Systems

302kg, sumoman

302 kg – this is a parallel grip deadlift, made for me by an extremely intelligent fellow

I came across a most excellent site called stronghealthtips, it is almost as good as my site. How to do biceps exercises, how to look good in underpants, tuna, etc., the site covers a multitude of barbell related topics. This of course is the number one reason that the internet is so brilliant, it allows one instant access to useful information. Another excellent site is that of Bud Charniga, unfortunately Bud receives little recognition because he is reputed to be such an unpleasant fellow; this is not Bud’s fault, its just that he has little tolerance for stupid people. Bud’s site used to be god awful to read, it was stuck in the 80s, the 1880s, but it has now been updated using WordPress software.

Today I would like to educate you about some of the strength training systems going around the interwebs which you may be tempted to try. Try the 5/3/1 Program, or the Cube Program, or the RTS Program or any number of programs on powerlifting or strongman that are promulgated by the internet.

5/3/1

The 5/3/1 Program is nice and simple, so simple in fact that if you follow it to the letter you will get weaker;

Week 1 Week 2 Week 3 Week 4
Set 1 65% × 5 70% × 3 75% × 5 40% × 5
Set 2 75% × 5 80% × 3 85% × 3 50% × 5
Set 3 85% × 5+ 90% × 3+ 95% × 1+ 60% × 5

You define your starting strength as 100%, thus at the beginning of the program you might bench 100 kg, so at the end of the program you end at 95% or 95 kg. Wendler notes that one can simply follow the numbers and get stronger, “I’ve always thought of doing the prescribed reps as simply testing your strength. Anything over and above that builds strength, muscle, and character.”

Actually the situation is worse because Wendler takes the 100% at the beginning as 90% of ones actual max. Still, many people like 5/3/1… so it must work.

Cube

The Cube Program is by Brandon Lilly, a big fellow with a beard. He has many tattoos just like Wendler. Lilly notes that he is a bad man trying to do good, this sounds like Seagal in one of his films. The Cube Program goes like this;

  • WEEK 1 – Heavy Work Day, Explosive Work Day, Rep Work Day, Body Day
  • WEEK 2 – Explosive Work Day, Rep Work Day, Heavy Work Day, Body Day
  • WEEK 3 – Rep Work Day, Heavy Work Day, Explosive Work Day, Body Day
  • WEEK 4 – Recycle the Wave

As you can see it kind of looks Westsidey with its heavy, explosive, rep and assistance days. Its assistance work is very American in that it consists of lots of bodybuilding stuff. I like bodybuilding, unfortunately bodybuilding never worked for me or else I would be bigger than the Hulk.

The Russian strength athletes don’t do bodybuilding. Still, many people like the Cube… so it must work.

RTS

The RTS Program is very scientific you can see a sample here. The exercises are standard powerlifts and similar lifts, what separates it from other programs is that it employs auto-regulation via RPE (rating of perceived exertion). RPEs are familiar to all endurance athletes via the Borg Scale. It might seem that such a scale is not very accurate but for aerobics it has been found that athletes’ Borg perception is closely related to heart rate. Experienced lifters will find that they are accurate at perceiving how many reps they have left in them. They can rate the effort of a set like this;

  • 10 = 0 reps left
  • 9 = 1 more rep left
  • 8 = 2-3 more reps left
  • 7 = can maintain bar speed, but can’t increase bar speed
  • ≤6 = could increase bar speed

Furthermore one can then use this RPE scale to work out one’s fatigue.

A fatigue of 5% or 7.5% is about the recommended. The amount of weight and the number of sets I do on that day depends on my strength level for that day, the RPE system allows me to determine this.

To be even more scientific I can make a table like this;

RPE 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12
10 100% 98% 96% 93% 91% 89% 87% 85% 84% 83% 82% 81%
9.5 99% 97% 95% 92% 90% 88% 86% 85% 84% 83% 82%
9 98% 96% 93% 91% 89% 87% 85% 84% 83% 82% 81%
8.5 97% 95% 92% 90% 88% 86% 85% 84% 83% 82%
8 96% 93% 91% 89% 87% 85% 84% 83% 82% 81%
7 95% 91% 89% 87% 85% 84% 83% 82% 81%
6 93% 89% 87% 85% 84% 83% 82% 81%

This table tells me that if I was doing 2 reps at ~9.5 I was using about 97% of my max for that day for the first set and about 97% of my then reduced max for the second set. My tables tend to look quite different than the standard tables.

Many barbell folk are wary of scientific systems with lots of numbers. Still, many people like the RTS Program… so it must work.

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