Note: Charles is here on a weekly basis to help you cut through the B.S. and get to the bottom of the biggest questions in health and training. Post your questions via social media or in the comments section below to participate in next week's mailbag.

 

Question #1: Deadlifts or Squats?

READER: I don't want to squat, but I love deadlifting. Does it matter as long as I do one of the two?

 

CHARLES SAYS: Well let’s be clear about something here: no one “needs” to squat or pull. You can be perfectly healthy and happy without doing either. But with that being said, I’d be curious as to why you don’t want to squat. Perhaps you just suck at them? If so, can you get better? Should you get better? In other words, what might be the payoff for you?

 

Certainly, you should have at least some sort of a serviceable unloaded squat position for everyday functionality, but assuming you do, and you’re happy with your leg development and strength - no, you probably don’t need to squat.

 

Question #2: Training to Failure

READER: Does going to failure wreck my nervous system and/or prolong recovery?

 

CHARLES SAYS: Taking sets to failure certainly doesn’t “wreck” your nervous system, but it does delay recovery time. Any form of weight training provides a positive stimulus for growth, and to be honest, taking a set to failure is a stronger stimulus than taking the same set a rep or two away from failure. However, taking that set to failure produces far more fatigue than not doing so.

 

So although it’s technically “better” to go to failure, it also comes with a disproportionately higher cost in terms of fatigue and delayed CNS recovery. So it’s okay to do once in a while perhaps, but in everyday training, I’d take your sets one to two reps shy of failure. Focus more on the total work you perform rather than how you do that work.

 

Question #3: Upper Back Development

READER: How can I properly target my back muscles, in particular, my upper back? I can't seem to feel them working and have never been sore in that area. My biceps always end up sore, though. I’ve been working out for about nine months.

 

CHARLES SAYS: From your bicep reference, I’m guessing we might be talking about chin ups here. I actually like chins for the very reason that they tend to encourage biceps contribution. But if I had poor back development (I don’t) I’d go more with pull ups (palms pronated or facing away) and/or rows of various types. I’d also use straps with all pulling movements to further discourage biceps recruitment.

 

Finally, being able to “feel” a muscle during an exercise isn’t the final arbiter of how valuable or effective a movement is. After all, if someone can’t feel his or her biceps during a curl, does it really matter? Is there any way a curl isn’t recruiting the elbow flexors?

 

Play around with the suggestions I’ve just mentioned and let me know if they help.

 

This Week’s Training

I’m now into my second week of my hypertrophy development block, and this week I’ve posted the most volume I’ve ever had since I began recording this stuff. So far, so good. I’m also continuing to make progress on the Olympic lifts.

 

I’ve got a really good video this week, including a discussion on linear periodization, and how to apply it for maximum success. Have a watch and hit me up with your comments and questions!

 

 


Weekly Volume: 91,298 Pounds (Last Week’s Volume: 88,791 Pounds)

 

Significant Lifts:

 

  • Power Snatch: 165x1
  • Deadlift: 365 (2x8)
  • Flat Dumbbell Bench Press: 200x7

 

Monday, March 9, 2015

 

Bodyweight: 200.8 Pounds

Volume: 22,176 Pounds

Average Weight Per Rep: 132.79 Pounds

 

Power Snatch

  • Set 1: 45 lbs × 5
  • Set 2: 45 lbs × 5
  • Set 3: 66 lbs × 5
  • Set 4: 66 lbs × 5
  • Set 5: 88 lbs × 3
  • Set 6: 99 lbs × 3
  • Set 7: 110 lbs × 2
  • Set 8: 121 lbs × 2
  • Set 9: 132 lbs × 2
  • Set 10: 143 lbs × 2
  • Set 11: 154 lbs × 1
  • Set 12: 165 lbs × 0
  • Set 13: 165 lbs × 1

Notes: IQ: 83.08

 

High Bar Squat

  • Set 1: 45 lbs × 5
  • Set 2: 95 lbs × 5
  • Set 3: 135 lbs × 5
  • Set 4: 185 lbs × 10
  • Set 5: 205 lbs × 10
  • Set 6: 215 lbs × 10
  • Set 7: 185 lbs × 12

Notes: IQ: 169.21

 

Jerk-Dip Squat

  • Set 1: 135 lbs × 8
  • Set 2: 135 lbs × 8
  • Set 3: 135 lbs × 8

Notes: IQ: 135

 

Leg Extension

  • Set 1: 130 lbs × 10
  • Set 2: 130 lbs × 10
  • Set 3: 130 lbs × 10

Notes: IQ: 130

 

45° Back Extension

  • Set 1: 120 lbs × 10
  • Set 2: 120 lbs × 10

Notes: IQ: 120

 

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

 

Bodyweight: 203 Pounds

Volume: 19,833 Pounds

Average Weight Per Rep: 143.71 Pounds

 

Bench Press

  • Set 1: 95 lbs × 5
  • Set 2: 135 lbs × 5
  • Set 3: 185 lbs × 9
  • Set 4: 195 lbs × 8
  • Set 5: 200 lbs × 8
  • Set 6: 185 lbs × 9
  • Set 7: 205 lbs × 7

Notes: IQ: 177.94

 

Chin Up

  • Set 1: 9 reps
  • Set 2: 9 reps
  • Set 3: 9 reps
  • Set 4: 9 reps

Notes: IQ: 203

 

Bicep Curl (Dumbbell)

  • Set 1: 70 lbs × 9
  • Set 2: 70 lbs × 9
  • Set 3: 70 lbs × 9

Notes: IQ: 70

 

Skullcrushers

  • Set 1: 65 lbs × 8
  • Set 2: 65 lbs × 8
  • Set 3: 65 lbs × 8

Notes: IQ: 65

 

Thursday, March 12, 2015

 

Bodyweight: 202.6 Pounds

Volume: 35,568 Pounds

Average Weight Per Rep: 235.54 Pounds

 

Clean and Jerk

  • Set 1: 45 lbs × 5
  • Set 2: 65 lbs × 3
  • Set 3: 95 lbs × 2
  • Set 4: 115 lbs × 2
  • Set 5: 135 lbs × 2
  • Set 6: 155 lbs × 1
  • Set 7: 165 lbs × 1
  • Set 8: 175 lbs × 1
  • Set 9: 175 lbs × 1
  • Set 10: 175 lbs × 1

Notes: IQ: 102.89

 

Deadlift

  • Set 1: 135 lbs × 8
  • Set 2: 225 lbs × 8
  • Set 3: 315 lbs × 8
  • Set 4: 365 lbs × 8
  • Set 5: 365 lbs × 8
  • Set 6: 315 lbs × 8

Notes: IQ: 286.66

 

19" Box Squat

  • Set 1: 95 lbs × 8
  • Set 2: 135 lbs × 8
  • Set 3: 185 lbs × 8
  • Set 4: 205 lbs × 8
  • Set 5: 225 lbs × 8
  • Set 6: 185 lbs × 8

Notes: IQ: 171.66

 

Back Extension

  • Set 1: +120 lbs × 12
  • Set 2: +120 lbs × 12
  • Set 3: +120 lbs × 12

Notes: IQ: 120

 

Video of this entire session, plus commentary on how I’m implementing linear periodization is included above.

 

Friday, March 13, 2015

Bodyweight: 201 Pounds

Volume: 13,710 Pounds

Average Weight Per Rep: 149.02 Pounds

 

Close Grip Bench Press (Pinkies On Rings)

  • Set 1: 135 lbs × 8
  • Set 2: 135 lbs × 8
  • Set 3: 165 lbs × 8
  • Set 4: 165 lbs × 8
  • Set 5: 165 lbs × 8

Notes: IQ: 153

 

Seated Row

  • Set 1: 150 lbs × 9
  • Set 2: 150 lbs × 9
  • Set 3: 150 lbs × 9

Notes: IQ: 150

 

Bench Press (Dumbbell)

  • Set 1: 180 lbs × 8
  • Set 2: 200 lbs × 7

Notes: IQ: 189.33

 

Bicep Curl (Dumbbell)

  • Set 1: 70 lbs × 10

Notes: IQ: 70

 

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