Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Your New Program Split

Today we'll discuss the split that is to be followed for this program.

The program, as well as being based around accumulating more and more volume but without exceeding your recovery abilities, also has a few "sub' principles.

They are:
  • frequency
  • concentrated loading
  • neural charge workouts
  • eccentric less training

As a general training rule, the higher the intensity you work at, the less frequent you can do such as back squat 1 rep max attempts. On the flip side though the less intensity you work at, the more frequently you can do it such as walking.

The High Performance Mass program relies on using a lot of volume at high intensity with high frequency. Normally one might use 1 of these principles and not do it right so it's a delicate set of scales to balance.

Initially the program prescribes you to train most 4 of your 5 lifts 3/week using a load that is about 80% of your max for 11 - 16 sets per exercise per workout. In week 3 you get all the way up to 38 sets per session and couple that with assistance work (which we haven't touched on yet) and you could be looking at 70 odd sets (which I did!!) per workout.

Here's the proposed schedule:

Mon - Upper Body Pressing x 3 exercises, Lower Body Pressing x 1 exercise
Tue - Upper Body Pressing x 3 exercises, Lower Body Pressing x 1 exercise
Wed - Neural Charge Workout / Eccentric Less Training
Thu - Lower Body Pressing x 3 exercises, Upper Body Pressing x 1 exercise
Fri - Lower Body Pressing x 2 exercises, Upper Body Pressing x 1 exercise
Sat - Lats and Biceps (again not touched on yet)
Sun - Neural Charge Workout / Eccentric Less Training

Concentrated Loading

You'll see that on Mon and Tue you do all 3 upper body pressing exercises 2 days in a row but settle down, we're not going over train here! The focus of the concentrated loading is to really up the volume for the upper body pressing exercises early in the week and then drop it back later in the week. For the lower body we use the concentrated loading in the second part of the week with lower volume early in the week.

The frequency and concentrated loading principles are the wheels that make this program go around so it is ESSENTIAL that you choose the right wt or you won't even make week 3. And through all of this, you've still got to remember that you HAVE to avoid any grinding reps!!

Now just quickly on exercise selection, for upper body pressing you want to use 1 shoulder press movement, 1 incline or flat bench press movement and 1 flat or decline bench press movement for a total of 3 upper body pressing movements. For lower body you basically want to choose 1 squat and 1 deadlift variation and you'll stick with those exercise for as many cycles as you can.

So now your week might look like this:

Mon - Military Press, Incline Press, Bench Press, Back Squat
Tue - Military Press, Incline Press, Bench Press, Deadlifts
Wed - Neural Charge / Eccentric Less Training
Thu - Back Squats, Deadlifts, Military Press
Fri - Back Squats, Deadlifts, Incline Press
Sat - Lats and Biceps

Now depending on you past training methods and experience you may need to work up to this exact split and I have even tinkered with it to fit my schedule and limitations better.

Neural Charge Workouts

The central nervous system is what puts the breaks on your training. When you do that last bench press rep and its taking 10secs to reach lockout, that's the nervous system failing you right there. This is one of the reasons why training to failure is not a good idea. If you do it on your 1st exercise then the rest of your workout will suffer, especially as you push to use heavier weights for the other exercises.

Neural Charge workouts are simply 3 - 5 exercises circuits that use fast, explosive movements or exercises performed explosively for 3 - 5 reps specifically aimed at ramping up your nervous system when it feel a little drained, so filling up your petrol tank so to speak. These can be used at anytime you like - before workouts as a warm up when you feel sluggish, on off days to prepare the nervous system for the next days workout and even in the am before a pm training session.

A sample workout may be:

Supine Medicine Ball Toss x 5 reps
Tuck Jump x 5 reps
Inverted Row for speed x 5 reps
Plyometric Push Up on a bench x 5 reps
10m Sprint
x 4 - 6 circuits

10mins and you're done!

Eccentric Less Training

For those with ectomorphic body types, this could be your holy grail. Each exercise has a concentric / muscle shortening contraction and an eccentric / muscle lengthening contraction. It's the eccentric contractions that make you sore and run down so to keep accumulating volume we need to use that exercises that eliminate it and thus eccentric less training is born!

What this also needs is that you need to get your innovative hat on and find something that you can use as a sled which will enable you drag weights. I use a milk crate or 2 connected by chain and filled with weights for the sled with a TRX attached for the handles and it works a treat. It can also act as a prowler but it's nowhere near as good as a proper one like the picture at the top of this post.

I will try and post a video of my make shift crate sled too.

Eccentric Less Training can also be used at any time as they are very easy on the nervous system and thus won't tap into your recovery abilities. A stated for those with skinner body types who have a hard time increasing and maintaining muscle mass, this should be a staple of your training as usually it's these same people whose recovery abilities aren't as great.

Remember to leave a comment to go into the running to win a copy of the Aussie Rules Training Off Season Training Manual for the month of January.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Baby Boy

Yesterday we celebrated the arrival of Archie Robin Lange, and the number 1 pick in the 2028 AFL Draft.

So now you know what's been taking up my time.

If you read my post a few posts ago, I mentioned that you can win a FREE copy of the Aussie Rules Training Off Season Training Manual by simply leaving a comment.

I will run this for the entire month of January too so comment away!

Anyway its time for part 3 of my new training method I'm using at the moment that is providing me with nothing short of superb upper body muscle gains (I'm prioritising upper body).

Today we'll talk about your schedule from week to week.

Last post we discussed how to calculate your max training weight which is the highest weight you'll use for 1 cycle of the program for a given exercise and also the set progression.

I have also made a correction to the last post where for the upper body, your max training weight is 87.5% of your 3 rep max but for the lower body we use 80% of your 3 rep max. I missed this on my 1st cycle and it almost killed me.

One of the most, if not the most, important principles of this program is the accumulation of volume. As we're only increasing weight every 3 weeks then we need to do more volume with out current weight to maximise muscle gains.

So for week 1 we do what was outlines in my last post.

For week 2 you do the exact same progression from week 1 except that you'll add some more sets in your max training zone.

So after you've performed the 5 max training zone sets, then you simply stay with the progression for an extra 3 sets like this:

Set 1 - 32.5kgs x 3 reps
Set 2 - 37.5kgs x 3 reps
Set 3 - 45kgs x 3 reps
Set 4 - 52.5kgs x 3 reps
Set 5 - 60kgs x 3 reps
Set 6 - 65kgs x 3 reps
Set 7 - 60kgs x 3 reps
Set 8 - 62.5kgs x 3 reps
Set 9 - 65kgs x 3 reps
Set 10 - 60kgs x 3 reps

Now add on these:

Set 11 - 62.5kgs x 3 reps
Set 12 - 65kgs x 3 reps
Set 13 - 60kgs x 3 reps

Now week 3 is exactly the same as week 2 but again we add 3 more sets in the max training zone the same way as we did in week 2:

Set 14 - 62.5kgs x 3 reps
Set 15 - 65kgs x 3 reps
Set 16 - 60kgs x 3 reps

You can now see why we don't want to increase the weight during this program as you end up doing 6 more sets in your max training zone from week 1 to week 3.

Try this out for the next 2 weeks and let me know how you go with it.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Your New Training Method

Last post we discussed my new method that I have adopted from Christian Thibaudeau and now I'll let you know how to use it.

If you remember I asked you to find your 3 rep max for military presses, incline presses and bench presses but only counting the sets where the speed and acceleration of the movement is maintained from the fist set to the last set.

Now that we have those 3 rep max numbers I now want you to calculate 87.5% of that 3 rep max. So if your 3 rep max is 75kgs:

75 x .875 = 65kgs

NOTE: for lower body exercises, use 80% of your 3 rep max.

65kgs is your max training weight which you will not exceed during your first 6 week cycle. For some this may take some discipline but we're looking at performing 2 - 3 times the volume you have in the past as far as sets per week is concerned. The trade off for high intensity (load) is low volume and vice versa.

From your 3 rep max now calculate 60% of that:

66 x .5 = 32.5kgs.

32.5kgs is the load you'll start with for your 1st set.

From here you want to work out 6 even jumps for each set that you ramp up, it doesn't need to be perfect but get it as close as you can.

Set 1 - 32.5kgs x 3 reps
Set 2 - 37.5kgs x 3 reps
Set 3 - 45.5kgs x 3 reps
Set 4 - 52.5kgs x 3 reps
Set 5 - 60kgs x 3 reps
Set 6 - 65kgs x 3 reps

Set 6 is your first max training zone set which is basically your working sets.

From here you want to perform all of your max training zone/work sets at 90 - 95% of your max training weight (65kgs) your next 6 sets will look like this:

Set 7 - 60kgs x 3 reps
Set 8 - 62.5kgs x 3 reps
Set 9 - 65 kgs x 3 reps
Set 10 - 60kgs x 3 reps

For set 10, we finish with the lighter max training zone weight where you really want to blow that rep out of the water.

So that is how most of the exercises are done when performed on their own but all upper body pressing movements, military, incline and bench press, are all trained on the same day.

Now we have already activated the nervous system through our neural ramping of the military press so for the next 2 exercises we simply want to do the last 5 sets in the max training zone, such as above for the military press.

So as we have already done, calculate 87.5% of your incline and bench press 3 rep max and do the following:

Set 1 - your max training weight x 3 reps
Set 2 - 5pds less then your max training weight x 3 reps
Set 3 - 2.5pds less then your max training weight x 3 reps
Set 4 - max training weight x 3 reps
Set 5 - 5pds less then your max training weight x 3 reps

And repeat for the bench press.

Try this out and notice how you feel at the end of your workout and make sure you're fully charged nutritionally prior.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

My Training

As I'm still unsure about footy this year, at least official footy (I played rec link last year which I'll probably do again regardless and use it for training) I haven't done much running, or any actually.

I was doing some sprints in October last year but we went on holiday and I never picked it back up when I got back.

Today I'll give a quick rundown at what I'm what doing training wise at the moment.

At the end of last year I came off a controlled overtraining strength focused program which really got my numbers up (increased back squat 20kgs or so) but was hard to keep motivated for loading myself up each and every session. It was still a good program though and it did work.

Before I went away on holiday I read an article on t-nation that described a non-traditional way of training and it was something I wanted to try. I actually posted on it here.

The author Christian Thibaudeau released another article on this method here, here and here.

The basis of the program is not the actual program but the principles of the method he uses.

The major principle is that you should aim to perform as much high quality work as you can without a decrease in performance and also without exceeding your recovery abilities.

As most people train the opposite way to this, I'll explain what this means exactly.

High Quality Work - each rep that you perform in the gym should be performed as quick and as close to perfect technique as you can. Go to the gym tomorrow and I bet in 10 seconds you'll see 10 people grinding out reps at snail pace, doing lat pulldowns with their backs parallel to the floor or god forbid, this:

Each and every rep should be explosive and each rep should be the same from the first rep of the workout to the last rep of the workout.

A Decrease in Performance - piggy backing off performing a high quality of work, a decrease in performance can then be specifically described as:

  • any rep that is less explosive one then the one before it
  • any rep that encounters a sticking point at any point of the range of motion
  • any rep that requires a change in technique to complete a rep
This requires diligent self assessment to ensure that you are not entering these zones what so ever and stopping before that point is a lot better then going just over it.

Without Exceeding Your Recovery Abilities

Again a lot of people train using high volume programs go to failure at all costs programs that are found in those dodgy, supplement company funded muscle magazines, the same programs that their 'assisted" sponsored bodybuilders use. Anabolic steroids allow you to recover faster and thus train more often with greater intensity. This is obviously not ideal for us "unassisted" gym goers.

What is a given is that high volume builds muscle but the higher volume you use, the less intensity, or load, you can use each session to stay off the overtraining path. You'll more often overtrain from excessive volume then excessive intensity too.

What this means is that you need to stay away from extremely heavy weight and especially avoid failure of any kind during your training. If you go to failure on Monday then the rest of your week is basically is gone as far as making progress is concerned.

In the 4 weeks I've been using training by these principles, I have seen unprecedented growth in my upper body which should be gold to your ears with summer right on top of us, not to mention footy just a few short months away.

Here's what I want you to do.

For your next upper body session (and make it after a day of complete rest) I want you to do just 3 main exercises, military press, incline press and bench press.

Starting at something that will be around 50% of your military press 3 rep max, do sets of 3 increasing 2.5kgs in total (1.25kgs each side) per set until you max out at 3 reps. Remember to not let the speed of the movement decrease or your technique to change.

Once you reach your 3 rep max on military presses, move to incline bench presses and start at the weight that you finished with on the military presses. Again do sets of 3 reps with maximum acceleration, increasing 2.5kgs each set until you hit your 3 rep max for them then do the same for bench presses starting at the weight you finished at on the incline presses.

This may take a lot of sets depending on how bad you guess your starting weight but that's fine, once we get your ending point, we can plan out the amount of sets we need each session.

In between each set of pressing I want you to stagger 1 set of a back rowing or upper back movement for muscle balance. Some suggestions are db chest supported rows, rear delt raises, face pulls, scarecrows and seated rows. Do these for 6 - 8 reps per set opting for a 8 - 9/10 effort level, not maximum. You'll use 3 exercises and stagger 1 with military presses, 1 with incline presses and 1 with bench presses.

In a couple of days I'll outline what we do with your 3 rep max for military, incline and bench presses to improve your upper body more in a month than you have in your life.

If you have any queries on this, please leave a comment.