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  1. #1
    Registered User macfc96's Avatar
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    Question Stimulus, adaptations and progressive overload?

    Trying to understand the basic behind most workout programs.

    So basically when you train you apply a stimulus, that creates an adaptation that makes you able to apply progressive overload? Right now im doing Eric Helms intermediate program for bodybuilding, the progression system goes like this:

    Week 1: 100x6
    Week 2: 105x5
    Week 3: 110x4
    Week 4: 105x6 (increase)

    So every 4th week volume and progressive overload occurs.

    But if we compare the weeks the total volume goes down before it increases again, does this matter to much? Its it more about total hard set each week?

    Lets say 100x6 vs 105x5, the 100x6 has more volume, but would you say that 105x5 is harder? Making the total stimulus and hard set harder then 100x6? Or is it more about the total monthly progression?
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  2. #2
    pay the iron price SuffolkPunch's Avatar
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    You are progressively overloading every workout, not every 4 workouts.

    Using a 1RM calculator:

    100 x 6 = 116
    105 x 5 = 118
    110 x 4 = 120
    105 x 6 = 122

    It looks like this is exactly how Eric designed it - 2kg progression in calculated 1RM each time.

    Also, volume does not go down because volume is not as simple as weight x reps. Volume remains the same if you consider "hard sets" to be the measure of volume.
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  3. #3
    Registered User macfc96's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by SuffolkPunch View Post
    You are progressively overloading every workout, not every 4 workouts.

    Using a 1RM calculator:

    100 x 6 = 116
    105 x 5 = 118
    110 x 4 = 120
    105 x 6 = 122

    It looks like this is exactly how Eric designed it - 2kg progression in calculated 1RM each time.

    Also, volume does not go down because volume is not as simple as weight x reps. Volume remains the same if you consider "hard sets" to be the measure of volume.
    So progressive overload dosent mean i have to do an all time pr each workout? Its just that i do more then last time? lets say my 8RM is 150kg, and during my cycle im doing work under 8RM max, its gonna take a few weeks before i start nearing a new PR, does progressive overload/progression still happen working at lower weights?
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    What you define as a PR is arbitrary and irrelevant.
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    Progressive overload just means gradually doing a bit more. It doesn't necessarily mean heavier than ever before.

    If you wanted to stimulate adaptions for endurance (not bodybuilding), you could keep the load the same and gradually increase the reps. That would also be a form of progressive overload (although a different type of stimulus from encouraging hypertrophy).

    Helms progression scheme is really nice way to run it as an early intermediate. If you've been stalled for a while doing a simple linear progression, a small deload and switching to this scheme should restart progress
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  6. #6
    pay the iron price SuffolkPunch's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by macfc96 View Post
    So progressive overload dosent mean i have to do an all time pr each workout? Its just that i do more then last time? lets say my 8RM is 150kg, and during my cycle im doing work under 8RM max, its gonna take a few weeks before i start nearing a new PR, does progressive overload/progression still happen working at lower weights?
    You need to be close to the maximum that you can do at that moment in time but not necessarily right on it.

    Also, remember that all time PRs can be transient. If you achieve one one day - the following week you might only be capable of 95% of what you did previously.

    It's like surfing a wave. If you are right on the peak, you might fall off the back. If you are too far away from the peak, you are in flat water. And of course the wave moves.
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    Registered User macfc96's Avatar
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    Alright, so progressive overload is more about staying in that overload threshold, 0-4 rir zone where you get the best stimulus, rather then trying to set an PR or lift heavier all the time
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    pay the iron price SuffolkPunch's Avatar
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    Yep, if you are good at judging RIR, that's all you need. That plus deciding when to add volume.
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    Originally Posted by SuffolkPunch View Post
    Yep, if you are good at judging RIR, that's all you need. That plus deciding when to add volume.
    Emergening strategies from RTS is great for knowing when to change stimulus/add volume.

    Basically you find out when you peak and regress (2 weeks without progress counts as regression.) take this number of weeks.. 4 to 6 is common.
    Let's call it 6.
    You run a block focused on whatever you choose, volume, power, strength, certain lifts, multiple for that 6 weeks.
    After 6 you pivot for a third of the training block, so 2 weeks.
    Pivot with different stimulus (more vs less reps/ volume) maybe low intensity if you'd been doing loads of heavy low rep. Maybe just quite different lifts (sumo instead of conventional, leg press instead of squat).

    After the pivot you block review the first 6 weeks, see which lifts drove the most progress, decide what to keep and what to change and run another 6 weeks.
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    In my amateur opinion, doing exercises with a better form week by week, this is also progressive overload.
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    Originally Posted by WolfRose7 View Post
    Emergening strategies from RTS is great for knowing when to change stimulus/add volume.

    Basically you find out when you peak and regress (2 weeks without progress counts as regression.) take this number of weeks.. 4 to 6 is common.
    Let's call it 6.
    You run a block focused on whatever you choose, volume, power, strength, certain lifts, multiple for that 6 weeks.
    After 6 you pivot for a third of the training block, so 2 weeks.
    Pivot with different stimulus (more vs less reps/ volume) maybe low intensity if you'd been doing loads of heavy low rep. Maybe just quite different lifts (sumo instead of conventional, leg press instead of squat).

    After the pivot you block review the first 6 weeks, see which lifts drove the most progress, decide what to keep and what to change and run another 6 weeks.
    It's an interesting one. Tuchscherer is a smart chap. Does he train BBers or only strength/performance athletes?
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    Its far more complicated than progressive overload. When you work muscle fibers hard, they go through a cycle of subcompensation (weaker than before) and supercompensation (stronger than before). Thats in addition to muscular growth. For meximum gain, you want to lift during supercompensation cycles and rest during subcompensation cycles. Beginners have sort cycles - thats why they can do FBW 3 days a week, while advanced lifters have longer subcompenstation cycles and shorter supercompensatin cycles, which is what leads to peaking strategies.

    I dont do justice to the theory - if you get the book Science and Practice of Strength Training, they go into the Russian research with graphs and fairly approachable way and more accurate than I have tried to describe here..
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    Originally Posted by SuffolkPunch View Post
    It's an interesting one. Tuchscherer is a smart chap. Does he train BBers or only strength/performance athletes?
    I'm not sure, he doesn't have a huge client base, and RTS is very heavily focused on national and world level powerlifters , but that doesn't mean they don't have recreational lifters as clients, potentially bodybuilders.

    I do feel like i've heard mention of a bb'er client but can't be sure I'm remembering correctly.

    Him and Joey Flex basically have a monopoly on world record powerlifters though.. though Mike has a whole team to help with that
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    Registered User macfc96's Avatar
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    Thanks guys, got it much clearer now.

    One more question, does every workout have to be more overloading then the previous workout to make gains? Lets say you just repeated your last workout, same volume and work load, would this still result in good enough stimulus for adaptations to happen for a few weeks before you apply progression?
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    You are just becoming stronger that's why on the 4th week the set point is increased by 2kg. And also volume is just not about how many reps you do its about the intensity with relation to the reps you are doing with
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    Originally Posted by macfc96 View Post
    Thanks guys, got it much clearer now.

    One more question, does every workout have to be more overloading then the previous workout to make gains? Lets say you just repeated your last workout, same volume and work load, would this still result in good enough stimulus for adaptations to happen for a few weeks before you apply progression?
    That would be nice but just like bodyweight changes when you are dieting, not every day will be a progress day, especially as you get more experienced and each change gets smaller.

    You are looking for a trend over time.
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    Registered User macfc96's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by SuffolkPunch View Post
    That would be nice but just like bodyweight changes when you are dieting, not every day will be a progress day, especially as you get more experienced and each change gets smaller.

    You are looking for a trend over time.
    Alright, so repeating a few workout where you are not applying more overload will still get you some adaptations, and the main focus is more to be able to progress over a longer period of time?
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    pay the iron price SuffolkPunch's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by macfc96 View Post
    Alright, so repeating a few workout where you are not applying more overload will still get you some adaptations, and the main focus is more to be able to progress over a longer period of time?
    Remember that you aren't dealing with a simple system where your performance is the only thing that changes. Apparent "stalls" can be down to temporary changes in your levels of fatigue and other factors. But in essence yes - look for the trend and don't overreact to one bad day. Just like you would (should) do if trying to lose weight for example.
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