post novice strength training

The Post Novice Series

You’re no longer a strength training beginner: now what? While training’s complexity increases for the post-novice, it does not need to be more complicated than necessary.  Learn the dos, don’ts, and whys of post-novice strength training in these classic Barbell Logic episodes.

Ep 1: Stop Lying to Yourself About Recovery

To increase our strength, we follow the stress recovery adaptation cycle.  If you complete your programmed training, you receive stress.  As LP gets harder, how do you maximize recovery?  

Ep 2: You Can Still Use LP

Some say that linear progression (LP) only works for lifters who have never trained before.  Others think that they’ll only do LP once, but this isn’t the case.  

Intermediate and advanced clients who have never completed LP find that an abbreviated LP leads to PRs, as the simplicity and intensity of adding weight each session drives rapid progress.  

Following an injury, a break from training, or peaking for a meet, clients often train using linear progression once again.  They almost always end with heavier weights than their first LP.  

Linear progression is the fastest progress you’ll ever make as a lifter.  Though novices often look longingly at more complicated training, advanced trainees miss the simplicity, rapid progress, and relatively low volume of LP.

You can still do LP.

Ep 3: Embracing the Grind & A Clarification

For many people, the biggest change during LP is not physical but mental.  Overcoming truly heavy weights improves mental toughness and builds confidence.  Once the initial novelty wears off and the weights grow heavy and move slowly, people often quit on doable lifts.  To complete PRs, to learn what you are capable of, and to undergo the refining process of voluntary hardship, you need to embrace the grind.  For hard reps, this means grinding against them for no less than 5 seconds.

By saying this, we don’t mean that everyone should grind every set or even most sets.  We say this because we train less experienced lifters who lift for life.  Most lifters quit too early and too often.   We focus on coaching everyday people:  we’re generally not coaching Olympians or advanced athletes, for whom they must balance pushing for performance with not overtraining or getting injured.  

Embrace the grind when it’s necessary, because it’s good to experience hard things.  

Ep 4: The Dos, Don’ts, and Whys of Supplemental Lifts

Matt and Scott talk all things supplemental lifts:  how do they differ from accessory lifts, what are their favorites for the big 4 lifts, when to use them, and different types.

Supplemental lifts are variations on the big 4 lifts.  They generally increase the intensity by decreasing the range of motion or increase the time under tension and decrease the intensity.  They are more specific to the big 4 lifts than accessory lifts.  

Supplemental lifts should generally only be used by post-novices, as novices still need to improve form and need to gain the easy progress from simply adding weight to the bar.  

Ep 5: Deloads – The Good, The Bad, The Ugly

A common question lifters ask is, “Do I need a deload.”  The answer is usually, “No,” but when and why should you deload, and what is a deload?

A deload is a programmed decrease in stress–usually lasting a week–that allows fatigue to dissipate without detraining.  Potential indicators that a deload is warranted include a decrease in libido, bar speed, or desire to train.

Without a coach, people often deload too frequently and too much (decreasing the stress during the deload to the point where the lifter detrains).  For the most part, lifters don’t need to deload until they are conducting a multi-week program.  

Ep 6: Reynolds 5/3/1

Wendler 5/3/1 is one of the most popular strength programs around, with dozens if not hundreds of variants.  In this episode, Scott and Matt discuss Matt’s variation on it, which increases the volume and uses supplemental lifts.  

Ep 7: Programming the Post-Novice w/Andy Baker

Matt and Scott talk with Andy Baker about a variety of topics including HLM, why LP ends, the relationship between volume and intensity, and more.  Enjoy this wide-ranging conversation.  

Ep 8 : Old Man Texas Method

Old Man Texas Method serves as a post-novice strength training program.  It differs from the typical Texas Method in that the volume is decreased, usually to 3 or 5 sets of 5 as opposed to the stereotypical 5 sets of 5.  

Matt and Scott also discuss driving up the volume stress and intensity stress and how those two stresses differ.  Finally, they discuss not advancing too quickly–use one tool at a time, enjoy the fast progress, and don’t jump to an unnecessarily advanced program.  It is better to use one tool at a time to continue progressing.  

Ep 9: The Four Day Split

Lifters typically complete LP on a 3-day-a-week total body program.  At some point, it makes sense for most lifters to move to a 4-day-a-week program, with one day emphasizing the primarily lower body lifts (squat and deadlift) and the other day emphasizing the primarily upper body lifts (bench and press).  

The 4-day split increases the frequency of the upper body lifts from an average of 1.5 times weekly to twice weekly.  It decreases the frequency of the lower body lifts from 3 times weekly to twice weekly, removing the light Wednesday slot.  The 4-day split also decreases the length of each workout and allows for supplemental and accessory work as the lifter advances.  

The 4-day split is a tool in the MED tool kit to help lifters continue to progress.  

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