Wednesday, April 3, 2013

T.B.M.T. Program: Total Body Mass Training


Total Body Mass Training
     It’s become an old adage in bodybuilding training: “everything works, and nothing works for very long.”  Yeah, well, that’s true but some programs do work better than others.  As a strength trainer (of both myself and others), I’m always trying to come up with new ways to keep the muscle gains—and the strength that my lifters and I crave—coming.  Enter Total Body Mass Training.  As far as packing on slabs of muscle goes, this one is as good as it gets.  (And it also ain’t half bad in the strength department, either.)
     For a strength and/or muscle-building program to be successful, it needs two factors in order to consistently work.  These factors are variety and stability.  At first, it might seem that the two factors are diametrically opposed to one another.  They’re not.  Let me explain.
     Variety is important because without it your muscle gains will shortly stop cold in their tracks.  The more advanced you are (in terms of muscle and strength, not in terms of how long you have been lifting) the more variety you need.  If you are a beginning muscle athlete you should probably stick with a certain set/rep/exercise scheme for 5 to 6 workouts.  If you are an intermediate trainee, your set/rep/exercise scheme should change after 3, or at the most 4, sessions.  And if you are really friggin’ big and strong, you need some kind of set/rep/exercise change every time that you hit the gym.
     Stability is important because it’s the container that holds all of the variety within it.  Stability means two things.  First, it means consistency.  If you are not consistent in your workouts, it won’t matter how much variety you inject; the gains just aren’t going to come your way.  Second, it means a template.  An example of a template I often use is the “heavy/light/medium” approach.  This template has the lifter working out three days each week, heavy the first day, light the second day, and medium on the third day.  When using this system, the template (heavy/light/medium) is never deviated from, but it still allows for plenty of variety—sets, reps, and/or exercise can change every workout.
     The Total Body Mass Training presented here is effective because it takes into account both variety and stability.  The variety comes through changing the set/rep scheme, and the stability comes from a three-days-a-week template.  Day one is for mass building, day two is for hypertrophy and muscular endurance, and day three is for strength and power.
Day One: Mass
     The first training day of the week is for building mass.  When it comes to strictly gaining muscle, you need a moderate number of sets combined with a moderate number of reps.  Over years of training a lot of lifters, I have found that 5 to 8 sets of 5 to 8 reps seem to work best.
     On this program, we will change the set/rep combination weekly.  Week one will utilize the 5x5 approach, week two will be 5x8, week three will be 8x5, and week four will be 8x8.
Day Two: Semi-H.I.T. Training
     The second day of training is primarily geared toward muscle endurance, although hypertrophy is also a bi-product of this sort of training.  Here, we are going to use a limited number of sets combined with a fairly high number of repetitions.  This kind of training, of course, is most popular with the H.I.T. (or high intensity training) crowd.
     Usually, lifters think one of two things about the H.I.T. approach.  Either they think it’s the greatest thing for building muscle since the barbell was invented, or they believe it to be the scourge of muscle-gains everywhere, a dead end approach that builds laziness and little else.
     I think H.I.T. training is a tool.  If used properly, the tool can aid in your size-building, muscle-bulging quest.  If used as an end-all, be-all form of training, however, it does end up building little other than laziness.  Here, we are going to use it as a tool.
     In this program, I call it semi-H.I.T. training because you will not always be taking the “work” sets to failure.
Day Three: Strength and Power
     The third day of the week will be devoted solely to strength and power, using low sets for a low number of reps.  This form of lifting is popular among powerlifters, especially guys (or gals) who are trying to stay in their weight class, and don’t need to gain extra muscle mass.  Combined with the other forms of training on this program, it really helps to add density and mass, not just maximum strength.
The TBMT Program
     Presented here is an example 4 week training block using the Total Body Mass Training Program.  For your first 4 weeks of training this way, stick with the program as presented.  When we’re done, I’ll give you some tips for what to do after the 4 weeks.
Week One
Day One—Mass
·      Squats: 5 sets of 5 reps
·      Bench Presses: 5 sets of 5 reps
·      Deadlifts: 5 sets of 5 reps
·      Barbell Curls: 5 sets of 5 reps
·      Ab work: 5 sets of 25 reps
Day Two—Muscular Endurance/Hypertrophy
·      Leg Presses: 2 sets of 30 reps (stop a couple reps shy of failure)
·      Incline Dumbbell Bench Presses: 2 sets of 15 reps (stop a couple reps shy of failure)
·      Wide Grip Chins: 2 sets until failure
·      Dumbbell Curls: 2 sets of 15 reps (each arm; stop a couple reps shy of failure)
·      Ab work: 2 sets of 30-40 reps
Day Three—Strength and Power
·      Squats: 3 sets of 3 reps
·      Bench Presses: 3 sets of 3 reps
·      Power Cleans: 3 sets of 3 reps
·      Barbell Curls: 3 sets of 3 reps
·      Ab work: 5 sets of 25 reps
Week Two
Day One
·      Squats: 5 sets of 8 reps
·      Bench Presses: 5 sets of 8 reps
·      Deadlifts: 5 sets of 8 reps
·      Barbell Curls: 5 sets of 8 reps
·      Ab work: 5 sets of 25 reps
Day Two
·      Leg extensions: 1 set of 30-50 reps (take set to momentary muscular failure)
·      Incline Dumbbell Flyes: 1 set of 20-25 reps (take set to failure)
·      Close Grip Chins: 2 sets until failure
·      Cable Curls: 1 set of 20-25 reps (take set to failure)
·      Ab work: 2 sets of 30-40 reps
Day Three
·      Squats: 3 sets of 3 reps
·      Bench Presses: 3 sets of 3 reps
·      Power Cleans: 3 sets of 3 reps
·      Barbell Curls: 3 sets of 3 reps
·      Ab work: 5 sets of 25 reps
Week Three
Day One
·      Squats: 8 sets of 5 reps
·      Bench Presses: 8 sets of 5 reps
·      Deadlifts: 8 sets of 5 reps
·      Barbell Curls: 8 sets of 5 reps
·      Ab work: 5 sets of 25 reps
Day Two
·      Leg Presses: 1 set of 30-50 reps (take set to momentary muscular failure)
·      Flat Dumbbell Bench Presses: 1 set of 20-25 reps (take set to failure)
·      Close Grip Chins: 2 sets until failure
·      Incline Dumbbell Curls: 1 set of 20-25 reps (take set to failure)
·      Ab work: 2 sets of 30-40 reps
Day Three
·      Squats: 3 sets of 3 reps
·      Bench Presses: 3 sets of 3 reps
·      Power Cleans: 3 sets of 3 reps
·      Barbell Curls: 3 sets of 3 reps
·      Ab work: 5 sets of 25 reps
Week Four
Day One
·      Squats: 8 sets of 8 reps
·      Bench Presses: 8 sets of 8 reps
·      Deadlifts: 8 sets of 8 reps
·      Barbell Curls: 8 sets of 8 reps
·      Ab work: 8 sets of 25 reps
Day Two
·      Leg Extensions: 2 sets of 30-50 reps (take second set to momentary muscular failure)
·      Incline Barbell Bench Presses: 2 set of 20-25 reps (take second set to failure)
·      Close Grip Chins: 2 sets until failure
·      EZ Bar Curls: 2 set of 20-25 reps (take second set to failure)
·      Ab work: 2 sets of 30-40 reps
Day Three
·      Squats: 3 sets of 3 reps
·      Bench Presses: 3 sets of 3 reps
·      Power Cleans: 3 sets of 3 reps
·      Barbell Curls: 3 sets of 3 reps
·      Ab work: 5 sets of 25 reps
Tips
     Here are some tips to help you get the most out of this program, and any other program that you use after it.
·      All of the sets listed are “work” sets.  Be sure that you warm up properly on each exercise.  The number of warm-up sets needed depends on your strength.
·      On Day One, take all work sets a couple reps shy of muscular failure.
·      On Day Three, use a weight that would normally allow you 5 to 6 reps before reaching failure.
·      Be sure to eat at least 5 high-calorie, high-protein meals every day.  If you can’t eat that many meals, drink a protein shake.
·      Get at least 8 hours of sleep every night in order to promote optimum recovery.
·      After you finish all 4 weeks of training, take a “down” week.  For this week, use at least half the weight lifted on all sets for week 4.  It also wouldn’t be bad idea to cut out the deadlifts and power cleans, as these exercises are the toughest to recover from.
·      For your next 4-week training block, don’t be afraid to change up exercises and set/rep schemes.  For instance, on the Day One exercises, try 4 sets of 10, 5 sets of 6, or even 10 sets of 10 regimens.  On Day Three, try 5 sets of doubles, or even 10 sets of singles.

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