Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Volume - Frequency - Intensity - Recovery

From the LRB Facebook page

When you are programming at a low intensity, may we assume you make up difference by increasing volume?


Yes and no. This is where a bit of Doc Brown lifting scientist on your part comes into play.

I have it set up, so that in my mind I know it's between 1 and 5 sets for minimum of X reps. I already know what the programmed weight is for the session. If I am tired, instead of pushing my recovery time into a deeper hole, I will get in a single set or so, for minimum reps. I may even back off the programmed weight if I'm really tired.

If I am having an 80%er then I will push it for a top set or two, leaving a rep or so in the tank. If I am really feeling good I will push the volume, but you still need to cap it. So maximum of 5 sets regardless. You should always walk out feeling better than when you walked in. Many people, when they are having a great session will keep training until they are destroyed. What happens then is that there has to be a recovery time to allow for supercompensation. The deeper you get into recovery, then longer it takes to edge back out of that into supercompensation. Lots of times, that takes so long, that you don't even get into that area. You end up dog ass tired for a week or so, and you don't see that "awesome workout" again for months.

Does this sound familiar?

"Man I haven't had a kick ass workout in months." ????

Often times those ass kicking sessions can set you back for a little while. The reason for that ass kicking session was because up to that point, you did all of the right things to set you up for that ass kicking session. So you set PR's and do a bunch of volume after and feel great about that.....then it doesn't happen again for a long while. The training curve of stimulus, recovery, and supercompensation gets compromised. The energy debt becomes too deep, then the curve of recovery becomes too long.

I'm not saying not to train hard. Not in the slightest. However, there has to be a balance there of volume, frequency, intensity, and recovery. The issue is, people scoff at recovery because they listen to too much internet macho bullshit about "there is no such thing as overtraining". Of course there is. Your body doesn't have limitless reserves to tap into.

This isn't something I've fully developed out yet, and it's something Wendler and I talk about weekly. I expect that in coming months we will be able to more clearly etch this out. The new manual scratches the surface of this but not to the degree we are going to eventually figure out.


  1. Good stuff Paul. It's one of the reasons why I really like your over warm up idea along with autoregulating work sets. Sometimes you just feel like dogshit and it's better to do some solid low rep warm ups then back off a lot to speed along recovery than to stay on a template, grind hard, and dig yourself deeper.

  2. Just bought your ebook and will be running your strong-15 for meet peaking as I am coincidentally going to be 9 weeks out starting next week. Just one question are paused squats done on all strong-15 sets or just the last ones that have paused squats labelled on top? This may sound like a stupid question I am just not sure. Every think else was clear cut and worth the money.

  3. Thank you for Re-affirming the "Cap" and not training to failure. Unfortunately in the Army it gets drilled into your head to work "Past Failure". I see now why I had little progress in the past. Just dont get me started on the "CNS-burnout myth"..

  4. I talked to mike tuchscherer about this on facebook before. Racking up this stress deliberately isnt always a bad thing. If you plan your programming in more detail then deliberately digging a deeper hole for a few weeks can have benefit as long as you spend the time recovering and realising these gains. Stress is a fucking complicated beast and understanding its relationship with training can take years. I know that if i beat myself to death for a week and feel like crap, if i push it an extra week and then take it easy for two weeks i get much stronger than when i listen to my body. I noticed your training cycles tend to be quite short, so it makes sense for you to not get too beat up because your programming doesnt allow for it! Not a bad thing