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Ran Bridge+Powerbuilding I (twice) for a full year..

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  • Ran Bridge+Powerbuilding I (twice) for a full year..

    as an overview, i am showing my results of running two (three) unique templates, The Bridge, and Powerbuilding I (+ Taper template), over the past year. after finishing the 8-10 week templates we (wife and I) were using the BB 'taper' template (3 weeks). in the plot i am plotting my 'estimated 1 rep max' (e1rm) which is calculated using three parameters - weight on bar, number of reps, and RPE. for example, i hit a peak in my deadlift at 439 for a e1rm 6-8 weeks ago. that particular set was [email protected] the only non 'estimated' maxes in the plot are the actual max attempts in aug 2020, nov 2020, mar 2021 and aug 2021 (with heavy, black lines). here is a little summary of me/lifting including bodyweight (bw), body fat (%). note all weights are in POUNDS (unfortunately ).
    date participant bf% bw sq bench dead total wilks
    8/1/20 drew 8 190 265 225 345 835 247
    11/21/20 drew 9 199 315 240 385 940 272
    3/13/21 drew 9 195 325 240 410 975 285
    8/7/21 drew 6.6 188 340 235 385 960 286
    note that i am a relatively lean, tall guy (6'3"). my old endurance body was 172lbs (as low as 155lbs in HS, during a similar height).

    here are my thoughts:

    bench - who knows what the heck i am doing? i am basically flat or going downhill over time. if anything i am increasing at one of the slowest rates in history. i hit 185 max in 2007, 210 in 2011, 225 around 2013, 240 around 2015... prior to this i 'programmed' for myself with a mix of running/biking and reg bodybuilding splits (upper/lower/chest/etc). i have struggled with my left shoulder starting to hurt either with increased volume or working at heavier loads (lower reps) for too long. it is finicky and has decreased my efforts even over the past year! bummer as i am willing to do the work but i have not been successful working through it. one note is that my wingspan is +2-4 in over my 6'3" height (negative?..).

    squat - pretty happy as you can see some trends up within each cycle. i have continued to go up. my squat in HS, around 2007, (and last aug 2020) was 265. pretty sweet to be at 340 and legs feeling strong! my goal is 400 but will make my immediate goal (3 months) 350+. some of the initial 'improvement' was due to a switch from high to low-bar and finding a position that i found comfortable but before thought could be injurious (i.e. i am more lax about 'no knees past toes', 'knees forward', etc...)...and it has worked (and i havent fallen apart).

    deadlift - my deadlift 12 years ago was 365 at bodyweight of 172. its hard to say i have completely improved but definitely feel/am stronger with a set of 6 reps at 365! bummed i couldnt actually hit 425 (or 439) last week around aug 8, 2021! i dont think hurting my back a few months really had much effect on my recent performance (see plot). i hit 385 last week because i failed 425 on attempt #2 and 415 on #3. i 'easily' could have gotten 410 but was trying to increase my PR and felt i had it in me. i think i did but am failing with grip (see below). i was feeing burnt out about 6-8 weeks ago (around the 439 peak) on deads and the [email protected] just kept feeling heavier and heavier and i wasn't easily working over 380/390+. maybe an early peak, too much volume,...other?

    overall - i think we are running/using the tapering templates wrong. if you have used The Bridge or Powerbuilding I, the last 3 weeks are a quasi-taper. if you add on the BB tapering template as an independent segment then you are essentially in taper for ~6 weeks. there are two problems there (as i understand): you start to lose endurance/strength by having decreased your workload and second you start to get burnt out/fatigued working at >90% of e1rm. it looks from the charts that maybe we should max at the end of the BB template or MAYBE add an extra 1 week (not 3) of 'taper'. or, as others have mentioned, testing should only be done 1 to 2 times a year. note, after heeding this advice in march 2021, we waited to test until aug 2021.

    finally i am wondering what major changes can be made to get me to a 400/300/500 (sbd). i am not sold anymore (from BB stuff) that gaining 10-20 lbs BW will do it (or am i heavily undersized at my height?). as we know from the literature, there are a ton of variables no one reading can really know about (my social factors, stress, fatigue, caloric intake, etc). everyone can only analyze the plots included with the info i have provided. however, analyzing this in my own head, it seems like i should maybe go through a longer cycle of doubles/triples (even singles) to work at those heavier weights (for at least bench). my only negative thought is about bench, as i tend to see my injuries/aches creep up with increased volume or load. addtly i am wondering if i should focus more on an alternative bench (like reverse grip) to do something new and burn off negative thoughts. second, i need to increase my grip strength for deadlift. i rarely work with straps, however loads start to open up my hand around 350, especially for later sets. this can cause elbow issues holding open handed (for me) and has caused me to miss +400lb pulls that i can get with straps, i.e. the movement strength is there (but not comp!). addtl for deadlifts, maybe i need less volume as i think i tend to perform about the same had i done 2 sets or 5 sets (why do some programs like 5x5 just program a 1x5 for deadlift?). as for squat, i think i am still eeking out performance with increased strength, comfort in positioning, etc. i think the numbers will keep going up for at least some more time.

    in summary, we are planning to run the Untamed Method (12-week) by Alan to do something different unless everyone says Strength I (or II) is the logical next step as it better focuses on just SBD performance (which at this point is what i am chasing). on a last note, i started lifting almost 16 years ago (and have been consistent with 3-6 days/wk for about that long...yeah) but always used it as a fitness/addition to more of an endurance/fitness lifestyle. it is sometimes hard wrestling with: am i beginner,


  • #2
    Firstly, I'm just a barbell strength trainee with little experience.

    Your lift numbers look awesome for a rather shredded and trained person in just a year!

    TL;DR - try a different grip style on deadlifts do Strength I on a slow bulk, get strong and jacked!

    Looking at your height/weight/body fat %, I think you will do much better performance-wise with some weight gain (as much of it being muscle). So a slow bulk where you are gaining 1-2 lb per month, making sure you don't creep near that waist circumference cut-off. Or you can stop it if you are getting too fluffy for your preference. Personally, I think you would look amazZzing as a 220-240 lb lifter in the 10-15% bodyfat range after 3 years of slow bulking. With that in place, I would give Strength I a go. It's the go to template for those solely focused on bringing up their 1RMs in the big 3.

    For deadlifts, do you use the double overhand grip? In that case I'd recommend you try the mixed/hook variants. I would suggest that you train one of these grip variations during your warm-up sets and use straps for the top sets. Over a few weeks, you'll adapt to handling heavier weight and should be able to do the top sets strapless.

    As for reducing volume (1x5 is taboo here ), that wouldn't produce meaningful gains in the long-term. You might be lifting more during your workouts in the short-term, but are we building strength or just demonstrating it?

    If you want the doctors' opinion, you can post this in the Moderated Forums, but I would edit the post a bit so it's snappy.

    All the best


    • #3
      I appreciate the props! Unfortunately the shred and low % has come more naturally than the bulk. It has its pros and cons. I will have to answer for myself what variable I am trying to optimize: is it really absolute strength of a 400/300/500 split or is improving something like Wilks "enough" as I would be getting "stronger" in some manner even at lower BW.

      Yes, I do double overhanded. In the past I have done switch (and reversed every other set). After learning about undue strain you can place on your biceps with switch I ended up trying to achieve a double overhand. Hook grip is painful in the fact that I really feel like I could dislocate a thumb. It simply doesn't seem like a good trade off just to get a lift. However I have not tried to progress from warm ups over time and really just tried heavier weights/one offs to give it a go. I am now chalking up in training and doing some forearm builders (dead hangs, hangs with spinning PVC, etc). I can look back at a hook grip.

      Thanks for answering question about a 1x5 volume. The major thought was the concept of CNS load and BBM trying to optimize relative gains to fatigue i.e. law or diminishing returns.

      For the bulk.. I should answer my own question of what I truly want. Those are good tips and numbers for weight gain. Good future outlook giving it 3 years!

      Thanks for the response. I should clean it up and get it to the moderated forum. Thanks for the tip there, I dont always know where to post info appropriately. It is amazing the BBM staff responds as much as they do.


      • #4
        Hey. Glad I could be of some help

        To follow up on your response:

        - Have you ever considered the fact that you could be more competitive and have a higher Wilks score at a higher bodyweight than you do now? For example, both Austin and Jordan are about 5'10" tall and weigh ~200 lb. Their lift numbers are also similar at approx 600/400/700 or higher. Since you have a larger frame, you most definitely have a greater potential to flaunt more lean mass and also a higher total. With 500/315/585 (arbitrary numbers, and I'm sure you could get these in a few years) at 240 lb (which is overkill, you could very well attain these numbers at a much lower bodyweight), the Wilks score is 375. In my opinion, a slow bulk for a few months while doing a strength-focused program to gauge your potential would be the best route. However, I'm not trying to coerce you into doing something you are not comfortable with, but I'm simply giving you another perspective which you might not have considered before.

        - As for the grip, the mixed grip (or hook grip) isn't as dangerous as people make it out to be. It just happens to be documented more than the usual, uneventful training sessions. Lifting weights itself has been demonised by the general population and "health gurus", yet here we are discussing on these forums about barbell training. As long as you introduce it to your training at appropriate loads and gradually build up over time, you are set. Here's an article on grip from the website:

        - The concept of deadlifts being uniquely taxing on the CNS is incorrect and a BIG nocebo. I used to have the same mentality, the biggest contributors of which were platforms that promoted low volume deadlifting without evidence really. 1x5 might not be very fatiguing, but is it going to produce significant gains/adaptations for someone who is well-trained? I doubt it, based on current experiences from lifters and research.

        All the best!


        • #5
          Really sorry for not responding when I read this. I do value other people's time including yourself.

          1. Quite the body transformation! I need to weigh my goals outside the gym and see if they align to those inside. That is a lot of extra mass to tote around! Good points though.

          2. Really interesting the hook can add on 100lbs for even advanced lifters like the BB team. I would not have expected that and would think you could train your grip strength to meet your max needs (with trainers, etc).

          3. Good thoughts on CNS fatigue. How would you include BBM sort of benefit/fatigue model they often talk about, where the fatigues over RPE 9 generally aren't worth it from a long term view. Have they prescribed similar/referenced CNS fatigue as a thing? Or are you just saying squat, dead, and bench produce similar? I have heard BBM say you can RPE 10 arms and small muscles all day. So are all compound lifts (is bench?) similar on the fatigue curve?

          Btw hook is progressing some. Hard to think it will be comfortable in the 300s let alone 400s..

          Also, the purpose of my post was gain some insight on what potential I may have. I constantly feel plateaued but when I do look at the numbers over time I do get stronger. I guess I am trying to feel out other people's timelines. I know many are in the game for 5 to 10 years (noted of dedicated powerlifting) and you can't compare (unless you have done similar). I am just trying to get a personal measure of how well I compare to the average (let alone could I ever be considered elite..). Just want some real advice on if I ma misguided in say a 400/300/500 goal at 6'3" and 190#.


          • #6
            Hey there. No worries, glad to see you find something useful from my post.

            2. Yeah, the hook grip feels like cheat mode as long as you have tolerance to pain.

            3. I'm not confident enough to talk about long-term programming given my background. The BBM crew advocates that fatigue generated from deadlifts is not so different to squats. Here are some links to their responses to similar questions:


            I'm sure you can hit those targets at 190 lb with proper programming for a long period of time, though I don't know what the timeline may look like.

            All the best!