Ben Nadel
On User Experience (UX) Design, JavaScript, ColdFusion, Node.js, Life, and Love.
I am the chief technical officer at InVision App, Inc - a prototyping and collaboration platform for designers, built by designers. I also rock out in JavaScript and ColdFusion 24x7.
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Ben Nadel at CFUNITED 2010 (Landsdown, VA) with:

Project HUGE: Huge In A Hurry - Get Big - Phase 3 / Week 3

By Ben Nadel on

I am almost done with the Get Big program in Chad Waterbury's Huge In A Hurry workout. I have been really trying to stick with it; but, as I have gotten farther into the workout, I have started substituting a few of the exercise choices. This last week, Week 3 of Phase 2, I decided to substitute Barbell Box Squats in lieu of Bulgarian Split Squats. I've performed the Bulgarian split squat in this phase and previous phases and they just feel very awkward all around. I have trouble with my balance and my back foot (the one on the bench) never feels good. Plus, the fact that it's 20 reps (10 per leg) plays havoc on my breathing and as a result, I feel that my first leg always gets the better workout.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

I have not done a lot of box squatting in the past and I must admit that I really liked it. It hits your hamstrings in a way that I don't feel all the time. I think the fact that you have to sit down forces you to get your hips back and keep your form in check. I think the box that I had on hand was slightly too tall. It should have probably been about another inch shorter; but, I felt some great explosive power on these! Next week, I'll see if can find a more adjustable box - the gym has a number of step-cardio pieces laying around. Plus, I think I can move the weight up a few pounds.




Reader Comments

Leg training is like cardio training. Even if your goal is to build muscle primarily, you will benefit from having some what good cardio. It will make your recuperation shorter and you will have a better endurance through your strength workouts. But it's a opposition between strength vs. cardio - but it's not mutually exclusive. You can have good cardio and be strong as hell too!!!

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@Marko,

The one thing that I really didn't like about Bulgarian squats was that they seemed to work to many alternative muscles. Meaning, my shoulders, my upper back, my grip. If I am gonna work on cardio for my legs in a unilateral motion, I'd rather do something like step ups or walking lunges.

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I was wondering if you will be putting up those pictures of you (without a tee).

Just tracking your progress of course ;-)

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I just watched the video, my back hurts from watching you do that excercise :( that looks awfully painful.

Sincerely,
Your Secret Admirer!

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Sometimes you feel like training so hard that you can almost walk... One favorite of my own is to do barbell squats, like from 100 pounds as warm-up, and for each set put on a plate more so I stop around at 300-400 pounds. Then go back down again - a pyramid set. And the heaviest set you only do one set of. My thinking is that you can overdo your maxlifts, so do only a few each workout. Then do legpress - but this time do a lot of reps - like 20. Sometimes I've done like 100 reps. The reason is that the legpress at my gym is a machine and the weight stack isn't there is enough. Even when I go with all the weights I do 20 reps. Squats are superior compared to legpress. But the high-reps makes your legs real stiff and pumped, and makes breath real hard. By the end you can hardly walk... That's a good feeling!! And when trained legs you are tired and you sleep like a little baby.

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@Marko,

300-400 pounds? Awesome! I'd love to get up there. Actually, on Friday, I was thinking about trying some half-squats with heavier weight, just to get used to feeling on my shoulders.

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@Ben
Actually it's closer to 300 pounds(130-150 kg). I don't want to go too heavy because my lower back starts getting sore for more than 150 kg (330 pounds).
I did like half-squats with a smith-machine a couple of years with like 5-7 reps with 200 kg (440 pounds) , but I stopped because my lower back got so sore of the weight.
So my advice to you is to do some half-squats with really heavy weight (but which you can handle), but limit your sets to one or two with the weight. I'm little inspired of Dorian Yates minimalistic approach to muscle training which makes a lot of common sense to me.
And sometimes it can be good to do many exercises for your legs but with medium reps - like to do lunges, leg press, leg curl and hamstring curls with 3-4 sets à 10 reps. If you often go real heavy I think sometimes it can be good for you to take a workout which aren't so heavy and which trains in other movements than your used to.

* Sorry for my english, english is not my native tongue *

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@Marko,

So, on Friday, I tried to do some half squats. I am not sure how low I was going, but I think it was like half. I worked up to like 395, which was INSANELY heavy just sitting there on my back. I got like 6 reps at that weight. Feeling a bit daring, I tried lowering the safety bars a notch (probably a bit of 2 inches), got 2 very hard reps and totally failed on the 3rd. The 2 inches in depth made a huge difference in effort.

All in all though, it was a lot of fun. It was cool just to feel so much weight on my back. It put even more shock and awe into people who do like 700+ lb squats! Just holding the weight without crushing the spine is a feat in and of itself.

This week is my unloading week, though, which will be relaxing. Lots of 20+ rep sets.

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Box Squats are really not a good exercise to replace Bulgarian SS, Because BSS is a unilateral exercise and Box squat is bilateral. Two very different animals. If you want to make a balance less of an issue then you should do the split squats like those in get ready.
BSS is a misleading name it should be called back-leg supported single leg squat, which it is. Back in my rowing days when I was able to do single leg squats, I've always found them very effective and utterly humbling. Plus, they say if you can pull few bodyweight single leg squats your knees will be pretty much bullet-proof as far as muscle dis-balances go.

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Hi Ben,

Any dramatic change in your size and strength so far? I'm just starting here. Want to hear any feedback.

Thanks,

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I believe you have misinterpreted Chad's rep and set recommendations.
His 4-6 reps are a suggestion for the weight, not the least or most reps you should do for a given set.

IE If you are going to do a 25 rep set with a 4-6 heavy weight, your sets should look something like this:
100lbs x 6
100lbs x 6
100lbs x 4
100lbs x 3
100lbs x 2
100lbs x 1
100lbs x 1
100lbs x 1
100lbs x 1
total 25 reps in 9 sets with 45 second rest between each set.

The above is assumed that you can do 100lbs x 6 without failure and obviously without slowing down. I notice in your videos (specifically the dips one) that you are going to failure (your third rep) and that you slowed down (your second rep).

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@JE,

I am not sure what you are referring to? Where do you think I misinterpreted the rep scheme?

@Heatman,

I've been told I got bigger, but it's hard for me to tell. I have definitely gotten stronger.

@Isnogood,

Sorry, I did not mean to imply that box squats were an *appropriate* replacement for any type of split squat or uni-leg squat... I simply enjoy them more :D

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Select a weight that allows you to hit the target repetitions on the first set of that exercise. Keep going until you hit the designated number, no matter how many sets it takes.

Rest the prescribed amount of time between all sets.

Keep weight same for all sets.

If you are trying to do 25 reps with a 4-6 rep weight, it will most likely take you 7 or so sets

weight x 6 reps (you slowed down on the 6th rep)
rest 45sec
weight x 5 reps (you slowed down on the 5th rep)
rest 45sec
weight x 4 reps (you slowed down on the 5th rep
rest 45sec
weight x 2 reps (you slowed down on the 2nd rep)
rest 45sec
weight x 2 reps (you slowed down on the 2nd rep)
rest 45sec
weight x 2 reps (you slowed down on the 2nd rep)
rest 45sec
weight x 2 reps (you slowed down on the 2nd rep)
rest 45sec
weight x 1 rep (you did 1 rep slow)
rest 45sec
weight x 1 rep (you did 1 rep slow)

So you did a total of 25 reps with a 4-6 rep weight (4-6 rep weight applies to first set) in 9 sets.

Your videos: In your overhead squat and dip video, you go to failure or 1 rep prior. You should be stopping before this point as you 1) definitely slowed down during the rep compared to previous reps 2) your form suffered 3) should not be going to failure 4) you slowed your rest time between reps.

From the videos, it does not seem you are following what is being stated.

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@JE,

As far as the overhead squat goes, I was working mostly on getting comfortable with the movement as a whole. I had never done it before so I just wanted to feel it out. As such, I am sure it looked ridiculous and didn't follow any of the rules :)

Likewise with the box squat, that's not even part of the prescribed workout, I just wanted to try it. But, watching the video, I can see that my speed does slow down a bit and my form does change slightly, but I would not consider this to be an amount significant enough to stop the set.

Now, watching the dip video, yeah, my 3rd rep is definitely MUCH slow than my previous two. But, should I just stop half way through my rep? If I can finish the rep, I figure I should. After all, if this were to happen under a squat, I can't simply just stop the rep half way. At the top of the 2nd rep, there was some extra effort so yeah, I probably could have stopped, you are correct.

When I started these workouts, I was definitely stressed over following the exact science. But, I am not sure if that is worth being stressed out over. I try not to cheat and I try to stick to what is prescribed, and if there's a little slacking here and there, I'd rather just enjoy the workout than worry that I'm not following it to the "T".

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@Ben-

You are kind of slow on the video, but, you can always keep trying. Practice makes perfect.

I believe in you!

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@JE,

Let me run something by you, because I think you are probably more tuned into the HIAH philosophy than me. When I first started, like I said, I was very nervous about where on the spectrum of weight / speed I feel. I figured maybe I could only do X lbs for Y reps at some speed... but, I just slowed that speed down a bit so start with, then I could probably get X+5 lbs for Y reps.

The way I see it, there's two things that can be selected from the onset: Weight, Speed. I understand the concept of moving weight as fast as you can, but I think at some point, there is a diminished return, right?

Meaning, I can try to move something *really* fast at a given weight... or I can move it reasonably fast at more weight and still get the same reps.

So, how I decide? Even after three months of HIAH, I have erred on the size of weight over speed, but never felt like I had the best handle on it.

Do you have any suggestions? What are your thoughts on this?

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HIAH does not bring a "new concept" ... Chad has discussed "lifting fast" for quite some time (as you are probably aware from testosterone.net or whatever name they are calling themselves these days). I think this book is just the first "published" edition of Chad's methodology along with recommended training programs (his "velocity diet" training explanations being the most recent online examples).

From reading CW, I have gathered my set of opinions and interpretations of his "lift fast" or HIAH concepts.

As he states, he is trying to always target the High Threshold Motor Units as they are responsible for targeting the Fast Twitch fibers (type IIA and IIB). These fibers are targeted due to their ability to "grow" at a much faster rate than slow twitch. (side note: there is research that has been conducted that is essentially concluding there is not such thing as fast twitch or slow twitch fibers, instead only fast twitch and slow twitch motor units ... they took a "slow twitch" muscle and surgically attached it to a fast twitch motor unit (HTMU) and the "slow twitch" muscle behaved as a "fast twitch" muscle).

There are two basic types of recruitment: spatial and temporal. Recruitment is conducted by your Central Nervous System. Spatial being when your CNS recruits more units and temporal being when your CNS fires the units it has recruited at a faster rate. Your CNS is very inefficient at recruiting motor units unless trained to do so (similar to the myth adage that our brain usage is inefficient and that we only use 10% of it...). This is why size is not a reflection of strength yet strength is more likely a reflection of size (a person with a greater efficiency of recruiting what muscle fibers they have is more likely to be stronger than someone that is inefficient at recruiting what muscle they do have - genetics or otherwise and obviously individuals within reason).

As aforementioned, HIAH concentrates on activating as many HTMU's as possible. With the slow twitch being called first and fast twitch later (only being called when needed) ... well this is where Chad's reasoning comes in ... If you want to activate as many HTMU's as possible, you need to lift enough weight that your CNS recruits the HTMUs or you need to lift fast enough that the HTMUs are required (his mass x acceleration). Insert debate about "intesity" when training here...

Lifting extremely heavy (90% of your max) or heavily is extremely taxing on the CNS (and your joints), especially for extended periods of time. Chad varies his recommended rep ranges for this reason (I assume) and generally has higher rep ranges as well. He also wants you to stop short of failure and improper form for this same reason. Failure requires your CNS to recruit more fibers (perhaps ones that you have not used in a long time or ever ... notice how lifting to failure results in more "soreness" which can be attributed to using fibers for the first time or in a long time much like when you lift for the first time after an extended break) and improper form will result in hitting different fibers than the previous targets ones. Likewise as well for stopping when your rep slows down (straining the CNS). He is targeting the muscle (motor units) that provide maximal growth, and not as much the CNS efficiency. Some priming of your CNS to be more efficient will likely occur, but this is a side effect (a desired one I assume), but not his emphasis.

By "erred (erroring) on the size of weight over speed" you are most likely increasing the efficiency of your motor unit recruitment (aka taking advantage of the muscle you already have but you/CNS were not previously using ). Thus, the fibers that you were using have no incentive to "grow" as newly recruited fibers are assisting in the extra load (weight). By lifting as Chad instructs and following to a "T", you will continually target the same fibers and incentivise them to "grow" since they will not receive any additional help from the muscle fibers your CNS is not currently able to recruit.

I would recommend that you do try to follow it to a "T" ... not because I necessarily agree with Chad or the above interpretation of his methods, but because I think it is safe to say you have not followed his methods exactly to this point nor have you followed them in your previous years(s) of "training". So, this method would be "new". New = new stimuli to your muscles and new adaptations your body must make to survive.

Also, with Chad's method, you are more likely to increase your metabolic rate due to the muscle targeting which should assist in burning body fat (assuming your diet and rest/sleep are correct). Burning body fat will help make you look "huge" due to increased definition. This can be seen quite easily in many transformation examples ... take a person who has 160lbs of lean body mass ... see him at 180 pounds (11% body fat) and see him at 200 pounds (20% body fat) and at 180 he will look like a "monster" comparatively despite that fact that he has put on zero muscle and still has 160lbs of lean body mass.

Again, my insights and reasonings on his methods. Also, for the smart asses out there, I know some of what I stated is not 100% accurate, but I was trying to keep things at the 10,000 feet level.

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@JE,

Sorry for not responding sooner - had some wicked deadlines at work. I really appreciate you taking your time to detail such an extensive reply.

That's very interesting what you way about fast/slow motor units vs. fast/slow twitch muscle fibers; I have no heard that before.

I have read Chad's writing before in T-Nation (which I think is now T-Muscle??) and occasionally in Men's Health; so, yes, I concur this is simply the first book-published version of his training methods.

I really like the science behind what he was saying; in fact, I'd say that it is his persuasive and well though out scientific explanations that really got me excited about following the program. But, that said, I am not sure that I follow some of what you are saying. You say that by erring on the side of weight of speed, I am only increasing my neural adaptations and not my fiber size. But, from what I recall from the book, that is not what he is saying; I think he said that there are two ways to recruit more fibers: 1) Lift heavier, 2) Lift faster. I don't remember him saying that one was better than the other, but rather that lifting lighter/faster allows some more recovery of the joints.

I think perhaps you are assuming that by lifting a bit heavier that I am not moving the weight as fast as I can. Even if I add 5 or 10 or 20 lbs to a lift and move it a bit slower, I am not moving it slower out of choice, but rather moving it as fast as I can (even if that speed is a slower that it would have been -20 lbs).

So, for example, I might be able to deadlift 365x6 with good amount of speed.... but also be able to lift 385x6 with less speed, but still the appropriate form and speed consistency; the only difference being that my "as fast as possible" is not as fast at 385 as it is at 365.

But, that said, I think what you are also saying, which I completely agree with, is that moving weight faster that I normally would is forcing my muscle to work differently than they have in the years of "training" that I have had before. So, to that end, the very element of speed can be thought of as variance in training.

Anyway, I'll be starting the "Get Big" phase again shortly. My gym consistency has been crap lately due to ridiculous work deadlines and sickness. I'll be posting more of my experience.

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