Monday, September 30, 2013

Living as a "Normal"

     “I gave myself a full year to recover. Literally, I walked, did a little this and that, biked a bit, waded in the ocean and lived like what I call a “normal.” A normal human being. They are wonderful people, really, but they don’t wear singlets, weightlifting boots and smell of fear and chalk.”  -Dan John

     The above quote from Dan john is from a post he has on his blog about his return to Olympic lifting competition.  The post, in general, can be said to be rather pedestrian – although John seems to do “pedestrian” better than most any other writers in this field – but this quote made me smile, and got me to thinking.  Thinking about the times I lived as a “normal” myself – times that I sometimes look fondly upon, sometimes view it with little other than indifference, but, on the whole, look upon it with something akin to disdain.  And then there’s the fact that I can’t really live as a “normal” even if I wanted to, even when I’ve tried to do such a thing.  (Although I do, at times, at least attempt to give off the appearance that I’m living as a “normal” – it makes the Mrs and at least some of my family happy.)
     When lifting gets in the blood, when you’ve been doing it so long that you no longer lift for any discernible reason other than the fact that you are a lifter, then you know there’s no going back at that point.  “Give me lifting or give me death”, so to speak.
     “Normals” are sort of to the lifting world what “muggles” are to the wizarding world of Harry Potter.  Lifters look down upon them with varying degrees, ranging from tolerance to outright disdain.  Of course, you may tolerate them – get along with them just fine, especially if they’re your parents, or your kids, or dear friends you’ve known your entire life – but still not really, truly capable of relating to them.  They will always be “normal” and you will always be a lifter – ‘tis a chasm so deep and wide, that at times, it simply seems impossible to cross.
     Sometimes, of course, the world of the “normals” crosses over into the lifting world, especially in the sense that there are, unfortunately, a great many “normals” who don’t see themselves any different from that of a lifter.  For instance, there are plenty of “normals” who exercise on a regular basis, not just cardiovascular exercise, either, but intense lifting with barbells and dumbbells.  (The latest fad in this ongoing trend “normals” pretending to be lifters is Crossfit, aka “lifting for normals”.)  The problem lies in the confusion that “exercise” is the same as “lifting.”
     I have never lifted weights for “health and fitness” except for my brief interludes and/or attempts at integration into the “normals” population.  I don’t even understand why anyone would want to do such a thing.  (Don’t get me wrong, as I get older, I do care about my health and about feeling good.  There’s no reason, for instance, to be a fat slob in addition to being a lifter.  But you can be healthy, you can care a great deal about your overall fitness, without reverting to “normalcy”.)  I have always lifted to either be big, be strong, or to be some combination of both.  I have, of course, been big without being incredibly strong, and I have been incredibly strong while also being very lean.  But during my entire lifting career, I’ve never stopped being a lifter.
     Then there is also the odd occurrence that rears its head on occasion in the lifting community, when certain lifters think they can be a lifter while also succumbing to the lifestyle of a “normal.”  In this regard, I have the latter-day followers of Mike Mentzer in mind – buffoons so foolish (and so enamored of Ayn Rand-esque Objectivism – easily one of the worst philosophies mankind has ever seen – whether they even know it or not) as to think they can train as a lifter only one day – at the most two days – per week (and train each muscle group only about every 10 to 14 days to boot).  If people actually undergo such a form of training, then only one of two outcomes can be the result: 1) the lifter within will rebel at such atrocious stupidity, and the lifter will emerge victorious, never to do such crappy-ass “training” ever again, or 2) the person training (for this person could never be called a lifter in the first place) will metamorphosize into a “normal”, enjoying such things as walks in the park, walks with the family through the neighborhood, and the occasional jog down to the local 7-11.
     The longest I personally ever spent in the land of the “normal” was in 2006.  I had several herniated cervical disks – apparently exacerbated by years of martial arts training, not necessarily lifting – which required surgery.  The doctor assured me I would be back training within a few months.  Truth be told, it took almost a year to fully heal, at which time I resumed a slightly more-friendly form of lifting that included not just all the usual barbell, dumbbell, and sandbag basics, but plenty of bodyweight training.  But I did some training about 6 months after the surgery.  Nevertheless, that meant that for almost half a year I did relatively little training.  My wife (at the time) and I took plenty of walks with our children, I wrote many articles and a lot of fiction, sat zazen every morning and night, spent evenings on my back porch, drinking sweet tea, or sipping hot coffee, or (more often as not) seeing how many beers I could manage to drink – all the while enjoying the view of the woods from my house, watching as day turned to twilight turned to night.  In short, lived as a “normal” human being.
     By the end of those six months, the fog of normalcy hung over me so long that something odd happened – I could almost see myself living as one of the “normals” – assimilated into the population, becoming one of “them”, kind of like those pod-people that replace the real ones in the “Invasion of the Body Snatchers” or maybe even one of the aliens that only Rowdy Roddy Piper could see when he wore those out-of-the-world sunglasses in John Carpenter’s “They Live.”  For all extensive purposes, I was becoming just like everyone else – the “normals” were taking me over.  (It becomes worse, by the way, when your mother or your wife, or other of your “loved ones”, tells you how nice you look – which means skinny – since you stopped lifting weights and subsisting on a diet of steak, milk, and protein shakes, and instead replaced those things with walks around the neighborhood, salads, Honey Nut Cheerios, and Kashi bars.)
     Of course, because I lived so long as not a “normal”, all it took to break the spell was two or three workouts consisting of squatting heavy stuff, picking heavy stuff off the ground, and pressing heavy stuff in various forms coupled with a few meals of T-bone steaks washed down with the “milkshake of beers” – Guinness.
     Don’t get me wrong, as Dan John wrote at the beginning of this piece, the “normals” are wonderful people, really, but they don’t wear Inzer belts, think of farmer’s walks as a form of conditioning, or pick up really heavy crap at least four days out of the week.
     In short, give me lifting or give me death, but for the love of God, don’t ever give me “normalcy”.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Overtraining Doesn't Exist

Over at the "Iron Samurai" (see my "links" section), Nick Horton has a post that I wish I would have written myself.  It's entitled "Overtraining Doesn't Exist."

I imagine the title alone would enflame many of your H.I.T. pundits or others who may think that Mike Mentzer was actually on to something.

Here's a portion of the article:

I’m going to say something many people in the fitness industry will get pissed at me for. But I believe it to be true (within reason).
That’s bullshit, of course. Overtraining is a medical syndrome that some people do get themselves into. But… it is EXTREMELY rare, and YOU have never had it.
I want you to avoid ANY thought of overtraining. In all of the years I have been coaching, I have not EVER overtrained a single athlete. Ever.
  • CNS fatigue is not overtraining.
  • Feeling tired is not overtraining.
  • A loss of appetite is not overtraining.
  • Being massively sore is not overtraining.
  • Watching your numbers and performance fall is not overtraining.
All of that is part of the adaptation process. You are SUPPOSED to feel like you are getting your ass kicked during a loading phase. If you didn’t, you weren’t loading hard enough.
Lifters always come up to me saying that they have been feeling tired and sluggish, and they wonder if it is time for a deload/taper. My answer is nearly always NO.
Why? Because feeling like shit is part of the point.
You don’t get stronger by only doing light weights that feel easy, do you? Of course not. You force your body to deal with weight that is actually TOO heavy to do comfortably to FORCE the issue. That’s what progressive resistance is all about.
Loading and deloading are simply applying those progressive resistance principles on a grander scale. A well-designed loading phase FORCES your body to adapt to a stressful situation. Without a massive amount of stress you don’t get to have massive gains. Sorry, that is just reality.
Slow gains are very common in the gym in large part because people don’t do enough work. My programs produce infamously fast gains because I make people do more. It’s not magic, it’s nothing special, it is just focusing in on the ultra basics in a big way.
Do work, son.
And here's a link to the full article:

Friday, September 13, 2013

Texas Volume Training

Texas Volume Training
Is This the Ultimate Powerlifting Program?

     After years of powerlifting – although I haven’t competed in almost a decade, I still train the powerlifts hard and often work with powerlifters who need to boost their totals – I have come to the following conclusions about training for the intermediate to advanced lifter:[1]
Matthew Sloan squatting
     Most lifters can increase their squats the most by using a fairly high amount of volume, and frequent training.  2 days per week should be the minimum amount of squatting, while most will get even better results by at least 3 days per week.  Recently, some lifters have been experimenting with taking a more “Bulgarian” approach, and squatting almost every day, and getting good results (Nick Horton’s programs over at “The Iron Samurai” would be good examples of this kind of training).  Also, programs such as the “Smolov squat routine” have worked wonders for quite a few lifters that I know, or that I have talked to – I don’t personally use Smolov squat programs, but I have used similar routines with several powerlifters that I have worked with.  All of them are pleased with the results the more frequent training brings.
     Most lifters do well on the bench press with a moderate to high amount of volume, and a moderate amount of training.  I don’t know many lifters who need to bench press more than 2x per week – in fact, I think twice-weekly training is the ideal way to train your bench press.  Unlike the squat, it’s a bit easier to overtrain your movement pattern on the bench press, and – also unlike the squat – the bench press is not a lift (either biomechanically or for injury prevention) that suits itself well to such frequent training.  With 2x per week training for the bench, most lifters also do well by only actually bench pressing on one of those training days.  One day can be devoted to some derivative of the bench press (dumbbell benches, board presses, incline bench presses, weighted dips, etc.) while the other day can be devoted to the lift itself.
     Most lifters can increase their deadlift the most by using a fairly infrequent training scheme combined with high-intensity, as long as they are training the muscles that are used in the deadlift more frequently.  There are –and have been – exceptions, of course.  Bob Peoples – who was built for the deadlift like no other[2] - could not only “get away” with frequent deadlifting, he actually thrived on high-intensity (near-maximal loads) 4 to 5 times per week.  However, I think that even lifters who are “built” for this lift would do better to train less frequently than that.  Although, I am probably mechanically built for the deadlift better than the other lifts (I am in no way built for the bench press, but I am as strong of a squatter as a deadlifter), I seem to do the best when just working my deadlift hard once-per-week, and training with near-maximal percentages at that.  Here is the kicker, if you will, however: I would probably need to deadlift more frequently if I wasn’t squatting frequently during the same time period.
C.S. hitting a few reps with 430
     In brief, that is what I feel like is the current “best” paradigm for a raw lifter who is advanced enough to benefit from this kind of training.  However, now let’s see what such a program may actually look like.  Keep in mind that there are actually myriad programs you could use under the guise of 3x weekly volume squatting, 2x weekly bench pressing, and 1x weekly high-intensity deadlifting.  What I offer here is something that I have been experimenting with, and something that a few lifters I work with have been using.  So far, the results have been good.  Also, what I present here is open for change when needed.  (Look at this program as your “template”.  Your template should rarely, if ever, change.  However, the variety within the template can change as frequently as the lifter needs for it to do so.  Think of the great powerlifting programs of the past – Westside, Sheiko, Bill Starr’s 5x5.  Lifters who train using any of these programs never change the template itself – Starr’s 5x5 is always a H-L-M program performed 3 days per week, Westside is always 2 dynamic effort days with 2 maximal effort days each week – but there is a ton of variety that can be built into the program.  The program I present here should be seen in the same vein.)
Texas Volume Training – T.V.T. for Short
     You may be asking yourself, “Just why the hell has Sloan decided to call this program ‘Texas Volume Training’?”  Well, the reasoning’s fairly simple.  For one, the squatting portion of the program is awfully similar to the “Texas method” popularized by Mark Rippetoe, and used by a number of powerlifters.  I like the Texas Method, not just because I’m a native Texan myself, but because it’s similar to Bill Starr’s H-L-M programs, but it allows for a bit more flexibility.  I won’t get into all of the Texas Method details here, but basically you train three days per week on a full body program.  Day one is devoted to volume training.  Day two is a light, “recovery” day.  And day three is devoted to working up to a max set on your major lifts.
     For another, this program uses a lot of volume.  Although it doesn’t use the same amount of volume as a “Smolov” or “Sheiko” routine, it is more voluminous than most lifters are accustomed to using.  In that regard, this program is definitely more “Russian” than “Bulgarian” (as opposed to, say, my recent posts on high frequency strength training or Ditillo-inspired training – those would definitely fit more into the “Bulgarian” camp).  It would have been fine for me to call this Texas Russian Training, but I realize that would be a bit too oxymoronic for most (especially Texans), so TVT it is.
     Here is the “template” for this program.  It’s fairly straightforward.  After I present the training template, we’ll discuss some details to make it work.
Day One – High Volume Squatting, High Volume Upper Body
Day Two – High Intensity Deadlifting
Day Three – Recovery Squatting
Day Four – Off
Day Five – Maximal Squatting, Maximal Bench Pressing
Day Six – Off
Day Seven – Off
     Day One should be the toughest training day of the week.  You should be training with percentages and volumes that don’t make you look forward to the training day.  For starting out, I recommend a minimum of 8 “working” sets on squats and whatever bench pressing exercise you choose.  I think 10 to 15 sets should be even better.  Do a few warm up sets, then commence with 10 to 15 sets of either 5 reps, 3 reps, or 2 reps on the squats.  Use a weight where you know you can get all of your sets and reps, but a weight that’s still tough – between 75 and 85% of your one rep maximum is probably ideal, depending on the reps.  When you are finished with the squats, you probably won’t feel like performing an upper body pressing exercise, but do it anyway, and use the same set/rep scheme that you used for squats.  If you’re weaker on your upper body exercise that you’re used to, that’s okay.  You’ll adapt.  It may take a couple of weeks, but you’ll soon be utilizing weight that’s comparative to what you were previously using when not squatting before benching.[3]
     If you feel like it, you may add a couple of assistance exercises too.  A little bit of triceps, shoulder work, and/or abdominal work is okay, but don’t go overboard.
     Day Two is your sole deadlifting day of the week.  And, yes, you are going to be sore on this training day, and there is a good chance before you start the session that you will not want to deadlift.  Do it.  Your body will adapt to the training.  (As the Bulgarians say, “Your body becomes its function.”)  Also, you may be surprised at just how strong you are on this day, despite your soreness.  Despite using the same muscles (or at least some of the same muscles) for deadlifting that are used for squatting, the muscles are “challenged” in a different manner, and the bar path is entirely, wholeheartedly different, which is one reason that lifters are often able to deadlift a lot the day after squatting a lot.  (If anyone has performed one of the Sheiko programs, then you know what I’m talking about.)  Also, and this is perhaps entirely unscientific, but it could be that the squatting on the previous day actually neurally enhances your deadlifting capabilities on this day.  I have personally broken some of my deadlift records the day after I had a big squat session.  When this first happened, I was a little surprised (especially considering how blasted sore my ass often was the day after squatting), but I eventually accepted the fact that that’s just “how it is.”
     For this day, you have a couple of options depending on how you prefer to train your deadlift with maximal loads.  You can simply work up to a max triple, double, or single, or you can do multiple singles with 90-95% of your one rep maximum.  I prefer the second option – at least for the majority of the sessions.  When you are finished deadlifting, then add in an assistance exercise or two.  Deficit deadlifts, high pulls, power cleans, power snatches, are all great complimentary exercises for your deadlift.
     Day Three is your “light” squatting day.  Work up to about 80% of whatever weight you used on Day One, and perform a few sets of 3 to 5 reps in the squat.  You should feel good when you are finished with this session, better than when you started.  (And, once again, yes, there’s a good chance you will be really sore before this workout.)  This workout really does aid in your ability to recover – not just from Day One’s squatting session, but from the deadlifts too.  Remember this: it’s always better to recover by doing something, than by just sitting around and “resting”.
     Day Four is your first off day.  You should be happy – especially for your first week or two of training.  Enjoy the day off from lifting.  (An “off day” should always be taken because you need it, not because you want to take one.)
     Day Five is your “maximal lift” day for squatting and bench pressing – this is probably the best day to actually perform the flat bench press, instead of some derivative.  Work up over 5 to 7 progressively heavier sets of 5, 3, or 2 reps until you hit your max weight.  Occasionally do some singles – about once every 6 weeks should suffice.  If you have performed a Bill Starr H-L-M program (or one of my H-L-M programs on this blog), then you know exactly what this day should look like, since it should almost mirror the “heavy” day on those programs.
     The last two training days of the week are “off days”.  On these days, make sure you eat plenty of food – good carbs, good protein, good fat – to prepare yourself for the next high volume squatting and upper body days.

     In future articles on “Texas Volume Training”, I will focus on some of the nuances of making this work, as well as specifics on each of the powerlifts.  Perhaps I will also do an article on how to make this work if your goal is simply to get as big as possible.
     If you have any questions, please feel free to email me or add a comment.

[1] Let me add right off the bat that this program is geared toward lifters who are at least considered “intermediate.”  If you are not squatting or deadlifting double your bodyweight, and bench pressing 1 and ½ times your weight, you have no business attempting this program.  Instead, you would be much better following one of my H-L-M programs, or any program recommended by Bill Starr.  Also, this program is for “raw” lifters primarily, or lifters who compete with minimum gear.  If you use a lot of gear – double or triple ply suits and shirts – then, to be honest, you would probably be better off following the programs of Westside Barbell or something of similar ilk.
[2] Probably the only lifter with a greater “deadlifting frame” than Bob Peoples would have been Lamar Gant - Gant’s arm-length (combined with his short torso) bordered on the freakish.  He was a deadlifting “machine” to say the least.
[3] I’m not going to get into all of the details here, but I believe this is one reason the Sheiko programs are so effective: you are doing more than one exercise each day, and you are forcing your body to utilize a lot of force, despite the fact that you are more “winded” than you think you should be on a powerlifting program.  There’s also just something about this kind of training that adds mass fast.  In fact, that may be one of its drawbacks for lifters trying to stay in a weight class.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

The New Hypertrophy Program

Here's another "redux" of an article I wrote a couple years ago for Planet Muscle magazine.  (For even more of my articles for them, check out their new, "upgraded" website.)


The New Hypertrophy Program
Constructing A New Breed of Mass-Building Workouts

     Based on some of the latest “innovations” in mass-building workouts, and what I have learned over years of training powerlifters and other strength athletes, what follows are the “keys” that I believe unleash the most potential for both building muscle mass and inducing strength and power at the same time.  These are the ground rules—the secrets if you will—that unlock the sacred door of muscle growth.  While these keys aren’t set in stone (bodybuilding rules—like all rules—were made to be broken, after all) they represent what I would call the best parameters now available.  Strap on your mass-inducing engine—its time for some serious muscle growth.
Key #1: Full Body Training
     All of these keys are important, but if I had to call one numero uno this would be it—hence its place on our list.
     Full body training is “the bomb” for several reasons.  First, training the whole body seems to promote overall growth better than “split” training.  It acts as an anabolic catalyst, so to speak, triggering growth everywhere, even if only a few exercises are performed.
     Second, full body workouts allow you to train each bodypart more frequently.  Yep, you just read that correctly.  Frequent is good.  Recently, it has become almost a fad to train infrequently and irregularly.  The rationale has been that increased rest between workouts will aid recovery, and therefore growth and strength.  It sounds simple, it sounds like it will work, but unfortunately for many that have tried it, it just doesn’t.
     While it’s true that you can’t train heavy more than once-per-week (at least until you become very advanced) you can train several times each week using light and medium workouts.
     If you look at all of the good systems of training over the last thirty years—from Bill Starr’s full body 5x5 workouts to Louie Simmons’s Westside Barbell system, to the full-body powerlifting methods of Russian coach extraordinaire Boris Sheiko, to the “grease the groove” training of Pavel Tsatsouline—the one thing these workouts all have in common is they train the major lifts frequently.
     Consider this quote by the great Russian strength coach and current director of the biomechanics laboratory at Penn State University, Vladimir Zatsiorsky: “You need to train as often as possible while being as fresh as possible.”
     And if that isn’t enough, I’ll give you one more reason to give full body workouts a try: Marvin Eder, pound for pound the greatest strength athlete/bodybuilder to ever walk the planet.  In the 1950s, Eder had 19-inch arms at a bodyweight of 198 pounds.  He could squat 550 pounds for 10 reps, bench press 510 for a single, and do standing overhead presses with 365.  In addition, he once did the mind-boggling feat of cranking out 1,000 dips in 17 minutes.  And he built his physique using whole body workouts, training three days each week.
Key #2: Multiple Sets of Low Reps
     You can either perform a low number of sets for a moderate number of reps (usually the favorite approach) or you can perform a high number of sets for low repetitions.  You can’t do both—multiple sets of multiple reps will quickly burn out your central nervous system, something you want to avoid like the plague when packing on mass.
     Of course, most bodybuilders take the low set, high rep approach.  I think this is a mistake.  Actually, I think it’s a huge, colossal mistake.  Why?  Mull over this quote by one of the best strength coaches around today, Charles Staley: “Muscle growth is a function of how much mechanical work is performed per unit of time.”1  What exactly does this quote mean?  Let’s take the squat as an example, and let’s say that you usually use 225 pounds for 3 sets of 8 reps, a total of 24 repetitions.  Now, what if I told you it would be better to get 315 pounds for 24 reps; you’d probably agree, right?  But how would you do it?  What if you reversed your typical set/rep sequence, doing 8 sets of 3 reps instead?  Not only would more weight be used, but every rep of every set would be strong and powerful, in other words more mechanical work would be performed per unit of time.
     Below are two tables that further get across the point I am trying to make.  The first table is indicative of the typical full-body programs recommended in most bodybuilding magazines.  The second table represents the kind of program recommended here.
Table 1: Low Set, High Rep Workout
Squats: 225lbsx2setsx10reps
Bench Presses: 175lbsx2setsx12reps
Close-grip Chins: bodyweight (180lbs)x2setsx10reps
Barbell Curls: 70lbsx2setsx12reps
Dips: bodyweight (180lbs)x2setsx8reps
Total Workload (weight lifted x sets x reps): 16860
Table 2: Multiple Set, Low Rep Workout
Squats: 315lbsx8setsx3reps
Bench Presses: 225lbsx8setsx3reps
Close-grip Chins: bodyweight(180lbs) plus 45 lb platex8setsx2reps
Barbell Curls: 135lbsx6setsx4reps
Dips: bodyweight (180lbs) plus 45 lb platex6setsx4reps
Total Workload: 25200
     Almost 10,000 more pounds are lifted in the second workout.  Not only that, every rep throughout the session should be strong and powerful.  (The workout shouldn’t take much longer than the first one, either.  You can actually move through the program pretty fast since none of the sets will be taken to failure.)  If you don’t believe this kind of training session works, just try it for a few weeks and you’ll be absolutely sold.  Not only will you be bigger and stronger, but you’ll also look thicker and feel more powerful.
Key #3: Big, Compound Movements for the Lower Body and Back
     Big, compound exercises that use a lot of muscle groups are another key to packing on the muscle size.  Like full body workouts, they act as a hypertrophy-inducing trigger that can add size to muscles other than just the lower body and back.
     The squat is usually picked as the premier compound, lower body movement for packing on the mass, but I got a few others that I think are equally as good.  The first is the sumo deadlift while standing on a platform—“platform deads” for short.  Not only does it work the leg muscles hard, but it fries the entire back—from lower back to traps—and it does wonders for the forearm and for grip strength.
     Another great exercise is the wide-grip deadlift (sometimes called the “snatch-grip” deadlift).  For these, take a grip with your pinky finger on the power rings.  This works your back harder than conventional deadlifts, really forcing you to give it your best.  Of course, conventional deadlifts and regular sumo deadlifts are also great compound movements for the lower body and all of the muscles on the rear of your physique.
     Here’s a list of big, compound movements for your entire body that you might want to rotate into your workouts: squats, deadlifts, sumo deadlifts, platform deadlifts, box squats, olympic-style squats, wide-stance squats, bottom-position squats, rack deadlifts (from varying heights), power cleans, overhead squats, overhead presses, push presses, snatches, clean and jerks, and stiff-legged deadlifts.
Key #4: Conjugate Training
     There’s one problem with training with heavy weights for a low number of reps; you will burn out if you are always using the same exercise.  This is where “conjugate” training comes into play.
     In the 1970s, coaches for the Dynamo Club in the Soviet Union discovered that if their lifters were constantly using the same exercises—and training heavy—their lifts would go up for a few weeks when they started using a new exercise, and then steadily decline after that.  To allow the lifters to continually train heavy year in and year out, the Dynamo Club came up with a system of training where their lifters rotated between 20-45 different exercises in order to improve their Olympic lifts.  Each workout consisted of 2-4 exercises, which were rotated from on a regular basis (every 1 to 3 weeks).  As their strength on such exercises as good mornings (performed in various manners), front squats, Olympic squats, and various pulls (utilizing different grips) improved, so did their snatches and their clean and jerks.
     When you combine conjugate training with the other forms of muscle building presented in this article, you have a very formidable weapon for long-term mass gains.  So, what would a typical week of training look like incorporating all of these methods?  Below is an example—and remember, this is just an example—of what a week of training could consist of using your new cutting edge tactics.
Week One
     Monday is the “heavy” day of the week.  And by heavy I mean that the first session of the week has the most “workload”—you move more total weight on Monday than on the other days.
Squats: 8 sets of 2 reps (80-90% of your one rep maximum).  For this exercise, warm up with 2 to 4 ascending sets (number of warm up sets needed will depend on your strength level) before proceeding to perform your 8 “work” sets.
Bench Presses: 8 sets of 3 reps (80-90% of your one rep maximum).  As with the squats, warm up with 2 to 4 ascending sets before proceeding to your “work” sets.
Platform Deadlifts: 5 sets of 3 reps (80-85% of your one rep maximum).  Since we have already performed 8 sets of 2 reps on squats, we are going to cut the sets down to 5, but up the reps to 3 to make sure our workload for this exercise is high enough.  Do a couple of warm-up sets before your 5 “work” sets.
Barbell Curls: 5 sets of 3 reps (80-85% of your one rep maximum).  Once again, warm up here with 2 to 3 sets before beginning your 5 work sets.
Ab work.  Abdominal work doesn’t have to follow the same format as the rest of your workouts.  Two to 3 sets of 15-25 reps on an exercise of your choice should be enough.
     Wednesday is the “light” day.  Your workload for this day should be lower than the other two days.  Of course, that doesn’t mean it’s going to feel light.
Bottom Position Squats: 6 sets of 2 reps (80-90% of your one rep maximum).  If you’ve never tried bottom position squats be prepared for a killer.  To do this one, set the pins in the power rack so that you will begin the movement from the bottom position—no cheating here; always begin with your hips below your knees.  Get under the bar with the bar placed in the same position from Monday’s workout.  Perform 2 to 3 warm up sets before your 6 work sets.
Incline Dumbbell Bench Presses: 5 sets of 3 reps (80-85% of your one rep maximum).
Dumbbell Curls: 8 sets of 3 reps (each arm; using 80-85% of your one rep maximum).  Do these standing instead of seated.  Warm up over 2 to 4 sets (depending on your strength level) until you reach your “working” weight.
Ab work.  Perform 2 to 3 sets of 15-25 reps, using a different exercise from your Monday workout.
     Friday is your “medium” day.  Your workload for this day should be higher than Wednesday’s workout, but lower than Monday’s.
Squats: 8 sets of 2 reps (approximately 80% of your one rep maximum).  Perform these the same as on Monday, however use a weight on your work sets that is a little lighter from what was used on Monday’s work sets.
Weighted Dips: 7 sets of 3 reps (80-90% of your one rep maximum).  Warm up over 2 to 3 sets before reaching your work set weight.
Good Morning Squats: 5 sets of 3 reps (80-90% of your one rep maximum).  Little known among bodybuilders, this exercise is awesome for adding muscle to the entire rear of your body, in addition to being a great way to bring up the numbers in your squat and deadlift.  Begin the movement in the squat rack, using the same bar placement and stance that you use on your squats.  Start the exercise as if it is a good morning, bending over at the waist while keeping your back arched.  Once your body reaches roughly parallel to the ground, squat down as deep as possible.  Return to the starting position by squatting upward as you raise your upper body at the same time.  Be sure to warm up well with 2 to 5 sets of warm up sets before you reach your work sets.
E-Z Bar Curls: 5 sets of 3 reps (80-85% of your one rep maximum).  Warm up over 2 to 4 work sets before you begin your 5 work sets.
Ab work.  Once again, perform 2 to 3 sets of 15-25 reps.
     Here are a few tips to get the most out of this program, and any other program that you might design afterward using our “4 keys”:
·      You don’t have to be too “scientific” about your percentages of one-rep maximums.  The primary thing is to train heavy, while not taking your sets to momentary muscular failure.
·      If you are not accustomed to training with full body workouts, you will be sore your first week.  That’s okay.  Train through the soreness the first week or two.  Your body will adapt.
·      Make sure that you are eating plenty of protein and calories, and getting enough rest every night for proper recovery.
·      Always do what you enjoy in the weight room.  If you find that this kind of training brings you good results, but you prefer more traditional forms of bodybuilding training, use this program as a change of pace.  Perform these kinds of workouts for 6 to 8 weeks before returning to your normal training.
·      When training in this manner, take a week off from training every 6 to 8 weeks.
     There you have it: 4 simple, direct keys for packing on the mass.  Give these keys a try—even if they’re not what you are accustomed to doing.  You, and your muscles, might just be ecstatic that you did.

1 Staley, C., A Thinking Man’s Guide to Sets and Reps (2000) Testosterone Magazine