dead.letter: Training Cycle 2016-2

This is the post mortem of my previous training cycle. To summarize the results, the volume block went well, I failed again at picking weights at higher intensities and I lost 7kg of bodyfat over the course of seven weeks.

Base layout

This time I planned the weights over the whole cycle, which worked out quite well, with the notable exception of my squat in the last weeks. In general I had the following structure in mind:

Week Training goal
0 General preparation phase
1 – 3 Volume
4 – 6 Strength

The GPP was high rep stuff and as far as I can tell, did not really help at all, but was annoying as hell. Also I refrained from doing any competition lift during this phase, which is stupid as I really like the big three. Next time I do something like that I just up the oly volume or something like that.

Volume block

The volume block was setup quite similarly to the previous one:

Monday Tuesday Thursday Friday
Squat light Squat 5×5 Squat light Squat 5×5
Bench 5×5 Bench light Bench 5×5 Bench light
Chinups RDL 3×10 Chinups Deadlift 5×5
paused Deadlift 3×5 Press Incline DB bench Leg raises
Pendlays 3×10 Snatch grip DL 3×10 Pendlays 3×10  
Incline DB Bench Hammer Curls Hammer Curls  

As one can see, I did some stupid stuff, e.g. SGDLs and Pendlays with more than a few reps. I hated it and I guess it was simply wasted time. Also Deadlift 5×5 did not seem to work all to well for me, but I also changed my technique during this cycle, so there was some more at work. To wit, the planned weights for the 5×5 sessions where

Exercise Week 1 Week 2 Week 3
Squat 125 127.5 130
Bench 82.5 83.5 85
Deadlift 130 140 150 (not done)

In the deadlift I noticed that my stance moved in quite a bit and my hip anatomy does not allow my back to be straight once my stance is too narrow, just that narrow for me means something like shoulder width. This made the 5×5 not so useful, so once I discovered it in the 140×5×5 workout, I startet tweaking my form and decided to go easy on the deadlift until I have my groove back.

Aside from the assistance and deadlift, the volume block just went smooth, despite being on a heavy caloric deficit and not sleeping that much. The only change I would make in the future would be to start a little bit lower and end up a little bit higher, using bigger increments. So for my next few weeks I actually plan to do 125, 130 and 135 in the 5×5 squat workouts and 82.5, 85, 87.5 in the bench workouts.

Also I noticed that benching four times a week really tightens up my shoulder. So while I had initially some high rep pressing on Tuesdays, I upped the weight again, as heavy presses counteract all that benching just really well. I do not know how other people can get away without pressing.

(kinda) Intensity block

Monday Tuesday Thursday Friday
Squat light Squat light Squat light Squat pyramid
Bench pyramid Bench light Bench pyramid Bench light
Press APRE3 Deadlift pyramid Press APRE3 Deadlift light
Chinups 3×max Leg raises Chinups 3×max speed Deadlift 6×2
Alternating DB Curls   Alternating DB Curls Leg raises
BB Curls   Hammer Curls  

The pyramids where structured as follows:

Set Bench Squat Deadlift
1 92.5×3 130×3 152.5×3
2 102.5×2 145×2 170×2
3 97.5×3 137.5×3 162.5×3
4 92.5×3 130×4 150×4
5 and 6 70×5×2 100×5×2 120×5×2

This did not work out well as the jump up was a bit too large. Also I pulled my hamstring slightly while gardening, making me fail on the squat in the second week. For Bench and Deadlift I increased the top set by 2.5kg and 10kg respectively and adapted the other sets, and had planned a 5kg increase in the Squat, however I even failed in the first warmup set after one rep, which was quite lower than the max set in the first week.

Light days were the weights from the volume block, but with three sets of four instead of 5×5. These really felt light the first week, but at least the squats were heavier the second week, which I first thought to be a programmatic error, but might as well be a consequence of the hamstring injury.

The main mistake was not allowing myself to accustom to heavier weights beforehand.

Takeaway and the next weeks

I really thrived on the volume blocks, despite consuming less than 3000kcal on average each day and losing 7kg over the course of seven weeks. However, heavier weights are quite a problem. Although I surpassed the volume I did before belted, my unbelted max still is about 15kg below my belted max. As Texas Method-ish training seems to work well for me, the following weeks I use something like the following:

Monday Tuesday Thursday Friday
Squat light Squat 5×5 Squat light Squat ×3@9 + 4-6% fatigue
Bench 5×5 Bench light Bench ×3@9 + 4-6% fatigue Bench light
Press APRE6 speed Deadlift 6×2 Press APRE3 Deadlift ×3@9 + 4-6% fatigue
Chinups 3×5 wtd RDL 3×6 Pullups 3×max Leg raises
Incline DB Bench 3×8–12 Leg Raises 3×max Close Grip Bench 3×6 Farmerwalks 3× max
Pendlay Rows 3×6 unilateral Leg Curls 3×16–20 Curls  
Curls unilateral Leg Extension 3×16-20    

I tree to keep the volume a bit in check on the 5×5 days by not increasing it every week. I feel that the second time I do the volume day is often more beneficial than the first with that weight, as then I can really master it. However, by having one intensity day a week, I still have a bit of weight on my shoulders a few days a week. Also I moved my deadlift stance a bit out, so that I have to get the hip musculature up to the task. Most of the assistance deals with weak points and imbalances and is subject to change. If I cannot progress the ×3@9 days anymore, I up the volume or do one or two ×5@9 days or maybe add some singles after the top set with a bit heavier weight instead of the fatigue sets, which already worked quite well for me in the past.