Power to the People 3x a week?

Michael D

Level 1 Valued Member
I've been going to the gym for about 2 years doing Stronglifts 5x5 (similar to Starting Strength) without much success. I had a year break from going to the gym. I stayed active (was finishing the basement), but resumed working out few weeks ago doing this:



I feel like I won't progress on it much longer, and I found Pavel's PTTP program. Wondering if I can do PTTP 3x a week and see gains in strength (not interested in bulking at the moment), or should I keep the workout above but do each exercise for 2 sets as Pavel recommends... Also wondering if I can alternate bench and overhead press every workout, or should I do both every time?
 
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Steve Freides

Staff
Senior Certified Instructor
Elite Certified Instructor
@Michael D, this subject has been discussed here before, and fairly recently. Give a search a go, both here and using Google to search this site.

A short answer: It won't be the same, but you can aim to achieve the same weekly volume by doing 3 sets of 5 on each of your 3 days. Read the instructions for the PTTP Bear and follow those, e.g., 100 x 5, 90 x 5, 80 x 5. Consider doing a 4th set one day per week, or consider varying the volume 2 sets, 4 sets, and 6 sets on each of your 3 lifting days or something similar.

-S-
 

Steve W.

Level 7 Valued Member
@Michael D
Here's a little higher volume PTTP variation I came up with that works well for training 3x/week.

This is based on a 4 steps forward/3 steps back wave cycle. You increase the top set poundage as in a normal PTTP structured wave cycle. You add volume by adding additional back off sets of 5 reps. But the twist is that you add more back off sets at the beginning of a wave when the poundage is lower, and fewer back off sets at the end of a wave when the poundage is higher. Therefore, the poundage progresses inversely to the volume (I call this approach "inverse progression PTTP").

At the beginning of a wave, you add 4 back off sets at 90% of the top set, and drop one back off set for each session in a wave. Then you reset at 4 back off sets at the beginning of the next wave.

285 x 5/255 x 4 x 5
295 x 5/265 x 3 x 5
305 x 5/275 x 2 x 5
315 x 5/285 x 5

295 x 5/265 x 4 x 5
305 x 5/275 x 3 x 5
315 x 5/285 x 2 x 5
325 x 5/295 x 5

etc.

This would be based on a 405lb 1RM, starting at about 70%, and would bring you up to 85% in 4 waves. You can manipulate the jumps between steps, and the starting point of each wave, however you want. This one works out to 10lb jumps for both, but they don't have to be the same. I tend to like slightly bigger jumps between sessions and a smaller jump between waves. This gives a nice rhythm of easier, medium, and challenging sessions. You don't have a long ramp of easy sessions at the beginning and a death march of tough sessions at the end.

It doesn't matter that 4 step waves are out of synch with a 3 day training week. It just adds an extra element of variability, which is generally a good thing.

You could also apply the same concept to more of a step cycle. Do a week at one top weight with 4 backoff sets. Go up in weight the next week with 3 back off sets, etc.
 

Michael D

Level 1 Valued Member
@Michael D, this subject has been discussed here before, and fairly recently. Give a search a go, both here and using Google to search this site.

A short answer: It won't be the same, but you can aim to achieve the same weekly volume by doing 3 sets of 5 on each of your 3 days. Read the instructions for the PTTP Bear and follow those, e.g., 100 x 5, 90 x 5, 80 x 5. Consider doing a 4th set one day per week, or consider varying the volume 2 sets, 4 sets, and 6 sets on each of your 3 lifting days or something similar.

-S-
Thank you, Steve. I have to remember to first use the search :) I am not really interested in Bear. I am curious to see how much strength I can add by training CNS and not by adding bulk.
 

Steve Freides

Staff
Senior Certified Instructor
Elite Certified Instructor
Thank you, Steve. I have to remember to first use the search :) I am not really interested in Bear. I am curious to see how much strength I can add by training CNS and not by adding bulk.
The Bear's hypertrophy comes from the volume. One or two additional sets of 5 won't turn you into the Incredible Hulk, rest assured. The Bear calls for up to 20 sets.

-S-
 

Michael D

Level 1 Valued Member
I just found Russian version of Power to the People. It is interesting that basic PTTP programs are different in English and Russian version.

English version suggests 2 sets: 100x5 and 90x5
Russian version suggests 3 sets: 100x5, 100x3, 100x2

Bear protocol seems to be the same: 80x5 with short rests for as many sets as you can do with good form.

In Russian version Pavel says add 2.5-5kg (which is 5-10lb), in English it is 5lb, period.

It looks like Russian version was published in 2008 while English in 2000. Does that mean that Russian version offers a more up-to-date protocol?
 

Steve Freides

Staff
Senior Certified Instructor
Elite Certified Instructor
It looks like Russian version was published in 2008 while English in 2000. Does that mean that Russian version offers a more up-to-date protocol?
Yes, but the original protocol is still just fine, too.

-S-
 

Steve W.

Level 7 Valued Member
It looks like Russian version was published in 2008 while English in 2000. Does that mean that Russian version offers a more up-to-date protocol?
Not really.

IIRC, the Russian version is based on a suggestion by Jack Reape (an accomplished powerlifter and Navy pilot), and its main purpose is just simplicity -- less calculation and plate changing.

IMO, the difference in training effect is negligible and I personally prefer the original 100%/90%.
 

Michael D

Level 1 Valued Member
@Steve Freides, something that is no so clear to me still after reading both Russian and English editions is what does the program actually looks like... Pavel says don't train more than 5x week, 3x is fine. Then he offers some variations of deadlift and press exercises. What is not clear to me is what exercises to do when? I might have missed that part, but do I do deadlift variation and press variation every single workout? Do I do more than one variation every workout? If I alternate variation, how does that work?

I read this in another thread "- Bench twice a week, deadlift once a week (Pavel's suggestion)" and it confused me even further...

Wondering if I should keep the exercises as per my original program and simply adjust reps as per PTTP?
 
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Steve W.

Level 7 Valued Member
@Steve W. I like the look of that inverse progression template! At 2x/week it's 2-week waves. I'm doing something similar (+10 top set each session, variable volume back-off sets @ 80% of work set) for TSC training.
I used the inverse progression template (but not the same poundages in the example above) with the trap bar DL and ended up with a personal best (465lbs) in that lift. It's a nice balance of adding a little more volume the PTTP model but without really becoming a high volume program, and it keeps more of the added volume on lighter days.
 

Alan Mackey

Level 6 Valued Member
@Steve Freides, something that is no so clear to me still after reading both Russian and English editions is what does the program actually looks like... Pavel says don't train more than 5x week, 3x is fine. Then he offers some variations of deadlift and press exercises. What is not clear to me is what exercises to do when? I might have missed that part, but do I do deadlift variation and press variation every single workout? Do I do more than one variation every workout? If I alternate variation, how does that work?

I read this in another thread "- Bench twice a week, deadlift once a week (Pavel's suggestion)" and it confused me even further...

Wondering if I should keep the exercises as per my original program and simply adjust reps as per PTTP?
PttP is two exercises. Just two. No extra lifts, no variations (no matter how close the are to the orignal lift).

The same two exercises practiced three to five times a week, over and over and over and over. This being the reason of how and why the program works: endless easy-ish practice of the same task until you get stuck.

Switching or adding exercises will ruin the high frequency. Adding sets or reps will ruin the low daily volume, needed to recover between sessions.

"Can I do PttP training just twice per week and getting the volume by doing a ton of assistance work?". Yes, you can, but it won't be PttP anymore, it will be something close to 5/3/1.

I'm not saying it won't work (everything works... at least for a while), but it won't be PttP. And there is absolutely nothing wrong with doing not-PttP templates.

If you alter the fundamental parameters of a program, you won't know the outcome because the program is not the program anymore.
 
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Michael D

Level 1 Valued Member
PttP is two exercises. Just two. No extra lifts, no variations (no matter how close the are to the orignal lift).

The same two exercises practiced three to five times a week, over and over and over and over. This being the reason of how and why the program works: endless easy-ish practice of the same task until you get stuck.
Hi Alan, in the book Pavel offers variations. Does that mean I just pick one of each (one press and one lift) and stick to them?
 

Alan Mackey

Level 6 Valued Member
Hi Alan, in the book Pavel offers variations. Does that mean I just pick one of each (one press and one lift) and stick to them?
Yes, that's exactly what it means.

And you don't even have to limit yourself to a hinge and a press. Squats and pull ups will work too.

It doesn't really matter which pair of exercises you choose, as long as you stick to them for at least a few cycles.

One non-Pavel template which might be more right up your alley is Tactical Barbell, which is a very clever hybrid of PttP and 5/3/1.
 

Michael D

Level 1 Valued Member
Yes, that's exactly what it means.

And you don't even have to limit yourself to a hinge and a press. Squats and pull ups will work too.

It doesn't really matter which pair of exercises you choose, as long as you stick to them for at least a few cycles.

One non-Pavel template which might be more right up your alley is Tactical Barbell, which is a very clever hybrid of PttP and 5/3/1.
So alternating squat and deadlift like so won't be a good idea?

Week 1:
Monday: Squat and Press
Wed: DL and Press
Friday: Squat and Press

Week 2:
Monday: DL and Press
Wed: Squat and Press
Friday: DL and Press
...
 

Alan Mackey

Level 6 Valued Member
So alternating squat and deadlift like so won't be a good idea?

Week 1:
Monday: Squat and Press
Wed: DL and Press
Friday: Squat and Press

Week 2:
Monday: DL and Press
Wed: Squat and Press
Friday: DL and Press
...

No, "stick to the same two exercises for a few cycles" meant "do the same two exercises for at least a few months (or training cycles: the entire time it takes you to start a cycle and get to the 'being stuck' point)".

January to April: deadlift and press, thrice a week.

May to August: squats and chins, thrice a week. You can repeat deadlifts and presses as long as you like, or change just one exercise choosing a variation, or even doing completely different lifts. But you have to stick to those other two exercises for a few months.

And just for clarity's sake, I've done a program consisting of deadlifts plus incline benches one day and squats and pull ups the other, done thrice a week. Which is pretty close to what you suggested.

And it worked for a long time. But it wasn't PttP.

What I'm trying to say is that maybe you should stop trying to fit a round peg (PttP) in a square hole (lower frequency, different variations, etc...).

If you want to give PttP a try, I'd suggest you should stick to the canonical program and do it as-is. At least for a few months.

Or ditch the idea of doing PttP and follow another template closer to your liking (the one you posted above, Tactical Barbell, 5/3/1, Starting Strength...).
 
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Michael D

Level 1 Valued Member
No, "stick to the same two exercises for a few cycles" meant "do the same two exercises for at least a few months (or training cycles: the entire time it takes you to start a cycle and get to the 'being stuck' point)"... May to August: squats and chins, thrice a week. You can repeat deadlifts and presses as long as you like, or change just one exercise choosing a variation, or even doing completely different lifts. But you have to stick to those other two exercises for a few months.
I like the idea of PTTP as it seems to hit major muscle groups, and is not going to take too long time in the gym... the one I am doing now is close to an hour... So just to make sure, I do deadlift and press every workout at least 3x a week?
 

Alan Mackey

Level 6 Valued Member
I like the idea of PTTP as it seems to hit major muscle groups, and is not going to take too long time in the gym... the one I am doing now is close to an hour... So just to make sure, I do deadlift and press every workout at least 3x a week?
Yes, that's the idea. Practicing just two lifts ad nauseam while avoiding any kind of struggle.

You should finish every practice with the absolute certainty that you could repeat the session and still stay fresh.
 
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