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Barbell Logic

Jul 25, 2019

Monday's episode covered programming fundamentals for the ever-popular question: what do I do after the novice LP? Today Matt and Scott expand on the topic by walking through specific examples and discussing their thought process troubleshooting each scenario.


Most people begin to fail on LP for just a couple reasons. As mentioned in episode #55 - Programming Is Secondary, consistency and technique make the biggest impact on progress in the gym. But let's assume that you consistently make your workouts, and your technique is good. The reasons you will fail on LP are:

  1. You have not done enough work to adapt to the current training loads
  2. You cannot recover from the work each session


That's it! The coach's challenge (or the self-coached trainee's challenge) is to determine which is the case in any given scenario. In the case of the squat, when the bar speed begins to slow significantly and things get grindy, the first programming change we make during LP is to make the mid-week workout a light day, reducing the load to ~80% of the load lifted earlier in the week (but sticking with the 3x5 set/rep scheme). For most lifters at this point in LP, a 5lbs increase each workout constitutes sufficient stress to continue driving strength, but they cannot recover from three PR workouts a week.


Now wait a minute... stress is supposed to go up if we want to continue making progress right? In the midweek deload, stress (as measured by tonnage) goes down since the load goes down and sets and reps remain the same. This is true, but only temporarily. If the midweek deload allows the lifter to drive his loads up, then in a couple weeks as the weight on the bar climbs he will indeed be doing more work (tonnage) than he was before.


This is crucial. Stress must go up over time, but it's a trendline. After novice LP, you can't measure stress from workout to workout anymore. Loads won't go up every single workout. But they will go up over time. That window of time is governed by your level of training advancement, as discussed in the many intermediate and advanced programming episodes.


Programming is pretty simple when you examine the problem at hand rather than talk in generalities. The challenge lies in the fact that there are often multiple solutions to the problem, yet some may be more optimal than others given everything else that's happening in the program. To recap from previous episodes, there are essentially four basic "moves" we can make in programming:

  1. Increase work -- using the programming variables of intensity (load), volume, frequency, and exercise selection
  2. Decrease work
  3. Increase recovery -- with more rest time between sets, more rest between workouts
  4. Decrease recovery -- with less rest time, or by doing more work within the same rest "window"



Still confused about programming? Send a question to Matt and Scott! Email us at and we'll answer your question on an upcoming Saturday Q&A! 



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