Thursday, October 10, 2019

200 Days

Summary Reflection: To see if I can. Because I must.

            Two phrases I have said repeatedly since starting to lift without a rest day over six months ago. Thankfully friends and family understand who I am; how I am. Not that further justification has been denied to them. Rather, they know the value I hold in such phrases. Our words say a lot and amount to more than we could ever imagine. I told myself that I would lift without a rest day for six months. I have achieved that goal. This is but a marker, only a waypoint. Now over 200 days, six months without a rest day was two weeks ago.

           Momentum like this makes days go by quick. Patience and consistency generate force unlike any other. It feels like yesterday that I embarked on this voyage into the unknown. Unfamiliar because I have used my General Gainz theory of progression the entire time. It is a framework I have full confidence in, especially now. Using this progressive structure to experiment first on myself, then on clients, and now on the public; we are the subjects. Not everyone is lifting every day, this is a single experiment of many. General Gainz is proving successful in various ways across several hypothesis I have conceived. Daily training is one possibility proven correct among many; others will follow. General Gainz works, as demonstrated by myself, those I train, and those I do not. Is there better evidence? No.

Months ago, before this ‘no rest experiment’ went live, I published a hint of the framework. A trailer for General Gainz if you will. Enough to get the plot without all the excitement and thrilling details of the full-length motion picture. Thereby ushering a period where various hypotheses are being proven. Some have already; one in particular: Lifters will make their own programs and be successful with them. Another being the ability to train as such: without rest days - atypical for lifting weights. I took on this daunting task knowing others will follow. Not in lockstep, but with their own style and approach. Along the same path using the guiding principles hinted at since publishing what little I have of the General Gainz training concept. The success of others proves another hypothesis: A simple progressive framework coupled with consistent effort yields results – always. GG is not unique in this way but adheres to this ‘law’ uniquely.

When training, rest days are a given and accepted as mandatory. Then, taken for granted. This was me but no longer I: “Rest tomorrow so I crush myself today.” Abusive not constructive. Thoughts like these are now far from my mind as they deteriorate consistency, which ultimately builds strength and physiques, and in a word: progress.

Lifting four times a week is only 16 sessions a month. For six months that person lifts only 96 days; seven days a week nearly doubles that. This does not mean double the results, but it does mean different results. I argue better ones: to strength, physique, and mentality. If strength is the focus it will improve, as mine has. If physique, it too. As mine has. Alongside these goals, whatever one’s focus, the appreciation of dedication grows. It is more than discipline. A word tarnished in today’s hyper lethargic state; optimal or not at all. Restless procrastinators always start tomorrow, forever discontent with today. 

 In this period of six months I transitioned from a cutting phase to a bulking one. At a lean 158 pounds I pressed 200 pounds overhead. That was at 31 days without rest. 169 no-rest-days later I pressed 205 pounds on day 200, having barely missed 209 pounds two weeks before; six-months, 182 days. During this period, I gained five pounds of bodyweight while staying as lean. Pressing 205 pounds is a personal record at such a low bodyweight. My all-time best is 225 pounds, then weighing close to 190-pounds.
             Pretty lean, decently strong.

In these 200 days I regained strength and more importantly confidence with my squat and deadlift. Long hampered by ancient injury and more likely: mindset lingering on fear of reinjury. That erodes quick with daily effort. When a 405-pound deadlift went up easy on Day 100 I knew more weight was once again mine. I only needed to be consistent and patient. Seventy days later, while at a YMCA on the other side of the country and 9,500 feet lower in elevation I pulled 405 for three reps; no belt, no chalk, no fear. Back home, on day 183 I pulled 500 pounds confidently, something not done in two years. I would not call this a ‘comeback’ for I have not returned to a familiar place. I am in a new place entirely: mentally and physically. Stronger in more ways than a one rep max can express. In fact, so confident I pulled 500 again two weeks later. Without a belt on a stiff bar with hardly any knurling or chalk for my grip. It went up smoothly at Armbrust Gym in Wheat Ridge, Colorado at half the elevation of my home gym. Is oxygen a steroid equivalent? Probably. 

500 pounds now feels unlike the first time I picked it up seven years ago. It feels better. I was unafraid, without intimidation. Approaching the bar differently than I had ever before. None of this achieved when I was physically stronger, when my max was over 600 pounds. Even then in the back of my mind uncertainty remained at this benchmark weight. For squat, the low 400’s brought hesitation almost always, so it felt. Soon that will be eclipsed, eroded too, like the fear of reinjury fading fast as I feel momentum surge. A blurry speck in the rearview as my daily effort continues, while what is ahead grows larger and clearer: heavier weights, greater strength, a better physique and confidence in my ability.

General Gainz produces confidence because it focuses on reps to generate progress whereas most ‘programs’ rely on weight lifted; measuring strength only by pounds on the bar. “Add 5 pounds to progress, if not possible, then reduce the weight and restart with the same reps as before.” How many steps forward and back before one quits altogether? How many days off between activity before one misses enough sessions to say: “I’ll start again next week.” Quickly becoming: “Next month.” Then finding themselves weaker than ever as part of the New Year’s resolution crowd at the local globo gym: “I’ll start lifting again next year.”

Start today or never. If even an hour from midnight break a sweat. It is a commitment to yourself and an investment in physicality, the underlying strength of our mind and spirit; our trinity. The three make us godlike, superhuman. Tomorrow is day two, then day three… soon enough six months is behind you. It will go by fast, which means some results arrive rapidly. I am not lying. On day 189 I looked in the mirror after a workout and saw my deltoids. Sure, they were always there but I saw them then in a size and shape I have been wanting since I began lifting over a decade ago. I am not bigger than ever, but I am shaped differently, better. “Dense” is the word my wife uses. Strangers have used the phrase “Strong looking”. For a 33-year-old fulltime tradesman with a family these things feel good to hear.
Delts coming in.

The time must be made and used appropriately, with genuine effort and consistency. General Gainz inherently promotes these things with its simple intuitive progressive framework. Cannot add weight? Then add reps. If not more reps, then choose less and try for more weight; or less of one or the other, or the same of each, but with better technique; and of course, the option of less time. In these actions we progress intensity, volume, quality or density; or any combination of each – it is up to the determination of the lifter, not an off the shelf “program” scrawled by a former somebody who presently looks and moves like they have no body. I intend to lead the way, blazing the trail for General Gainz. Patient Zero finding routes for interested followers and evidence for naysayers. This post is a proclamation of experimentation and a claim of excellence.

Years ago, ‘GZCL’ was just a random lifter posting on the internet. Now it is a training approach 45,000 people read about each month. Eventually, lifters I do not coach will be using General Gainz in gyms and on platforms around the world. Results speak for themselves; people speak of their results, which are undeniable with my ‘style’ of training. Whether it be UHF, Jacked & Tan or my other templates, and soon enough GG as a new training system altogether. Word of mouth is the best advertising. Something I have never paid for; others must to stay relevant. They create gimmicks, capitalizing on the trends of today. This is not General Gainz, which is Actually Intelligent training because you must use a real mind: your own. Thoughtful effort produces results whereas mindless adherence produces reluctance: to train – consistently, enjoyably, effectively. These things achieved out of General Gainz inherently. Add only dedication. 

“What one man can do another can do.” A mantra I use and encourage others to also. Self-belief begins with what we say and hardens with what we do. Making our character concrete, cured by steps taken daily. The first few are always the hardest. Straining our way out of the quagmire we may have fallen into. Working through the morass simplifies it; makes solutions – our goals – clearer and easier to achieve. Consistent action is freedom. Moving us towards the vision we see for ourselves. Where we want to be, what to attain, and who to become. In a word: gains.

To see if we can. Because we must.

Applications & Adaptations

For those interested in running a General Gainz based training plan, here are some pointers and ‘lessons learned’ from the last two and a half years of my experience with its development. Focusing also on the last six months of training without rest. Also taken from client reports, most of them train four to six times per week. May these provide ideas on how to implement this progression framework and assist in preventing negative outcomes. You have my vote of confidence, because I believe in the system. 

Variety & Specificity

An important factor that should not be ignored when using General Gainz. We all have specific lifting goals in mind; apply variation and specificity to the general progression concept to achieve those goals. These things work together in benefit of the other. Too much of one thing grows stale and potentially regressive; haphazard produces similar results. Weights, reps, movements, and lift quality are several things to keep in mind and plan for when training in this style.  

Three-week waves (or cycles) are my personal norm. Going longer, up to five or six weeks works, but variation with high frequency training improves consistency while limiting the need to ‘deload’. The start of the next wave is often the low point of that next cycle, acting as a deload of sorts already; improved by variation in movement, using different bars, rep max (RM) and effort targets, etc. Not a deload in the traditional sense, but enough of a change to act as both a break and a kickstart. 

Specificity not only describes the movements performed, like the squat, bench press, or deadlift. Examples specific to the sport of powerlifting and of course never necessary for the general trainee. Specificity speaks to many aspects. Another being: load relative to the rep max we are intending to improve, commonly the 1RM. When lifting, the effort can be modified so that the focus is not to simply “move weight” but to do it in a specific fashion: fast, slow, with holds or pauses, improved breath control and posture; all examples of ‘getting stronger’ absent of testing a rep max. These things improve our skill. Strength is a skill. 

Variation and specificity work together or improve one another while keeping things fun when training frequently, especially daily. Workouts do not grow stale when employing variety in the gym. During this time a multitude of aspects are improving, not only the focused lift or specific desired quality. Progression in many forms generates momentum; something perceptible unlike motivation, which is equivocal. Let momentum carry you when the workouts are not going so well.

Bad days are had by all lifters. The best have them infrequently, knowing they may mean it is time to change something. Repeated days like these should initiate a review of previous workouts to determine what next to focus on: what actions to take (find, hold, extend, push), which lifts to introduce or eliminate, what qualities to focus on (pause, tempo, holds, etc.), and what rep targets to aim for (higher or lower, therefore impacting training volume). 

Variation Progression Examples: The below progressions naturally require adjustments in weight to hit the target RM and desired lift quality. Back squats compared to front squats require more weight for the same RM, as an example. Just as slow eccentric or fast concentric phases require less weight compared to normal tempo. Not all waves have to be three weeks, nor does a training block have to be twelve. These are only examples used to paint a picture. Lifters are encouraged to determine their own progression when using General Gainz. 

            [Wk. 1-3] Standard Lift with slow eccentric.
            [Wk. 4-6] Bar change with concentric speed emphasis.
            [Wk. 7-9] Standard lift with pause.
            [Wk. 10-12] Standard lift at normal tempo.

Specific Progression Examples:

[Wk. 1-3] Bench Press (3 second eccentrics).
            [Wk. 4-6] Close Grip Bench Press (Concentric speed emphasis).
            [Wk. 7-9] 2 Second Pause Bench Press (Normal grip).
[Wk. 10-12] Bench Press (Normal grip and tempo).

[Wk. 1-3] Safety Squat Bar Squat (3 second eccentrics).
            [Wk. 4-6] 2 Second Pause Squat (returning to barbell).
            [Wk. 7-9] Safety Squat Bar Squat to box.
[Wk. 10-12] Squat (Normal tempo.) 

[Wk. 1-3] Deadlift (Normal tempo)
            [Wk. 4-6] Barbell Row with Cheat (Using some leg drive, allowing more weight.)
[Wk. 7-9] Deadlift (3 second eccentric).
[Wk. 10-12] 2 Second Pause Deadlift.

Strict Press
[Wk. 1-3] Strict Press (2 second lockout holds).
            [Wk. 4-6] Push Press (3 second eccentrics).
            [Wk. 7-9] Steep Incline Football Bar Bench (Concentric speed emphasis).
[Wk. 10-12] Strict Press (Normal tempo).

Front Squat
[Wk. 1-3] Front Squat (3 second eccentrics).
            [Wk. 4-6] Front Squat (2 second pause).
            [Wk. 7-9] Front Squat to box.
[Wk. 10-12] Front Squat (Concentric speed emphasis).

Again, these are simply examples: take inspiration for your own training progression. Variety is the spice of life; the secret recipe to strength progression – the development of a specific skill.

The ‘Effort Gap’: Is another way of varying specificity. This is the distance from the RM to the follow up singles or half-sets in General Gainz. A 3RM with singles after has only a two-rep difference, or gap. A 10RM with follow up half-sets of five reps each has a five-rep gap. Therefore, a ‘hard’ rated 3RM will have those singles afterwards be nearly as hard; whereas an ‘easy’ rated 3RM will have easier singles after. Those easier singles are more likely to permit a specific lift focus such as pauses. Changing the target RM effort and those follow up sets allows us to make one or the other easier or harder when such a quality is applied; pause, tempo, etc. Close the effort gap by employing specific quality focuses. These improve capacity and/or skill, thus strength. For example:

1. Making the RM set easy relative to the Target RM and following up that set with a variation like tempo or pauses, thus making the follow up singles or half-sets harder than if performed with the same execution as the RM.

An easy T2 RM with a wide effort gap, such as the 10RM with 5’s after makes those half-sets then very easy; likely too easy. Changing tempo on the half-sets is a means of ‘closing’ the effort gap, thereby making them harder because a quality focus such as speed, pause, or holds has been introduced. Consider this: A 10RM at normal tempo may take 20 to 30 seconds, follow up half-sets at the same tempo is half the time per set; but using slow eccentrics closes that gap and makes those sets of five reps closer to the RM time under tension. With intentionally fast concentric phases for every rep across all half-sets the average time is often less than half that of the T2 RM sets, which tend to slow down more as the long set progresses. This practice improves our average speed with a weight, which means we have grown stronger. Simply put: if lifting 100 pounds took three seconds and it improves to two seconds then that person has become 1/3rd stronger with that weight. 

2. Similarly, the RM set could be made into the ‘hard’ variety, such as a slow eccentric or paused reps.

For example: a lifter could pause their deadlift RM set and perform the follow up sets (whether singles or half-sets) at a normal tempo. Similarly, they might perform a slow eccentric RM set for bench but follow it up with normal tempo reps in the subsequent sets. These then more likely to have a faster concentric phase – a valuable thing to focus on improving as explained above.

Tempo control takes mindful lifting and consistent effort from the lifter, whether during the eccentric or concentric phase. The former should be trained slow whereas the latter should be trained fast when tempo is chosen as the quality focus. Vice versa is not suggested. 

Specific Movements, Non-Specific Loads: This is a forgotten aspect of specificity and variation but should be used by those who are limited in their equipment. 

For example: While the movements may remain consistent the rep max targets should shift frequently; more often if training daily. This will naturally vary effort and volume; not always do we know exactly how easy or hard a set will be before starting it. Many times, an RM target is hit easily when we expected it to be moderate or hard. Such a change is a variation in training. Variation produces results, both in pounds and reps achieved, but so too in learning what we are capable of. Furthermore, an unexpectedly easy RM results in an unplanned reduction in effort; acting as a sort of ‘deload’, therefore reducing the need to plan for that kind of week as traditionally employed. (Many find these annoying and unnecessary inclusions in common off-the-shelf lifting programs. I mostly agree.) 

This approach improves the general skill of the lifter. A lifter struggling with the squat may not want to change bars, range of motion, or tempo – the better option being to vary load and so volume and effort. All the while maintaining specific lift practice, which is excellent for learning and developing that movement. Often, we will hear of “carryover” from one similar lift to another, say incline bench to flat bench. Some may see benefit while others may not; this is more subjective than varying load while keeping the movements consistent. Squat will always carryover to squat. 

Structuring Waves: Are there “ideal” ways to progress through movement varieties, whether they be tempo or pause or a similar movement or a different bar? The correct answer is dissatisfying: Yes and no. Truly, what matters more is consistency, mastering execution and the accuracy of effort. These are learned in the gym, with the knurling in our hands. Seeking “optimal” is chasing the validation dragon; wanting others to determine for us what is “best” and so taking some responsibility away from the decision making and learning process. Optimal is deceiving and lazy, commonly resulting in disappointing and lackluster progress. 

Variety Progression Lessons Learned: It seems better to use eccentrics leading into a box variation for squats. This helps the lifter learn how to land on the box versus dropping onto it. Many lifters squat with normal eccentrics too fast for good box squatting, limiting the effect of the variation and putting them at risk of pelvic or back injury from a sudden stop with a heavy weight. From the learned slow eccentric tempo to the touch and go box squat (with a very light touch) the lifter can then move onto a paused variation with or without the box. By this time their pauses hold tension, rather than lose it; seen whenever a pause squat sinks or posture crumbles while in the hole; pauses should mean motionless, like when playing freeze tag. 

In this progression the lifter has developed their movement mastery by focusing on various aspects of tempo and range of motion to achieve progress without changing the lift; bar, stance, grip, etc. Likewise, for slow eccentric to paused benches, deadlifts, and presses. Tempo control seems to better prepare the lifter for the coming pause wave for they have already begun to progress their strength under sustained time when usually our focus is to get the set done as quickly as possible. Further, eccentrics teach us position through the ROM phase that we are strongest in; when it comes time to pause, we are more attuned to proper positioning. Position and control improve efficiency. Synonymous with getting stronger; antonym of “optimal” though often confused with it by fixated novices. 

Four Actions: Find, Hold, Extend, Push.

These are the ‘four common actions’ lifters use in General Gainz to make progress. They mean using a weight for a few workouts (hold), doing more sets this time over last with that weight (extend), achieving a higher rep max this time over last with the same weight (push), and adding weight to a rep max (find); hopefully then a personal record. The ‘Find’ action helps us realize the progression of strength, at least in traditional terms, meaning more weight used for an RM. Whereas Hold, Extend and Push build us to that point of realization. 

Example: Holding a weight for a few weeks and pushing it up to a higher (lighter) RM by improving the rep quality and extending the sets performed. After several workouts of holding, extending and pushing a lifter resets to the original lower (heavier) RM, then at a heavier weight than the prior ‘found’ RM. 

A specific case is a lifter who is working at a ‘moderate’ effort rated 5RM initially followed up by singles after. On the first week they achieve the goal of five singles after. The second week they extend those singles to eight sets; still using the same weight after the same 5RM target. On the third week they push those singles to doubles, making them into half-sets after the 5RM weight. Able to perform four sets in week three they extend the half-sets to six in week four. 

Achieving the push from singles to doubles and the max extension of follow up sets after the 5RM weight up to this point, they plan on week five being an RM push week. When the week five workout comes the lifter pushes the RM weight higher up the scale, making it ‘lighter’ in a way: they have turned a “moderate 5RM” into an “easy 6RM” after the follow-up set volume progression. This 6RM would then be followed up by half-sets of three reps each if rated easy or moderate; singles if the push was a hard effort attempt. Once a T1 RM and its singles have been held, extended, and pushed to a 6RM with six half-sets after (the suggested limit of half-sets) they have ‘crossed the bridge’ with this weight by taking it from a T1 to a T2. (T1 is 3 to 6RM with singles after. T2 is 5 to 10RM with half-sets after; 5 and 6RM are ‘bridge weights’ belonging to each tier.) 

This lifter has not ‘found’ a new weight. They save that for week six, resetting back to the 5RM but with a heavier load to again be followed up by singles; should it be rated as an ‘easy or moderate’ RM they plan to extend to the maximum number of singles after the RM that workout rather than wait the next. The max number of singles after a T1 RM is +3 beyond the RM performed. So, in this lifter’s case their easy or moderate rated 5RM with a new ‘found’ weight would be followed up by eight total singles. The next workout they push singles to doubles. If those go smoothly, they extend to six sets total (the max for half-sets) rather than wait a week as they did before. Their weekly progress quickens due to experience and knowing when to hold, extend, and push – resulting in a higher success rate of accurately ‘finding’ a new weight for a target RM. 

The lifter may also use hold, extend, and push weeks for longer ‘waves’ than waves of find weeks. Conceivably pushing a weight up the RM scale across five to six weeks using the first three actions then have two or three weeks of ‘finding’ a heavier weight for their target RM. 

For example: ‘Crossing the bridge’ (taking a weight from T1 to T2) with a weight after five weeks then resetting back to a 3RM on the sixth week. They rated the 3RM as easy, so they follow it up with max singles after the RM attempt, six in total. On week seven they again ‘find’ a new weight while holding the 3RM target. It is rated moderate, but they still manage to extend fully the singles to six sets. On week eight they again add weight (find) to the 3RM target they have now held for three weeks. This workout produces a “hard” rated RM attempt, which is followed up by just three singles. This weight they hold, extend, and push up to a higher RM after several more weeks of training. 
Example Find, Hold, Extend, Push Wave

Week 1: Find an RM weight.
[Find] 6RM@315 lbs. (Easy effort rating) +3 Reps (“Half-Sets”) x4 Sets

Week 2: Hold that weight, attempt to extend the number of follow up half-sets.
[Hold & Extend] 6RM@315 lbs. (Easy)+3 Reps x6 Sets (Extension limit of half-sets.)

            The repeated weight and easy effort rating give the lifter the chance to improve elsewhere in the workout, perhaps increasing training density by lowering rest between sets, or focusing on making the concentric phases faster, or better lift posture as examples

Week 3: Attempt to push the weight to a higher RM; followed up with the appropriate number of half-sets.
[Push] 6RM@315 to 8RM@315 lbs. (Moderate)+4 Reps x4 Sets

Week 4: Extend the follow up sets after the RM pushed to last week.
[Hold & Extend] 8RM@315 lbs. (Easy)+4 Reps x6 Sets

            The weight has dropped back to an ‘easy’ rating after the push week. The lifter chooses to again focus on improving a specific aspect of the workout, like density or rep quality. 

Week 5: Attempt second push; follow up with appropriate half-sets.
[Push] 8RM@315 to 10RM@315 lbs. (Hard)+5 Reps x4 Sets

            If hard effort was hit before their push target the set stops there, for example: pushing only one rep from 8RM to 9RM. The push to a higher RM target results in a more difficult effort rating. Here the lifter may forego applying a specific lift quality but still try restricting rest, therefore improving training density since the reps per set has increased. 

Week 6: Find a new weight using the Week 1 target RM. 
[Find] 6RM@340 lbs. (Hard)+3 Reps x2 Sets +2 Reps x 1 set

            The lifter chooses to do less follow up half-sets after keeping training volume high for over a month; perhaps feeling the onset of training fatigue. Extend and push weeks build volume while working with the same weight. The second half-set of three reps ended with a hard rating, confirmed by an attempted third set which they ceased when the second rep became hard. A third rep in that set may have resulted in actual or severe technical failure. Find weeks such as Week 6 are typically higher in effort and intensity, so a good time to limit the training volume accumulated through follow up sets. 

Four Actions Lessons Learned: An RM rated “hard” is more difficult to add reps to week after week. Try starting this process by using a conservative weight, knowing it will likely be “easy” or “moderate” then developing the volume after the RM via the follow up sets, whether singles or half-sets. Bridge Weights, 5 and 6RM, can be followed up with singles, doubles, or triples. Easy to Moderate rated RM sets progress in this manner more quickly, as it is easier to add sets (extend) then reps (push) to an RM held over from a week where the lifter was able to do one or two more anyways, but stopped before a ‘hard’ effort rating. The next week the RM that would have been hard may be achieved easily because of familiarity with the weight. 

Doing more reps with this weight for a few weeks allows for more practice, and so focus on specific lift qualities, whereas holding a ‘hard’ rated RM for a few weeks may not be able to extend follow up sets or improve qualities or rest as easily. However, these subsequent workouts with a ‘hard’ rated RM held over is still practice with the weight, which can improve nuances in skill such as bar control, posture, and breathing for example. These may not immediately translate to limit strength but still promote general strength development. 

Density Progression

This is often overlooked: reps per unit of time. When adding volume via push or extend the attempt should be made to hold rest between sets; or perhaps reducing it should the weight be so easy.  Try not to let rest between sets extend as the number of sets extends also. When working through ‘hold’ waves the attempt should be made to reduce rest, therefore completing the work in less time. Thus, increasing the training density and work capacity of the lifter. 

‘Mastering’ Weights

Means getting stronger without adding pounds to the bar. Implying quality, consistency, volume and rest improvements. Better tempo control, posture, and capacity with a weight means the lifter has grown stronger. Focusing on improving concentric speed alone, by using “Compensatory Acceleration Training” is a function of strength development that can be learned and trained effectively without loading the bar week after week. In fact, waves of holding a weight for a few workouts helps lifters realize their ‘form’ and speed improvements; demonstrating plainly their strength increase despite the load staying consistent. Singles after a T1 RM are great for this reason. Speed is strength and it produces confidence in one’s strength without needing to find a new RM. Likewise, improved consistency under a weight is evidence of becoming stronger.

Strength is commonly dictated by weight and volume; aspects that are visible in datasheets and logbooks – do not be limited by these as quality and control also demonstrate progress. These things, like bar speed and posture improvement are assessed better visually. Whether it is watching video of our lifts, or having a coach, or a trusted lifting friend who knows what they are looking at. Consistency of position, speed, and overall execution rep to rep and set to set validates these kind of strength improvements that are typically unseen by the lifter too concerned with what the numbers show. Often the same person chasing “optimal”. 

Stop lifting with blinders on. There is no right way. The only ‘wrong’ way is to be so limited in our perspective and understanding of progression that we fail to improve out of loyalty to a system or approach, or a lack of awareness of our own mindset in achieving our goals. Are the actions taken in the weight room becoming more destructive than constructive as we linger on the plateau? If so: change direction, adjust focus, and regain progress.

Generally Strong
This is the training schedule and progression I’ve been using intermittently most often throughout the development of General Gainz. It is both fun and challenging, two things that when combined breed progression. Workouts are typically done in 60 to 90 minutes; closer to 90 minutes if I do not super set T3’s, usually three to four movements but sometimes up to six or seven. (Some days I want a skin tearing pump, it just feels good.) Take this template as inspiration for your own Generally Strong training plan. 

Progression Scheme

This is simple in concept and execution. Using the General Gainz RM ranges and the four actions (Find, Hold, Extend, Push) I work with a T1 weight until I am able to push it into the T2 range; this occurs when a 5RM with follow up doubles becomes a 6RM with triples after. This may take a few workouts, as strength and capacity ebbs and flows depending on the day; do not be alarmed – progress is being made in some regard, whether to quality, density, consistency, etc. Apply the same concept to the T2: develop a 6RM to a 10RM

This scheme emphasizes adding reps to a RM and increasing volume week over week, holding the same weight rather than moving opposite ways through the RM range by adding weight weekly while trying to hold the RM and letting that reduce as intensity increases; both ways of progressing through the RM range are correct: focusing on volume or intensity additions.

What follows details adding reps and so pushing a weight higher through the RM scale. Whereas the opposite would be adding weight and gradually moving to lower, heavier rep maxes. Both forms of progression are appropriate for Generally Strong, and in fact both can be used simultaneously for either tier. For example: a lifter could choose to progress their T1 into the T2 by adding reps while also improving their T2 by adding weight to those RM’s; seeing those progress into the T1 after several weeks. 

Monitor rest in each tier, try to keep it low, especially between follow up sets. Should a weight be troublesome near the end of a RM I know that my strength-endurance needs improvement so I will reduce rest between singles or half-sets, making it just 45 to 60 seconds (quite demanding and so effective for improving capacity with that RM weight belonging to either tier.) That being said, if quality drops with rest restriction opt for enough rest to maintain a high standard of execution.

Example Progression: [Only an example. An individual’s weekly progression of find, hold, extend, push may be different; either faster or slower, depending on various factors. And of course, you may focus on adding weight rather than reps as above described.]

Week 1: Find 3RM @165 lbs. (Easy) +1 rep x 3 sets.

Week 2: Hold 3RM @165 lbs. (Easy) +1 rep x 6 sets. (Full extension achieved.)

Week 3: Push 165 lbs. to 5RM (Moderate) +1 rep x 8 sets. (Full Extension.)

Full extension because the target RM was achieved before a ‘hard’ effort rating; the push effort being easier than expected.

Week 4: Hold 5RM @165 lbs. (Moderate) +2 reps x 4 sets. (Bridge singles to half-sets.)

Week 5: Hold 5RM @165 lbs. (Easy) +2 reps x 6 sets. (Full Extension again.)

Week 6: Push 165 lbs. to 6RM (Moderate) +1 rep x 6 sets. (Full Extension.)

Extended fully because the singles felt easy relative to doubles last week. This is a five-rep reduction in follow up volume, so keep rest between singles low; this functions as a volume ‘deload’ for this lift while making another training aspect more demanding: rest (density).

Week 7: Hold 6RM @165 lbs. (Moderate) +2 reps x 4 sets. (Building ‘bridge’ volume by starting at doubles rather than singles; the effort gap wide enough due to the five-rep difference and moderate rating.) 

Week 8: Hold 6RM @165 lbs. (Easy) +3 reps x 6 sets. (Full extension; now a T2 weight.) 

Week 9: Find 3RM @175 lbs. (Easy) [Resume T1 progression similarly as prior eight weeks.]

For some, this may seem like slow progress, but it is not. The first week total reps performed is just six at an ‘easy’ rated RM. This weight potentially could have been lifted for a 5RM. That 5RM would have been rated hard so then singles after; likely just 3 to 4 because of lacking capacity – such hard efforts, near our capacity limit, make Holding, Extending, and Pushing more difficult and slower. Starting with an ‘Easy’ RM is suggested. The six reps from week one becomes 13 reps by week four, more than double the training volume. Perhaps rest between sets has gone down too, simply because the weight ‘mastery’ has improved in this period. And so, volume and density have progressed; dual progression in the same period while holding the weight week over week. By week eight the volume at the same weight has gone up to 24 reps. This would have been totally impossible two months prior with the ‘easy’ 3RM.

The above T1 progression mirrors my own, which resulted in my press 1RM adding 5 pounds in a relative period; I barely failed a near 10-pound PR attempt. It demonstrates how one would take a weight from the low end of the T1 and bridge it into the low end of the T2 by adding volume.

For the T2 I have progressed 150 pounds from an easy six RM to a once performed hard 10RM in the same period; though I will admit that day felt like a fluke and I was at nearly 10,000 feet lower in elevation than what I usually train at, so bonus oxygen may have played a factor. Back at home, in the thin air of Colorado ski country, I have a hard 10RM of 145 pounds and am working that to the extended 12RM range. Then I will achieve full extension of half-sets of six rep each, performed with limited rest. Reason being: More volume may be necessary to ‘solidify’ the capacity improvements made near the 10RM, which is the standard end-range for the T2. The T1 and T2 movements do not have to follow the same schedule, as one may progress faster through hold, extend, and push weeks than the other; this is perfectly fine. Just as one tier may be focused on intensity progression rather than volume progression as I discussed before.

Here you see that the ‘four actions’ (Find, Hold, Extend, Push) give us greater flexibility within General Gainz’ already flexible progression structure. Rigidity is often paired with fragility, ushering failure and along with it plateaus; where no lifter likes to find themselves. Progression is the only way out and it should be seen in numerous ways, not only weight or volume, but also rest and rep quality, consistency and patience (time).

Generally Strong: A flexible “upper/lower” split.

Example Workouts
Day 1 (Lower Body and Back (Pulling))

Workout A: Lift A, B, C RM Targets: 3 to 5RM; followed up with singles. Push singles to doubles when 5RM+8 singles are achieved, then push to a 6RM. When this occurs, this weight belongs in Day 1 Workout B as a 6RM+3 reps x4 to 6 sets. At this time, reset this movement back to a T1 RM weight here in Workout A. Something modestly heavier than the recently ‘bridged’ weight. This does not have to be all the way back to a 3RM. Lifters may choose to focus on the 5RM; holding, extending, then pushing it to a 6RM. Later doing brief periods of 3RM development in the same manner. (Follow this guidance for the Day 2 Workout A progression as well.)

            Lift A: Front Squat
            Lift B: Squat
            Lift C: Deadlift

T3 Rep Range Target: 8 to 10 reps average; aiming for 10 and letting subsequent max rep sets land within that range; ideally keeping effort within one rep of failure. Usually three to four sets of each movement. Add weight when all sets are easily hitting the higher end range. 

            T3a: Weighted Pull Ups
            T3b: Barbell Row
            T3c: Lat Pull Down

Workout A Variations: Sometimes the A, B, and C lifts will change to a limited ROM variety, such as pin squats, block pulls, or deficit deadlifts. I may also choose to deadlift with a power bar versus a deadlift bar. Likewise, choosing the safety squat bar instead. (More on this in below ‘variations’ paragraphs.) The A, B, and C lifts are typically kept the same for Workout A. This is because the ‘big four’ (squat, bench, deadlift, press) are well suited to singles; for this reason, Workout A is also well suited for cleans and snatches. I have periodically used cleans in place of deadlifts for Workout A, Lift C.

Workout B: Lift A, B, C RM Targets: 6 to 10RM; followed up with half-sets. Push RM higher when six half-sets are achieved. Like Workout A, once the 10RM with fully extended half-sets (6 total) is achieved reset to a lower (heavier) RM target within this T2 range. (Follow this guidance for the Day 2 Workout B progression as well.)

Lift A: Front Squat
            Lift B: Squat
            Lift C: Deadlift 

T3 Rep Range Target: 12 to 15 reps average; aiming for 15 and letting subsequent max rep sets land within that range; ideally keeping effort within one rep of failure. Usually three to four sets of each movement. Add weight when all sets are easily hitting the higher end range.

            T3a: Ab Wheel
            T3b: Glute Ham Raise
            T3c: EZ Bar Curl

Workout B Variations: I usually vary Workout B lifts every few cycles, which typically last three to four weeks. For example: Since Workout A has front squat, squat, and deadlift then Workout B will change to similar variations, usually: SSB Squat, Deadlift, then Row (pulling row out of the T3 in Workout A and replacing it with something like 1-arm rows or lat pull downs or heavy variation curls; the EZ Bar is well suited for this purpose.) Both A and B workouts can be modified to be squat or deadlift centric. Meaning the lifter could choose something along the lines of squat, lunge, leg press if desiring their A, B, and C lifts to be more ‘leg dominate’ than ‘back dominate’ here in Workout B. Because the main lifts in Workout B are in the T2 this workout is better suited for dumbbell work than Workout A, whereas that session is usually best when executed with ‘standard’ variations.

The same concept can be used to change T3’s to personal liking, making it more back, legs, abs or biceps focused. Similar guidance should be applied to the Day 2 A and B Workouts, using appropriate varieties.

Day 2 (Upper Body Pressing)

Workout A: (Same progression guidance as Day 1 Workout A.)
            Lift A: Strict Press
            Lift B: Incline Bench
            Lift C: Bench Press

T3 target rep range and progression: Same as Day 1 Workout A.
            T3a: Behind the Neck Press
            T3b: Weighted Dips
            T3c: Triceps Push Downs

Workout A Variations (Cont.): The main lifts here generally change between close grip or using push press instead of strict press; simply because strict press development is one of my personal goals. Thusly, it is kept on a less frequent rotation out of the Lift A slot. However, soon I will have a football bar and this will be included in the variation schedule; starting with this new bar first in the T2 (Workout B) then crossing it over into the T1 – opposite progression across the bridge than previously described; from light to heavy, thus developing familiarity with the specialty bar through reps practice before developing maximal strength with the new implement. This also applies to safety squat bar and other specialty bars. The Slingshot has been used for the flat and incline bench as similar ‘tool’. I highly suggest using a Slingshot to develop raw pressing strength. Using these tools, specialty bars and equipment, first in B Workouts before crossing them over into A Workouts. 

Workout B: (Same progression guidance as Day 1 Workout B.)
Lift A: Strict Press
            Lift B: Incline Bench
            Lift C: Bench Press

T3 target rep range and progression: Same as Day 1 Workout B.
            T3a: Rear Delt Fly
            T3b: Side Delt Raise
            T3c: Overhead Triceps Extensions

Workout B Variations (Cont.): Here on Day 2, Workout B, I will change the variations most often based on grip (as I do not yet have the football bar; a specialty pressing bar.)  However, use of the push press and Slingshot start first here in B workouts. Most frequently these variations are a close grip incline followed by a close grip or legs up flat bench. I have from time to time, not as often as row, brought the Day 2 Workout A behind the neck press up from a T3 lift to replace Lift B or C here in Workout B; likewise, weighted dips. Other lifts I use frequently for Day 2 Workout B in the Lift C slot is landmine press or standing 1-Arm dumbbell (or kettlebell) pressing. 

Recall that quality focus can be implemented too. So, in both A and B workouts I will modify the RM and/or follow up sets to be paused or slow eccentrics or very fast concentric phases.  The B workout will usually contain the slow eccentric work in the half-sets whereas the A workout may be kept ‘lighter’ so as to focus on pauses or those fast concentric phases; this also makes the RM sets feel ‘easy’ in Workout A relative to the actual load, where simply moving weight is not the focus: a stable pause or moving the bar quickly is, so the effort must be adjusted depending on the perception of speed and whether those reps were actually fast, or actually paused.

Singles with pauses or speed focus in A Workouts can be monitored easily, set to set, whereas pause length and speed declines more rapidly in multiple rep sets, such as the higher RM’s and half-sets performed in the B Workouts. Eccentric tempo control is more consistently applied in these kind of higher rep efforts, so I am usually doing slower tempo work in my half-sets; not so much the singles (though the control through that phase is always important in every rep at any weight.) 

Day 3 [Optional Day] (Pulling)

This optional day I run sometimes, but others may choose to make their Generally Strong schedule a 3-day variation; adjusting their weekly schedule for this session however they see fit. This makes Generally Strong a Legs, Push, Pull split whereas the two day schedule makes it an Upper, Lower split. (I typically pair T3 abs with squat or deadlift workouts, but not always.) 

Workout A: Since this day has deadlift and its variations the squat and its variations remain on Day 1 Workouts A & B. In a weekly schedule Day 3 workouts should not come before Day 1 Workout A without a rest or pressing day prior. With my daily training schedule, I perform a Day 2 workout (either A or B) before and after any Day 3 (A or B) before cycling back to a Day 1 workout. Though, Day 3 Workout B is not so bad the day before any Day 1 workout if kept easy enough. This session was a more frequent workout for me last year, for a reason soon explained. 

(Same progression guidance as Day 1 Workout A.)
            Lift A: Deadlift
            Lift B: Power Clean
            Lift C: Weighted Pull Up

T3 target rep range and progression: Same as Day 1 Workout A.
            T3a: Row
(Typically standard version but sometimes Yates or Pendlay.)
            T3b: EZ Curls
            T3c: Hammer Curls

Workout A Variations (Cont.): As previously described the T1 lifts might shift to a deficit or paused variety. Likewise, for hang cleans instead of those pulled from the floor. I have also chosen to go with a standard power bar over using the deadlift bar; same concept for trap bars if available. Recall the brief discussion on gaining familiarity with a ‘tool’ in an earlier paragraph. Notice the note about T3a rowing, such guidance can be applied to Day 1 rows if on an ‘upper/lower’ (2-day) split; row variations are encouraged. 

Quick cautionary tale: Once when doing this workout last year, I tore my rhomboid and strained my trap on the right side. Nearly a year later I am still feeling the effects. Had I not stubbornly gone for a push from a 3RM to a 5RM with weighted pull ups this could have been avoided. This injury set back my primary goal substantially: increasing my strict press. At the time I was pressing 185 pounds for a hard 3RM at a bodyweight of about 150 pounds. After this injury I could not press anything more than the bar and up to 85 pounds for a few weeks without great pain. Within a month I was able to press 95 pounds for a moderate 5RM. At that point I resumed the General Gainz progression theory and have since built my press to a 1RM of 205 pounds. However, pull ups and rows can sometimes give me trouble to this day.

Lesson Learned: Don’t try to grind out a heavy weighted pull up. Hard becomes very hard then a catastrophe quickly and painfully. 

Workout B: (Same progression guidance as Day 1 Workout B.)

Lift A: Deadlift
            Lift B: Weighted Pull Up
            Lift C: Row
(Sometimes making this Yates version or a clean variety.)

T3 target rep range and progression: Same as Day 1 Workout B.
            T3a: Chin Up
            T3b: Cable Row
(Usually V-Grip or Underhand.)
            T3c: Cable Upright Row

Workout B Variations (Cont.): Sometimes I would skip the deadlift and make the main lifts row, weighted pull up, then bodyweight pull ups or chin ups; those half-sets at bodyweight would then have a slow eccentric or pause focus, thus closing the effort gap. Those not as proficient with pull ups may replace the C lift with a lat pull down variety, same goes for changes in the T3. Of course, this day could have more biceps than back in the T3; the choice is up to the lifter.

The Day 3 Workouts A & B are some of the best ‘back days’ I have ever had in my decade of training. Not only do they have the variety to hit nearly every angle of our back, they have plenty of volume to drive strength and hypertrophy. The inclusion of biceps on these days, in a greater quantity than usual ‘strength’ training plans was also enjoyable; it is nice having ‘big arms’ (relative to my size that is: 16 inches cold, weighing 165 pounds. Getting to 17 inches is harder than I expected, but I am trying: averaging 16.5” pumped.) With the rhomboid tear last year, I now pair these kinds of T3’s with Day 1 Workouts. Making lower (squat or deadlift centric) main lifts paired with back and bicep T3’s. 

Generally Strong: Weekly Scheduling

Since training daily, I perform these workouts in this order:

            Day 1 Workout A
            Day 2 Workout A
            Day 1 Workout B
            Day 2 Workout B

… Repeat for 200+ days; sort of. Sometimes Day 3 Workouts. 

This kind of high frequency requires more variation, not just in movements or bar selection, but also quality factors and volume as well. I may skip the RM effort of all lifts in a workout, or just one or two of the main lifts; then focusing on the follow up sets using a held over weight from the prior session. Similarly, I may choose to only do the RM and skip some or all follow up sets, likewise for the T3. In these decisions I limit the work performed in a workout, and so conduct a ‘deload’.

This is not necessarily planned ahead, but determined within that workout or the workout prior, where I may think to myself: “This RM was harder than expected, I better skip it next time and see if I can hit the extension of follow up sets first; maybe after that workout I’ll retry the RM and see if it got any easier.” These deloads typically last only one to two workouts, so I may limit the volume or intensity of A workouts then do B workouts normally; then the next rotation through perform the deload for B workouts instead.

Variation of workout execution, as discussed previously, is critical for maintaining consistency; rigidity is the path to failure; progression is easy with variety of movement, weights, reps, and effort. 

Someone employing the Generally Strong training approach but without daily training may split their weeks up in these ways. By no means the only options for 7-day scheduling:

Option A

Monday: Day 1 Workout A
Tuesday: Rest
Wednesday: Day 2 Workout A
Thursday: Day 1 Workout B
Friday: Rest
Saturday: Day 2 Workout B
Sunday: Rest

Option B
(Most common 4x weekly training schedule. Example given also plans for potential Day 3 Workouts; another is given below.)

Monday: Day 1 Workout A
Tuesday: Day 2 Workout A
Wednesday: Rest (Or Day 3 Workout A, making a 6x weekly training schedule.)
Thursday: Day 2 Workout B
Friday: Day 1 Workout B
Saturday: Rest (Or Day 3 Workout B.)
Sunday: Rest

            The potential inclusion of Day 3 Workouts may impact some lifter’s ability heading into the next workout; be cautious at first, going lighter, with easier effort and lower volume. Day 3 Workout A is not so bad heading into Day 1 Workout B, as B workouts are lighter to begin with; but fatigue can cause form breakdown and cause failure sooner than anticipated. Count on Day 1 Workout B being harder than expected as a result of the heavier deadlifts, cleans, and pull ups done the day prior (if choosing to shift Thursday and Friday scheduling around, thus keeping the Legs/Push/Pull 3-day schedule.)

Option C
(Can similarly be modified to include Day 3 Workouts.)

Monday: Day 1 Workout A
Tuesday: Rest
Wednesday: Day 2 Workout A
Thursday: Rest
Friday: Day 1 Workout B
Saturday: Day 2 Workout B
Sunday: Rest

Option D
(Common for those with 3x weekly limitations or needing an on/off training schedule due to work, recovery, etc. Those in this boat desiring a Day 3 workout inclusion should not, just change Day 1 workout’s main lifts and T3’s to fit more back and biceps work. However, a ‘normal’ Day 3 Workout can be added; this simply extends the training week beyond a standard 7-day calendar week; which is not really an issue.)

Monday: Day 1 Workout A
Tuesday: Rest
Wednesday: Day 2 Workout A
Thursday: Rest
Friday: Day 1 Workout B
Saturday: Rest
Sunday: Day 2 Workout B
Monday: (Now into second week) Day 1 Workout A or Rest 

            Option E
(Example that includes Day 3 regularly.) 
If someone wanted to include Day 3 Workouts consistently their seven-day schedule might also look something like this: 
Monday: Day 1 Workout A
Tuesday: Day 2 Workout A
Wednesday: Day 3 Workout A
Thursday: Rest
Friday: Day 1 Workout B
Saturday: Day 3 Workout B
Sunday: Day 2 Workout B 

Keep in mind the Day 1 workouts are changed to be squat centric and the Day 3 workouts to be more deadlift centric whenever Day 3 is included in the weekly schedule. This means the above Day 3 Workout B on Saturday, done after Fridays ‘squat session’ can have the higher volume back day of rows, pull ups, and the like. This day is more suitable after any Day 1 session than before. And from my own experience, a high-volume pressing day after a good back day just feels awesome. Generally, I do not like hitting squats with a fatigued back, though if the session the day before was not too heavy then squats should be just fine the day after. The importance of this nuance is determined by the lifter.

In the same vein, when Day 2 Workout B has a lot of volume, or was harder than usual, then the RM effort in Workout A that follows it may suffer; perhaps getting less reps than desired, or the set being harder than before. When this happens, I will limit the B workout volume by doing fewer half-sets and keeping those RM efforts easy to moderate. Since I am training daily these A and B workouts are usually separated by only a single day, so the adjustment of intensity, volume, effort, and quality is more frequent. This keeps training consistent, and thus progress. Furthermore, the kind of flexibility inherent to General Gainz puts ‘failure’ off the table: adjustment in the session is allowed and encouraged. What matters most is accurately engaging the targets of the workout, which are often assessed just prior to or in the session; this matters most because accuracy fosters consistency, an element to the law of progress. Sometimes the RM weight is adjusted, other times maybe effort, total volume, or rep quality. Where one is prioritized we limit another, thus achieving progress in various ways. 

“But is it for hypertrophy or strength?”

Yes, to both. Some already familiar with the GG concept have said it seems less attuned to the needs of a lifter with the goal to gain size over strength. First, gaining strength on a surplus of calories will always result in size gains. That being said, of course more direct training for the specific muscle groups will result in a greater response from those muscles. Therefore, the T3 is always included in every workout of mine. Not only for size increases, but so too for corrective training; like including more upper back work for those who are internally rotated due to living life at a desk. Similarly, direct hamstring training for squatters who like me rely on a more upright posture, which naturally pushes knees forward and so makes the quadriceps stretch and contract through a longer range of motion; such focus on specific muscles builds and strengthens them – making us stronger overall. Strength and size walk hand in hand when trained appropriately, which General Gainz does fantastically (and so too, Generally Strong).

But should a lifter want to place more emphasis on gaining mass over improving their T1 rep maxes then they could easily tailor any GG inspired approach to be built around the T2 and T3 entirely, then limiting or excluding the T1. Afterall, training volume is a primary driver of size increase; though it is not the end all be all. Know this: the T1 does not have to be excluded to bring in more training volume, then biasing training towards hypertrophy over strength adaptations. Strength is a skill, which singles after a T1 RM develop greatly, as they provide us opportunity to fine tune our execution and focus during the lift. But what they also do is provide us the opportunity to recruit more motor units per rep, achieved because the heavy loaded compound lift, which we can then modify to be slightly lighter to then lift it faster. Doing singles with explosive reps is a great way to get bigger and stronger; bigger coming faster, by my own experience when super setting explosive singles with a T3.

For example: Performing a squat 5RM for an easy effort, then following it up with singles, trying for eight in total; the maximum extension of singles after the 5RM. All of these move very fast as the RM itself was made easy, so the ‘effort gap’ is wider, which is then closed by focused attention to explosive reps. After each single minimum rest is taken as I move to a complimentary T3, usually glute-hamstring curls performed on my Sorinex roller. (An awesome piece of equipment.) After these curls I rest until I feel capable of performing another explosive single rep set of the squat, typically within 1 to 2 minutes. Each T3 paired with a T1 is trained in the usual T3 range of 8 to 10 reps average; trying to hold subsequent max rep sets within a few of the first set, never pushing to actual muscular failure, trying to stop one rep shy. 

Another example: Performing the strict press in a similar fashion, with follow up singles done explosively; or perhaps as a push press with lockout holds and slow eccentric. This then super set with delt or triceps work; the singles get harder as the muscle fatigues, which is why the T1 RM effort is kept easy and a quality focus like fast concentric reps is called for. 

Performing antagonistic work is also encouraged, as I sometimes do by coupling pressing with biceps. For example: using the same quality focus of fast reps and an easy RM when benching followed up by singles super set with curls. Or benching with rear delts. Or squatting with abs. Or deadlifting, pull ups, and rows with triceps. You get the picture. This is but one way to bias a General Gainz training plan towards hypertrophy over the development of maximal strength while including the T1 range. But this is not a requirement. A lifter could do multiple T2 lifts in a workout with no T1’s at all. This then making the training volume much higher, as is in B workouts detailed above for Generally Strong. Just like the T1 singles can be super set, so too can the half-sets with similar focus; complimentary or antagonistic muscle groups are a nuance the lifter must choose. I find the pumps of doing complimentary groups, like overhead triceps extensions after bench follow up sets (singles or half-sets) to be insane; a modest decrease in weight is called for to account for muscle exhaustion.

Keep in mind this approach is nothing new as bodybuilders have been super setting in this manner to “pre-fatigue” for a long time now. It is merely an option within the flexible structure of the GG training concept. Just tonight I super set these lifts: Deadlift and rear delts, bent over row and glute-ham curls, finishing with ez bar and dumbbell hammer curls. The results: A fantastic back and arm pump. I ended the workout feeling closer to my goal of 17-inch arms. Hypertrophy specific progress was made while also achieving some strength improvement because my follow up set volume for my main lifts was higher than in previous workouts. General Gainz works for both strength and hypertrophy goals, it is up to the lifter to bias their training towards one or the other; but neither can be achieved without consistency, quality effort, and patience. And of course: food and sleep. 
Fantastic pump.

I do not mean to make a mountain out of a mole hill with this post, though it is over 11,000 words. It is hard to explain succinctly; the concept and my 200-day experiment and adventure. Omitting details of the various ways one can train and progress with General Gainz is a disservice to those interested and already training like this. Doing so would also be unjust to the theory. This post is also a reference for me to go back to, a reminder should I ever need one. 

These last 200 days have gone by fast. The first 100 seemingly slower than the last. These sessions are achieved in about an hour to an hour and a half tops; but they feel half that. I am not totally sure why. Maybe it is because my adherence to rest, laser focus in the session, a home gym, or the simplicity of General Gainz itself; probably a combination of all. What I love about GG is the reduction of ‘administration’ time: changing weights for drop sets being a major one. Parallel to this: second guessing the selected or programmed weight for a lift; it is always the correct weight because follow up action serves to improve performance whenever an RM is not lifted with desired quality or volume. If I was aiming for a 5RM but the bar was moving awkward and poorly then no problem: such issues can be resolved with the follow up singles. 

Training every day is something I have never achieved or thought of until this year. I never considered it possible before developing GG because most lifting programs are built around reliance on not-lifting; over prioritizing rest and recovery instead of performance quality and consistency. Going hard every day, “earning the rest day”, not being a “pussy”; grinding out weights and reps to adhere to a program as if the lifter was a forklift, not a complex biological organism – all totally laughable and ridiculous concepts; progression schemes and notions used by lesser than coaches and their adopted systems. This I can say because I’ve trained with great effort and made irrefutable progress without a rest day, because they do not have to be “earned” to get bigger and stronger – with General Gainz they are not needed at all. 

Sure, some lifters may require rest, whether out of social or work responsibilities; or for event training and preparation. A person gearing up for a big powerlifting meet is going to have to lift near maximal weights, these are seriously draining and not usually included in a general strength training plan. The feather in GG’s cap is sending lifters to IPF Worlds and USAPL Raw Nationals; general made specific to the sport of powerlifting, successfully. Most seasoned powerlifters already include “off-season” training for this reason. Off-seasons may not need rest days and in fact many higher-level lifters are training in some way, shape, or form every day already. Maybe not lifting, but conditioning like sled drags or light cardio; or perhaps lifting only T3’s or doing yoga as “active recovery”, reserving the main lifts of the T1 and T2 range for dedicated days. I am not the first, nor will I be the last to “train every day”.

All I have merely done here is ‘lift every day’ and made progress as a result of sticking to the incredibly flexible structure of General Gainz, which provides the opportunity to progress in numerous ways. Not simply adding weight as most off the shelf “programs” call for. Or throwing gratuitous volume at the lifter with the expectation they sleep, eat, and grind their way through, eking out progress that then seems hardly worth it. Training should be fun yet demanding and specific to the lifter’s goals, who then cannot wait to wake up and train the next day.

I wince a little whenever I hear about lifters who have grown to hate their training – it should never be this way. And to be honest, this no-rest-days experiment was in part me trying to see if I could make General Gainz out to be so bad. Yet it has not and I do not think it ever will. Each day I look forward to my next session knowing I will progress in some manner. Maybe not so plainly as adding weight, which is what the spreadsheet and social media likes to bias us towards, but that is okay – such focus is too limited for my training purpose: enjoying this hobby and getting better at it. Generally meaning: to get bigger and stronger. In a word: Gainz.  

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