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  • DC Training and Limit Strength

    So I understand now (after trying it for a few years) why Dante told me in 2008: "5x5 is the ticket for you".

    I needed to get stronger before DC would work for me, and now I am training with a Westside program to do so.

    My question is, with DC Training, when exercises stall out and we use another exercise to progress (after switching old one out), aren't we still training based off of our same absolute strength?

    In other words if I stall out on Incline after 4-5 months of using it in blasts and then I replace it with DB Bench and stall out on that after a while, I replace it with something else etc etc, isn't the only way I'll actually be able to get A LOT stronger is by increasing my limit strength?


    As Dave Tate says here,
    "For example, if you are performing 3 sets of 8 repetitions with 315 pounds in the bench, then you should gradually increase the weight over time. The downfall to using this method exclusively is that all strength is based upon your level of absolute strength. Using the same example, your absolute strength will allow you 315 pounds for 8 repetitions. Until your level of absolute strength is increased, your progress will stagnate."


    Does anyone see where I'm going with this? What I mean is, most of the DC vets use a LOT of weight for the exercises they blast with, so is this because their limit strength got up to a certain point with lower rep/high weight work, and then they switched over to a bodybuilding style training?
    Last edited by darkguitars2000; 02-23-2013, 09:44 AM.
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  • #2
    My question is, how many people ever really reach TRUE absolute strength? I don't think anyone truly reaches a point at which they can never get any stronger. Why? Size for one; you might reach a sticking point at a certain weight, but if you eat more, you'll gain weight. Weight moves weight.

    I think with DC (and about every program out there), you may swap out exercises because you've stalled, but did you stall because of limit strength, or because of a weak point?

    Did your bench (example, I know flat bench is verboten in DC) stall because you've hit your limit? Or because of tricep strength? Upper back? Leg drive?
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    • #3
      Are you assuming it is not possible to increase your "limit strength" while using DC?

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      • #4
        Originally posted by leegee38 View Post
        Are you assuming it is not possible to increase your "limit strength" while using DC?
        I personally don't think it's possible using ANY program, given the limitless variables that can be changed.
        You're perfect, yes it's true. But without me...you're only you.

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        • #5
          Originally posted by darkguitars2000 View Post
          So I understand now (after trying it for a few years) why Dante told me in 2008: "5x5 is the ticket for you".

          I needed to get stronger before DC would work for me, and now I am training with a Westside program to do so.

          My question is, with DC Training, when exercises stall out and we use another exercise to progress (after switching old one out), aren't we still training based off of our same absolute strength?

          In other words if I stall out on Incline after 4-5 months of using it in blasts and then I replace it with DB Bench and stall out on that after a while, I replace it with something else etc etc, isn't the only way I'll actually be able to get A LOT stronger is by increasing my limit strength?
          DG - My take on it is that different exercises even for the same bodypart are going to have different motor unit recruitment patterns. I also believe that you are tapping into different neural pathways by changing exercises. It also changes the stress on the joints and shifts the load depending on the movement pattern.

          What you say about stalling out and only being able to get a lot stronger by increasing limit strength plays right into DC. If you can no longer get stronger on a given exercise (Sidenote: I have no explanation for why but I would assume it is combination of mental and physical fatigue, joint stress, repetitive contraction and recruit of the same motor units...) and then move to a new exercise with a a different loading pattern, you are going to tap into different motor units or target different motor unit that before. In the new exercise, you are going to hit muscle fibers differently and built them up just like you did on the other exercise. You end up developing increased strength in this given exercise, but now when you come back to the first exercise you stalled out on, you now have more complete development, increased muscle fiber size, and are able to tap into more motor units than previously.

          You might not be as strong when you come back right away, but shortly thereafter, if you structured the blast right and trained properly, then you should be able to increase the load beyond what you previously did.

          I am pretty sure Homonunculus discussed something like this in another thread no too long ago. I believe he was discussing different bicep activation patterns in particularly....Later today i'll try to find that thread.

          EDIT: found it - http://www.intensemuscle.com/showthr...t=48104&page=2
          Last edited by mentalflex; 02-23-2013, 10:54 AM.
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          • #6
            Is the primary goal of DC to get stronger or to get BIGGER?...

            If you get bigger, gaining muscular mass, will you get stronger?...

            I'd not be too worried about limit strength (or absolute strength) until you're at "limit size."

            DG, I think if you re-frame your question(s) in that context, you'll find some answers.

            Also, the progressive overloading of DC is a tool for gaining muscle mass. The reason for getting stronger before doing DC is so that you have can wield the "tool" of creating an intense, abrupt, disruptive, potent, adaptogenic stimulus with the "relatively" small training volume in each DC workout.

            DC is about dose-response: If you can't apply the appropriate dose, you'll not get the response and long term adaptation that you seek.

            -S
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            • #7
              Originally posted by darkguitars2000 View Post
              So I understand now (after trying it for a few years) why Dante told me in 2008: "5x5 is the ticket for you".

              I needed to get stronger before DC would work for me, and now I am training with a Westside program to do so.

              My question is, with DC Training, when exercises stall out and we use another exercise to progress (after switching old one out), aren't we still training based off of our same absolute strength?

              In other words if I stall out on Incline after 4-5 months of using it in blasts and then I replace it with DB Bench and stall out on that after a while, I replace it with something else etc etc, isn't the only way I'll actually be able to get A LOT stronger is by increasing my limit strength?


              As Dave Tate says here,
              "For example, if you are performing 3 sets of 8 repetitions with 315 pounds in the bench, then you should gradually increase the weight over time. The downfall to using this method exclusively is that all strength is based upon your level of absolute strength. Using the same example, your absolute strength will allow you 315 pounds for 8 repetitions. Until your level of absolute strength is increased, your progress will stagnate."


              Does anyone see where I'm going with this? What I mean is, most of the DC vets use a LOT of weight for the exercises they blast with, so is this because their limit strength got up to a certain point with lower rep/high weight work, and then they switched over to a bodybuilding style training?
              One of the problems I see with DC training for Joe Bodybuilder is there is not enough variety of the acute training variables such as intensity (load), volume, rep tempos, rest periods, exercises, and the general adaptations being trained. Now, I’m sure if for example if you’re training with Dante he can easily supplement the general program to meet a person’s need, but Joe Bodybuilder doesn’t necessarily have the knowledge to do so…he is just following a general template. If Joe Bodybuilder is training with the same basic exercises and movement patterns he will get stronger, but while using less motor units…basically becoming more efficient (think SAID principle). But in order to progress long term he needs a varied training environment with sufficient stimulus to recruit more motor units through different exercises, different rep tempos like explosively and fast or incredibly slow etc. By activating more motor units there is a greater potential for growth. Now training at heavy loads is great and maybe even best, but there needs to be more variation. And to avoid injury long term, there needs some movement in all three planes of motion, not just flexion/extension in the sagittal plane. A program must be multidimensional, use the entire muscle-contraction spectrum, contraction-velocity spectrum, and manipulate these training variables. If not and you ignore things like flexibility, stability, balance, core stabilization, etc. you’re likely setting yourself up for injury and staleness in your training. I don’t think swapping out an exercise every so often; throwing in a widowmaker, then cruising is sufficient long term. Again, any qualified trainer can manipulate these training variables for a person, but Joe Bodybuilder following a general template without manipulation of training variables on the internet is headed toward staleness, plateau, overreaching, muscular imbalance, and potential injury.

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              • #8
                Originally posted by homonunculus View Post
                The reason for getting stronger before doing DC is so that you have can wield the "tool" of creating an intense, abrupt, disruptive, potent, adaptogenic stimulus with the "relatively" small training volume in each DC workout.
                -S
                Very true.

                One thing I've found since switching over to pure powerlifting is that when I picked weights to do on my heavy 6-8 rep set of squat on DC, I was going WAYYYY too light. I still failed at 6 or so, but I had no idea how much more weight I was capable of doing.

                If only I had listened way back when.

                Another thing I've learned (for all the young ones reading) is that it takes a lot of practice on lifts like squat and deads to perfect your form. Doing rep maxes every time you lift on squat won't last long without perfect form, which I didn't have, since I couldn't address my squat weaknesses with DC (just an example).
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                • #9
                  Originally posted by Knickerbocker24 View Post
                  One of the problems I see with DC training for Joe Bodybuilder is there is not enough variety of the acute training variables such as intensity (load), volume, rep tempos, rest periods, exercises, and the general adaptations being trained. Now, I’m sure if for example if you’re training with Dante he can easily supplement the general program to meet a person’s need, but Joe Bodybuilder doesn’t necessarily have the knowledge to do so…he is just following a general template. If Joe Bodybuilder is training with the same basic exercises and movement patterns he will get stronger, but while using less motor units…basically becoming more efficient (think SAID principle). But in order to progress long term he needs a varied training environment with sufficient stimulus to recruit more motor units through different exercises, different rep tempos like explosively and fast or incredibly slow etc. By activating more motor units there is a greater potential for growth. Now training at heavy loads is great and maybe even best, but there needs to be more variation. And to avoid injury long term, there needs some movement in all three planes of motion, not just flexion/extension in the sagittal plane. A program must be multidimensional, use the entire muscle-contraction spectrum, contraction-velocity spectrum, and manipulate these training variables. If not and you ignore things like flexibility, stability, balance, core stabilization, etc. you’re likely setting yourself up for injury and staleness in your training. I don’t think swapping out an exercise every so often; throwing in a widowmaker, then cruising is sufficient long term. Again, any qualified trainer can manipulate these training variables for a person, but Joe Bodybuilder following a general template without manipulation of training variables on the internet is headed toward staleness, plateau, overreaching, muscular imbalance, and potential injury.
                  Chris, with all due respect, although what you state may hold true for "Joe Bodybuilder", DC is NOT for Joe bodybuilder, therefore everything you stated coming from the context of Joe Bodybuilder doing DC is essentially irrelevant.
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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by mentalflex View Post
                    Chris, with all due respect, although what you state may hold true for "Joe Bodybuilder", DC is NOT for Joe bodybuilder, therefore everything you stated coming from the context of Joe Bodybuilder doing DC is essentially irrelevant.
                    Let me ask you a question then Mental...what is the basis for being qualified to train DC that would give them the knowledge, experience, etc. to avoid the potential problems, challenges, and pitfalls I mentioned in my previous post? And further, do you think this qualification, whatever it may be, is actually being met my most DC trainees?
                    Last edited by ; 02-23-2013, 03:27 PM.

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Knickerbocker24 View Post
                      Let me ask you a question then Mental...what is the basis for being qualified to train DC that would give them the knowledge, experience, etc. to avoid the potential problems, challenges, and pitfalls I mentioned in my previous post? And further, do you think this qualification, whatever it may be, is actually being met my most DC trainees?
                      This goes back to the question that has been asked over and again regarding why one must be an advanced trainee with a bare minimum of three years HARD training, have experience in a variety of training methods, know how to train with a very high level of intensity, be able to push their physical and mental abilities to the extremes, be able to go beyond concentric failure, know how to adapt exercises and rep ranges based on physical limitations and responsiveness....etc (just see the stickies, it's been talked about quite bit...the "three years minimum" thread for one).

                      If you understand these and can apply them consistently, you will be able to have sufficient training variables to make continuous progress. I think that many trainees who do not reap the results they should ARE NOT meeting these qualifications and are not able to train with the intensity required of DC.

                      What is your personal experience with DC training?
                      Be true to yourself and fuel your body with nothing less the highest quality supplements. Only available at TrueNutrition.com Use discount code: KSP945 to save 5% on your order!

                      Stickies...just read the damn stickies...

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by mentalflex View Post
                        This goes back to the question that has been asked over and again regarding why one must be an advanced trainee with a bare minimum of three years HARD training, have experience in a variety of training methods, know how to train with a very high level of intensity, be able to push their physical and mental abilities to the extremes, be able to go beyond concentric failure, know how to adapt exercises and rep ranges based on physical limitations and responsiveness....etc (just see the stickies, it's been talked about quite bit...the "three years minimum" thread for one).

                        If you understand these and can apply them consistently, you will be able to have sufficient training variables to make continuous progress. I think that many trainees who do not reap the results they should ARE NOT meeting these qualifications and are not able to train with the intensity required of DC.

                        What is your personal experience with DC training?
                        Thanks for playing along and engaging in this discussion. FWIW as you see from my date join under my profile picture I have been on the board for roughly 5 years. So, I have read all these stickies and I've even played around with DC myself. My training background began as a high school and college athlete before I dabbled in bodybuilding. I did DC for about a few years in my late 20's early/30's after roughly 12 years of strength training experience and probably 8 years of serious training combined with a bodybuilding style diet. I must admit my approach to training has changed a lot since working in a college strength and conditioning capacity and being immersed in that profession as well as currently working on a master's degree in performance enhancement & injury prevention.

                        Your post brings up a few questions. One, is training experience alone sufficient for a trainee to understands the pitfalls I mentioned in my original post? In my experience the answer is no. I have seen many many "athletes", bodybuilders, powerlifters, etc. in their 30's and 40's with decades of training experience that still don't understand why varying these acute training variables is important. In addition, many of them that fail to do so end up with muscular imbalances, postural imbalances, and sometimes injury, typically of the LBP, anterior knee, and shoulder variety. Just take a look around this board and you find dozens of questions about nagging injuries from very experienced lifters. So, I don't see that training experience alone without education is sufficient. You don't have to have a college degree, but you need some sort of education. This could be reading research or journals like the JSCR or similar, this could be attending seminars, this could be having a good mentor, learning from a good coach, etc. But, education has to be a part of the equation to understand how to periodize your own programs. FWIW I don't believe reading this board and a bunch of stickies qualifies.

                        The other thing that stands out in your post is regardless of the training background of the bodybuilder/athlete that doesn't change the fact that there is still primarily only one adaptation being trained. Providing more effort, or "intensity" as you put it is not enough. Simply giving more and more effort to try and increase load is not sufficient of a stimulus for long term gains, especially when it comes from the same exercises, at the same rep tempos, in the same plane of motion, etc. This is part of why there is a higher potential for muscular imbalance, postural dysfunctions, and injury. There needs to be more variety. I haven't brought up the potential for litigation but it is there and is real, although that's probably more just for Dante.
                        Last edited by ; 02-23-2013, 04:26 PM.

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                        • #13
                          DC Training and Limit Strength

                          Originally posted by Knickerbocker24 View Post
                          Thanks for playing along and engaging in this discussion. FWIW as you see from my date join under my profile picture I have been on the board for roughly 5 years. So, I have read all these stickies and I've even played around with DC myself. My training background began as a high school and college athlete before I dabbled in bodybuilding. I did DC for about a year in my late 20's early 30's after roughly 12 years of strength training experience and probably 8 years of serious training combined with a bodybuilding style of training. I must admit my approach to training has changed a lot since working in a college strength and conditioning capacity and being immersed in that profession as well as currently working on a master's degree in performance enhancement & injury prevention.

                          Your post brings up a few questions. One, is training experience alone sufficient for a trainee to understands the pitfalls I mentioned in my original post? In my experience the answer is no. I have seen many many "athletes", bodybuilders, powerlifters, etc. in their 30's and 40's with decades of training experience that still don't understand why varying these acute training variables is important. In addition, many of them that fail to do so end up with muscular imbalances, postural imbalances, and sometimes injury, typically of the LBP and shoulder variety. Just take a look around this board and you find dozens of questions about nagging injuries from very experienced lifters. So, I don't see that training experience alone without education is sufficient. You don't have to have a college degree, but you need some sort of education. This could be reading research or journals like the JSCR or similar, this could be attending seminars, this could be having a good mentor, learning from a good coach, etc. But, education has to be a part of the equation to understand how to periodize your own programs.

                          The other thing that stands out in your post is regardless of the training background of the bodybuilder/athlete that doesn't change the fact that there is still primarily only one adaptation being trained. Providing more effort, or "intensity" as you put it is not enough. Simply giving more and more effort to try and increase load is not sufficient of a stimulus for long term gains, especially when it comes from the same exercises, at the same rep tempos, in the same plane of motion, etc. This is part of why there is a higher potential for muscular imbalance, postural dysfunctions, and injury. There needs to be more variety. I haven't brought up the potential for litigation but it is there and is real.
                          I'm on tapatalk on my phone so I'm having a a hard time breaking up you oust to answer each paragraph...

                          I addressed several factors aside from experience that make one ready to take on DC effectively. Although you explicitly call out education, I indirectly addressed it in saying that one must understand how to adapt their training to goals, abilities, and knowledge of what works for them. This is why it is often asked of those who wish to go the DC route, what have they done in the past, what has worked for them,...etc. All of which point to one's training education AND experience. If someone just does a plug and chug workout but never learns why things work for them, well how can they effectively use a program that requires one to regulate numerous variables to stimulate growth?

                          DC is about growing as fast as possible through progressive increases in strength. As Scott stated a few posts up so if you have the tools to generate the intensity, you will succeed. And we aren't talking about going corrective exercises with DC, we are talking about growing as fast as humanly possible. If we wanted to focus on corrective exercises then DC wouldn't be the tool.
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                          Stickies...just read the damn stickies...

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by mentalflex View Post
                            I addressed several factors aside from experience that make one ready to take on DC effectively. Although you explicitly call out education, I indirectly addressed it in saying that one must understand how to adapt their training to goals, abilities, and knowledge of what works for them.
                            OK, so how do you get this education in your example? Is trial and error enough with your own training? Do you believe you personally have enough experience and if so how did you gain it? Did you have any qualified trainer assessing your programs as you go? Was anyone looking at your programming variables and saying "yes this is good", "no this isn't quite right", "you could to that, but this is better" etc?


                            Originally posted by mentalflex View Post
                            This is why it is often asked of those who wish to go the DC route, what have they done in the past, what has worked for them,...etc. All of which point to one's training education AND experience. If someone just does a plug and chug workout but never learns why things work for them, well how can they effectively use a program that requires one to regulate numerous variables to stimulate growth?
                            In my experience writing training programs is one of the last skills trainers gain. Even very knowledgeable strength training follks don't understand how to do this and pay others to do it for them. This is one of the reasons I am partial to working in a strength and conditioning capacity because one gets the opportunity to first see how the head coach programs, see how the athletes respond (much bigger sample size than yourself), practice writing your own programs and getting immediate feedback, etc. In addition you see athletes develop injuries and you see how your programming either effected it, or failed to prepare for it for example. I guess what I am getting at is from what I understand of your opinion on education...I don't feel is sufficient to understand programming.


                            Originally posted by mentalflex View Post
                            DC is about growing as fast as possible through progressive increases in strength. As Scott stated a few posts up so if you have the tools to generate the intensity, you will succeed. And we aren't talking about going corrective exercises with DC, we are talking about growing as fast as humanly possible. If we wanted to focus on corrective exercises then DC wouldn't be the tool.
                            Based on performing assessments on many athletes over the past three years in my experience most trainees have muscular imbalances and most people need corrective exercise. So, if you're saying DC's sole purpose is to grow as fast as humanly possible (and that means ignoring muscular imbalances, stability, balance, etc.) then I'd say why would anyone want to do that? That is only going to create dysfunction. Why would you want to create dysfunction when you can still prioritize hypertrophy in your programming while maintaining other exercise attributes/adaptations that maintains proper length-tension relationships, force-couple relationships, joint arthrokinematics, ect? If you fail to do so you open yourself up to a higher liklihood of altered sensorimoter integration, altered neuromuscular efficiency, and tissue breakdown.

                            Further, I would argue that progressive overload in that manner is also not the best long term approach to hypertrophy. Progressive overload is absolutely neccessary, but with a more proprioceptively rich training environment. It will work for a while, but you will hit a wall and variation is required to provide an adequate stimulus. It should only be part of the plan (and granted a hefty part and probably the most significant part for someone like a bodybuilder), but not the entire plan. And, the more experience a trainee has, the shorter time period it will be effective. A little bit of variation in training adaptations (stabilization, hypertrophy, strength, power, etc), corrective exercise, and using a program that is multidimensional, uses the entire muscle-contraction spectrum, contraction-velocity spectrum, and manipulate these training variable more frequently will allow the trainer to train longer into the future.

                            I know you said DC is to get big as fast as possible, OK, I can see that argument. But, how long do you stay on it? If you saying that DC is only a short-term program done for 6 months, then take time off to do something else, then do it again for a few months and repeat, OK I'd buy that. Because basically that would be periodization in a way I'd agree with that allows time off for recovery, train other muscular adaptations, iron out deficiencies and imbalances. But, if your suggesting a trainee train DC for multiple years straight with only cruises I think you're going to run into problems.

                            Out of curiosity are you doing DC, if so how long have you been on it without doing something else and do you have any pain or injuries?

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                            • #15
                              I am a fan of all parties in this debate but for the record I am going to say that Knickerbocker is making some incredible points in this thread.

                              Nice work.

                              Skip

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