Effort + Consistency + Intelligent Approach = ?

Posted: April 3, 2011 in Our Philosophy

Putting the numbers together – let’s see what the calculated benefits are from 6 weeks of lifting heavy stuff, with regards to lifting heavy stuff.

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RM = Rep Max

Bench Press:

Sean’s 1RM – 85kg.
Ross’ 1RM – 90kg.

From these numbers, our projected 5RMs using the calculator provided by this site were:

Sean’s 5RM – 76
Ross’ 5RM – 80

Given that I performed a 5 rep set of 80kgs on Monday and that Ross completed 85kgs for the same reps, it’s quite clear that we’ve both (according the calculator) increased our ability to move heavy weights (at least 5 times). But what about our abilty to perform an all out 1RM? According to the calculator:

Sean’s projected 1RM – 90kg
Ross’ projected 1RM – 96kg

That means relative increases of 5 and 6kgs (a kilo per week, ish). Though I’m happy with the clear gains of the 80kg 5 rep max, I feel this is actually a very modest increase for the amount of time we’ve spent in the gym, with regards to 1RM. The factor here is rep ranges. As I’ve stated before in a previous post, this programme is suited more towards building strength endurance than it is in providing an all-out 1RM.

Come test day, we’ll really see if this programme has had a substantial effect on our 1RM.

The numbers continue as follows:

Sean’s 1RM/Sean’s Projected New 1RM (all in kgs)

Bench Press – 85/90
Bent over Row – 90/96
Military/Overhead press – 50/53
Squat – 140/155 (working on a 145 based programme)
Deadlift – 150/158

Ross’ 1RM/Ross’ Projected New 1RM (all in kgs)

Bench Press – 90/96
Bent Over Row – 80/87
Military/Overhead press – 60/65
Squat – 145/155
Deadlift – 140/149

————

I worked the 145 based numbers because we’d reached the end of the day in the 1RM session and I reckoned I could hit the 145 as the 140 was a bit too easy. Seeing as it was the weight lifted, it was counted as such.

I believe that the 1RMs we test will actually be stronger than the perceived ones here as they don’t take into account our adaptions to technique, but alas, we won’t find that out for 2 more weeks.

————

On a personal level, we felt that every time we hit the gym, we made progress. Weights that felt heavy before became part of a warm up. The main example of that is the 122.5kg squat from week 1, which needed two attempts as it was so challenging. We ended up using 120 as a warm up in the last week – a very blatant increase.

When you first begin training (in any field of exercise) you’ll notice incredible gains very quickly. Why? Efficiency.

With improved technique, you become better at moving against the resistance, thus getting “stronger” as more weight is on the bar. On a physiological level, myofibrillary growth isn’t the main source of your improved numbers, but rather your ability to stimulate motor units in an orderly fashion – i.e. co-ordination against resistance. Therefore, seeing as lifting for absolute strength has never been our training aim in the past, you can surmise that some of the strength gains we made in the initial 3 weeks were still based on technical progressions (again, co-ordination of motor unit activity) and not just myofibrillary gains. Minimising this was the purpose of the 2 weeks of training prior to the programme where weight was gradually increased and improved technique was our training aim.

However, about 3 weeks into the programme, the shift occurs where your body can now co-ordinate movement against resistance and the work shifts from being mainly technical to mainly physiological (real myofibril growth). We had a discussion at the time about how things were going to get a lot more challenging now, and they did, but through our ever improving recovery methods and psychological approach, we managed to perform throughout the rest of the programme.

Chris T made a good point about this on T-nation (link he mentions it briefly,  I couldn’t find his other livespill) with regards to guys getting “stronger”. To summarise, he basically said that people changing their programmes too often aren’t making actual strength gains, but rather technique based gains by adapting to new types of exercise…fake gains!

My point here is two things:

– Give your regime a chance to really help you – programme switching works in the short term, but you’re also tricking yourself.
– Lifting, initially, isn’t just about strength…do I need to type the word “technique” again? Seriously?

————

A few points on the 5×5:

– This regime, in my opinion, isn’t optimum for maximum strength gains, but rather muscular endurance. The reason I decided to opt for this programme first was the point out the difference, when we actually do start training for raw strength. Plus, increased reps meant more technical practice before real pure strength training.
– Despite it being strength endurance based, we have made raw strength gains also.
– It is hard – the game is 80% mental, 10% genetics and 10% “?”
– No vertical pull work – this was OK with us because it allowed us to play with some pull up variations, but it may be something lacking for new lifters.
– It’s not a programme for someone new to lifting. Check out Starting Strength if you’re brand new.

 

 

Stay tuned for an update on what we’ll be working with after we test our new 1RMs.

 

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