Customizing HST

Discussion in 'General Training' started by proteus9, Jan 18, 2005.

  1. proteus9

    proteus9 New Member

    “There are no rules, only options.” - Ian King on designing strength training programs

    This board contains the most knowledgeable, friendly and helpful members of any I visit. Given the vast and detailed knowledge of its members, and my lack thereof, I hope to consolidate the advanced “tweaking” information in one place – for the benefit of all of us. Bryan has said that the original program was developed as close to “one size fits all” as possible, which by definition means it won’t be optimal for all. I’ve printed and read 241 pages in the last few days (in addition to the several hundred printed and digested over the last two and a half years). There is a TON of information on this site to sift through, I just want to get most of the tweaking / optimizing ideas in one place.

    I want to list the ranges of options available and when they might best be used. I hope that it will benefit everyone and that lots of people will participate – especially the experts: Byran, Blade, DKM, Mikeynov, Vicious, and the rest. I hope you will contribute your ideas, successes and failures, and more importantly, WHY you made the tweaks you did.

    If you are a beginner, do NOT read this thread – it will only bore you (at best) or confuse you (at worst). Do the original HST routine at least twice before considering these tweaks.
    I hope this thread does not degenerate into another Cluster HST thread (which had 8 great posts and 130 whiny, name calling ones ).

    To keep it logical, every few days I’ll throw out a topic and get as much insight as possible before updating the second post in this thread. That's where you’ll find the “updated consensus of the board”.
  2. proteus9

    proteus9 New Member

    (left blank to insert consensus bullet point later)
  3. proteus9

    proteus9 New Member

    Topic 1 - Frequency
    What is the range of frequency? In the original HST articles - 3 days per week, total body. Several have written about 6 days a week, each msucle group getting 3 workouts. Lately, I have seen a trend toward 6 days a week total body - each muscle group getting hit each workout (due to a summation effect)?
    How does this affect RBE?
    How and when do you schedule rest days? Knowing that frequency helps regulate volume, how do you control volume? Do you look at total volume per week regardless of frequency and try to keep that value the same?
    Do you increase volume the day before a day off?

    EDIT: One more question... In one post DKM said that constant load was preferable to increased frequency, but just not practical. Could you clarify?
  4. Lance

    Lance New Member

    Here's an example. I had a friend who was into lifting and everything. When he graduated high school, he got a summer job bricklaying. Half way through the summer i saw him in the gym. His arms grew so much! It was ridiculous. This is due to frequency. We know bricks are heavy, but not THAT heavy. But he had an almost 'constant load' because he was picking them up for about 8 hours a day or so.

    Constant load is not practical because most people with normal lives can't sit around and constantly lift weights.

    If things didn't have to be practical, here'd be my life for pure bodybuilding/growth reasons.

    SD ... sit in hospital like bed, fed all my nutrients through straw or IV or something, don't ever move. I will decondition this way like no other.

    HST starts. I lift all day, sleep the rest. Once again, i'm fed with an IV or something all the nutrients i need.

    Boring life, but near perfect for bodybuilding!
  5. proteus9

    proteus9 New Member

    Great reply Lance! Thanks for that amusing clarification. And I agree, boring life but great hypertrophy.

    And a quote from Blade:

    "...the total effect of 6-7 workouts in one week would still be greater than 3 workouts per week."

  6. BoSox

    BoSox New Member

    no offense, but every part of this has been discussed ad nauseum in the past. For a good overview, contact Vicious.
  7. Jester

    Jester Well-Known Member

    I'm not sure I completely understand RBE......but I think it may be related to my question:

    6x a week during the second set of 5's (no negs), using the same load with reduced volume, will you hit a plateau in growth and/or strength...?
  8. vicious

    vicious New Member

    It's more likely you'll hit the plateau in strength. But increasing frequency (while breaking up your sets) is another strategy you can use.

  9. vicious

    vicious New Member

    Probably best to first discuss the various problems with extremely, extremely high frequency (Bulgarian sucks!!)

    1) It's more likely you'll get overuse injuries from this than high volume. It takes awhile for tissue to increase elasticity during a workout. That's great for muscle microtrauma; that's bad for your tendons and ligaments.

    2) Anytime you significantly increase sarcomere disruption, you're also frying the E-C system, which prevents you from training frequently.

    3) The more often you train, the more likely you'll reach systemic overtraining (namely, elevated cortisol levels.)

    4) The metabolic work initially creates a negative net effect between protein synthesis and protein breakdown. Performing one curl set every 60-90 minutes would not significantly dampen protein synthesis levels in the biceps. Deadlifting every hour could effectively lower protein synthesis rates altogether.

    5) Even everyday training will boost daily BMR significantly as well as deplete glycogen stores rather quickly. Going twice-a-day training, which is not unusual for collegiate sports as well as pro, requires major caloric intake. If you're not doing that, high frequency will kill ya.

    6) It's mentally exhausting. Have YOU tried Poliquin's one-day arm cure? ;)

    7) Finally, the sheer amount of loading you impose on a muscle, be it from volume or frequency, eventually increases RBE more. I feel that whatever frequency you do (same with volume for a bodypart), you want to try to mantain it or something near it.

    Advantages to bleeding edge frequency (Bulgarian rawks!!)

    1) Summation effect. This can be minimally met by switching between morning and evening 3x-a-week workouts. Again, this is really the most basic and effective optimization technique you can do for your HST routine.

    2) Acute effects from each workout. Temporarily higher IGF-1, testosterone, etc. responses will usually overcome elevated cortisol levels.

    3) More potential loading due to better managed CNS. Obviously, it's easier to split up 10 sets into 2 consecutive days than to do all of them at once.

    4) More acute effects of loading per set. I tend to feel that more microtrauma is generated from, say, 10 sets of a load spread over one day (i.e. Poliquin Arm cure) than 10 sets performed contiguously for a bodypart (Poliquin GVT.)

    5) Increasing volume or frequency will make your sets more amenable to sarcoplasmic hypertrophy.

    6) Better nutrient partioning effect.

    7) If you take two workouts with the same volume and the same caloric bulking diet, the more frequent one will create less "wasted calories" (less fat) and perhaps facilitate more efficient upload of glycogen than the less frequent one.

    8) Training twice a day -- be it a split, full-body, or whatever -- can be a surreal experience. You become your workout, mate. ;)

    Specific questions:

    Any increase in your loading parameters (volume, frequency, weight) will ultimately increase RBE; in a sense, RBE is the success and minimal standard of your exercise. The relationship between stimulating muscle damage and the RBE is a feedback loop whose net effect becomes more pronounced over a time-lapse. Because RBE has relatively fixed time-lapse adaptations (RBE can have a more pronounced effect but -- for the sake of our training system -- it doesn't occur "faster" or have "shorter" periods), high frequency will still let you train ahead of those adaptations, and to change up your progressive load as often as you would on a regular program. The problem, IMO, then is about mantaining that frequency (as well as other loading parameters) in order to fight off the more marked degree of RBE manifest. If you were to train, say, 12-x-a-week, then switch to 3x-a-week, you may have to use much larger load increments to compensate. As with any strategy you apply to HST, you want to establish a control of all other variables whereby progressive load becomes your only significant dynamic variable. That leads to . . .

    Most practical is probably 3x-a-week, two-a-day. This covers the summation effect, gives you more rest days to recuperate, and enables better glycogen replenishment. However, one should probably at least eat 1000-1500 calories above maintenance during their two-a-days. If a person is training once everyday, then they should consider looking at a daily 750-1000 caloric surplus, at least through the 10s and 15s. And if you go for the Bulgarian blaze of glory with 10-12x-a-week training, may Allah and 1500 calories be with you!!

    I feel frequency always has precedence over volume; however, I don't look at volume until the end of your routine. Below entails my high-level thinking into workout planning and how it relates to volume and frequency..

    Exercise selection has first priority.

    1) You select your compound movements according to bodypart coverage and isolation movements which are the primary bodypart exercises.

    2) You then consider isolation movements with stretch-point characteristics. Both this and the following step fall out of the scope of your inquiry -- but, more often than not, you will simply choose a few movements for specific bodyparts rather than pick a whole fleet of single-joint exercises.

    3) You finally consider isolation movements with peak-contraction characteristics.

    4) Try not to choose more than 20 exercises for your routine. If you do, consider a split.

    The key thing here is that frequency and volume doesn't really figure into the total # of exercises in your routine. It's really about familiarity, preference, and priorities. Some people will prefer a basic core routine; others will have a lot of specialization. There are good reasons for both, but ultimately you shouldn't let frequency or # of sets/exercise figure into your thinking.

    Having set up your routine, then you look at what would be the most frequent and feasible schedule. In order of preference . . .

    1) Every other day training at about the same time. (Least effective)

    2) Every other day training with alternating AM/PM scheduling. You'll get a summation effect.

    Note: Most trainees will want to achieve at this level regardless of their exercise selection. Therefore, if you have too many exercises to prevent you from training often enough for the summation effect, you'll want to back track the exercises until you can achieve at least this level. That is the big exception for workout planning.

    3) 5-6x-a-week, every day training. You may get an enhanced summation effect as well as increased loading.

    4) 3x-a-week, two-a-day training. Same as 3) plus better management of CNS and metabolic resources.

    5) 10-12x-a-week training.

    6) Ultra-high frequency bodypart specialization.

    7) Lance's IV drip fantasy. ;) (Most effective?)

    Finally, having set up your frequency, you look at additional volume. You consider that you would want to at least mantain either a constant or increasing # of sets throughout your HST cycle. If you start with 2 sets for 15s, you want to mantain at least 2 sets for 10s and 5s. Fatigue management strategies are out of the scope of your inquiry, but I argue that you never, before this stage, consider the # of sets you ultimately want to hit the bodypart. Volume comes last. The reasons ultimately point to sacroplasmic vs. sarcomere hypertrophy, which is another discussion.

  10. Jester

    Jester Well-Known Member

    Couple of qu's . . .
    Poliquin = ??
  11. vicious

    vicious New Member

    Never heard of Charles Poliquin? I feel suddenly . . .old . . . [​IMG]

    Poliquin is known for his German Volume Training program. GVT involves performing 10 sets of a compound movement. He also has a sadistic "One-day arm cure" program (meant to only be done once in a blue moon), where you perform 15-20 sets of various curls over a 8 hour period, 2 sets every 30 minutes. The next day is known for rather horrifying pain, but over a week, after glycogen replenishment, you will see something close a 3/8 inch arm gain.

    In my opinion, 4.
  12. Jester

    Jester Well-Known Member

    Poliquin doesn't mind a bit of the ole self-hurt I see . . .

    With regard to twice a day training, does it matter how close the sessions are? I asked a similar qu. in a diff. thread, but I'm wondering how doing the sessions 2-3 hrs apart or 8-10 hrs apart could have same effect...?
  13. vicious

    vicious New Member

    You should see his GBC program. ;)

    From purely the standpoint of loading muscle, I don't think it makes much of a difference. For example, if you wanted to concentrate on calves, it wouldn't hurt to do calf raises every 2-3 hours or more frequently.

    But I don't think it's a good idea to do a full session of exercises (or perhaps even something like a squat) within 2-3 hours of each other due to the overall metabolic, protein breakdown, and elevated cortisol from each sesson of training. It would seem reasonable to me to wait at least 6 hours before initiating another session in order to enjoy the acute autocrine and endocrine effects (particularly IGF-1 and temporarily elevated testosterone levels) from training without suffering from over-elevated cortisol levels.

    I think if one were to do twice-a-day training, for convenience, it would default to day and night training.

  14. yshemesh

    yshemesh Banned

    where was all this info in my thread ??

    you don't love me [​IMG]
  15. Iron slinger

    Iron slinger New Member

    Good morning gentlemen!
    I am a first time "poster" for this site but have been reading and researching the HST for some time. I wanted to share a thought with you in regards to the variations that can occur with this program and an idea I was thinking of trying while implementing the program for myself.
    Based on your current thread the consensus on training frequency and volume indicates that a 3xweek full body program with an am/pm split is the optimal pattern for the overall hypertrophy effect (with the exception being the IV drip fantasy ... OUTSTANDING!). I read several posts which indicated a 6xweek full body program and this seems to me not only outrageous but dangerously close to the old methods of training which led to so many over-use injuries and CNS Fatigue. However, I understand the desire to get that frequency level up after so many years of the 3 on/1 off programs we all read about in the Steroid Mags! When you suddenly drop all those sets and days of training you just feel like your not getting it done!
    This leads me to the suggestion of a 6xweek upper/lower body split with both an am/pm split and a cardio session tossed in. The program would look something like this;

    Sunday: LOOONG, low intensity cardio session - nice bike ride would be ideal.

    Monday: Upper body - chest, delts, tris in the morning with twenty minute varying intensity cardio session after the weights. This would maximize the fat burning aspect of the workout since your weight training should have left you with just enough glycogen to initiate the krebs cycle for fat burning. Pm workout would be back, traps, and bis with a 30-40 minute low intensity cardio session following the weights. Not everyone would need this session but I hold on to body fat like the government holds on to taxes!

    Tuesday: Lower body- Hams and abs in the morning and Quads and calves in the afternoon. No Cardio!

    Wednesday: Repeat Monday using different exercises but keeping the emphasis on the same body parts.

    Thursday: repeat Tuesday, again using varying exercises

    Friday: repeat Monday

    Saturday: Repeat Tuesday

    Obviously, the sets/reps and volume suggested in the original program is maintained and I personally prefer to superset the 15's just due to the fact that the weight tends to be so dang light the first few cycles. The strategic deconditioning time also stays the same (maybe I'll try and create an IV drip for the market that you can jsut hook up and forget about for that first week! :) )

    Let me know what you think!

    P.S. I've met and attended several of Pulligans seminars and if you have never heard of him you haven't been in this arena long enough to call yourself a tru strength trainer! It definitely doesn't mean your old if you know who he is!
  16. Iron slinger

    Iron slinger New Member

    Sorry, forgot to add that the am workouts should consist mostly of your compound movements with a pm split of isolation movements. i.e., bench/dips/military press in the am
    flys/tri ext's/delt raises in the pm
    squats/leg press/st leg deads in am
    leg ext/leg curl in pm

    This gives you that Poliquin effect! Sorry about the spelling errors too!
  17. proteus9

    proteus9 New Member

    Thanks for the reply Vicious - exactly the kind of one stop shopping I was looking for.
    A few questions:
    Forgive my ignorance, but the E-C system is...?
    What about doing this with maintenance calories for fat loss?
    Great point. If you have 6 training sessions per week (total body for example) how frequently would you increase the load? Every other? Does increased frequency necessitate a shorter overall cycle?
    How exactly do these differ? I take it that #2 refers to an upper (am) lower (pm) type split whereas #4 is total body or same muscle groups both am and pm....
    Since you brought it up.... (It would have been my next topic anyway [​IMG] ) The majority of advance trainees here seem to use a target number of reps per muscle group. How do you divide volume between compound and isolation movements, which leads to:
    When and why do you include stretch vs. peak contraction movements? I found a thread where you basically said (and using this routine as an example: compound push, pull, and squat and isolation bicep / tricep) to utiluze stretch during the 10's and peak contration during the 5's, but the why was never clear. Are isolation movements done for high reps for ERK benefits?
    Jules - Thank you so much for taking time to clarify these. You have, in one post, condensed several hundred pages of advanced thinking. I don't mind looking for information, but it is a needle in a haystack with over 7000 threads here. Your patience and willingness to share is commendable. [​IMG]

    Thanks again,
  18. vicious

    vicious New Member

    Yeah, but your thread has my complete psycho version of HST. ;) Truth is, because I'm more interested in starting and encouraging discussion, rather than laying down dogma. Though if you start your 15s at your 15RM, I'll beat you with a stick. ;)

    E-C is excitation-contraction -- what you brain does to get the muscles to contract. From a physiology slide -->

    When you cause significant sarcomere disruption, part of the inflammatory process is a "decoupling" of the E-C for that muscle. That is, your muscle goes partially "offline" and your strength levels drop. You can compensate by boosting the excitation (i.e. by increasing neural drive), but only so much. Part of DOMS phenomena is a significant decoupling of muscle in order to protect it from additional loading.

    Theoretically effective, but very hard on your body and exhausting.

    I think it somewhat shortens the window of "useful life" of a given load (net effect of increased remodeling activity vs. constant time-elapse), but HST's progressive loading scheme is already frequent enough (especially if you do not zig-zag) to stay ahead of the RBE curve. It's a double-edged sword; the more you grow, the more resistant you become to exercise. Of course, increased frequency, by default, enables potential for a shorter, more compressed cycle. However, I don't think it's necessary or desirable. A similar argument can be made for workout routines with significantly higher volume than your typical full-body routine.

    #2 simply refers to performing a full-body routine every 36 hours or so in order to cover the window and minimally achieve the summation effect. A typical schedule would be Monday evening, Wednesday morning, Friday evening, Sunday morning, etc. I think this is the most important (and viable) optimization a person can make to their basic HST routine.

    As you said, #4 refers to hitting the same groups both AM and PM. I'm ambivalent about #3 vs. #4. With #3, you theoretically would enjoy an enhanced summation effect, whereby you always train roughly every 24 hours -- when protein synthesis is near its peak. With #4, you get a more pronounced loading effect by waiting only 6-12 hours for the next training session, rather than 24 hours plus sleep cycle. Also, you enjoy a uninterrupted rest day to replenish glycogen stores and take a mental break.

    I agree with that in principle, but I feel most trainees introduce this variable too soon into their planning. I feel volume, particularly # of sets/exercise, is the last important variable to manage after everything else has been worked out. More finely, you should plan out the toughest scenario first (i.e. how many sets/target-total repsfor 5s), THEN work backwards to determining your 10s and 15s volume slopes.

    But we can discuss more on that later after the frequency issue has been scoped out.

    Isolation movements, by their very nature, are specialization exercises. That's a very simple yet crucial concept, because most people try to treat isolation movements as a way of splashing on additional MU coverage out of anxiety that their compound movements do not adequately cover that area (particularly abs.) Except in very special circumstances, I really disagree with that approach. I think a person can grow just fine on just the "Big Four"; at the same time, I don't think people should treat isolation movements with the same reverence that they would with the compound movements.Compound movments should be performed simply, purely, and with integrity. Isolation movements should be recognizes as an optimization technique used in addition to your core exercises.

    Isolation movements enable a person to finely manipulate the tension-length stimulation curve of a muscle in order to accentuate p38 activity or accentuate erk1/2 activity (though usually not optimally within the same case.) In line with that, there are also a special variation of intensity/lifting techniques, modalities, and rep-schemes used with isolation movements in order to improve the former or the latter, techniques which I wouldn't generally recommend for compound movements.

    I usually don't like peak-contraction movements until 5s (if at all), because I feel you get enough hypoxic stress during your 15s and 10s, particularly if you work from the core movements and/or higher frequency or volume. I usually don't like any stretch-point movements until 10s, because many have very limited potential for load differentiation and would unnecessarily bump up RBE when you don't really want or need it.

    Of course, there's a lot more to this (including a twist on using the myotatic reflex with isolation movements, which I've been working on lately), but that is out of scope with your current frequency inquiry. ;)

  19. proteus9

    proteus9 New Member

    I remember an old (circa 83 or so)made-for-TV ninja movie where the Japanese master (played by Mako) said this to his young caucasion student. Funny how you remember stuff like that....

    Alright Jules, time to go and meditate on your latest nuggets of wisdom.

    Thanks again,

  20. proteus9

    proteus9 New Member

    Well, all I can say is that sleep is hard to come by with such information overload! Oh well, lets keep going. Vicious, you've done a great job covering frequency. I can't think of anything else to ask - you've laid out the options very well from a minimum of 3 days per week to 12 times per week (which I hadn't even considered when this thread started). If I've missed any obvious questions I should have asked - or if you have anything else to add, feel free. Otherwise....

    Topic Two - Exercise Selection

    We've already (kind of) started this, and given this quote...
    I guess that should be our next topic (probably should have been the first :) )

    What do you consider the Big Four? Upper push and pull would be two, lower quad and ham would be two more....

    Meaning? Should they follow the standard HST protocol of starting with high reps and moving toward low, etc.

    Since I could ask 12 questions out of this segment, I'll just let you comment as you feel necessary. Well, maybe a couple of specific questions [​IMG] . Using an isolation exercise for p38 vs. erk - obiously for the latter, you would need high reps. For the former? What are some of the techniques you would use for isolation movements that you would NOT use for compound? Why would you use or omit peak contraction during the 5'? Load differentiation = ? (The difference between starting load and ending?) How do drop sets figure in - I know the volume can be good for erk1/2 response, but given that you could hit your target weight for a heavy 5 (p38) rest 20 sec. drop the weight, do another 5, rest 20 sec. etc. Each drop is a high percentage of momentary ability - are these hitting p38 or erk1/2? (This is the "Rob Thoburn) style of training. And do share that twist with the myotatic reflex...

    Lets try a sample workout to upgrade as we go with the Vicious Method of Program Design (VMoPD) so that I / we can see how all the components fit together.

    Step 1: Exercise Selection - (The Big Four???)
    Bench Press
    Wide Grip Pull Up
    Narrow Stance Leg Press
    Romanian Deadlift

    A bicep exercise - isolation
    A tricep exercise - isolation
    A calf exercise - isolation

    Look forward to your insights,

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