Thursday, January 31, 2013

Squat... and Do What You Will

     Saint Augustine once uttered the phrase “love, and do what you will.”  The blessed Augustine was basically saying that as long as you do everything out of love – love for others, love for God – then whatever else you do will be correct.
     I happen to think the same thing about squatting.  As long as you are squatting – if not at every workout, then at least on a very regular basis – then you can do what you will with the rest of your workout.  In fact, I think squatting is the foundation of all successful training.  (Okay, I suppose you can get good results without squatting – especially if you’re doing plenty of Olympic lifting or deadlifting – but squatting is a sure fire way to get great results all the time.)  For instance, if you do the following five things, I can guarantee you will get great results[1]:
1.       Squat a lot
2.       Train with volume
3.       Train frequently
4.       Get plenty of rest when not training
5.       Eat a lot of food
     If you don’t believe me, then try any of the following squatting and training options, depending on your goals:
     If you want to have the most massive muscles possible (for your genetics) and you don’t care that much about whether your muscles are actually functional, then I suggest you train 3 to 4 days per week.  Squat at the beginning of each session, then pick a bodypart to train.  Day one could be squats, chest, and shoulders.  Day two could be squats, biceps, and triceps.  Day three could be squats and back.  And day four could be squats, hamstrings, calves, and abdominals.  You don’t have to go “crazy” on the squats; just use about 60-70% of your one-rep maximum on each day.
     If you are interested in being massive and being strong, then train 3 to 5 days per week.  On one day, squat and do some overhead pressing work.  On another day, squat and carry or drag heavy stuff (farmer’s walks, sled drags, etc.).  On another day, squat and then do some heavy bench pressing (barbell or dumbbell) followed by chins.  And on another day, squat and then do various pulls (deadlifts, snatches, cleans, etc.).  Train every other day, or train for a couple days in a row before taking a day off.
     And if you are interested in being a massive powerlifter, then train 3 days per week, squat at each session, and then add bench presses one day, and deadlifts the next.
     Getting massive and/or strong isn’t that complicated.  It just requires plenty of hard work, and lots of squatting.

[1] If I was going to add anything to this list, I would also say its good idea to lift heavy things off the ground, put heavy things over your head, and carry heavy things for distance.  All of those should be part and parcel of the “train with volume” part.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Ultimate Strength and Power, Part Six

Advanced Strength and Power Techniques
   By the time you have completed months on all of the programs in the first few parts of this series, you should have quite a lot of strength and muscle mass.  At this point, it’s time to explore some of the more advanced techniques for gaining strength and power—techniques that will allow you to put on more muscle and strength than you had ever thought possible when you first started training.
     No matter what you hear from lifters, there’s no such thing as having too much strength.  I bet when you started Part One’s program (assuming you didn’t have any prior training experience) you thought it would be great just to bench a couple of 45 pound plates on each side of the bench press, and maybe squat 3 plates on each side of the bar.  By the time you were halfway through Part One or Two, then you were probably thinking, “If I could only bench press 3 plates and squat 4 plates, then I would be happy.”  And, now, by the time you have reached this portion of the series, many of you have achieved those very goals.  Are you satisfied?  Then answer is, unequivocally, “no,” because there’s never such a thing as “too much” strength.
     Well, never fear, because this chapter is going to lay out those methods that will bring you the greater strength and power you’re craving.  Here, you’ll find the techniques that are used by the greatest powerlifters and Olympic lifters in the world.  If you have been keeping up with the field of strength and power training over the past few years, then chances are that some of this will be familiar to you, while many of it won’t.  And for a majority of readers, this will be some new, innovative, exciting stuff!

Explosive Repetitions

     You hear this kind of training called several different things—dynamic work, speed training, iso-ballistics, and the late Mel Siff coined the word “powermetrics.”  What it means is moving the weight as fast as possible, throughout both the concentric and eccentric portion of the movement, while maintaining good form (no bouncing of any kind) and using weights in the neighborhood of anywhere between 40 to 70% of your one-rep maximum.  The weight used depends on what method of explosive repetition training you choose to employ.
     Of course, the first question generally asked is “what is the benefit of this sort of training?”  Explosive repetition work has several benefits (such as improved neural function and helping reversal strength; we’ll get to reversal strength later) but the best benefit of this type of training is that it lets you constantly train heavy (with weights in the 85% plus range) without the heavy weights causing your muscles to slow down—and thus resulting in what would be loss of strength.
     To help you understand the benefits of this, let’s take a look at a hypothetical bench presser who has a max bench of 315 pounds.  Let’s say he goes to the gym and works up to a max single, hitting 315 pounds.  Now, let’s say the next week, he goes back into the gym and decides to add another 2 and a 1/2 to 5 pounds and try for a new max.  He gets it.  The next week, he comes in and once again tries to add weight, but this time he misses it.  No problem (or so the lifter thinks); he just assumes that he’ll get the weight the following weeks.  The problem is that when he comes in the next week, he doesn’t get it.  And, in fact, if he were to keep on trying to max out week after week, he would get weaker.  Why?  Is he losing strength by training this way all the time?  Technically, no.  Yes, he’s weaker, but that’s because he is getting slower.  Explosive repetition helps to counteract this problem.  Because when you always train with weights in the 90%-plus range, you’re going to get slower.  You need something to counter-act this slowness—explosive repetition work—allowing you to constantly train heavy.
     There are several ways to go about doing explosive repetitions.  The most popular method was made so by the Westside Barbell Club in Columbus, Ohio, where Louie Simmons trains a number of world champions and world record holders in a little gym.  At Westside, they like to spend a day reserved solely for speed work, where they use 50-60% of the lifter’s one-rep max on exercises such as the bench press and the squat for 8 to 12 sets of 2 to 3 reps.  Simmons believes that doing more than 3 reps results in speed degradation, something he strictly wants to avoid.
     I have used this method with some degree of success, though I must admit that it’s not the sole method I use for either myself or for the lifters I train.  I can tell you this, however.  A couple of years back I was training a guy whose maximum bench was 220 pounds when he first came to me.  I immediately knew that his problem was lack of speed, not strength, for the bar moved very slow off his chest, and you could tell he wasn’t producing enough force.  I had him train his bench press three days a week.  The first day was reserved for heavy single rep training, working up over 5 to 6 progressively heavier singles each week.  The 2nd and 3rd day of the week were both reserved for speed work, where he used 40% and 60% of his max, respectively, for 8 sets of 3 reps.  Within two months, he had added more than 100 pounds to his bench press.
     You don’t have to always do your explosive work on separate days from your heavy stuff.  I have had lifters get good results with this type of training by adding it either after or before their heavy work.  For those who had the speed, but not the strength, then I had them do their explosive work after their strength work.  For those who lacked speed, I had them do their speed work first.
     Another method that can be employed is to do the speed work in between heavy sets, alternating back and forth between the two types of training.  In the past, Russian and Eastern-bloc lifters have had success with this form of explosive training.  Russians called them “complex sets”—and this is another effective method to use, especially for anyone who is lacking speed on their heavy sets.  How do you know if you are lacking speed on your heavy sets?  After all, the weight is heavy, and it’s going to always move relatively slow.  The question is “how slow”?  Anyone who takes 5 to 6 seconds to complete a max single, and gets the rep, has the strength but not the speed to back it up.  The explosive rep training will make a big difference for this sort of lifter.

Synaptic Facilitation

     Taking advantage of synaptic facilitation is one of the best things you can do to take your strength to the ultimate level.  In the past, some strength coaches have referred to this method as “greasing the groove,” or “GTG” training for short.
     Repetitive and intense (up to a point) stimulation of a neuron increases the strength of its synaptic connections.  Some researches think it might even form new synapses.  In other words, repeatedly performing a certain lift will “grease” the lifter’s groove for that particular lift.
     This is one of the reasons why a lifter, when he switches from squatting only one day a week to two or three days each week, gets such good results.  He is “greasing his groove.”  Personally, I know that the more I squat (once again, up to a point), the stronger I get at it.
     Vladamir Zatsiorsky—one of the greatest strength researchers who ever lived, and author of the book “The Science and Practice of Strength Training”—summed it up best.  He said (this isn’t verbatim), “for building strength, train as often as possible, while being as fresh as possible.”
     Over the past few years, a popular method among bodybuilders is to do a whole lot of volume at one workout, then give their bodies a week (sometimes longer) of rest before training their bodyparts again.  Russian strength researchers such as Zatsiorsky would have told them they had it completely backwards.  It would be much better to take that same amount of volume and, instead of doing it at one workout, spread it out over two, three, or four sessions.  Russian powerlifters and Olympic lifters always fragment their training volume in this manner.

Accentuating the Eccentric

     The eccentric phase—also known as the negative or “yielding” phase—is unique from the concentric, or positive, portion of the repetition because of the amount of weight that can be handled.  During the eccentric portion, you can handle weights that are 50% to 100% heavier than during the concentric portion.
     This uniqueness of the eccentric phase tells us two things.  One, most lifters don’t stimulate their muscles enough during the yielding phase because they don’t place enough emphasis on it.  Two, there is enormous potential for improving one’s strength when the eccentric is accentuated.
     There are three ways to accentuate the negative and take advantage of its benefits.  The first is easy (and the most often used).  It simply involves radically slowing down the eccentric portion of the lift.  How much should you slow it down?  The table below demonstrates the kind of eccentric training I often have the lifters I work with employ.
Load        Reps per Set     Yielding Phase Time Under Tension
50-70%             3                                     15-10 seconds
70-80%             2                                     8-6 seconds
80-90%             1                                     5 seconds
     As I said, this is a very simple way to start using negatives.  It will give you a quick return for your efforts in the form of more strength.
     The second method I like to employ—albeit sparingly—is “supramaximal” negatives, by using weights that are 100-150% of the lifter’s one-rep maximum.  The lighter the supramaximal negative, the slower the repetition.  Here are some guidelines for what I am talking about (these aren’t set in stone and can be adapted based on the lifter’s eccentric strength):
100-110%—12 second negative
110-120%—10 second negative
120-130%—8 second negative
130-140%—6 second negative
140-150%—4 second negative
     Also, these shouldn’t be done for anything more than singles.  Most lifters don’t have the recovery ability to handle more than one rep per supramaximal set.  Five to 10 singles—depending on the weight—is plenty adequate.
     The 3rd method involves “overspeed” eccentrics, or moving as fast as possible throughout the negative portion.  This is the type of eccentric-accentuated method employed with great success at the Westside Barbell Club.
     A fast lowering of the weight accumulates kinetic energy, which will lead to more force being produced during the concentric portion of the lift.
     The best way to take advantage of overspeed eccentrics is by not only lowering the bar or your body as fast as possible, but by pausing for a heartbeat at the bottom portion of the movement, then “blasting” the weight back to lockout.

Conjugate Training

     In America, a popular way to train for an upcoming powerlifting meet is periodization.  Or, rather, Western periodization—as the Russians might call it.  This form of periodization involves adding weight and decreasing reps each week as the powerlifting meet approaches, using pre-set weights and reps.
     Russians threw this form of periodization out the window a long time ago.  Why?  Because they discovered that there are far better ways to train.
     The main problem with Western periodization is the fact that you are training for different things at different phases.  For instance, training with higher reps at the beginning of a periodization cycle does nothing for your maximal strength, and in fact, hurts your strength gains further in the cycle.  (This is the reason the Russians abandoned this form of training.)
     Of course, if you’re not going to use periodization, then what are you to do?  If you’ve made it this far into this series, then you probably have a good idea of some of the answers.  One thing that won’t work, obviously, is to constantly train with heavy singles on the same exercises.  This simply burns the lifter out, slows the lifter down, and, instead of his or her lifts going up, they soon start to regress.
     So, how can you constantly train heavy (which is needed) and keep from burning out?  In the 1970s, the Dynamo Club—an Olympic lifting team—in the Soviet Union discovered the answer in the form of what is now termed conjugate training.  The coaches for the Dynamo Club came up with a system of training where their lifters rotated between 20-45 different exercises in order to improve the Olympic lifts.  Each workout consisted of 2-4 different exercises, which were rotated from on a regular basis (1 to 3 weeks).  As their strength on such lifts as good mornings (performed in various manners), front squats, Olympic squats, and various pulls (with different grips) improved, so did their snatches and clean and jerks.
     When you combine conjugate training with the other forms of strength training already presented in this chapter, you have a very formidable weapon for more strength and power.
     At first glance, it would appear as if the conjugate method and the method of synaptic facilitation cannot co-exist with one another (as some authors have claimed).  I don’t think this is the case.  For instance, a method I have used with several of my powerlifters is to do heavy benches on Monday (with different rep ranges—a form of conjugate training), followed by a different bench exercise on Wednesday, and still a different bench exercise on Friday.  One week they might perform close-grip benches on Wednesday followed by incline benches on Friday.  The next week they might perform reverse-grip benches on Wednesday, followed by close-grip bottom-position benches on Friday.  They are still training the muscles that bench press often—thus, “greasing their groove”—without performing regular flat benches done in exactly the same manner every week.

Accomodating Resistance

     The 5th method for advanced strength development I’m going to discuss isn’t one that has to be performed all of the time, and, in fact, you will need a break from it periodically.  It is, however, one of the best methods for taking your strength to that next level.
     Accomodating resistance means using special means to accomodate for resistance throughout the range of motion, rather than just a specific point.  Take the bench press as an example.  On the bench press you are capable of lifting far more weight on the top half of the exercise than on the bottom half.  From your chest onward, the resistance becomes less and less.  Now, what if you were to use something to make the bench press have the same resistance throughout the entire range of motion?  Renewed strength when you switched back to doing the exercise without the accomodating resistance, that’s what.
     What can you use to accommodate resistance?  The two best things are bands and chains.  And of the two, the bands are the best.
     By using bands in the power rack, or by attaching chains to the end of the bar (whether you are doing squats, benches, or any variation thereof), you can have zero added resistance at the bottom of the movement.  As the lift progresses, the tension stays the same (or increases) depending on the amount of chains or the weight of the bands.
     Accomodating resistance is one of the best methods employed among powerlifters, Olympic lifters, and kettlebell lifters in recent years.  Use it and you will be surprised of the results it will bring.


     In the next few parts of this series, I will outline some programs that will incorporate the above advanced strength and power techniques.  In addition, they still contain all of the elements for successful strength training that I outlined in Part One.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

High Frequency Training

High Frequency Training
Frequent Workouts for Fast Results

     High Frequency Training—we’ll just call it HFT from here on out—involves any form of training where you are working each muscle group a minimum of 3 times a week (that’s right, a minimum).  HFT usually gets a bad rap when it is presented to the average bodybuilding public.  It has become a fad to train each muscle group infrequently and with a very high-intensity and/or high-volume.  But I’m here to tell you right now that there is a better way to train.  So if you’re tired of hearing that the best way to train a muscle is to “annihilate” it and then give it a week (or longer) to rest and grow stronger, you ought to love this article.
     If you don’t believe this kind of training works, you probably would like to see some examples of well-developed athletes and/or bodybuilders who have used it.  First off, let’s examine athletes.  Some of the most muscular athletes in the world train very frequently.  Speed skaters have some the largest, most massive thighs in the world of athletics, and their thighs got that way by training them daily—and training them hard.  As far as upper bodies go, you don’t have to look any further than gymnasts.  Gymnasts have extremely muscular shoulders, lats, biceps, triceps, and forearms developed by daily training on events such as the pommel horse, rings, and the uneven bars.
     “Okay, what about the world of strength training?” you want to ask.  Look no further than Olympic lifters.  Olympic lifters do little else other than train their cleans, jerks, and squats on a daily basis.  And a lot of these guys have physiques most bodybuilders would kill for, despite the fact that they’re not trying to look like a bodybuilder.  They just want to get strong as hell, and they know that the best way to do it is with HFT.
     One more group has to be mentioned here, and they are the old-time strongmen.  A lot of strongmen from around the turn of the 20th century (and on into the 1940s and ‘50s, I might add) built their strength and muscle by working their lifts anywhere between 3 and 6 days a week.  They knew that the more they trained a lift, the better and stronger they got at it.
Making HFT Work
     Now let’s look at the keys to making HFT work, and then we’ll look at some workout programs.  First off, you can’t train often and extremely hard.  In other words, you can’t train chest more frequently just by using the current program you’re working out with, and just doing it three or four times a week instead of one or two.  That kind of training is what gave HFT such a bad rap in the first place.
     Here are the keys to making progress with high-frequency training:
1)    Keep your volume for each muscle group fairly low at each workout.  This is especially true when you first start out.  As you become more advanced, you can certainly have days where you train with a lot of volume, but it can’t be part of your regular program.  Also, keep in mind that even though your volume is going to be low during a workout, your total volume for each muscle group over the course of a week of training is going to be high.
2)    Avoid momentary muscular failure.  When training frequently, you want to stop each set several reps shy of failure.
3)    For each workout, focus on only one skill.  In other words, if strength is your goal, that’s what you want to work on during a workout—and that should be your primary goal throughout a training week.  The same goes if building muscle mass is your goal.  What you can’t do is focus on more than one skill in the same workout—the volume would be too high at each session.
     The first program here is geared toward strength and power, although muscle mass will certainly occur as long as you are eating enough protein and calories.  The second program is strictly for inducing hypertrophy.
Beginning Strength and Power Routine
     This workout program allows you to ease into HFT.  It begins by only training your muscle groups 3 times each week on a whole body program.  At each workout, pick only 3 exercises.  Choose a lower body movement at each session (squats, front squats, deadlifts), an upper body pushing movement (bench presses, incline bench presses, dips, overhead presses), and an upper body pulling movements (various chins or rows, for example).
     For the first week, perform 2 sets of 5 reps for each exercise on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.  For the second week, perform 3 sets of 5 reps on each exercise on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.  On the 3rd week, it’s time to add another workout.  This week will see you using 3 sets of 5 reps on each exercise on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday.  On week 4, you once again add another session, this time training each exercise for 3 sets of 5 reps on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday.  And on week 5 you will perform 4 sets of 5 reps Monday through Friday.
     None of the sets should be tough, especially the first 3 weeks.  Use between 60-70% of your one-rep maximum on each exercise.  (You don’t have to be scientific about your percentages; just make sure they’re close.)  In summary, here’s the workout:
Week One
Mon-Wed-Fri: 2 sets of 5 reps
Week Two
Mon-Wed-Fri: 3 sets of 5 reps
Week Three
Mon-Tue-Wed-Fri: 3 sets of 5 reps
Week Four
Mon-Tue-Wed-Thur-Fri: 3 sets of 5 reps
Week Five
Mon-Tue-Wed-Thur-Fri: 4 sets of 5 reps
     On week six, you can either start the workout cycle over again, or you can switch to the second program in this article.
Beginning Hypertrophy Routine
     For those of you—men and women—whose only concern is to look good naked, then this is the program for you.  As with the Strength and Power workout, here you will have a week or two to “break in” to this kind of training.
Week One
For the first week, perform the following workout on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday:
1)    Squats – 2 sets of 10-12 reps
2)    Incline Dumbbell Bench Presses – 2 sets of 10-12 reps
3)    Seated Overhead Dumbbell Presses – 2 sets of 10-12 reps
4)    One Arm Dumbbell Rows – 2 sets of 10-12 reps
5)    Standing Dumbbell Curls – 2 sets of 10-12 reps
6)    Lying Dumbbell Extensions – 2 sets of 10-12 reps
7)    Incline Sit-Ups – 2 sets of 20-30 reps
Week Two
For the second week, perform the following on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.  Here, you will change exercises from the first week, and add 1 set for each muscle group.
1)    Leg Presses – 3 sets of 10-12 reps
2)    Stiff-Legged Deadlifts – 3 sets of 10-12 reps
3)    Incline Barbell Bench Presses – 3 sets of 10-12 reps
4)    Barbell Bent-Over Rows – 3 sets of 10-12 reps
5)    Standing Military Presses – 3 sets of 10-12 reps
6)    Barbell Curls – 3 sets of 10-12 reps
7)    Lying Barbell Extensions (a.ka. “Skullcrushers”) – 3 sets of 10-12 reps
8)    Incline Sit-Ups – 3 sets of 20-30 reps
Week Three
     Perform the following workout program on Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday:
1)    Squats – 4 sets of 10-12 reps
2)    Deadlifts – 3 sets of 10-12 reps
3)    Flat Dumbbell Bench Presses- 4 sets of 10-12 reps
4)    Lat Machine Pulldowns – 3 sets of 10-12 reps
5)    Upright Rows – 4 sets of 10-12 reps
6)    Seated Dumbbell Curls – 3 sets of 10-12 reps
7)    Rope Pushdowns – 3 sets of 10-12 reps
8)    Feet Elevated Pushups – 2 sets of 10-20 reps
9)    Incline Sit-Ups – 3 sets of 20-30 reps
Week Four
     Perform the following program Monday through Friday, then take the weekend off:
1)    Squats – 4 sets of 10-12 reps
2)    Stiff-Legged Deadlifts – 3 sets of 10-12 reps
3)    Flat Barbell Bench Presses- 4 sets of 10-12 reps
4)    Lat Machine Pulldowns – 3 sets of 10-12 reps
5)    Lateral Raises – 4 sets of 10-12 reps
6)    Barbell Curls – 3 sets of 10-12 reps
7)     Skullcrushers – 3 sets of 10-12 reps
8)    Feet Elevated Pushups – 2 sets of 10-20 reps
9)    Incline Sit-Ups – 3 sets of 20-30 reps
Week Five
     For the final week of your training cycle, perform the following workout Monday through Saturday, taking only Sunday off from training:
1)    Leg Presses – 4 sets of 10-12 reps
2)    Dumbbell Deadlifts – 3 sets of 10-12 reps
3)    Incline Dumbbell Bench Presses- 4 sets of 10-12 reps
4)    Bent-Over Dumbbell Rows– 3 sets of 10-12 reps
5)    Seated Dumbbell Presses – 4 sets of 10-12 reps
6)    E-Z Bar Curls – 3 sets of 10-12 reps
7)    Triceps Pushdowns – 3 sets of 10-12 reps
8)    Cable Flyes – 2 sets of 10-20 reps
9)    Incline Sit-Ups – 3 sets of 20-30 reps
     There you have it.  Two completely unique training programs that will not only shatter your beliefs about what you thought was effective training, they will also bring you more strength, power and/or hypertrophy than you have experienced in a long time.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Ultimate Strength and Power, Part Five

Two-Way Split Training

     I honestly believe a lifter could spend a lifetime using full-body workouts and never deviate.  If you spend a lot of time doing the workouts in the first few parts of this series, then I bet you’ll feel about the same way.  If you are going to do some split workouts, however, there is no reason to deviate from the two-way split.  Two-way splits still let you get in good shape (something that won’t happen when you start training only one or two bodyparts per session).  And most lifters like to do them just to keep from getting bored.  For that reason alone, I think two-way splits are valuable.
     In this part, I’m going to outline three basic workouts that are really good at introducing you to two-way split training.  They will also help to prepare you for the more advanced programs that are yet to come in subsequent parts of this series—both full-body workouts and two-way split training sessions.

Frequency of Training

     One of the major things you must decide when beginning two-way splits is what days to lift on.  Once you pick a schedule, you need to stick with it.  Let’s take a look at what I feel are the three best ways to split up the training sessions.  Once you have decided which one you would like to use, simply plug in the workouts in any of the programs to the days you have decided to train.

Plan #1

Day 1—train
Day 2—train
Day 3—off
Day 4—train
Day 5—train
Day 6—off
Day 7—off

Plan #2

Day 1—train
Day 2—off
Day 3—train
Day 4—off
Day 5—train
Day 6—train
Day 7—off

Plan #3

Day 1—train
Day 2—train
Day 3—off
Day 4—train
Day 5—off
Day 6—train
Day 7—off
     Of the three plans, I don’t think any one of them is better than the other.  I do know that, for most people, the first one is considered the best, since it allows the lifter to take the weekends off (assuming that the first training day is Monday).  Of course, a lot of folks like to train on Saturdays, which makes plans 2 and 3 optimal.

Heavy/Light Program

     The Heavy/Light program is a great one to get you started on two-way splits.  It splits your training sessions into upper body and lower body splits.  Of course, (as with some of the full-body programs) light is a relative term, since you’ll be using exercises that are harder on the light day, thus forcing you to use lighter weights.  This routine keeps all of the elements of successful training intact, as it includes enough volume, plenty of heavy weights, and a good dose of power rack training.

Day One—Upper Body

·      Flat Bench Presses—5 sets of 8, 5, 3, or 1 repetition.  Rotate between the four different repetition ranges on a weekly basis.  Perform 5 progressively heavier sets at each repetition ranges.  Personally, though you can do it different ways, I think the best way to rotate between the repetitions is to do a week of 5s, a week of 3s, a week of 8s, then do your singles.
·      Wide-grip Chins—5 sets of 8, 5, 3, or 1 repetition.  Use the same format as on the bench presses.
·      Incline Bench Presses—5 sets of 8, 5, 3, or 1 repetition.  Use the same set/rep format that you used for the benches and chins.
·      Barbell Curls alternated w/ Lying Triceps Extensions—5 sets of 10 reps.  Move back and forth between these exercises, taking at least one minute between sets.
·      Steep Incline Sit-ups—3 sets of 50 reps.

Day Two—Lower Body

·      Squats—5 sets of 8, 5, 3, or 1 repetition.  Use the same set/rep sequence that you used on the major lifts in Day One.
·      Deadlifts—5 sets of 8, 5, 3, or 1 repetition.  Same set/rep scheme as all the others.
·      Squat Lockouts—5 sets of 5, 3, or 1 repetition.  Unlike the other exercises this week, for this one I don’t wamt you doing progressive sets.  Instead, pick one weight and do all 5 sets of whatever repetition range you choose.  For form, set the pins in the power rack so you will be doing the last 1/3 of the movement.  This will allow you to move some major weight.  Once your body gets accustomed to the extra pounds, it will make your regular squats much easier.
·      Rack Deadlifts—5 sets of 5, 3, or 1 repetition.  Use the same set/rep sequence as the squat lockouts.  In addition to varying repetition ranges, you can also vary the pin levels.  On some days, set the pins a couple of inches above the knee; on others, set the pins below the knee; and on some days, set the pins right at knee height.
·      Hanging Leg Raises—3 sets of  30 reps.

Day Three—Upper Body

·      Dumbbell Bench Presses—5 sets of 10, 8, or 5 repetitions.  Vary between theses rep ranges each week.  Use progressively heavier sets.
·      Close-grip Chins—5x maximum repetitions.  Your goal on this exercise is to increase the number of reps you get each week.
·      Standing Overhead Presses—5 sets of 8, 5, 3, or 1 repetition.  Use the same set/rep scheme as you did on squats and bench presses from Days One and Two.
·      Dumbbell Curls supersetted w/ Bench Dips—3 sets of 20 reps (each exercise).  Alternate between each exercise without any rest.  Work each set hard but take everything a few reps short of failure.
·      Steep Incline Sit-ups—3 sets of 50 reps.

Day Four—Lower Body

·      Bottom-position squats—5 sets of 3, 2, or 1 repetition.  Vary between the three rep ranges, using progressively heavier sets.  The lower reps and the nature of the exercise will help to keep your workload down, making this a perfect light/medium exercise.
·      Deadlifts off Blocks—5 sets of 3, 2, or 1 repetition.  Use same set/rep combo as the bottom-position squats.
·      Lunges—4 sets of 6 reps (each leg).  For these, don’t use progressive sets, but keep with the same weight throughout all 4 sets.
·      Good Mornings—3 sets of 8 reps.  Use the same weight for all of these sets, too.
·      Hanging Leg Raises—3 sets of 50 reps.

Multiple Singles

     This next workout is one of the best for packing on muscle and strength.  It uses more singles per core lift than those used in Part Four, plus it uses a lot of other repetition ranges on the other sets, so—in many ways—it’s different from any of the other routines you’ve used thus far.
     The type of heavy singles regimen used in this program has been utilized over the years by some of the greatest names in strength and power—Paul Anderson, Pat Casey, Doug Hepburn, and Jeff Maddy (one of the first guys to bench over 700), to name a few.  I have seen this workout do wonders for bringing up strength for a number of the lifters I have worked with or others I have helped over the years.

Day One—Lower Body

·      Bottom-position squats—5 to 8 singles, followed by 5 sets of 5 reps.  This exercise is going to be tough when done with the sets and reps I’m going to prescribe, but the results you gain will be well worth all the effort.  Warm-up with 2 to 3 sets of 5 reps (depending on how much weight you’re handling) before moving to the singles.  For the singles, start with a weight you know you can get at least 5 singles.  Your goal will be 8 singles.  If you get all 8 singles, then increase the weight 5 to 10 pounds at the next workout and shoot for 8 singles again.  Once you are through with your final single, drop down in weight by at least 50 pounds (if you are handling huge weights, then you might drop as much as 100 pounds) and perform 5 sets of 5 reps with that weight.  If you don’t get all 5 sets of 5 reps, then perform the same weight at the next workout.  If you get all 5 sets, then increase the weight at the next session.  Brutal? Yes.  Effective?  Absolutely.
·      Deadlifts—5 to 8 singles, followed by 3 sets of 5 reps.  Use the same format as the squats, but only perform 3 set of 5 instead of 5 sets.  Now that these two exercises are over with your lower body should be pretty much fried.
·      Good Mornings—4 sets of 8 reps.  Use progressively heavier weights and relatively light weights on these, working up to no more than 225 pounds on your 4th set.
·      Steep Incline Sit-ups—3 sets of 50 reps.

Day Two—Upper Body

·      Pause Bench Presses—5 to 8 singles, followed by 5 sets of 5 reps.  Use the same set/rep combo as the squats in Day One.  As for the pauses, use a 3 second pause at the bottom of each repetition.  You might be limited in the amount of weight you can use at first, but that will soon pay off in bigger and better strength gains.
·      Dumbbell Incline Bench Presses—3 sets of 10 reps.  Set the incline bench at a 45 degree angle.  Work this exercise relatively hard but still take eat set several reps short of failure.
·      Wide-grip chins—5 sets of 5 reps.  Use the same weight on all sets.  Whenever you get all 5 reps on all 5 sets, increase the weight at the next workout.
·      Dumbbell Curls alternated w/ Lying Triceps Extensions—5 sets of 5 reps (each exercise).  Use the same technique as the wide-grip chins.
·      Hanging Leg Raises—3 sets of 30 reps.

Day Three—Lower Body

·      Hack Squats—5 sets of 3 reps.  These should be performed by standing in front of a barbell (as if you were doing a reverse deadlift) with the bar touching the back of your legs.  Grasp the bar and squat up with it.  These are going to work the mess out of your quadriceps—not to mention give you a change of pace from all that regular squatting you’ve been doing.  Make sure you perform 5 progressively heavier sets of 3s.
·      Stiff-legged Deadlifts—5 sets of 3 reps.  Work up over 5 progressively heavier sets.
·      Seated Good Mornings—4 sets of 8 reps.  Use the same set/rep scheme as the regular good mornings.  Sit down on a flat bench.  Make sure you bend over until your forehead touches the bench.
·      Steep Incline Sit-ups—3 sets of 50 reps.

Day Four—Upper Body

·      Bottom-position Close-grip Bench Presses—5 to 8 singles.  Use the same set/rep combo as the major core exercises from Days One and Two, omitting any down sets.
·      Standing Barbell Curls—5 to 8 singles.  Same set/rep format as above.
·      Flat Bench Presses—5 sets of 3 reps.  Work up over 5 progressively heavier sets of 3.  The final set should make you work, but shouldn’t be an all-out effort.
·      Barbell Pullovers—4 sets of 8 reps.  These should be progressively heavier sets.  Start with the barbell touching your chest, and keep your elbows bent throughout the movement.
·      Hanging Leg Raises—3 sets of 30 reps.

Alternate Set/Rep Training

     Here’s a program that’s quite a bit different from many things you have tried, even if you had been training for a number of years.  It’s also a good program to use after finishing several weeks of training using the above two workouts, as it gives you two training days where you get to do some higher reps without all the maximum weights.  I call it alternate set/rep training, since you will be reversing the sets and reps from one upper body training day to the next, and the same with the lower body workouts.

Day One—Upper Body

·      Flat Bench Presses—8 sets of 3 reps.  Use the same weight throughout all 8 sets.  A good weight to start with would be 70% of your one rep maximum for all 8 sets.
·      Wide-grip Chins—8 sets of 3 reps.  Use the same technique as the bench presses.
·      Steep Incline Dumbbell Presses—8 sets of 3 reps.  Use an incline of at least 60 degrees.  This will work your shoulders as hard as your upper chest muscles and triceps.
·      Dumbbell or Barbell Rows—8 sets of 3 reps.  If you use dumbbells, then alternate between rowing with each arm.
·      Barbell Curls—8 sets of 3 reps.
·      Steep Incline Sit-ups—8 sets of 5 reps.  Hold a plate (or plates) in front of your chest or behind your head to increase the tension and make this a heavy exercise.

Day Two—Lower Body

·      Squats—8 sets of 3 reps.  Use the same set/rep format as all the exercises on Day One.
·      Dumbbell Deadlifts—8 sets of 3 reps.  This exercise will help your recovery some, while still training your deadlift fairly hard.
·      Hack Squats—5 sets of 3 reps.  Due to all the lower body sets you’ve already performed, I want you to limit your sets to 5 on these, while using the same weight as if you were doing 8 sets.

Day Three—Upper Body

·      Flat Bench Presses—3 sets of 8 reps.  Use close to the same weight on these that you used for the 8 sets of 3 on Day One.
·      Close-grip Chins—3 sets of 8 reps.
·      Wide-grip Dips—3 sets of 8 reps.  Use a set of dipping bars that allows you to get a good stretch throughout your chest muscles.  This puts more stress on your chest and less on your triceps.
·      Barbell Pullovers—3 sets of 8 reps.
·      Barbell Curls—3 sets of 8 reps.
·      Steep Incline Sit-ups—3 sets of 20 reps.  Use weight ala Day One, but limit the weight so you can get 20 reps on all 3 sets.

Day Four—Lower Body

·      Deadlifts—3 sets of 8 reps.  These are going to be tough, especially when you do them as I’m going to prescribe.  After each repetition, let go of the bar, stand up and rest for one or two seconds before beginning the next rep.  Repeat in this manner throughout all 8 repetitions.
·      Close-stance Pause Squats—3 sets of 8 repetitions.  Make sure you pause for a count of three seconds at the bottom of each rep.
·      Lying Leg Curls—3 sets of 8 reps.  If you don’t have access to a leg curl machine, do these by placing a dumbbell between your feet.  Personally, I have performed them in this manner for years and prefer them to the machine variety.


     Stick with each of the above programs for a minimum of 8 weeks, though you can, of course, perform either one of them longer if they are bringing you good results.  On the subject of sticking with a program, I’m amazed by how quickly many strength coaches and lifters change their programs.  I’ve always believe in the adage of “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”  Of course you do need variety in your training, but I have seen some lifters stick with a heavy regimen of multiple singles (such as the second program) for years and never deviate.  And for years, they got great results.
     I’m sure the above programs can also bring you great results.  I’m equally sure, however, that you probably won’t stick with either one of them for years simply because there are so many other exciting training programs to follow.  In the next few parts of this series, get ready to take your strength to the next level—the ultimate level of strength, muscle, and power.