Monday, December 28, 2009

Staggered Volume Training

Staggered Volume Training

     This little gem was designed by an exercise physiologist named Douglas Christ over a decade ago.  He claimed—and probably still does—that it’s the best program for maximizing growth hormone release.  I wasn’t sure about that claim when he first made it, and I’m still not sold.  However, what I do know is that it’s an excellent way to pack on some muscle mass when stuck in a rut, particularly when you have been pounding away at more heavy duty, low rep style routines.

     Here are the three factors to making this program work:

  1. Always perform full-body workouts 3 days a week.
  2. Pick one exercise for each bodypart.  The exercises selected should be “bang-for-your-buck” ones—exercises that work a lot of muscle groups at once.
  3. Perform a high volume of work.  Depending on your fitness and strength level, you want to perform 8 to 12 exercises for 12 to 16 reps each.  Also—and here’s the kicker—perform all sets in “jump-set” fashion, alternating exercises for antagonistic bodyparts after 4 sets have been performed on a particular exercise.  For instance, after you have done 4 sets for your chest, do 4 sets for your back, then go back to 4 sets for your chest, and continue in this manner until all prescribed sets have been performed for the exercise.

     Okay, here’s what 2 programs look like.  The first one is for beginners—or anyone not conditioned to full-body workouts—and the second one is an advanced program.

Beginning Staggered Volume Training

 Perform the following program 3 non-consecutive days a week

  • Leg Presses – 4 sets of 12 to 16 reps
  • Lying Leg Curls – 4 sets of 12 to 16 reps
  • Leg Presses – 4 sets of 12 to 16 reps
  • Lying Leg Curls – 4 sets of 12 to 16 reps
  • Incline Bench Presses – 4 sets of 12 to 16 reps
  • Wide Grip Chins – 4 sets of maximum number of reps
  • Incline Bench Presses – 4 sets of 12 to 16 reps
  • Wide Grip Chins – 4 sets of maximum number of reps
  • Barbell Curls – 4 sets of 12 to 16 reps
  • Bench Dips – 4 sets of 16 reps
  • Barbell Curls – 4 sets of 12 to 16 reps
  • Bench Dips – 4 sets of 16 reps
  • Lateral Raises – 4 sets of 12 to 16 reps
  • Incline Sit-Ups – 4 sets of 20 to 30 reps

     Here are a few more pointers to get the most out of this program: 1. Don’t approach muscular failure except on the last rep of the last set of each exercise.  2. Use approximately 50-60% of your one-rep maximum—this should keep the intensity at the right level.  3. Take at least 1 minute between sets; any less and you will become too fatigued.  Don’t take more than 2 and a ½ minutes between sets; any more and you won’t be working your muscles hard enough.

Advanced Staggered Volume Training

     This program is for those of you who are already at a high level of strength and muscle development or it can be used after training on the beginning program for a couple of months.

Monday and Friday

  • Squats – 4 sets of 12 reps
  • Stiff-Legged Deadlifts – 4 sets of 12 reps
  • Squats – 4 sets of 12 reps
  • Stiff-Legged Deadlifts – 4 sets of 12 reps
  • Squats – 4 sets of 12 reps
  • Stiff-Legged Deadlifts – 4 sets of 12 reps
  • Incline Barbell Bench Presses – 4 sets of 12 reps
  • Wide Grip Chins or Lat Pulldowns – 4 sets of 12 reps
  • Incline Barbell Bench Presses – 4 sets of 12 reps
  • Wide Grip Chins or Lat Pulldowns – 4 sets of 12 reps
  • Incline Barbell Bench Presses – 4 sets of 12 reps
  • Wide Grip Chins or Lat Pulldowns – 4 sets of 12 reps
  • Barbell Curls – 4 sets of 12 reps
  • Lying Dumbbell Triceps Extensions – 4 sets of 12 reps
  • Barbell Curls – 4 sets of 12 reps
  • Lying Dumbbell Triceps Extensions – 4 sets of 12 reps
  • Standing Overhead Presses – 4 sets of 12 reps
  • Hanging Leg Raises – 4 sets of 20 to 30 reps

Wednesday

  • Leg Extensions – 4 sets of 20 reps
  • Lying Leg Curls – 4 sets of 20 reps
  • Leg Extensions – 4 sets of 20 reps
  • Lying Leg Curls – 4 sets of 20 reps
  • Flat Dumbbell Bench Presses – 4 sets of 16 reps
  • Bent-Over Rows – 4 sets of 16 reps
  • Flat Dumbbell Bench Presses – 4 sets of 16 reps
  • Bent-Over Rows – 4 sets of 16 reps
  • Dumbbell Curls – 4 sets of 16 reps
  • Skullcrushers – 4 sets of 16 reps
  • Dumbbell Curls – 4 sets of 16 reps
  • Skullcrushers – 4 sets of 16 reps
  • Dumbbell Curls – 4 sets of 16 reps
  • Skullcrushers – 4 sets of 16 reps
  • Seated Overhead Dumbbell Presses – 4 sets of 16 reps
  • Incline Sit-Ups – 4 sets of 20 to 30 reps

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