# T3 questions for Keith Wassung

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#### flak

##### Guest
To set the stage, here's what the T3 is...

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My personal favorite squat (actually this will work well for the bench press or just about any compound movement) program is the T3 (timed total tonnage) routine. With this program, you have three workouts, 5x10, 5x5, 5x3, performed in a sequential fashion. On your first squat session, after a sufficient warm-up, you load the bar with a weight that allows you to achieve 10 hard repetitions, but not 11. The weight on the bar is then reduced to the highest possible poundage that you can still squat for 10 hard reps. This process is repeated for all five sets. The total tonnage for each set is then calculated by multiplying the weight x the number of reps. For example 225 for 10 reps would equal 2250lbs. If you only get 9 reps on a set, then multiply that accordingly. Add up the total weight lifted for each of the five sets. this is the total tonnage for the entire session. It might look like this.

1. 225 x 10 = 2250
2. 205 x 10 = 2050
3. 195 x 10 = 1950
4. 175 x 10 = 1750
5. 160 x 10 = 1600

TOTAL 9600lbs

Record this number in your training journal. The next time that you perform squats, you will do the exact same thing except that you will do 5 x 5. Record all of the sets and the total tonnage achieved. The third squat workout is 5 x 3 and then you are ready to start over with the 5 x 10. Your only objective is to increase the total tonnage of the entire 5 sets. You do not necessarily have to increase the weight on all 5 sets to do this. My goal was always to increase the first and heaviest set by at least 2.5-5lbs and then to increase at least one or more of the remaining sets. You should also have a set time in which to complete all 5 sets.
You are only comparing to the total tonnage of the 10's to your last workout with 10's, the 5's with the 5's and so on.

The tens will usually require a bit more time to complete than the fives or threes. It does not matter what time frame you set as long as it remains consistent. The first time you attempt this entire cycle, you might find it a bit difficult in correctly selecting weights than you can get for the required reps. This is perfectly normal, just stick with it and eventually you will become very accurate at weight selection.

In this program, the tens are the most physically challenging the threes are the most mentally challenging and the fives are somewhere in the middle. I have found that each of these separate workouts helps the other. After you complete the heavy triples, the weight used in the 10's feels light by comparison. After doing a grueling 10's workout the 3;s are almost like taking a break. The frequency of this program is an individual decision. I think that doing all 3 sessions in about a two -week time frame is a good starting point and then you can make adjustments as necessary.

In all my years, I have never seen a better or a more consistent result producing program that the one described above ( 10-5-3) for developing a foundation of strength and development. It is heavily borrowed from Bill Starr with some modifications, mostly that you dont do it 3 times in one week. He also refers to it has heavy-medium and light days. I prefer high reps, medium reps and low reps, because trust me, the "light" day of tens, is anything but light and anything but easy and whe you rack the weight after the fifth set of ten, you are so relieved to not have to do that for at least two more weeks. Many years ago, I had a guy named Roy approach me, he was a recon marine, tough as nails, about 5'8", 170lbs, little or no bodyfat and he has been training for about 6-7 years and was stuck at a 500lb squat. He wanted to get his squat up to around 540 in hopes of going to the All-Marine PL camp. I told him about this program and he laughed at me saying the volume was way too low to produce gains, but he agreed to give it a shot. The first day we did tens-after the 3rd set he vomited, after the 4th set, he vomited really, really hard, I did not have him perform a 5th set, he recovered and came about 5 days later to do the 5's, after about 6 months on the program, he weighed a solid 185lbs and qualified for the PL camp with a 630 squat and other gains in the rest of his lifts.

Its a great program, but certainly not "the" program, but I have always gained on it and anyone that I have ever know that has used it has raved about the gains. The guys that have struggled with it and then quit did not take the time (4-6 weeks) to really learn how to select the proper weights for each set-this takes some practice.

There is nothing "magic" about the numers 10-5-3, you can use 12-6-2 if you like, they are just round numbers ( easy to multiply) but the idea is to gradually work at increasing your workload in each of the series of sets. Do not go overboard on this and use it for every single move you have-I would limit it to one or two exercises ( such as squat and bench) at any give phase in your training. I have used it sucessfully on a variety of compound and assistance exercises. You can add some variety-for example, I am currently doing the 10-5-3 for the squats where the first 3 exercises are full squats and the last two are front squats-and the weight is multiplied in the same way. Be creative, but be consistent.

"Whatever you can measure you can improve"

Keith

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Okay, I'm doing T3 for SOHP and squats. I really like it, for a variety of reasons. but I have some questions, and I was hoping Keith could address them --

If I easily complete all the required reps in a set, should I continue doing reps until I'm almost at failure?

If I do a set where I fail to hit the required number of reps, next time I do this workout should I use the same weight and hope to do more reps, or drop the weight?

Is there any kind of guideline re: how long the rest breaks between sets should be?

If I'm doing T3 for an exercise -- squats, for example -- is it a bad idea to do squats "outside" of T3 -- for example, doing a 5 x 3 of T3 squats and then doing a few heavy singles a couple of days later?

Thanks.

here's the secret. You have to focus on tonnage rather than absolute weight. so at the end f the day, you have to do more total tonnage. If that means bumping up the lower backoff sets rather than the top sets, so be it.

and no, never train to failure. the increae in tonnage is roughly 5%

The gentlemen above had it correct, the key factor is workload or tonnage, yes, you do occasionally go to positive failure--not as the primary objective, but rather as the natural result of increasing your workload.

You can vary the rep ranges when doing other moves, for overhead press, I found that 5x8 worked just a bit better than 10, but that was a personal decision.

When you hit your target reps, stop, do not go any further.

The whole idea is that you are hitting your body with a stress load that it has not experienced before, and therefore it must respond and it responds by adapting--first by improving its neurological efficiency and then by changing its structure, ie, muscles get bigger and stronger. But to do that you have to keep the body slightly off balance in order to continue seeing adaptations. Remember, the body adapts for the NEXT time you are going to lift, it adapts for the future.

I hope that helps

Keith

Thanks, guys.

keith, i have a quick noob question for you. i powercleaned and leg pressed on tuesday and my legs are still pretty sore. Should i go ahead with my plans and still squat heavy today? Or should i just find something else to do? Squat heavy when sore or no?

Thx!

hmm,,,tough question. It almost sparks a thread about soreness and lifting. Although soreness is not the primary objective/indicator of growth, esp, in bodybuilding type workouts, I believe that it has been downplayed more than it needs to be in recent years by the internet masses. I dont train just to get sore, but I usually expect and embrace it when it arrives ( if that makes any sense)

My rule of thumb is to never train compounds on the upper body if I still am sore, in fact I always go 24 hours past the day when soreness has left. Lower body is a bit different--and it depends on to what degree the soreness exists. If it is sort of a tightness--that sort of thing, I say go for it, maybe some extra warm-ups, get the blood flowing and the temperature elevated and then go for ir--if it is not there, then walk away--the only harm is that you have a crap workout, as I dont see any physical dangers of lifting when you are sore--as long as the sorness is DOMS related and spread out as opposed to having soreness associated with an injury ( I know, I know, when you lifting, you are breaking down the tissue and therefore its a form of injury)

I hope that helps

keith

I'd give you another tip:

the ideal percentage between sets is 10-15%

the starting weights, that you'll have to figure out yourself

I've been needing to change up my bench routine and I think I've found exactly the routine. Thanks Flak and KW.

hmm,,,tough question. It almost sparks a thread about soreness and lifting. Although soreness is not the primary objective/indicator of growth, esp, in bodybuilding type workouts, I believe that it has been downplayed more than it needs to be in recent years by the internet masses. I dont train just to get sore, but I usually expect and embrace it when it arrives ( if that makes any sense)

My rule of thumb is to never train compounds on the upper body if I still am sore, in fact I always go 24 hours past the day when soreness has left. Lower body is a bit different--and it depends on to what degree the soreness exists. If it is sort of a tightness--that sort of thing, I say go for it, maybe some extra warm-ups, get the blood flowing and the temperature elevated and then go for ir--if it is not there, then walk away--the only harm is that you have a crap workout, as I dont see any physical dangers of lifting when you are sore--as long as the sorness is DOMS related and spread out as opposed to having soreness associated with an injury ( I know, I know, when you lifting, you are breaking down the tissue and therefore its a form of injury)

I hope that helps

keith

Thanks for the response. I'm not gonna try to get a new PR anyway today, I don't even think I have enough enough weights at home to squat a new max, I'm just gonna do a few sets of 5 and call it a day with the squats. I realised if I turn my bench press around backwards that I can use it as a squatting rack, its great, I just hafe to start my first rep from a sitting position

Keith, this is something I've always wondered about T3; do you deload during it? Every 4th week take it easy or something?

The variety of rep ranges make me think that it may not be necessary, but I've never tried it.

Can you do the routine indefinitely?

MAn, i just did a warmup set of squats and my quads are givin out. I'm gonna hold off on squats another day and do some H-I-T now.....today is a fail, i am very disappointed. being sore sucks lol

MAn, i just did a warmup set of squats and my quads are givin out. I'm gonna hold off on squats another day and do some H-I-T now.....today is a fail, i am very disappointed. being sore sucks lol

Damn, you must have been sore as hell then...I've never had that happen to me before. Then again, I always wait a few days after doing an ME day.

Keith, this is something I've always wondered about T3; do you deload during it? Every 4th week take it easy or something?

The variety of rep ranges make me think that it may not be necessary, but I've never tried it.

Can you do the routine indefinitely?

The program is designed to do 3 squat workouts over a two week period. I would not suggest planning a deload ( we used to call it a lay-off) until you really feel you need one. The program can be done for a long, long time. Now that does not mean you do it 52 weeks a year for 20 years, there is going to be some down time and if you need a few extra days of rest and active recovery, then by all means, nothing set in stone here. The way I always plan my training is this- January-Easter--train as hard as possible--take somewhat of a break over Easter,--maybe 3-5 days as needed. Then bust butt until the week of 4th of July, take my summer vacation, take the time off, then bust ass until Thanksgiving and then take time off. I always tried to either over-train in the weeks leading up to the break or would schedule a contest just before (one in April, One in late June, One in November) and then would take the vacatio/time off and then the week that I came back was sort of a "break-in" week, hard, but not all out, I also drastically alter my training between the end of the Thanksgiving and the New Year to get my body ready for the next year, do a lot of different things, have some fun, enjoy the holidays, and then I could hit the gym on Jan 02 completely rested and ready for another year of PR's

thanks Keith

So Keith, I saw that you mentioned this will work for bench also, but you mentioned compound workouts. Did you mean that it's best used when doing compound bench stuff?
If this is what you meant, could you give a sample routine for bench?

I'm at 225 1 rep bench max and wanting to get to 250.

Thanks ahead of time and I'll take my answer off the air.

When I talk about compounds, I am talking about basic, multi-joint exercises as opposed to single joint type isolation exercises, though I would imagine if you wanted to do Barbell curls with T3, it would work.

As for designing a plan, I can only suggest the template and then plugging in your numbers and experimenting with them until you get the right tempo-takes most people about two complete cycles to get it down,,,and many quit before they get to that point

hope that helps

Keith

Thanks Keith. Ok, I totally misunderstood the original statement. Compound movements, not compounding lifts (as in Bench / Dips)...duh. I thought you meant compound as in super set type of stuff...

Thanks.:redface::redface::redface:

Someone mentioned doing this with SOHP's. I have avoided most overhead pressing for the last 6 months or so because of some of my imbalances(posterior chain seriously lacking). For the past year or so though I have had a few more pulling movements than pressing movements, and haven't barbell benched in about a year to try and fix the problem.

I have two questions:

1. With as many other compound movements I use that involve my anterior delts(db benching, dips esp.) should I maybe do the three workouts over three weeks?

2. Should I do the OHPressing on a different day than my other pressing movements? Like if I bench and dip on Monday should I do the T3 on Thursday.

Also I guess I'll find out if I can do 1 arm db clean and presses the same day when I try the workout. My gut tells me I won't be going heavy on them if I can.

I have a personal opinion on working through DOMS, but I know some people don't get the sick pleasure out of pushing themselves to pain like I do.haha