Rethinking Hst

Discussion in 'Hypertrophy-Specific Training (HST)' started by HST_Rihad, Nov 25, 2014.

  1. HST_Rihad

    HST_Rihad Active Member

    (Just an opinion, please read it as such)

    SD, along with lowering muscle protection from the current loads, also causes muscle atrophy (prooflink). Then, when training is resumed later, the "unparalleled growth" is nothing more than quick regaining of the muscle lost thanks to the "muscle memory" phenomenon. Point is, unless you reach and try to surpass the loads you finished the previous cycle with in the first place, you're never gonna get bigger (muscularly, not as a result of chronic overfeeding) than you were. It takes you about 1-2 weeks of SD to lose some of what you've gained, and 4 more weeks to regain most of it, 5-6 weeks of staying the same just before you begin to lift heavier than you did before. But CNS can be recovered much quicker, so what's the point in staying the same?

    Not meaning to disrespect HST or anything, I'm still following it, but this is what may happen if the principles are followed to a T.


    The guy above hasn't heard of HST. Quite a spectacular change in looks, don't you think? 100% natural. He followed Stuart McRobert's training principles for a few months with no results, that's him on the left. Then he switched to high volume training, a split routine 6 days per week, hitting every muscle twice per week. That's him in the middle after 8 months, and on the right after 4 years. And by higher volume I mean very high volume, especially for the lats. Forget about the "scientifically proven" 30-60 reps per MG. Here's an example of his lat workout done twice per week (loads in kilos):

    bent over rows 5х8-80/82,5/85/85
    reverse grip bent over rows 5х10-80
    DB bent over row 5х(8+8)-46/48,5/51/51
    pull-ups 5х10-BW 70
    pull-overs 5х10-30
    wide grip pull on a 3D 5х8-65/67,5/70/70
    wide grip pull EZ-bar head supported 5х10-50/52,5/55/55
    bent over delt raises 5х10-14,25+14,25/14,25+14,25/15,5+15,5/15,5+15,5
    bicep curls 5х10-30

    each set performed every 1.5-2 minutes (which included the time to do the set).
  2. mickc1965

    mickc1965 Well-Known Member

    Rihad, not sure what you are trying to say, do you not increase your loads from one cycle to another? If not why not.

    When I am not in caloric deficit my loads have increased in every cycle (except flat bench that I cannot work out why I am a rep or two down on previous cycles) by I would say by at least 2.5% and as I only have 4 increments per rep range my 3rd workout of 15s, 10s and 5s is pretty much the same load as 4th workout of the previous cycle and my final workout at each rep range is an increase from previous. So pretty much 50% of my workouts are at circa 100% or more of previous load for that rep range. I accept that if you follow the the original concept of 75%, 80% etc over 6 workouts per rep range then this would not be the case which is the reason my set up is the way I do it.
  3. mickc1965

    mickc1965 Well-Known Member

    4 years of training, how old is he? When I trained in my late twenties I went from about 160-165 lbs to 195 lbs in about 2 years at about 10-12% body fat at the end (was probably 15% or so in the beginning but was never measured) so his gains are not bad but they certainly could be better
  4. HST_Rihad

    HST_Rihad Active Member

    Nice. He's 27 on the last pic.
  5. HST_Rihad

    HST_Rihad Active Member

    Sure I try to, and normally do. But there are tons of routines having you increase the working loads faster than HST wants you to. If it's all about lifting heavier to get bigger, then why waste 5-6 weeks on SD plus previous loads? If all those loads do is regain muscle lost during SD. One could as well deload for 2 weeks as in Lyle's Generic Bulking Routine, allowing for CNS recovery, and by the end of week 2 you're already at your previous working loads for another 4-6 weeks.
  6. leegee38

    leegee38 Member

  7. HST_Rihad

    HST_Rihad Active Member

    That's exactly the study I was referring to in the first post. It showed fast recovery of lost muscle after 3 week long breaks from training, the so called muscle memory.
  8. mickc1965

    mickc1965 Well-Known Member

    Not sure why they waste time doing studies on the 'untrained', surely if they require definitive answers then do studies on 'trained' subjects and see what the results are - however the study shows that at the end of the trial there was virtually no difference between the 2 groups in terms of hypertrophy and strength despite one group having two 3 week breaks over the 24 weeks and the other group trained continuously - result proves that taking periods of SD does not result in either loss of muscle or strength in the long term even though they put in 25% less workouts.

    The fact still remains the same, if you want to get bigger (muscular) then you need to increase your max load lifted over a period of time while in caloric surplus, 9 days off is not enough to make the muscles respond positively to the same weight once you get back into the 10 and 5 rep block, you simply have to lift more. For me during HST the loads have increased every cycle apart from when I broke my scaphoid bone in my hand (in July which coincided with summer weight loss) which may still be having an effect on my bench press (only in 10s and 5s that are about 10% lower even though 15s have increased by about 6% since June), all other exercises have increased since March / April - 5 rm on back exercises on average by about 20%, legs by about 17% and shoulders by only 5%.
  9. Old and Grey

    Old and Grey Super Moderator Staff Member

    So why workout continuously when you can get the same benefits working out periodically? All that is accomplished is a higher risk of injury.

    As an analogy, you are saying that there is no difference between having a job that requires you to work continuously rather than one that gives you three weeks off every six weeks for the exact same pay. Please come to America. I need people with that kind of mindset to work on my horse farm.

    What is your point? That you do not need to use SD? Fine. Don't use it. Our feelings will not be hurt.

    However, recognize that the study is quite flawed when compared to HST by, among many things, using a three week SD period. I don't know personally of anyone that does that. If the study used 9 - 14 days instead of three weeks, the results may have been considerably different.
    citizenkris likes this.
  10. Totentanz

    Totentanz Super Moderator Staff Member

    Didn't we have this discussion already?

    Rihad - we both know that HST principles do not put explicit requirements on when to take breaks, when to increase loads, frequency or volume. There are guidelines for sure. Increase the load over the course of the cycle, lift frequently, use less volume when possible, take breaks periodically. That's about it. You can lay those out in many different ways and any sane routine will follow those guidelines.

    You and I also both know that any routine that isn't just completely retarded will work when applied properly with a proper nutritional intake. The idea of HST is to optimize training with some guidelines on what was the best, scientifically speaking, when Bryan came up with it. I'd also like to point out that you just recently posted some studies showing SD was a good idea. As Old and Grey pointed out, the study cited in this thread used three week SD periods which probably isn't ideal. Most of the evidence I've seen suggests that 9 days would be better. However, at the end of the study, the group taking the break hadn't made less progress than the group who didn't take breaks. Further, you can argue that over a longer time period, the group taking breaks would eventually pull ahead due to avoiding burn out, injuries, etc.

    As an aside, I've never really been a big advocate of taking an SD at the end of every cycle. But it depends. If you stretch a cycle out for weeks to where you've been lifting continuously for 3-4 months or more, pushing for new RMs and so on, then an SD is a good idea. If you are cutting, then an SD is a terrible idea unless you need to do a reset or something.
  11. charr

    charr Member

    Bryan has stated before that the SD allows you to continue growing more muscle using weights you have previously used before (opposite to what you are saying Rihad)

    Is this true?
  12. krysix

    krysix New Member

    I dont think the SD is the problem, most people take deload or off weeks once in a while to rest and avoid injures. I think Rihad means the next 4 weeks training submaximally. I must admit I don't believe that 9-14 days of SD does reduce the level of conditioning of the muscles so they can grow with submaximal loads. I've never seen any other trainer think such thing including lyle mcdonald and Blade (previously a HST defender).

    My personal opinion is that submaximal loads helps always, I've used routines with heavy/medium/light days and I'm pretty sure the medium and light days made my muscles grow too, they add to the total weekly volume that I think that is the most important thing for hypertrophy (along with progression in loads overtime).

    I like HST because it's less dangerous (I'm very prone to injuries) and it is set up so that you start light and in 2 weeks you go close to failure (IMO high reps close to failure can be as good for hypertrophy as low reps) and then you start light again for the next rep range. That's a good way to control fatigue and similar to heavy/medium/light days and control fatigue is very important when training with high frecuency.

    My only complaint about vanilla HST is that I prefer DUP kind of routines mixing ranges because it's more fun and because maybe when you are training with high reps you lose some of the low reps adaptations and vice versa though that probably won't matter much until you are a very advanced lifter. I will try something like this soon:
    Monday 15 reps Wednesday 10 reps Friday 5 reps
    4 week cycle: week 1 80%RM week 2 90% RM week 3 100% RM week 4 try to add weight or reps. SD when needed.
    I think this way I control fatigue cause the first weeks are light and I accumulate fatigue till the 4rd week and then go light again. If I feel I don't recover I may add a 5th week at 70% and if I recover plenty I may add another week to add weight/reps.
  13. HST_Rihad

    HST_Rihad Active Member

    He believes heavier loads, especially those employing controlled lowering of the weight, cause the formation of new nuclei. Then a period of SD kind of undoes some of the growth, but the hard-gained nuclei are still there! dormant. So once you hit the deconditioned muscle again 9-12 days later, you cause those nuclei to be sucked up again and used to rebuild the old & new fibers. See this link. That's all nice and dandy, although the stated research doesn't support the "new" part. Maybe it's because the loads used weren't heavy enough (10RM) to elicit considerable myonuclei formation. Maybe it's because the subjects rested for too much (3 weeks) to retain most of the new muscle. We can't know. Sure, if as Old&Grey said, all you're after is gym-time economy, being able to go on lengthy vacations amidst of training, and know that you can regain the lost muscle in a fraction of the time it took you to build it first, it's great indeed. But if you want the break from training to somehow allow you to build new muscle using previous loads, there's really insufficient evidence. Sure, you can build muscle using HST over time. But is it thanks to SD, or despite using SD? Could it be slowing your progress down, as opposed to using shorter de-loads to allow CNS recuperation, returning back to loads which are able to build new muscle in a couple of weeks? Unless SD+a few weeks of submaximal loads are really known to cause new muscle formation (not regaining the muscle lost because of it!!), what's the point in shuffling back and forth that long? Tendon recovery? Well, yeah. Muscle growth? Barely.
  14. HST_Rihad

    HST_Rihad Active Member

    My best gains (strength-wise at least in leg presses and later in rack pulls) were during cutting when I extended cycles to 8 up to 12 weeks. Using lower increments, 3 times per week, not caring where I currently am RM-wise, stopping at 5-10 reps, most of the time long from failure. The lengthy cycles are similar to what Stuart McRobert might suggest in his "Brawn". The layout suggested by Bryan (6 bouts until hitting n-RM, possibly with zig-zags in the middle) on the other hand will really use you up much sooner for questionable reasons. So when you're at your 5RM it really seems dubious to continue doing that for longer than 2 weeks due to the intensity and inability to increase the loads, risking burning out. You can't lift more, and most likely can't get bigger. The 6 week cycle length (skipping 15s) is about as long as it practically can be, if the intensity is as suggested you can't really do it effectively for much longer. You can stagnate on it for longer, that's not what I was saying :)
    Growing for 2 final weeks out of every 7-9 (including SD)? Bummer.
    Last edited: Nov 26, 2014
  15. HST_Rihad

    HST_Rihad Active Member

    With all due respect, it seemed like Bryan was cherry-picking the aforementioned study:

    "If the muscle hypertrophy response recovers to the initial training level after 3 weeks of detraining and there is no change in muscle size after detraining [this is what they saw], the improvements in overall muscle size and function are probably greater with the short-term detraining and retraining programme than with the continuous training programme."

    This still remains a matter of possibilities and guesses. probably... likely... When in reality what we saw was a rapid recovery of most of the muscle/strength lost during the layoff. But hey, the group did its best to catch up with the continuously training group. This seems to be where SD really shines - catching up with yourself :) Sure, continuous training for anyone past newbie stage is nowadays considered a somewhat retarded way. But no one trains that way. Some kind of a periodized strategy, at the very least daily undulated loading (e.g., mixing up 15-10-5 on Mon-Wed-Fri) might allow one to progress in strength longer, hence the muscle would be getting bigger. Then again, a break from training and/or deload to 50% of working loads with a slow progression is always a possibility. Screw the effective load percentages :) They all start working sooner or later, after you've lost enough for them to become effective again, to regain what you've lost quickly.
    Last edited: Nov 27, 2014
  16. mickc1965

    mickc1965 Well-Known Member


    You appear to be getting disillusioned with HST, what is your set up like at the moment, have you thought about changing it so you work closer to the RM in each block?

    I currently do the following:

    Routine A – Flat Barbell Bench / Bent over Rows / Standing Military Press / Rear Squat (ATG) / Calf Raise
    Routine B – Dips / Landmine Single Arm Linear Jammer / Barbell (40mm deficit) Hack Squat / Deadlift / Calf Raise
    Routine C – Incline Barbell Bench / Landmine Rows / Standing Military Press / Front Squat / Calf Raise

    Total reps per muscle group to suit Prilepins Table (, based on 3 day on 1 day off full body training so train 5 or 6 times per week (hence the 3 routine split). I use the following guideline, daily will aim for INOL of 0.625 for upper body and 0.825 for squats.

    Progression & Rep Totals

    15s workout 1 – 55% of 1rm (84.6% of 15rm) – 28 reps / 37 for legs
    15s workout 2 – 60% of 1rm (92.3% of 15rm) – 25 reps / 33 for legs
    15s workout 3 – 62.5% of 1rm (96.2% of 15rm) – 24 reps / 31 for legs
    15s workout 4 – 65% of 1rm (100% of 15rm) – 22 reps / 29 for legs

    10s workout 5 – 67.5% of 1rm (90% of 10rm) – 20 reps / 27 for legs
    10s workout 6 – 70% of 1rm (93.3% of 10rm) – 19 reps / 25 for legs
    10s workout 7 – 72.5% of 1rm (96.7% of 10rm)– 17 reps / 23 for legs
    10s workout 8 – 75% of 1rm (100% of 10rm) – 16 reps / 21 for legs

    5s workout 9 – 77.5% of 1rm (91.2% of 5rm) – 14 reps / 19 for legs
    5s workout 10 – 80% of 1rm (94.1% of 5rm)– 13 reps / 17 for legs
    5s workout 11 – 82.5% of 1rm (97.1% of 5rm) – 11 reps / 15 for legs
    5s workout 12 – 85% of 1rm (100% of 5rm)– 9 reps / 12 for legs

    Post 5 – 87.5% of 1rm and above – 6 to 8 reps (clusters)

    So as you can see I train in excess of 90% of the rep max of each block apart from the 1st session after SD with rep totals that currently is dealing with any fatigue issues I have had in the past - all 1rm are currently estimated based on previous best 5rm.

    Deadlifts trained differently - start at 75% of 1rm for 15 reps (clusters) increasing by 2.5% per workout until get to weight where I cannot get 3 sets of 5 then will only progress when the 3 sets have been achieved or keep progressing doing 5 sets of 3.
    Last edited: Nov 27, 2014
  17. HST_Rihad

    HST_Rihad Active Member

    That's all great. Only it isn't HST Bryan has envisioned... He'd want you to pick bigger sized increments (like 75%, 80% etc) if your main priority is to gain muscle. Smaller sized increments (like what you do) if the main goal is to become stronger. Hitting every muscle at least 3 times per week. You don't do any of that, that's why you're growing. Stop that immediately, you're ruining the system! :)
  18. Old and Grey

    Old and Grey Super Moderator Staff Member

    Why would you not want gym economy to get the same results unless you are in prison or have no happy home or social life?
  19. HST_Rihad

    HST_Rihad Active Member

    Gym economy and recovering lost muscle is great, I agree with you. This never was the main reasoning behind SD and subsequent lower than maximal loads. Growing new muscle using those previous loads was. In theory.
  20. adpowah

    adpowah Active Member

    So what are you suggesting in place of Vanilla HST?

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