Colgan's NEW Power Program

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Colgan's NEW Power Program

Postby J » Sun May 30, 2004 6:51 pm

I wanted to share and get opinions about a few of the new things I've read about in this book. The book is by Dr. Michael Colgan "The NEW Power Program: Protocols For Maximum Strength"

1. Don't train heavy all year long.
OK fine. But instead of suggesting a week or month cycle. Colgan suggests training heavy for 6 months and then lighter for roughly the other 6 months....


Personally I can't see going that long without some good hard lifting.

2. You can only give a maximum effort for about 5 seconds during which time the body uses up it's stored instant energy of ATP (adenosine triphosphate). After that you have about 5 or 6 seconds where you can work at about 10% less than max by using the ATP-CP (creatine phosphate) shuttle. Creatine donates it's phosphate to create more ATP. But this takes some time/a chemical reaction. And how much creatine you have in the muscle determines how much more energy you will have. (So eating meat, or taking creatine will make a difference if your effort last more than 5 seconds.)

After 10 seconds, that's it. Now you have to convert glycogen to ATP. This greatly reduces strength and begins training mainly the capillaries, slow twitch fibers, etc around the muscle fibers instead of mainly the muscles. The fast twitch muscle fibers have dropped out at this point. If you do a lot of high rep lifting, some of the fast twitch fibers will even convert to slow twitch.

Finally fast twitch fibers grow stronger more quickly and easily with heavy exercise than slow twitch.

Furthermore study after study has shown that anything above 6 reps greatly decreases strength gains.[b]

Personally I no longer take creatine phosphate or eat meat so I don't think I'm going to get as much out of the 6th to 10th second of a hard effort. So I'm thinking I should only lift heavy for no more than 5 seconds at a time????
This would mean sets of at most 2 reps. (I do know a couple people who've had success with that. Champion powerlifter Doug Hepburn (vegetarian) did 15 sets of 2 reps back in the 50's. Also knew a 60 years old man who could bench almost twice his bodyweight who only did 2 or 3 reps per set. Isaac Nesser primarily did singles (he was in Guiness for largest muscular chest).

3. [b] Colgan says that it takes 2 minutes to replenish 50% of the creatine in a muscle (which is then converted to the instant energy of ATP)and 4 minutes to replenish 90%.

Thus he suggests resting at least 4 minutes between sets, I'm thinking this means if doing multiple sets I should make sure to rest at least say 6 minutes between sets since I'm not worried about getting done is less than an hour. (I'm doing less exercises.)

4. Eccentrics, of course the eccentric portion is more important than the concentric, but Colgan goes on to strongly advocate negatives EVERY workout. He produces studies that show negatives are superior, increasing muscle gains by almost double IF DONE CORRECTLY. He says you should never use more than 125% of your max. Beyond that they become useless.

5. Colgan says that 72 to 96 hours after a workout, your body is still breaking down and then your body is still building up an additional 72 to 96 hours after that. This means that you shouldn't work out a muscle anymore then once a week and maybe even once every 8 days.

6. I'll mention one last thing although there's plenty more. Shoulders are easily injured and Colgan says to never do wide grip presses or even close to straightened dumbell flyes because of possible injury. But he goes even further in apparently thinking any overhead pressing at all is too dangerous :? The only pressing movement for shoulders he recommends is a bench press. (I think I disagree on this one.)

So based on this book, I'm thinking I should workout a muscle only once a week and doing no more than 2 reps per set (although this can cause injury eventually, so I'll see how it goes) plus negatives at around 120%.
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Postby Pete » Sun May 30, 2004 10:02 pm

1/ Depends on what you mean by "Heavy". If you're a PLer & your training triples, doubles & singles for 6 months, then have a time doing a higher rep range, say 8-10, then I'd say fine, but if you mean light, as in easy & not pushing yourself, then no I wouldn't go with light for 6 months unless you want to get weaker.

2/ According to some sstudies (Eric Hultman & Hans Sjorholm 1983) 1.26 seconds & your ATP is derived from Creatine Phosphate degradation & 20% from glycolysis, by 2.52 secs 50% of ATP come sfrom glycolysis, & it takes 6 seconds for maximum contraction to begin to decrease, this is despite the fact that the muscles CP levels are at least 65% basel level, continuing beyond 6 seconds ATP dimishes & acidosis (lactic acid build up) begins to hinder work.
I couldn't find (off hand) the speed of recovery to regenerate CP/ATP levels.
Remember though if you're using sub-maximal weights, you aren't firing all your motor units at once, you are doing reps & building cumulative fatigue, so doing a sub-max set of say 10, will have a different effect than say a double (for a start a trained athlete can tolerate 30% higher lactic acid build-up of an untrained indivdual).
I'd say spending some time on low reps & some on higher made sense for most strength athletes (not 6 months of each, but some), in the sense of staying heavy for the reps reps used, plus the odd time of doing lighter work to give a bit of extra healing time now & again.

3/ As I said I couldn't find the resynth of CP/ATP :?

4/ You can produce studies for most things. I don't think the negative is the most important part of the move. I think negatives are great, don't get me wrong, but I think concentric moves are just as important. Without practice you aren't going to be able to demonstrate strength either (when do you get asked to show how much you can lower :lol: ). I'd say around the 120%ish is a safe amount, but bear in mind that these are very intense moves & the risk of overtraining is bigger than using normal training, as is the chance of injury.

5/ The idea of how long your body is breaking down & building up for is one of those really contenious things & for every 4 studies you read, you often get four answers, as it depends on what they are looking at as an indicator of breakdown & recovery, Some people do very well on one session a week, but others under train. It may have to do with your maximum potential & how near you are to it, or 101 other factors that could effect recovery rates, but I don't say do not only work out once a week, but nor do I advocate it. The empirical evidence seems to point towards the idea that most people do best doing a 3 day week, looking at the pre-steroid data that's available. Some do better on more, others less, for most people I'd say start with 3 days a weeks, but try less & more periodically & see what works best at that point in your development.

6/ I'd say in the risk stakes the bench is more dangerous than the miltary press (that's in front of the neck), especially if your not careful to balance your back moves, so your rotator cuffs are put in danger (I know that one :!: ). I'd say wide or very narrow grips are as safe as "normal" grip in most cases.
I do have problems myself with anywhere near straight arm flyes (but with elbows, not shoulders).

If I was going for maximum strength I'd prefer cycling up towards a date (say a contest for example), then returning to a higher rep scheme for a while before another cycle up. Some people can mantain near max lifting fine, but my joints aren't fantastic so I'm pretty cautious about when I max out (& in what move). But, I'll be interested to see how you get on working out like this.
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Postby J » Mon May 31, 2004 5:07 am

The degree of absolute certainty with which Colgan says you should train a muscle only once a week makes me have doubts about much else he has said.

I also disagree with the 6 month heavy than 6 month lighter thing but I think he came up with that because he works primarily with athletes who have a roughly 6 month long off season.

But I'm thinking I'm going to try to use his ideas.
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Re: Colgan's NEW Power Program

Postby JP » Mon May 31, 2004 8:17 am

emphryio wrote:1. Don't train heavy all year long.
OK fine. But instead of suggesting a week or month cycle. Colgan suggests training heavy for 6 months and then lighter for roughly the other 6 months....


i agree with the first part and disagree with the second :D

This would mean sets of at most 2 reps. (I do know a couple people who've had success with that. Champion powerlifter Doug Hepburn (vegetarian) did 15 sets of 2 reps back in the 50's. Also knew a 60 years old man who could bench almost twice his bodyweight who only did 2 or 3 reps per set. Isaac Nesser primarily did singles (he was in Guiness for largest muscular chest).

worlds strongest men train around singles: olympic lifters, powerlifters... Nothing wrong with that. But like was mentioned already, higher reps may have some other benefits, like increasing lactic acid tolerance, joint health etc.

Thus he suggests resting at least 4 minutes between sets, I'm thinking this means if doing multiple sets I should make sure to rest at least say 6 minutes between sets since I'm not worried about getting done is less than an hour. (I'm doing less exercises.)

personally i rest as long as i need to get ready. SOmetimes this is just 30 seconds, sometimes it's 6 minutes - it doesn't matter as long as in the end of the day i have made all my required sets and reps.

4. Eccentrics, of course the eccentric portion is more important than the concentric, but Colgan goes on to strongly advocate negatives EVERY workout. He produces studies that show negatives are superior, increasing muscle gains by almost double IF DONE CORRECTLY. He says you should never use more than 125% of your max. Beyond that they become useless.


sorry eccentric portion more important? For what? Surely not for strength? One counterargument: olympic lifters. Some of the strongest people walking the earth have built their strength with minimal eccentric movement.

I have not seen any powerlifting coaches advocating negatives at all.

5. Colgan says that 72 to 96 hours after a workout, your body is still breaking down and then your body is still building up an additional 72 to 96 hours after that. This means that you shouldn't work out a muscle anymore then once a week and maybe even once every 8 days.

is this strength stuff or bodybuilding stuff now? i'm confused...

So based on this book, I'm thinking I should workout a muscle only once a week and doing no more than 2 reps per set (although this can cause injury eventually, so I'll see how it goes) plus negatives at around 120%.


wow, well, all i'd say is to choose training methods which have been tried and tested among strength athletes, what ever your field is. There are numerous "experts" publishing books luring people into their methods with loads of latest and greatest scientific research and revolutionary training methods. They work, no doubt. Everything does. But i'd personally just stick to ways of training which have a good size user base and not based on just one or even couple people selling books around it. But then again, i do not know if this book falls into this category at all.
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Postby J » Mon May 31, 2004 6:51 pm

JP
He's talking strength not bodybuilding.
sorry eccentric portion more important? For what? Surely not for strength? One counterargument: olympic lifters. Some of the strongest people walking the earth have built their strength with minimal eccentric movement.

I have not seen any powerlifting coaches advocating negatives at all.


Well for instance he has a picture of Ted Arcidi (benchs over 700) saying, "Ted Arcidi, ... knows the power of negatives." :)

He cites the work of Hakkinen and Komi who have supposedly done the most meticulous research. A 12 week study of trained experienced powerlifters found that concentrics only improved 20% and the group also using negatives improved 28%. (But what are experienced lifters doing improving 20/28% in 12 weeks I don't know.)

Then they did a study of olympic weightlifters. Half did eccentric contractions with more than their max the other half did not. The negative group improved 10% in the snatch and 13% in the C and J. While the others only improved 7 and 6%. (But I assume they were doing negatives in the squat and deadlift etc and not the snatch etc to make this improvement.)

Colgan then goes on to talk about how cross country runners (who do lots of fast downhill running, which is like negatives) always have huge calves.

(Shrug) sounds relatively convincing. He gives the references for the studies. But there are not many. 3 or 4 studies.

There are numerous "experts" publishing books luring people into their methods with loads of latest and greatest scientific research and revolutionary training methods. They work, no doubt. Everything does. But i'd personally just stick to ways of training which have a good size user base and not based on just one or even couple people selling books around it. But then again, i do not know if this book falls into this category at all.

He may be partially full of it. He does have positive comments in the book quoted from Anthony Clark, Ted Arcidi, Jimmy Pellachio (who supposedly benchs 900 pounds.... :? ) Lee Labrada, Larry Scott, some other successful bodybuilders, professional sports people from various sports. But I don't know. Athletes will endorse all kinds of crap for the right price.

I've always considered the eating to be much more important than the lifting. But what Colgan says doesn't look to harmful to me at least.
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Re: Colgan's NEW Power Program

Postby VeganEssentials » Tue Jun 01, 2004 1:51 am

Got a few thoughts to say on this, pretty much same stuff that JP mentioned.

emphryio wrote:1. Don't train heavy all year long.
OK fine. But instead of suggesting a week or month cycle. Colgan suggests training heavy for 6 months and then lighter for roughly the other 6 months....


Don't see how 6 months of lighter training could help keep someone on the up-and-up for gains in strength. Those that have been at the top of their game (strongman, PL, olympic lifters) know that meets and competitions don't only happen during half the year, so they simply cannot afford to lose 6 months of their time by using a lighter fare that's not keeping them primed for competition. Things such as periodization lend themselves far better toward offering time for recuperation and focusing your efforts on different lifting aspects and coinciding them with necessary events. I definitely don't agree with this part.

emphryio wrote:Personally I can't see going that long without some good hard lifting.


Exactly.

emphryio wrote:Furthermore study after study has shown that anything above 6 reps greatly decreases strength gains.


Again, though, this may be true for many people, but as always, any author that would say that one thing is true for everyone and there are no exceptions would be telling an untruth. I'm sure that there have been many, many people that have had incredible strength that have done their best gains on reps above 6 per set - this might not be the majority, but a sweeping statement is something that always sets off my detectors for calling foul.

emphryio wrote:3. [b] Colgan says that it takes 2 minutes to replenish 50% of the creatine in a muscle (which is then converted to the instant energy of ATP)and 4 minutes to replenish 90%.
Thus he suggests resting at least 4 minutes between sets, I'm thinking this means if doing multiple sets I should make sure to rest at least say 6 minutes between sets since I'm not worried about getting done is less than an hour. (I'm doing less exercises.)


I personally don't have that kind of time on me to rest 4-6 minutes between every set. I do feel that longer rest periods (3 minutes) usually help me, but the thing neglected to be mentioned is that your body will not be quite as primed for the next set if you wait too long. We've all had those times where we're distracted at the gym, maybe take 6-10 minutes to get back to our next set, and even with a long, long rest it doesn't necessarily go better than the previous set. Perhaps if we could all be monk-like and keep our bodies warmed to a specific temperature to keep ourselves primed for our next set and meditated in focus without distraction this would work well :D I think that past 4 minutes gets excessive quickly.

emphryio wrote:4. Eccentrics, of course the eccentric portion is more important than the concentric, but Colgan goes on to strongly advocate negatives EVERY workout. He produces studies that show negatives are superior, increasing muscle gains by almost double IF DONE CORRECTLY. He says you should never use more than 125% of your max. Beyond that they become useless.


As I think you mentioned in a later post regarding eccentrics, I believe they have a place, but for things like O-lifting they cannot be the standard for improvement. For example, where in the snatch would eccentrics come into play? The entire movement is based on asbsolute explosive concentric power, and the greatest benefits of eccentrics are for overloading. So, for the snatch, for example, there really is not a place in the movement where eccentrics would cause much benefit - once the weight is overhead, the movement is done, you don't follow the lift in reverse to complete it. Broken down into its parts perhaps eccentrics can be used to some degree, but I've read quite a few articles on the training protocols of the olympic lifters from countries who have had the greatest success and only once have I seen eccentrics mentioned - this was for high pulls starting with the bar on a bench and setting it slowly down, so not even much of a focus on eccentrics at all. I'm sure other types of lifting have better applications, but I'd like to see what team's programs implemented heavy eccentrics and where they stand in today's rankings :D

emphryio wrote:5. Colgan says that 72 to 96 hours after a workout, your body is still breaking down and then your body is still building up an additional 72 to 96 hours after that. This means that you shouldn't work out a muscle anymore then once a week and maybe even once every 8 days.


I don't have a lot of disagreement with this for my own personal experience, but what about the olympic lifters who train 6 days/week, 3 times per day going up to 95% of their max all year round? I think that it'd be pretty hard to persuade the top of the field to cut back their lifting from 21 sessions per week to 2 or 3 because they defy what some writers believe to be the absolute best way to progress.

emphryio wrote:6. I'll mention one last thing although there's plenty more. Shoulders are easily injured and Colgan says to never do wide grip presses or even close to straightened dumbell flyes because of possible injury. But he goes even further in apparently thinking any overhead pressing at all is too dangerous :? The only pressing movement for shoulders he recommends is a bench press. (I think I disagree on this one.)


I'd definitely disagree on this one as well. Recommending the bench press more than overhead pressing? I've heard hundreds of tales of pec tears and damaged rotator cuffs, and compare that to the woes of those injured for overhead lifting. Unless you don't know when to bail out for a bad lift, you're putting yourself at risk no matter what you do. I'd put little stock in this statement about overhead pressing.

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Postby J » Wed Jun 02, 2004 12:40 am

The more I think about it the more I think:
but a sweeping statement is something that always sets off my detectors for calling foul.

Exactly.

Colgan basically says people who train a muscle twice a week or train biceps with back are completely clueless. Then makes his assertion about once a week training without any explanation concerning the millions of people who've made great gains with twice a week or more training.

He does this sort of thing repeatedly without ever admitting there is some uncertainty.

Plus he has a chapter about how you should decide to listen to one person, then ignore what others say lest they make you doubtful..... :? :?

Anyway the only thing I'm taking from his book is slightly lower reps than I already do. And I'll keep negatives in mind if I ever reach a plateau that proper eating can't seem to get me through.
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Colgan's book

Postby VeganEssentials » Wed Jun 02, 2004 3:27 am

Without question, trying something new like 15 sets of 2 reps might be beneficial - the only way to know is to try it yourself for a few weeks and see where it goes. I'm sure if it hadn't worked for anyone he'd have been drummed out of ever being able to write a book that anyone would take seriously, so there can be some merit, so give it a shot and see what happens. I've tried dozens of things over the past 7 or 8 years and it took a LONG time until I found what worked, and something unusual like this has its appeal to a person like myself who does few sets over the 5-6 rep range. Can't remember if it was Hermann Goerner or someone else in the old time strongman circuit, but he used to do something like 20 different exercises per workout and did only 1-2 sets of singles for each one, and the man buit some INCREDIBLE strength from it. I say, whenever someone says that it can't work, give it a shot just to see what happens since you might just be surprised!

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Postby Dave Noisy » Mon Jun 27, 2005 7:40 am

Hey guys, i'm reading this book right now, some pretty interesting stuff. =)

J - did you notice anything from following some of his guidelines?

I'm thinking i'll try some of his principles for my upper-body stuff, and see where it goes. Makes a lot of sense on paper.

I do agree that he seems pretty dismissive, and perhaps over-confident. A friend mentioned that maybe muscleheads appreciate that. ;)

As for the 6mos on/off, i don't think he means it consecutively, but you'd work in cycles, building up to events, etc... Also, a lot of the light stuff is used to build up ligaments, tendons, etc, so that you're much less likely to create an injury. (Particularly good if you're doing low reps and negatives.)

Anyone else read this?
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Postby J » Wed Jun 29, 2005 12:23 pm

Dave Noisy wrote:Hey guys, i'm reading this book right now, some pretty interesting stuff. =)

J - did you notice anything from following some of his guidelines?

I never really did bother to follow him. The more I thought about it, the less he seemed like someone worth paying attention to. I don't really remeber his stuff that well at this point. Except his rhetoric was very annoying. That spiel about deciding to follow someone and then doing so unquestioningly really sounded like some extreme BS to me.
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Postby Dave Noisy » Thu Jun 30, 2005 7:07 am

Aye, i find some of it hard to swallow...yet some stuff seems pretty sound.

Why can't someone just 'get it right'? =P
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