Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Back Construction!



A Hard-as-Hell, Tough-as-Nails Workout Program for Constructing Monstrous Back Width and Thickness!

by Jared Smith
The massive back of Dorian Yates!

       Some things in this world are a dime a dozen. The lifting world is no different. I can’t tell you how many times I have been in the gym and watched guys prance around with a half decent chest, but their shoulders protrude forward and their backs are narrow—not to mention completely lacking in thickness. Don’t get me wrong. I am not saying that chest development is not impressive. However, one can have a much stronger and larger chest if the foundation from which they press is carrying a considerable amount of beef!
       The back has always appealed to me more than any other muscle group. As a kid, I associated a wide, thick back with power and strength, though at the time I had no clue why. Louie Simmons—one of the greatest powerlifting coaches to ever load a barbell—said that he could tell who the strongest guys in any gym were based upon how much muscle their backs carried. In addition to adding that “powerful” look, the back has always been my favorite body part from a visual perspective. The way each muscle is pieced together, resembling a mountain range or a road atlas, has always been in my eyes something awesome to behold.
The Tools for Back MASS Construction
      To build any muscle, one must learn how to contract it optimally. To ensure a muscle is stimulated to the max, you must train it through the entire contractile range. You may be aware of what some call the “all or none” principle, and I am not disagreeing with it. Yes, a muscle will contract regardless of which exercise you choose for it. What this principle fails to cover is the fact that the muscle is actually never going through the entirety of its range of motion in a single exercise, thus never being taxed from the mid-range, stretch, and contracted position. While it is very true that you can put a significant amount of mass on your back by performing just the basics, once you’ve attained a base of mass, the more complex work begins. The back can handle insane amounts of volume compared to any other muscle of the upper body. This presents us with a great opportunity to stimulate growth on a systemic level. Back day is just as important as Leg day! The tools you will use to build your back will include at least one exercise to cover each portion of the muscles contractile range:
Mid-range: Rows, Palms-in Pulldowns
Contracted: Straight-Arm Pulldowns
Stretch: Pullovers (Dumbbell, Barbell, or Machine)
     What about the Deads? Deadlifts will be done on this day as well, but only after the upper back has been taxed to the max! You will be amazed at how hard each and every muscle in your upper back will contract by doing deadlifts at the end of the workout!
Go Mental!
      Any time you train, it is as much mental as it is physical, but this is more important on back day than any other. You cannot see your back, so you must put your mind there instead. You must think of stretching and contracting the entire time, and never losing the much-needed tension on the muscle. A great way to maintain tension on the muscle is through a technique I learned from the work of IFBB pro Ben Pakulski called “intension”. This is a practice of applying force in certain directions, depending upon the muscle being trained, which will keep that muscle under tension and screaming for mercy! As I lay out the program, I will explain how to apply intension to each exercise, allowing you to really connect your mind to the muscle, and get the most out of each and every rep. Remember, exercise is movement, and movement is physics, so let’s make each movement count!
Let’s Hit It!
     We start off with a midrange exercise where we can move some weight. We will begin with bent-over barbell rows. After you’ve warmed up, you will perform four sets of 8-12 reps. Keep everything tight with no swaying of your back. On this exercise, you will use inward intent, which means you will attempt to “shorten” the bar with your hands. As you perform the row, push as if you are trying to put your hands together, thus bringing the ends of the bar together. If you can’t hold the contraction for a two count, the weight you selected is too heavy, so check the ego at the door and let’s contract some muscles! This will keep your elbows glued to your sides, and your lats will contract like crazy! Shoot for a three count on the negative.
Arnold—in his heyday—performing a set of barbell rows.

     Next up, we will perform a superset of straight-arm pulldowns and close-grip, palms-in pulldowns.  What I love about this combo is that the contracted position movement really makes you aware of the lats and how they feel, thus making the subsequent movement more effective. To apply intent to the first exercise in the superset, think about bending the bar into a horse-shoe shape, which will keep your elbows traveling close to your sides, making sure your lats are “firing”.
     On the close-grip, palms-in pulldowns, practice inward intent as with the barbell rows above.  As always, make sure to hold each contraction for a two count. Once you are unable to hold the contraction at all, the set is done. Perform this superset three times for 8-12 reps per exercise! Make sure to get a three count on the negative phase of each rep.
     Next, we will go to the stretch position exercise—the pullover. The reason for doing this movement last in the sequence for upper back training, is because I believe it is dangerous to put a cold muscle in a stretched position. Once there is blood in the muscle, the tissue is more pliable.  No matter the variation of pullover you choose, practice inward intent by attempting to get your elbows as close as you can. Notice how all versions of intension for lats keeps your elbows traveling close to your body?  The idea by practicing intension is to keep your form locked in, and to keep the tension where you want—and need—it! Perform 4 sets of 8-12 reps, and keep the tempo slow.
Mike Mentzer was a big fan of Nautilus machine pullovers for the lats.

     Finally, we come to the end. Deadlifts. The man maker! Before I even get into this exercise, let me say that if back development is your primary concern, use straps! I couldn’t care less how bad-ass you believe yourself to be; your grip WILL give way before your back does! As for form: Strap in, lock down your upper body as upright as you can get it, drop your ass, drive your feet through the floor, and try your damnedest to squeeze your shoulder blades together at the top of the movement. Keep the tempo controlled, with around three seconds on the decent, and perform four sets of 6-8 reps!
     There you have it: Your formula for widening your wings, and thickening all of your back muscles. It’s time to stop reading, and get to the gym. Let your mind fill with a controlled rage, and let the rage consume your entire workout! Go forth, conquer, and destroy your back!!

Monday, July 27, 2015

Lean Mass Made Simple and Fast!


Lean Mass Made Simple and Fast!
The Ultimate 9-Week Program for Lean Muscle Growth

By Matthew Sloan

The author, Matthew Sloan, before embarking on his 9-week program for Lean Muscle Mass


Muscle growth.  We all want it.  And we want it fast!  Any serious lifter knows that there is a limit to how much muscle one can put on in a short period of time, but a well-designed program—combined with a nutritious diet and effective supplementation—can ensure optimal results. So before I get to the program, and why it’s effective, lets go over nutrition and supplementation.

For nutrition, there are only a few "must-dos":
-You must be in a caloric surplus. By this, I mean you must be consuming more calories than you are burning daily. In order for your muscles to grow, you need the extra calories, but since this program is about " lean muscle growth", I would recommend a caloric surplus of 300-500 calories. Example: If you are burning 2500 calories daily, consume 2800-3000 calories. This caloric surplus is a slight one to ensure little to no fat gains.
-Consume 1 gram of protein per pound of lean muscle mass. Example: If you weigh 200lbs at 10% bodyfat, then get at least 180g protein daily. Many eating regimens recommend too much protein when 1 gram per bodyweight is more than enough to build muscle. Studies have shown this[1].
-At least 40% of calories should come from carbohydrates. Too many people are scared of carbs due to insulin reasons. But carbs are very important in having plenty of energy for successful workouts, and for sufficient amounts of glycogen stored in the muscle cells. Trust me, carbs are not the enemy. For me, I even have 65% of my calories from carbs, and I have no problem with staying lean (and I am in no way one of those people who can just eat whatever and stay lean year round[2]).

For supplementation, just keep it simple. Here are the few supplements I would recommend for this program:
-Creatine: This is one of the most proven to be effective supplements. Multiple studies have been done on creatine to show that it is safe for all ages. Creatine can help with your strength and power in the gym, resulting in a better workout, which eventually results in more gains.
-Branch Chain Amino Acids(BCAA'S): BCAAs make up protein, and are important in the preservation of muscle. I take 1-2 scoops intraworkout.
-Multivitamin: This can help ensure that you get sufficient amounts of micronutrients daily.

These are the only supplements that I would consider necessary.  Other supplements that you might want to consider could be a pre workout and/or a recovery supplement such as glutamine.

So these are the main key points for your nutrition and supplementation during this program. Now to the fun stuff: the training! This program was inspired by the “German Volume Training” articles of Charles Poliquin[3]. It revolves around a 10x10 routine, but with a few key variations to prevent plateaus—and to aid in maximizing hypertrophy. Here is the training split for this program:

Monday: Back and Biceps
Tuesday: Legs
Wednesday: Chest and Triceps
Thursday:Cardio and Abs
Friday: Shoulders
Saturday: Back and Biceps
Sunday: Legs

There are always 4 rest days between each training session for a particular muscle group. This ensures that your muscles have recovered enough to be trained again, and that they have plenty of time to grow.

Cardio is not necessary on this program since this is not a fat loss regimen, but there is no harm in doing it if you so like. There have even been studies regarding the benefits cardio has for building muscle.

So here is the layout for a training session:
 Example Leg Day:
Squats 10x10
Leg extensions 2x25
Lying Hamstring Curls 2x25
Calf Raises 2x25
Matthew performing a set of barbell curls—always a good 10x10 exercise on "back and biceps" day

You will always choose one compound movement for the muscle groups, and do your 10x10 routine. This is to get in that high volume—and, yes, it is difficult. You should choose a weight that you could get about 15 reps with. If you hit failure before 10 on a set, then just strip the weight by 5-10 lbs. So after you do your 10x10, you will throw in 2 to 3 isolation exercises for the bodypart. And do 2 to 3 sets of each exercise for high reps. This is done in order to pump the muscles full of blood. Make sure on the isolation exercises to get maximum stretches and contraction on the muscles throughout each set.

Arnold used to say that the muscles needed to be "shocked", never knowing what was "coming at them". Although that was a weird way of putting it, he really just meant to implement some variation in your training. Variation can help prevent plateaus, and in the case of this program, result in the growth of all types of muscle fibers (the slow and the fast twitch fibers). To achieve this during this 9-week program, your training will have slight rep range changes in three-week increments. So for the first 3 weeks you will stick with the traditional 10x10 for your compound movement. And then the next three weeks (week 4-6), your compound movement will be with heavier weights, but for 10x5. And then for your last three weeks (week 7-9), your compound movement will be with lighter weights, but for 10x15.  These changes will help to ensure that you don't plateau, and will ensure the growth of all muscle fibers. Here is one more example of a training day:
Chest and Triceps:
Incline Dumbbell presses 10x10
Incline flyes 3x20
Wide grip push-ups 3x20
Weighted Triceps Dips 10x10
Overhead triceps extensions 3x20
Cable triceps extension 3x20
Matthew performing a set of chins—another good 10x10 exercise

Hopefully now you understand the layout of the program, and are able to design it with effective movements. As long as you stick with the basic guidelines of the program, you can manipulate the variables and find what works best for you! So keep your nutrition and supplementation on point and train with intensity and watch those muscles grow!

(Matthew’s Note: Follow us on Instagram at SLOAN.STRENGTH for updates on the Integral Strength blog and to help us grow! Be on the lookout for new articles weekly!)








[1] Just “Google” it!
[2] C.S.’s note: Before this year, my son was always described politely as “husky” or “thick boned” by family members.  Losing bodyfat for him was not something that happened overnight.
[3] C.S.’s note: Apparently my son is one of those still under the impression that Poliquin’s so-called “German Volume Training” was something revolutionary.  Please see my post entitled “Vince Gironda’s Weight Gaining Tips”.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Classic Bodybuilding: Sergio Oliva's Mass-Building Methods


The Legendary Mass-Building Methods and Workouts of "The Myth"—and the Story Behind Them
 
Sergio Oliva in the '80s
     I’ve often written on this blog, and elsewhere, that I believe the greatest strength athlete/bodybuilder of all time was Marvin Eder.  Of the truly “old-time” bodybuilders there were other greats, as well, but none that could match Eder for both sheer muscle and the most impressive strength feats of the age.
     What I’m not sure of, however, is if I’ve ever mentioned who I think the greatest pure bodybuilder of all time was/is.  By the title of this article, you’ve probably already guessed the answer: Sergio Oliva.  At the time of his emergence, I think he had the greatest physique the bodybuilding world had ever seen—shapely muscles, huge legs (compared to other bodybuilders of the era), and definitely more mass than anyone else.  His is a physique that still stands the test of time almost 50 years later.
History of “The Myth”
     Oliva first won the Mr. Olympia contest in 1967, and then followed that up with two more consecutive wins in ’68 and ’69.  In the ’69 contest, he narrowly defeated Arnold Schwarzenegger, but then went on to lose both the ’70 and ’72 contest to Arnold.  In my mind, the two wins by Arnold over Oliva were total and complete bull.  In ’70, Oliva looked just as good as he did the year before, and in ’72, he was absolutely massive.  The ’72 Olympia was probably the biggest debacle that contest has ever seen—and it’s seen more than its fair share, so that’s saying something.  To make matters even worse, Oliva wasn’t allowed to compete in the ’71 Olympia (by Joe Weider, who clearly wanted Shwarzenegger to win all these contests—he switched the ’72 judges at the last minute).  The reasoning, according to Weider, was because Oliva had competed in the 1971 NABBA Mr. Universe.  The only problem is that Arnold had competed in the very same contest the year before, and no one banned him.  So, in my mind, that means Sergio Oliva should have been the rightful champion of 6 straight Mr. Olympia contests.  Hell, there’s no telling how many he could have actually won if it wasn’t for the contrived politics (and blatant racism) of Weider’s organization.
     For Oliva, unfortunately, the Mr. Olympia politics, and the racism he faced, were nothing new.  He first really emerged on the scene at the 1965 AAU Mr. America contest, held in Los Angeles at the famed Embassy Auditorium.  John Grimek—at the time probably the world’s most famous bodybuilder—said he should have won that contest, but instead he lost to a far inferior Jerry Daniels (who, of course, no one reading this piece has heard of).  In 1966, Sergio returned to the Mr. America with hopes of actually winning, but, unfortunately, he lost to his mentor Bob Gajda.  He was thrilled for Gajda, who was his good friend, but even Gajda thought his own victory was a disgrace.  Oliva switched over to the IFBB at the time, believing it was the only organization where he could get a fair shake, but even that only lasted so long.
Pre-judging at the '72 Mr. Olympia

Early Career
     Sergio was born and raised in Cuba, and he got his start in Olympic weightlifting where he totaled almost 1,000 pounds in the Middle Heavyweight division (198 lbs) in (what were then) the 3 competitive lifts: the press, the snatch, and the clean and jerk.  He spent his first 4 years of training using solely a weightlifting program.
     In order to avoid the Communist regime that had taken over the country, Sergio defected from Cuba in 1962, where he settled in Chicago, and began working out at the Duncan YMCA, a legendary training facility for weightlifters and bodybuilders.  There, he met the aforementioned Bob Gajda, who told him that he had the genetics to make it in the sport of bodybuilding.  Apparently, he was skeptical at first—Olympic weightlifters didn’t think much of bodybuilding at the time; I doubt they still do—but Gajda ultimately convinced him.  Under Gajda’s tutelage, he switched from building strength to building muscle.  It was a decision that bodybuilding history should always be grateful for!
Sergio in his weightlifting days

Full-Body Workouts with PHA
     Gajda was well known at the time for a full-body training system he had invented: Peripheral Heart Action training, or PHA for short.  PHA was a system of what we might now call “circuit training” where the trainee picked as many as 6 exercises—one for each bodypart—and, without resting, performed 1 set of all exercises in succession.  As the trainee advanced, he added more circuits, so that he would typically perform 10 circuits on any given training day.
     Sergio actually thrived on this unconventional form of training, and continued with it for the first year and a half of his bodybuilding career.  It stopped working at this time, and Sergio’s bodyweight stalled at 200 pounds.
     It was time for something new.
Sergio’s Advanced Mass-Building Methods
     Oliva studied the many and varied training methods of that era’s bodybuilding stars.  According to Gene Mozee, he was most influenced by the workouts and techniques of Dave Draper, Larry Scott, and Harold Poole, but he eventually settled upon his own unique methods that incorporated limited exercises per bodypart per workout combined with different rep ranges and, at times, some very heavy poundages.
     Sergio’s methods allowed him to reach a massive “in-contest-shape” 230 pounds by 1968.  By then, he sported 21-inch arms, a 53-inch chest, 28-inch thighs, and 19-inch calves, all combined together with a 29-inch waist.
     During this time, there were no big, lucrative money contracts for bodybuilding stars.  In the ‘60s and ‘70s, he labored in a foundry all day, lifted for 2 and a half to 3 hour on training days, and would often take his wife out dancing once the training for the night was over.  The man had obviously developed a massive work capacity in addition to massive muscles.
Showing off his massive arms!

Sergio Loved the Pump
     Sergio loved incorporating a limited amount of exercises per bodypart, but sometimes performed up to 20 sets per exercise—he was definitely a bodybuilder who believed in “chasing the pump”, to use a term favored by many classic bodybuilders, and doing so with just one, or at the most two, exercises for whatever bodypart he was working.
     Here is what I had to say about him in a ’97 issue of IronMan magazine entitled “Monster Pump”:
     Oliva’s favorite way to work out was with high sets and lots of reps.  He often employed a form of rest/pause training, in which, for example, if he was working his chest, he’d do a set of bench presses for 6 to 8 reps, pause for a few breaths, perform another set, pause for a few more breaths, crank out another set and so on.  That type of fast, localized training gave Oliva a tremendous pump and helped him build one of the most amazing physiques ever.
     Segio wouldn’t finish any bodypart workout until he believed it was pumped to its absolute limit.  Here, for instance, is what Greg Zulak had to say in an issue of MuscleMag International around the same time as my IronMan article:
     After a particularly long and grueling workout that consisted of many sets of weighted dips, Sergio went to the change room to take off his sweat-soaked gym clothes and to take a shower.  After someone helped him remove his sweatshirt (his arms were so pumped he could barely get them over his head), Sergio decided to do one more set of dips, so he headed back out to the gym floor to do them.  After the set, he returned to the change room, removed his shoes and socks, and then went back out to the gym for one more set of dips.  Then it was back to the change room.  After removing his sweat pants, and wrapping a towel around his waist, he returned once again for one more set of dips.  After this, he hit the showers, but a couple of times during the shower he put the towel back on and went back to the gym floor for more dips.  After the shower, he dressed, but before leaving the gym to go home he performed yet another set of dips.  Finally satisfied that his triceps and pecs were as pumped as they could be, only then did he go home.
     From what Zulak had to say, it’s also obvious that he was a fan of “instinctive” training.  If he felt the necessity, then he did more, or less, than what he intended when planning his workout session.
Sergio posing in the early '70s

The Myth’s Mr. Olympia Program
     Here is the program that Sergio used to win his first Mr. Olympia in 1967.  He trained 5 days per week, Monday through Friday, and then took the weekends off.  This was actually less training days than what a lot of the champions of his era performed, but his workouts were so demanding that he needed the two days’ rest.
Monday and Thursday:
  • Bench Presses: 135x10, 225x5, 315x5, 350x3, 375x3, 400x1, 380x max reps, 360x max reps.  After this, he would perform “down-the-rack sets”, dropping the weight by 20 pounds on each set, and performing the max number of reps he could until he got back down to 135.
  • Behind-the-Neck Chins: 6x10 (performed between bench press sets as he worked up to 400 pounds)
  • Front Chins: 14x10 (performed between bench press sets as he worked his way back down to 135 pounds)
  • Upright Rows: 180x5x10
  • Bent-Over Rows: 150x5x10
Tuesday and Friday:
  • Situps: 5x20
  • Calf-machine Raises: 200x5x50
  • Dumbbell Curls: 70x5x15 (each arm) supersetted with:
  • Standing Barbell Curls: 150x5x15
  • Barbell Triceps Extensions: 150x5x10 supersetted with:
  • One-arm Triceps Pressdowns: 90x5x15 (each arm)
  • Barbell Preacher Curls: 100x5x10 supersetted with:
  • Seated Triceps Presses: 100x5x10
Wednesday:
  • Situps: 25x15 supersetted with:
  • Twists x 2 minutes
  • Leg Raises: 15x25
  • Squats: Sergio performed these for 20 sets, using the same technique as the bench presses on Monday and Thursday.
  • One-Leg Calf Raises: 200x20x15
Long Live The Myth
     Sergio passed from this world into the next on November 12, 2012.  Although he is no longer with us, his legend will live on, and for good reason—in my book, he was the best bodybuilder this world has ever seen.



Sources:

Mozee, Gene.  “Sergio Oliva’s Myth-Building Training Secrets”.  IronMan Magazine, June 1994

Sloan, C.S. “Monster Pump: Tips for Outrageous Muscle Growth”.  IronMan Magazine, January 1997

Zulak, Greg.  “Dips and Pushups for Big Pecs, Delts, and Triceps”.  MuscleMag International, November 1995

Lamble, Mike.  “Respect Sergio Oliva”.  MuscleMag International, October 1998

Thursday, July 16, 2015

ARMORED: Turning Arms into Meat Hooks!


Arm Specialization Training for Massive Guns
by Jared Smith
Arnold showing off his "guns" in this early '70s pic


It Begins with an Epiphany
Many of the greatest things in the world were born out of necessity. In my case, I am not speaking of an invention, but rather a method of training that would allow me to bring up a lagging muscle group by forcing me to train it more often.

I have always been of the mindset that the major lifts need to be trained often. Squats, bench presses, overhead presses, and deadlifts in all their various forms should be done as often as possible to stimulate growth throughout the entire body. One day I was squatting, as I had done a thousand times before, only this time my body decided it had done enough. A pain that felt like a rusty knife scraping across my kneecap hit me all at once. I rested and backed down the weight, thinking that perhaps it was just “wear and tear” and that a little light weight set or two may ease the pain. Upon descending with the weights, the pain rushed right back. I called it a day, and for hours my knee throbbed like an infected wisdom tooth. Soon thereafter, an MRI would reveal a partially torn quad tendon. Needless to say, I was more than a little upset. Someone telling me that it would be months before I could squat and deadlift again was something that I wasn’t fully prepared to hear. After it sank in that I was going to have to put my well being ahead of doing the things I love, I decided that if I couldn’t squat and deadlift, I was at least going to focus on something.
I had always had problems with arm development—or lack there of. My chest, back, shoulders, and legs were plenty big, but, of course, I trained them way more frequently, and I admittedly never really liked arm training. If I wasn’t moving some serious iron, I was bored. I decided that in my down time I would train my arms 3 times a week, with a different protocol each time. I sat in my room one evening and mapped out a plan to put some size on my arms and to give me my training fix until I was rehabilitated.

Putting it all Together
Although I believe that overtraining is a myth perpetuated by people with a fear of working hard on a consistent basis, there is some merit to the idea that doing the same thing too often will lead to stagnation and boredom for many. To circumvent this issue, I decided to either alternate the movements or the rep range for which they were performed. Much like the old Heavy/Light/Medium system of training, but aimed at making my arms swell to a ridiculous degree. The first day of training I would rely on heavier compound lifts such as close grip bench presses, barbell curls, skull crushers, and alternating dumbbell curls. The second day was a day consisting of mostly isolation type lifts focusing on the stretch, or semi-stretch, portion along with the contracted position. The third day was my favorite. This day called for just enough compound work to cause muscle damage, then I would engorge the muscles with blood.
The Workouts
Heavy Day: Four sets of 6-10 per exercise with a three count on the negative and an explosive positive. Rest about 2 minutes between sets.
Close Grip bench Presses
Barbell Curls
Skull Crushers
Hammer Curls
Light Day: Four sets of 12-15 per exercise with a “piston-like” tempo. Don’t get sloppy, but keep it moving. One-minute rest between sets.
Incline Dumbbell curls
Bench Dips
Concentration Curls
Overhead Dumbbell Extensions (Unli-lateral)
Medium Day:
Barbell Curls: 3x6-10 in the same style as on day one. One-minute rest between sets.
Cross-Body Hammer Curls: 3x12-15, one arm at a time. Do not rest, go from one arm to the other until all sets are completed. Use the same tempo as with day two.
Lying Overhead Cable Curls: 3x15-20. Put a flat bench in the cable station, grasp a straight (or cambered) bar overhead and curl to the crown of the skull. (The contraction from these is awesome!) 30 seconds rest between each set. Same tempo as day two.
Close Grip Bench Presses: 3x6-10 in the same style as day one.
Dumbbell Skull Crushers: 3x12-15. Keep your head near the end of the bench and really emphasize the stretch on each rep. Same tempo as with day two, with thirty seconds rest between each set.
Overhead Cable Rope Extensions: 3x15-20. Pretend you are literally trying to rip the rope apart at the top, and squeeze those tris. I prefer using the low cable to maximize the stretch. 30 seconds rest between sets, with a one second pause in the contraction and stretch positions.
Note: Two sets of wrist curls, for 20 reps, follow each workout!
On any two days between arm sessions, you will perform full body workouts. Since I was battling an injury during this time, this is what it looked like:
Leg extensions with Blood Flow restriction: 4x 30,15,15,15
Leg curls with blood flow restriction: 4x30,15,15,15
Standing calf raises: 3x8-12
Bench presses: 3x8-12
Chins: 3x max reps
Lateral Raises: 3x12-15

This is the program that got me through a tough time, and allowed me to retain the small amount of sanity I possessed from the get-go. Thankfully, I’m now squatting and deadlifting frequently again, but for anyone out there who perhaps is de-loading from a hard squat program (or if you just want your arms to swell up like friggin’ balloons) give this a try.

Finally, ask yourself this question: Why in the hell are you still sitting there, staring at this computer screen? Let’s get to the gym, and kick some ass!






Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Classic Bodybuilding: High-Volume, High-Frequency Training

     
Matthew Sloan does real bodybuilding workouts at 16 years old, and it shows!
    The other day I received an email from a reader who stumbled across my article on "Increasing Work Capacity."  Apparently, this particular gentleman had come across it while perusing some forum-or-another—in one of the many "hardcore bodybuilding forums"—that was discussing the article.  Basically, to sum it up, he took me to task for "daring" to suggest that drug-free bodybuilders could possibly perform such hard work as I suggested for the advanced lifters in my post.
     I, politely as I could, explained my reasonings.  I explained how drug-free bodybuilders could certainly work up to the amount of work I suggested and, not only survive it, but actually thrive on it.  When I was finished with my reply, I hit the "send" button, and then began to lament inwardly, thinking to myself, "Where have all the real bodybuilders gone?"
     I thought of the "old-time" bodybuilders—largely "drug free" guys—who built awesome physiques by doing far more work than I recommended in "Increasing Work Capacity".  I thought about the great bodybuilding writer George Turner, and wondered what he would think if he were still alive?
     Turner had this to say 20 years ago: "What the hell is going on in American bodybuilding?  Where have all the big guys gone?  I don't mean the steroid types who are big and strong periodically (while they're on the drugs) and then after the show stop training, and then get fat (or skinny) and try to relocate their training drive—and their nuts.  I'm talking about the real bodybuilders, the ones who are in the gym month in and month out, year after year, and who give hard, serious training all they've got.  The ones who can't imagine doing without the deep satisfaction that goes with a great, gut-busting three-hour workout.  I'm talking about the real bodybuilders who do it because they love it."
Marvin Eder - a "classic" bodybuilder who thrived on an immense amount of work

     But maybe not all is lost.  When Turner wrote those words in an IronMan magazine in 1995, Mentzer-style H.I.T. training—and its various offshoots, crap like "Power Factor Training", for instance—was all the rage.  Maybe, bodybuilders such as the one who wrote me not withstanding, there are guys nowadays who are ready for the kind of real training that Turner and other old-timers thrived on.
     What kind of workouts am I talking about?  Here are the kind of workouts that Turner said top bodybuilders used back in the '40s and '50s when, contrary to what many these days may think, bodybuilders trained much harder than the ones nowadays:
     "Consider Roy Ledas and Buddy Pryor doing endless seated presses with 125-pound dumbbells when neither one of them weighed more than 170, or Doug Strahl and George Sheffield working out for 5 hours a day, 6 days a week.  I remember the New Yorkers Lou Degni, Marvin Eder, and my buddy Dominic Juliani training Monday through Friday in the gym and on Sunday doing chins and dips on the beach for endless sets of up to 50 reps (that's right, 50 reps) and Chuck Ahrens training arms and shoulders for 4 hours, 3 times a week, and doing standing triceps French presses for 5 or 6 reps with a 315-pound Olympic bar.
     "At the time, I trained everything from the abs down for 54 sets on one day and my entire upper body for 90 sets the following day, often working out 10 or 11 days in a row before instinctively taking a day off.  It was nothing out of the ordinary.  I was training at about the same level as every other real bodybuilder.  We were used to it, as we worked up to it for years.  We didn't have to take something to make us want to train.  We loved it!  Now, I hear about people hitting one bodypart per day, taking a week to work the entire body.  What kind of bullshit is that?  Get in condition for crying out loud; don't get everything out of a syringe."
The aforementioned "buddy" of George Turner—Domini Juliani

     For those of you wondering what it might take to get in the sort of condition Turner was talking about, you could begin by following my advice in the "Increasing Work Capacity" article.  Here are my recommendations from that post:


     The best form of full-body, three-days-per-week training for the beginner, is the Heavy-Light-Medium program.  I’m not going to go into all of the details here, as there are plenty of posts and/or articles on this blog where I highlight what a good full-body, H-L-M workout should look like.  What I do want to touch upon, however, is how you increase workload using the H-L-M system.  At first, the most obvious thing that needs to occur is you need to get stronger.  Strength should readily increase using H-L-M when you are doing it properly.  You should not add sets, add extra exercises, or increase the time of your workout in any other fashion if you have not increased your strength.  However, once you have been on the program for several months – and are noticeably stronger – at this point you do want to increase sets and/or add extra exercises.  Begin by adding sets.  After that, you can add exercises.  And then, finally, you can even add an extra day of training by adding another “light” day.

Now, let’s look at what an H-L-M program should look like as you increase your workload over a year or two of training.  Here is what a typical beginning program should look like:
Heavy Day:
Squats – 5 sets of 5 reps
Bench presses – 5 sets of 5 reps
Deadlifts – 5 sets of 5 reps
Barbell Curls – 3 sets of 8 reps
Ab work
Light Day:
Squats – 5 sets of 5 reps
Overhead Presses – 5 sets of 5 reps
Good Mornings – 5 sets of 5 reps
Ab Work
Medium Day:
Squats – 5 sets of 5 reps
Incline Bench Presses – 5 sets of 5 reps
Power Cleans – 5 sets of 5 reps
Dumbbell Curls – 3 sets of 12 reps
Ab work

After a few months of training, and assuming significant gains in strength have occurred, the program should look something like this:
Heavy Day:
Squats – 5 sets of 5 reps, 2 sets of 8 reps
Bench presses – 5 sets of 5 reps, 2 sets of 8 reps
Deadlifts – 5 sets of 5 reps, 2 sets of 8 reps
Barbell Curls – 5 sets of 8 reps
Ab work
Light Day:
Squats – 5 sets of 5 reps
Overhead Presses – 5 sets of 5 reps, 2 sets of 8 reps
Good Mornings – 5 sets of 5 reps
Ab Work
Medium Day:
Squats – 5 sets of 5 reps, 2 sets of 8 reps
Incline Bench Presses – 5 sets of 5 reps, 2 sets of 8 reps
Power Cleans – 8 sets of 5 reps
Dumbbell Curls – 5 sets of 12 reps
Ab work

After a few more months of training, the template should look something like this:
Heavy Day:
Squats – 5 sets of 5 reps, 2 sets of 8 reps
Walking lunges – 4 sets of 10 reps
Bench presses – 5 sets of 5 reps, 2 sets of 8 reps
Weighted Dips – 4 sets of 8 reps
Deadlifts – 5 sets of 5 reps, 2 sets of 8 reps
Barbell Curls – 5 sets of 8 reps
Ab work
Light Day:
Squats – 5 sets of 5 reps, 2 sets of 8 reps
Overhead Presses – 5 sets of 5 reps, 2 sets of 8 reps
Good Mornings – 5 sets of 5 reps
Ab Work
Medium Day:
Squats – 5 sets of 5 reps, 2 sets of 8 reps
Front Squats – 4 sets of 10 reps
Incline Bench Presses – 5 sets of 5 reps, 2 sets of 8 reps
Flat Dumbbell Bench Presses – 4 sets of 8 reps
Power Cleans – 8 sets of 5 reps
Dumbbell Curls – 5 sets of 12 reps
Ab work

And, once again, after a few more months of training, the lifting template should look something like this:
Heavy Day:
Squats – 5 sets of 5 reps, 2 sets of 8 reps
Walking lunges – 4 sets of 10 reps
Bench presses – 5 sets of 5 reps, 2 sets of 8 reps
Weighted Dips – 4 sets of 8 reps
Deadlifts – 5 sets of 5 reps, 2 sets of 8 reps
Weighted Chins – 5 sets of 5 reps, 2 sets of max reps
Barbell Curls – 5 sets of 8 reps
Skullcrushers – 5 sets of 8 reps
Ab work
Light Day:
Squats – 5 sets of 5 reps, 2 sets of 8 reps
Bulgarian “split” squats – 4 sets of 12 reps (each leg)
Overhead Presses – 5 sets of 5 reps, 2 sets of 8 reps
Seated behind-the-neck presses – 4 sets of 8 reps
Power Snatches – 5 sets of 3 reps
Good Mornings – 5 sets of 5 reps
Ab Work
Medium Day:
Squats – 5 sets of 5 reps, 2 sets of 8 reps
Front Squats – 4 sets of 10 reps
Incline Bench Presses – 5 sets of 5 reps, 2 sets of 8 reps
Flat Dumbbell Bench Presses – 4 sets of 8 reps
Deficit deadlifts – 5 sets of 5 reps, 2 sets of 8 reps
Power Cleans – 8 sets of 5 reps
Dumbbell Curls – 5 sets of 12 reps
Ab work

And, finally, after a few more months, you will once again need to increase the amount of work you’re performing.  At this point, your workout should look something like this:
Heavy Day:
Squats – 8 sets of 5 reps, 4 sets of 8 reps
Walking lunges – 4 sets of 10 reps
Bench presses – 8 sets of 5 reps, 4 sets of 8 reps
Weighted Dips – 4 sets of 8 reps
Deadlifts – 8 sets of 5 reps, 4 sets of 8 reps
Weighted Chins – 7 sets of 5 reps, 2 sets of max reps
Barbell Curls – 5 sets of 8 reps
Skullcrushers – 5 sets of 8 reps
Ab work
Light Day:
Squats – 5 sets of 5 reps, 2 sets of 8 reps
Bulgarian “split” squats – 6 sets of 12 reps (each leg)
Overhead Presses – 8 sets of 5 reps, 2 sets of 8 reps
Seated behind-the-neck presses – 4 sets of 8 reps
Power Snatches – 8 sets of 3 reps
Good Mornings – 5 sets of 5 reps
Ab Work
Medium Day:
Squats – 8 sets of 5 reps, 4 sets of 8 reps
Front Squats – 4 sets of 10 reps
Incline Bench Presses – 8 sets of 5 reps, 4 sets of 8 reps
Flat Dumbbell Bench Presses – 4 sets of 8 reps
Deficit deadlifts – 8 sets of 5 reps, 4 sets of 8 reps
Power Cleans – 8 sets of 5 reps
Dumbbell Curls – 7 sets of 12 reps
Ab work