Wednesday, July 7, 2021

"Limited" Training - Alan Daly (1999)



Here's a great article on a very interesting training approach for advanced lifters, taken from Issue 58 (Jan/Feb 1999) of the first run of Hardgainer magazine. There is currently a second run, Hardgainer 2.0. If you're interested in back issues of the first run or getting your hands on 2.0 issues, have a look here: 

This article is aimed at the experienced trainee who can squat 300 pounds for at least 15 reps. It's not for novices or intermediates. It's also designed for the family man, usually with young kids, who works full time, perhaps on shifts, whose wife is working full or part time, and whose age ranges from 25 to 45-ish, and who has never entered a contest in his life -- much like most men I know and train with. 

What we are after is a good amount of muscular size, a high level of fitness, well-above-average functional strength, but, above all, health, and freedom from injuries.

Over the years I have become increasingly conservative regarding training. Rarely, if ever, do I employ low reps and seriously heavy weights. It's high-rep squatting and deadlifting all the way; and now, high-rep benching an curling too. To be frank, despite what the low-rep aficionados say, I firmly believe that high-rep training is far "healthier" than low-rep work and far safer. 
"Limited" training is so called because the weight on the bar is limited to a certain weight -- never increasing or decreasing. The time it takes to complete the set are also limited, to five minutes. This time limit is deliberately kept brief o that the trainee can concentrate all his efforts into performing as many reps as possible with the given weight, in the given time span. 
There's nothing "limited" about the effort required! 
The resistance used is based on the current bodyweight of the athlete. For percentage lifting in the squat, sum deadlift, and stiff-legged deadlift, train with a weight that's 150% of bodyweight.
If the advanced lifter were to use "heavy" weight -- double bodyweight -- or utilize a time period of more than five minutes for completion of the set, there's a distinct possibility that he could over tax his recovery ability, induce fatigue, and not be sufficiently rested for his next planned workout. By keeping the resistance moderately heavy, and the time span brief, he will ensure that full recovery can take place.
Normally, as a lifter becomes heavier he also becomes stronger. But this extra weight is not all muscle; some of it is fat. Percentage lifting encourages the trainee to become stronger -- by lifting the weight for one more rep each time he trains (or at trying to) -- and leaner. Additional fat increases bodyweight, and therefore resistance on the bar.
Percentage training is about promoting a good strength-to-weight ratio. The athlete does not lift an arbitrary figure. A 500-pound deadlift would be easier for a 250-pound well-conditioned athlete to lift that it would be for a 150-pound athlete, all things being equal. Percentage training allows for a "level playing field," and it encourages lifters to be strong and lean.
As well as being safer for the joints, this type of training will tax the cardio-vascular system to a far greater degree than pure-strength-building low-rep work can. It also means that a small man can compete against a large training partner, where what matters is not the weight on the bar, but the number of reps in the set.
Program Design
One of the most intensive and results-producing combination a trainee can perform is straight-bar full-depth squats immediately followed by a set of Trap Bar stiff-legged deadlifts. This devastating duo is ideal for the average garage gorilla with limited space and equipment. 
Use 150% of your current bodyweight, for both exercises. To make weight computation easy, and plate loading, round up your bodyweight to the nearest 10 pounds. For example, if you weigh 177 pounds, round up to 180 pounds. Then your poundage would become 180 x 150%, i.e., 270 pounds.
To avoid over-stressing the lower back, which is placed under severe stress by the squat/deadlift combo, perform squats followed by the stiff-legged at one workout, then squats followed by sumo deadlifts at the other. By alternating the deadlift variations you give your back a fighting chance of recovering from session to session. 
Although percentage training is designed specifically for the squat and deadlift, it does lend itself particularly well to two upper-body exercises, i.e., the supine bench pres, and the barbell curl.
The bench press should be performed inside a power rack, for safety, with the lifter starting the lift from the bottom position, with the bar resting on the pins and just grazing the lower chest. The grip should be medium to narrow, but not wide. Use 75% of bodyweight as the resistance. For example trainee, this would compute to 90 pounds (50% of 180 pounds). 
In "limited" training, take as few or as many "rests" as possible during the five-minute time period of each "limited" set. In the case of the squat, the bar can be returned to the stands, for a "breather." For the deadlift, set the bar down and stand upright for the "breather." For the bench press and the curl, rest the bar on the pins. But the rest periods are included in the five-minute set duration, so the rest periods should be minimized. Remember, the focus is to perform as many reps as possible within the five minutes of each set.
Although you're to squat every workout, alternate the percentage benching and curling with other exercises, so that the latter are not performed every workout. And always alternate the stiff-legged and sumo deadlifts, workout to workout.

The Rule of Five

All training should be planned in advance. A haphazard workout will bring forth poor results. An efficient way of planning is to have a "simple" system -- a certain way of working things out to bring maximum benefits. One way is to apply the "rule of five" to your "limited" training.

1) Train only once every Fifth day.
2) Perform only Five exercises per workout -- two for the upper body, two for the lower body, and one for the grip.
3) Carry out a Five-exercise warmup before each workout.
4) Have only Five work sets in each workout -- one for each exercise. 
5) Regardless of the exercise of style of performance ("limited" or "ordinary") keep your reps above Five.

Example Program 
Alternate these routines: 


Fifteen-minute five-exercise warmup.

1) "Limited" squat: one set with 150% bodyweight, in five minutes. 

2) "Limited" stiff-legged deadlift: one set with 150% bodyweight in five minutes.

3) "Limited" barbell curl: one set with 50% bodyweight in five minutes.

4) Overhead press: 1 x 12.

5) Grip machine: 1 x 15.
Fifteen-minute five-exercise warmup. 
1) "Limited" squat: one set with 150% bodyweight, in five minutes.
2) "Limited" stiff-legged deadlift: one set with 150% bodyweight in five minutes.
3) "Limited" bench press: one set with 75% bodyweight, in five minutes.
4) One-arm dumbbell row: 1 x 20.
5) Grip machine: 1 x 15.
A stronger, healthier and injury-free lifter should emerge from a sustained period of this "limited" training, without the weekly "grind" of having to constantly add weight to the bar (except on the non-limited exercises.) The "new territory" you'll be exploring will be adding reps to the set, rather than pounds to the bar.
As far as my training friends and I are concerned, this "limited" style of training is safe and enjoyable, and gaining more devotees up here in Glasgow, Scotland. 
After years of heavy poundages, and the subsequent injuries that seem to accompany them, most of us advanced trainees prefer the "let's add a rep" method of progression rather than the "let's add a pound" method.
Full List of Percentages  

Here's a list of percentages and exercises to be used for "limited" training, again aimed at experienced trainees who can already squat a least 15-20 reps with 300 pounds. (The poundages listed here would be far too heavy for novices and intermediates) All percentages refer to bodyweight.

Powerlifting squat: 175%
Olympic squat: 150% 
High-rep squat: 100%
Stiff-legged deadlift: 150%
Sumo deadlift: 150%
Straddle lift: 150%
Bent-legged deadlift: 200%
Bench press: 75%
One-arm dumbbell row: 75%
Overhead press: 50%
Barbell curl: 50%
Shrug with Trap Bar: 100%
High-rep partial deadlift (just above knee height): 150%

Enjoy Your Lifting!










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