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 directly to Charles in the Breaking Muscle Forums.

 

Question #1: Weight Or Reps?

READER: In terms of progressive overload, what’s more important - adding weight or adding reps?

 

CHARLES SAYS: They both play a role, mostly based on your training objectives. If strength is your primary goal, adding weight whenever possible takes precedence. When body composition is most important, adding more reps may be more appropriate.

 

Knowing your goals plays a big part in planning successful training sessions.

 

With all of that said, it’s really overall intensity and volume you need to be looking at, and they’re both necessary no matter what your goal. Usually, when I start a workout, I look back to the last time I did that same workout, and I look for ways to improve upon it. If I feel I have a better shot at adding bar weight, I’ll do that. If I think it’ll be easier to keep the weight the same while adding reps and/or sets, I’ll go for that option.

 

"[I]t’s really overall intensity and volume you need to be looking at, and they’re both necessary no matter what your goal."

As a final note, consistency is more important than overload, so whenever I improve upon a previous session, I’m not necessarily looking to do it by a large margin, because if I do, the next one or two workouts may suffer as a result. So consistency first, and then seek gradual progressive overload in whatever manner you can.

 

Question #2: Cutting Weight While Maintaining Muscle

READER: What's a reasonable rate to cut weight at if I want to maintain as much muscle as possible? 26-year-old male mesomorph, 186lbs, 23% body fat.

 

CHARLES SAYS: I’d suggest between .5 and 1% percent per week. The first few weeks may go faster of course, but once your sodium and hydration levels settle, shoot for .5 and 1% percent per week. The slower you drop, the less chance of losing your hard-earned muscle.

 

Incidentally, in addition to weighing myself daily, I also track my average weekly bodyweight, which I feel is a much more useful and honest indicator of your status.

 

Question #3: Back Pain During Squats

READER: Squats are making my back hurt. Can I do lunges instead? Or is there another substitute?

 

CHARLES SAYS: Well, it’d be nice to know why squats are hurting your back, right? In other words, don’t just delete an exercise when it causes pain. Sure, discontinue it, but at the same time see if you can figure out why it caused you pain. Most people assume pain means bad form, by the way, but that’s not always the case. Some people are just not well suited for certain exercises.

 

As for lunges? Hard to say. If they don’t cause pain, and you can’t squat, sure, I’d probably do them, along with anything else I could to compensate for the lack of squatting.

 

This Week’s Training

Significant Lifts

 

  • Squat: 370x1
  • Bench Press: 255x1
  • Deficit Deadlift: 470x1

                                                              

This Week’s Volume: 104,989 Pounds

 

I’m quite happy with things this week, both in terms of some of the numbers I hit and also in terms of the work I put in. The volume this week is ridiculously high, mostly due to 32,000 pounds of back extensions I ended up doing on Thursday.

 

Orthopedically, I’ve got some pain in my right shoulder, I suspect from doing parallel bar dips, which I’ve now discontinued until things are feeling healthy again. Aside from that, all’s clear on the orthopedic front.

 

Finally, I’ve set my sights on a USAPL powerlifting meet on November 21. I’ll keep you all posted as we draw closer to that date.

 

Thanks all, be sure to check out this week’s videos, and keep sending those questions!


Monday, May 18, 2015

 

Bodyweight: 200.2 Pounds

Volume: 16,188 Pounds

 

Power Snatch

  • Set 1: 45 lbs × 5
  • Set 2: 45 lbs × 5
  • Set 3: 66 lbs × 3
  • Set 4: 66 lbs × 3
  • Set 5: 88 lbs × 2
  • Set 6: 88 lbs × 2
  • Set 7: 110 lbs × 2
  • Set 8: 110 lbs × 2
  • Set 9: 132 lbs × 2
  • Set 10: 143 lbs × 2

 

Squat

  • Set 1: 45 lbs × 5
  • Set 2: 45 lbs × 5
  • Set 3: 95 lbs × 5
  • Set 4: 135 lbs × 5
  • Set 5: 185 lbs × 3
  • Set 6: 225 lbs × 2
  • Set 7: 275 lbs × 1
  • Set 8: 315 lbs × 1
  • Set 9: 355 lbs × 1
  • Set 10: 370 lbs × 1 

 

High Bar Squat

  • Set 1: 135 lbs × 8
  • Set 2: 225 lbs × 8
  • Set 3: 225 lbs × 8
  • Set 4: 225 lbs × 8

 

45° Back Extension

  • Set 1: 120 lbs × 10
  • Set 2: 120 lbs × 10
  • Set 3: 120 lbs × 10

 

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

 

Bodyweight: 201.2 Pounds

Volume: 18,915 Pounds

 

Bench Press

  • Set 1: 45 lbs × 5
  • Set 2: 95 lbs × 5
  • Set 3: 135 lbs × 5
  • Set 4: 185 lbs × 3
  • Set 5: 225 lbs × 1
  • Set 6: 245 lbs × 1
  • Set 7: 255 lbs × 1
  • Set 8: 225 lbs × 4

 

Seated Row

  • Set 1: 150 lbs × 8
  • Set 2: 150 lbs × 8
  • Set 3: 150 lbs × 8
  • Set 4: 150 lbs × 8

 

Incline Dumbbell Press

  • Set 1: 100 lbs × 8
  • Set 2: 120 lbs × 8
  • Set 3: 120 lbs × 8
  • Set 4: 140 lbs × 8

 

Bicep Curl (Dumbbell)

  • Set 1: 80 lbs × 8
  • Set 2: 80 lbs × 8
  • Set 3: 80 lbs × 8
  • Set 4: 80 lbs × 8

 

Tricep Pushdowns

  • Set 1: 130 lbs × 8
  • Set 2: 130 lbs × 8
  • Set 3: 130 lbs × 8
  • Set 4: 130 lbs × 8

 

Thursday, May 21, 2015

 

Bodyweight: 201.2 Pounds

Volume: 49,781 Pounds

 

Power Clean

  • Set 1: 66 lbs × 3
  • Set 2: 66 lbs × 3
  • Set 3: 95 lbs × 3
  • Set 4: 95 lbs × 3
  • Set 5: 115 lbs × 3
  • Set 6: 115 lbs × 3
  • Set 7: 135 lbs × 2
  • Set 8: 135 lbs × 2
  • Set 9: 155 lbs × 2
  • Set 10: 165 lbs × 2
  • Set 11: 175 lbs × 1
  • Set 12: 185 lbs × 1 (Video Below)

 

 

1.5" Deficit Pull

  • Set 1: 135 lbs × 5
  • Set 2: 225 lbs × 3
  • Set 3: 315 lbs × 2
  • Set 4: 365 lbs × 1
  • Set 5: 405 lbs × 1
  • Set 6: 435 lbs × 1
  • Set 7: 470 lbs × 1 (Video Below)
  • Set 8: 405 lbs × 2

 

 

Trap Bar Deadlift

  • Set 1: 225 lbs × 10
  • Set 2: 225 lbs × 10
  • Set 3: 275 lbs × 10
  • Set 4: 275 lbs × 10

 

Back Extension

  • Set 1: +120 lbs × 10
  • Set 2: +120 lbs × 10
  • Set 3: +120 lbs × 10
  • Set 4: +120 lbs × 10
  • Set 5: +120 lbs × 10
  • Set 6: +120 lbs × 10
  • Set 7: +120 lbs × 10
  • Set 8: +120 lbs × 10
  • Set 9: +120 lbs × 10
  • Set 10: +120 lbs × 10

 

Friday, May 22, 2015

 

Bodyweight: 200.4 Pounds

Volume: 20,105 Pounds

 

Floor Press

  • Set 1: 45 lbs × 5
  • Set 2: 95 lbs × 5
  • Set 3: 135 lbs × 5
  • Set 4: 185 lbs × 5
  • Set 5: 185 lbs × 5
  • Set 6: 185 lbs × 5

 

Bench Press (Dumbbell)

  • Set 1: 140 lbs × 8
  • Set 2: 170 lbs × 8
  • Set 3: 170 lbs × 8

 

Military Press

  • Set 1: 45 lbs × 8
  • Set 2: 65 lbs × 8
  • Set 3: 95 lbs × 5
  • Set 4: 95 lbs × 5
  • Set 5: 95 lbs × 5

 

Chin Up

  • Set 1: 6 reps
  • Set 2: 7 reps
  • Set 3: 6 reps
  • Set 4: 6 reps

 

Bicep Curl (Dumbbell)

  • Set 1: 70 lbs × 8
  • Set 2: 70 lbs × 8
  • Set 3: 70 lbs × 8

 

Tricep Pushdowns

  • Set 1: 130 lbs × 8
  • Set 2: 130 lbs × 8
  • Set 3: 130 lbs × 8

 

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Photo courtesy of Breaking Muscle.

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