I'm maintaining my strength right now but when I start back up I'll probably be able to get a bit more out of the novice program. I'm thinking about adding a back-off set to the main exercises once I exhaust the options of reseting the weights and adding assistance exercises. Do you think this is a valid option to consider at that point in a training career? Have you seen people get stronger at this point by adding back-off sets?
Back-off sets at a lighter weight can only add volume to the workout, and are usually done to focus on a technical problem within that lift that can benefit from some concentrated attention being paid to correcting it. A lighter weight done as a back-off set cannot drive up the weight on the work sets.
Is it somehow different for an intermediate? At the bottom of page 185 in PPST you say: "If progress simply stalls...the stress needed to spur progress is probably not being applied on Monday...The addition of one or two higher-rep sets done after the regular work sets is another option; these are referred to as back-off sets."
Aren't you saying that volume can drive progress here?
I was interested in this as well, because I thought it might offer a way to stay strong while losing weight.
Could it be worthwhile for a novice to do 3x3 (heavy) and 1x8 (medium) instead of 3x5? Not as if I'm an expert by any means, but I figure the heavy triples would keep the strength and the backoff set would add a little extra volume to maintain muscle mass.
Volume can drive progress for a short while, but the main work must be done in the rep range and with the weight called for by the adaptation you want to drive. If you want strength, 3s-5s are what you have to do and lighter 12s will not make that adaptation occur, whether done as a back off or as work sets. If you begin to rely on your back-off sets as the primary stimulus, you will stop progressing. But why would you want a novice doing 3s and 8s instead of 5s, when 5s work so damned well?
How about this crazy idea; it deals with assistance exercises after stalling on the main exercises. You said in my earlier thread called "SS combined with sports" that assistance exercises don't keep you strong, they allow you to get stronger on the main exercises. Well wouldn't that make it possible to just keep dropping an assistance exercise once max strength has been developed with it with linear progress and rotate in a different assistance exercise and keep that pattern continuing for a very long time in the novice phase?
I definitely think you're right about the 5-rep range.
Then again, someone doing SS while losing 40 lbs of bodymass is going to stall a lot sooner than someone gaining 40 lbs. I thought maybe lowering the volume but keeping the intensity high could keep progression going when the energy stores are low.
progressiveman1 is right, and this, as I understand it, is the basis for Westside's use of "special exercises".
Yeah, it looks like it. The only difference I see is that Louie Simmons says "In place of...(the main exercise)" in his 2000 article on his website called 'Don't Chase Your Tail', and not "in addition to" which you say. However, I'm not sure if he doesn't have the main exercises included on a different day of the week. I'd be a bit surprised if he completely substituted them for the "special exercises" since it seems like it would result in a loss of neurological efficiency relating to the main exercises. Don't worry, I'm not expecting you to give me any answers regarding his program.
The idea behind "special exersises" dates to the training methods of Juri Vlasov (and his coach Suren Bogdasarov). It resembles WSB, but from unusual point of view. Their idea was to train C&J and Snatch with moderate weights, but doing a lot of heavy pulls and squats. So the main exersises were done dynamically with correct technique and correct dynamic stereotype, and the strength (and strength's "depth") came from pulls and squats, thus "special exersises". Does it resemble ME / DE stuff? Sure, but not the accessory stuff done @WS..
As for multiple reps vs 3-5 range. I was doing in 3-5 range for the last 13 years. Generally it was OK. This spring I've included 10 rep stuff in 65-75%% 1RM area. So my observations.
For me, it's better to change between high rep - low rep training on monthly basis than mixing it together. Theoretically you should maintain your specific adaptations during 3-4 weeks period - and you do maintain it. Doing 10 reps give you a bit of change and some rest to your tendons.
I was afraid if I manage to keep my muscular endurance having returned to low rep training, so I added a back-off set of 10. It adds only to the accumulation of fatigue..when I dropped it, I could get more from low rep training, and my endurance stayed with me.
Some points: do no more than 10 reps going not lower than 65% (70% would be better). Try to bring those reps up to your strength level (get up to 10 reps with 75%1RM).
Undulated version (1 day - 10 reps, another - 5 or 3) was not that good for me. It helps to maintain your qualities, but not to get smth new.
Nothing pretending to be the truth at its end, just personal experience...