Advanced Training Planning for Bodybuilders: Part 3

In Part 1 and Part 2 we have gone over everything from the very first weight lifters to the mechanisms by which muscle tissue grows in response to overload. Most recently we discussed the role of satellite cells in muscle growth. In this process we discussed key players in this process such as growth hormone (GH), insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF-1), fibroblast growth factors (FGF2), and even transforming growth/differentiation factor 8 (TGDF-8). In part III we will discuss the results of research looking at various methods of weight training to induce both size and strength as well as possible routines and/or methods you may want to try yourself.

Training for Size and Strength

Of primary interest to bodybuilders is training for size. After all, what is bodybuilding but doing whatever you can to make your muscles larger. The goal now is to use our current knowledge of the way muscle tissue reacts to imposed mechanical overload and microtrauma to plan a training strategy or routine that best elicits a growth effect. Understand that from here on out you are going to see areas where different approaches would be equally valid. One reason for this is the lack of quality research looking specifically at muscle hypertrophy in humans using typical (or atypical for that matter) exercise protocols that last for more than 8-12 weeks. In part 1 of this article we mentioned the fact that the length of a standard school semester or quarter usually dictates the length of a given study. Subjects are usually student volunteers and are hard to keep track of when their schedules change or when summer starts. Just keep in mind that in order to get a muscle to grow without the aid of pharmaceuticals, you have to consistently damage the tissue sufficiently to get it to enlarge, but not so much as to cause injury to the tendons.

Methods of primary interest to the serious bodybuilder are negatives, loaded stretching (contrary to popular belief, this method does not require consuming alcoholic beverages prior to stretching) and concentrated loading microcycles. Let us briefly go over these methods and the terms used to describe them.

“Negatives” is a bodybuilding term used to describe the eccentric portion of a movement or exercise. In research you will sometimes see it referred to as “active lengthening”. This means stretching a muscle to increase its length while under voluntary contraction to resist the stretch. The result of this eccentric action is an increase in tissue micro damage and an increase in eccentric strength. Negatives are known to be responsible for the infamous delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) that so many of us sadistically strive to achieve. The increase in eccentric strength is a result of neurological adaptations facilitating motor unit coordination during eccentric contractions. As bodybuilders, all we are interested in is the microtrauma. As mentioned in Part II, we must have micro trauma in order to allow growth factors to “leak out” into the interstitial space, and thus to activate satellite cells. These satellite cells then donate myo-nuclei which help to produce additional contractile and structural proteins.

Certainly I would not recommend negatives unless there were some evidence indicating there usefulness. Type II fibers are favorably activated by the muscle during eccentric contractions as compared to type I fibers. Type II fibers are those that contribute the majority of growth produced by bodybuilding type training. The stimuli from eccentric loading and concentric loading are similar except that the proportions of the stimuli from eccentric loading are different in some very important ways. First, the load that is placed on the muscle during an eccentric movement is not distributed over as many fibers as during a concentric movement (Ebbeling,1989). When measuring EMG activity, or the electrical activity in the muscle, Ebbeling found that it is lower during negative work at both maximal and submaximal intensities. This suggests that relatively few fibers are recruited to produce large forces. Therefore, under comparable workloads, eccentric actions produce greater tension per cross-sectional area of active muscle than concentric contractions. In other words, lowering the weight produces more load per fiber than lifting it!

Does increasing the load per fiber as seen in eccentric contractions lead to increases in fiber diameter or simply put, GROWTH? Hortobagyi (Hortobogyi, 1996) found dramatic differences between subjects performing isokinetic concentric contractions as compared to isokinetic eccentric contractions. Muscle strength, fiber size, and surface EMG activity of the quadriceps were compared after 36 sessions (12 weeks) of maximal isokinetic concentric or eccentric leg extensions. Eccentric training increased eccentric strength 3.5 times more (pre/post 46%) than concentric training increased concentric strength (pre/post 13%). Eccentric training increased concentric strength and concentric training increased eccentric strength by about the same magnitude (5 and 10%, respectively). Eccentric training increased EMG activity seven times more during eccentric testing (pre/post 86%) than concentric training increased EMG activity during concentric testing (pre/post 12%). Eccentric training increased the EMG activity measured during concentric tests and concentric training increased the EMG activity measured during eccentric tests by about the same magnitude (8 and 11%, respectively). Type I muscle fiber percentages did not change significantly, but type IIa fibers increased and type IIb fibers decreased significantly in both training groups. Type I fiber areas did not change significantly, but type II fiber area increased approximately 10 times more in the eccentric than in the concentric group. It was concluded by theses authors that adaptations to training with maximal eccentric contractions are specific to eccentric muscle actions that are associated with greater neural adaptation and muscle hypertrophy than concentric exercise. It is the specificity of this type of exercise that gives it questionable value to performance athletes.

There has been a lot of controversy surrounding the optimal amount to weight that should be used during eccentric work. Rather than argue who is right and who is wrong, just remember that if a movement is too fast, say 1 second or less, not enough fibers will be participating to get good growth. If the movement is too slow, you begin to do quasi-isometric movements that fail to induce sufficient micro trauma. So a good rule of thumb is to perform reps taking at least 3 seconds and no more than 5 seconds. You may be asking, “how much weight should I use?”. That question is answered by the amount of time it should take you to perform the eccentric rep. If it is too heavy you wont be able to slow the weight down sufficiently to last 3-5 seconds, if the weight is too light you will find yourself “lowering” the weight even though you could stop the weight from falling.

Eccentric movements should be performed with the help of a spotter whenever possible. I make no claim that eccentric reps should only be performed sparingly. There is no evidence that I have seen that would contraindicate the frequent use of negatives in a “bodybuilding” routine. If you are a performance athlete you should focus on muscle movements that most closely represent those used in your sport. There are not many sports that require heavy eccentric contractions more than skilled concentric contractions so excessive eccentric work would thus be contraindicated.

Loaded stretching and muscle growth is something that has not been studied with human subjects. One reason for this is that no sport requires this “skill”. I will simply ask you to take my word for it. All animal models using stretch overload prove that it is a powerful stimulus for muscle hypertrophy. Many of you who might be familiar with this animal model of muscular hypertrophy may protest and say that the way that bodybuilders train is nothing like the protocols used in these experiments to induce muscle hypertrophy. I agree in that it would be highly unlikely that a review board would allow such treatment of human subjects, nevertheless, there is one study that gives rise to the probability that even limited stretching could also be a powerful stimulus for muscle growth. Here is an abstract from one such study to support the use of stretching in human training.

1. Passive stretch stimulus ranging from 30 min to 8 hr per day were studied on the slow twitch latisimus dorsi muscle (ALD) of the fowl for a 5-week period.

2. A significant increase in the mass of the ALD was observed in all daily durations of stretch stimulus applied. Nearly 50% of the mass increase that occurred with stretch of 8 hr per day was obtained from durations of stretch as short as 30 min per day.

3. Given that stretch is the equal of dynamic loading with respect to increasing muscle mass, it is concluded that stretch stimulation periods as short as 30 min per day may be just as effective as longer durations when hypertrophy is the desired result, such as following fracture, or muscle building in order to enhance athletic performance. 4. In fact it may be that longer durations of daily stimulus may be detrimental to the muscle as the functional capacity may be compromised. (Comp Biochem Physiol Comp Physiol 1993 Dec;106(4):755-758)

These authors have suggested what I have always thought. It is very interesting that 50% percent of the hypertrophy seen with 8 hours of stretch per day was already present with only 30 minutes per day. Of course, I am not afraid to be wrong as long as there is a good chance that I may get some growth out of it. In the training method that I will shortly present, I encourage loaded stretching that is applied before putting down or “racking” the weight. Stretching the “fatigued” muscle helps to eliminate spindle induced spasm, yet produces a very effective loading stimulus.

Let us switch gears for a moment and discuss strength. In order to elucidate the most efficient way to build strength, extensive research has been done on varying regimes of sets, reps, poundages, rest periods and speed of movement. In order for you to make up your own mind as to the best training methods I will give you an overview of this research. Believe me when I say that there is still room for interpretation even after years of experimentation.

Although there are several ways to exercise a muscle such as isometrically or isokineticaly we will focus on research looking at isotonic training. Isotonic means “same-tension”. This is the type of training done with free weights. Although normal free weight training isn’t perfectly isotonic due to changes in joint position and leverage, it is the accepted label for this type of training.

Of primary interest in determining the most efficient way to train isotonically we must consider the resistance or “load” that is applied to the muscle. A “one repetition maximum” (1RM) is the amount of weight that can be lifted one time. In order to standardize “loading” the 1RM is most often used. The load will be referred to as a percent of ones 1RM.

As far back as 1940, MacFadden (MacFadden,1940) was making recommendations about loading. He felt that the load should not exceed 90% of the 1RM. Later DeLorme (DeLorme 1945, Delorme 1946) recommended that the load should progressively increase form 50% to 100% of the individuals “ten”RM over three sets. For example, the first set is began with 50% of your 1RM for ten reps, the second set is increased to 75% of your 1RM for ten reps, then the final set, which is considered the “work set”, is a full 100% of your 10RM. This three set routine has since been used as a standard to compare the effectiveness of many different loading configurations.

In 1951, Zinovieff, working out of Oxford University, proposed a different approach. He suggested that the load should be decreased as fatigue began to limit performance within a given workout. In the Zinovieff, or “Oxford” method, is followed by selecting an initial load equal to the individuals 10RM, then as the sets continued, reducing this load progressively, but just enough to allow completion of each succeeding set. Soon after the Oxford method was proposed, McMorris and Elkins (McMorris & Elkins,1954) compared it to the DeLorme method. They found the Oxford technique to probably be better but there was such little difference that they with held making any blanket statements.

In 1961 (Barney & Bangerter, 1961), two different set/rep regimens were compared to the DeLorme method. The first regime consisted of 3 sets of 10 using the same 10RM load for each set. The second regime consisted of 3 sets with increasing load from a 10RM on the first set to a 1RM on the last set (MacQueen,1954). The authors reported that all three regimens increased strength as measured by a 1RM test (2.41% for the 3 x 10RM constant load, 2.19% for the 3 set increasing load, and 2.31% for the DeLorme 3 x 10 constant rep/increasing load protocol), but there was still no significant difference between the gains made with each protocol.

Berger (Berger1965) evaluated the strength increases in the “squat” by comparing different loads in one-rep by one-set protocol. He compared 66%, 80%, 90%, and 100% of 1RM loads. He also then gave them a 1RM test each week. He concluded that increases in strength will result from training at loads greater than two thirds maximum as long as a 1RM is performed each week. Well, what real conclusions about load and strength can be drawn from a study like this given the final comment, “provided at least one maximum test is also performed each week”? Who’s to say any of the protocols worked at all unless they took a 1RM each week?

Despite the questionable conclusions of this study, Berger (Berger,1962,1963) conducted an earlier study looking at the optimum number of sets and reps for developing max strength. In this study Berger compared nine different combinations using the bench press exercise. It was concluded that 3 sets of 6 repetitions using a 6RM load produced the greatest improvements in strength. This finding was in agreement with earlier studies done by Keipen (Keipen, 1956) who showed the superiority of 3 sets of 5 repetitions with a 5RM load.

Siff and Verkoshansky (Siff & Verkhoshansky,1996) make the following conclusions:

1. Training with submaximal weights (75% or more of your 1RM) twice a week and with maximal weights once a week is as effective for developing strength as training with maximal weights three times per week.

2. The increase in strength resulting from training with 75% maximum twice a week and with 95-100% maximum on the third workout is mainly due to training with 95-100% 1RM on the third workout.

3. To obtain the optimal increase in strength with three workouts per week, the load per set should be between your 3RM and your 10RM.

4. Training once per week with your 1RM for one set will significantly increase strength for up to 6 weeks.

5. Training twice per week using your 10RM is as effective as training 3 times per week with your 10RM.

6. If your 10RM is used for one set, any additional sets with less than your 10RM have no training value for developing strength.

Now these observations were made considering research done on “untrained” subjects. This means that they were not currently involved in an exercise program nor had they any long experience at training. Myself, for example, having been training well over twenty years should not expect these guidelines to work equally well for me as they did in these studies. There is other research however that focuses specifically on experienced athletes. With this research comes the term “periodization”. Because most of you reading this are more interested in physique development as opposed to competitive weight lifting, we will focus only on aspects of periodization that might benefit the modern bodybuilder.

Periodized Strategies to Achieve Your Training Goals

This section of the article will only briefly discuss the topic of periodisation. To go into great detail concerning the various nuances of periodisation theory is beyond the scope of the article. You will however be able to use the information that we will cover to better plan out your training for continued progress. For more detailed discussions of periodisation you are advised to read “Super Training: Special Strength Training for Sporting Excellence” by Siff & Verkhoshansky, “Special Strength Training” by Verkhoshansky, “Fundamentals of Sport Training” by Matveyev and “Science and Practice of Strength Training” by Zatsiorski.

Probably the most influential principle in modern training is “progressive overload”. You may remember the story of Milo, the legendary Grecian hero who, from his youth, began to lift a newly born bull. Now as Milo grew older he continued to lift the same benevolent bull as it grew with him. Over time, Milo was lifting progressively more and more weight due to the slow but steady growth of his bovine training partner. This is the explanation of how Milo became so strong. Today we assume the same principle to be at work for us and most, if not all, serious lifters train according to this “progressive overload” theory.

So are we to believe that if Milo continued to lift his bullish friend throughout the animals adult life that Milo would then be training with say,…thousands of pounds? Taking the progressive overload principle at face value the answer is “yes”! Is this really what happens? No. Eventually there is a decrease in strength gains. The curve of increase is steep in the beginning but then slowly flattens out until it is virtually horizontal. It is because of this plateauing growth curve that the same person cannot continually break the same world records. This is the realm of veteran lifters and athletes. It is this curve that was the “necessity” that brought about the invention of “Periodization”.

First some terminology, The term periodization refers to the undulating nature of high level strength training. It undulates because the restorative capacities of the body are not static and can increase or decrease depending on a number of environmental and psychological factors. So, periodization is designed to take advantage of the changing nature of your bodies ability to respond to training stress. Even without careful planning you may have noticed in your own experience of training that there were times when you unexpendedly grew rapidly or grew in strength in sudden bursts. This is because, through hit and miss, you have touched on the potential of having the right stimulus at precisely the right time. It is very much like surfing. If you are to soon or too slow you will miss the crest of the wave and your progress forward will be thwarted. Hit the wave at the right time and you are thrust forward gaining speed and making progress until the wave slowly loses its energy to the sand below.

Periodized training is broken up into “cycles”. A cycle is simply a period of time where specific training characteristics are controlled and maintained in order to bring about a desired result. You have macrocycles, mesocycles, and microcycles. Macrocycles, which usually last from 5-12 months, are the longest and consist of multiple mesocycles, which usually last from 4-6 weeks. Mesocycles are then made up of multiple, 5 – 10 day microcycles. I do not want to dwell very long on these points as I am sure that most of you are already quite familiar with this terminology.

Various periodisation strategies are used in sport settings. The most common form used here in the western hemisphere was popularized by Matveyev (Matveyev, 1964). It consists of decreasing training volume while increasing training intensity over the course of the training season. The aim of this type of periodization was to have an athlete training at maximum intensity just prior to competition. The trick is to avoid overtraining the athlete while increasing intensity. Here are some of the more common variations in training periodisation.

1. Smooth wave-like variations of the load over definite phases. As mentioned earlier, this is the most common strategy used here in the West. Research has shown that it is not optimal to have an athlete competing with 100% of the load achieved during the preparatory training period, but instead approximately 10-15% below that. So just before the peak competitive period begins the athlete should begin to taper the training load.

2. Abrupt step-like alterations of loads of different intensity (light, medium, heavy) over microcycles and mesocycles. During both day-to-day training and during monthly cycles, training load is abruptly altered from light to heavy, from heavy to light, or any other sequence. This type of training has proven successful in both practice and research settings (Vorobyev,1978)

3. Equal distribution of loading and skills training. This technique was used successfully with the 1980 Soviet track and field team. It was shown that intense skills training followed by high volume strength work during the final preparatory phase and into the competitive phase proved efficient in developing skills that later carried over to accurately perform strength tasks associated with athletic performance.

4. Wave-like concentrated loading. This refers to intense loading phases lasting 5-10 weeks at a time. If specific emphases are used during each concentrated loading phase, they can be carried out in succession with an accumulation of training effects resulting over time. This method is intended for highly qualified athletes and must be utilized intelligently in order to avoid overtraining during any given phase.

When planning your training, there are some definite guidelines that should be followed for best results. However, there is plenty of room for variation within these guidelines. Siff and Verkhoshansky give these simple rules to follow:

Aerobic training (4-6 weeks) may be used after Power training (4-6 weeks)

Aerobic training (4-6 weeks) may be used after Glycolytic training (4-6 weeks)

Glycolytic training (4-6 weeks) may be used after Power training (4-6 weeks)

Continuous training should last no more than 5 months before rest is provided.

“Aerobic” refers to high volume very low intensity training such as running or cycling. Glycolytic refers to moderate intensity moderate volume such as that used by bodybuilders. Training with an 8-10RM for 2-3 sets per exercise with relatively short rest periods (i.e. 1-2 minutes) would be an example of “Glycolyitic” training referred to above. “Power” training refers to using a 1-5RM for 1-5 sets per exercise with long rest periods.

These guidelines are based on observations showing that the effects of the previous training methodology remain throughout the following training period only when performed in specific sequences. For example, if you are a bodybuilder but you want to increase your power output, you should first train for power for approximately 4 to 6 weeks. Following this training mesocycle, you can then training for hypertrophy without losing all of the power that you worked so hard for during the previous cycle. If you reverse the order in which you apply each method of training, the systemic adaptations do not compliment each other and the level of both hypertrophy and power gained will be attenuated. The last guideline refers to overtraining and the body’s ability to adapt positively to the demands of training.

An example of a periodised training schedule for someone interested in both size and strength would be as follows:

Week 1 – 3: 3 – 4 work sets with 15-20 RM.

2-3 exercise per body part.

3-4 half-body sessions/week

NOTE: The first three weeks will be extremely taxing. Keep rest periods as short as possible. Chose exercises that encourage flexibility and that strengthen small muscle groups such as the rotator cuff. Failing the last set is fine for now. Try to follow a Mon, Wed, Fri schedule or something similar. DO NOT LOLLYGAG or you will burn out long before you are finished. Train as scheduled even if soreness is present. The purpose of this cycle is not to develop peak force but to strengthen tendons and joints in preparation for heavier loads that follow. It is also designed to increase your general fitness and strength endurance. This will also enhance recuperative abilities. Using a 15 – 20 RM is only necessary once during a macrocycle. When a second mesocycle is began, start with 10-12 RM schedule.

Week 4 (rest): 3 work sets with 10-12 RM.

2-3 exercises per body part.

Only two evenly spaced half-body session this week

NOTE: This workout should come on the 4th or 5th day afer your last workout from week 3. 4-5 days should then pass before beginning week 5 for a total of 9 days between week 3 and week 5. Use this session to establish appropriate poundages for the following microcycle. No attempts at microtrauma should be purposely made this week.

Week 5 – 7: 3 work sets with 10-12 RM.

2-3 exercises per body part.

3 full-body sessions/week

NOTE: You should now begin to chose more multijoint exercises. Use isolation exercises only for lagging body parts. Do not change the weight from set to set unless the first set indicates you have over- or under-estimated your starting strength. You should ALWAYS be able to complete the desired number of reps without adjusting the weight from set to set. Do not plan sets where you feel you might fail to get the desired number of reps. Keep rest at about 2 minutes. Train as scheduled even if soreness is present Feel free to add lengthy stretches at the end of a set before putting down the weight. Also don’t hesitate to add an additional negative at the end of a good set. This will lengthen the “time under tension” and encourage hypertrophy.

Week 8 (rest): 2 work sets with 6-8 RM.

2-3 exercises per body part

Only one evenly spaced full-body session this week

NOTE: This workout should come on the 4th or 5th day afer your last workout from week 7. 4-5 days should then pass before beginning week 5 for a total of 9 days between week 7 and week 9. Use this session to establish appropriate poundages for the following microcycle. Do NOT perform loaded stretching or supplemental negatives.

Week 9-11: 2 work sets with 6-8 RM.

1 multijoint exercises per body part.

3 full-body sessions per/week

NOTE: You should now be limiting your exercises to bench (flat or slight incline), rows (using torso support), supinated pull ups/chins (using additional weight), and squats (leg press is fine if you do not compete in strength events). If you are bodybuilding, add curls, tri extension or push down, leg extension, leg curls, calves and shrugs. Do not vary reps for calves or abbs. Use the same rep scheme for all body parts during a given microcycle. This is your “typical” strength/bodybuilding routine. Try to stay within your limits. Avoid “missing” the last prescribed rep. It is important that as you continue to increase in strength that the weight you are working with is YOURS! You must own it or get rid of it. There is nothing so defeating as having a weight humiliate you and then later cripple you mentally as you try to face it again in the future. You want ALL successful lifts. Train as scheduled even if soreness is present Once again do not fear “overtraining”. Feel free to add stretching and negatives AFTER you have performed 6-8 reps successfully.

Week 12 (rest):2 work sets with 3-5 RM.

1 multijoint exercises per body part

Only one evenly spaced full-body session this week

NOTE: Same timing applies for this session as with previous “rest” weeks. It is important that you really do limit your training during this week. It is easy to do too much especially if you are feeling good. Use this session to establish appropriate poundages for the following microcycle. Once again, limit unnecessary muscle damage.

Week 13-15: 1 work set with 3-5 RM.

1 multijoint exercises per body part.

6 full-body sessions per/week

* 2 full-body sessions per/day

NOTE: * Please notice that you are prescribed to complete TWO sessions per/day. These sessions should be brief and intense. Each session should take only 25-40 minutes. It is very important that you are physically free of injury and VERY mentally aggressive. Warm ups should be thorough in the AM and “brief but adequate” in the PM. Perform quality lifts with attention to safety. Train chest, back, and legs before smaller muscle groups such as arms, shoulders and calves. Cheating should only occur subconsciously and should be the exception, not the rule. You should not feel exhausted after these workouts. You will however begin to feel an accumulation of localized fatigue in your muscles over the three week period. You should experience personal bests during 1st and 2nd week and sometimes even during the Rest week. The third week can by trying but it will serve to give strong delayed training effects over the following “rest” microcycle cycle that will boost performance during the second macrocycle. Train as scheduled even if soreness is present Once again bodybuilders, shoot for microtrauma without the paranoia of the overtraining doom-sayers. Performance athletes of course are a different story which we have already addressed.

Sport massage is highly recommended during this cycle. Instruct (politely) the technician to look for localized areas of spasm. Pressure should be light to moderate. Three sessions per/week should be sufficient. The purpose of the massage is to reduce, or stretch, bundles of fibers that are in tetanus or spasm. Fibers undergoing involuntary spasm do not undergo proper cross bridge cycling. This inhibits them [fibers] from effectively generating force. Spasm can reduce blood flow, and subsequently healing as well, not to mention performance. An immediate increase in strength and flexibility is often experienced simply by relieving problem areas. Stretching subcutaneous connective tissue also often results in more efficient force production.

Week 16 (active rest):1 work set with 6-8 RM

1 multijoint exercises per body part.

2 evenly spaced full-body sessions per/week

1 full-body session per/day

NOTE: This rest week should be a welcome break from the previous weeks frequent battles. If all is well with your system you should notice increased strength during this workout. Don’t kill yourself during this session. You should feel strong and the workout should feel good. Use the poundages recorded from the previous 6-8 RM microcycle.

Week 17 (rest): Get out of the gym. Do something fun! Eat some junk!

NOTE: Take a little time this week to prepare for the upcoming cycle. Look at your records and identify areas that could be improved such as missed sessions, neglected body parts, and inconsistent and/or failed sets, reps or poundages. Now that you have done this once the second cycle will go much smoother.

<Begin Second Macrocycle.>

Weeks 18-30 are simply a repeat of weeks 5-17 from the first macrocycle.

NOTE: Notice that you will begin with a 10-12 RM instead of a 15-20 RM the second time around. You should already have a high level of “strength-fitness” and should not need to start so light this time. If, however, you have developed an injury you should start in the 15-20 RM range.

Keeping Records

Keeping records is very important! The poundages that you use should be slowly, yet consistently, increasing, and you should stick with a given exercise for at least two full microcycles or 8 weeks. Here is a sample exercise log that you can download and use to manage your own training.

Date

Muscle Groups:

Exercise Set#/Weight Set#/Reps
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Notes
 

 

 

 

 

Adjustments: 10RM routine Adjustments: 6RM routine Adjustments: 3RM routine

 

Reps Sets 3&4 Reps Set 3&4 Reps Set 3&4
4-67-8 

9-11

12-16

>17

decr 5-10lb.decr 0-5lb. 

leave same

incr 5-10lb.

incr 10-15lb.

0-23-4 

5-7

8-12

>13

decr 5-10lb.decr 0-5lb. 

leave same

incr 5-10lb.

incr 10-15lb.

1-23-4 

5-6

>7

decr 5-10lb.leave same 

incr 5-10lb.

incr 10-20lb.

Here is one for training twice a day.

Date

Muscle Groups:

Exercise Set#/Weight AM PM Set#/Reps AM PM

 

 

Notes
 

 

 

 

 

Adjustments: 10RM routine Adjustments: 6RM routine Adjustments: 3RM routine

 

Reps Sets 3&4 Reps Set 3&4 Reps Set 3&4
4-67-8 

9-11

12-16

>17

decr 5-10lb.decr 0-5lb. 

leave same

incr 5-10lb.

incr 10-15lb.

0-23-4 

5-7

8-12

>13

decr 5-10lb.decr 0-5lb. 

leave same

incr 5-10lb.

incr 10-15lb.

1-23-4 

5-6

>7

decr 5-10lb.leave same 

incr 5-10lb.

incr 10-20lb.

Conclusion

This predictable routine may go against all you’ve heard about constantly mixing up your training routine in order to “confuse” the muscle. Unfortunately there is no scientific principle to support this theory. What you are actually doing is constantly learning new exercises. This process of constantly getting better at unaccustomed exercises is misinterpreted as progress. Its like trading apples for oranges over and over again. In fact the “progress” is only neurological adaptation similar to that seen in novices. Not only that but the reduction in weight used to accommodate the unfamiliar exercises does not effectively stimulate new muscle growth until you are fully neurologically accustomed to the new exercise. As soon as this happens, the constant variation principle indicates you are supposed to switch to a new exercise, never allowing enough time for the original movement to contribute to real muscle growth. The message here is to stick to basic movements that hit the major body parts such as squats, barbell pressing movements, and rowing movements. Just because your bench has not improved for a long time does not indicate that you should switch bench press for some other esoteric exercise. It indicates that you have adapted to the amount of strain caused by the amount of weight you can lift. The solution?… Allow the tissue to grow unaccustomed to the strain through planned detraining.

From now into the future there will most likely not be any revolutionary new ideas as far as physical exercise is concerned. The only changes I would expect is an increased awareness of the importance of controlled tissue trauma in bodybuilding. Stretching techniques may become more common but again this is not new, just underutilized. Remember that any performance related sport must pay close attention to the specificity principle whereas bodybuilding must only worry about overuse injuries to soft tissue such as tendons and ligaments, otherwise anything goes.

References

Barney, V.S., & Bangerter, B.L. Comparison of three programs of progressive resistance exercise. Research Quarterly, 1961,32(1), 138-146.Berger, R.A. Effect of varied weight training programs on strength. Research Quarterly, 1962a, 33(3), 168-181.

Berger, R.A. Comparison of static and dynamic strength increases. Research Quarterly, 1962b, 33(3), 329-333.

Berger, R.A. Optimum repetitions for the development of strength. Research Quarterly, 1962c, 33(3), 334-338.

Berger, R.A. Comparitive effects of three weight training programs. Research Quarterly, 1963, 34(3), 396-398.

Berger, R.A. Comparisons of the effect of various weight training loads on strength. Research Quarterly, 1965, 36, 141-146.

Bates GP. The relationship between duration of stimulus per day and the extent of hypertrophy of slow-tonic skeletal muscle in the fowl, Gallus gallus. Comp Biochem Physiol Comp Physiol 1993 Dec;106(4):755-758

DeLorme, T.L. Restoration of muscle power by heavy resistance exercises. Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery; American Volume, 1945, 27, 645-667.

DeLorme, T.L. Heavy resistance exercises. Archives of Physical Medicine, 1946, 27, 607-630.

Ebbeling CB, Clarkson PMExercise-induced muscle damage and adaptation. Sports Med. 1989 Apr; 7(4): 207-234. Review.

Hortobagyi T, Hill JP, Houmard JA, Fraser DD, & colleagues. Adaptive responses to muscle lengthening and shortening in humans. J. Appl. Physiol. 80(3): 765-772, 1996

MacFadden, B. The Encylopaedia of Health and Physical Culture, Vols. 1-8. New York: MacFadden Publishing Co., 1940.

MacQueen, I.J. Recent advances in the technique of progressive resistance exercise. British Medical Journal, 1954, 11, 1193-1198.

Matveyev L. Fundamentals of Sport Training Progress Publ, Moscow (English)

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IFBB pro bodybuilder Gary Strydom

About Bryan Haycock

Bryan Haycock+ is an exercise physiologist and NPC judge. Bryan has been bodybuilding for over 20 years and holds certifications with the NSCA, ACE, and is a member of the American College of Sports Medicine. Bryan is currently the Editor in Chief of ThinkMuscle.com and is the founder and CEO of LifeStyleMgmt.com. Bryan is a highly sought after authority on the physiology of muscle growth and fat loss. Bryan also specializes in the management of type-II diabetes through diet and exercise.

  • Martin V

    Mr Haycock
    Hi, fascinating article. I am a fan of HST. I am wondering, does this article represent the latest development into hypertrophy specific training, or is it a development of HST to incorporate a stength element ? Could you explain the adjustments tables at the end please. Many thanks.
    Martin V