Thursday, April 11, 2013

Ultimate Strength and Power, Part Nine: Advanced Split Training


Advanced Split Training
At this point in your training—assuming that you had been following all of the workouts leading up to this part—it could be that you are ready to return to some split training.  Here I’m going to outline a couple of split programs that are effective for the advanced lifter to continue to gain strength and power.  As with part 5’s programs, the workouts here are primarily split into upper body and lower body days.
     Unlike part Five’s plans, I am going to outline a training split for each program that is different.  Although you could use the training splits from Part Five, more variety—and often more work—is needed at the advanced level.
Westside-Style Program
     The first program is based on the training plans of the Westside Barbell Club in Columbus, Ohio.  Westside Barbell uses the methods of training developed by their owner Louie Simmons.  The Westside approach is effective because it uses explosive-repetition training combined with conjugate training using maximal weights.
     Although this program is based on Westside’s approach to lifting, I have made some changes.  For one, lifters at Westside generally use a lot of “supportive gear” come contest time in the form of bench shirts, squat suits, deadlift suits, and thick knee wraps.  Training gear, however, changes the way that a lifter needs to train the particular lifts, and doesn’t require as much work using exercises that require a full range of motion.
     The program here assumes that the lifter using it trains “raw” (sans equipment).  Thus, more emphasis is placed on full-range movements and training the actual lifts on some of the heavy maximal effort days.
Workout A—Explosive Upper Body
·      Flat Bench Presses, Flat Dumbbell Bench Presses, or Push Ups—10-12 sets of 3 reps.  Use approximately 60% of your one-rep maximum on one of these 3 exercises.  If you have them available, use bands or chains on the flat bench presses.  You could also rotate: perform a week without bands using either the dumbbell bench presses or the push ups, a week with bands using the flat bench presses, a week with chains using the flat bench presses, and then return to dumbbell benches or push ups the following week.  If you are using bands or chains, only use 40-50% of your one-rep maximum.
·      Dumbbell Triceps Extensions, Dumbbell Floor Presses, Skull Crushers (using barbell or E-Z curl bar) – 3-4 sets of 8-10 reps.  Perform every set of these exercises close to muscular failure.
·      Standing or Seated Dumbbell Presses, Front Plate Raises, Dumbbell Front Raises, Lying Dumbbell Front Raises (performed on a flat bench) – 3-4 sets of 12-15 reps.  As with the second exercise of the day, perform each set so that you are coming close to muscular failure on the last repetition.
·      Incline Dumbbell Bench Presses, Wide-Grip Flat Bench Presses, or Wide-Grip Dips – 3-4 sets of 20-30 reps.  For your final exercise of the day, you are going to do some repetition work for your chest.  What makes this so difficult is that your chest (and the accompanying supportive muscle groups) is already fatigued from the rest of the workout.  The last couple reps of every set should be very tough.
Workout B—Maximal Effort Lower Body and Back
·      Squats (various stances), Box Squats, Sumo Deadlifts, or Traditional Deadlifts (various grips) – work up to a max set of 5 reps, 3 reps, or 1 repetition.  Pick one of these exercises, and rotate to a new one every 2 to 3 weeks.
·      Bent-Over Rows (alternate between days or wide grip and close grip) or One-Arm Dumbbell Rows – 3-5 sets of 5-7 reps.
·      Stiff-Legged Deadlifts, Good Mornings, or Good Morning Squats – 3-5 sets of 5-7 reps.
·      Steep Incline Sit-Ups or Hanging Leg Raises – 3-5 sets of 12-15 reps.  Every set of whichever of these two exercise you choose should be tough.  Use weight for added resistance.
Workout C—Maximal Effort Upper Body
·      Barbell Bench Presses (incline, flat, or decline), Barbell Floor Presses, Weighted Dips, Board Presses, (1 board, 2 board, or 3 board), Bottom-Position Bench Presses, or Rack Lockouts – work up to a max set of 5 reps, 3 reps, or 1 repetition.  Pick one of these exercises and rotate to a new one every 2 to 3 weeks.
·      Dumbbell Bench Presses (incline, flat or decline) – 3-5 sets of 5-7 reps.
·      Dumbbell Floor Presses, Skull Crushers, or Close-Grip Board Presses (2 board or 3 board) – 3-5 sets of 5-7 reps.
·      Standing or Seated Military Presses, Seated Behind-The-Neck Presses, or Seated Dumbbell Presses – 3-5 sets of 5-7 reps.
Workout D—Explosive Lower Body and Back
·      Squats or Deadlifts (sumo or traditional) – 10-12 sets of 3 reps.  Use approximately 60% of your one-rep maximum on one of these 3 exercises.  As with the explosive upper body day, bands or chains may be used on this day (for any of these exercises).
·      Walking Lunges, High-Bar (Olympic-style) Squats, or Front Squats – 3-4 sets of 8-12 reps.  The last rep of every set should approach momentary muscular failure.
·      Good Mornings, Romanian Deadlifts, Stiff-Legged Deadlifts, or Dumbbell Deadlifts – 3-4 sets of 8-12 reps.
·      Pull Ups (various grips) or Lat Pulldowns (various bars) – 3-4 sets of maximum number of repetitions.  For any of these exercises, train all sets to momentary muscular failure, shooting for a rep range of somewhere between 8 to 15 repetitions.  If you are really strong then you will obviously need some addition weight for the pull ups.
·      Steep Incline Sit-Ups or Hanging Leg Raises – 3-4 sets of max reps.  For this day, do not use added weight; just train to failure.
Frequency of Training
     Now, let’s take a look at a few templates for possible splits.  When beginning this program, I would start off with the first training plan.  After 6 to 8 weeks on it, you could then switch over to plan #2.  Once your body needs a break from plan #2, you could switch to 3 to 4 weeks using plan #3.  After 3 to 4 weeks on plan #3 return to either plan #1 or #2.
Plan #1
Monday – Workout A
Tuesday – Workout B
Wednesday – Off
Thursday – Workout C
Friday – Off
Saturday – Workout D
Sunday – Off
     This training plan works well because the maximal effort days always follow after 2 days of rest from the explosive-repetition days.  No two maximal effort days are ever done back to back.
Plan #2
First Week:
Monday – Workout A
Tuesday – Workout B
Wednesday – Workout C
Thursday – Off
Friday – Workout D
Saturday – Workout A
Sunday – Off
Second Week:
Monday – Workout B
Tuesday – Workout C
Wednesday – Workout D
Thursday – Off
Friday – Workout A
Saturday – Workout B
     The third week would continue in a similar manner, beginning Monday with Workout C.  As you can see, this is an intense regimen, and is only meant for very advanced lifters.  However, you should be able to handle it if you’ve already made it through the other workouts in the rest of this series, or you have build up a good work capacity with similar workouts.
     Perform Plan #2 for no more than 3 to 4 weeks before switching over to Plan #3.
Plan #3
First Week:
Monday – Workout A
Tuesday – Off
Wednesday – Workout B
Thursday – Off
Friday – Workout C
Saturday – Off
Sunday – Off
Second Week:
Monday – Workout D
Tuesday – Off
Wednesday – Workout A
Thursday – Off
Friday – Workout B
Saturday – Off
Sunday – Off
     Plan #3 gives your body a break, allowing it to recover while still getting in some good, result-producing workouts.  If your gains are coming along after two weeks on plan #3, you could always continue for a third, or even a fourth, week before starting over with plan #1.
The Massive Volume Program
     Here is a workout that I have used with a lot of success when training myself and other lifters.  But I have never written about it before… until now.
     The Massive Volume Program (MVP for short) involves a couple of unique training ideas that make it very effective for gaining muscle mass.  The first is, you guessed it, high-volume training.  You will train your muscles frequently, and with a rather high-degree of volume considering the frequency of the workouts.  The second unique aspect about this program is varied-repetition­ training.  Each workout focuses on a different repetition scheme for the muscle groups.  By varying repetition schemes at different workouts, you accomplish two things.  First, you hit different muscle fibers on different training days, keeping the workouts fresh for both your mind and your muscles. Second, varying repetition schemes actually allows your body to recover faster, making the frequent training not only possible but much more effective than infrequent training.
     This program involves eight different workouts—four for your upper body and four for your lower body.  I will discuss each training day as I lay the workouts out for you.  Here goes:
Workout A—Hypertrophy Upper Body
     The first workout for your upper body and the first workout for your lower body both use a set/rep protocol that is geared strictly for gaining muscle mass.  Here, you will perform 5 sets of 10 reps on all of your exercises.  Keep in mind that all 5 sets are “work” sets.  You will need 2 to 3 warm-up sets to prepare you for your 5 work sets.  All 5 sets should be “tough” but not taken to momentary muscular failure.
·      Barbell Bench Presses (incline, flat, or decline), Dumbbell Bench Presses (incline, flat, or decline), or Wide-Grip Dips – 5 sets of 10 reps.  Rotate between these exercises at every workout.  Variety is important in exercise selection for this workout since you are using the same set/rep protocol at each hypertrophy session.
·      Pull Ups (various grips) or Lat Pulldowns (various bars) – 5 sets of 10 reps.
·      Seated Dumbbell Presses, Seated Behind-the-Neck Presses, or Seated Bradford Presses – 5 sets of 10 reps.
·      Dumbbell Triceps Extensions (incline, flat, or decline) or Skullcrushers (barbell or EZ curl bar) – 5 sets of 10 reps.
·      Barbell Curls, Dumbbell Curls, or Preacher Curls – 5 sets of 10 reps
Workout B—Hypertrophy Lower Body
·      Squats, Leg Presses, or Hack Squats – 5 sets of 10 reps.
·      Sissy Squats or Leg Extensions – 5 sets of 10 reps.
·      Leg Curls or Stiff-Legged Deadlifts – 5 sets of 10 reps.
·      Machine Calf Raises, Donkey Calf Raises, or Seated Calf Raises – 5 sets of 10 reps.
Workout C—Strength Endurance Upper Body
     The next workouts for your upper body and your lower body (workouts C and D) focus on strength endurance.  Here you will be using a very high-rep training protocol.  On every exercise you will be performing 100 reps.  However, you will not be performing all 100 reps during a single set.  Pick a weight that allows you somewhere between 40 to 50 reps before you would reach momentary muscular failure.  Perform however many sets it takes to reach 100 reps.  For most lifters, this should be somewhere between 3 to 5 sets.
·      Dumbbell Bench Presses (incline, flat, or decline), Barbell Bench Presses (incline, flat, or decline), or Machine Bench Presses (Hammer Strength, Powertec, etc.) – 100 reps.
·      Bent-Over Dumbbell Rows, Bent-Over Barbell Rows, or Cable Rows – 100 reps.
·      Triceps Pushdowns (rope, straight bar, cambered bar, or v-bar) or Bench Dips – 100 reps.
·      Dumbbell Curls or Cable Curls – 100 reps.
Workout D—Strength Endurance Lower Body
·      Dumbbell Squats, Barbell Squats, or Leg Presses – 100 reps.
·      Leg Curls (standing or lying down) – 100 reps.
·      Standing Bodyweight Calf Raises – 100 reps.
Workout E—Maximal Effort Upper Body
     Workouts E and F use essentially the same parameters as the maximal effort days from the Westside Style training regimen.
·      Barbell Bench Presses (incline, flat, or decline), Barbell Floor Presses, Weighted Dips, Board Presses, (1 board, 2 board, or 3 board), Bottom-Position Bench Presses, or Rack Lockouts – work up to a max set of 5 reps, 3 reps, or 1 repetition.  Pick one of these exercises and rotate to a new one every 2 to 3 weeks.
·      Weighted Pull Ups (various grips) or Lat Pulldowns – work up to a max set of 5 reps, 3 reps, or 1 repetition.  Pick one of these exercises (even though only 2 exercises are listed, you have a whole host to choose from when you factor in different grips) and rotate to a new one every 2 to 3 weeks.
·      Barbell Curls (straight bar or EZ curl bar) or Preacher Curls – work up to a max set of 5 reps, 3 reps, or 1 repetition.  Pick one of these exercises and rotate to a new one every 2 to 3 weeks.
Workout F—Maximal Effort Lower Body
·      Squats (various stances) or Leg Presses (various stances) – work up to a max set of 5 reps, 3 reps, or 1 repetition.  Pick one of these exercises and rotate to a new one every 2 to 3 weeks.
·      Standing or Seated Calf Raises – work up to a max set of 5 reps, 3 reps, or 1 repetition.  Rotate between these two exercises every 2 to 3 weeks.
Workout G—Explosive Rep Upper Body
·      Flat Bench Presses, Flat Dumbbell Bench Presses, or Push Ups –10-12 sets of 3 reps.  Use approximately 60% of your one-rep maximum on one of these 3 exercises.  As with the Westside style program, feel free to use bands or chains when performing the flat bench presses.
·      Bent-Over Barbell Rows (wide grip, overhand or close grip, underhand) – 8-10 sets of 2-3 reps.  Use approximately 60% of your one-rep maximum on one of these two exercises.
·      Barbell Curls (various grips) or Dumbbell Curls – 10-12 sets of 3-4 reps.  As with the other exercises, use approximately 60% of your one-rep maximum on one of these two exercises.
Workout H—Explosive Rep Lower Body
·      Squats (various stances), Box Squats, or Deadlifts (sumo or traditional) – 10-12 sets of 2-3 reps. Use approximately 60% of your one-rep maximum on one of these exercises.  As with the explosive upper body day, bands or chains may be used on this day (for any of these exercises).  Also, this will be the only exercise performed on this day, making it the lowest volume of all training days.
Frequency of Training
     The training plan below is the one that I find the best when rotating between this many workouts.
Week One
Monday: Workout A
Tuesday: Workout B
Wednesday: Off
Thursday: Workout C
Friday: Workout D
Saturday: Off
Sunday: Off
Week Two
Monday: Workout E
Tuesday: Workout F
Wednesday: Off
Thursday: Workout G
Friday: Workout H
Saturday: Off
Sunday: Off
Week Three
Monday: Workout A
Tuesday: Workout B
Wednesday: Workout C
Thursday: Off
Friday: Workout D
Saturday: Workout E
Sunday: Off
Week Four
Monday: Workout F
Tuesday: Workout G
Wednesday: Workout H
Thursday: Off
Friday: Workout A
Saturday: Workout B
Sunday: Off
Week Five
Monday: Workout C
Tuesday: Workout D
Wednesday: Workout E
Thursday: Workout F
Friday: Workout G
Saturday: Workout H
Sunday: Off
Week Six
Monday: Workout A
Tuesday: Off
Wednesday: Workout B
Thursday: Off
Friday: Workout C
Saturday: Off
Sunday: Workout D
Week Seven
Monday: Off
Tuesday: Workout E
Wednesday: Off
Thursday: Workout F
Friday: Off
Saturday: Workout G
Sunday: Off
     After Week Seven, you would then start back over with the seven-week training plan, beginning with Week One.  However, this time Week One would start with Workout H on Monday, Workout A on Tuesday, Workout B on Thursday, and Workout C on Friday.  Training in this manner achieves a couple of goals.  For one, the workouts get increasingly harder for five weeks before taking a couple of “down” weeks to allow your body to rest, recover, and grow both bigger and stronger.  Second, training in this manner allows for no weeks to ever be the same.  You are always performing different workouts on different days of the various weeks, “shocking” you muscles (so to speak) into more growth and more strength.

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