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Harriet

Act VIII - Harriet Makes Battle Plans

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Argh. It has been hot and unpleasant for a few days. The heat itself saps my motivation, then I also can't sleep at night. So I haven't done any sketching, meditation, or cleaning. I have kept up with my writing though. I even skipped lifting... I just didn't feel like doing deadlifts after three nights of restless sleep. Hopefully it's going to be cooler from now on and I can get back to normal. 

 

I edited a work for Mr Harriet (a native German speaker) and was dismayed when I googled "multi-perspectivity" only to find that it is indeed a real word. It is an exceedingly ugly word, and I object to its existence and use. Also, "concretizability". SO. UGLY. Did these words always exist, or have they been invented more recently in efficiently managed offices, birthed on powerpoint slides and distributed with agendas and bullet-pointed outlines? Or did academics invent them? 


I did some reading about programming for intermediate lifters, and came to the conclusion that possibly the most important element is enjoying my programme. So instead of trying to figure out "What is the programme that will absolutely maximise X?", I should be asking "What's the most enjoyable way to make some decent progress on X?" Because what matters is sticking at the thing over time. And people are different so it's hard to determine the "best" programme anyway. It's going to be a long trip, so I might as well settle in and get comfortable.

 

Also, I read an article on Stronger by Science about protein. They claim that people's protein needs are not proportional to their size, since the amount of protein that actually goes into building muscles is fairly small, and we need big amounts for triggering muscle protein synthesis, not for using as actual building blocks. Huh. So they say that 20g of protein triggers a near-maximal increase in muscle protein synthesis, but that 40g adds about a 10-20% increase to that. They reckon that 120g of protein per day does most of the good work, but that if you want to optimise a bit more, four meals of 40g each spread throughout the day, including something after dinner and before sleeping, is a little better. Interesting... something to think about. I've been ignoring macronutrients recently because my goal was to be less neurotic and anxious about food with intuitive eating. So I'm definitely not going to start planning meals again. But I guess it's a nice reminder that the protein shakes are really useful and I should maybe consider them if I'm looking for a snack. 

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28 minutes ago, Harriet said:

I edited a work for Mr Harriet (a native German speaker) and was dismayed when I googled "multi-perspectivity" only to find that it is indeed a real word. It is an exceedingly ugly word, and I object to its existence and use. Also, "concretizability". SO. UGLY. Did these words always exist, or have they been invented more recently in efficiently managed offices, birthed on powerpoint slides and distributed with agendas and bullet-pointed outlines? Or did academics invent them? 

 

My go-to dictionary, merriam-webster.com, says none of those are real words :P

 

Which is good, because they are hideous. Pronouncing the latter of the two makes my whole mouth feel weird.

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32 minutes ago, scalyfreak said:

Which is good, because they are hideous. Pronouncing the latter of the two makes my whole mouth feel weird.

 

Phew. Glad I'm not the only one. Mind you, I have a soft spot for Immanuel Kant's "universalisability" just because it's so bad. 

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1381062002.jpg

You have my sympathies. I do a fair amount of proofreading for my boss. Despite him having 2 more years of college than I do, his grammar/spelling is atrocious. (To say nothing of our field technicians. I swear I should add cryptologist to my résumé ..) But I consider myself fortunate that he only occasionally tries to invent words and/or speak PowerPoint.

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1 hour ago, JustCallMeAmber said:

You have my sympathies. I do a fair amount of proofreading for my boss. Despite him having 2 more years of college than I do, his grammar/spelling is atrocious. (To say nothing of our field technicians. I swear I should add cryptologist to my résumé ..) But I consider myself fortunate that he only occasionally tries to invent words and/or speak PowerPoint.

 

Hehehe. Yeah, I shouldn't complain because Mr Harriet's English is better than a lot of native speakers. But still... he has this tendency to use too many words, to make sentences too long, and make his claims too guarded. I see all the unnecessary verbiage and be like:

giphy.gif

"Let's streamline this overgrown monstrosity and let the sunlight that is plain English shine upon your ideas". 

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5 hours ago, Harriet said:

Also, I read an article on Stronger by Science about protein.

 

I've read this article too (and most of the SbS stuff from the past few years) and it really helped me cool off about feeling like I need massive amounts of protein. As a fellow over the two bill mark, it's pretty weird to feel like you need to eat the equivalent of five chicken breasts or more every day just to not lose muscle. I kind of forgot about the nutrient timing bit and the before-sleeping bit, so thanks for the reminder. What a great site.

 

As for linguistics, chaos reigns I say. If you can convince enough people a word exists and/or has a certain meaning, then it does. Boom, done. No gods, no masters.

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2 hours ago, Deckard Gainz said:

 

I've read this article too (and most of the SbS stuff from the past few years) and it really helped me cool off about feeling like I need massive amounts of protein. As a fellow over the two bill mark, it's pretty weird to feel like you need to eat the equivalent of five chicken breasts or more every day just to not lose muscle. I kind of forgot about the nutrient timing bit and the before-sleeping bit, so thanks for the reminder. What a great site.


Yeah, especially if you tried for 1g/lb, which some articles recommend just to be sure. That would be a lot for you (I assume a bill is 100lb). Meanwhile, I should be eating MORE than I have been. My intuitive eating hasn't been great for nutrition so far; I've been eating more carbs and sugar and less protein. I also tend to go vegetarian for about half my meals, and they're not as protein-y. I'm just going to throw in some milk and protein powder. Thank the spirits for the existence of dairy. 

 

2 hours ago, Deckard Gainz said:

As for linguistics, chaos reigns I say. If you can convince enough people a word exists and/or has a certain meaning, then it does. Boom, done. No gods, no masters.


Well, sure. It's not about rules or gods. It's about creating the meaning and impression in your reader's mind that you intended to create. If a writer doesn't understand conventional language use, they might have trouble creating the right impression, and they might have trouble intuiting how novel, rule-breaking uses of language will be received by their audience. Bureaucratic and business language also create certain impressions in readers. They're not totally neutral. And I have my own aesthetic preferences, but the extent to which I apply them depends on the kind of help the writer has asked for. 

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2 hours ago, Harriet said:

It's about creating the meaning and impression in your reader's mind that you intended to create. If a writer doesn't understand conventional language use, they might have trouble creating the right impression, and they might have trouble intuiting how novel, rule-breaking uses of language will be received by their audience.

 

Another Stephen King fan? :) 

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Yes and no. Same general idea. :)

 

One of the best things King has written is "On Writing: A Memoir of the craft", and he mentions grammar and vocabulary in the part of the book called "The Toolbox". 

 

Basically he argues that everyone who reads and writes knows grammar, because if we didn't we would not be able to read and write. We understand how grammar works because we have absorbed it from the language that is everywhere all around us, every day.  We may not be able to explain the rules, or name them, but we know how they work. That's why we laugh at Amber's picture about how commas save lives. The short chapter on grammar in On Writing makes the point that a writer should (and does!) know enough grammar to be able to use it for writing the story they want to write the way they want to write it. That good writers know how to use it to set the tone in what they write, to convey emotions between the lines, so to speak. And they can't do that without a good understanding of regular/conventional use of syntax and sentence structure.

 

Or, in other words, if you remove the comma it should be because you are writing a story about a culture that kills and eats their elderly, when they have aged to the point they can no longer make meaningful contributions to society. Not because you don't know better.

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21 hours ago, Harriet said:

 

Hehehe. Yeah, I shouldn't complain because Mr Harriet's English is better than a lot of native speakers. But still... he has this tendency to use too many words, to make sentences too long, and make his claims too guarded. I see all the unnecessary verbiage and be like:

giphy.gif

"Let's streamline this overgrown monstrosity and let the sunlight that is plain English shine upon your ideas". 

I think that may be partially an indicator of higher intelligence and/or a more cautious nature. As a native speaker who shares Mr. H's tendencies, especially in a professional sphere.

 

I'm also annoyingly exact in my usage of language in a dance teaching and learning context - to the point that one potential coach told me she was scared to work with me!

 

So, don't ever change, Mr. H. But also learn to only be that precise with people who appreciate you for it.

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1 hour ago, Mike Wazowski said:

I think that may be partially an indicator of higher intelligence and/or a more cautious nature. As a native speaker who shares Mr. H's tendencies, especially in a professional sphere.

 

I'm also annoyingly exact in my usage of language in a dance teaching and learning context - to the point that one potential coach told me she was scared to work with me!

 

So, don't ever change, Mr. H. But also learn to only be that precise with people who appreciate you for it.


He is indeed intelligent and cautious. I certainly don't mind the exactness. I mind redundancies and grammatical ambiguities because they make a piece less flowing and more difficult to read, which no one wants*. But I try not to interfere with his detail and precision, which are legitimate elements of his style. 

*Actually,  I take that back. Certain philosophers DO want this, or at least don't care. They're happy to blame the stupidity of their readers for any misunderstandings, rather than considering that there might be shortcomings in their own communication skills.  

 

14 hours ago, scalyfreak said:

Or, in other words, if you remove the comma it should be because you are writing a story about a culture that kills and eats their elderly, when they have aged to the point they can no longer make meaningful contributions to society. Not because you don't know better.


Imagine writing this story accidentally :D 

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I skipped lifting on Wednesday and taekwondo on Thursday because I haven't slept well for about four nights now and I just didn't feel like it. I'm going to get super strict about my caffeine again. The first few days of sleepless nights were due to the heat, but last night was cool and I still didn't sleep well. Hmph. 

Today I was eager to hit the gym again despite not feeling 100%. For my OHP, I managed three sets of five at 65lb. This is significantly better than I've ever managed; I have been stuck here for about 2.5 months, never able to get even two sets of five. So, three sets was unexpected. Maybe taking time off helped... I need to rethink my idea that frequent heavy lifting is always the way to go. I decided to take it easy and treat deadlifts as an accessory, so I did 3x10 at 135lb. I felt this working my grip and my glutes, so I guess it's worthwhile. Also, I was reading about the GZCLP programme and the idea of the "pyramid": apparently building up work capacity through higher reps is the base of the pyramid, and supports the low rep heavy lifts at the top. It makes sense, I guess...so I'm going to do some high rep stuff even though I don't love it. I need a break from the constant deadlift intensity, anyway. Then I tried glute bridges again. It's inconvenient trying to get under the bar with less than the dragon plates on. So I think the minimum I can do is 135lb. I did this, and it was okay. My back hurt, but I realised it was just from the deadlifts. So maybe glute bridges should be on a different day. I did some lat pull-downs and there's something annoying going on in my left shoulder where a ligament or tendon or something is sliding in and out of place. I may have slightly hypermobile shoulder joints, so I think I need to go light and high rep here until I build up supporting muscles around them. 

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I've been reading a little more about lifting programming, but trying to ignore the internet chaff and stick to stronger by science/greg nuckols, which were recommended by multiple nerds if I recall correctly. So I was googling conditioning and work capacity (wasn't sure what the difference was) and figured some things out. Nuckols says plateaus happen because the body's ability to recover matches the training stress, so there's no super-compensation. So one has to increase one's work capacity by increasing volume over time. This, says Nuckols, is best done at loads of 60%-75%. Then after increasing work capacity for a few weeks, one tapers the volume while increasing intensity to hit new maxes. Yay. So, lighter weights and higher reps are not just good for hypertrophy, they are a range in which it's easier to increase volume and work capacity, without which we can't bust through plateaus. I guess this also fits with GZCLP's pyramid model, where the base of the pyramid (higher reps with lower weights) supports the max efforts. 

So.... maybe that's what already happened with me. For a while I was alternating heavy and light days, and then I got sick of it and went back to lifting exclusively heavy, at which point I made some gains and assumed that lifting heavy is better for gains. But maybe the weeks that I spent doing higher volume light work were what enabled the gains to happen when I stopped. And if so... then switching between heavy and light every workout might not be the best approach... it might be even better to do a few weeks of light lifting, focusing on increasing volume as much as possible, and then a few weeks heavy, peaking to a new max. Any thoughts? 

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I don't deadlift heavy very often, because I see more gains focusing on my squat and using deadlifts as an accessory most of the time. Each person is different in regards to how they respond to deadlifts. I appreciate you learning as much as you can about programming. Programming baffles me most of the time. 

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4 hours ago, JessFit said:

I don't deadlift heavy very often, because I see more gains focusing on my squat and using deadlifts as an accessory most of the time. Each person is different in regards to how they respond to deadlifts. I appreciate you learning as much as you can about programming. Programming baffles me most of the time. 


Yeah, I've actually bought Nuckols' little e-books and read through them over the last couple of days. It's definitely cleared some things up for me. One of the most important things he does for the reader is help pick out what's NOT important, which is actually a very valuable service. Anyway I think the most important things for getting strong are: eat enough; eat enough protein, train heavy in your main lifts sometimes; increase your volume INCREASE YOUR VOLUUUUUUM. 


So in more detail: we need to increase our muscle mass and work capacity to lift heavier. Both of these will be driven primarily by increased volume (defined as total pounds moved). The best range for increasing work capacity is probably 60%-80% (NB, all percentages mentioned are for men, more on this below) because lower than 60% doesn't create enough stress, and when you lift higher than 80% it's just harder to get as much volume. E.g. a fourth set of five deadlifts at 175 would net me 3500 pounds, but would probably kill me. Whereas 5 x 5 by 135 would result in roughly the same pounds moved but it would be pretty easy (too easy???). And although we need to lift heavy loads sometimes in order to train that specific skill, as we get more advanced we should probably spend less time at high intensities and more time at lower intensities. As long as we lift heavy sometimes we won't de-strength. 

 

For work capacity/hypertrophy stuff, we should do 30-50 total reps at about 60-75%
For strength on our main lifts we should do about 15-25 total reps at 75-85%
And for training to handle max loads or peaking for competition, we can do 5-10 total reps at or above 85%


You can apparently set it up so you mostly train like a bodybuilder and just peak when you have a competition coming up, but I don't like the sound of that. Another option is to use the lower rep/higher intensity range for your main lifts, and the high rep/lower weight range for accessories, which I think is what some popular programmes like 5/3/1 and GZCLP do. Some people use blocks, but I haven't figured out if and when this is superior to mixing rep ranges and goals within workouts. 


Another important thing to note is that increasing volume can't go on for ever. We can't just add more and more reps and sets, because we'd spend all day in the gym. So regular de-loads are useful, because time off re-sensitizes us to the effects of training stress, so we can keep making progress when we go back. 


So, the above mentioned percentages are for men :( Women apparently can lift more of their 1RM for reps, or put another way, their 1RM is closer to their 3 and 5RMs (I have found this to be true for myself; I estimate my 5RM is about 90% of what I could lift with any amount of effort, or in other words, my absolute max is probably only about 110% of my usual working sets of 5). This is either because of lower neuromuscular efficiency (we can't get all those recalcitrant muscle fibres to fire at the same time) or because we have a higher proportion of slow twitch fibres, depending on who you ask. This means we should train at relatively higher intensities (get the most out of them fast twitchies) AND do more volume than men (hit those slow twitchers). Well, ****. Anyway, I haven't figured out whether higher percentages means +5% or +10%... Or maybe it's better to use RPE or total reps. In any case, I am convinced of the need to incorporate some lower intensity, higher volume stuff as well as my usual 5s. 

Also, Greg says you're a special snowflake and you should experiment and figure out what works for you because all the studies draw conclusions based on means, which obviously obscure a lot of individual differences. ETA but you still have to increase voluuuuuum. 

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My 1RM is closer to my 3 or 5 rep on bench than on DL or squat, probably bench is 90% of my 1RM and my Squat and DL is probably about 75-80%. Of course I have SUPER LONG noodle arms which just trashes my bench in general.

 

 

Also why is volume so necessary? (Not scientifically, I understand that, but why does the science gotta go there?) Why can't I just lift super heavy every darn day and never ever do volume torture? Bleh. 

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17 minutes ago, JessFit said:

My 1RM is closer to my 3 or 5 rep on bench than on DL or squat, probably bench is 90% of my 1RM and my Squat and DL is probably about 75-80%. Of course I have SUPER LONG noodle arms which just trashes my bench in general.

 

 

Also why is volume so necessary? (Not scientifically, I understand that, but why does the science gotta go there?) Why can't I just lift super heavy every darn day and never ever do volume torture? Bleh. 


Interesting. So maybe your squat and DL are more efficient? IDK. Noodle arms, eh? I have twig forearms and bundle-of-twig hands. It's like my arse just doesn't want to share: "NO, I don't care if you're cold and weirdly transparent, you can't have any of my precious fat stores!"

Yeah, wouldn't it be great if strength and hypertrophy were caused by GLORY? A single really heavy, effortful set that leaves you dizzy and gasping would please the spirits of the earth, who would then bless you by making you a little more jacked as you sleep.

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I got 5 reps 140lb for my squat! PR! Form was good. But then the rest of my workout was a bit soggy: I actually failed a squat at a lower weight, and did slightly worse than last week on the bench. A nice man who spotted me suggested I should exhale during the bench. I thanked him. But I don't think I will. Googling "exhale on bench" gives a lot of results, but I am now convinced that many internet sources of lifting information are very unreliable, so I don't trust them more than the coach I did the clinics with. And she said don't breathe out or you will lose pressure like a floppy, airless basketball. 


Speaking of which, I saw basketball on the television for the first time. Either the court is very small, or the men are very large. I think they should increase the size of the court. Also, there should be more kicking, and greater efforts to steal the ball from one another. Also, there should be no random timeouts. Timeouts should only be allowed if a player is bleeding. Or if he is rolling about on the ground clutching his knee very persuasively (not to be mistaken for rolling about on the ground clutching his knee unconvincingly--there will be no timeouts for diving). Other than that, I quite liked it.

 

I have been sleeping poorly for about a week, so I am implementing a no-screens-after-9pm rule from now on. I am also going to get more serious about meditation, not just for the sleep but also because I want to increase my powers of concentration so I can get off the internet and read more books, like I did as a youngster. I finished Carr's "What the internet is doing to our brains" and Serano's "Whipping Girl". Most thought-provoking and informative. Hopefully meditation will increase my ability to sit still and not do anything. I realised one of the reasons I check news and the internet when I'm not even interesting, and why I frequently refuse to watch movies with Mr Harriet, is that I am just accustomed to always doing something. I would like to increase my chill factor so I can watch movies, do nothing between sets, and just walk and take in my surroundings without needing the accompaniment of music. 

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37 minutes ago, Harriet said:

Speaking of which, I saw basketball on the television for the first time. Either the court is very small, or the men are very large.

 

It's a combination of both factors.

 

37 minutes ago, Harriet said:

Also, there should be more kicking, and greater efforts to steal the ball from one another. Also, there should be no random timeouts. Timeouts should only be allowed if a player is bleeding. Or if he is rolling about on the ground clutching his knee very persuasively (not to be mistaken for rolling about on the ground clutching his knee unconvincingly--there will be no timeouts for diving). Other than that, I quite liked it.

 

That's street basketball. They play that outside the NBA, and it's on YouTube, not on network TV ;)

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20 hours ago, Harriet said:

60%-80% ... This means we should train at relatively higher intensities (get the most out of them fast twitchies) AND do more volume than men (hit those slow twitchers). Well, ****. Anyway, I haven't figured out whether higher percentages means +5% or +10%... Or maybe it's better to use RPE or total reps. In any case, I am convinced of the need to incorporate some lower intensity, higher volume stuff as well as my usual 5s. 

 

For whatever it's worth, that's the exact range I threw out in my last challenge thread and was met with a bit of resistance, implying that even 60% is probably too low (unless--and this is important--sets are all taken to failure). My experience seems to corroborate that. I distinctly remember some 5x10s @ 60% that ended in AMRAP sets where I was hitting 16-20 reps at the end. If I'm still able to crank out that much by the end, the first few sets were probably nowhere near enough effort to get the sort of training effect I wanted. 

 

 

20 hours ago, JessFit said:

My 1RM is closer to my 3 or 5 rep on bench than on DL or squat, probably bench is 90% of my 1RM and my Squat and DL is probably about 75-80%. Of course I have SUPER LONG noodle arms which just trashes my bench in general.

 

 

Meanwhile, during the same block of the same program, I failed OHP reps performing the exact same scheme (5x10@60%), so my experience is similar here, that capabilities can vary dramatically based on which muscle groups you're working at the time. 

 

The general consensus is that RPE is best if you can manage it without going too easy or too hard on yourself (admittedly, a challenge). I still like having established set-rep schemes around for a barometer on what's a good range to shoot for, but it's nice to be able to rely on knowing your own body to go hard when you feel good, and ease things up when you feel crappy or didn't get enough sleep or whatever. It's a slippery slope though; I feel like my biggest risk is convincing myself there's always something not ideal about any given workout, and giving myself too much leeway.

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21 hours ago, Harriet said:

Also, Greg says you're a special snowflake and you should experiment and figure out what works for you because all the studies draw conclusions based on means, which obviously obscure a lot of individual differences. ETA but you still have to increase voluuuuuum. 

Which means doing all the research is cool and all, but you still gotta put in the work and see what happens. :D 

 

I love Greg. Their podcast is kicking off and very goofy and chock full of dry humor (but also great content).

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39 minutes ago, Deckard Gainz said:

 

For whatever it's worth, that's the exact range I threw out in my last challenge thread and was met with a bit of resistance, implying that even 60% is probably too low (unless--and this is important--sets are all taken to failure). My experience seems to corroborate that. I distinctly remember some 5x10s @ 60% that ended in AMRAP sets where I was hitting 16-20 reps at the end. If I'm still able to crank out that much by the end, the first few sets were probably nowhere near enough effort to get the sort of training effect I wanted. 


Interesting. Nuckols has said elsewhere that the number of hard sets matters. It seems like RPE, or percentages paired with reps, are supposed to help us estimate how to get a hard enough set. But the percentage + reps doesn't always work for picking the right difficulty because people have different spreads between their different rep maxes. I guess 60% x 10 reps was supposed to be relatively hard for you but it wasn't because you're not the mythical average beast. 

 

53 minutes ago, Deckard Gainz said:

The general consensus is that RPE is best if you can manage it without going too easy or too hard on yourself (admittedly, a challenge). I still like having established set-rep schemes around for a barometer on what's a good range to shoot for, but it's nice to be able to rely on knowing your own body to go hard when you feel good, and ease things up when you feel crappy or didn't get enough sleep or whatever. It's a slippery slope though; I feel like my biggest risk is convincing myself there's always something not ideal about any given workout, and giving myself too much leeway.

 

Good to know. RPE actually sounds pretty sensible. But do you mean you tend to go too hard? I have been finding myself in the RPE 9.5-10 range every workout, and it's a bit much. It's built into my linear-ish programme, though; if I succeed in getting the assigned reps, I increase the weight. And the jumps of 5lb are relatively large for me. So I'm almost always just getting the reps, or failing some. I failed a bench and a squat yesterday, for example. I think I'm going to reduce the volume of my 3-5 rep, max effort main lifts and add in more steeply decreasing back-off sets instead (these should still feel plenty hard). And I'll add in more lower weight, higher rep secondary lifts - something in the 8-10 range that feels like an RPE 8, I guess. 
 

49 minutes ago, Deckard Gainz said:

Meanwhile, during the same block of the same program, I failed OHP reps performing the exact same scheme (5x10@60%), so my experience is similar here, that capabilities can vary dramatically based on which muscle groups you're working at the time. 


Yeah, I can do fewer reps of low-weight OHPs than I can other lifts. So far, anyway. That's what the volume work will correct! Death or GLORY!!!! 

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21 hours ago, JessFit said:

Also why is volume so necessary? (Not scientifically, I understand that, but why does the science gotta go there?) Why can't I just lift super heavy every darn day and never ever do volume torture? Bleh. 

Hahaha the downside of evidence-based methods of doing anything. Sometimes, the evidence tells you truths when you'd really like to be told a lie that makes you feel good.

 

And I'm staying out of the programming discussion because I've read so little recently that I don't have much to add. Though I have seen elsewhere (probably Layne Norton's instagram) that challenging volume matters, not just volume per se.

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