Help with the progression

Discussion in 'Hypertrophy-Specific Training (HST)' started by Schopenhauer, Jun 5, 2010.

  1. Schopenhauer

    Schopenhauer New Member

    Hey guys!

    I completed the first two weeks of the cycle (15's). For those not familiar with my training routine, I make a split AM / PM with the following exercises:

    Basic (1.5 - 2 sets of 15 reps):

    Leg Press
    Bench Press
    Barbell Row
    Barbell Shoulder Press

    Hack Squad
    Upright Rows

    Specialization (two sets of 10)

    Barbell Shrugs (Front)
    Barbell Curl
    Lying triceps extension
    calf raises (3 sets)

    Barbell Shrugs (Back)
    Dumbbell Curl
    Close-grip Bench Press
    Calf raises (3 sets)

    Impressions: I am loving this routine. I leave an interval of eight hours between the two sessions, so I fully recovered and the motivation for the PM session. My RM's have increased in all the exercises (since I got them all past the point of failure in two or three repetitions on the last day of training microcycle).

    From next week I will start microcycle 10's, which means that the loads were heavier in the basic exercises. My question is about the specialization exercises: I repeat the same cycle I made during those two weeks or I'd better reduce the total number of repetitions and increase the load? Let me illustrate. My 15 RM barbell curl was 66 lbs (now increased to 70.4 lbs). During these first two weeks, my progress in this exercise is as follows:

    52.8lbs, 57.2lbs, 57.2lbs, 61.6lbs, 61.6lbs, 66lbs. (Total of 20 reps)

    I plan on continuing to progress as follows:

    66 lbs, 70.4lbs, 70.4lbs, 74.8lbs, 74.8lbs, 79.2lbs (total of 15 reps)

    And then, what do you think? what's better?

    Recalling that in the weeks 5's I'll do only 10 reps for the specialization exercises and 15 reps for the basic exercises.

  2. Bryan Haycock

    Bryan Haycock Administrator Staff Member

    Hi Schopenhauer,

    Try to shoot for 30 reps total for a muscle group. This can be achieved using one exercise or multiple exercises, it doesn't matter too much. This means 2 sets of 15 and at least 3 sets of 10 reps. For 5's this means 5-6 sets total for each muscle group. This might seem like a lot but it has worked well for many more experienced lifters. If you do not consider your self experienced yet (experienced = close to genetic limits) it should be just fine sticking with 3 sets of 5 reps when you get to that point.

    Did this address your question?
    Last edited: Jun 18, 2010
  3. Schopenhauer

    Schopenhauer New Member

    Thanks Bryan!

    Some new questions:

    Since I am a beginner - I trained for a year with traditional routines and started my first HST cycle is one month - I'll do 3 sets of 5 reps each, right?
    Well, since the biceps and triceps are solicited in the chest and back exercises, I can keep the same volume (3X5) in exercises specific to those groups without overwhelming them?

    This is a question I asked in another topic:
    " Currently I'm in the second week so microcycle 10's, ie, is relatively intense. I do training sessions consisting of basic exercises and isolation exercises for arms, calves and trapezius, morning and night. My diet has about 4,000 kcal on training days and 3300 kcal on days of rest. I noticed that after the first week of the cycle I did not feel the muscle soreness common in the days following the training. My question is: this is a sign that my body is recovering well, or, rather, that the training intensity (or volume) is too low?"
  4. Bryan Haycock

    Bryan Haycock Administrator Staff Member


    You should be just fine. Just be conservative on the weight loads. It is not necessary to train at failure every set of every workout.


    I will address this in the original thread for others that might be following it there.
  5. HST_Rihad

    HST_Rihad Active Member

    It's somewhat discouraging to find this out after having trained for almost 3 years with 1-2 sets as per "official HST notes". If info's outdated and doesn't reflect current knowledge on the subject then why not drop it. To be frank I've made some small yet constant progress and still keep making it doing just 1-2 sets. I don't know if I'm a newbie or not, but I guess I am, judging by my working weights.

    Regarding the recommended addition of drop sets on top of 5's: do they count towards the 30 rep threshold? I should do 3 sets of 5's and then immediately do 3 drop sets, or 6 sets of 5's, and then the drop sets?

    It's somewhat hard and time consuming to keep doing 6 sets of 5RM 3 times a week. Should I instead let the volume decide when to add more weight, and not the load? That is, keep doing a given load until I'm able to confidently complete 3 sets x 5 with it, and ONLY then add more weight?

    Thanks for any info.
  6. VQ35DE

    VQ35DE New Member

    I copy and pasted this straight from the HST website. That thing is not the bible of HST, it's a dumbed down version.

    Progressively Adjusting reps to accommodate Progressive Load

    HST suggests that you use 2 week blocks for each rep range. Why? It has nothing to do with adaptation. It is simply a way to accommodate the ever increasing load. Of course, you could adjust your reps every week (e.g. 15,12,10,8,5,etc), but this is more complicated and people might not understand. Often times, in order to communicate an idea you must simplify things, even at the expense of perfection. If people can't understand it, they won't do it. What good would that do or anybody? Then, over time, people figure out for themselves the other possibilities that exist within the principles of hypertrophy.
  7. Jester

    Jester Well-Known Member

    You have to be kidding with this ... seriously?

    In the discussions you've contributed to over the last month, this issue has been discussed repeatedly, and at length.

    Further to this, I highly doubt you are anywhere near your genetic limit.

    Further still, you just typed that you're making progress on 1-2 sets ... why the hell are you stressing about nothing?

    And why are you discussing drop-sets? Obviously reps done below working load or threshold are not equivalent to actual working load reps. Drop sets contribute to metabolic work, there's certainly discussion about fibre/unit recruitment, but whether the weight is heavy enough ... etc. And again, am I reading over it and totally ignoring it or something? I can't see Bryan discuss drop sets.

    Repeating: why are you screwing around with a routine that works for you ... ?

    Thread necro'ing is incredibly frustrating, especially when the purpose is too discuss a topic - volume - that you're discussing elsewhere simultaneously.
  8. HST_Rihad

    HST_Rihad Active Member

    Sorry, it has been mentioned by him several times in various places. Take this as an example.

    I added somewhere between nothing to 1 mm in chest, thigh, and biceps measurements since the last cycle, and most I added was in biceps, probably because of doing 4 sets total (rows + curls), so it must have something to do with volume.

    That's because I've chosen to follow Bryan's recommendations and would like to know his personal opinion.
  9. Jester

    Jester Well-Known Member

    Follow protocol that leads to results. I can promise you that the absolute most successful HST trainee this forum has ever produced still posts on here regularly and has answered many of your queries in the last few months.

    Either the routine worked, or it didn't work. If your biceps grew more than your lats and traps then I think you have a a technique problem (you might not be comfortable admitting it) regarding your back exercise.

    Your logic is, forgive me, woefully flawed.

    -Did your biceps grow or not? 0-1mm is a difference that can be attributed to being in a hot room.
    -You think your biceps grew, therefore volume needs to be increased?
    -Drop sets don't contribute to working volume, though they may contribute to transient hypertrophy (that is retained so long as you continue providing the metabolic work)

    There are many variables here that are contributing to your recent lack of hypertrophy:

    -Calories: if you are eating in surplus you should be gaining fat, regardless of whether you are also gaining muscle
    -Lifting form: goes without saying. If you're not moving a weight correctly, it's likely not going to put the requisite tension across the relevant muscles
    -Volume: yup, it's certainly one of them
    -Working load: it might be that you simply aren't lifting heavy enough/you're not strong enough
    -Working intensity: although extremely difficult to quantify, and somewhat related/intertwined with strength, 'effort' is certainly a relevant factor (you don't give enough effort >> not lifting enough weight >> no hypertrophy that comes with it)

    I don't understand how you can reason that volume is the cause/factor when you haven't even addressed the biggest factor; caloric intake. Again, if you didn't put on fat, you weren't in surplus.
  10. HST_Rihad

    HST_Rihad Active Member

    Your notes in working intensity directly contradict what Bryan has been saying regarding muscle growth: intensity is not important. Load is. If I can up my volume and stay below those 85%, to stimulate growth, then who needs to struggle with bigger weights?
    How do you mean I'm not lifting heavy enough? I am lifting a certain percentage of what I'm capable of, this should already be putting newer and newer load on my muscles, which is really what matters for their growth.
  11. Jester

    Jester Well-Known Member

    You are misunderstanding what I am categorising as intensity. Think of the common meaning of the word and not the bastardised HIIT usage of it. I don't mean doing more exercises for a muscle or working to failure, I mean doing the rep using effort (full-movement/range, proper timing, not relying on momentum etc).

    Your 1RM is likely higher than you realise. Therefore, the % of your 1RM (literal capability) that you are lifting is actually lower than what you suppose it to be.

    Personally I think you focus too much on the mythical '85%' of 1RM. Yes, full fibre recruitment are generally activated at that load, however;

    1. 85% is the best we've been able to determine, that doesn't mean it isn't 83%, 88% etc. Don't stay married to a number just because it end with a '5' or '0'
    2. You are unlikely to know your literal 1RM. How often do you test your singles for every exercise and what allowance are you making for mid-cycle strength gains?
    3. The correlation of 85% ~ 5RM is a correlation only and not a perfect translation
    4. Is your form good enough that 85% recruitment actually occurs?

    -Tangent point: stop thinking of volume as 'sets'. The body doesn't know 'sets', it only knows repetitions - actual usage.

    -Lift heavier. HST recommends negatives and/or 3RM range for a reason. You will increase your 5RM by lifting in the 3RM range, I promise you that. There's no need to make your joints sore, but the heavier the load, the stronger you will become, the stronger you become, the more size comes along. It's not a linear relationship, doesn't mean it isn't a relationship.

    Most importantly though, you're still failing to address your caloric intake. Are you putting on fat or not? If you are not (and given you are not brand new to lifting) then you aren't eating enough to gain muscle mass either. Diet can minimise additional fat gain, no arguments there, but there is simply no escaping that muscle gain and fat gain come hand in hand if you aren't chemically assisted.
  12. HST_Rihad

    HST_Rihad Active Member

    Thanks. I start gaining fat easily if I try to eat more than usual... That's why I'm trying to keep my metabolism a bit lower.
    It's first of all my training volume that impedes gains (I think). Last Friday I finally benched 80 kg x 5, 2 (176 lbs) that was RPE 9-10 (5 rep on 1st set, 2 reps on 2nd). Monday I tried 82 kg (181 lbs) x 3, 2. Wed: 2, 2. Fri: 3, 2 again and cycle over. True, I did gain 2 kg (5 lbs) strength since 7 weeks ago (was 176 lbs x 3), and almost nothing in chest size (I also do pullups 5 x 2 BW+12.5 kg (27 lbs) for that). So it's either food, lack of volume, or both.
    I know you'll probably advise me to split total volume into clusters and do that (3+3+3+2+2+etc). That's time consuming (assuming 3 min. rest). What if I go the opposite way: lower the weight a bit so I can keep doing 3 sets of 5's for 2 weeks and still grow? I mean, muscle doesn't care and will grow if it hasn't seen that load in weeks, and CNS will be happy.
    Last edited: Jan 19, 2013
  13. Jester

    Jester Well-Known Member

    I just can't find evidence that says consistently using lower weights (relative to your strength i.e. 1RM) will build muscle. SD allows 15s and 10s, but the dominant gains are done w/heavier weights.; 8-3RM range.

    Don't bother w/clustering if time is a concern.

    Get your extra calories from protein if fat gain is worry for you. Either way, you have to be in surplus and HAVE to gain some for muscle to jump on board as well. Or just grab your grandfather's t-cream or something.
  14. HST_Rihad

    HST_Rihad Active Member

    Here's an excerpt from Wernbom's study:
    So BB style training (moderate loads, high volume) manages to put on a bit more size than PL style heavy triples. Probably due to more volume. See where this is going? If I finish HST cycle at the right time (around 85%), I won't have to deal with heavier weights long. Or, say, allow 1 final week for them, just for fun.

    Aren't submaximal weights what HST is all about?
    Last edited: Jan 19, 2013
  15. Jester

    Jester Well-Known Member

    HST is about getting maximum hypertrophy from each (progressive) load the muscle is subjected to. Strategic deconditioning is applied to restore the muscles' ability to respond to (relatively) light loads (the 15s, low 10s).

    HST is about principles; frequency, minimal volume, progressive loads, compound movements, correct diet.

    Bringing in the context of your quote:

    -Does your quote refer to trained or untrained subjects?
    -Is your quote an actual study or a meta-analysis?
    -What length of time was the study continued for?
    -Was any analysis done to determine what the constituency of the hypertrophy was? Ala glycogen+6x H20 or actual muscle?

    I think anytime you're relying on a quote, arguably applied out of context, you're on shaky ground.

    I'm not advocating lifting at your 3RM for your life. Read my own training log. My pet exercise (chins/pulls) rarely ever involves clusters of 3. In fact, it's only on the first or second workout with a new load that I'm dealing in 3's predominantly. I am advocating that you lift with appropriate loads, and find me natural bodybuilders that succeed in creating substantial hypertrophy lifting using their 10-12RM.

    I have done exactly what you are proposing and I am telling you that it does-not-work. Lifting at a lighter load, for higher volume, invariably brings about chronic fatigue in your muscles, definitely your skeleton and joints and won't build you bigger muscles. The stimulus simply isn't present. There is a reason that swimming won't build you into The Incredible Hulk. Same goes for boxing etc. Low-load work will not build muscle over extended periods of time. And if it won't do it over years, it's not doing it in weeks or months either. I can't count the # of hours I wasted using improper training regimen and theories that I convinced myself would work.

    Lifting heavier weights increases your strength. This then allows you to lift more repetitions at slightly lower weights (ala lifting triples at triple-max weight or near it increase the # of reps you'll be able to do at your 5RM and ultimately increase your 5RM). The strength gain from 3RM (for example) that allows you to do better at your 5RM in turn leads to more hypertrophy.

    Have you ever met a 100kg, 8-12% lifter who couldn't bench or pull substantial weights?

    And once again, you will not get muscles without eating beyond you need. This means fat gain. You just have to suck it up and lose it later. Same goes for me and a bunch of others on here.
  16. Lol

    Lol Super Moderator Staff Member

    No. It's about effectively loading muscle tissue to elicit a PS response. Whether your tissue is conditioned to a load or not will determine how your body responds to you lifting it. The same load will be an effective driver of adaptation until you are conditioned to it. Keeping ahead of RBE is an important aspect of HST. In doing so, each workout will elicit a PS response which is what you are after. Submax loads can be effective for this as much as maximal can. It all depends on the state of your tissue at the time.

    The biggest question is nearly always "How much volume?" That's where your conditioning to exercise and how close you are to your genetic potential come into the picture. If you're a neophyte, you can use a low volume of exercise (probably ~15 reps per major body part). After a few cycles, you may notice that your progress is slowing (I'm assuming that you are eating enough to grow) and/or you are never sore, in which case you can increase the volume a little. That should enable you to continue to drive growth (as discussed by Bryan in the FAQs).
  17. Lol

    Lol Super Moderator Staff Member

    Another thing to clarify is that every load below your true 1RM for a particular exercise is sub-maximal! Whether or not a load is viewed as some RM or other all depends on how many reps you attempt to do with a it. 140kg might well be my current 12RM for back squats but it is still sub-maximal. In fact, everything below my 1RM is going to be sub-maximal whether or not I happen to continue lifting it until failure.

    HST_Rihad, why not start a training log and then we can address any training issues relating to your progress there?
    Last edited: Jan 19, 2013
  18. HST_Rihad

    HST_Rihad Active Member

    Lol, by sub-maximal I meant load below your failure point at a given rep count, i.e. we work with sub-maximal weights in 15, 10 and 5's most of the time. Otherwise Bryan wouldn't have used the term sub-maximal, as all bodybuilding methods are sub-maximal the way you described.

    Interesting reading, guys.
    Last edited: Jan 19, 2013
  19. HST_Rihad

    HST_Rihad Active Member

    And about lack of 2-3RM concentric work :) Seriously, summing up to required amount of work of 30 reps using 3RM's would put CNS under enormous stress and would jeopardize frequent enough training. This isn't the same thing as grabbing a 2-3RM weight, doing 1-2 concentric + 3-4 eccentric weights w/ the help of a spotter.

    Not sure for this particular quote, but it is the 2007 study being quoted by Bryan for the past several years. He trusts its validity. You can grab the PDF here.

    Very impressive, but how about 3 sets of 5 reps with a ~6RM load? Of course I wasn't going to extend 10RM to 6 weeks.
    Were you using HST at the time you tried that? Depends on how you define "lighter load". Of course you can't just keep doing some 65-70% load forever, RBE will quickly catch up with you and you won't make progress. You have to progress the weight to keep the work effective. HST is special in that it allows those smaller weights to be effective.

    Yeah, so be it :(
    Last edited: Jan 19, 2013
  20. I agree with Lol. Start and maintain a training log on this site. You will benefit from direct feedback about a particular training session OR comments regarding a series of sessions. You may also obtain advice about what may or may not be working about your current training routine. From day 1, I have GREATLY benefited from the wisdom (and wit) of the experts on this board when they have taken the time to review and critique my training log.

    I also have a sense of accountability in maintaining a training log, though it's basically self-imposed. For me, it works.

    Also, when YOU make a breakthrough or you discover something about your training, others who read your training log will benefit! There are so many variables in this wonderful sport that it's difficult to make progress on an island.

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