Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Weekly Q & A

Leave a name and a question.

Since we're about to kick off 2012 I'd also like to hear about how you guys who wrote in, plan on achieving some of your goals, and/or if I can help with that.

Let's rock n roll......


  1. Where did your donate link go to on the website? I'd like to throw you a bone for all the work you put into this.

  2. I took it down. I appreciate the gesture bigs, but I put the work in because I enjoy it. :)

  3. Paul,

    I'm getting ready to run big15. On DL days, do you have a preference on touch & go vs re-setting each rep ? The reps seem as though they will stay fairly high. Curious on your thoughts.


  4. I personally stop each rep, or at least I don't do touch n go. But it's a personal preference and I think both are fine.

  5. 1. If you had the knowledge you have now when you started training, what would you do differently?

    2. Lamborghini or Ferrari?
    Mercedes Benz or BMW?

    Wish you and your family a happy new year!

  6. 1. Base my training around squatting and pulling, rather than benching and overhead pressing. So I'd squat 2-3x a week then deadlift 2x a week. One light and 1 heavy. I'd train everyday, since I was weak and no way in hell could I over-tax my recovery ability. Do all the things I do now for pre-hab and never stop it. I'd also take heavy ass core work seriously. I will be dedicating a whole chapter in the book to this and why this has happened.

    2. Ferrari. BMW easily. Specifically an M5 which is one of my fave cars.

    3. Same to you Howard! Have a great one.

  7. Are you still having the cottage cheese/bread/jam combo pre workout?
    When do you supplement with the Xtend?

    Keep up the great blog...It's helped me lean out and get stronger.
    Happy New Year !!

  8. hey paul, great blog, my goal for this year is to lose 20 or so pounds, down from 260 to 235ish now, its a slow go, my doctor says if i can get under 220 i should be able to get of the blood pressure meds i am currently taken, i saw your post about grape seed extract have you found that it has made a big difference in your bp?

    i was just skimming thru your old articles and came across your 'ultimate beastdom' articles, im going to run your 2 day template for the conditioning block,after the 3x2 or 5x1 what kind of volume would you recommend for the assistance work,

  9. AJ - Not doing the cottage cheese and bread with jelly pre training RIGHT NOW. When I go back to eating to gain a little it will be back in the diet. Happy NY to you as well!

    Chris - I'm not sure if the grape seed extract made a huge difference because when I attack something I usually send a few nukes at it. The main thing for me, just like you, was getting the weight down.

  10. Hey Paul,

    When I squat I feel some pain near my hip in what I believe is the sartorius. I can't squat very much without it getting aggravated so i haven't been squatting for a while, but i tried squatting today and it still hurts.

    Do you know any stretches or exercises I can do to fix it?

  11. From my understanding of this particular one, you need to take time off until the pain subsides. And when you do start back you need to break back into squats slowly. You also might want to look at playing with your stance when you do start back squatting.

    In the meantime, take this time to do some hypertrophy work for your quads and hams using exercises that do NOT hurt. Always make the best of a bad situation.

  12. ....oh and to add, lying leg lifts seem to work pretty well for strengthening it. Best of luck bud.

  13. Shawn, I know it's two completely different worlds but at one time I was an ultra distance runner and pulled my sartorious. It was extremely annoying. It would hurt when I ran but I would often just power through thinking it would heal up. Well, it never did. It took about 4 months of no running for it to heal up, and by that time I had begun weight training. Interestingly enough I believe the squatting has helped strengthen my sartorious now, as it used to flare up now and again but since squatting regularly it hasn't flared up in years. But, Paul is right. You have to let it rest for it to heal. Sorry Paul, I know it's your Q&A, just wanted to drop my two cents in.

  14. I always welcome input. Especially from those that have dealt with an issue first hand.

  15. Paul,
    Just wanted to know you're thoughts on squatting everyday. I saw this template in Wendler's 2nd edition of 5/3/1, and while I'm focused on getting into better condition, the template is brief, and I feel that since I suck at squatting, something like this would be a step in the right direction. Just wanted your input.

  16. Just mind your load if you're going to do it. If you're squatting everyday it probably needs to be for technique reasons, not strength reasons. That's my opinion. Although getting your technique issues ironed out is the best way to get stronger immediately.

  17. Hey Paul,
    Thanks for answering me so quickly. I don't want to give away Jim's template, but it is varying in intensity, so you're not going all out squatting 7 days per week like John Broz advocates.

    It's a 5 day per week template, and given that the volume is in check, seems like it could be good to focus on while dropping some unwanted pounds and getting in better condition.

  18. Jim and I are almost always on the same page about training ideas, so roll with it and tell me what comes of it.

  19. Hi Paul,

    Would you switch between heavy and light sessions while running the big 15 program (i.e. Push Heavy, Squat Heavy, Pull Light)?

    Do you cycle exercises in and out for heavy days, or is consistency more important (i.e. Powercleans week 1, High pulls week 2, Sumo deadlifts week 3)?



  20. Not on the big-15 Aaron. Ballz out every session on it.

    Generally on the big-15 I picked a few movements I really want to hammer and just stay with those for at least 6-8 weeks.

  21. Hey Paul,

    Has balls out conditioning work ever actually jeopardized gains for anyone? I've been making steady progress in both size and strength the past few months but my body fat is still too high for me at 17%. Would you just keep plugging ahead and worry about leaning out later or say fuck it and start pushing cars a few times a week?

    Thanks for all the solid advice,


  22. Here's my short to medium-term goals and current plan to achieve them:

    Present: Male, 39 years, 6'4, 225 pounds, est 13-15 % BF, bench 275, squat 330, deadlift 420 (estimated RMs).
    Goal in 8 months: 10 % BF, bench 300, squat 400, deadlift 500 @ 40 years.

    Fat loss + skill/strength block: 8 weeks of Dan Johns 40-day program (, with first 4 weeks at large kcal deficit. Last 4 weeks at maintenance kcal. Goal: 215 pounds @ 10 % with basic strength up, mainly because of skill practice.

    Hypertrophy block: 6 weeks of Dan Johns Mass Made Simple (, to gain muscle and increase strength ceiling. Goal: 225-230 pounds @ 12-13 % BF

    After this reevaluate, but probably try for a new fat loss block for around 4-6 weeks, and then a strength specific period to get to my strength goals. Program to be specified, but I am considering Big15 or some "chaos and pain" programming.

    Does this make sense?

    Cheers, Martin

  23. Deadlift ?
    For my last heavy set on Strong 15, my hips came shooting straight up and I failed the lift. With winter, my hands are dry as hell and one is bleeding. (lack of grip could have been problem too.) Any cues to keep hips down. I was pissed and tore down my christmas tree and threw it in the woods (it was really dead). Thanks Paul, Sam

  24. Paul,

    Have you read about the training styles of the 50's era lifters like Reeves, Park, Grimek, etc?

    Mostly, its all 3x/week Full body. Doesnt seem like a scheme that many people use now, but these guys got big & strong as hell with them in the pre-drug era.

    I've been purchasing the old books that these guys wrote, just for the novelty & old-school training knowledge.

    Hope you have a happy new year.


  25. best exercise to strengthen your abs, and lower back? best for core work.

  26. Chris - You should be doing some steady state at least. If you're 17% you're a smidge too high right now. You're about to hit that spillover point where you just get fatter and fatter.

    Add in some steady state conditioning 3x a week in the morning and get the bodyfat back in check.

    Martin - The diet should be the main focus if bodyfat loss is your biggest goal. Make sure THAT is in order first. There is no reason why you can't still be concentrating on strength while losing bodyfat, or at minimum strength retention, just don't expect the same rate of strength gains.

    Sam - This is normal. Sounds like you just weren't strong enough to make this lift and need to keep getting stronger. Remember when you program with the strong15 you should NEVER miss a lift that whole 9 weeks if you didn't overestimate what you are REALLY capable of.

    Joe - That kind of training style is awesome and a real man maker.

    Bruiser - Ab wheel and weighted planks. Db side bends.

  27. what about hypers for lower back?

  28. Yup, hypers for low back. But they need to be done a certain way.

  29. Here's my question;

    I've been using 5/3/1 since July of 2010 - and I was brand new to PL at that time. Since then, I've experimented with my technique on the three lifts - to find my leverages etc... Anyway, when I bench, if I have my pinkies on the rings or wider, then I get this issue with my right hand falling asleep or going numb at random times during the day. If I bench thumbs distance from smooth or narrower, no problems - other than I might be shortchanging my max in the long run.

    Obviously the solution is to not bench wide. What I am wondering is what is happening, why my hand gets to where it will numb out on me at any given time, and if anyone else has experienced it and how they corrected it? I've been looking into this pretty thoroughly and can't find much, and an xray doesn't reveal anything. Sometimes, on a wider bench grip, it will even happen during the press if I am over the 315 to 320 lb range.

  30. Paul can you explain re: the hypers? Thanks.

  31. Anonymous - You need to curve and stretch the erectors over at the bottom, then just use the erectors to contract to bring you back up. I will post a video in the next few weeks. But if you do hypers this way, there is very little hamstring involvement and it's almost all erectors. Which is the reason why you are doing hypers.

    Mitch - If I had to guess, you're cutting the signals off to a nerve somehow. That's the only thing I can think of that would cause that.

  32. Paul,

    I think I might be getting to the point where I need to program my bench differently from my other lifts, but I don't know how. I've been running a 5/3/1 style routine for years and seen great improvements, but my bench performance is always so erratic. My squat, deadlift, and even press sets can usually be accurately predicted within +/- 1 rep, while many times I'll walk in the gym and get 4 less reps on bench than I was expecting.

    Another issue with my bench programming I struggle with is assistance and frequency. I keep all my assistance very minimal and this works like a charm for squats and pulls. I feel rested and like I didn't waste my energy on a bunch of other exercises. However when it comes to benching, I always get this sense that my upper body just isn't strong enough to bench well. Maybe this is just a result of going to a gym where everybody else trains upper body 5x a week, but sometimes I feel like I need to take the opposite approach from my lower body lifts and get in extra sets of dips, pushups, incline etc. instead of just benching and OH pressing 1x/week.

    Any suggestions?



  33. Adam -

    1. Sounds like a technique issue to start. If it's varying that wildly then you may be doing something very different from bench workout to bench workout. Take some videos for a few weeks of you benching and mainly, video the motion of your elbows. See if they are traveling along the same path for each rep, week after week. My guess would be that they aren't.

    2. Upperbody can respond better to more volume and frequency for lots of people. I personally think that squats and deads tend to take care of themselves, but for upperbody you do need some benches, inclines, overheads, curls, rows, and chins. So that's a lot more extra work than just the primary movement.

    What I did for my last meet was like this....

    Tuesday -
    close grip bench - cycle work
    curls - 2 types usually
    triceps work - 2 types usually

    Saturday -
    Press Behind the Neck - 2 sets of 8-10
    Db Bench Press/Incline - 2 sets of high reps
    Side Laterals - 3-4 sets of 10-12

    However if you feel like you need to press more, have a second workout based around heavy incline. I have really become a believer in heavy inclines as it tends to translate well to both the bench and overhead. At least it has in my case, and in the case of other guys I have gotten into doing it.

    So you could easily do.....

    Day 1 -
    Bench - cycle
    Close Grip Bench - 2-3 heavy sets
    Wide Grip Bench - 2 light sets of higher reps

    Day 2 -
    Incline - 2-3 heavy sets
    Military or Press Behind the Neck - 2-3 sets medium weight/higher reps
    Triceps and Biceps work

    This should take care of any pressing issues. Pun intended.

  34. Paul, when you have to drop training back to a two-day split for more than a week or so, how do you handle diet? Decrease calories? Cut carbs on off-days? Try to squeeze in extra conditioning sessions? A combination of the above?

    Probably you've covered this in the blog, so apologies if this is a rehash.

  35. When I drop training back to twice a week it generally means I want to concentrate more on conditioning more than strength. Although I think you can get plenty strong training twice a week. So usually I'm doing a shit ton of conditioning work.

    My diet has been dialed in a for a long time so nothing really changes anymore for the most part.

  36. Speaking of conditioning, I remember you saying something in the Big-15 manual to the effect of "if you are over 12% bodyfat then you should not be trying to gain mass." Do you still subscribe to this idea? Is conditioning the main priority until you reach a low body fat percentage?

  37. Yes. 12-15% is the upper range of bf for offseason athletes. Whether you're a football player or powerlifter or MMA guy, you shouldn't be over 15% in the offseason for any reason. If you're gaining mass, same thing. After about 15% your body just gets really good at collecting adipose.

    Guys who become fat asses for the sake of it lack discipline in what they are trying to accomplish. I know too many strong as hell guys that are lean and in condition. There is no excuse to eat yourself into a couch breather.

  38. Paul, thank for the response. It seems like I will have to become content with eating much less, especially over the coming weeks. I am sure it will be worth it.

  39. Hey Paul,

    I mean no disrespect when I ask this question. Being a non chemically enhanced person myself, what do you honestly think of such people? Are we effectively cheating ourselves from what we could attain? Do the benefits outweigh the risks?

    Are you more impressed with a person's drug free lifting total?

    Just wanted to know the honest opinion from the other side, feel free to tell me to F#@K Off if you like.

    Good blog as always.

  40. You mentioned in a recent post how little you have to eat to avoid gaining weight, and that surprised me, since anytime I weigh over 215, I can lose weight just by eating ad libatum. (I'm 22, and I would describe my metabolism as "average") Did your metabolism slow down with age? (Not that you're Methuselah or anything) I'm asking because I thought the metabolic slowdown that most folks experience in their 30s was just a result of muscle loss, which obviously hasn't been the case for you. If your metabolism has slowed down despite being jacked, I may have to rethink my life ambition of carrying enough muscle mass that I can eat whatever I want and stay lean.

  41. I've been inspired by your recent trap development and would like to start adding some dedicated trap work. I'm unsure where it would be best placed in my routine.

    I'm doing a Press/Pull/Legs 4x a week.

    Floor Press/Shoulders/Tricep work
    Pullups/Bent Over Rows/Bicep Work

    On two of the off days I'm doing sled work/farmers carries/strongman/abs

    Any advice would be awesome, really enjoy your blog.

  42. Thought of this when I saw the question about the 50s era lifters and the 3x a week full body. I was reading about Sheiko the other day and it was basically that, 3 hard sessions a week focusing on the main lifts. What's your thought on that program and have you ever tried something like it?

  43. Steven - Interesting question. I don't really think about these things. I know tons of strong guys that use and tons of strong guys that claim to be natural. I said "claim" because I have known guys that ran OTC PH cycles still claiming natural status. And that's bunk.

    It's kinda like the raw vs gear debate. It's one of those things that has been beaten to death. Everyone has an opinion about it. I do think that a guy using competing in natural feds are pretty low.

    Nathan - That's going to be a real individual thing. I have spent 23 years in the gym, so that has a lot to do with how much mass I carry. I spent TONS of years eating big so that I can walk around now where I'm at. Once you get to a "set point" in terms of bodyweight leanness or mass, you may yo-yo a bit. You have to cement some gains over time. I personally would not want to eat big all the time now. That is a chore and a half and I don't miss it.

    Daniel -

    Floor Press/Upright Rows/Triceps
    Pullups/Shrugs/Bicep Work

    Anonymous - I've done lots of whole body routines. I think they are great for coming back from an injury or getting back into things. But once my lifts starts climbing I have to ditch it for the things I have usually done to make gains.

  44. Paul,

    I just started working night shift and I lost ten fucking pounds in a month. I haven't weighed 215 since junior year of highschool. I try my hardest to eat protein during the shift but the it isn't always easy to eat at 5AM.

    Im also loosing the drive to lift which I have never lost before. I dunno how much you can help me but I'd appreciate any advice at this point. Thanks man.

  45. Jager - I don't know what the full shift is like, but obviously your calories have fallen off over the month pretty significantly in order to lose 10 pounds.

    The main thing to do is relax. You just started working the night shift. You need to allow for some time to pass for your body to adjust to the change. You will be tired mentally and physically but eventually you will settle in. I know, I have a friend that has been working nights for 10 years. It will happen.

    In the meantime, scrap your training "plan". Get into the gym on the days you want to, and do what you want to. If that means arms three times this week, do that. Just do what is fun again.

    As for eating. Same thing, scrap a planned diet and eat what you want, within reason, for a couple of weeks. Try to make it quality food, but if you need to sneak in some cookies or whatever go ahead.

    And lastly, make sure you have a solid sleep schedule. Keep that as rock solid as possible and plan your training around the time you feel best. Reduce training time down to 30 minutes at the most. Get in, get out and feel better after you leave than when you walked in.

    Stay the course.

  46. Paul,

    I was wondering if you could give advice on exercises to do to become capable of doing kneeling ab wheel rollouts.

    All the progressions online are for standing rollouts, and assume kneeling ones are easy. Well, I can't currently. It might be because I am very tall, thus increasing the effective difficulty, but despite being able to hold a plank with a 45 on my back for a minute I can't do kneeling rollouts at all.


  47. I only do the kneeling ones.

    One thing the ab wheel does is stress the lats too. Your abs may be strong enough to do the roll back, but your lats may not be, or vice versa.

    I'd go with decline sit ups (weighted with the plate BEHIND your head) and straight arm pulldowns. Do 5 sets of 10-12 reps as heavy as you can in that rep range.

  48. Hi Paul,
    Just wondered if you had a New Dad Template?? My wife is expecting any day and what with the new arrival and looking after our daughter who is 3 I think I'll have my work cut out getting my 3 sessions a week in for a few weeks. I'm thinking:
    1. Squat, Press
    2. DL, Bench/Inc

    Work to a heavy 5 then a back off set of say 10. Round each day of with chins or Rows...any thoughts?

    Thanks and all the best for 2012!


  49. Paul,

    17% bf guy here again. I'm wondering if, ceteris paribus, adding steady state cardio a couple times a week is enough to actually drop someone down into the more reasonable 12-15% range? I just want to be efficient, not discover later that I had no business trying to gain mass at this bf level.


  50. Dan - Congrats on being a new dad, first off. I always liked throwing in my squats and deads together. Any of my twice a week templates will work fine.

    Day 1 - squat / dead / chin
    Day 2 - bench / row / dip

    Just get in what you can.

    Chris - Probably not to be honest. The best way to do that is to get the diet in check. You really don't need a ton of cardio to get the bodyfat in check if the diet is right on.

  51. How do you see Reem vs JDS going down after seeing Reem walkthrough Brock?

  52. Reem all the way. I don't think that JDS can handle his power.

  53. Thanks Paul I really appreciate the feedback. I'd love to see JDS vs Overeem granted Reem passes the drug test. Well see.

  54. Reem took and passed 4 drug tests leading up to the Lesnar fight.

  55. yeah, after being a month late in submitting his initial test which he went AWOL for lol! g.

  56. Paul, you do the ab wheel rollouts on your knees or standing? I finally got the standing variation, after a lot of front squatting

  57. Knees. I personally don't see a reason for the standing variation, plus you can't load it without a weighted vest.

  58. thinking about a period trying to get ohp numbers up. 3days/wk with sqt and deads on same day. one day use ohp as main other maybe use incline. assistance for the incline being db ohp, any suggestion for assistance on ohp day? thanks.

  59. A ton of overhead pressing. Just go after what it is you are wanting to improve like a wild fucking banshee.

  60. Paul, if I was to use your strong 15 year round how would I program it to change each cycle?

  61. Russ and Paul, Thanks for the responses. Looks like I'm not gonna be squatting for a while. I just hope I don't have to wait for 4 months! Only saving grace is I can still deadlift without pain.

    Any ideas on exercises for quads? Do you think a sumo style deadlift would be good enough for now? I've always DLed conventional so i don't have any experience with them. I'm doing glute ham raises right now for hams so i'm good on the ham stuff for now.

  62. You have a million options. Try them all. Just make sure you are COMPLETELY PAIN FREE with anything you try.

    Front squats
    leg press
    1 legged squats
    sissy squats
    leg extensions
    barbell hacks

  63. I just found this blog and I like your ideas. Currently, I use the 5/3/1 program but I have run into a snag. I coach my sons' wrestling team. I have one boy in junior high and the other is in high school. Through the week I work from 6 am to 4:30 pm then I go straight to junior high prctice and then to senior high practice which starts at 6:00. I usually get home a little after 8 pm. With eating dinner and getting things ready for the following day and getting some sleep I have no time to train during the week. If I am lucky I may be able to get in one or two exercises. I can train on Sundays and some Saturdays if tournaments don't run too late. How would you set up training for something like this?

  64. Check this old post......