Clustering, Myo-rep, Varying Rep Ranges Barbell Plan

Discussion in 'Training Logs' started by Clayton, Aug 16, 2018.

  1. Clayton

    Clayton Member

    Starting tomorrow morning!

    A clustering, myo-rep, basic lift barbell plan. It appears overly complicated, but it’s pretty straightforward.

    Same lifts every workout, but vary between heavy, medium, light rep ranges.

    I’m not focused on getting bigger, just need to lose fat, build work capacity/conditioning (get back into shape), stay injury free, and I would always like to get stronger. Plus, quick workouts.

    I haven’t lifted consistently over the last decade (!). Some injuries playing basketball, back/sciatica/bulging disc, work a lot of hours, and family commitments (kids sports/activities at least 4 days/week). Getting to the gym takes too long for consistency, so going to my garage with an old bench set that has a stand that will work for loading squats.

    HST inspired: Really excellent strategic deconditioning over the years. I’m starting the weights low, and then progressing. Not regimented, but looking at either increasing the reps or weights every week (don't care if every workout).

    Borge inspired: Myo-reps focused, but varying rep ranges throughout the workout. A lot of the higher rep stuff will initially be really light (so not really getting into the “effective rep” range right away), but I’m thinking it will help with movement/form and recovery/conditioning.

    With a catch: All (minus warm up) are either cluster sets or myo-reps style. Sounds fun, and I mainly don’t like to wait, and I’d prefer a quicker workout before taking the kids to school and getting to work.

    Initially 2 sets, but if frequency/RPE is high enough, I’ll drop to 1 set. RPE is going to be LOW at first. Deadlifts and 20+Myo-reps exercises are just one set though. I was going to initially do 1 “set” on everything, but I’d prefer a little more volume to start with. I think with 1 set, I would feel I’d have to hit it too hard. I should find out pretty quickly.

    Roughly 15 second breaks on the clusters and myo-reps.

    Same exercises, but three different rep ranges:
    Day 1)
    A group: 3-5 cluster reps
    B/C Group: 20+Myo-reps

    Day 2)
    A: 10-12 + myo-reps
    B/C: 3-5 cluster reps

    Day 3)
    A: 20+Myo
    B/C: 10-12 myo-reps

    Frequency: Shooting for at least 3x week, but bare minimum is 2x week. Some weeks might be 4 days in a row, etc., just depends on my work schedule (have some random travel). Weekend workouts usually don't happen.

    Here’s the plan:
    Overhead squat (as a warm up, waking up, working on form/flexibility, don’t care about the weight)

    A1) Barbell Row (stopping at the slightest form breakdown)
    A2) Squat
    A3) Shoulder Press

    B) Deadlift (clean grip, so won’t ever be that heavy)

    C1) Pull Ups*
    C2) Bench
    C3) Chin Ups*
    C4) Step Ups (easy, just working on movement, and something to do between chins/pull ups)

    D) Dumbbell suitcase walk - seems good to add.

    E) Optional (but probably skipping): light set of curls/skull crushers. I can’t decide on this.

    Group A is a meandering superset (convenient to do the warm up sets together, and I don’t like long breaks). Same with group C. Deadlift all by its lonesome, and only 1 set on it.

    *Pull/Chin ups are low rep easy clusters. I can’t do 20, so it’s more +“greasing the groove,” but looking to increase the weekly reps, so I’m including both.

    1) Stay injury free
    2) Lose 20+ pounds.

    Reassess after 20 workouts (arbitrary number, but seems like a good measure).

    Age: 36, Height: 6’, Weight 250 lbs.
    I’ve worked out a little over the past few months with some full body workouts, about 2 times a week.

    Current lifts:
    Bench: 225x5 (tough, and lower back felt bad)
    Squat: 275x4 (tough)
    Deadlift: 275x3 (that fried me, and my back didn’t feel “right” for a week)
    Pull ups: 7 (tough, and I cheated a little)
    Dips: 10 (some elbow pain, wtf?)

    No clue why, but I didn’t seem to lose a ton of bench press strength from rarely working out - it rebounded quickly. Squat is harder than I thought it should be.

    Top lifts (when I was around 210 lbs), years ago:
    Bench: 275x6
    Squat: 405x2
    Deadlift 405x2 (lift didn’t feel bad, but felt destroyed for at least a week afterwards).
    Pull ups: BWx22-25 (don’t recall),+65lbs x5.

    Rambling on exercise order if anyone is interested:
    I run into problems with my lower back on deadlifting before squats, but no problems if I squat before deadlifts.

    My biceps (cramping, etc) don’t like deadlifts if I do pull ups/chins earlier in the workout. So, those go after deads. Similar problem with triceps and heavy benching before deadlifts.

    Lower back says barbell rows are a no-go after deadlifting, so those go before.

    Kind of excited and impressed with myself on having a high rep/easy day for squats on the day after “heavy” deadlifts.

    I never really focused on shoulder press or deadlift (mainly included RDL or SLDL), so I’m interested in seeing how those move. Mainly want to keep my back pain free, and get rid of the gut.

    Any predictions or recommendations?
  2. Clayton

    Clayton Member

    Changed plan before I actually started: dropped to one "work" cluster/myo-rep set. Which was the correct decision, as it took longer than anticipated for me to workout that early. Also dropping direct arm movement, and step ups, for the time being. At some point, probably add in dips or lateral raises.

    Weight 250.2
    Sleep: about 5 hours.

    Workout lasted 37 minutes:

    Overhead Squat: Bar (45) 2x5 (bad flexibility on shoulders)

    Row/Squat/Shoulder Press warm up together.

    Row - 135 x 4/4/4/2. Felt light headed (odd)
    Squat - 205 x 4/4/2. Did after SP b/c one more warm up set with squat.
    Shoulder Press - 135 x 2/2/2 (starting weight is probably too high, but I didn't have any interest in changing the weight).

    Deadlift - 135 x 20. Nice, easy, therapeutic movement.

    Pull ups - 1/1/1
    Bench - 95 x 20/5/5/5/5 (light/easy)
    Chin ups - 1/1/1/1

    Dumbbell Suitcase carry. 50 lbs, down and back twice on each side.

    Overall nice easy workout. I've always hated early morning workouts though.

    No clue on this weekend. 4 kids soccer games and a wedding.

    Next workout is mid reps on Row/Squat/Shoulder Press. Low rep on DL, Bench.
  3. _Simon_

    _Simon_ Active Member

    Ah sounds great man. No recommendations really, it looks like a fun routine actually. As long as it's not too complicated, just stay consistent where you can. Good idea dropping to one set, especially where myoreps is concerned. If you do it right, you'll only need one set ;).

    Have fun (good goal of staying injury-free too), let us know how it goes!
  4. Jester

    Jester Well-Known Member

    I would just run a standard linear progression for now. It’s the best form of training until you’re too advanced for it and will blow myo reps or DUP out of the water by comparison.
  5. Clayton

    Clayton Member

    Jester, I agree, but I have started a vanilla HST plan multiple times over the last 5 years or so. My work schedule is often hectic, so I can sometimes workout Thurs/Fri/Saturday, but then I'll be out of town (some flights leave at 6am, then return that same day at 11:45pm, etc). So, I run into problems increasing the weight each workout. I'm certainly not maximizing HST this way, but mainly focused on getting in shape. I've ran at least 10 vanilla HST cycles (but without the negatives), but those were mainly between 2001 and 2005.

    My rationale is that it's easier to vary the reps on back to back days. Ideally, I'll be doing higher frequency too (5x week for a while)
    Last edited: Aug 20, 2018
  6. Clayton

    Clayton Member

    Observations from only 2 workouts: I've grouped the weights too closely together. So, now low rep: around 4, medium ~15, and high around 30.

    8/18 workout:
    ~30 minutes
    45 lb OHS/back squat/front squat/row warm up.

    Row 95lbs x 11/5/5/5/3
    Shoulder Press 95 x 10/4/4/2
    Squat 185 x10/1 (gassed)

    Deadlift 225 x 5/5 (should have done reps of 3)

    Pull ups 1,1,1,1,1,1
    Bench 205 x 3,2,2
    Chins 1,1,1 (too many pull ups)

    DB Suitcase carry: down and back 3x

    Relatively easy workout.
  7. Clayton

    Clayton Member

    Skipped yesterday. I was up late for a wedding, and one of the kids had a soccer game Sunday morning.

    Observations from today. High rep squats, even if a low weight kill my cardio, and then the lifts after that are sucking air. So, I'm going to move that group, on high rep days to after DL/Bench/Pull ups.

    8/20 workout (3rd), 25 minutes of fun:
    Bar warmout: OHS, rows, front squat/RDL. I hate OHS. The bar shouldn't be that painful.

    Rows 65lb x 30/5/5/5 (nice burn)
    Squat 135lbs x 20/4 - LUNGS! Legs felt fine though, but LUNGS!.
    Shoulder Press 65lbs x 20/5/5 (nice burn)

    Deadlift 185 x 8. I had planned on 15, but still gassed from easy squats.

    Pull ups 1,1,1
    Bench 135 x 12/5/4 (still gassed from squats)
    Chins 1,1,1

    DB Suitcase: 50lbs, down and back 4 times. This was surprisingly painful. Definitely moving the high rep stuff to the end, before Suitcases.

    Next workout is "heavy" rows/squat/SP and high rep DL/Bench. Shooting for tomorrow. Note to self: Keep high rep squat at 135 for next time.
  8. Jester

    Jester Well-Known Member

    Honestly, I’d be interested to see what SSLP did for you, with the accessories for upper back thrown in.

    I think in your current state there’s still a lot gains to be had before engaging in myo-reps or DUP. Great tools, but you’ve still got the best gains possible available.
  9. Clayton

    Clayton Member


    "I'd be interested to see what SSLP did for you?" Are you referring to before, or if I would do that now?
  10. Clayton

    Clayton Member

    Jester, I appreciate you commenting!

    You raise a good question that I hadn't really thought about. I apologize if I missed it (as it was probably already discussed a few times, on here, years ago), but:

    Does a beginner (or someone out of the game), diminish their results later by doing myo-reps/clusters/etc earlier in their training career?
    or, worded a different way: Does someone running myo-reps, that is nowhere near a plateau, run the risk of plateauing earlier than necessary?
    And, in the same vein, does higher frequency have the same issue? Or (DUP, etc).

    Conventional wisdom says "Yes." Logically, it definitely makes sense to add in myo-reps (or advanced sets, or more volume/frequency) after hitting a plateau. It's easier to add work later when less works at the beginning, because there's room to add. That doesn't factor in strategic deconditioning though. We know the vanilla HST plan works. I don't know if I would be in better shape in 6 weeks doing HST Vanilla, or this plan. I do know that I hate the 15s unless my cardio is good. I also know that the 5s are hard on my lower back/right elbow and shoulder. I also know that I can't always workout MWF, so some days are back to back. Mentally, it's easier to do a different rep range the next day too.

    I think a lot of the conventional wisdom is based on "too much volume," so ample recovery isn't there. My volume is still relatively low.

    Regarding frequency, does the initial plateau occur at the same rate? Arbitrary numbers here, but does a plateau at 12 weeks at 3x/week mean a plateau will happen on a 5x/week plan at 7.2 weeks? Is the 3x week person going to be stronger than the 5x week person at the respective plateaus (it's ~5 weeks later) or does the plateau happen at a similar time frame (instead of the amount of workouts done)?

    I think the underlying issue with my current plan is whether or not the easy clusters/myo-reps are actually helpful or hurting. Initial rationale is that it's efficient on time, and fun for something different. It's not hard training (yet), so I don't know. I could be wasting time/progress by doing a set of 20+5+5, but not actually getting into the "effective" rep range because the "activation" set wasn't hard enough. At the very least it's providing some type of training stimulus, and some type of exercise.

    Does a set of 4+2+2 = two sets of five? (or does a set of 20+5+5 = 2 x 20). If not, what does it equal? If so, does it make a difference in six months (or a year)?

    My guess (and I guess this experiment) is that it doesn't really make that much of a difference. Consistency and hitting the basic lifts will win out. The varying rep ranges, especially for a beginner are for fun.

    I've attached my "starting" photo that I took within minutes of waking up on Friday. Next time, I should probably drink some coffee first, so I'm not leaning to the side when I take the photo. I haven't measured, but the photo makes it look like one arm is larger than the other.

    I didn't notice a training log similar to what I was planning on trying, so thought it would be fun to give it a go.

    Attached Files:

  11. Jester

    Jester Well-Known Member

    I think it’s a lot simpler than that;

    -Linear progression is far and away the most effective programming for strength and size gains, until it plateaus;

    -You’re sacrificing some degree of improvement within a given timeframe by doing soemthing else.

    -When it stops working (plateau), then looking for what you need to break the plateau

    I don’t think you’re leaving anything behind in the long run, but almost certainly are in the present.

  12. Browner

    Browner Well-Known Member

    I agree with what Jester says, at the beginning basic linear progression, keep the DUP, myo reps and all that other stuff up your sleeve until you need it to break plateaus.
  13. Clayton

    Clayton Member

    I appreciate the comments everyone!

    I jacked up my shoulder a little bit playing basketball. I did not plan on playing, but the group was short on players, so I gave in. I don't remember hurting my right knee, but it's definitely giving me trouble now.

    So, this experiment didn't last long! You guys have talked me into going back to a normal 3x week. So, I'll start next week. I didn't realize how much I missed training. Planning on 30 minutes of weights M/W/F and 30 minutes of easy treadmill walking (3 mph/3 incline) on T/Th (but increase the incline every week or so).

    For better tracking, I'll take some measurements before I start.

    Thanks again!
  14. _Simon_

    _Simon_ Active Member

    Ah nice, yeah the guys make a good point in terms of just running a nice linear progression setup. And just train when you can with your schedule, I wouldn't worry too much if you miss a session or even back to back days.

    Have fun, hope your injuries heal up soon! (My right knee is also giving me grief!)
  15. Browner

    Browner Well-Known Member

    I think a basic M/W/F template adding a bit of weight each week/session until you stall is the best option, and SS LP would be my first choice.

    For what its worth though you don't need the 30 minutes cardio T/Th even if you are cutting weight.
  16. Clayton

    Clayton Member

    Thank you again Simon, Jester, and Browner.

    I'm thinking about locking myself into 2x week (Tuesday/Friday) as that's easier on my schedule and I'd prefer to go to the gym. With ideally adding in Sunday too.

    The default routine I would almost always do, and happy with (but I'm wanting to focus on DL and shoulder press, so I'll change it some):
    (Spacing shows slow superset grouping)
    BB rows


    Pull ups


    Cable lateral raises (but not focusing on the weight)

    Bicep Curls/tricep press downs (usually skipped these)

    No clue how many cycles, and at least 5 other training splits (Poliquin, Ian King, Waterbury, PPL, bro-style) mixed in between those. But, I would generally judge success on if I was getting stronger, and HST style worked better for me based on just looking at strength gains.

    I was never pushing calories after high school, but my weight went from a really lean ~180 lbs to a lean 210 over 2-3 years. No clue if it would have been more successful actually trying to gain weight.
    _Simon_ likes this.
  17. _Simon_

    _Simon_ Active Member

    That looks like a solid routine mate, and yeah change accordingly. Run it a cycle or two I reckon, then feel free to mix it up afterward. Stay consistent with it (2x a week, 3x only when you can), and enjoy :)
  18. Clayton

    Clayton Member

    Dang, I went ahead and spent the money to see what the fuss is about on DEXA scans. I'm fatter than I thought! So, yeah, definitely going to do basics on the weights, but not care if I'm adding adding size. Definitely focusing on diet over the next few months.

    Also, my memory is evidently bad on my prior max lifts. I ran into one of my buddies from college, and we started talking about working out. I had forgotten, but he was testing his max on bench at 275 lbs. I tried it after he got it twice, and knocked out 13 reps without needing a spot. I totally forgot about it, but he said, "NO! it was definitely 13 because I waited until you left the gym and tried to squat it that many times."

    So, yeah, guessing maxes without keeping a logbook is just a guess.

    My other observation/random thought:

    I mentioned in one of the other threads that I think my volume wasn't high enough. I would check the board periodically (first HST cycle in 2002), I never noticed the progression of 2x15, 3x10, 4x5 that a lot of people were doing. But, after thinking about it, I'm guessing I wasn't pushing the loads enough. I never actually tested my rep maxes, and would just take "oh, I should be lifting X by 15, so that will be my weight on the last part of the 15s, etc). So, I'm guessing, but I think I generally did the same weights for the 15s - which was dumb (which basically ignores TWO of the four principals). But, even ignoring the obvious, I was getting stronger and bigger.

    So, I'm guessing I would have had better results if I made sure I was increasing the weights a little from cycle to cycle (duh moment for me). I was still going heavier after the 5s though.
  19. Totentanz

    Totentanz Super Moderator Staff Member

    To tag along with what Jester was saying - going with linear progression, your issue with missing workouts won't be as big of a deal if your goal is to primarily lose weight. Just add weight each time you do lift, and do cardio. With weight loss, you can easy get along with only two days of lifting a week when you can't get in there three days, or even one day on a bad week, as long as you are doing cardio on some of the other days and watching your calories.
    NWlifter likes this.
  20. Clayton

    Clayton Member

    I just started back with a LP HST A/B/C split plan, higher frequency, 1 work set per day. I can't believe I initially posted this back in August 2018. I had a crazy work schedule that fall and I was having multiple flights per month that left at 6am with a return flight on the red eye, so training definitely took a back seat.

    I'm fat and out of shape, so instead of starting with 15 reps, I started with really conservative weights and 25-30 reps (with the exception of pullups). Doing 1 set, but usually Myo-Reps/clusters.

    I can commit to the gym twice a week, so that's why I'm doing A/B/C instead of the same exercises every workout. A has squat/deadlift (lat pull down), etc. B goblet squat/DB RDL, and C has DB split squat. B/C are done at home in the morning, every day if needed.

    Excited to get back into shape! I'm thinking daily workouts (mainly Monday through Friday) are easier to follow for consistency.
    _Simon_ likes this.

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