Friday, April 26, 2013

My New Blog

Some of you may, on occasion, read my Orthodox blog that covers the contemplative spirituality of the Orthodox Church.

I am going to quit posting on that blog for the purpose of my new Orthodox blog.  It's entitled "From East to East" and it is for anyone interested in Asian philosophy—particularly Buddhism, Taoism, and Vedanta—who may also be interested in Orthodox Christianity.

Here's the link:

http://easttoeast.blogspot.com/

Monday, April 22, 2013

The Two-Barbell Rule


Thoughts on the Two-Barbell Rule
     Over at T-Nation, Tony Gentilcore has an article where he mentions something he calls the “two-barbell rule.”[1]  The “rule” is pretty simple: At each training session, perform two barbell exercises before doing anything else.
     Although I never thought about making this one of the “rules” of training, I like it.  In fact, a couple of things crossed my mind upon reading about it.  First, I wished I would have thought of it myself—it’s one of those things that’s so simple, it should be blatantly obvious to most lifters, but it’s not.  Second, I realize that I “do” this rule almost every time that I train myself or others.
     The two-barbell rule—although simple, and although it should be obvious to most lifters—needs a little clarification.  What I would like to discuss here, then, is ways that you can make this “rule” work.  If applied properly, in fact, I think it can be the thing that takes your training from mediocre or only “so-so” to truly effective when it comes to building muscle, adding strength, or the combination of both.
The “two barbell rule” is what makes the rest of the training session “work.”  I love full-body workouts (that should be obvious if you’ve read even just a handful of my articles), and I love full-body “split” workouts possibly even more.  But for any kind of full-body workout to “work” (“split” or otherwise), you need to make sure that you employ the two-barbell rule.  I’m afraid that a lot of lifters don’t do this—probably quite unintentionally, but they still do it.  It’s common, for instance, for a lifter to start a full-body workout with squats (an excellent barbell exercise) and then move on to bench presses[2], chins, dumbbell curls, ab work, and then whatever machine work they can come up with—but this is not an effective use of the two-barbell rule, even if bench presses are used.
     However, the dynamic completely changes once squats plus another effective barbell movement is added to the picture.  To clarify, here’s an example of a “bad” full-body workout:
  1. Squats: 5 sets of 5 reps
  2. Dumbbell bench presses: 5 sets of 5 reps
  3. Chins: 3 sets of 8 reps
  4. Dumbbell Curls: 3 sets of 10 reps (each arm)
  5. Ab work
     After just writing that, I realize, “Holy crap; I’ve written workouts such as that before.”  But don’t worry, I can do better.  (You can too.)  Here’s an example of a “good” workout:
  1. Squats: 5 sets of 5 reps
  2. Deadlifts: 7 sets of 3 reps
  3. One-arm dumbbell overhead presses: 5 sets of 5 reps (each arm)
  4. Chins: 5 sets of max reps
  5. Farmer’s walks: 3 sets for distance
  6. Ab work
     And here’s an example of another good workout:
  1. Power snatches: 8 sets of 3 reps
  2. Front Squats: 5 sets of 5 reps
  3. One-arm dumbbell rows: 4 sets of 8 reps (each arm)
  4. Sled drags: 3 sets for distance
  5. Ab work
     Add in a third workout of similar ilk and you have three excellent training sessions for a three-days-per-week routine.
     If you want to train more frequently, that’s not a problem.  You could easily train daily and use the two-barbell movements as the only exercises in the workout.  Let’s say you wanted to train 5 days per week, Monday through Friday, then you could do the following for 5 days straight:
Workout One:
  1. Squats: 5 sets of 5 reps
  2. Overhead Presses: 5 sets of 5 reps
Workout Two:
  1. Deadlifts: 7 sets of 3 reps
  2. Barbell Bent-over Rows: 5 sets of 5 reps
Workout Three:
  1. Power Cleans: 8 sets of 3 reps
  2. One-arm Dumbbell Presses: 5 sets of 5 reps[3]
Workout Four:
  1. Bottom-position Squats: 5 sets of 5/4/3/2/1
  2. Power Snatches: 8 sets of 2 reps
Workout Five:
  1. Deficit Deadlifts: 5 sets of 5 reps
  2. Overhead Squats: 5 sets of 5 reps
     On each day, you could add some ab work or some “carry” work, and you would definitely not be worse for the wear.  Also, I realize that a lot of you are going to go crazy—or at least feel as if you are—if you don’t include some flat bench pressing, so don’t be afraid to do a little barbell bench presses one or two days per week.


[1] He, in turn, apparently got the idea from Jim Wendler.  I have never heard of Gentilcore until this article—although it seems as if he has some pretty good stuff—but I don’t think you can go too wrong with most of Wendler’s thoughts on training.
[2] Yes, yes, I know: the bench press is technically a “barbell” exercise, but it’s the worst of the lot.  Overhead presses, power cleans, full cleans, snatches (in all of their variety), deadlifts (in all of its guises), and the full spectrum of squats (back, front, overhead, bottom-position, etc.) are more what I had in mind.
[3] I know damn well that I just “broke” the rule, but I’m going to say that heavy one-arm dumbbell presses are the exception.  They are tough as hell, and mimic well the effects of other barbell exercises.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Ultimate Strength and Power, Part 10: Tailoring Your Program


Tailoring the Workouts to Suit Your Needs and Body Type
     For this final part of the series, we are going to look at ways you can tailor all of the programs presented to this point so that you can accommodate such things as age, training experience, body type, and goals.
     If you are new to training, then make sure that you haven’t skipped ahead to this part, thinking that you need to read this one first in order to better understand your body type.  You don’t!  The first thing you need to do is perform the rest of the programs in a systematic fashion.  (Okay, I realize that a lot of you reading this blog have every intention in the world to keep reading this post—that’s cool; I like the readership.   However, realize that you do need to return to the rest of this series after reading this final part.)
     After you have utilized most of the programs to this point, you should have an understanding of how your body works.  Some exercises probably make you grow faster than others.  For instance, you may have discovered that sumo deadlifts really cause the muscles of your back and hamstrings to grow, while conventional deadlifts just don’t do that much for you.  Or you may have discovered that incline bench presses, dumbbell bench presses, and dips do wonders for making your chest grow, while flat bench presses seem to do little other than give you big shoulders and arms.  And everyone who tried all of the routines should know two things: First, you should know whether you respond best to full-body programs or to two-way split training.  Second, you should know whether you do best on a program that uses only a few basic exercises (such as the workouts in parts 2, 3, 4, 5, and 8) or whether you do best by routinely rotating from exercises and repetition ranges (such as the workouts in parts 7 and 9).
     Keep in mind, too, that once you reach a more advanced level, all of the programs should only be considered as outlines.  After I write these programs and you start using them, I’m not there to make changes based on how your body responds—or doesn’t respond—to the workouts.
     The rest of this part will take a look at four key components of all of the programs in this series—and all good strength programs in general, such as the rest of this stuff on my blog.  They are: core exercises, sets and reps, weight progression, and workload at each session.
C.S. squatting around 500 lbs at a bodyweight of 170
Core Exercises
     There are plenty of lifters—especially competitive powerlifters and Olympic lifters—who are perfectly satisfied with doing essentially the same core exercises year-round.  While other lifters need constant change to either 1) stay interested in the workouts they’re doing, or 2) to continue to make progress.  For the most part, I would put myself—for instance—in the former category.  I’m happy training the squat and deadlift year-round without rotating much to other exercises.  I enjoy both of these exercises more than just about any other, and I can increase both of them by just, well, training both of them.
     The difference for myself is the bench press.  In order to make progress in this exercise—and other upper body pressing movements—I need to rotate exercises on a fairly consistent basis in order to progress.  If I don’t rotate bench exercises, then my progress will soon start to stagnate on the lift.
     For a vast majority of you that are reading this (assuming you have completed the workouts up to this point) you will need to change routines every 5 to 6 weeks, and exercises every 1 to 2 weeks in order to not grow stale and hit sticking points.
     Let’s now take a look at the kind of training I typically utilize in order to keep my lifts continually moving upward in terms of raw strength and power.  Remember, I need to rotate bench exercises regularly, and I can just train the squat and the deadlift in order to keep those lifts moving.  (Keep in mind, as well, that this is the kind of training I need to do.  But it should give you a good example of the kind of variety you need in order to continue to make gains.)
     First, I would (typically) begin a training cycle by performing 4 weeks of advanced-style full body training (such as the second workout in part 3).  After that, I would switch over to 4 to 6 weeks of Russian style two-way split training.  At this point, while my squat and deadlift should be consistently gaining in strength, my bench would start to stagnate (keep in mind that variety is built into the above two programs, but my bench needs even more than what those two programs offer).  Now, it’s time for me to utilize 8 to 10 weeks of Power Volume Training.  With the Power Volume Training, variety is already built into the system—how much variety is up to the individual lifter.  For myself, I will rotate bench exercises on a weekly basis, in addition to rotating assistance exercises for the bench at least every two weeks.  For my squats and deadlifts, however, I have to do little more other than just squat and deadlift.  In fact, all I really need to do is rotate two weeks of squatting with two weeks of deadlifting.  Throw in some bottom-position squats and some deficit deadlifts on occasion, and my squats and deadlifts—for the most part—will continue to gain in strength.
     Now, the biggest problem I run into when lifters change exercises is that they pick easier lifts instead of hard ones.  The new exercise has to be as demanding as the one you’re trading it out for.  Also, if you’re using Power Volume Training or the Westside-style program (part 9), not only do you need to rotate exercises on a regular basis, but you also need a large number of exercises to rotate from.  The more advanced you are, the more exercises you need in your arsenal.  The important thing is that you must trade a heavy exercise for a heavy exercise, a medium exercise for a medium exercise, and so on and so forth.
Sets and Reps
     While strength training is an art in addition to being a science, let’s keep in mind that it is a science, as well, and there are optimum numbers of sets and reps that you need to implement in your training.
     When deciding which program to use, or how you might need to alter the number of sets and reps in one of the programs you’ve already performed for a certain length of time, you need to take into account your goals.  If you are solely interested in building strength, then there is no reason to do a lot of sets, or as much “extra” work in a session.  This means, for instance, that if you’re following Power Volume Training, and you’re just trying to gain strength, there is no need for a lot of progressively heavier sets until you reach your max weight (more on this in a little bit), and there is also no need for as many sets of “assistance” work.
     If you’re trying to gain strength and muscle mass, then the opposite is true.  You need the additional work.  The more you train, and the harder you train, then the better your body gets at adapting to the stress.  (For the most part, at least; some lifters do better with lower volume—when gaining muscle mass—than other lifters.)
     As with core exercises, you need some variety built into your programs.  Just how much variety will—once again—depend on your body type.  Here’s an interesting thing to keep in mind when tailoring the programs in this series (or any other programs you come across that you want to try): When training for strength, rotating exercises is more important than rotating from different set and rep sequences; when training for muscle growth, rotating different set and rep schemes is more important than rotating exercises.  This is because for strength and power, you need to stick with sets of really low reps (5 reps would be considered high if strength is your goal).  However, since a certain amount of variety has to be built into your program, you must rotate to different exercises.  The variety for strength, then, entails rotational exercises.  (This is the basis for Westside training and my Power Volume Training.)  Muscle growth is different.  Of course, you already know that I’m a big fan of heavy-weight, low-rep training for muscle growth, but you can certainly have weeks where you rotate to more high-rep workouts.  In fact, I believe that kind of training is paramount for advanced lifters to continue gaining muscle mass.  When it comes to hypertrophy, you can really do the same exercises almost year round and get good results.  However, rep ranges must be altered.
     To explain how you might choose to rotate sets and reps, let’s use the second program in Part Three—the more advanced program—as an example of what a month of training might look like for a more advanced lifter.  For this, I will use myself—and my body type—as an example.  If I was trying to gain muscle, while also keeping my core lifts increasing, the following is what I would do during 4 weeks of training:
The great Reg Park, who built his physique with similar full body workouts
Week One
Heavy Day
·      Squats.  7 sets of 5 reps
·      Flat Bench Presses.  7 sets of 5 reps
·      Deadlifts.  7 sets of 5 reps
·      Wide-grip Dips alternated w/ Wide-grip Chins.  4 sets of 5 reps (each exercise
·      Barbell Curls alternated w/ Pullover and Presses.  4 sets of 5 reps
·      Incline Sit-ups.  3 sets of 30 reps

Light Day

·      Olympic-style Pause Squats.  5 sets of 5 reps
·      One-arm Dumbbell Bench Presses.  5 sets of 5 reps (each arm
·      Rounded Back Good Mornings.  5 sets of 8 reps
·      Dumbbell Curls supersetted w/ Lying Dumbbell Extensions.  5 sets of 8 reps (each exercise)
·      Crunches.  3 sets of 60 reps

Medium Day

·      Bottom-position Squats.  7 sets of 5 reps
·      Incline Bench Presses.  7 sets of 5 reps
·      Deadlifts Off a Box.  7 sets of 5 reps
·      Reverse-grip Chins.  5 sets of 5 reps
·      Lying Barbell Extensions.  5 sets of 5 reps
·      Hanging Leg Raises.  3 sets of 20 reps
Week Two
Heavy Day
·      Squats.  4 sets of 8 reps
·      Flat Bench Presses.  4 sets of 8 reps
·      Deadlifts.  4 sets of 8 reps
·      Wide-grip Dips alternated w/ Wide-grip Chins.  2 sets of 10 reps (each exercise
·      Barbell Curls alternated w/ Pullover and Presses.  2 sets of 10 reps
·      Incline Sit-ups.  3 sets of 30 reps

Light Day

·      Olympic-style Pause Squats.  3 sets of 8 reps
·      Incline Dumbbell Bench Presses.  3 sets of 8 reps (each arm
·      Rounded Back Good Mornings.  3 sets of 12 reps
·      Dumbbell Curls supersetted w/ Lying Dumbbell Extensions.  5 sets of 12 reps (each exercise)
·      Crunches.  3 sets of 60 reps

Medium Day

·      Bottom-position Squats.  4 sets of 8 reps
·      Weighted Dips.  4 sets of 8 reps
·      Deadlifts Off a Box.  4 sets of 8 reps
·      Reverse-grip Chins.  4 sets of 8 reps
·      Lying Barbell Extensions.  4 sets of 8 reps
·      Hanging Leg Raises.  3 sets of 20 reps
Week Three
Heavy Day
·      Squats.  8 sets of 3 reps
·      Flat Bench Presses.  8 sets of 3 reps
·      Deadlifts.  8 sets of 3 reps
·      Barbell Curls alternated w/ Pullover and Presses.  10 sets of 3 reps
·      Incline Sit-ups.  3 sets of 30 reps

Light Day

·      Front Squats.  8 sets of 3 reps
·      Incline Bench Presses.  8 sets of 3 reps (each arm
·      Rounded Back Good Mornings.  5 sets of 8 reps
·      Crunches.  3 sets of 60 reps

Medium Day

·      Bottom-position Squats.  8 sets of 3 reps
·      Three-Board Bench Presses.  8 sets of 3 reps
·      Sumo Deadlifts.  8 sets of 3 reps
·      Reverse-grip Chins.  8 sets of 3 reps
·      Lying Barbell Extensions.  8 sets of 3 reps
·      Hanging Leg Raises.  3 sets of 20 reps
Week Four
Heavy Day
·      Squats.  3 sets of 12 reps
·      Dumbbell Bench Presses.  3 sets of 12 reps
·      Deadlifts.  4 sets of 8 reps
·      Wide-grip Dips alternated w/ Wide-grip Chins.  2 sets of 20 reps (each exercise)
·      Barbell Curls alternated w/ Pullover and Presses.  2 sets of 20 reps
·      Incline Sit-ups.  3 sets of 30 reps

Light Day

·      Olympic-style Pause Squats.  3 sets of 12 reps
·      Incline Dumbbell Bench Presses.  3 sets of 12 reps (each arm
·      Rounded Back Good Mornings.  3 sets of 12 reps
·      Crunches.  3 sets of 60 reps

Medium Day

·      Bottom-position Squats.  3 sets of 12 reps
·      Dips.  4 sets of maximum number of reps using bodyweight only
·      Deadlifts Off a Box.  3 sets of 12 reps
·      Reverse-grip Chins.  3 sets of maximum number of reps using bodyweight only
·      Close-Grip Bench Presses.  3 sets of 12 reps
·      Hanging Leg Raises.  3 sets of 20 reps
Weight Progression
     One of the most important—yet often neglected—components of strength training is weight progression.  The kind of weight progression you utilize should be based on your goals, your body type, and the number of repetitions being used on an exercise.
     When beginners start on a heavy/light/medium, 5 sets of 5 reps program, for instance, one of the first things they need to understand is how to progress in weight over the course of the 5 sets.  For most lifters, the 5 sets should be evenly spaced apart as far as weight goes.  The 4th set, however, is often the “tricky” set for lifters.  A lot of lifters—myself included—like to take a 4th set that is very close in weight to what will be used on the 5th set.  For instance, when I do this it actually makes my 5th set stronger.
     Using squats as an example, here is what 5 sets of 5 would look like for myself: 135 for 5 reps, 225 for 5 reps, 315 for 5 reps, 405 for 5 reps, 425 for 5 reps.  To be honest, I would actually use more than 5 sets on this exercise.  The amount of weight that I use—and my age—entails that I do so.  Otherwise, I would be risking injury.  Here is an even more “realistic” version of what my squat would look like if I were using 5 rep sets: 135 for 5 reps, 225 for 5 reps, 275 for 5 reps, 315 for 5 reps, 365 for 5 reps, 405 for 5 reps, and (finally) 425 for 5 reps.
     Other lifters, who are just as strong as I am, prefer to take a 4th set that is not so close to their 5-rep maximum.  Assuming one of these lifters was using 5 sets of 5 reps, this is what his (her) weight progression might look like: 135 for 5 reps, 225 for 5 reps, 315 for 5 reps, 350 for 5 reps, 425 for 5 reps.
     Another factor here is the number of reps that are going to be utilized.  Generally speaking, the higher the number of reps in a set, the fewer sets that need to be performed.  Let’s assume that a program calls for sets of 10 reps in the squat (we’ll stick with squats as our example exercise here).  The number of sets for 10 reps will depend on the level of strength-fitness of the lifter.  Generally speaking, for sets of 10 to 12 reps, there is no need for more than 3 or 4 sets.  Possibly more for advanced lifters who are both well-conditioned and have a high level of endurance-strength.  And it would possibly be less for rank beginners who reach their 10-rep maximum on the second set.
     If I was doing sets of 10 reps in the squat, my progression would look something like this: 135 for 10 reps, 185 for 10 reps, 225 for 10 reps, and 275 for 10 reps.  Obviously, this is a pretty good squat session, even though only 4 sets are involved.
     Okay, now let’s say that I am going to do sets of 3 reps for my squats.  Here, my weight progression would be different.  For one, not only would I be using a lot more sets, I would also begin with a few sets of 5 in order to warm up properly.  Here is an example of my weight progression for 3s: 135 for 5 reps, 225 for 5 reps, 275 for 5 reps, 315 for 3 reps, 405 for 3 reps, 450 for 3 reps, 465 for 3 reps, 495 for 3 reps.
     Now, keep in mind that not all of the programs incorporate progressively heavier sets as in our examples above.  Several of the programs entail “straight” sets where you use the same weight on all of your “work” sets.
     Let’s say that I am going to use a squat workout that requires 5 sets of 5 reps using the same weight on all sets.  Here is what my hypothetical weight progression would look like: 135 for 5 reps, 225 for 5 reps, 275 for 5 reps, 315 for 5 sets of 5 reps.
Workload
     Another component that you need to have an understanding of (and keep up with until you grasp its concept) is “workload.”  When a program in this series—or on this blog—calls for 3 days-a-week of heavy/light/medium workouts, what makes a workout “light” or “heavy” is its workload; workload being amount of weight lifted times number of sets times number of reps.
     I have had lifters write me or talk to me requesting that I outline a program for them.  (If you’ve made it this far in this series, you’ll probably never have to do this.)  If they’re at the beginner or intermediate level with regards to their goal (strength, muscle growth, or a combination of both), then I always have them perform a heavy/light/medium, full-body workout.  Invariably, several of these lifters will call me or write back wondering why they are not making enough progress.  When I have them write down what they’re doing in order to assess the problem (even though I’ve already guessed what the problem is), they’re usually surprised to hear that they’re simply doing too much work on their light and medium days.  The extra work is usually because they don’t feel as if they’ve had enough of a “workout” on the light days, so they do a bunch of sets of curls or push-ups, or chins, or, well, you name it.  Because they’re doing these assistance lifts with such light weights, they assume it makes them perfect for the “light” training day.  But when we look at their total workload throughout the week, it’s clear that their “light” day is actually heavier (more total workload) than their “heavy” day.  While training with such workload is fine for a week or two—in fact, I require it from some lifters I work with—it can lead to overtraining if done persistently over the course of several weeks.
     Let’s take a look at two of the hypothetical squat workouts I used in our “weight progression” discussion to further understand just how workload affects your training.  If you look at the workout I used for 10 rep sets of squats (135 for 10 reps, 185 for 10 reps, 225 for 10 reps, and 275 for 10 reps) and the workout I used for 3 rep sets of squats (135 for 5 reps, 225 for 5 reps, 275 for 5 reps, 315 for 3 reps, 405 for 3 reps, 450 for 3 reps, 465 for 3 reps, 495 for 3 reps), you would probably assume that the 3-rep workout was the “heavier” session, using more total workload.  But is this the case?  Well, actually, it is, but not by much.  Despite the fact that much heavier weights were used and twice as many sets, the workload for the 3-rep workout is 9,565 pounds, and the workload for the 10-rep workout is 8,200 pounds.  If I had performed 5 sets of 10 reps instead of just 4 sets of 10 reps, then the 10-rep workout would actually have been heavier.
     In case you haven’t already figured it out, this is also what makes “straight sets” so particularly demanding on your muscles and your nervous system.  Sticking with the squats and using my straight-set “5 sets of 5 workout” above (135 for 5 reps, 225 for 5 reps, 275 for 5 reps, 315 for 5 sets of 5 reps), the total workload for that workout is 11,000 pounds, more than either of the previous squat workouts.
     One more thing about workload: As you get more advanced, your total workload should consistently go up.  The more workload you can tolerate (up to a point, obviously), then the bigger and stronger you’re going to be.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

5 Keys to Mass... Fast!


5 Keys to Mass… Fast
 5 Principles for Building Massive Muscles in the Shortest Possible Time
      If you’re reading this article, the chances are that you want exactly what the title implies: massive muscles.  And I bet there’s an equally good chance that you have been going at it all wrong.  It’s time to fix that!  What follows are 5 tips – along with training programs and other sagely muscle-building advice – for acquiring the most massively muscled body that your genetics are capable of building.
Key #1: Squat, squat, and squat some more

Jon Cole squatting heavy and deep
     Whenever someone wants to know what they can do to build more muscle, I ask one question first.  Are you squatting?  If the answer is “no,” then I know that the lifter isn’t serious about building muscle or is misinformed about what entails good training.
     Hard, heavy squats should be the cornerstone of any good mass-building program, whether you’re splitting your body several ways or whether you’re using full-body workouts.
     If you haven’t been doing any squats, then begin with the following program performed 2 days per week:
Day One
·         Squats: 5 sets of 8, 5, 5, 3, 3 reps.  Work up over 5 progressively heavier sets until you reach your maximum for 3 repetitions.
Day Two
·         Squats: 5 sets of 8 reps.  After a couple of light warm-up sets, perform 5 sets of 8 reps.  Use a weight that would make it tough to get 12 reps.
     After a few weeks of this kind of training, then don’t be afraid to start doing heavy singles in your program.  And once you have been training consistently for several months, then you need to inject some variety.  Some days do sets of 5s, some days do triples, doubles or singles, and some days blast out sets of 20, 30, or even 50 reps!
Key #2: Train Your Back Hard and Heavy
Bill Starr hitting a power clean
     Intense back training should be the other cornerstone of a serious mass-building regimen.  If you don’t squat, and if you don’t train your back hard, then you are doomed to fail.  It’s really that simple.
     I can’t count the number of times that I’ve talked to a lifter who wants to get big and strong, yet they do little other than train their arms and chest.  Trust me; you would be better off training your legs and back, and then never training your chest and arms, instead of vice-versa.
     Heavy leg and back training lays the foundation for all of the training that you do after that.
     The muscles of your back should be trained hard, but not as frequently as legs.  Feel free to squat 2 – or even 3 – days per week.  But for your back, you’re better off training twice a week at the maximum, and about once every four or five days would be even better.
     Here’s a kick-ass back program that you can perform once every 5 days:
·         Deadlifts: 5 sets of 5 reps.  After a few warm-up sets, load the bar with a weight that you can get 7 to 8 repetitions.  Perform 5 sets of 5 repetitions with this weight.
·         Close-Grip Chins: 4 sets of 6 to 8 reps (or maximum possible).  Perform these with your bodyweight (or with additional weight if you’re strong enough).  Get a good stretch at the bottom of each rep, and really squeeze your back at the top.
·         One-Arm Dumbbell Rows: 4 sets of 10 to 12 reps (each arm)
·         Wide-Grip Lat Pulldowns: 3 sets of 20 to 30 reps.  Finish off your session with a few tough, high-rep sets for a killer pump.
Key #3: Train with a Combination of Both Low and High Reps
     You need to do the majority of your training in the rep-range that’s best for your body type.  What rep range is best?  Choose a weight that is 80% of your maximum.  Perform this set to failure.  The rep range that you end up failing at is where you need to do the majority of your training – whether it’s 3-5 reps, 6-8 reps, or 10-12 reps.  Also, determine your rep range for each bodypart.  For instance, the muscles of your chest might respond best in the 6-8 rep range, while your biceps might respond best with 10-12 reps.
     Do the majority of your training – 60% is a good number to shoot for – in this optimum rep range.  Do the rest of your training in other rep ranges.  And don’t be afraid to do some ultra-heavy training (1 to 3 reps) and some really high repetition training as well.
     Here’s an example of a biceps workout for someone whose optimum rep range is 6-8:
·         Barbell Curls: 3 sets of 3 reps
·         E-Z bar Curls: 3 sets of 6-8 reps
·         Standing Dumbbell Curls: 3 sets of 6-8 reps
·         Preacher Curls: 3 sets of 6-8 reps
·         Concentration Curls: 3 sets of 16-20 reps (each arm)
     Here’s an example chest workout for someone whose optimum rep range is 10-12 reps:
·         Incline Barbell Bench Presses: 5 sets of 5 reps
·         Flat Dumbbell Bench Presses: 4 sets of 10-12 reps
·         Wide-Grip Dips: 4 sets of 10-12 reps
·         Machine Bench Presses: 4 sets of 10-12 reps
·         Cable Crossovers: 3 sets of 20-25 reps
     Another option is to do more workouts entirely in your rep range, while performing occasional workouts outside of your optimum range.  Here’s an example of 4 different shoulder workouts for a bodybuilder whose optimum rep range is 6-8 reps:
Workout One (Optimum Rep Range):
·         Seated Military Presses: 4 sets of 6-8 reps
·         Standing Behind-the-neck Presses: 4 sets of 6-8 reps
·         Arnold Presses: 3 sets of 6-8 reps
Workout Two (Optimum Rep Range):
·         Standing Dumbbell Presses: 4 sets of 6-8 reps
·         Dumbbell Side Raises: 4 sets of 6-8 reps
·         Seated Machine Presses: 4 sets of 6-8 reps
Workout Three (Lower-Than-Optimum Rep Range):
·         One-Arm Dumbbell Overhead Presses: 3 sets of 1-3 reps (each arm)
·         Barbell Push Presses: 3 sets of 3-5 reps
·         Barbell Upright Rows: 3 sets of 3-5 reps
Workout Four (Higher-Than-Optimum Rep Range):
·         Dumbbell Side Raises: 3 sets of 12-16 reps
·         Dumbbell Front Raises: 3 sets of 12-16 reps
·         Bradford Presses: 4 sets of 20-25 reps
Key#4: Train with Compensatory Acceleration
Fred Hatfield - originator of C.A.T. - squatted over 1,000 pounds in his mid '40s!
     It was Fred Hatfield—also known as “Dr. Squat”—who coined the term compensatory acceleration training (C.A.T. for short) for a repetition where you move the weight as fast as possible through the concentric range of motion. This doesn’t mean, of course, that the weight necessarily moves fast (though it certainly might with certain styles of training). The point is for you to accelerate the weight as fast as humanly possible (even if you’re going for a one-rep maximum). This kind of training, I believe, is the most effective for long-term muscle growth.
      Here’s what a typical chest workout should look like using C.A.T.:
·         Incline barbell bench presses: 5 sets of 6 to 12 reps (using C.A.T.)
·         Incline dumbbell bench presses: 4 sets of 6 to 12 reps (using C.A.T.)
·         Weighted dips: 3 sets of 6 to 12 reps (using C.A.T.)
·         Flat dumbbell bench presses: 6 “strip” sets of 10 reps each set, going down the rack.
Key #5: Train with a Combination of Split Routines and Full-Body Workouts
     All of the workouts that I’ve listed so far have been split routines, but you also want to do some full-body workouts.  Training your entire body at one time allows for some good muscle-building benefits:
·         You get more of a “metabolic advantage” with full-body workouts – especially when you perform a lot of work in a short period of time.  This is beneficial because a lot of “traditional” bodybuilding split routines actually do very little to speed up your metabolism.  You need an enhanced metabolism in order to stay lean and grow muscle.
·         There is more of an “anabolic advantage” with full-body workouts.  I have noticed when training clients, all of them accrue faster gains when full-body workouts are included.
     Most of the full-body workouts that you perform should be done in your optimal rep range.  The workouts should be done using compound movements, and the faster you can train, the better.  Here’s a typical workout for someone whose optimum rep-range is 6 to 8 reps:
·         Squats: 5 sets of 6 to 8 reps
·         Power Cleans: 5 sets of 3 to 5 reps
·         Standing Overhead Presses: 5 sets of 6 to 8 reps
·         Incline Barbell Bench Presses: 5 sets of 6 to 8 reps
·         Wide-Grip Chins: 4 sets of maximum reps
·         Barbell Curls: 5 sets of 6 to 8 reps
Putting it All Together
     Here is an example of what a couple weeks of training might look like employing all of these principles:
·         Day One: Squat Workout
·         Day Two: Chest and Back Workout
·         Day Three: Off
·         Day Four: Full Body Workout (outside of optimum rep range) – chest, back, and legs; no direct shoulder and arm work
·         Day Five: Shoulder and Arms Workout
·         Day Six: Squat Workout
·         Day Seven: Off
·         Day Eight: Full Body Workout (optimum rep range) – back, legs, and shoulders; no direct chest and arm work
·         Day Nine: Off
·         Day Ten: Chest and Shoulder Workout
·         Day Eleven: Back Workout
·         Day Twelve: Off
·         Day Thirteen: Off
·         Day Fourteen: Squat Workout
     Keep in mind that this kind of training should be “organic” – a template needs to be followed using the 5 “keys” listed, but things also shouldn’t be set in stone.  When you feel as if you need a day or two off, take it.  If you feel good training four days in a row, do that, as well.
     One last thing:  Above all, training should be enjoyable.  If you enjoy training predominately with low reps instead of high reps (or vice versa), then do that.  If you have a good time training, then you’re more likely to stick with it.  Have fun, have a good time, and train hard!