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  1. #1
    Registered User Payton1221's Avatar
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    8-Week Intensity/Volume Experiment

    While recently listening to an older Pavel podcast, I heard him say how most of the time Russian lifters are using 1/3 to 2/3 of their max reps. So even if they could lift a particular weight 9 times, most of the time they're only lifting it 3-6 times. I almost always lift one set to near failure every workout and I have for years, but I figured I'd give this a try. On May 2, I incline benched 185 for 7-reps and this was essentially failure for me (I know that I couldn't have completed the 8th rep). For the next eight weeks my pressing workouts consisted of only three sets approximately every third day. So on May 5 I did three sets of seated DB press (and these were taken to failure/near-failure) and then on May 8 I was back to the incline bench BUT doing three sets of 185 using 4 reps, then 3 reps, then 3 reps. May 11: three DB press sets; May 14 Incline bench 185 x 4,3,3; etc.

    My hope was that at the end of ~8 weeks that my strength would be the same, but one huge plus that occurred was that a nagging shoulder issue that I've lived with since September has nearly disappeared completely! I hurt it doing incline DB benching after an inadequate warmup. The discomfort is only noticeable when articulating my arm in a certain way: predominately when I bench.

    So this morning I figured I'd see how many reps of the Incline Bench I had in me. I was pleasantly surprised that I not only got 7 reps, but I got an 8th!!! Video results are below. Does this mean that in another 8 weeks I'll get 9 reps? I doubt it; I might even get 7 as strength can fluctuate somewhat from day to day, but it has strongly indicated to me that going to near failure as frequently as I had been isn't necessary for maintenance. I will revert back to the 185 x 4,3,3 for another eight weeks and test my strength again.

    Here are the videos: May 2 and then this morning (excuse the bed head )



    Pull-Up PR: https://forum.bodybuilding.com/showthread.php?t=177233951
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  2. #2
    Weak and foolish OldFartTom's Avatar
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    If you've roughly maintained strength (or increased a little) and been able to recover an injury at the same time, then there's something good going on with this scheme.

    I heard the same when I recently listened to his Joe Rogan interview.

    I've done too much grinding myself down and suffering set backs about the same as my progress, not smart training. When I get back to gym I'm definitely going to try this approach. Less progress is more.

    Last edited by OldFartTom; 06-27-2020 at 01:55 PM.
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  3. #3
    Humble Megalomaniac ElrondHubbard's Avatar
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    That's interesting stuff. I'll have to read up on that.
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    Registered User Payton1221's Avatar
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    Maxed out again this morning which was the first time in ~8 weeks. Since then I've been doing the same 1/3 to 2/3 of my max reps. This morning I equaled the May 2 number of reps which was 7 (down one rep from my June max effort but I ran a low grade fever for about a week in late July). My nagging aches have continued to improve, so I think I'll be doing this same routine for the near future with a max attempt every 8 weeks or so to ensure that I'm maintaining my strength.
    Pull-Up PR: https://forum.bodybuilding.com/showthread.php?t=177233951
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  5. #5
    Registered User tblodg15's Avatar
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    Now that you are leaving a few reps in reserve I think you should try a block where you do 4 sets per session instead of just 3.
    Bodybuilding is much more than an hour in the gym a few days a week---it's a lifestyle that changes all your perceptions about how to live, eat, and rest. It feeds the mind as much (and sometimes more so) than the body.
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  6. #6
    Registered User tblodg15's Avatar
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    Speaking of incline bench press I wanted to tell you something. We have talked before about our bad shoulders and as you mentioned here for you the incline feels better than a flat bench.

    After 3 months of just push-ups as my only chest exercise and 5 months of shoulder rehab exercises using bands it finally felt good enough to try bench press again. It had been 9 months since I had done any barbell bench press and my plan was just to start off with sets of 8 with 135 lbs and add 5 lbs each week.

    Well during my first session it didn’t really hurt but I still felt some strain on my shoulder at the very bottom of the movement regardless of how I positioned my shoulders. So I decided to just go back incline DB bench which feels fine on my shoulder except for swinging them up into place. Then I thought that maybe I should try incline bench with a barbell. I fully expected it to bother my shoulder as much or more than flat but it felt fine!

    My shoulder is really weak so I started with only 95 lbs for 5 sets of 8 and have been adding 5 lbs each week and I have zero pain benching with a 30 degree angle! I may have never even tried the barbell incline bench if it had not been for some of your posts so wanted to say thanks!
    Bodybuilding is much more than an hour in the gym a few days a week---it's a lifestyle that changes all your perceptions about how to live, eat, and rest. It feeds the mind as much (and sometimes more so) than the body.
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    Registered User LWW's Avatar
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    Very interesting topic, I’ve read Pavels stuff for many years and trained that way, it works and will make strength gains, but of course higher intensity builds a different type of strength.

    I respect Pavel and his podcast with Rogan and was the only Rogan podcast I ever found of intetest.

    I usually have the angel and devil on my shoulder when working that type of not going all out system. But lately I’m learning when I need to apply each. Sometimes every other week or sometimes seasonally.
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  8. #8
    Registered User Payton1221's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by tblodg15 View Post
    So I decided to just go back incline DB bench which feels fine on my shoulder except for swinging them up into place.

    I may have never even tried the barbell incline bench if it had not been for some of your posts so wanted to say thanks!
    Thanks Troy. I'm glad that it helped.

    Regarding the swinging of DBs, you might remember that I drilled and tapped my hexagonal dumbbells with a 5/16" UNC (I think it's 5/16" . . . definitely not 1/4-20 but perhaps 3/8" UNC) and then added a hook on each side that I use as permanent power hooks that I suspend above me on the barbell so that I don't have to swing them into place. The barbell is more badass (sorry, but I just finished watching Cobra Kai ) but if you ever wanted or needed to go back to the dumbbells, you might want to consider something similar. You can buy actual powerhooks that can be added to any DB, but I don't like the feel of them.
    Pull-Up PR: https://forum.bodybuilding.com/showthread.php?t=177233951
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    Registered User VicDumbbells's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by tblodg15 View Post
    Now that you are leaving a few reps in reserve I think you should try a block where you do 4 sets per session instead of just 3.
    Mmmm, sounds good.

    I remember the first time I heard Pavel talk about 3-6 reps of a hard 10 and if you need more volume just do more sets. I wrote it down in my training book.


    Originally Posted by OldFartTom View Post
    I've done too much grinding myself down and suffering set backs
    Yep. I'm over it, or should I say trying to police the old habits.
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  10. #10
    Clearly Irrational blue9steel's Avatar
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    Mike Israetel does quite a bit of talking about the interactions between load, RIR and volume for hypertrophy. I've learned a ton this year reading / listening to his material.
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  11. #11
    Registered User Payton1221's Avatar
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    This will be my last update, but I'm calling this maintenance experiment a success. I maxed again this morning which is about one week shy of being a full 6 months, but I got 185x8 again. With that noted, I'm maxing under ideal conditions. I'm the strongest in the morning, after an evening with higher calories, and after an hour after a huge cup of coffee and two ephedrines.

    I trusted the process, but I'll say that MANY times when I lifted under less ideal conditions (even lifting in the evening after riding my bike for nearly an hour) I know that I couldn't have gotten 8 reps. In fact, I'll say that there were sessions when I probably couldn't have gotten even six reps.

    So for anyone wanting to cruise for a while without losing much, or perhaps like in my case losing NO strength, then lifting with high intensity but while leaving several reps in the tank is worth trying.
    Pull-Up PR: https://forum.bodybuilding.com/showthread.php?t=177233951
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  12. #12
    Formerly grouchyjarhead GrouchyUSMC's Avatar
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    Awesome write up, nice progress.
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