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Barbell PodCast: My Workout Routine & The Benefits of a Strength Coach

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coachnathanwhite

Level 6 Valued Member
#302: My Workout Routine & The Benefits of a Strength Coach from The Art of Manliness

Episode Info
Back in 2015, I had Starting Strength coach Matt Reynolds on the podcast to talk about barbell training. At about the same time, I started getting online coaching from Matt for my own barbell training. A year and half later, I’ve made some incredible gains with my strength and hit personal records that I never thought I’d be able to attain. Thanks to Matt, I was inspired to have recently entered my first barbell competition, and deadlifted 533 lbs, squatted 420 lbs, and shoulder pressed 201 lbs at the event. And perhaps best of all, my body has stayed healthy and I haven't been injured in the process. Because guys frequently ask me about my training, I've brought Matt back on the podcast to walk listeners through the programming and nutrition plan I've been following for the past 18 months. We discuss how Matt customized my programming, and why he started me with the novice Starting Strength program even though I had been barbell training for a few years. We also dig into my setbacks and how Matt adjusted things to help me break through plateaus. If you’ve been thinking about barbell training or are currently training and are confused about how to program, you’re going to get a lot out of this episode. Consider me your human guinea pig.
 

Bill Been

Level 6 Valued Member
It would benefit everyone, but especially coaches, to understand the points about the Stress, Recovery, Adaptation cycle; how it determines your training advancement, and how to most appropriately and effectively program based on it. The Novice Effect - sometimes known as the WTH Effect - is the simple fact that, for an untrained or severely detrained individual, ANYTHING you do that's harder than sitting will serve as a strength adaptation stimulus. But not for very long. Conversely, a program designed by a coach who coaches elite athletes and lifters is very certainly not appropriate for a Novice. As Reynolds notes in comparing 5/3/1 (an Intermediate program) with the Linear Progression still possible for a Novice - when a strength increase is possible every session, why would you do anything else? Intermediates need a week to recover and adapt, Advanced lifters need multiple weeks and even months. Using a program designed to put 20 more pounds on an elite lifter's deadlift over the course of a couple months when your or your lifter is capable of putting 5 more pounds on every session represents a fairly significant and all-too-common error. Another is to think your training advancement has something to do with how long you've been dinking around in gyms with barbells - or anything else. As Reynolds notes with Brett McKay, he (Brett) had been "lifting" for quite some time. This is irrelevant. Almost none of the people you see in gyms has been through an organized strength training program. The common Gym Bro has a bench press about 75lbs higher than his squat, doesn't press at all, and "hits deads" once in a blue moon for a couple doubles and singles. This isn't "training". What Brett did is "training" - a methodical, step-wise, measurable, planned, sequence that reliably moves you from your current capability to a much higher one. Note also that, until the Golden Gains of the Novice Phase are expended, there's no need to waste time with accessory lifts and you certainly can't spare recovery capacity to do "cardio".
 

wespom9

Level 6 Valued Member
Certified Instructor
I'm halfway through the podcast and enjoying it. Definitely enlightening on how much he reinforces the idea of "wanting" to be a novice. I think this point does get lost often. Makes so much sense when you think about it, but we all want to believe we are intermediate or advanced lifters.
 

Marlon Leon

Level 3 Valued Member
I also loved the point about being a novice. Weights are like medicine. In the beginning a little bit elicits a large effect. Later it takes a lot of weight to elicit even a small effect with the increased risk of injury and need for specialisation.
Made me feel good about using my light weights and having more patience.
 

Bill Been

Level 6 Valued Member
If you heard "just use light weights" to be the take-away message, if fear you've missed the point. This is not a call for "patience".
 

wespom9

Level 6 Valued Member
Certified Instructor
I fear the same as well @Marlon Leon . By wanting to a novice, I (and I think @Bill Been does as well) mean to say that there is a tendency to try to be too fancy or try programs that are geared to lifters with experience and have exhausted the "newbie gains". Great example is 5/3/1. You work each lift only 4 times a month. Newbies could perform a lift 4 times in 1.5 weeks and add weight each time. 5/3/1 works well for lifters that already have a high load and need the time off to recover.

Nothing wrong with patience; but you need progressive overload to adapt.
 

Marlon Leon

Level 3 Valued Member
I must have created a mental image of somebody using pink dumbbells and screaming "light weight, baby".
5/3/1 is a good example to illustrate what I mean. You start off lighter than you could with only 90 percent and then slowly (patience!) progress over time.
The coach in the podcast had him first go back in weight to start the cycle from there.
There is a strong temptation to choose an advanced program when one would make better progress with a beginner or intermediate program. And there is a strong temptation to start a cycle too heavy and then not being able to progress far. Hence, Wendler came up with the brilliant 90 percent rule.

My point about comparing weights to medicine was that at first a few sets with a fairly light weight (in absolute terms) is sufficient whereas over time the weight has to be increased to progress. Using too much too soon might on the other hand stall progress or have detrimental effects.
 
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