PTTP Update (June 14 Update Post #47)

freeflowme

Triple-Digit Post Count
Hey all,

I've been PTTP-ing conventional deadlifts and overhead presses since the beginning of February. With the exception of a week off for a trip over spring break, I haven't missed a scheduled workout and I haven't missed a single rep. I started at 115 on the DL and managed to linearly cycle up to 225 before switching to a wave cycle structure and waving up 215-235 (PR), 225-245 (PR), 235-255 (PR), and 245-265 (PR) over the last month. These two videos represent my most recent lifts on 5/15 (265 and 240 90% set):



As someone who's had chronic back pain for 10+ years (herniated L4/L5) this has been a great start to a journey for me. I've seen my form get way better, and my back pain really decrease. I'm doing dynamic mobility work before each workout and some static stretching afterward.

265 was really heavy yesterday, though, and I think I may have reached the end of the road in terms of being able to constantly wave up another 10lbs every week. Maybe I need to cycle down and built back up with some more reserve strength? Or I'm contemplating switching over to DDDL and following that for a month while PTTP-ing back squats and bent-over rows.

Anything you see in my deadlift that could help me improve would be much appreciated. And any advice on programming when a person is ~1.5bw DL, as well. I imagine if I cycle down and build back up I've got way, way more progress to make PTTP-ing deadlifts. But I really want to practice squats, as well - even though my deadlift has gone way up, I've noticed that whenever I get under the bar and try some squats I'm terribly, terribly weak, and I'd like to strengthen that movement pattern up.
 

mrdave100

Double-Digit Post Count
Freeflowme, great progress!! Glad to hear your back is improving. If you're looking to add "more movements" to your routine, check out Wendler's 5-3-1 program. It's built around squats, deads, bench press, and military press. As for the weight feeling really heavy. Well yeah, that's going to happen. Some days the weights fly off the floor, some days you have to grind them up. PTTP, is not really a "how the weight feels" routine that dictates your next set. In PTTP, Pavel mentions pushing through with a cycle until you can only get a couple of reps on the first set. Ultimately you're the guy rehabbing his back and you have to decide what's best for you, nothing wrong with terminating a cycle early, variety within a cycle works too.
 

freeflowme

Triple-Digit Post Count
Freeflowme, great progress!! Glad to hear your back is improving. If you're looking to add "more movements" to your routine, check out Wendler's 5-3-1 program. It's built around squats, deads, bench press, and military press. As for the weight feeling really heavy. Well yeah, that's going to happen. Some days the weights fly off the floor, some days you have to grind them up. PTTP, is not really a "how the weight feels" routine that dictates your next set. In PTTP, Pavel mentions pushing through with a cycle until you can only get a couple of reps on the first set. Ultimately you're the guy rehabbing his back and you have to decide what's best for you, nothing wrong with terminating a cycle early, variety within a cycle works too.
I'll have to look into Wendler's 5-3-1. Years ago, I followed Starting Strength (I wish it didn't de-emphasize the deadlift so much, though!). I've been contemplating Pavel's Mind over Muscle and Dan John's Even Easier Strength, too. At the end of the day, though, I think the simplicity and shortness of the PTTP workouts has been what's enabled me to be successful with it while having a busy job and 2 small kids. That's true for both the time it takes to move the weights every day and the amount of recovery I can get, as my sleep is super sub-optimal these days. Maybe I'll keep grinding up PTTP a while longer - my back actually seems to feel better the heavier weight I lift.
 

Anna C

More than 5000 posts
Elite Certified Instructor
Years ago, I followed Starting Strength (I wish it didn't de-emphasize the deadlift so much, though!).
It deemphasizes the amount of deadlifting you do, but not the deadlift results you get, in my experience. And which of these are you really after?

Sounds to me like some emphasis on the squat would serve you well at this stage of your strength development.

Your deadlift looks pretty good to me, except your weight is a bit forward of mid-foot and that makes the lift much harder! Shift your weight back towards your heels and drag the bar up your legs. I would also advise holding your breath for the duration of the lift.
 

freeflowme

Triple-Digit Post Count
It deemphasizes the amount of deadlifting you do, but not the deadlift results you get, in my experience. And which of these are you really after?

Sounds to me like some emphasis on the squat would serve you well at this stage of your strength development.

Your deadlift looks pretty good to me, except your weight is a bit forward of mid-foot and that makes the lift much harder! Shift your weight back towards your heels and drag the bar up your legs. I would also advise holding your breath for the duration of the lift.
I need to get some shin sleeves or pants that I can actually deadlift in, I think. I noticed that I started shifting my weight forward because both of my shins were perpetually ripped open / bleeding and i was subconsciously avoiding digging into that.

I'll try holding my breath throughout for bracing again. I've gotten that advice here before... maybe from you! I just find myself feeling super out of breath real quick, in a way that makes my overall set suffer.

Interesting point about deadlifting itself vs. increasing the deadlift in Starting Strength. I think I've always just mentally pushed back at Rip's "you can't deadlift that frequently because of the tremendous CNS load / fatigue" with... "but, but PTTP!" I also just really like touching the weight every weekday day with PTTP vs. lifting M/W/F on SS. And this is where I come back to doing DDDL + PTTP squats & rows, or Even Easier Strength squat, press, row, deadlift, carry. I'm beginning to think, though, that I can't really go wrong as long as I stick to principles of high frequency, low volume, moderate-to-high intensity, good technique, and adequate rest. I'm just trying to get "generally strong" and I love lifting weights. That's all there really is to it at this point.
 

Anna C

More than 5000 posts
Elite Certified Instructor
I'm beginning to think, though, that I can't really go wrong as long as I stick to principles of high frequency, low volume, moderate-to-high intensity, good technique, and adequate rest. I'm just trying to get "generally strong" and I love lifting weights. That's all there really is to it at this point.
If you're on a track that keeps you 1) enjoying it, 2) doing it, 3) not getting injured or having setbacks, and 4) making progress... It's all good! So yes, find a program that gives you all of that, first and foremost. If you start stalling (i.e. 4 isn't there anymore), then change something, or try another program. Or if 3 starts happening and you're having setbacks, that can also indicate that you need a change in programming. The CNS load/fatigue changes as the weight increases. Once you're deadlifting heavy, the affect on your body changes, even with the same volume. Also you have to consider how the deadlifts fit into the overall program. For example, with SS you deadlift last, after having been fatigued by heavy squats and press or bench press. Still, the overall stress drives an increase in strength, and that's the objective. Whether the DDDL + PTTP squats & rows, or EES, gives you the combination of stress that you can recover from and continue to get stronger is an unknown, for you. But if you KEEP A LOG so that you know what is working and not working, you will learn how your body responds. Good luck and keep lifting!
 

Kaisersemmel

Double-Digit Post Count
If you are OK with not adding weight every cycle you could probably continue the program for quite a while.

You could also switch to different exercises. Sumo or Snatch grip deadlifts. Floor press, one arm press. Or rotate through them. Start with snatch grip for one cycle, switch to your second weakest DL variant for your second cycle and finish with your best variant.

Same thing with the press. Start with side press, go to regular overhead press and finish with floor press.
 

freeflowme

Triple-Digit Post Count
Reset between every lift and do the 5s as a set-of-single. You'll take a breath or two (or three) in the reset. If I remember correctly this is how PTTP suppose to be.
I've been wondering myself whether the sets that I'm posting here are true to the PTTP description - i.e. whether I should be fully resetting between reps. I try to make sure the weight is dead settled on the ground before pulling again, but I'm definitely not standing up and fully resetting myself.

If you're on a track that keeps you 1) enjoying it, 2) doing it, 3) not getting injured or having setbacks, and 4) making progress... It's all good! So yes, find a program that gives you all of that, first and foremost. If you start stalling (i.e. 4 isn't there anymore), then change something, or try another program. Or if 3 starts happening and you're having setbacks, that can also indicate that you need a change in programming. The CNS load/fatigue changes as the weight increases. Once you're deadlifting heavy, the affect on your body changes, even with the same volume. Also you have to consider how the deadlifts fit into the overall program. For example, with SS you deadlift last, after having been fatigued by heavy squats and press or bench press. Still, the overall stress drives an increase in strength, and that's the objective. Whether the DDDL + PTTP squats & rows, or EES, gives you the combination of stress that you can recover from and continue to get stronger is an unknown, for you. But if you KEEP A LOG so that you know what is working and not working, you will learn how your body responds. Good luck and keep lifting!
Is there a limit to how far people can go with PTTP? I.e. is the load on your body too high if you're pulling ~500lbs to do it 5 days a week, 10 reps a day? Do people find they have to move to programs that structure the deadlift differently at that point?

@Abdul Rasheed, could you point me to a specific question? Thanks.

-S-
I suppose my main question at this point in training would be: How would you recommend a person program if they're LOVING the results they see from PTTP-ing deadlifts, but they also really want to start incorporating a squat into their training?
 

Anna C

More than 5000 posts
Elite Certified Instructor
Is there a limit to how far people can go with PTTP? I.e. is the load on your body too high if you're pulling ~500lbs to do it 5 days a week, 10 reps a day? Do people find they have to move to programs that structure the deadlift differently at that point?
Yes, there's a limit to how far people can go with PTTP, for the reason you say and others; such as, you'll need some specialized variety to drive the lift that high, not just doing the same thing.

if they're LOVING the results they see from PTTP-ing deadlifts
But you said, "I think I may have reached the end of the road in terms of being able to constantly wave up another 10lbs every week". So you're no longer getting the results you were... Just saying.

Have you looked at StrongFirst's Reload? It's designed to do several lifts together. That's usually a better option than combining separate programs together.

I need to get some shin sleeves or pants that I can actually deadlift in, I think. I noticed that I started shifting my weight forward because both of my shins were perpetually ripped open / bleeding and i was subconsciously avoiding digging into that.
Yes, that can help, but may not be necessary. It's a subtle shift. Have a look at my deadlifts from this morning below, a set of 5 at 265 lb. Watch at regular speed and see if you can see a difference in the reps. Then slow down to .25 speed and watch the back of my butt relative to that line on the wall. See how in rep 2, I shift forward when the weight leaves the ground? (It was not intentional, but helps show my point). It made that rep MUCH harder, as if there was another 15-20 lbs on the bar! Rep 3 was much better. See if you can focus on this for your warm-up sets and really nail that mid-foot balance. StrongFirst teaches this as wedging yourself between the floor and the load. Your deadlifts will be much more effective AND you will keep the extra load off your low back.

 

freeflowme

Triple-Digit Post Count
Yes, there's a limit to how far people can go with PTTP, for the reason you say and others; such as, you'll need some specialized variety to drive the lift that high, not just doing the same thing.



But you said, "I think I may have reached the end of the road in terms of being able to constantly wave up another 10lbs every week". So you're no longer getting the results you were... Just saying.

Have you looked at StrongFirst's Reload? It's designed to do several lifts together. That's usually a better option than combining separate programs together.



Yes, that can help, but may not be necessary. It's a subtle shift. Have a look at my deadlifts from this morning below, a set of 5 at 265 lb. Watch at regular speed and see if you can see a difference in the reps. Then slow down to .25 speed and watch the back of my butt relative to that line on the wall. See how in rep 2, I shift forward when the weight leaves the ground? (It was not intentional, but helps show my point). It made that rep MUCH harder, as if there was another 15-20 lbs on the bar! Rep 3 was much better. See if you can focus on this for your warm-up sets and really nail that mid-foot balance. StrongFirst teaches this as wedging yourself between the floor and the load. Your deadlifts will be much more effective AND you will keep the extra load off your low back.

Thanks for the vid. I'll study it.

I was also not aware of the StrongFirst Reload. I'll look into that, as well.

Also, far enough pointing out that I might not be able to maintain the results I've been getting, as I admitted myself. I think that I operate out of fear when it comes to programming - if I shift away from doing exactly what I've been doing, will I keep seeing development in my legs, back, and forearms, which I've been loving? If I shift away from doing exactly what I'm doing, will my deadlift get weaker, since I won't be PTTP-ing deadlifts every day, putting almost entirely all my energy and focus into that single lift. I guess it's a FOMO attitude. I should adopt more of a learning, experimenting, and growing attitude.

One little question re: warming up as you mentioned - In PTTP, I think it says not to warm up (maybe I should re-read, I could be wrong), so I never have. I assumed it has to do with adding either unwanted time or more importantly unwanted volume to your workout. But I think warm up sets might really help me with technique and activating the right muscle groups.
 

Steve Freides

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Staff member
Senior Certified Instructor
@freeflowme, why add a squat now? I'm not saying you shouldn't, just curious. For many of us - and this includes me - squatting well but not squatting heavy makes a wonderful pairing with deadlifting heavy. The goblet squat is great for this. When someone is mobile enough, they can - and I do - a "goblet-less goblet squat," which is to say a bodyweight only squat but with that same posture and intent, elbows on the insides of the knees, prying and looking for depth, etc. I love them and probably do them several times a day most days.

As to how long to stay on PTTP, I'd say until it stops working for you. Reload is a great next option, PlanStrong is another great next option. PlanStrong programs can work for a long time due to their design.

Hope this is helpful.

-S-
 

freeflowme

Triple-Digit Post Count
@freeflowme, why add a squat now? I'm not saying you shouldn't, just curious. For many of us - and this includes me - squatting well but not squatting heavy makes a wonderful pairing with deadlifting heavy. The goblet squat is great for this. When someone is mobile enough, they can - and I do - a "goblet-less goblet squat," which is to say a bodyweight only squat but with that same posture and intent, elbows on the insides of the knees, prying and looking for depth, etc. I love them and probably do them several times a day most days.

As to how long to stay on PTTP, I'd say until it stops working for you. Reload is a great next option, PlanStrong is another great next option. PlanStrong programs can work for a long time due to their design.

Hope this is helpful.

-S-
Thanks for the reply. As to why I haven't just added a squat, I suppose the answer is that I fully admit that I don't understand the ins and outs of the human body and how it responds to various stimuli and how that all applies to frequency, intensity, and volume of weight training. I spent the better part of my teens and early 20s in what I think was a state of perpetual overtraining (bodybuilding style workouts with 16-20 sets per body part, all sets to absolute failure, even forced reps, etc.) and for that reason I'm really trying to follow PTTP "to a t," as it were. If you say I can add a squat, though, I'll take your word for it. Would I just gauge how my recovery and progress are affected by the additional workload and go from there?
 

Steve Freides

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Senior Certified Instructor
@freeflowme, thank you for the history - it helps.

Now we need to move on to the present tense - if I don't know the particulars, and I'm asked if a person could add squats to PTTP, my answer would be, "No." This is because most powerlifters do both lifts, but they squat in a manner that has a lot of carryover to their deadlift, and therefore don't need to deadlift nearly as much.

Sooooo, front squat, high-bar back squat, or the powerlifter's usual choice, low-bar back squat? What's it going to be for you, and you still really haven't answered my question about why squat, and where you see yourself headed. And a reminder of an oft-stated maxim around here - if you don't know where you want to go, any road will get you there. If all you're trying to do is _not_ do what you did earlier in life, that's cool, that's good, but that's also insufficient. Remember that all of our easy strength programs, and into this category I place PTTP, S&S, NW, and others, are for people doing something other that lifting. They work great for MIL/LEO, for firefighters and first responders, for martial artists - but what's best for you depends on your life and your athletic goals for yourself.

Still have no specific goal? Then I suggest you pick one, e.g., prepare to take our SFG-I certification program, or prepare for the next TSC, or your first powerlifting meet.

-S-
 

freeflowme

Triple-Digit Post Count
@freeflowme, thank you for the history - it helps.

Now we need to move on to the present tense - if I don't know the particulars, and I'm asked if a person could add squats to PTTP, my answer would be, "No." This is because most powerlifters do both lifts, but they squat in a manner that has a lot of carryover to their deadlift, and therefore don't need to deadlift nearly as much.

Sooooo, front squat, high-bar back squat, or the powerlifter's usual choice, low-bar back squat? What's it going to be for you, and you still really haven't answered my question about why squat, and where you see yourself headed. And a reminder of an oft-stated maxim around here - if you don't know where you want to go, any road will get you there. If all you're trying to do is _not_ do what you did earlier in life, that's cool, that's good, but that's also insufficient. Remember that all of our easy strength programs, and into this category I place PTTP, S&S, NW, and others, are for people doing something other that lifting. They work great for MIL/LEO, for firefighters and first responders, for martial artists - but what's best for you depends on your life and your athletic goals for yourself.

Still have no specific goal? Then I suggest you pick one, e.g., prepare to take our SFG-I certification program, or prepare for the next TSC, or your first powerlifting meet.

-S-
Thanks again, Steve.

I suppose my primary goal when I bought a barbell and some plates was to get my back healthy again. PTTP was the perfect choice for me for several reasons: (1) I've heard so many success stories about healed backs from deadlifts, and PTTP focuses on the DL; (2) I'm self employed, working 6-7 days a week with 2 small kids, so time and rest are at a minimum in my life; (3) I'm a professional violinist, so I can't afford to be sore or otherwise physically exhausted; (3) it's inexpensive and takes up little space around the house to just have a barbell and plates.

I think in general, though, I just love lifting weights. It's what I spent most of my young adult years doing, albeit doing ignorantly and inefficiently. I love watching powerlifting meets, strongman competitions, etc. and just in general love learning about lifting. I think I'd just like to be "generally strong" in the sense that I'm able to progress to above-average healthy male levels of strength in the main compound barbell movements (squat, bench, deadlift, press, and row are what's on my mind), and later on I'd like to get better conditioned too so that I'm not just wheezing my way through life.

PTTP has worked better for me than I really ever could've imagined - both in terms of being able to continually progress, and also in tight, lean, muscular development in my legs back, core, and forearms from the DL and my shoulders, triceps, and pecs from the OHP. It's even given me some really great WTH! effects like feeling relatively god-like on pull-ups compared to how I used to feel. But I get under a bar to squat and just feel tremendously weak, especially in my quads. In the quest to be all-around "generally strong," especially at all the compound barbell movements, I'd like to strengthen that fundamental movement pattern up too. I think if I were to be squatting, it'd be a high bar squat, precisely so I could strengthen the things that the deadlift doesn't emphasize about the lower bodyThis is where things like Pavel's MoM or Dan John's EES have come to mind, as they allow you to target all of those "main" movements - including both a squat and a deadlift - but still in a relatively low-volume way.
 

Steve Freides

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Senior Certified Instructor
As you may know, I’m also a musician for a living, and although I mostly teach, I have both a synagogue job and a church job every weekend, so I know what you mean about needing to not feel knackered when you have to play on a regular basis.

In your place, I’d stick with easy strength type of programs. I wouldn’t squat heavy. I’d keep a press and a pull in your program most of the time, and set yourself a goal of a DL-only participation in a powerlifting meet somewhere in the six- to eighteen-month range.

-S-
 

Anna C

More than 5000 posts
Elite Certified Instructor
In your place, I’d stick with easy strength type of programs. I wouldn’t squat heavy.
Perhaps we should define "heavy."

It's not unusual for a man to have a hard time doing a proper low bar back squat with 95 lbs, when they start out. 75 lbs may be "heavy" for someone not trained in the squat, and I would argue that these individuals would be very well served to spend some time training it. This training will help their legs, their back, their abs, their fortitude, and many other physical and mental attributes, including their deadlift! Almost any male can work up to 225 lbs for sets before the squat is truly anywhere near "heavy" in a general sense. And almost any male can reach 400 lbs or more if they train for 6 months to several years, depending on their approach. (And I would agree, not everyone needs to do this). Just my thoughts with regard to a "heavy" squat....
 
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