Switching to Starr/madcow 5X5 (possibly too soon?)
I have been doing your original incredibly effective and ingenious SS novice program and I think I'm ready to move on to an Intermediate program. The Starr/madcow 5X5 "linear" program appeals to me, but I have questions...
- Let's say I might be able to milk the Novice program a little longer, and I'm jumping the gun on moving to an intermediate program. What's the downside of moving to Intermediate too soon? Is is just an issue of slower progress (because the Wednesday "recovery" workout is wasted on a novice)? I'm OK with slower progress, but is there any other downside to switching to intermediate program too soon?
- The default program calls for Bench Press Mon & Fri, with Press on Wed. The press gives me more problems progression-wise than the bench, so can you foresee a problem with me switching it so I do Press twice a week (Mon & Fri) and Bench on Wed only?
- One last question. This program calls for 5X5 ramping up to your 5RM on Mon, then a sort of recovery day on Wed. Then on Fri you do the exact same workout/weights as Monday, except you replace the final max set of 5 with a heavy (ie 5RM + 2.5%) triple followed by a drop set of 8 reps.
My question: What is it about Friday's heavy triple followed by the drop set of 8 reps that magically prepares you to increase your 5RM by 2.5% the following Monday? Why not just adding a tiny bit of weight (1.25% maybe?) for a 5th set of 5? I'm not asking in order to criticise (in fact this idea of "bracketing" your 5RM in order to increase it appeals to me conceptually). I'm just curious to know if there's a rationale for this other than "it works".
Why not switch to intermediate sooner rather than later? Because it wastes an opportunity to progress faster rather than slower, and opportunity you won't have again. Linear progress is the fastest progress, and since the point of training is to get stronger, the most efficient way is a linear progression, for as long as it works. Bleed it for all it's worth while you can, because you'll be doing intermediate-level training for a much longer time than you'll ever be able to do a novice progression.
The second and third questions are really the same one: you can do whichever version of these works the best for you. I like for general intermediates (not PL competitors) to alternate benches with presses for shoulder balance and more functional upper body strength and development, but you do what suits your own needs. There is no One Way to do any of this.
Originally Posted by Robert Beckett
If all you did was add 1.25% every Monday and Friday to your 5x5 rep scheme then that would be an example of novice like progression and would not be considered an intermediate level program.
The heavy triple followed by the back off set of 8 kinda acts like the 5 x 5 (sets across) does in the Texas Method example in PP. It is an increase in total workload which is enough to disrupt homeostatis in order to cause enough adaptation to drive progress on Mondays top set of 5. This workout you reference is set up along similar principles as the Texas Method example in PP, it just uses slightly different set and rep schemes and the Monday - Friday workouts are flip flopped.