First off, most that know me, know that I am very regimented with my training (as well as nutrition). I plan all my workouts. Target reps for each set and weight...ect I demand progression (as long as I am in the right stage of my diet) and for the most part, I always get it.
But now two years into training like this, I am wondering if I need to re-think this. I have gotten to the point where I am moving decent weights in my major compounds. The good part about my progression scheme is I always DEMAND progress. My mind refuses to accept not making progress and I just make the lifts like I am supposed to. But this is coming at a cost. Even though I still only do 3 workouts a week, I am getting run-down all the time. I am achy and not able to recover like I was when the weights were lighter. (eg: Benching 315x10 is a lot tougher on you then 225x10.) Sure they say weight is relative, ...but I am finding that recovery from heavier lifts is now taking me longer to do properly.
Also with these regimented workouts, I will run myself into a hole because I demand the performance in the gym. I dont care if my body tells me it does not want to lift it, I will decided it has to be done and do it. This is all coming at a cost like I said. I spent the last 3 days in bed sick totally run down. Went to the chiro today with a pulled hip flexor...etc.
I am thinking about adopting a more "instinctive" form of training. I can still focus on my big 3...but instead of working progression every workout, just do what I feel I need. Maybe change up exercises here and there....play around a little. I dont think this is something a rookie could do, but I think I have enough experience in the gym where I could see good results out of this. It would allow me to push myself right up to the line.....but not over. (which I have been doing lately)
So any guys out there With good experience in the gym (either powerlifting or bodybuilding), do a instinctive routine? Has it worked well?. How was progress on it?. Did it allow you to heal up nagging injuries...etc.
I would love to hear some guys thoughts on this.
02-27-2013, 03:13 PM #1
Instinctive training.....some thoughts...experiences
02-27-2013, 03:18 PM #2
I have trained instinctively for the majority of my 24+ years in the gym.
After I read, after I knew what training was about, after experimenting with oodles of different exercises, angles, weights, routines, etc..
Imo, you're not ready for this if you have 5 or less years under your belt, no time off.
I also have a killer attitude that MUST accompany instinctive training or it is going to fail, as your 1st instinct is to run and hide.
As Dorian once said;
"If I trained instinctively I'd never get my azz to the gym."
and yes it worked well, I'm a big nattie phucker that can move weight.
02-27-2013, 03:36 PM #3
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Good Post ID...I can share with you a little from my recent experience. I used to train like you,.and to a point still do. But,..the days of squating 405 for reps and 100lb. Dbell seated presses for the same are pretty much over. Thios is as you know because of my back injury a cpl years ago. I pretty much had to re-think my training momentum. I developed the "instinctive Training" regiment and trained like this for my last year transformation from Broken to Mended. Ill also still do the core lifts that I can do,..I.E. Slight incline bench, slight bent back rows and Bbell shoulder press, (where I am now up to 205x8r) But no full ssquats or deadlifts. I do train 4 days a week with weights but have adopted many machines in my secondary lifts that I know I have really gained from both size and strength. I train for feel now more than want or passion. Slow, controlled and really feel the muscle work. I also pay alot of attention to the stretch of the muscle while Im working out. Like ArchAngel staes, I adopted some other type techniques now with my base movements. For legs and some upper body exercises I use volume. ill train with one legged squats, (this keeps the very heavy load off my back) and next go to leg press and do 5 sets of 10r in intervals of 30 seconds apart. This way I can keep away from some very heavy hoists but still train just as intensely with a moderately lighter weight but thru volume. Another technique I like and will probably start bacl up is the Power/Re Range/Shock training developed by Eric Broser,..search this,..lots of samples. But I do stick pretty much with a regiment which holds me accountable.
Also, training to failure really isnt necessary all sets,..Id maybe take 1 set from each exercise to failure,..but you probably already know this2009 NGA Masters Pro Bodybuilder and Athlete.
"I dont stop when Im tired,..I stop when Im done"
02-27-2013, 04:02 PM #4
6'8" 306 pounds
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02-27-2013, 04:07 PM #5
I know the purpose of this thread is to get feedback about instinctive training, but just thought I would mention something that has helped me with recovery and feeling fresh. The two lifts that take the most out of me are squats and deads. I train them hard for three weeks and deload the 4th week. During deload I don't even squat. I'll do 4 sets of 25 reps with 3 plates on leg press. Enough to get the blood flowing, but not enough to really tax my legs. This helps a great deal with recovery and progress. If I start skipping deloads, my body definitely lets me know. I start getting stiff, sore joints, and injured.It takes a big man to cry, but it takes a bigger man to laugh at that man.
02-27-2013, 04:19 PM #6
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I probably am not considered someone with good experience, so take it for what you will.
I've tried both progression training and instinctive. I prefer instinctive, especially for hypertrophy goals. Instinctive doesn't necessitate that you disregard progression. It simply means you listen to your body while making sure you are continuing to progress. I continually focus on having an overload mechanism incorporated which generally means continuing to add weight, but if I've got a joint giving me issues or just a rough day then sometimes my training needs to be tailored towards that.
Also, I get way more mental satisfaction out of instinctive training. I enjoy my sessions more which makes me more motivated and arguably may end up being better results.
I do know some people that have gotten no where when doing instinctive training. For them, they need that set progression. I've found that I continue to progress even if it isn't done according to an exact routine or formula.
02-27-2013, 04:51 PM #7
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I recently outline my gains here: http://forum.bodybuilding.com/showth...post1029344483
In a nutshell, I’ve added 246# to my 3 lift total in almost exactly two years. Honestly, I don't see my gains stopping anytime soon either. Improvements on form, technique and CNS adaption should allow me to continue to squeeze out gains even while dropping body fat. To expound a bit, I don't think I'm failing on a new deadlift, bench or squat PR because I lack the strength, I honestly believe it's because I lack the proper technique and execution. I don't think I'm doing a very good job identifying and training my weaknesses and that's why I post so many videos asking for help.
I contribute my most recent gains to frequency, I started benching, squatting and pulling twice a week. For years I was on the once a week program.
My numbers aren't impressive by any measure, but a 1200# raw total two months before turning 45 years old has me extremely optimistic about the future. Just since the start of the year, I've been able to add 20 pounds to the total while dropping 12 pounds of body weight. If history serves, my numbers wont go down, they've never went down but I have had trouble making gains once I get myself back down to around 190ish.
Most of my injuries/issues weren't related to my actual lifting. I pulled a calf muscle taking off on a sprint, and I had some high blood pressure issues. I can only suspect that my progress would have been even better without these setbacks.
None of this is muscle memory because I'm currently the strongest I've ever been in my life.Eat, Sleep, Lift...Repeat!
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02-27-2013, 05:11 PM #8
I don't really have enough experience to chime in on this thread except to say that it makes sense that someone at your level with the right amount of drive could get away with that as long as you are being 100% honest with yourself about your motivations. The psychology can be a slippery slopwfor people like me who aren't as far along as many of you. I probably haven't developed enough to REALLY know when I'm overtrained vs. just being lazy, but if you are instinctively a hard charger AND you've been doing this long enough to know your body, it makes sense to me that you could listen to your body to some extent regarding the work/recovery balance. Just can't let your mind trick you into confusing laziness with overtraining. Seems like that's not highly likely with you and some others around here.
02-27-2013, 05:13 PM #9
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I don't do progression training per say nor instinctive training, I do however train heavy, medium and light. I have been doing this for 30 years and I do not have any joint/tendon pains. As a matter of fact if it weren't for my accident I would be 100% pain free.
This has worked extremely well for me. I believe if I continue training in this fashion I will be able to continue to train for another 30 years pain free.Rather run with 5 lions than 100 sheep....
GOD IS GOOD.....
HATERS WILL SEE YOU WALK ON WATER AND SAY " MAN HE DOES THAT BECAUSE HE CAN'T SWIM"
02-27-2013, 05:29 PM #10
Lots of great responses. I think I could go into the gym and instinctively train for hypertrophy.....but what about strength?.... I have seen how well progression works, and maybe Karl's answer is one to consider. Choosing smaller training cycles and deloading more often.
I have a powerlifting budding on another forum who may provide me with some insight on this. I just think I have gotten to the point strength wise where I have outgrown my current progression program. If you think of it from a volume standpoint, my volume is so much greater now when I am moving heavier stuff. It is no wonder I am having recovery issues.
02-27-2013, 05:48 PM #11
02-27-2013, 06:03 PM #12
One problem I see with a strictly regimented program is, it's possible to leave gains on the table, and here's why.
We are humans, not machines. Our strength and energy levels fluctuate, our mental and physical states are always in ebb and flow. Some days we can do more, and other days less. Trying to attack every day as if they are identical is sometimes an exercise in futility.
Let's say, for example, that our program calls for four exercises per body part, with four sets of ten reps scheduled for each exercise. What happens when we complete this routine, and we have a lot of energy left that day? The person who goes by "the book" will pack up his gear and head home. But the instinctive trainer will rep out a couple extra sets, and possibly trigger new growth with this extra work that the body is not expecting.
I think a little flexibility is beneficial for everyone.•DSC•
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02-27-2013, 06:24 PM #13
Strength is still my goal....I follow a program (my own) that is regimented. I have a planned number of sets, reps and weights for tomorrow. I developed this over the past several years of writing every workout down. I could care less if I leave a rep on the table, it is all about the process, not one individual workout.
Instinctive for me=nope, I like my regimented progression with built-in deloads. And it has worked pretty well.
ID when training for strength you have to program your deloads, otherwise you will fatigue your CNS and injuries start to mount..400# Bulgarian bicep curl
02-27-2013, 06:29 PM #14
Much like my beliefs about nutrition, I also believe the same can be true for progressing in the gym. Although my energy levels do fluctuate, my strength is not often significantly different from day to day. Just because you have more energy does not mean you should use that for more volume if you are already properly stimulated. That will actually more likely have negative effects rather then positive ones.
What I am discovering is I have simply outgrown my current progression program. Eg....when I started I could bench 225x10 , now I can bench 315x10. Over 3 sets that is a difference in volume of 2700lbs or a 40% increase in volume. So even though I am doing the same reps and sets, my volume is up considerably. Yes, I can handle more volume now but I am not sure I need 40% more then I did just a few years back.
This program has worked AWESOME but I think I have just reached the point where trying to sustain it, my body just can not keep up. I either need to come up with a different progression program and figure out appropriate volume....or take a stab at some instinctive training.
My first reaction is that instinctive is less effective. There have been many times where I lifted more weight then I would have selected given the choice just because my program told me I had to do it. If I was progressing faster and needed more challenge, I just added weight. No sets were wasted.
Working up to try some powerlifting, I am thinking progression programs are a must to really achieve the most performance. I think from a bodybuilding and just hypertrophy perspective, I could get by and have a lot of fun with instinctive training.....but I get just as much fun out of trying to pull a 3xBW dead as I do about being 'swole'. I think I am going to have to stick with progression, but I need a new balance. I am running into a brick wall now and completely overworking myself. I can feel it and you can see it in my minimal strength gains as of recent.
02-27-2013, 06:35 PM #15
02-27-2013, 06:42 PM #16
02-27-2013, 06:58 PM #17
I don't like to switch up the exercises as often as Westside does and for me (and this is me) I hate going after PR twice a week....it just beat the hell out of me. One thing to remember, westside is geared towards more "enhanced" lifters (not knocking anyone, these guys work their asses off) with more recuperative powers then what I could muster.
I am glad I ran it for all the pluses. Great experience.
Last edited by Smelly bull; 02-27-2013 at 07:08 PM. Reason: Frickin ipad400# Bulgarian bicep curl
02-27-2013, 07:17 PM #18
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LOL. I'm laughing because I just volunteered for a pilot Olympic lifting program based on FEELINGS. They don't call it 'instinctive,' but essentially the program is based on it. I can't give you much detail because I still have lots to learn about it. I actually planned to give it a month, and if successful I was going to do a write up and introduce this program which has 1000% carryover to other strength athletes and bodybuildes.
I can tell you one thing about this program. The coach running it encourages the followers to eliminate negative energy because he truly believes everything starts in the head. For example, minimizing watching the news because it's filled with bad news, hence negative energy. The other Olyers have already experienced PRs with this program. I have only been doing it for less than a week.
Sorry Im not much of a help at the moment, but I hope to learn more about this program as a student so that I can be a better teacher in the near future.This above all..
To thine ownself be true..
And it must follow, as the night the day..
Thou can'st not then be false to any man..
Bros, my weightlifters are my credentials.
02-27-2013, 07:21 PM #19
You know what they say about insanity................
" But this is coming at a cost. Even though I still only do 3 workouts a week, I am getting run-down all the time. I am achy and not able to recover like I was when the weights were lighter. (eg: Benching 315x10 is a lot tougher on you then 225x10.) Sure they say weight is relative, ...but I am finding that recovery from heavier lifts is now taking me longer to do properly."
So with that said give your tendons and joints a break( no pun) or they will give you one on their own! Most of us start with a structured program and as the learning curve grows create our own hybrid plan over time. You focus on the exercises that maximize your results and decide the rep range that works best , while allowing you to hit it hard ....soon . At 40 things just take longer to recover (even with proper supps and nutrition) so the "instinctive " routines allow for rest, recuperation, and redlining it each time. Ever wonder why the "enhanced pros" are always blowing/tearing things out? Good luck whatever you decide!
02-27-2013, 08:09 PM #20
02-27-2013, 09:55 PM #21
I love instinctive. Here is the approach I developed.
No matter what...you will do heavy deads, heavy squats, and heavy bench once a week. But here is the fun part. You don't decide which one it will be until you enter the gym and after you do a basic full body warmup.
The warmup is this. 3 rounds of 5 body weight squats / pushups / toetouches / pullups
At the end of that basic warmup your body will beg you to crush one of the big lifts.
You might be surprised how much you like it ID.https://www.youtube.com/user/DougHollandJr
02-27-2013, 10:03 PM #22
Right now it's both. Since i currently have shoulder and next injuries , chest and delt training will br instinctive. Legs and back i have a structured routine" but have also added/Changed a few things. Tri/bicep training train more or less instinctively, sometimes high volume, sometimes low volume, but i don't necessarily count sets/ reps in the sense that i should only two 3 sets of said exercise. I do change the order of exercises though, that is instinctive as well.
02-27-2013, 10:21 PM #23
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ID, I've heard great things about WSBB. I've found DE work to be taxing, but easier to recover from which may be exactly what you are looking for.
If you do want to train strength instinctively then you should check out Jamie Lewis and his blog - Chaos and Pain. Fair warning, his blog is very NSFW and he is very extreme, but his approach is a balls-to-the-wall instinctive type approach. It probably isn't really what you are looking for at the moment as that workload would certainly be killer, but maybe something you can check out in the future if you want a change.
A brief breakdown of one of his training protocols, "He advocates working SOLELY between 87.5-100% of your max on a squat, press, and pull, three times per week, doing either 10 triples, 15 doubles, or 30 singles. The exercise selection is chosen from a big menu of basic strength movements, selected based upon how you feel that day."
02-27-2013, 10:23 PM #24
It's pretty easy, really.
From 0 to your genetic max, you can work pretty hard, with an ethic and expectations that always allow for "more". This holds true for running, power lifting, swimming, sprinting, marathons, high jumping, pretty much anything. As you reach your max, in anything, you have to back off, and WILL get better results from fine tuned training, than you will from the "acceleration" you used from zero to your current state.
Bottom line is, Max is max... and once you near it, to continue training like you did til you got to your max is going to do exactly what you are talking about- produce injuries, wear you down, make you feel weaker for NO apparent reason, etc...
Age is probably going to have a bit to play in this as well, but I think this is 90% due to you, having worked your ass off and looking pretty dang amazing, are reaching your genetic max, and your body is now saying "um- we're done... if you keep going like this, the results won't be the same as you have been experiencing prior to this..."
Just my two cents worth of "lack of good experience in the gym" opinion.
At this point, smarter is better than harder. Wisdom just might be a muscle as well, now....Nobody improves without trying. Period.
Listen to your wisdom as you gain it. Rarely are things lost forever. Change is usually always possible. Second chances sometimes reveal better results than first chances. Always look to believe that you can and will be better. You're not done until you give up.
(Bear= wife's nickname for me... Luna= my nickname for her)
02-28-2013, 02:47 AM #25
02-28-2013, 07:03 AM #26
Well, for example lets say you are running 531 and you are tired from work that day. In order to reach your goals you may push harder and cause an injury?
With regards to burn out, you may begin relying on a pre workout supplement to get through the above workout and may even begin to rely on it as you push week after week? That's just an example. Another would be if the program is not suited for you. For example I see a lot of beginners run the 531 program and it simply isn't for them as its too advanced. Btw I don't care how many years someone has trained, if they cannot squat x2 their body weight or bench 1.5x their body weight .....they are still classed as a beginner.
As for the suboptimal gains, instinctive training allows you to do what is best for you , what you feel is best for you .......it brings a huge element of flexibility into your lifestyle and some people just need this or it's a struggle to hit the gym. Another example is the set in stone programs may just not be the best stimulation for the individual and therefore produce suboptimal gains.
Just my 2cents
02-28-2013, 07:21 AM #27
02-28-2013, 07:29 AM #28
O. Burger, A. Baudisch, and J. W. Vaupel. Human mortality improvement in evolutionary context. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Published online the week of October 15, 2012. doi:10.1073/pnas.1215627109.
>35 must be the new teenage forum.Inactivity Kills!!!
My journal: http://forum.bodybuilding.com/showthread.php?t=140991491 Age is NOT an acceptable excuse.
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02-28-2013, 07:30 AM #29
I have always been very instinctive in how I decide my weight and rep increases with my hybrid training. If it is there and solid I will make the necessary increases on the fly. If not, that will be my starting point for the next time I train that muscle group.
But I also think there needs to be a certain amount of regimen and tracking with this approach as well or as you said, gains could be left on the table. Constant forward progress is what I shoot for, so tracking gains and reviewing my impressions of how my muscle groups handle the lift becomes important to me.North American Natural Bodybuilding Federation Competitor
02-28-2013, 07:34 AM #30
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