Hey, What About Unplanned Increments?

Discussion in 'Hypertrophy-Specific Training (HST)' started by NWlifter, May 24, 2018.

  1. NWlifter

    NWlifter Active Member

    If load is the basis for HST, why not (instead of testing and planning RM's), just do something like this...
    Start with 20RM
    Do 15
    Next workout add 5%, do 15
    Keep adding 5%, when 15 is really hard to get, then the next workout
    Add 5% do 12, (maybe even a +3 myo-rep kinda thing to keep the rep total/volume equal)
    Keep adding 5%, when 12 is hard, next workout, add 5% but only do say 9 reps + 3 +3
    That way, you are still continually adding load over the cycle, do that until your doing
    6 reps with what you find then is your 6RM ( with some + 3 + 3 +3 etc.)

    Over the cycle, you always do 15 reps with a continually increasing load, you get some 'intensity' breaks, just like the standard HST setup when you drop down a rep range (like 12 down to 9 with only a 5% increase) but then as you add load (just like normal planned loads) it gets harder and harder, then drop etc.
    Bryan Haycock likes this.
  2. _Simon_

    _Simon_ Active Member

    Yeah honestly this is pretty much how I do my cycles nowadays (currently doing this). I used to plan RM days for my first few cycles, but then as I changed to try different exercises, I just decided to start with a certain weight and increase weight every session, when 15 reps went to or went almost to failure I drop the reps and start the next rep range.

    It really makes sense to me, but I'd love some of the others' inputs as to why there are specific rep endpoints etc. I'll have to look through the FAQ, perhaps just a way to standardise it and make it easy to implement on paper and understand? Also maybe so you can incorporate some zigzagging for a bit of a break...

    Or even perhaps so that the load increments are big enough that it would take about 6 workouts to reach the next RM? Larger increments I recall are better for hypertrophy
    Bryan Haycock likes this.
  3. Sci

    Sci Well-Known Member

    I do similar, I recently made a post about not zig-zagging and essentially doing progression how you described it, only difference is I’m doing 20-30 reps of volume, which I believe is superior, but then again I also can’t seem to do high frequency, so I make up for it with volume.
    Bryan Haycock and _Simon_ like this.
  4. NWlifter

    NWlifter Active Member

    Cool, see, a person thinks they thought of something, then someone else already thought of it ! lol
    I guess it must be ok then if 2 of you are doing it!

    What frequency do you do then Sci?
    _Simon_ likes this.
  5. Sci

    Sci Well-Known Member

    Lately 3 times every 2 weeks, so about half as frequent as vanilla HST.
    My career, my kids and my relatively weak constitution have so far prevented me from recovering in 48 hours, I am making great progress the way I’m doing it, so I will keep it up.
    NWlifter likes this.
  6. NWlifter

    NWlifter Active Member

    Hey very cool. I'm that way too, 3x per week full body lasts about 2-3 weeks then I crash and burn, personal work, stress, busy-ness kills my recovery too.
    So do you just have a longer cycle then, like stretching out the blocks 1.5 times longer?
    Sci likes this.
  7. _Simon_

    _Simon_ Active Member

    Yeah hehe, as it still adheres to the HST principles that's the main thing. There are probably many ways you can implement HST within any cycle of training, and keeping the principles within it is what matters.

    I'm sure there was some reason for having the RMs set at certain times and all the increments laid out, maybe just so there's no guesswork and you know exactly what you'll be lifting next workout.

    It's still handy knowing your rough RM and working towards that, and I still do mostly 15s 10s 5s etc. And like Sci I also aim for 20-30 reps (currently doing 2x15, 3x10, and we shall see in the 5s as I haven't done them in awhile hehe).

    But I do like not having them all set up as though those are the weights you absolutely have to do, as it means you can really listen to your body more and how it's tracking, feeling when you're coming close to an RM, when to back off and maybe do a zigzag backoff period if you're really feeling exhausted etc
    NWlifter and Sci like this.
  8. Sci

    Sci Well-Known Member

    I have had success in the past with 2x15, 3x10, 4x5, and 20 reps max-stimulation set
    NWlifter and _Simon_ like this.
  9. Old and Grey

    Old and Grey Super Moderator Staff Member

    That is still adhering to the principles of HST. Just a different template.
    NWlifter and _Simon_ like this.
  10. Jester

    Jester Well-Known Member

    Why 5% increments?
  11. NWlifter

    NWlifter Active Member

    Isn't that a typical good increment? Or what would you use?
  12. Jester

    Jester Well-Known Member

    Well 5% jump from 15RM to the next workout is a lot different than 5% in 5s territory.

    I’d use RPEs as my determinants, and the now almost universal chart that correlates RPEs to RM% to find the number I should be around.
  13. NWlifter

    NWlifter Active Member

    True, or even just a fixed load increment since with this, you wouldn't be literally planning 15,10 & 5rms, my whole thoughts were just to keep adding weight and not calculate.
    So more like find the load that is about 5% of the starting weight with the lighter stuff, then just use that same load increment throughout. If it's 5 lbs, stay with 5 lb increases throughout the unplanned cycle.
    _Simon_ likes this.
  14. Sci

    Sci Well-Known Member

    I think for strength training the RPE is optimal. For HST however, the increments are not super important, should just be enough for the muscles to be continuously increasing tension throughout the cycle.
    _Simon_ likes this.
  15. NWlifter

    NWlifter Active Member

    That was my thought too with the 'unplanned' idea. As long as the loads go up and the 'effort' is a 'wave', the muscles don't know or care of it's literally a 10RM, 9RM or 11RM.
    Old and Grey likes this.
  16. Old and Grey

    Old and Grey Super Moderator Staff Member

    It is more about the starting point. Higher increments only mean shorter cycles and sooner SD than lower increments given the same starting point. Set the increments based on the length of cycle you want after determining a starting point that is sufficient to induce fiber activation. When I stagnated using increments, I found auto-regulation using myo-reps to be best for me and have experienced no stagnation the past two or so years. Fixed increments are certainly useful through an intermediate and early advanced stage and 5% or a fixed increment around that number is as good as anything else assuming you start at about 60%-70% of your rep maximum. I also found that adding a day at my rep max to be beneficial before starting a different rep range.
    _Simon_ likes this.
  17. NWlifter

    NWlifter Active Member

    I guess I was just thinking unplanned all the way around, no set cycle length, no formal pre-calculated RM's, no set RM goals, just as long as the muscles see a load increase over time, physiologically it would be the same for stimulation.
    Like lets say your 15 RM for bench is 100 to make it easy.
    just start with 75x15, then 80x15 then 85x15 etc. when you hit 100x15 it's hard, so next time you do 105x12 110x12 115x12, hard, next time 120x10 125x10...

    OR what if you just totally skipped set rep ranges and just added a little and used the RPE feel and just did reps till you were short of failure but added weight every time, or once a week, maybe make Monday easier RPE, Wednesday harder, Friday just about failure, next week, add weight do that again, repeat every week, keep going until you have a Friday where 5-6 reps is almost full effort?
    Last edited: May 28, 2018
  18. Totentanz

    Totentanz Super Moderator Staff Member

    Seems like auto-regulation would take care of this.
  19. NWlifter

    NWlifter Active Member

    I guess that's what i mean, force a small load increase, and auto-regulate 'what you do with that load', as long as the RM increases over time, all would be just like if you planned increments.
    _Simon_ likes this.
  20. _Simon_

    _Simon_ Active Member

    Yeah to be honest this makes total sense to me... And I'd make sure that I don't always train too close to failure too much of the time, I think that's why I like the 15s 10s and 5s as reps to go with, as you're still able to progress in load but have a slight break in 'intensity' or 'exertion' moreso.

    Just went through the FAQ and found this little gem of a section that's relevant here. So it's definitely not so much about reps and sets as it is understanding the function of muscle and how it grows. I think it's then moreso a matter of convenience that 15/10/5 were chosen, not because they had a magical property. But I still think important to approach or train to/with your RM a few times in the cycle, although I haven't found yet if that's stated in the FAQ... :


    "But why is HST organized into 2 week blocks and the 15/10/5 rep ranges - I don't understand it...

    Keep in mind that you have to consider the tensile strength of the tissue itself. Lifting weights to induce hypertrophy is a very much a mechanical process. You are causing physical stress to the protein structures of the muscle tissue. A given amount of load is going to be required regardless of the number of repetitions, to induce hypertrophy.

    So, please try to think outside of reps and sets. The purpose of every workout is simply to apply an effective stimulus by providing an incremental increase in tension from the last workout. Just arbitrarily picking a certain number of workouts before you change isn’t going to ensure you are applying an effective stimulus. That’s more akin to periodization, rather than hypertrophy-specific progressions.

    Muscle tissue does not distinguish between rep ranges. There is not a special number of contractions that "triggers" a hypertrophic response. The only thing that triggers hypertrophy is sarcolemma distortion and subsequent microtrauma and to a MUCH lesser extent, metabolic activity. Metabolic activity is more anticatabolic, then anabolic. These pathways of mechanotransduction have been mapped and are not in question. Yes, there are always more details to be ironed out, but the pathways are now established that go from mechanical load to muscle cell growth.

    In order to adhere to the principles of training induced muscle hypertrophy we must have progressive load. Progressive load sufficient to cause hypertrophy will limit the number of times the muscle can successfully contract against the resistance. There are several old studies that narrowed it down to a range of perhaps 20 reps (if the muscle is deconditioned) all the way up to 120% of your 1RM. So, depending on how conditioned the muscle is, you can use any rep range between 20 reps and negatives.

    While using HST, your reps decrease over time simply because the load is constantly increasing. It's that simple. There is no magic number, though others might have you believe there is.

    Why 6 workouts in 2 week blocks? Because it takes about that long using decent increments to reach your specified RM.

    The whole purpose of HST’s organization is to give you some idea of what that stimulus needs to be on that day’s workout.
    SD is kind of like a reset button. It gives you some place to start, where you are pretty sure about the condition of the tissue when you begin. Because you can’t see what is actually happening inside the microscopic world of your muscles, you can only get an idea of what kind of stimulus is required by knowing what the tissue has recently undergone. Even then, all you really know is that the tension applied has to be either greater in amplitude, duration, or some combination of the two, with amplitude being the most effective of the two.

    All of this methodology (for lack of a better word) is based on tangible yet invisible things like heat shock proteins, microscopically thin connective tissue, kinase-type signaling proteins, and all the protein synthetic machinery and all the genes that regulate them.

    Now, it isn’t necessary to become an expert on the details of each of these cellular components, but it does become necessary to have a basic understanding of “what it all means” if you really want to understand HST.

    Without this understanding, HST will appear to be no better or worse than any other routine. This is the trap that many experienced lifters fall into. They been around the block, they’ve seen it all before, but they fail to understand that there is an underlying truth about how muscle works that the previous routines weren’t able to pattern themselves after. They were in the general vicinity, through trial an error, but there just wasn’t enough research available to reduce the uncertainty that drives the endless variation in strategy and method.

    So you aren't going to understand HST by studying its sets, reps, and workouts. You can only understand HST by studying how muscle tissue works. I can't emphasize this enough. HST is not about sets and reps, it is about getting people to change the way they think about training for size. It is about introducing demonstrable physiological concepts into a culture dominated by marketing hype, tradition and regurgitation of every single BB myth ever known."

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