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Chris Wood
08-19-2011, 10:42 AM
I've read most of your posts on ladders here and on IGX. I'm interested in giving them a go, but wanted your advice on programming them.

Background info: Age 39, weight 190-195, goals to hit 200/300/400/500 in press, bench, squat, and DL. My current PRs are 185 press, 260 bench, 360 squat, 450 DL. I have 3-4 days a week to train. Sleep can vary due to family and work, but I have plenty of calories available to eat. :)

I'd love to hear your advice on programming ladders for all 4 lifts across the course of a week. I think I understand the ladders themselves, progressions, RPE ranges, etc., but am interested in how to set this up on a MWF or MWThSat basis. I would prefer squatting and benching twice a week and DL/press once or twice a week. If you want to take this off board, feel free to PM me. Otherwise, I'm sure there are others who would like to see a what a weekly template looks like.

Thanks in advance for your help!

Steve Shafley
08-19-2011, 08:43 PM
What's your program like now?

Chris Wood
08-20-2011, 07:55 AM
Steve:

I've been doing DJ's "Easy Strength" program for the past few months, with 4 days/week on average. I've been cycling between Bench/Back Squat/DL/Row and Press/FS/DL variation/pullup, with DJ's "deload" week every 3rd week. I've been trying to be consistent with loaded carries/sled work as well.

Week 1: Mon 2 x 5, Tues 2 x 5, Thurs 5/3/2, Fri 2 x 5
Week 2: Mon 2 x 5, Tues 6 singles, Thurs 1 x 10 or 2 x 5, Fri 2 x 5
Week 3: Mon/Thurs PP doubles & Litvinovs, Tues/Fri 1 arm KB work

I try to keep RPE ~ 7-8 on 2 x 5 days, and no more than 9 on 5/3/2 and singles days. I've been able to make progress while staying fresh, but with kids in school and sports, 3 days a week will probably be the norm for the rest of the year.

Steve Shafley
08-21-2011, 07:11 PM
Working on a M-W-Th-Sat

First, off, you are pretty damn close to your goals, which, theoretically, should make hitting them easy. But, is there any kind of psychological hang up on any of those lifts, i.e. you have missed 500 in the deadlift like 100 times, or you hate the bench press, or anything like that?

You will need a clean plate, so to speak.

Also, are those PRs you mentioned recent? Did you have to bleed to make them?

I am also thinking that you might need two phases of this. One for the squat and press, the other for the bench and deadlift. (that's arbitrary, and it's based on an increased frequency of these lifts)

Phase 1: Squat and Press emphasis, Deadlift and Bench maintenance

Monday:
Squat ladders
Press ladders
-other crap you like-

Wednesday
Squat (variant) ladders
Press ladders
-other crap you like

Thursday
DL and Bench press maintenance (3x3, 5x5, Lane's 50 reps in 20 minutes - these are examples of things you can do)

Saturday
Squat ladders
Press (variant) ladders
-other crap you like.

The problem is that progression isn't going to be linear, and will sometimes look like regression. If you've read my ideas on ladders, you know that progression will be triggered by how easy any given workout was.

Start with an weight where you can get 3 series of (1/2/3) reps. Do not, ever, feel beat up. Review the stuff about working too hard on this that I've written elsewhere, or, rather, just don't do it. This shouldn't be easy work, but it should not be hard work. It should be doable and approached with a workman-like attitude. I've written extensively in places on how to progress with ladders, especially over on IGx (and recently too). If you need the links to those threads, let me know.

This is a lot of pressing and squatting, but it doesn't have to be all the same variation all the time. I would consider running the above for 3-4 weeks, re-evaluating, and seeing where you are. That next period of time, you can sub in front squats or push presses 1x weekly for the squat and press. I've found the push press to be very useful in increasing the strict press. (or other useful variations)

For phase 2, switch the lifts around. You may only need to deadlift 2x weekly, but use some variation for the third pulling day (high pulls, RDLs, SLDLs)

Phase 2: DL and Bench emphasis.

Monday:
Bench ladders
DL ladders
-other crap you like-

Wednesday
Bench ladders
DL (variant) ladders
-other crap you like

Thursday
Squat and Press maintenance (3x3, 5x5, Lane's 50 reps in 20 minutes)

Saturday
Bench (variant) ladders
DL ladders
-other crap you like.

I would do the same thing I listed above. DL 2x weekly, one other pull 1x weekly. For the first 3-4 weeks bench only, then after that, use a bench variant (my suggestion is CGBP or an overloaded bench movement like a 3 board bench)

It's simple, I know, but it should get you there.

There are probably numerous tweaks to make along the way

Also the 'other crap you like' shouldn't include long met cons or excessive aerobic activity. It should include core work and perhaps some prehab stuff, but nothing that's going to beat you up. All the energy should be saved for the big lifts. It may even be unilateral leg stuff, but not too much

Steve Shafley
08-21-2011, 07:17 PM
A side note: It's my personal feeling that frequency is where the most value is going to lie in working with some kind of cheap autoregged stuff like this, but I've had plenty of people tell me that working heavier and less frequently worked for them as well.

Use Tuchsherer's RPE chart for this. Your ladder needs to be terminated if the RPE goes over 8, in most cases. Maybe you can get closer to 8.5 with presses.

Steve Shafley
08-21-2011, 07:25 PM
Here's the recent IGx thread, where I wandered all over the map about ladders and how my recent thinking is going.

http://www.irongarmx.net/phpBB2/viewtopic.php?f=2&t=217548&hilit=ladders

Chris Wood
08-22-2011, 11:05 AM
Steve:

Wow! Thank you so much for this. I am very grateful for sharing your expertise and knowledge.

Is there any kind of psychological hang up on any of those lifts, i.e. you have missed 500 in the deadlift like 100 times, or you hate the bench press, or anything like that?

I'd say my hang ups are on the pressing movements more than the DL and squat. I just don't bench that often, and my presses are always grinds. I seem to be weakest at the bottom of the movement; lockouts don't seem to be a problem if I can get the bar off my chest/shoulders.

Also, are those PRs you mentioned recent? Did you have to bleed to make them?

They are fairly recent. Bench PR is most distant. Squats have felt easier, DL was a moderate grind, press was a real grind.

On the maintenance days - if I do 3 X 3 or 5 X 5, would you recommend sets across or ascending sets?

Also the 'other crap you like' shouldn't include long met cons or excessive aerobic activity. It should include core work and perhaps some prehab stuff, but nothing that's going to beat you up. All the energy should be saved for the big lifts. It may even be unilateral leg stuff, but not too much

As far as accessory work: I'll probably take DJ's approach and make sure I'm doing a push, pull, squat, hinge, carry, and TGU each session. I'll try to keep things lighter and focus on the main lifts. Would a complex or sled work on maintenance days be acceptable?

Thanks again. I'm excited to give this a go!

Ola Persson
08-22-2011, 04:01 PM
This was a really good read, thanks! I’ll go to IGX and P&B for more info. Just to clarify: do you mean that – among other things – ladders are suitable for older trainees and therefore could be a better fit than a linear progression?

I ask since I, at 37, have a hard time recovering from squats and rarely do them more than once a week when on the GSLP. Ladders seem like a way to increase volume without feeling run down.

Sorry for the mini-hijack, Chris.

Steve Shafley
08-22-2011, 06:46 PM
Yes.

I feel strongly that volume accumulation and frequency of practice are better strategies than relative intensity-based strategies for older lifters. Or even lifters with a lot of miles on them.

Linear progression should be utilized in the beginning, and then stopped before it becomes too much effort for too little gain, i.e. if you are adding 2.5# (or less) to your squat on a weekly basis via some linear progression program, you are ready to change.

Steve Shafley
08-22-2011, 08:09 PM
The GSLP has a HIT style high repetition set at the end of the squats, sometimes this isn't appropriate for a given trainee.

In the grand scheme of things, intensity-based methods have always worked best for those willing to use PEDs.

Ola Persson
08-23-2011, 05:20 AM
I feel strongly that volume accumulation and frequency of practice are better strategies than relative intensity-based strategies for older lifters.

This certainly makes sense given how my body feels after a max rep set on squats.

I´m thinking of switching to ladders on squat and deads but keep a linear progression on the pressing movements since they aren’t as taxing and I’m still progressing?

(I’ll PM you a layout so I don’t clutter this thread. If you have the time I would really appreciate some brief feedback.)

Steve Shafley
08-23-2011, 07:52 AM
I want to make things clear here:

I am not saying that intensity-based methods don't work. They do. I recommend young, new lifters to follow some sort of linear periodization scheme and try out all different kinds of exercises.

I am saying that for many, especially older lifters, or athletes from other sports, or folks with a lot of mileage on them, letting the volume do the work using an approach like this allows them to progress while feeling less beat up from the work.

I was recently told that the Icelandic deadlifters train in a similar fashion, and sneer at pulling maximal weights outside of competitions and mock competitions. They do their work, they keep their bar speed high, and they deadlift on Mondays to when they are freshest (Dave Van S. had some stuff on this recently)

Steve Shafley
08-23-2011, 07:56 AM
Here's what I had to say to Ola.

Originally Posted by Ola Persson
Hi!

Thanks again for the valuable info on the forum! I would really appreciate it if you have the time to give me feedback on the following plan:
Monday: squat ladders 1-2-3, press/bench on a linear progression, other (mainly chins).
Wednesday: deadlift ladders 1-2-3, press/bench LP, other, conditioning.
Friday: squat ladders 1-2-3, press/bench LP, other (hamstring work/RDL),
Saturday: conditioning.

Basically something like the GSLP but with squat and dead ladders.

My background: 37 years, 110 kg, goals are to keep getting stronger (within a year press/Sq/DL 90/200/250 kg), loose 10 kg of body fat and gain some stamina. Current lifts: press 72,5 kg*9 reps, squat 167,5 kg*7, deadlift 200 kg*5 (I’ve only done close grip benches the last year due to shoulder issues). Been on Wendler and GSLP for 1˝ years.
Ola,

This looks fine for me.

If you review the Tuchsherer RPE chart that I have listed:

10- Maximal. No reps left in the tank.
9- Last rep is tough, but still 1 rep left in the tank.
8- Weight is too heavy to maintain fast bar speed, but is not a struggle. 2-4 reps left.
7- Weight moves quickly when maximal force is applied to the weight. “Speed weight”
6- Light speed work. Moves quickly with moderate force.
5- Most warm-up weights
4- Recovery. Usually 20+ rep sets. Not hard, but intended to flush the muscle.

I would like your deadlift sets to be close to @9 on the triples. Squats should be closer to @8 to @8.5. You understand the non-linear kind of progression I am talking about here and how I would like you to control the volume based on how your workout feels that day?

Back to DLs:

So, if you do 1, 2, 3, 1, 2, 3, 1, 2, 3...I would like that triple (at least the last one) to be @9...where you could do 1 more rep if you had to, because you are only deadlifting/pulling 1x weekly. BUT, it shouldn't be grinding and slow, it should come up quickly and be a well executed lift with regards to form and speed.

The problem seems to be this: (with regards to Wendler's 531 and to the GSPL): Some people don't get improvements in strength when they take a set close to failure (like in the last set for 531 or for GSLP), they get better muscular endurance (and hypertrophy) in that range. Contrary to popular belief, muscular endurance gains do not tend to bleed upwards, enhancing maximal strength gains ( this isn't universally true, however, but the converse: maximal strength gains positively impact muscular endurance gains is universally true)

Ola Persson
08-23-2011, 01:29 PM
As Chris said: I am very grateful for sharing your expertise and knowledge.

I'll digest this and adjust my workouts accordingly. I enjoy intensity based routines and have gotten stronger using them but this seems more suited for me and my life right now.

Steve Shafley
08-26-2011, 05:25 AM
There has been some sort of bizarre misunderstanding. I am not a doctor. Chris Wood's title of this thread seems to have misled at least one person.

Thanks.

Chris Wood
08-26-2011, 06:19 AM
Sorry for the confusion, Steve. I wasn't trying to mislead anyone with the title. I still appreciate your input and advice.

Ola Persson
08-27-2011, 09:06 AM
A follow up question about assistance work, Steve. I have some hyperlordosis and can't engage my glutes and hamstrings fully. I'm doing assistance work to fix this and read the thread about GM vs RDL at IGX. Good stuff and I could relate to RDL:s not being optimal for me while GM:s seems to do the trick. There is a lot of different rep and weight schemes mentioned though and I can't sort out what to do?

Also, would leg curls be an option?

Steve Shafley
08-27-2011, 11:48 AM
How does the glute thrust feel? (if you don't know what that is, Brad Contreras is the one who really popularized it)

Will that work for you?