DFHT REVISITED!!! (New and updated)...

Discussion in 'Training Forum' started by AnimalMass, Nov 29, 2004.

  1. AnimalMass

    AnimalMass Junior Member

    OK guys,

    Over the last couple years I have had lots of guys try out DFHT and make really good progress. However, it wasn't a perfect system (nothing ever is), and most of it's problems lied in two distinct areas:

    1) There was too much daily volume.


    2) It was too rigid and too complex, making it hard to follow and too easy to bastardize.

    So I've done some work and come up with somethign very similar but what I believe to be a better version; with more options (less rigid) and manageable volume. (Manageable might be the right word here as I know some of you guys go nuts with volume - but I believe this to be a more optimal volume for the average guy looking to put on quality muscle.

    Now I will say that much of this updated version has roots in strength training, but I've also found that there is a real need for strength development amoung bodybuilders.

    HOWEVER, this program is made for guys who's first goal is to put on mass and who's second goal is to get strong.

    I will present another, slightly different program in the next few days for those who's primary goal is strength, with size being a secondary goal.

    Also, before getting into the updated program let me say this...If you can't squat AT LEAST 1.5x your bodyweight Olympic Style, butt sitting on your heels, then you need to be doing JS's 5x5 program coupled with his 8 week squatting program (they work together). Over the last couple years I have become good personal friends with JS and have had the opportunity to train with him. The 5x5 is hands down the best mass and strength builder for beginner to intermediates out there. Even most of JS's elite level athletes and many of us elite level powerlifters use the 5x5 for some time during the year to get back to building slabs of mass and give us a break from the really heavy stuff we do. It's just a good, solid, unmatched program for beginners to upper level intermediates who desperately need to pack on mass and get much stronger in the core lifts. (On a side note, I will add my take on the 5x5 and how someone who is not a strength athlete might tweak it a tad for maximum hypertrophy.)

    Now, when you get to the point when you can squat double your bodyweight raw Olympic Style ATF, then you really won't be able to handle squatting 3 times per week anymore because the overall volume and load is increased so much. So, both JS and myself advocated dropping the squatting to twice per week; one heavy and one lighter (but still really hard work). This is where DFHT comes into play.

    So, to reiterate:

    1) If you can't easily squat 1.5x your bodyweight Olympic style, all the way down, then you need to be doing the 5x5.

    2) Once you can easily squat 1.5x your bodyweight Olympic style and your goal is primarily size and secondary strength, then you are ready for DFHT.

    3) However, a major issue with DFHT is loading and unloading phases. The fact is, until you become an upper level intermediate lifter, there is little need for planned loading and unloading phases. When you get to the point where you can squat 2x+ your bodyweight and bench 1.5x your bodyweight, then you might begin experimenting with loading and unloading weeks.

    4) Regardless of what program you are on, (be it 5x5, DFHT, or something else) you need to be eating;... ALOT. When mass is the goal, eating is as important as the training. Eat every 2-3 hours and get plenty of protein in every meal.

    Ok, let's look at the new DFHT split...
  2. AnimalMass

    AnimalMass Junior Member

    OK, Here is the split:

    Upper Body Workout One:
    1./// Barbell Bench Press: (flat or incline, primarily wide grip, hypertrophy reps; ex. 4x10 with the same weight for each set)
    2./// Dumbell Press (flat, incline, or decline for 3x8-12 same weight)
    3./// Horizontal Lat Work (Barbell JS Rows, 5x5)
    4./// Shoulders/ Traps (emphasis on medial delts - Shrugs, High Pulls, Dumbell Cleans, Lateral Raises, Shoulder Horn, Face Pulls pick 1-2 exercises for 4-6 sets total)
    5./// Tricep Extension (skull crushers, French presses, JM Presses, rolling dumbbell extensions, Tate Presses, Pushdowns pick one exercise for 3x10-12)
    6./// Biceps (1-2 exercises, 3-5 sets total)

    Lower Body Workout One:
    1./// Heavy Squats (butt to ankles, 5x5 working up each set to a 5rm, or try for a 3rm or even an occasional 1rm)
    2./// Goodmornings (3x5 same weight or work up to 5rm)
    3./// Pullthroughs (3-5 sets of 10-12, some arched back, some rounded back)
    4./// Glute Ham Raises or Hamstring Curls followed by Leg Extensions (2 sets each)
    4./// Leg Presses (3-4 sets of 10-12) or- Occasionally a Hack Squat (for 3-4x10-12)
    5./// Weighted Abs/ Obliques (5x10 total weighted situps, ab pulldowns on high cable or with bands, dumbbell side bends, etc.)
    6./// Calves (most of you know what works best for your calves)

    Upper Body Workout Two:
    1./// Flat Barbell Bench Press (close or regular grip heavy work 1rm, 3rm, 5rm, or 5x5)
    2./// Board Press/ Floor Press (5rm usually start where you left off on bench press)
    3./// Overhead Press (Standing military press, push press, dumbbell overhead press various rep schemes 5rm, 5x5, 4x10)
    4./// Dips (2-3 sets)
    5./// Vertical Lat Work (Lat Pulldowns or Pullups 5+ sets if on lat pulldown use different bars and work different planes)
    6./// Tricep Extension ((skull crushers, French presses, JM Presses, rolling dumbbell extensions, Tate Presses, Pushdowns pick one exercise for 3x10-12)
    7./// Biceps (1-2 exercises, 3-5 sets total)

    Lower Body Workout Two:
    1./// Lighter Squats (back squats or front squats for 5x5 or 4x10 with the same weight)
    2./// Deadlifts (conventional deadlifts or deadlifts standing on 2-3 box, mat, or 100lb plate - 1rm, 3rm, 5rm, or 3x5 same weight, )
    3./// Pullthroughs (3-5 sets of 10-12, some arched back, some rounded back)
    4./// Glute Ham Raises or Hamstring Curls followed by Leg Extensions (2 sets each)
    5./// Weighted Hyperextensions (2-3x10-12 )
    6./// Weighted Abs/ Obliques (5x10 total weighted situps, ab pulldowns on high cable or with bands, dumbbell side bends, etc.)
    6./// Calves (most of you know what works best for your calves)
  3. AnimalMass

    AnimalMass Junior Member

    As far as the loading and unloading issues are concerned - for the time being, just read the old DFHT thread to try and grasp that, although I'm working on revamping that as well to make it better understandable.

    Also, I will try and explain certain specifics regarding this program, but as you look over the split, please feel free to ask any questions so that I might make it more understandable.


  4. Pablo34

    Pablo34 Junior Member


    Awesome, detailed information. I will be starting this program in about an hour when I head off to the gym. I had something similar set up to this (in relations to me rehabbing my slightly torn pec injury) and I think I'm ready, albeit slowly, to begin lifting a sensible weight training program.
  5. AnimalMass

    AnimalMass Junior Member

    Awesome. Hey, do us all a favor, and keep a training journal on a seperate thread so that we can see your progress. Make sure you post your current weight, height, bodyfat estimate, and some basic measurements: i.e. - chest, arms, and thigh.

  6. zadok

    zadok Junior Member


    I have a question about wearing a belt. i never wear one cause i have been told by many people that wearing one prevents proper development of core strength. however i have been doing the 5x5 program for a bit now. on my last set of 5 i am squatting about double my body weight. Nothing special but sometimes i am straining/pulling muscles in my back. Maybe a belt would help this?

  7. AnimalMass

    AnimalMass Junior Member

    Yes, good question zadok. Basically you don't want to wear a belt until you get to the point where you can squat 2x your bodyweight. Same goes for deadlifting. Unless you are pulling 500+ don't wear it.

    But at this point, I think it would be fine to put it on for your heavier sets.

  8. Texas Ranger

    Texas Ranger Junior Member

    AM, so the workouts are to be done every other day like Monday, Wednesday & Friday, right? The program looks AWESOME by the way!!! I'll DEFINITELY give it a try!!!!!
  9. AnimalMass

    AnimalMass Junior Member

    Oh yes, that's another good question...

    Basically the only rule is that the upper body workouts need to be 72 hours apart. Same goes for the lower body.

    So you might do:

    Monday: Upper body 1
    Tuesday: Lower body 1
    Wed: Rest
    Thurs: Upper body 2
    Fri: Lower Body 2
    Sat Rest
    Sun: Rest
  10. AnimalMass

    AnimalMass Junior Member

    Also, this should give you a bit of an overview on dual factor programming...

    There are basically two accepted theories in the world of weight training. One is called Supercompensation (or Single Factor Theory), and the other is called the Fitness Fatigue Theory (or Dual Factor Theory This comes from Zatsiorskis Science and Practice of Strength Training book). Bodybuilding tends to follow the Supercompensation way of thinking, while virtually every field of strength and conditioning, athletics, etc. follows the Dual Factor Theory. The reasoning that almost everyone involved in strength training adheres to the Dual Factor Theory is because there is scientific proof that it works, not to mention that the eastern bloc countries that have adhered to this theory have dominated at the Olympics over the United States for nearly 5 decades now (well, up until the fall of communism).

    The Supercompensation Theory has been, in the bodybuilding community, the most widely accepted school of thought. However, people are beginning to see it as a bit too simplistic (the strength and conditioning and athletic movements have never accepted this practice). The theory itself is based on the fact that training depletes certain substances (like glycogen, and slowing protein synthesis). Training is seen as catabolic, draining the body of its necessary nutrients and fun stuff. So to grow, according to the theory, the body must then be rested for the appropriate/ optimal amount of time, AND, it (the body) must be supplied with all the nutrients it lost. If both of these things are done correctly, then theoretically your body will increase protein synthesis and store more nutrients than it originally had! (i.e. your muscles will be bigger!)

    So obviously the most important part of this theory is TIMING! (Specifically concerning the rest period). But that's where the problem comes in. "If the rest period was too short, then the individual would not be completely recovered and as such the training would deplete the substance even more, which over a period of time would result in overtraining and a loss of performance. If the rest interval were too long then the training would lose its stimulus property, and the individual would recover completely and lose the window of opportunity to provide the stimulus again. If the interval is optimal then improvements surely follow.

    "So, given the one factor theory (Supercompensation), which looks at physical ability as, of course, one factor, you are left with the problem of timing workouts to correspond to the supercompensation wave... anything sooner or later will lead to a useless workout.

    Another issue concerning the Supercompensation/ Single Factor Theory is that of FAILURE. Almost every program that utilizes this type of training advocates the use of muscle/ CNS failure, and then fully rest, and then beat the crap out of your muscles again, then rest, etc (I'm referring to the "work one bodypart per day, six days per week" program as well as HIT, popularized by Mike Mentzer). The issue is that it has now been proven that total failure is not necessarily needed for optimal growth. It has been shown that leaving a rep or two in the tank can and will yield the same results AND therefore a shorter rest period will be needed and less accumulation of fatigue will still be present by the time the next training session rolls around.

    A Better Way

    The Dual Factor Theory, also called Fitness Fatigue Theory is somewhat more complex than the Supercompensation Theory. The theory is based on the fact that and individual's fitness and fatigue are totally independent of each other. This theory is entirely dependant on one's base conditioning (or physical preparedness or fitness). The thing is, when you have a high level of fitness (or conditioning/ preparedness) this level changes fairly slowly. This is because over the short term fitness does not fluctuate often. (However, fatigue can change (increase or decrease) fairly quickly when compared to fitness).

    "The theory works like an equilibrium in that training will have an immediate effect on the body (similar to supercompensation). This effect is the combination of fatigue and gain (again, remember the equilibrium thing). So after a workout, because of the stimulus that training provides, preparedness/conditioning/fitness increases (gain) but at the same time will decrease due to fatigue from the training."

    "So, the outcome of the training session is the result of both the positive and negative consequences of the training session. These two outcomes depend on time. By striking the correct balance, fatigue should be large in extent but short in how long it lasts. Gain on the other hand should be moderate, however, and is longer in duration. Typically the relationship is 1:3, if fatigue lasts x amount of time then gain lasts 3x amount of time."

    "Given the two factor theory, which separates physical fitness or preparedness and fatigue, you see that the timing of individual workouts is unimportant to long term gains (unlike Supercompensation)... in other words regardless of whether or not fatigue is or is not present, fitness can and will still be increased" (which is the goal)...

    So what you get concerning the two-factor theory is a period of peaking fatigue (maybe 2-6 weeks), followed by a period of rest (maybe 1-2 weeks deloading, then one or two weeks of total rest). You view entire weeks and maybe months, as you would have viewed just one workout with the single factor theory. For example, in the single factor theory, one workout represents a period of fatigue. But, in the two-factor theory, 2-6 weeks would represent a period of fatigue. In the single factor theory, a day or two (up to a week) represents a period of rest. But in the two-factor theory, up to four weeks may represent a period rest.

    "What is important to note is that there is almost universal agreement among scientists and athletes and coaches in all sports EXCEPT bodybuilding that the two factor theory is correct and the single factor theory is not correct and is in fact suitable only for beginners to follow when planning training."

    "It is also important to note that most athletes in most sports are experiencing some level of constant fatigue ALWAYS, except for maybe a couple of weekends a year, when they are peaking. Training takes place daily against a backdrop of fatigue". Therefore, you should be able to see why, concerning the single factor theory, it would be very hard to ever fully recover, unless you sat on your ass for two weeks and did nothing."

    The important things to understand is this...

    1) Each training session exerts both postive (gain) and negative (fatigue) aspects. Instead of thinking of each training session as fatigueing and then the next 6 days as recovery, begin to think of entire periods of training as fatigueing or recovery.

    2) Obviously then the most important thing is to understand how long and how hard to "load" during the fatigueing phases and how long and how much to "deload" or "unload" during the recovery phase, which will be before a competition.

    Most people get stuck in a rut in training. bodybuilders for example often get stuck in the one time per week per bodypart rut, and that determines how many sets they do, the intensity they use, etc. since they are not going to change frequency, they end up not changing much over time.

    It is my belief that the overall stress on the body must change week to week, and periods of very high stress must be incorporated periodically into training, periods of stress so high that you can only keep it up for between a week to 3 weeks, any more than this and you would run yourself into the ground. Research shows that these periods of very high stress have a powerful effect on the body, making it more able to handle subsequent high stress training up to a year after the initial loading period.

    Once you are no longer a beginner, your body simply does not respond well to "average" training... people make progress still, but often it is because they gradually up the training stress to a point that is result producing without any clear plan... and this leads to lost training time because the buildup to this required stress level takes too long, and then often the high stress levels are continued for too long, leading to high performance followed by lower performance for a while because of inadequate restoration.

    If you allow from the start that that you are going to have to take your body to the edge at least once every training cycle, you can plan when you do it, and how long you have to recover from it, you can have shorter training cycles, more precisely timed peaks, generally more progress.
  11. DrMCM

    DrMCM Junior Member


    I assume that you increase your poundages as you progress through the loading phase, much as in HST. If so , do you have any suggestions on where to start (% of 10rm, etc.) and what percantage to increase each week?

  12. AnimalMass

    AnimalMass Junior Member

    Right. I'll explain this all in full detail in an upcoming article I'm writing (I'll point you guys to it when it comes out).

    I hate throwing around specific percentages, but I would just say this - start conservatively. Most guys aren't used to working lower body twice per week. Take a few weeks before you start really pushing it.

  13. kasper2133

    kasper2133 Junior Member

    Matt - what is your experience with natural trainers, regarding how much unloading time is needed, after lets say a 3 week loading period? Is it better to take a whole week or more off than light training during this unloading period?
  14. AnimalMass

    AnimalMass Junior Member

    No - weeks off should only happen if you are injured or immediately following a competition (and I don't think you are a competitive lifter).

    Loading and unloading schemes are all very varibale based on how hard you load and unload and are individual to the lifter. For example...I think I am a pretty good athlete. I'm an elite level powerlifter, and when I load - I load pretty hard. However, I absolutely cannot load for more than 2 weeks. Then I do one week of deloading. Occasionally I'll do 2 weeks fo deloading, but I always keep intensity high and back way off on the volume and some on the frequency.

    I've been "natural" for over a year now and I think it's easier to load and unload clead than when on gear because of the dramatic fluctuations in strength and GPP when on and off.


    ps - so the way to transfer this to the bodybuilding world is to probably not load as hard as a strength athlete would so that the loading period could be longer (like 3 weeks) and then follow that by one week of deloading.
  15. kasper2133

    kasper2133 Junior Member

    Let me see if i understand this correct.

    If the whole point of DFHT is training till you are slightly overreached, in the loading period, how should train within the loading period? With that i mean that when you are in an overreached state, how are you supposed to increase your training poundage in the loading period? I understand that the deloading should take care of the supercompensation, so that you start a new period with heavier weights than the last cycle. Should you train well below your RM's in the loading period, and let the overall volume take care of the stimuli?

    Hope you understand my question..
  16. AnimalMass

    AnimalMass Junior Member

    Great questions...

    Here is what I like to do during a loading period....First off, you should almost always train as heavy as possible. If you are doing 5x5, then you should choose a weight that you can barely get 5x5 on, or one where you miss the last rep or two of the last set.

    The only exception to this rule is when you are starting a new program (specifically with a new training frequency) and then you'll allow your body some time to adjust to the program itself.


    If I were a bodybuilder, what I would do is work heavy and hard on every exercises listed in the sample during my loading weeks. Basically, intensity (w/ regards to 1 rm) is high, volume is moderate, and frequency is high (you are training each bodypart twice per week.)

    Then, during the undloading week I would still keep intensity relaitvely high (my personal preference), but drop either the volume or the frequency substancially.

    i.e. - If you are dropping volume, then get in the gym and basically only do the first 2 or 3 exercises for that day then go home. Or if you are dropping frequency, then only go to the gym twice that week, but keep volume relatively high.

    Personally, I like to keep intensity (w/ regards to rep max) high all the time, and when I'm deloading I drop volume a ton and drop frequency just a tad. But I work out every day when you take into account extra workouts, GPP work, and other athletic things.

    Occasionally, however, I do take 3-4 days off from training alltogether to allow fatigue to dissapate. Sometimes, although rare, my body just needs the break.

  17. kasper2133

    kasper2133 Junior Member

    Thats exactly my point. How are you supposed to increase your poundage when you are overreaching. My training poundage drop when im training beyond my recuperative abilities. So what should you do in the fx last week of the loading period, when you cant keep up with your starting weight. If the whole point of DFHT is to train with increased volume, how can you keep the intensity that high? You suggest that you start out heavy, but in my world you cant keep up the intensity, when you also have increased volume, and you start with so high intensity.

    Is the whole point to accept decreased performance, ie that your poundage drop a little, or a reduction in the planned repetitions, at the end of a loading cycle, and then bounce back during the deloading period?
  18. AnimalMass

    AnimalMass Junior Member

    Ok, I see what you are getting at - also very good questions...

    BTW, before I go into tons of detail here, let me say that I am writing a Dual Factor Training series for a new online magazine called CORE which will be relaeased through bodybuilding.com. The first article is done and should be up shortly and will articulate the ideas better. Additionally, I'll try and cover all realms of Dual Facotr training, including specific planning for loading/unloading phases.

    OK, on to the answers...

    You always want to work as heavy as possible. When you start to overreach, will you be able to handle the same weight that you did when fully recovered? No. But you still need to try and hit rep maxes. If your training poundages fall below 85% or so of your best, then you are loading too hard and definitely need to start unloading.

    On days you feel really beat up (like right before you start unloading) then just back off the weight a bit and get some good hard work in. We all have days like that.

    But when you learn your body and what you can handle, you'll find that you'll be setting PRs up until 5 days or so before you unload. Those 5 days become crucial though to keep working to get the desired build up of fatigue.

    I have gotten to the point that I get to the overraching point towards the end of the last loading week. For example, my last workout of the week is a heavy bench day on Saturday. By that Saturday workout of the second loading week, I'm not feeling very good. But I still move heavy weight (not usually PRs, although sometimes I surprise myself.) However, after that workout I feel really overtrained for about 3 or 4 days. I don't do anymore work on that day to throw me into overreaching, but I just know what amount of work it takes anymore to get me to that point. (And addiitionally how much I need to delaod to get myself ready for the next loading period.)

  19. kasper2133

    kasper2133 Junior Member

    Thanks for the very informative answers Matt I think I got it now :)

    Will the articles you mentioned be posted on this board as well, or do you drop a note when its published on bodybuilding.com?
  20. AnimalMass

    AnimalMass Junior Member

    I will make a big post when the first issue comes out.