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.

Conclusion

     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.

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