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_Wolf_ 11-06-2006 04:55 AM

Excellent thread from Midwest Barbell

This post in particular many found insightful:


i was talking to someone today about weightlifting training vs powerlifting training, and something kind of stuck in my mind... the differences and similarities of the evolution of training in each sport. in weightlifting, many of the best lifters of the 50's trained mainly on the competitive lifts, doing snatches, clean and jerks and squats 3 or 4 days a week, going relatively light for a few weeks, then ramping up for several weeks of hard training, then going back down again for several weeks of light training... the soviets changed this in the 70's (well, not just the soviets, but i suppose they were the most vocal about the new training style) and began planning more long term, and employing more assistance exercises, culminating in a training style where the lifter spent very little time on the competition exercises, and rarely did maximums on them outside competition, but did many, many different assistance exercises designed to improve the competition lifts, and changed these assistance exercises often. now, we have largely turned back to the "old style" of training, this was started by the bulgarians, just do the snatch and the clean and jerk, and squat, and do these things heavy and often, and progress slowly to doing them even heavier and even more often...

in powerlifting, it seems a similar thing has happened, though not quite following the same timeline. most lifters up to the early 90's it seems trained the same way OLers did in the 50's, except for doing the lifts less often. just the basics, squat, bench, deadlift, with maybe some close grip benches or shrugs or leg presses, but most of all just heavy work on the competition lifts. of course louie brought powerlifting in the 90's to the same place where OL was in the 70's, de-emphasising the competitive lifts and concentrating on assistance exercises, and also just like OLing in the 70's, increasing the overall workload. however, it seems that now, people are starting to go back to more work on the actuall competitive lifts, for example, it seems to me that most of the best benchers no longer follow the formula that louie preached 5 or 10 years ago of only wearing a shirt in a meet and only benching heavy in a meet, it seems that many of the best wear their shirt and bench heavy in it every week, doing things just like they would do in competition on a regular basis.

the interesting thing is that real strength levels of the athletes in both sports really havnt changed all that much in the last 30 years. alexiev clean and jerked around 575lbs almost 30 years ago, and the best lifters of each of the intervening decades has been within 5 or so kilos of this number either way. i know that the actuall weights in powerlifting have gone up a lot recently, but there were 900+ squats in the 70's without squat suits, and with knee wraps that people wouldnt even consider as supportive equipment today, and i doubt any of the current 1000+ squatters in their canvas suits could really beat that. likewise, jim williams benched 700 in the 70's without a shirt, and that number really hasnt been bettered by any large margin even today.

so it would seem to me that exercise selection and whether your training style emphasises the competitive lifts or assistance exercises isnt the most important variable when it comes to successfull training. ill agree that bands and chains and the 100 versions of the good morning are fun and can help break plateaus, but in reality, the strength levels of the best powerlifters havent increased signigicantly since we all started using these things. likewise in OL, we argue about whether to use the soviet or bulgarian models, but in reality, both have produced comparable athletes.

perhaps there is another variable, a thing or things not talked about often enough, that can be successfully applied within widely different training regimines, that is more important than what band to use or whether to do powercleans or pulls, or just clean and jerks. of course i have my own ideas about this, but id like to hear what some other people think.
Besides the obvious answer that you need more practice with more advanced gear, like squat suits and bench shirts, couldn't one make the argument that the two styles aren't that different after all?

I should tell everyone that Glenn and I were talking about something very closely related to this issue already about a month ago. So I'm sort of repeating a lot of what he told me then, but for the benefit of everyone else here now.

To be a good strength athlete, you pretty much need good neural efficiency with your competitive lifts, and the muscles that are going to be doing all that work really do need to be pretty big.

Do not both styles of training (Russian/WSB versus Bulgarian/Milita) accomplish this?

For OLing and PLing with Russian training and WSB respectively, using the conjugate method, you develop your neural ability with lots of dynamic and max effort work. With Bulgarian and Militia training, we'll call it 'direct training' for now I guess, you develop this ability through lots of repetitive practice with the competition lifts...for hours and hours per training session. Just different methods of achieving the same result...a highly 'peaked' degree of neural strength.

But you can't just be can't get away from myofibril hypertrophy of the muscle groups that are going to be doing all this work. To do this with the conjugate method you need lots of volume with difficult weight. Glenn called this, "real gut busting sets"..."boring and really hard". Stuff like 6 sets of 4, or 5 sets of 5, or 4 sets of 10 with weight that is around 80% of your max. The Russians did lots of variations of pulls and jerks to accomplish this, and WSB guys do a lot of GHRs, rows, dumbell presses, and goodmornings. The "direct training" camp gets all this volume straight from the huge amount of competitive lifts that they practice. No one is going to accuse the Bulgarians or the Militia of using anything but a lot of volume. And these of course work the necessary muscles because the lifts are mostly the competitive lifts (with a few exceptions). Again, its just a different way of achieving the same goal.

As long as you are efficient and big (big enough), isn't exercise selection really a moot point? After all, the lifts you do in the gym are really only one training variable...if all the other variables are your training really that different?
This is more Glenn regurgetation coming at you...I hope he doesn't mind too much.

You need to get lots of work in at the 80% range, with multiple sets of multiple reps. 5x5 is an easy way to do it...but 6x4 or 4x10 seems to work really well too. Just keep the weight on the barbell the same for all of the sets. For example, warm up with the barbell by itself, than do 5 sets of 5 reps of 225 for Romanian deadlifts.

I know you train mostly WSB style for your assistance stuff, if adding more weight is your gameplan, than do your GHRs and rows and JM presses for a bunch of sets with the same weight on the bar...and make sure its hard. Don't train to failure! But make sure that its difficult weight.

I think the "other variable" that you might be talking about is hard work. I mean really hard work. Work that builds up a serious amount of fatigue in your system.

I am one of the loudest proponents of efficient training planning, periodization, peaking, keeping intensity high (with regards to 1rm), etc., but the fact is the foundation that is built in all these elite athletes comes from time periods of extremely hard work, where fatigue builds up to the point of damn near overtraining. (and then allowing that fatigue to dissipate during deloading phases).

Look at Jay Schroeder. This guy is a nut - more of a cult leader than a Strength and Conditioning coach. Most of his ideas couldn't be more against what science and time have proven over and over again to be correct. However, he works the hell out of his guys - and they adapt and become stronger.

Whether you subscribe to the conjugate Soviet/WSB methods or to the direct training Bulgarian/Militia training isn't as important as to whether you build up fatigue for periods of time and then back off, allowing yourself to recover. i.e. - when do you get really strong with WSB? It's during the circa maximal phase, which in essence is the only time that WSB plans to truly raise the fatigue level of their athletes.


At some point, there is a limit to how big and how efficient you can get." I'm going to pretend, for now, that this is a lie! A vicious lie!

I wonder how much sports psychology weighs in to this. It seems that "fatigue" is relative. This is just another way of saying training tollerance though.

Fred, was the 80% thing about mass or recruitment?
Couple of points here Susan and Fred...

Constantly maxing out weights does little to induce hypertrophy in any form. What adds size (specifically myofibrillar hypertrophy) is the "extra work" that is done. Like Fred said, WSB and the Soviets accomplish this from the extra work they do like Glute Ham Raises, Rev. Hypers, Extra tricep exercises, etc.

The Bulgarians do their extra work in terms of competitive lifts done in the 80% range for maybe 2-5 sets of 3-5 reps. This keeps them from deviating form their program by allowing them to hit maxes daily, but then drop down in that same lift they just maxed at do some rep work for hypertrophy.

Susan, it's hard to ask what caused your hypertrophy as you started WSB. It may have been the extra work, or it may have just been that you were stuck in a rut in bodybuilding and the higher intensity came as a shock to your body and so you adapted.

However, the fact that you have since not gained much muslce but have become much much, much stronger is definitely due to increased nueral efficiency.

I'm not sure what I think about genetic limits. I honeslty don't believe there really is such a thing. Obviously growth and strength will slow once you have become efficient and big, but it doesn't stop.

So the issue os to continue the maxes for the nueral efficiency, and continue the rep work for the hypertrophy.

Matt brought up some real good points, I'm glad he did!

About the 80% of your 1 rep max...that was just an arbitrary number to use for the amount of weight you put on bar for gaining lean weight. The idea is just to use medium-heavy weight for a lot of "gut-busting" volume.

And Susan...just because there is a doesn't mean you're anywhere near it.
Yes, growth wise I respond very well to heavy work. This is why I always thought TUT theories were a joke. I think variety makes people grow, along with RECOVERY. Since the beginning my routine has had a mix of 1 RM, 3 RM, 3 x 3, 5 x 5, and 10-15 rep work. I think it's very likely that I should expect my LBM to slow (but not stop, as you said) at some point. I mean, I AM a chick. hehehe

Fred, I'm definitely not concerned with limits. "Limitations are for people who have them."

Question though...if the 80% comment was in regard to hypertrophy, then what do you think improves recruitment best? Practice? Practice in a certain range/model?
Yes and no. Fatigue is relative in the terms you are describing. But this is why I hate using the term "intensity" because most people define it incorrectly. Intensity is defined as how close you are working in regards to your 1 rep max. "Perceived intensity" is how hard you perceive yourself as working regardless of what % of 1rm you are at. (i.e. - bodybuilders really "feeling" the burn.)

Perceived intensity is pretty much worthless in training. Perceived fatigue is as well.

True fatigue is a physical issue (concerning CNS and muscles), not necessarily an emotional or mental one. However, many times an athlete's perceived fatigue holds them back from reaching the true amount of physical fatigue they need in order to truly get bigger and stronger. This is where Glenn has an advantage with the blood tests he's designed to measure overtraining and fatigue.

For the rest of us it's an issue of slowly building up fatigue and specifically for a 1-3 week period load so hard that you can't hardly handle it anymore. Then back off, allow yourself several weeks to recover and then start the process over. If you can't finish the workouts at all during the heavy loading weeks, or you don't recover properly, then you loaded too hard and built up too much fatigue. Next time, don't load so hard. If you are setting new maxes during your heavy loading weeks and it didn't take long to recover, then you didn't load hard enough and therefore didn't give your body the optimal training stimulus it needed to most efficiently grow and get stronger.

BTW, The more I think about dual-factor training and periodizing wth periods of heavy loading followed by periods of unloading rarely happens in powerlifting. (I wonder if it ever did?) Even the best of the best I see aren't doing it in powerlifting, and I feel it contributes greatly to so many guys bombing out of meets with weights they were hitting easily a month before.

It seems arrogant for me to say so, being that I don't live on the same universe as most of those lifters, and yet, I honestly believe that if they knew how to periodize correctly using fatigue that we would see the records go through the roof, (not like we're seeing with the mastery of equipment, but rather because of true strength gains.)

It's funny to me the science and planning and money that goes into OLY weight lifting or even training in other olympic sports, and yet most powerlifters go into the gym with no real clue as to what they are doing, never ramp up fatigue on purpose, and the only unloading they do is not working out the week before the meet.

This idea of cognitive training (training by feel) is bullshit for the most part IMHO. 99% of the strength community can't be trusted to train correctly in going by "feel." After the first or second week of a heavy 3 week loading period, obviously you will "feel" like you need to back off. But you don't need to back off - you need to push yourself into a place you've never been before. The word "overtraining" is vastly overused in strength training, defined by most people as when they don't feel like working out that day, or they didn't happen to set a max that day because they have been feeling "a little overtrained." Their not overtrained - they've probably just allowed some fatigue to build up, which is a great thing. But without planning and testing by trial and error, how can you ever know how hard to push yourself or when to back off or how long you need to back off before testing your maxes?

Now, one major exception to this rule is concerning injuries. Obviously if you are dying with tendonitis, you have to know when to back off, even if your body as a whole hasn't built up much fatigue. Injuries are a whole different ballgame.

Just something to think about.
something found here:


One of the most accepted routines used today is the ď5 sets of 5 repetitionsĒ routine. To me such a routine is a complete waste of time.

Why? Because it is neither hard enough nor heavy enough to do you any good.

What I see you doing is taking a warm-up and doing 5 sets of 5 repetitions with the same weight, for workout after workout. Or else you will begin the first set of 5 with a light weight. Jump and do 5 more reps. Jump again and do 5 more reps. Jump the third time and do 5 more reps and finally do 5 more reps with the 5th set and thatís it.

Now I ask you, if you could get 5 sets of 5 repetitions with the same weight as in case number one, isnít it logical to assume that with real effort you could manage 1 or 2 sets of maybe 8 repetitions? And if this is so, then how much actual intense work did you do by doing 5 sets of 5 reps with this weight, if you really wanted to? The answer should be obvious: you did very little work at all!

In case number two, itís obvious that only on set number 5 did you do any real work. Yet you stop here instead of going on, when youíre finally warmed up and the body says, ďletís go!Ē What sense does this make? Yet, many of you refuse to think and to have the courage to change your training concepts because you are afraid to admit that such training will necessarily be long and hard and at times quite uncomfortable. Yet you moan and groan when the gains do not come your way and you gave nothing to show for your efforts but a lot of wasted time and a lot of heartaches.

This is one of the reasons I an writing this book; to try and give you a real story as to why you do not gain the way others do. My aim is to give you a realistic look at yourself and at this sport of ours and to enable you to come to some intelligent decision as to how to go about getting where you want to go, by offering you tried and proven, effective training theories and schedules.

In order for you to gain rapidly in the field of strength development you are going to have to train the way our past and present champions train. I would never ask a man who gas never squatted with weight to advise me as to how to improve on my squat. Neither should you. There is a great deal of information out there which has already been deciphered for you. All you have to do is have the self determination to seek out that which seems the right way for you to travel and to experiment until you hit upon the proper set and repetition scheme to use. I canít decide this for you. Only you can decide the way for you to go.

In order for you to gain as quickly as you can, your entire creative energy is going to have to revolve around the right path to follow. If you have a favorite lifter and he is in your weight class or around your bodyweight, try his routines. See how you react to his all around exercise program and diet. Find out if you can recuperate on his schedule. See if his exercise movements offer you discomfort. There is no right way for you. Just be patient and have the ability and courage to grow and to change, because without change there can be no real growth.

You should also bear in mind that for some people the basic rules of training just do not seem to hold water. While most guys respond to heavy weight, low repetitions and high sets, you may find that heavy singles done for many, many attempts would best for you. Some may prefer the isometric system in conjunction with the barbell moves while others prefer partials with weight done in the power rack and very little actual practice in the actual competitive lifts. I know of one man who did very little actual training in general and yet made fantastic progress (for a while) using the isometric system with movement, in a power rack. Yet the strongest man I have ever met (pound for pound) feels that power rack work is a waste of time. Who is right? They both are.

EricT 11-06-2006 05:56 AM

I knew that 5x5 comment sounded familiar. It's from Anthony Dittillo. He obviously never tried the 5x5 method. How in the world he things that 1 or 2 sets of 8 is better than 5 sets of 5 is beyond me. He also obviously thinks that everything is about working to failure or adding volume for volumes sake instead of thinking about what is going to happen the next workout.

I like how he reminds us of simple things that are easy to forget, however. But I'm pretty sure this is copyrighted "for sale" material that someone has posted for the world to see.

Darkhorse 11-06-2006 07:14 AM


I knew that 5x5 comment sounded familiar. It's from Anthony Dittillo.
Yep, some asshole cut and pasted it right out of the book:

Chapter One, page 16, first paragraph. :) I had mine highlighted for when I want to have a good laugh... Although I like Ditillo's idea of doing singles heavy as you can handle, then backing off for a set or two to failure.

_Wolf_ 11-06-2006 08:33 AM

hey guys: thegame also feels that the only ppl who benefit from 5x5 are steroid users...i was like :wtf:

EricT 11-06-2006 08:48 AM

Yep, 0311 he's just like anyone else: take what is useful (or what you like) and ignore the rest.

The 5x5 only for steroid's is pretty common on a lot of forums. You'll see a lot of threads with a guy asking about 5x5 the common wisdom on that board will be the steroid comment or basicall full-body workouts and steroids. Then someone will inevitibly show up and say 5x5 worked wonders for them all-natural, which will of course be ignored or they'll say "you must have super-human genetics". Rest assured not many people will say that shit that have actually tried these styles of training.

Basically you can talk all you want about this and that style of training. But if you haven't done it or done something similar enough...well. I knock many way's of training based on the prevailing science or wisdom. But I only knock things I have tried myself also.

I would credit 5x5's as being responsible for most of my lifts going through the roof compared to where I floundered for a while. But it's not just "doing 5x5 reps" it's the programming. And I haven't even bothered with dual factor programs yet so to me the potential is amazing for most people especially considering I though my strength had reached a point where I thought I couldn't improve it without somehting more specialized like WS (not that that won't be necessary).

Darkhorse 11-06-2006 09:18 AM

I think certain people, especially those new to the scene making an e-name for themselves as a trainer, will try to come up with a slightly different version of the truth. Kinda like is someone was to analyzing a bunch of the best training systems like DC, HST, ect and point out why they aren't "perfect", but mine is. :)

To each his own. If the 5 x 5 packs on mass for you, as it apparently has for a broad range of people, then fuck what someone has to say. :lame: Take it with a grain of salt and move on doing what works best for you. That's another thing. I see stuff like that every so often floating around in different forums, but what the fuck are you gonna do? No sense in arguing with someone over the net because most people have their heads so far up their asses, they won't see the ray of sunlight beaming in your post. :D

It all boils down to what I refer as the "yeah, but's":

Joe Average: "I put on a ton of mass with 5 x 5"
Trainer: "Yeah, but it must've been "newbie gains"..

Joe Average: "No, I've been lifting for 5 years, and it works."
Trainer: "Yeah, but you must've been doing a killer cycle."

Joe Average: "I'm 100% natural"
Trainer: "Yeah, but it's nowhere near optimal"

Joe Average: "Fuck you dude, whether it's 85% "optimal" or 100%, I've put on 7 lbs and my strength's through the roof."
Trainer: "Yeah, but I'm just saying that when I saw a study featuring an untrained duck-billed platypus, the muscle biopsy showed minimal hypertrophy when digging a hole using 5 sets of 5 reps using his bill.

EricT 11-06-2006 09:32 AM

LOL. I knew one of us was going to say it!

Darkhorse 11-06-2006 09:43 AM


Trainer: "Yeah, but I'm just saying that when I saw a study featuring an untrained duck-billed platypus, the muscle biopsy showed minimal hypertrophy when digging a hole using 5 sets of 5 reps using his bill.

EricT 11-06-2006 09:59 AM

LMAO. I agree. I know what I know and am pretty secure in what works for me and what doesn't at this point and time. It doesn't make a difference to me that every body believes it or whether their heads are firmly entrenched in their nether regions. I'll try to help if I can but I'm not gonna climb a hill and give a fire and brimstone sermon on the subject. It's not worth it.

hrdgain81 11-06-2006 11:44 AM

the steriod comment is ridiculous. I've been using different derivations of the 5x5 since I was 16. Not once have I ever failed to increase my strength significantly.

let em believe what they want, they can stay small and weak. I really couldnt care any less.

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