In response to the question about my training methods. That 4 month on-off thing was just an example to show how to mix up programs. 4 months may actually be a bit long to keep a program, unless you're just beginning. 3 months per program may be a good goal, or even two if you just halt progress quickly.
Let's use a 9 month cycle as an example. This little 'routine' or set of routines takes a full 9 months of commitment. Or you can try just one of the three month cycles. Oh, also, take a solid week off between each three month cycle. Good luck.
For the first 3 months, we'll use periodization. Why start with periodization? Well, here's the reason. To get bigger muscles, you have to cause microtrauma and have your body overcompensate in the healing process. Let's use some common sense here. A guy does eight reps on bench press with 225 pounds. Another guy does eight reps on bench press with 315 pounds. They both use the same tempo, same TUT, same form, same everything except weight. Who has done more work? Guy #2, of course. If we were to organize the cycles like this:
HIT - Volume - Periodization
We would be working on mass, mass, strength. Sure, that would work. You'd get some mass, and at the end of the cycles, you'd probably be strong too. But let's do it this way:
Periodization - Volume - HIT
This way you have gained that strength FIRST, and can use heavier poundages during your mass phases, which will equate to more mass. Have you ever seen a guy benching 405 that wasn't pretty big? I have, but it's rare. Especially for a natural guy, to be really big, you're going to have to be pretty strong too.
Now that I've said that crap, let's look at how the routine(s) would go:
This is a method of building strength (and mass) by plugging your 1RM (or 3RM, 6RM, whatever) into a formula and getting a list of poundages and reps to use for a set period of time. It's not hard to find periodization routines on the net. I suggest you look for one that is a hybrid of bodybuilding/powerlifting, not just powerlifting. Many powerlifting periodization routines are going to have you doing partials, chain work, band work, etc. These are all EXCELLENT ways to build strength, but if you don't have a solid base already, it's not really the way to go. Find a simple routine that focuses on the BENCH, one that focuses on the SQUAT, and then I'll explain the third day later. You will workout 3 or 4 times per week, okay?
MONDAY: BENCH DAY
WEDNESDAY: SQUAT DAY
FRIDAY: CHIN DAY
SATURDAY: OFF (or Assistance)
If you want to workout 4 times a week, throw a small (yes, a small) workout in on Saturday that will use muscles that you don't target well the other days (traps, calves, abs, forearms, etc). YOU DO NOT NEED A DEADLIFT DAY!! Your deadlift will work the same muscles as your squat (with a little different priorities). Your lower back SHOULD get plenty of work with the SQUAT DAY, but if you need more, do it on Assistance Day (Saturday). You will not find a CHINS periodization routine (that I know of). It's hard. What you should do is determine your 1RM or 3RM or whatever you did for your bench, and then plug the same percentages in for chins. You'll most likely have to use the pulldown machine for a while. That's alright, but the sooner you move into freeweight chins, the better. On bench day, you will do your bench routine, and do some tricep/chest/delt work. Be moderate, not too much! Your bench should be hard enough that you'll be pretty tapped by the time you're done. Do some lateral raises, DB flyes, and triceps extensions. That's it. For chins day, do your chin workout (will be hard!!!), some rows, some curls, and that's it! For squat day, do your squat workout then leg press, stiff-legged deadlifts, and that's it! Squat full depth, people!!! No half squats! Full squats will work your quads, hams, glutes, and yes, even your calves (mainly soleus). Do your periodization routine for the 12 weeks (or 8, or 16, whichever it says), then move to volume training.
This will be easy compared with the 12 weeks of hell you just went through. Your days:
SATURDAY: Calves, abs, forearms
Yeah, there's gonna be some volume. Before I lay out the routine, here's something to know. If you get overtrained, first thing to do is take out Saturday. Make it a rest day. You can either stick each muscle group on a different day, or just leave them alone. Your abs will be alright, so will your calves and forearms. Notice that there is alot of crossover for your arms. This is intentional. After a 3 month period of neglecting direct arm work, your arms are going to be quite responsive to this training.
Chest/back: Keep two heavy compounds for each bodypart (ex. bench press, DB bench, pullups, bent-over rows). Do at least 3 sets for each of these. Keep one or two isolation movements (DB Flyes, One-Arm DB Rows, etc.) and do at least 3 sets for each of those. That brings you to at least 18 sets in the workout, probably more.
Legs: Hell, just destroy them. You only have one leg day, so make it worthwhile. Squat your ass off (4 sets), leg press your ass off (4 sets), stiff-legged deadlift your ass off (4 sets), then do isolation exercises (3 ext, 3 curls) till you need a wheelchair. You'll have around 18 sets again.
Arms: Get three exercises for biceps, three for triceps. Suggested (EZ-bar curls, Alternating DB curl, Hammer-bar Curl, Triceps Extensions, Close-grip bench, Triceps Pressdowns). Do three sets for your first two exercises, then two for your last. Total of 16 sets.
Shoulders: DB Press (3 sets), Front Military Press (3 sets), Upright rows (3 sets), Lateral Raises (3 sets), DB Shrugs (3 sets). That's 15 sets.
People make the mistake of going to failure all the time in volume training! DON'T!!! Go to failure in your first exercise on the last set! (Bench press, chins, barbell curls, tri extensions, squats, shoulder press of somekind). DO NOT go to failure any other time if you can help it! Yeah, you won't feel demolished like you do when training with super intensity, but this volume will trash you enough! MAKE SURE YOU GET PLENTY OF SLEEP AND NUTRITION!!!
There are lots of HIT routines out there. You can find them easily, check http://www.cyberpump.com for some good ones. I will give you a split, though. Do an ABBREVIATED routine, not the full body. Full body is death! It's never worked for me (I use way too much intensity to last for long after squats, bench, chins, etc). Split your week like this:
You should notice that crossover has been minimized in this routine. There is little to no crossover in the days. You will train each bodypart once a week, HARD. Keep volume low, intensity HIGH, and bust your ass in the gym like no other. Keep our three core exercises in the program again (bench, squat, chins). Go at it!
I hope this has shown you how to mix up routines. If you need anything else, post below.
Hey, Cobra thats for writing a post that actually makes sense!
Up to this point the only training cycles I have been doing are powerlifter/bodybuilder routines.
I am going to try your routines but I just have one question:
What are the rep ranges one should do for each of the three different training cycles?
Well, for the periodization routine, the reps and sets will be laid out for you. The reps will probably be no greater than 6 and no less than 1. For the volume training, I suggest using around 8 reps (6-10). Maybe a little lower than 8 for upper body, a bit more than 8 for lower body. For HIT training, it's going to vary widely. I like to go VERY heavy during HIT training, so I'd do a set where I can get maybe 5 by myself and then have a spotter do some forced reps. The HIT training is going to vary widely enough that you can get anywhere within sensible rep ranges. Hope this helps.
Hey Cobra, thanks for the help. I had a few questions:
Do you know of any sites off hand that can help? Or what key words should I do a search underThis is a method of building strength (and mass) by plugging your 1RM (or 3RM, 6RM, whatever) into a formula and getting a list of poundages and reps to use for a set period of time. It's not hard to find periodization routines on the net.
As well, on the volume training cycle, is it possible to cut down the routine to a three day split or does that defeat the purpose? I was thinking along the lines of this
Sunday - Chest/Back
And finally, throughout your routine, you seem to downplay the importance of the deadlift. Is that your opinion or do most people follow this theory? I only say this because I feel that the deadlift can do wonders for someone who is trying to build mass and gain strength. You've replaced the deadlift with chinups which I would agree is very taxing on your body. I've always assumed that the deadlift was a full body excercise that hits a lot of muscles but mainly upper body muscles. What's your take?
Anyhow, thanks for the suggestions and the help. I will do a little research on my own and see if there's anymore questions. In the meantime, I think I'll try this routine after I finish my current one.
Cobra, This type of training makes sense to me. I realy don't think there is one untimate routine. For myself I adjust to a new training routine very quickly so I have to change it quite often. I'm just coming off of volume training and going to a peroidization I found a good one at musclemedia.com. I've never tried HIT but I may in the near future.
Excellent post, Cobra. I like your philosophy - and you lay things out nicely.
Bluenoser, what do you mean by 'adjust'.
Remember, progression is your key.
Thanks for the feedback, guys. Hope the ideas help you out. For some good periodization routines, just search "periodization". You should find some stuff. Routines from Ed Coan, Shawn Phillips and a couple others are great for basic training. I'd stay away from the westside training (look at the routine, not going to be for you, probably). I use many westside principles, but I should note that I am a much better powerlifter than bodybuilder. I weigh alot and have plenty of muscle, but I just plain don't like contest prep. Periodization routines aren't hard to find.
As to the question about deadlifts. Deadlifts are a touchy subject. Lord yes, they add mass and power like crazy. But I really don't see the need to do squats and deadlifts at the same time (unless you're volume training and have huge balls). If you're squatting hard enough, then you shouldn't have any energy for deadlifts. And no, deadlifts are not primarily an upperbody exercise, especially if you do them right. Yes, your upperbody will stabilize and work to get the bar in the right position, but your lower body is the main target. The deadlift is primarily a lower-body exercise (glutes, quads, hams, and your lower back). If you're squatting, you probably don't need to deadlift. If you're deadlifting, you may want to nix the squatting for a bit. If you can do both and recover sufficiently then you're either taking a ****load of time between workouts, or you're not working hard enough on one of them. One reason I don't recommend deadlifts for reps is because as you deadlift your form will usually go to heck. Especially with unexperienced trainees. Deadlifting for reps has its place, but I prefer squatting. It's easier to keep form in squat reps than deadlift reps. Bad deadlift form is not a good thing. You really have to sit back and pull, not just 'lift it off the ground'. I've put chins in instead of the traditional deadlift day because this is geared toward bodybuilders, not the powerlifter. If you only squat and bench, you're neglecting your mid and upper back muscles a good bit. Even if you deadlift and bench, you're still neglecting your middle back muscles somewhat. The chin, bench, and squat together will work 99.9% of your muscles, and that was the goal.
For the question about volume training, I say stick with the 4 days. Your legs should have a day to themselves. If you're training them hard, you won't feel like doing anything else after legs. Also, I think the shoulders are a much neglected muscle in most bodybuilders. Alot of people just throw some shrugs and lateral raises in after a chest workout and expect shoulder growth. If you want to enhance your look tremendously, get some big shoulders.
Hey Cobra..thanks. I appreciate the advice. Keep up the good stuff.
I adapt to a routine very quickly and my gains drop fast.I have always been a hard gainer ever when I use to compete in Powerlifting,I always had small gains in strength over long peroids of time. I realize now that I over trained back then, 7 years ago. Peoples understanding of lifting has come along way even in the past 5 years.
What works for you may not always work for someone else. I feel the only true way of finding out what works for each individual person is time and pratice trying different routines until you find out what your body needs in order for it to grow. This process takes years, Not to go without saying that a person cannot make great gains in a short period of time , but in order to get truely huge you have to spend a considerable amount of time getting to know your body.
Great post Cobra. Going to give a chance to this program. Agree with you Bluenoser too. You need YEARS of training to really know your body. Trial and error is the name of the game.
And remember, LISTEN to your body.
Keep pumping !