below the knee the next.

    Second, get your abs stronger.

  37. I'm doing leg raises w/ 65lbs for a set of 20, and ab pulldowns on the lat bar w/ 150lbs for a set of 20, each on a different day. Also do a twisting movement w/ 90lbs on a cable for a set of 20 each direction 1x/wk. Are these the right kind of movements, or should I be working in a different direction?

    The cable twisting movement is mostly rehab for my lower back, but works my abs a lot too.

    I will start laying it out like you suggest, going heavy/light, so the movement stays fresh.

  38. Hey Paul, just one quick question on programming for the strong15 template; in your book you recommend the 2nd attempt be a small PR (5-10 lbs) and the 3rd a slightly larger one (10-15 lbs). This sounds great as even if you miss your 3rd you still have a PR from your second, but it also seems like it makes the jump from second to third really small, usually around 10 lbs. However, you also seem to take the frist two attempts as fairly easy ones and leave PR's for the 3rd attempts when you run it or give information on the website. Which set up do you prefer/recommend? Thank you in advance for the answer and all the great info here. Also, sorry I am a little tardy to the party.

  39. Actually there's a couple of ways you can do this.

    You can do it that way. Where you hit a small PR on the second attempt. Like 5 pounds. then go for a bigger attempt on the 3rd.

    Or you can program back a little bit, like 85%, 93% then 100% with the 100% being the goal.

    A lot of it depends on where you are at in your genetic ceiling in terms of strength. If you have been training for a long time and have to work 6 months for 5 pounds on a lift, then the second option is probably the best one. If you are still moving up and have a longer ways to go for your ceiling, then the first option might be better.

    So really, it's about the fact that your mileage may vary.