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DC - Why 3 exercise rotation?

IronSlag

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With a 3 exercise rotation, each exercise gets hit once every two weeks.

Does this not lead to a very slow strength gain for the exercises? Wouldn't it make more sense to stick with only one exercise per body part per cycle, get strong on that exercise, and then change exercise?

I'm not doubting DC's rationale, he's a smart guy. It's just that I don't understand the logic behind this.

Experiences very welcome.
 

Dens228

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Because it's hard to add weight and or reps each workout on a single exercise.
This adds variation as well as allowing you to stick with exercises longer. It's also good to mix things up.
 

The_Beast

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If you follow powerlifting and know a bit about Westside Barbell/Louie Simmons you know that they change their max effort exercise every 1-2 weeks. The assistance exercises are also changed very often. He has been producing super strong people for décades.

Sticking to the same exercise for a long time can also work: if improves neural efficiency (getting more efficient at the lift) but you can difinetly get stronger overall by rotating exercises.

There is strength transfer from one exercise to another. For example if you get stronger on the incline bench, your flat bench and close-grip press are likely to get stronger too.
 

rmtt

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Both posters above are correct. You can use a single exercise and progress on it for a long time....but it involves a lot of well thought out programming to continually move forward with it.

I've done it for years....but you have days where that exercise is reduced in volume and weight, accessory exercises are emphasized, and the one exercise may be trained in a variety of different methods.

Take bench for example. You could have a heavy day followed by a speed day....and on the speed day an accessory such as Close Grip Bench will be hit really heavy.

Then one week may be Spoto presses, band work, chains, etc.

The point being in even pure powerlifting programs....that one exercise isn't pounded relentlessly over and over each week to continue gaining as there are more variables at play to support that exercise and its progression.

Every training method has some means of programming built into it where one thing builds upon another.

So what your asking about in its purest form would only be something that a beginner could get away with....but even then only for so long before he stops making progress.

Sent from my LG-H871 using Tapatalk
 

FK86

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Why 3 exercise rotation?

To prevent a plateau for as long as possible. It's easily one of my top 2 favourite principles about the program. I always find it funny when people at the gym stare because they don't see me do an exercise for 2 weeks, but when I do, there's more weight on the bar or I'm cranking out more reps.

It's also great for letting you know whether or not you respond to an exercise. Say you had been blasting away at an exercise for 4 months, hit a plateau, and switch it out for something else. On this new exercise for 2 or 3 workouts in a row you make no progress despite it being brand new in your rotation; you may not respond to it. The most successful bodybuilder is the one who tailors his/her training and nutrition to them as an individual.

There's 2 threads over at IM: one by Dante on mechanical positions - which discusses how a bodybuilder should perform exercises that they can be progressive on based on their own individual biomechanics - and one by BigDownUnder titled Application of Training and Diet to YOU. Both great reads.

A perfect example would be the incline barbell press. Watch any video of Dusty Hanshaw, John Meadows, Chris Cormier, Steve Kuclo etc perform this exercise and you'll notice they stop the bar 2-3 inches above the chest. Scroll into the youtube comments and there's always people criticizing their form for not touching their chest with the bar. Well, for some people it's not optimal to touch your chest. Structural limitations, shoulder mobility etc come into play here. For some people touching the chest takes tension off of it and places it on the front delts. So rather than stubbornly do something because you're "supposed to," they adapted and made changes to suit their needs. The angle of the bench could also be a factor. Look in any textbook and you'd probably see the bench set at 45 degrees. Almost every person in the gym sets it to 45 degrees, some even 60. 45 or more tends to bother my shoulders. I learned from watching Meadows' videos to go with a slight incline or decline. 20-30 degrees feels much better and targets the muscle (your chest) more effectively.
 
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OutToLunch

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Read the stickies bro. Here and on intensmuscle. Really several days worth of information for those interested in DC training.
 

heavyhitter

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So you can make progress.....but use the same exercises often enough that you can get used to the movement pattern
 

Dave Perez

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There was a training program from the early 80s called "rotation for recuperation." The premise was to train 3 days a week. Take chest, on Monday you train heavy, Friday medium, the following Wednesday light. This example is very simple but again the method was designed to hit a muscle group 3 times in 2 weeks with varying degrees of weight and intensity. Give it a try for a few months........kvh
 

IronSlag

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Thanks for the responses, guys.

I usually train one exercise for months into oblivion, and naturally I plateau all the time. I usually use chains to overcome the plateau but I'll try rotating exercises in this way.
 

buck

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I find the central nervous system etc. gets more efficient at lifts hence the reason for rapid strength gains early on. And slower gains later. Same reason for muscle memory. A quick re-adaptation to the lift with a lower proportionate muscle to strength gain. Switching up often would allow more muscle size as opposed to just getting more efficient at the movement.
 

IronSlag

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So would something like this be better for strength/hypertophy as opposed to sticking to the same exercise?

E.g. chest:

Wk1 Decline bench
Wk2 Parallel dips
Wk3 Decline Bench
Wk4 Parallel dips
 

Dens228

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So would something like this be better for strength/hypertophy as opposed to sticking to the same exercise?

E.g. chest:

Wk1 Decline bench
Wk2 Parallel dips
Wk3 Decline Bench
Wk4 Parallel dips

Well, as laid out by Dante it should be 3 exercises, but what you just listed is exactly what I'm currently doing. Same exact exercises.
 

BigTex

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There are a few out there like Vern Gambetta and some other well know strength coaches that claim this idea is complete nonsense. But current research shows they may be wrong.

The below is from a PowerPoint that I use to teach a college level class which covers the different training principles.

The muscle confusion principle

The research says: A study conducted by researchers at the Tempe campus of Arizona State University compared two groups of trained subjects, one using an undulating periodization program—a fancy term for muscle confusion—and the other with a linear periodization program. In the undulating program, the acute variables were changed with every workout, whereas in the linear program, they were changed every few weeks. After 12 weeks, people following the undulating periodization program increased their bench press and leg press strength by 100 percent more than those following the linear program.

Researchers from Brazil saw even more drastic differences when they had trained subjects follow one of three programs: an undulating periodization program, a linear periodization program, or a consistent non-periodized program of 8-10 reps per set. The training program consisted of a two-day split with 3-4 total training days per week.

After 12 weeks, the group following the muscle confusion program increased its bench press by about 60 pounds, almost 200 percent more than both the linear periodization program and the non-periodized program. The undulating program also increased the subjects' strength on the leg press by a staggering 275 pounds, 400 percent more than the non-periodized program and more than 300 percent more than the linear program.

This principle can apply to muscle growth as well as strength. Researchers from the Federal University of Rio De Janeiro had a group of untrained men follow a linear periodization program of two sets of 12-15 reps per exercise for four weeks, then three sets of 8-10 reps per exercises for four weeks, and finally four sets of 3-5 reps per exercise for the final four weeks.

Meanwhile, a group used those same set and rep ranges but cycled them each time they trained. The results: The group following the undulating plan increased its triceps size by about five percent, while the linear group saw no such increase. The undulating group also increased its biceps size by 10 percent—twice that of the linear group.

Yes, Louie Simmons of Westside Barbell also used this idea in training. It has been done successfully by some of the top pro level bodybuilders for many years. Joe Weider observed this method back in 1950. Any time you can change the plane of movement, modality, reps, volume and TUT you are forcing the body out of homeostasis, thus forcing it to adapt to a new stimulus.


Rhea MR, Ball SD, Phillips WT, Burkett LN.A comparison of linear and daily undulating periodized programs with equated volume and intensity for strength. J Strength Cond Res. 2002 May;16(2):250-5.

Miranda F, Simão R, Rhea M, Bunker D, Prestes J, Leite RD, Miranda H, de Salles BF, Novaes J. Effects of linear vs. daily undulatory periodized resistance training on maximal and submaximal strength gains. J Strength Cond Res. 2011 Jul;25(7):1824-30.5.
 

Dens228

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Is it going well?

Yes, but I will switch out an exercise now and then as well as go to a three exercise rotation. Right now it's mainly because I'm working around some aches and pains.
 

Steelex

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I'm of the opinion that the more experienced and further along you are, the more benefit you get out of rotating exercises. But it might not benefit new trainees as much as focusing on fewer movements.

Keep in mind, DC training is for advanced trainees who have already gotten somewhere.

A less experienced trainee might need to only rotate out between TWO exercises, as long as they can keep adding weight to the bar.

A beginning trainee i.e a new lifter will progress faster on one exercise. That's the premise of starting strength or 5x5. Just simple linear progress, adding weight 3x a week.

DC is a way to progress in a linear fashion on a variety of movements, which is pretty much essential for somebody who is already advanced. But its not as fast as progressing on one movement 2x or 3x a week like a newborn lifter. You just have to figure out where YOU stand in that continuum!
 

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