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Podcast Question: Episode #129--Progressive Overload

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  • Podcast Question: Episode #129--Progressive Overload

    Doctors,

    I may be answering something you addressed in the podcast (was listening to it on the way to work, white-knuckling it during a snowstorm), and to myself a long time ago, but, for instance, when a person is using a template, such as your Beginners Program, how does training look from session to session when choosing the appropriate load. For instance on Day 1 you squat 1 x 4 @ 8 for 425 (I'm still using my Sets/Reps/Weight formatting) and then on day 2 you squat 1 x 8 @8 for what? Is it based on the calculation you made for day 1 via the RPE calculator, or do you factor in the accumulated fatigue from Day 1 and assess a different @8 based on that session? (Hope this makes sense) Then by what standard to you take Friday's 1 x 10 @8? Is the answer, "Well, it just depends?" or are there basic guidelines you generally apply?

    Secondly, how do you assess where you start at a given cycle? Let's say you end a strength building cycle with DL of [email protected] of 600, SQ [email protected] of 525, etc what do you do to determine the starting weights at the next cycle? Do you just pick a random number that is 10% more than what you started the previous cycle at or 25% less then your tested 1RM that you ended the cycle (I'm just picking random number here). If it is something like a pivot block, where do you generally start? And what about the next strength building cycle/block?

  • #2
    For each exercise slot, I tend to silo that performance and bracket expectations around what was done on the previous exposure, which was usually the previous week. So, for your first example I'd just be going off what I did last week for 8 reps @ 8 to bracket my expectations. I wouldn't take day 1's performance into consideration at all.

    For starting a cycle or new exercise, we recommend using RPE. Obviously, previous experience and performance colors your expectations to some extent, but this is really the purpose of RPE. I would not recommend picking a number that is 10% more than the previous block (for the same exercise) anymore than I would pick a number 25% less than the tested 1RM. Both are likely inappropriate unless they spontaneously match up with performance potential on the given day.

    Similar to the previous question, we recommend using RPE to determine the load on a pivot block.

    I would strongly advise against picking specific numbers to start at for training independent of the day's RPE.
    Barbell Medicine "With you from bench to bedside"
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    • #3
      But Jordan, your answer has to make me think about my training.

      I understand RPE, but I realize that I am not looking at it in week long blocks, that is I determine RPE for the given lift on day 1 and then apply that as the standard for the following days for the same exercise, thus not accommodating for those things that RPE is meant to address.

      Actually, its funny or interesting how this seems more complex, but it's really not, but maybe it recognizing that we can't necessarily apply strict dogma to our training methodologies. I think my sticking point is that while the exercise slot is regimented, this type of training mentality provides more flexibility and I want concrete answers that are predictable for each slot and training session (I'm not saying that what you and Austin propose is not concrete at all, it's just a mindset shift that acknowledges factors of variability in our own body).

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      • #4
        Originally posted by slhuckstead View Post
        I understand RPE, but I realize that I am not looking at it in week long blocks, that is I determine RPE for the given lift on day 1 and then apply that as the standard for the following days for the same exercise, thus not accommodating for those things that RPE is meant to address.
        Right. This strategy essentially turns things into a percentage-based program using a weekly e1RM. It's certainly possible to make progress this way, just like with any other strategy for load progression, but you are correct that this fails to account for more granular (i.e., daily) variation in readiness and performance. These variations -- and the ability to adjust accordingly -- likely carry increasing significance the more trained you become, but we've also made the argument that developing these skills as a beginner is worthwhile anyway.

        Originally posted by slhuckstead View Post
        I want concrete answers that are predictable for each slot and training session (I'm not saying that what you and Austin propose is not concrete at all, it's just a mindset shift that acknowledges factors of variability in our own body).
        Sure - I'd love to have concrete, predictable answers too. Unfortunately that's not how humans work, so we have to do the best we can with the information we have.
        IG / YT

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        • #5
          I registered for this forum to just come here and say how much I appreciated this discussion.

          My experience of about 15 years of implementing standard “intermediate” style programming has just seen me go through cycle after cycle of deloading, working back up in weight weekly until I either hit a plateau at the same weight I hit in a previous cycle, or grind myself into an injury I then have to work back from. I’ve frequently contemplated what I’m not doing to drive further improvements and this conversation I think really clarified thoughts I’d started to develop. I've never been able to articulate them to myself well enough to implement any other strategy than knuckling down and grinding back through another cycle of trying to just add more weight on the bar though.

          The one exception to the above has been what I did to add the last 100 lbs to my deadlift and in retrospect that is far more in line with how you both describe your current thinking. This conversation has given an interesting perspective on an alternative path forward and I guess now the challenge it putting this into practice (and possibly figuring out how to use RPE).
          Last edited by Limie; 01-27-2021, 08:59 PM.

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