Thursday, November 18, 2010

Alien Mass: The "Director's Cut"

What follows is the unedited version of my last article that was in Planet Muscle magazine. I love PM—it looks great, Everson includes plenty of articles with varying opinions—but when my "Alien Mass" article appeared in it, I was a little disappointed (and not just because Josh Bryant's name was attached it to). PM had changed some of the content to make it more "bodybuilding magazine friendly." What follows is the original draft that I wrote.


Alien Mass
9 Keys for Out-of-this-World Muscle Growth
The movie “Plan 9 From Outer Space” is generally considered the worst movie of all time. That’s saying something when you consider just how many bad movies have come out even in the past year. Well, while “Plan 9” might be a disaster of epic proportions, in this article I’m prepared to unleash my own “Plan 9” alien mass attack—to allow you to grow epic proportions of muscle mass.
Here are 9 keys for outrageous, out-of-this-world muscle growth.

Key #1: Train as Frequently as Possible While Being as Fresh as Possible.

The bottom line (no matter what “style” of training that you adhere to) is that you need to train frequently. You also need to be “as fresh as possible” each time that you train.
Every time that you pump iron a whole slew of good things happens to your muscle cells—especially when you apply proper peri-workout nutrition (but we’ll get around to that in a little bit). A properly executed workout raises testosterone levels, enhances GH levels, and makes your muscle highly susceptible to the proper anabolic environment.
Do you enjoy full-body workouts? Then train 3 days per week using an H-L-M system of training. And if you’re advanced and enjoy full-body workouts, start using an H-L-L-M system, training 4 days per week. (You don’t know what the hell an H-L-L-M system even looks like? Then go immerse your ass in a study of Bill Starr.)
Or perhaps you rather enjoy training each muscle group once per week, obliterating each muscle group with lots of sets, reps, and plenty of intensity techniques? Then train every day, using a one-bodypart-per-day split. This is much better than training 3 days per week, hitting several different muscle groups at each session.
Enjoy splitting your muscle groups but training with less intensity than the above scenario? No problem. Use a 3-on/ 1-off split. Keep your “work” sets limited to 9-10 per muscle group.
Lastly, don’t forget this tidbit: No great bodybuilder ever became great by working out only once or twice per week.

Key #2: Use C.A.T. for the Ultimate Repetition

It was Fred Hatfield—also known as “Dr. Squat”—who coined the term compensatory acceleration training (C.A.T. for short) for a repetition where you move the weight as fast as possible through the concentric range of motion. This doesn’t mean, of course, that the weight necessarily moves fast (though it certainly might with certain styles of training). The point is for you to accelerate the weight as fast as humanly possible (even if you’re going for a one-rep maximum). This kind of training, I believe, is the most effective for long-term muscle growth.

Key #3: Train Heavy and Hard for Your Body Type

The heavier and harder that you train, the better off your muscles are for it. Using C.A.T., pick a weight that has you approaching failure somewhere between the 6th and the 12th repetition. Why the discrepancy in rep ranges? It all depends on your body type. I believe that most training—at least as far as hypertrophy is concerned—should be done with weights that are approximately 80-85% of your one-rep maximum. If you have a lot of fast-twitch muscle fibers, this means you will hit failure somewhere around your 6th repetition. If you’re more of a slow-twitch type, you should be approaching 12 reps or so with the same percentage. And, if you have a mix of muscle fibers, it should be somewhere in between.
Now, I’m not suggesting that all of your training should be performed in your particular repetition zone, but I would advise to do so about 75% of the time.

Key #4: Use a Relatively High-Volume of Training

The amount of volume will obviously depend on just how frequently you plan to train. Just make sure that you use as many sets as your work capacity—and your bodypart split—can handle. Don’t cut yourself short.
And learn to build up your work capacity. Obviously, you shouldn’t start out by performing 15 to 20 sets per bodypart. But you do want to work up to the point where your work capacity can handle that sort of training.

Key #5: Stop Most of Your Sets Shy of Momentary Muscular Failure

For the most part, you don’t want to take your work sets to the point of failure. (There are exceptions, of course. If you’re using a one-bodypart-per-day routine, for instance, then you can afford to throw in a few intensity techniques. Just don’t overdo it.)
When do you want to stop the set? Try stopping when you begin to slow down. If you’re using C.A.T.—and moving the weight as fast as possible throughout the concentric portion of the rep, and you’re training heavy—then stop the set when your repetitions become slow.

Key #6: Do Less Early On in Your Workout So You Can Do More Later

A lot of bodybuilders make the mistake of training too hard at the beginning of their workouts, then burning out too quickly. (This is one of the main problems with typical H.I.T. workouts.) If you enjoy training to failure or doing stuff like forced reps, drop sets, or another of the various intensity techniques, save that for the last 1/4 of your workout.
A typical chest workout using this principle might look something like this:
· Bench presses: 5 sets of 6 to 12 reps (using C.A.T.)
· Incline dumbbell bench presses: 4 sets of 6 to 12 reps (using C.A.T.)
· Weighted Dips: 3 sets of 6 to 12 reps (using C.A.T.)
· Flat Dumbbell Bench Presses: 6 “strip” sets of 10 reps each set, going down the rack.

Key #7: Get Plenty of Rest

When not lifting weights, make sure that you’re getting plenty of rest and recuperation. This means sleeping plenty each night—7 to 9 hours of sleep are good numbers to shoot for. It also means “slowing down.” If your life is too hectic outside of the gym, chances are that you are diminishing the results you will get from your efforts inside of the gym.
Eat your meals slowly. Eat while sitting down at a table, not while on the go. Read a book instead of watching television. And relax. (On a personal note, I’m very keen on meditation—there’s nothing more restorative to your body, mind, and Spirit.)

Key #8: Add “Extra” Workouts

Despite how it sounds, this is not contradictory to key #7. Extra workouts should be “active recovery” sessions. They should be relatively light, should increase your GPP (general physical preparedness), and should make you feel better after you do them compared to when you got started.
Extra workouts of this sort increase your work capacity and aid in recovery between your intense sessions.

Key #9: Take Advantage of Peri-Workout Nutrition

Peri-workout nutrition refers to what you eat or drink prior, during, and after your workout. If utilized properly, peri-workout nutrition can be the key to massive muscle growth.
Here’s what I recommend so that you can ensure that your workouts become nothing more than massive muscle-building stimulators:
· Eat a meal consisting of about 40 to 45 grams of complex carbohydrates and about 30 grams of protein one hour prior to your training session. This meal can be whole food, a protein/carb drink, or a meal replacement bar. (My personal favorite choice here is one of the Met-rx “Big 100” meal replacement bars—just saying.)
· At the onset of your workout session, drink a protein/carb drink that contains at least 30 grams of protein. Sip on this slowly throughout your training session. (You might want to carry a bottle of water with you, as well. I drink both during my workouts.)
· When you are finished training, consume a post-workout meal that is nearly identical to your pre-workout meal. The only thing you might want to change would be the addition of more carbohydrates to this meal—60 to 70 grams of carbs would not be a bad idea in order to replenish lost glycogen stores.


There you have it: 9 out-of-this-world keys for growing gargantuan mounds of muscle. While “Plan 9 from Outer Space” might be the worst movie ever made, these 9 keys might just be the best this world—or any other—has ever tried when it comes to gaining alien amounts of mass.

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