The collective

My hybrid

-wade of BORG

Welcome back Collectivites, I have been rambling on lately about a few of the things that I felt were pretty necessary to make the whole grand scheme of training work out. At least, for me they were important since I have so many flaws in my training it will take eons to figure this all out. ;-) Anyway, I plan to outline a little different approach I have been using and some of the rationale behind it to offer up yet another option in the already flooded market of training ideas. In the past I have used a WSB approach with some good results. The down side of that was that I wound up overdoing the lower back stuff and spent a good portion of that time training injured. More a fault in my application of the system than any inherent flaws (if you haven't figured it out yet, I am pretty impressed with WSB). I then migrated to the 3x3 system, this worked okay for me but, I had some Bench Press problems that stemmed from this. Again, I believe it had more to do with me and my form than inherent flaws with the system. After a few custom versions of the 3x3 (BTW, the "chain" version I used I really liked) I shifted back to a much more traditional periodization set up. This is where a few things became clear to me in my quest to get my training on track. 1) The sum of all the above is what I needed to focus on (since they all worked, just not optimally for me). 2) In my current training status I can't handle heavy lifting every workout. 3) Gotta' get to thinkin' cuz' something needs to change!! ;-)

The result is what I will outline below. It isn't very fancy but, it is fast paced and I walk out of the gym feeling like a million, I guess it seems to be working. I am not too far into the overall system so this whole thing is somewhat theoretical and I can't tell you how effective it is (overall...yet) but, I will talk a little bit about the good things that have happened in the short time I have been using it. The basic premise of how I set this up is off a two week training calender that I am calling "rotations." The overall peak is 7 rotations with the 7th rotation being only 1 week. The reason for the shorter 7th rotation is based off a little tidbit I heard came from Ed Coan (take it where you can get!). Eddy likes to make his last heavy pull 2 weeks prior to a meet. I will take my last heavy pull in week 12 and week 13 will be the last heavy squat. Week 14 is reserved for complete rest with the meet planned for that weekend. I will still get some pulls in prior to the meet and following the last heavy one but, they will be lighter and focused more on speed.

The breakdown of the rotations is pretty simple. Like I mentioned above it is a combination of some previous practices I have used and then I took from one more source to put the whole thing together...the Olympic lifters. Face it, these guys/gals are strong, it is a different application than Powerlifting but, strong nonetheless (just look at their squats if you don't believe me). The piece I borrowed from them was a lot of singles. I will get into that in a few minutes but, first let me give you the breakdown of exercises in the "rotations."












That is the order in which I have structured my lifts. I do assistance with it too but, I will detail that a little further down. Basically, what I have tried to do is set up a "Squat" week and a "Deadlift" week, so to speak. I found that trying to do both heavy at some point in one week was too much for my aging body. Even if I alternated Deadlifts to every other week...especially deads since I have had some success with it and my poundage is getting higher. Bench has proven a true obstacle for me in the past so I decided to use a little Jim Williams here and hit it every day. The volume each day isn't very high so overtraining isn't really likely but, it keeps the lift very fresh in my head and it also isn't nearly as compound as the other two so a little higher volume isn't as taxing. The only minor catch is on the first week of the rotation I do the heavy BP first then my pulls. On the second week I do the light squats first then the heavy BP. The rationale is simple...I am trying to emulate the meet order of lifts. The nice thing is that on week 1 I get to hit the heavy weight fresh and this gets my confidence up some...when week 2 comes around I use the same weight but, it is after my squats. Granted they are light but, still it amounts to fatigue, so the extra confidence I have from smoking it the week before puts me in a good mental position for the second run with it. I also make sure to do both the primary motions listed above first (in the order they are listed) and then move to my assistance for each motion again, in the order I have listed above. (i.e. I would do a Heavy Squat assistor, then move to my Speed Bench assistor after I had done the Speed BP's on a Monday). The final caveat with the set up is the use of gear. Monday is gear day and so is Wednesday. I will suit up on Monday for SQ and DL and on Wednesday I will use my shirt, all the way through the 14 weeks. As you will see it is only a few singles so it isn't a ton of gear fact, it is more to keep the groove fresh and also to keep the feel of the heavier weight. The bulk of the work is on the other days to strengthen the actual motion. I am more lenient on the gear in the BP since I want to see how far I can take that prior to shirting (plus I haven't received my new Crain shirt yet). The choice would be up to the user on when they want to use the gear but, BP you will get 14 heavy sessions and SQ and DL you only get 7 each.

Okay, the following (if I can format it right) will outline the set/rep schemes and the amount of the assistance I am using for each rotation (2 week period).
1 FULL 15X1@ Y* 2X1@ 1RM-120 8X3@ Y* 1X1@ 1RM-60 15X1@ Y* 2X1@ 1RM-100
2 FULL 15X1@ Y+10 2X1@ 1RM-100 8X3@ Y 1X1@ 1RM-50 15X1@ Y+10 2X1@ 1RM-80
3 FULL 12X1@ Y+30 2X1@ 1RM-80 8X3@ Y+10 1X1@ 1RM-40 12X1@ Y+30 2X1@ 1RM-60
4 PRIMARY 12X1@Y+40 2X1@ 1RM-60 8X3@ Y+10 1X1@ 1RM-30 12X1@Y+40 2X1@ 1RM-40
5 PRIMARY 10X1@Y+60 2X1@ 1RM-40 8X3@ Y+20 1X1@ 1RM-20 10X1@Y+60 2X1@ 1RM-20
6 STABILIZERS 10X1@Y+70 2X1@ 1RM-20 8X3@ Y+20 1X1@ 1RM-10 10X1@Y+70 2X1@ 1RM*
7 STABILIZERS 8X1@ Y+90 2X1@ 1RM* 8X3@ Y+30 1X1 @ 1RM* 8X1@ Y+90 -NO DEADS-
*NOTES* Y=roughly 50% of your 1rm. Your choice. 1RM is current. Target for meet is 1RM + 20lbs. Y=50-55% of 1RM in BP. I use 1 chain and 2 grips (narrow & competition) 1RM is current.

Target for meet is 1RM + 10lbs.

Y=roughly 60% of your 1RM.

Your choice.

1RM is current. Target for meet is 1RM + 20lbs.

That is the gist of it right there. For the light days I can't tell you what exact amount to start from but, somewhere in the range of those percents. Based off what I have used before and what Louie et. al. are saying I think those are decent figures to work from. A 20lb jump on SQ and DL might be ambitious so alter it as needed but, it is close to the 5lbs a month theory and assuming you are getting your rest and eating well that is attainable (for a while anyway). Fact of the matter is you can plan your targets but, until meet day you really don't know what is going to alter as needed (I may too when I get there). Okay, a few other points to touch on...

1) The current 1RM you use for the heavy stuff needs to be a set 1RM. Make it a weight you KNOW you can do or have done. Be honest about it will throw you off down the line if you are being too generous to yourself (I know this as I have done it MANY times before...I just hope I am right this time). ;-) 

2) The reason for the singles...well, there are a couple. Initially I have had very good success with this type of peak for Deads, so I am applying similar logic for squats. The singles also give you a tremendous amount of repetition on your set up. If your set up is off it won't matter if you are strong won't get the lift (after a certain point). I want to maximize my performance and use what strength I have optimally so I believe the set up practice is just as important as the actual motion. When you do these very rapidly (i.e. 45-60 seconds rest) they are a great deal of work. You have to do them fast wandering off to get a drink and no conversation in the middle of it. If you have a partner it needs to be you-him-you-him-you-him-etc., the only "down" time should be whatever it takes to change the bar weight (if needed). The repetitions need to be done in contest form and very explosive...make the weight heavier by accelerating it, don't jerk it or drop and bounce type thing...accelerate the bar (a vital distinction in my mind). Another factor is that as you get towards the end of the single (having done them fast and all) fatigue is somewhat present so ~you~ are setting how much work you do...if you just do them then you probably won't get as much out of it but, if you get after them then you will have a good workout. Consider will be will deadlifting and squatting in the same week and one of the motions you are doing twice in a week. The weight isn't too heavy for both and the volume is extremely low on one day but, you still do a big compound motion every day. To do this you need to balance between weight and intensity so don't get too will get enough work in.

3) One variation that I didn't have room to put in the above chart. On the light SQ and DL days, you will do the last couple singles with a heavier weight. I just toss on an extra 45lb plate per side to do the last 3 singles. The goal is to match the speed and pace of the lighter ones and not let the greater weight affect anything. Initially it was tough but, I am now getting to where it makes no difference in how fast I do the singles nor does it affect the speed of the rep very much. I am using 3 heavy singles with the 15's and 12's then for the 10's I will use 2 heavier and finally for the week of 8 I will only take the final one heavy. One last thought on the Squat days...I like to use Overhead Squats as my warm ups. I find that they are helping with shoulder stabilization and also a big bonus is the extra balance I feel after doing these. They aren't something you do real heavy but, the mental and subtle physical benefits are worth noting IMO.

4) The speed BP work is straight out of WSB. I use roughly 50-55% and add one chain. I alternate two grips, a narrow and a comp. grip for the 8 sets and they are all done as explosive as possible. I also focus on keeping my elbows tucked and a strong arch...this turns out to be a great tricep workout and also a good primer for Wednesday's singles.

5) On the Incline/Overhead the Inclines following the SQ or DL and I have been using 2 sets of 5 reps. If you already have strong shoulders and a solid groove for BP then alternate the Inclines with Declines each week. They should be heavy so no easing up on these either. ;-) The overheads I have been using a 5-3-1-3-5 rep schedule and I take my first weight at 5 reps, add 20lbs then do 3, add 20lbs and do 1. I will reverse the progression for a descending run too. Every two weeks I add 10lbs to the start weight and will continue to do so until I plateau then stick until they move again. I do them standing as well to help with torso stabilization.

6) Assistance motions. Okay, this is where a lot of individualism is going to become present. Unfortunately this is a vital area but, not one that you can just tell someone what they need. I will list out what I am using and why but, ultimately it is up to the individual to identify where they need the "assistance" in there main motions. I have outlined above the stages of my assistance motions. In the "full" rotations I do one assistor for each primary motion and then also the stabilizer stuff that is my staple each day. After the 3rd rotation this will drop off to the assistor for the lift listed first in the initial chart that breaks down the "rotation" set up. Finally, I will only do the stabilizer stuff for the last 3 weeks. The focus is on the main motions and the weight should be heavy enough to be working just about everything pretty well. Here are my assistance moves and reasons for....

Light Squat:Romanian DL's (done light and fast/3x15). I need the extra hamstring work and the ability to practice setting my middle up fast and hard. Doing these ala WSB with the drop and explode methodology gives me just that. The focus is on hamstrings and keeping your torso locked.

Heavy Squat and Deadlifts: SLDL(3x8). Again, hamstring focus...these are the strength builders though. It will help you to practice keeping your torso tight while putting the emphasis of the move on your hamstrings. Work heavy but, work the targeted muscles too...too heavy and you overload the lumbar and they just become a liability to your training.

Speed Bench:Dips (10x10). Great blast on the triceps and is more hypertrophic (is that a word?!?) in nature. Will put some size on your tri's that down the road can result in greater strength. The more muscle you have the stronger you can make it but, you need to do them together (size and strength) IMO. Also, focus on the motion to keep the emphasis on the long head of your tricep. You should feel it around your don't need to stretch the crud out of your shoulder for depth the tri's.

Heavy Bench Press:Towel JM presses(5x5). Basically roll up a towel so it is 3-5" in width then stuff under your shirt to do JM presses. Lower the bar down low to your stomach then, just roll it back in your hands to push it up. It is a subtle move but, when you get that "roll back" down it is all over your long head and I am convinced this is a premier BP assistor (Thanks to Jim Hinze and Jim Harbourne for showing me how to do these right).

Incline BB/Overhead"Horace" BP and 3 -way laterals. "Horace" benching is a pyramid that I guess Horace Lane does. Since he is one of the better benchers around I figured I would try them....needless to say I like these a lot!! Simple to do...just start with a bar and a 25lb plate on each side, do 5 reps, now add another 25lb plate and do 5 reps more, add 25lbs and do 5 reps, and so on until you can't get 5 reps (or you know that you are done) then remove 1 set of 25's and start back down in the progression. If a 50lb jump is too much then try a 25 for 5 then add a 10, do five then remove the 10 and add another 25 for five, then add 10 etc. I have done this with Squats and Deads before but, IMO they are too compound to do unless it is your primary "work" sets. This is tough to do but, it will help to cement a groove (as long as you are focused on maintaining it!) and it will help to build some size and strength in the BP muscles. To make this effective you need to move expediently between loads too. I don't jump up to change the weight but, I am moving with a purpose. Once you have made your reps then get up, change the weights, then get back down and get set to go again. Working through the fatigue is a big mental boost when you get to the heavier set. Work your way up, then work your way right back down in the opposite progression that you worked up in. Only one top set though...whatever you top out at you only do that one time then start back down. Once you are done with these and your heart rate slows a little move into the 3-way laterals. This is just what it sounds like...shoulder raises. Light weight and 20 reps to the side, to the rear, then finish with front raises. It will pump a tremendous amount of blood through your deltoids and since they have taking a beating on this day they need the flush. I am finding this little finisher to be a tremendous asset. I have weaker shoulders anyway and this is one of the big reasons I have been able to really blast away at them...I am convinced that this "flushing" type workout is helping my recovery in the shoulder as well as putting on some much needed size there as well. The light weight and 3 ways of motion are also good work for the Rotator Cuff and since this is pretty integral to having your shoulders function properly I find it a good idea to keep them in there.

Light Deadlifts:BB shrugs(3x8/2x20). I am really "high" on shrugs for the Deadlift. I think they are a must have motion and they are also very beneficial to Benching in that they help to build up the upper back. I do my main sets with very heavy weight (basically, match your "Heavy" DL day weight with this and you should be fine, go heavier if you can) and then after the 3 main sets, I will drop about 200lbs and do a couple sets of 20. I like the sets after to help really push the muscle and also to practice making them work when they don't want they will if your shoulders slump on a heavy dead. I also think this is a critical area for Deads in that you have to keep you shoulders up or you round over (some can DL like this effectively but, not many). If you don't have the static strength to hold your shoulders then the brunt of the lift gets shifted down your spine into the lumbar and this spells bad things.

The last area of my assistance is stabilizer work. I call it that for lack of a better term but, it is pretty much the stabilizer stuff for me that needs attention. I will do them in two sets of two super-sets two times (tongue twister for ya'). The first "set" of super-sets is what I call "Reaper" Walks and Pull-ups. The "Reaper" walks are simple in that it is WSB's drag with weight around your ankles. My bother hooked this up in the gym and I liked it so much I made it a staple. Take the hanging harnesses that you use to do leg raises (reverse know, the" foo foo" equipment) off a pull-up bar and attach a few sets of 5/8" chains to them. Hook the harness around your shins and go walking! We call them "Reaper" because some guy in our gym said we sound like the Grim Reaper coming. I do two circuits around the gym on rubber mats (provide good friction) with three sets of chains on each leg. Not too intense but, a good recover move for the hip flexors. I mix in Pull-ups with each walk too...just around 5-7 reps done either parallel grip or with a traditional overhand grip. Really keeps my back in shape for pulls and benches. The second "set" of super-sets is Roman Chair Sit-ups and Glute/Ham/Calve Raises. I shoot for 15-20 reps in each and when I can get them consistently I will add weight.

Okay, that should about explain the whole set up. I am sure I have neglected something as my mind is going a mile a minute here trying to cover all the bases. The biggest thing I have noticed with this whole routine is that I am recovered for each workout. Despite a......umm, well....bodybuilder type pump on some days I am ready to go for the next. No excessive DOMS and definitely no pain in the lower back (which has been an ongoing problem in everything else I have tried). My bodyfat is thinning out and I am filling in through my shoulder girdle which is making my benching soar. I have hit similar numbers BP'ing previously but I have never felt this confident about doing them at any time on any day. My upper back is much, much stronger and holding the BP position that I need to follow my groove has never been easier. The singles in SQ and DL have helped me to find my groove in each of those as well. I still have some work to do but, the repetition of setting up and doing 1 rep is exactly like it will be in a meet so I am finding that my heavy singles are much easier to do and require much less thought. It is getting extremely natural to un-rack, step, step, set abs, go. My focus is on getting the weight perfectly 1 time. I don't worry about getting through a set of 5, or whatever, let alone doing each rep correctly. It is one time, just like a meet. Then you come back and do it again. I take each rep as it comes and worry about nothing else except that one rep. This mental set has helped may not be the way for everybody, let alone anybody but, it has been good for my training, at least at this point in my evolution. I know it isn't all inclusive because my BP approach is different but, so far all is clicking. The lighter singles keep things a little less draining mentally. During this time I am able to analyze what is happening in the lifts and where things are going astray. With heavier weights and when your fatigued it is much harder to do this. I get the work by doing the reps fast but, they are controlled and the weight is manageable as well. The mix of heavier lifts is enough to evaluate where the groove shifts when the weight goes up and also enough to provide adequate work...each session is low volume but, the whole of it has, so far, been enough to continue to make gains. Plus, I am not so drained (in regards to my nervous system) which makes recovery very difficult. Physically I could recover but, mentally I was always dragging and it took more and more mentally to make my body work. This isn't happening with this set up...I come out feeling fresh and hungry for the next workout (mentally, physically I am whipped...especially Fridays). Even after the heavy lifts, I am keeping the volume low enough that they aren't a major drain on the CNS. We'll see if I have tapered the assistance correctly as the weight reaches the 1RM but, for now it is pretty well balanced. The biggest asset I guess I am is helping me to find my timing. Once you have the timing of the lift I think it is cemented. When your body knows the order it has to fire muscles and the ratio it is firing them to move weight then it is a matter of just getting stronger in the relevant musculature. The heavier the weight the harder it fires the muscles but, they still fire in the same sequence and as long as your groove isn't altered too much they should still fire them in the roughly same ratios too (since this is about maintaining your leverages).

So, there is The Hybrid. An assimilation of superior theoretical material. ;-) You got a little WSB, you got a little 3x3, you got a little OL, and you got a little "Hatfieldian" Periodization. Like I said earlier it is still relatively untested but, results so far are promising. I welcome any discussion on the premise or layouts and if I have any glaring errors please feel free to correct me since I am the guinea pig here! :-) I think the rationale behind it is sound and the only uncertainty I have is how the heavier stuff is going to play out. I am pretty confident that it will go alright as I am still getting a fair share of heavy and moderately heavy reps in there too (between the heavy days and the heavy singles after the speed ones). I think it will peak up the CNS sufficiently but, it will remain to be seen for now. I am committed to this approach for now and the consistency is important in my mind. Lots of practice in the main motions and regular use of the gear should keep things in line by the time meets day rolls around. I will update as things get further along and after my next meet I will let you all know how it has played out and wether I need to adjust, tweak, or scrap the whole thing. ;-)

Until the next time...good liftin'.

-wade of BORG