Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Hybrid Full Body Workouts

     In the second part of this series, I’m going to discuss what a full-body system of workouts should look like using my “hybrid” system of training.
     First things first, I should have written this piece before my prior piece on chest training.  But, you see, that’s the thing with writing most of these blog posts.  Unlike my articles, which I take my time to write by working out the article in my mind for a few days, then writing a first draft, then writing at least two more drafts before sending it to press, I don’t do anything of the sort with most of my blog posts.  I more or less crank them out in a blinding fit of “inspiration” (or something similar), and then post them without any rewrites or reviews.  And, I must admit, that I think it works for the most part.  But there are hitches in the road, so to speak.  For one, I do things such as write a piece on bodypart-specific training first instead of a piece on full-body workouts.  For another, sometimes the logic in my workouts is not completely thought-out.  If I’m doing a series of articles, it may take a few more posts before I get the logic just the way I want it.[1]
     That’s really nothing more than a long-winded way of saying that the article you are currently reading should have been the first in this series.  I’ve always been a fan of full-body workouts (anyone who has read more than two of any of my articles or posts should know that).  And I’m a “fan” of full-body workouts for one reason and one reason only: they work, and they “work” faster than split workouts for the majority of trainees.  (And by “work”, I mean that they build muscle quicker than split workouts, especially for the bodybuilder whose sole concern is seeing how big he can get.)
     But that’s not to say that I dislike split workout programs.  I don’t.  There comes a time in every lifter’s life when split workouts are probably the better option.  For instance, if you are already very large and massive, and you just need to “refine” your physique, then you simply cannot go wrong with split workouts.  (This is the method, by the way, that a lot of “old time” bodybuilders used.  During the offseason they would train with one or two exercises per bodypart at each workout sessions, using full-body workouts the majority of the time, then, when it came time for competition, they would switch over to split workouts and multiple exercises per bodypart.)  But that’s not the only time that split workouts should be performed.  Sometimes, they are wonderful for a change of pace.  They are also good for bodybuilders who have plenty of time to train and/or enjoy training very frequently and/or get great results out of “pump” training.
     Another thing to keep in mind is that effective full-body workouts and effective split workouts produce results via different mechanisms.  (I’m not going to get into all of those mechanisms here – I’ll save that for another post.  It’ll just have to suffice to say – for the sake of this article – that the “pros” of building muscle through full-body workouts are not the “pros” of building muscle through split sessions.  You can’t compare apples to oranges.  You must compare apples to apples.)
     The first part of this series – Hybrid Chest Training – was really an introduction into hybrid split-training.  I laid out all of the details as to what kind of training you need to do when using the hybrid system with split workouts, then I outlined a few weeks of chest training as an example.
My 14 year old son Matthew doing farmer's walks with 80lb dumbbells
     Now, let’s go where we should have gone to begin with, and lay out the details of a hybrid system for full-body workouts.  First off, the majority of your workouts should follow these principles:
·         Train as frequently as possible while being as fresh as possible.  For the sake of simplicity, it’s probably best to train 3 days per week (at least, at first), and so you need to do just enough work so that you will be able to train again in 48 hours.
·         Most of the sessions should involve around 35 to 50 reps per muscle group using a low to moderate amount of sets and a moderate amount of repetitions.  5 sets of 10 reps is a good system, for instance, for anyone training with full-body workouts whose only real goal is pure, unadulterated muscle mass.  5 sets of 8 reps, 6 sets of 6 reps, and 8 sets of 5 reps are also all good options.
·         The majority of the training sessions should not involve training to the point of momentary muscular failure.  If you are going to use intensity techniques, these should be reserved for the end of the workout.
·         Most of the reps on most of the sets should be “power” reps.  Think of Fred Hatfield’s “compensatory acceleration training” and you get the point.  Each rep should be as “explosive” as possible.  (See the previous post for an in depth discussion of just why this is the case.)
     At least some of the workouts should involve the following forms of training:
·         “Strongman” training.  This doesn’t have to be complex.  It simply means that some training days should focus on stuff such as farmer’s walks, tire flipping, sled dragging, sandbag training, and/or the prowler.
·         Explosive training, also known as the “dynamic effort” method.  These training days are set aside exclusively for speed.  Multiple sets of low reps using only 50-60% of a one-rep maximum should be used.
·         Maximal effort training.  These workouts focus on working up to a maximum triple, double, or single on one or more lifts.
·         Multiple sets of low reps.  This should be the second most-often used form of training.  These workouts should consist of multiple sets (15 to 20) of low reps (5 or lower).
     Here is an example training template for three weeks of workouts:
Week One:
Monday (typical):
1.    Squats: 6 sets of 6 reps
2.    Bench Presses: 5 sets of 10 reps
3.    Deadlifts: 5 sets of 8 reps
4.    Overhead Presses: 6 sets of 6 reps
5.    Barbell Curls: 5 sets of 10 reps
Wednesday (dynamic effort):
1.    Box Squats: 10 sets of 2 reps
2.    Dumbbell Bench Presses: 12 sets of 3 reps
3.    Chins: 10 sets of 2 reps
Friday (typical):
1.    Walking Lunges: 5 sets of 10 reps
2.    Wide Grip Dips: 5 sets of 10 reps
3.    One Arm Dumbbell Rows: 5 sets of 10 reps (each arm)
4.    One Arm Dumbbell Overhead Presses: 5 sets of 10 reps (each arm)
5.    Dumbbell Curls: 4 sets of 10 reps (each arm)
Week Two:
Monday (multiple sets of low reps):
1.    Deadlifts: 15 sets of 3 reps
2.    Bottom Position Bench Presses: 15 sets of 5 reps
Wednesday (typical):
1.    Front Squats: 6 sets of 6 reps
2.    Incline Barbell Bench Presses: 6 sets of 6 reps
3.    Wide Grip Chins: 6 sets of 6 reps
4.    Behind-the-Neck Presses: 6 sets of 6 reps
5.    Barbell Curls: 6 sets of 6 reps
Friday (strongman):
1.    Farmer’s Walks: 3 sets for distance
2.    Sled Drag: 3 sets for distance
3.    Power Holds: 4 sets for time
Week Three:
Monday (typical):
1.    Sissy Squats: 5 sets of 10 reps
2.    Incline Dumbbell Presses: 6 sets of 8 reps
3.    Snatch-Grip Deadlifts: 5 sets of 10 reps
4.    Side Lateral Raises: 5 sets of 10 reps
5.    Preacher Curls: 5 sets of 10 reps
Wednesday (maximal effort):
1.    Bottom Position Bench Presses: Work up to a maximum single
2.    Bottom Position Squats: Work up to a maximum single
3.    Deficit Deadlifts: Work up to a maximum double
Friday (typical):
1.    Squats: 8 sets of 5 reps
2.    Flat Dumbbell Bench Presses: 8 sets of 5 reps
3.    Close Grip Chins: 8 sets of 5 reps
4.    Bradford Presses: 8 sets of 5 reps
5.    Barbell Curls: 8 sets of 5 reps
     If you are new to training, then you should probably stick with this kind of program for a minimum of 6 months before you even think about switching over to a split program.  If you already doing split programs, getting good results, but want to incorporate these hybrid ideas into your workouts (both split and full-body), then you are left with a couple of options.  You could do predominately full-body workouts or predominately split workouts, occasionally throwing in the opposite every two weeks or so, or you could perform three weeks of full-body workouts followed by three weeks of split workouts, and so on.
     In the next installment, we’ll get back to what was going to be the original “part two”: hybrid leg training.




[1] The exception is when I post previous-written articles, or entire series that I had already written, such as my “Ultimate Strength and Power” series, which was originally intended to be a book.

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