When we left off in part one, we were discussing how cycle training is our best approach. Cycle training allows you to avoid injury, avoid plateaus, train all muscle fibers for maximum growth, and stay mentally stimulated (just to name a few). I use a three phase system - Strength and Growth Phase, Muscle Stimulation Phase, and Fat Burning Phase. No matter what phase I am in or what the priority of the phase may be, one thing remains constant - the overload principle.
My Ultimate Cycle Training System always starts with a pivotal Strength and Growth Phase. Whether you train using a cycle training approach or not, the principles behind my Strength and Growth Phase should be respected and followed at some point in your training. Let's take a look at the principles behind this phase:
Principle #1 - Do not train for more than an hour, 30-40 minutes being the optimal length. It is scientifically proven that this shorter duration training maximizes your hormonal spikes. Training any longer is going to increase your secretion of cortisol, a catabolic hormone. Your routines also need to have a "sprint-like" quality to them to maintain maximum intensity. If you train too long you are going to pace yourself, whether that be consciously or subconsciously. No matter what phase I am in, I try not to go over the one hour mark.
Principle #2 - Train only 1 to 2 major muscle groups in a workout. This allows you to take advantage of Principle #1, yet still take a multi-angle/multi-exercise approach to training your bodyparts. It has psychological benefits, as well. You are more apt to pour more into your workouts if you know you are only hitting one or two muscle groups in a given workout. Note: if you are only able to get to the gym 3 times a week, then this principle is obviously obsolete.
Principle #3 - Do no more than 8-10 total heavy sets per muscle group. I will tell you right now, this is generous. Honestly if you are pouring maximum intensity into your workouts, you probably won't need much more than 6 heavy sets. The stronger and more experienced you are, the less you will need. Also, with the given rest periods that will be prescribed, this is about all you could accomplish in the recommended time frame. Note: "Heavy" sets do not include warm-up sets.
Principle #4 - Do 4 to 6 reps per muscle group. This is the heart and soul of the Strength and Growth Phase. It is one of the Principles that separates it from other phases. For you to get the most muscle growth possible, you want to attack the muscle fibers that have the most growth potential - - your white, fast-twitched muscle fibers. Any other fiber has minimal growth potential in comparison and it is scientifically documented that the way to hit these white fibers is with a heavy weight in a 4 to 6 rep range. Also, any higher rep range is going to draw excess lactate into the muscle, thus fatiguing the muscle. Remember... overload builds muscle, not fatigue. If you are constantly pulling lactate into the muscle, you will hinder your performance and shortchange your overload. Lastly, the added benefit of the 4 to 6 rep range is the "focus" element. It is a lot easier to put forth 100% mental intensity into a set that lasts 15-20 seconds than a set that would last double that time.
Principle #5 - Rest 2 to 3 minutes between sets. Another element critical to the Strength and Growth Phase. A scientifically proven aspect of performance is that it can take anywhere from 90 seconds to 3 minutes for your Krebs's cycle to recover maximally, depending on the muscle being worked, the amount of weight used, and the exercise being performed. Again, if you do not fully recover between sets you are going to compromise your next set performance. Thus, in turn, would shortchange your overload on your target muscle. Optimal rest-time between sets in a Strength and Growth Phase would be 2 1/2 minutes, so set your stopwatches.
Principle #6 - Train each muscle once every 5 to 7 days. It has been shown time and time again that a muscle can take up to 9 days to fully recover from a heavy, high-intensity workout. Get this straight if you don't already know it...WE DO NOT GROW IN THE GYM! Our lifting is just the stimulus for muscle growth. The recovery process is where the muscle responds by growing stronger and bigger, readying itself for future stress. If you do not allow full and complete recovery of your muscles, you will impede your growth and soon venture into the realm of overtraining.
Now that I have laid out the principles of Strength and Growth for you, you are probably asking yourself what a typical routine would look like. Below is one that I have used myself as well as with my personal training clients with great success. This routine is a great template for all of you to start with in your quest for MAXIMUM MUSCLE STIMULATION AND FAT LOSS!
Mondays - Legs - Squats (4 warm-up sets) 3 x 4-6, Leg Press (1 acclimation set) 2 x 4-6, Stiff leg Dead lifts (1 acclimation set) 2 x 4-6, Standing Calf Raise (2-3 warm-up sets) 3 x 6-8, Seated Calf Raise 2 x 6-8
Tuesdays - Chest and Forearms - Incline Bench Press (4 warm-up sets) 3 x 4-6, Bench Press 3 x 4-6, Decline Press 1 x 4-6, Barbell Wrist Curl (1 warm-up) 2 x 8-10, Standing Dumbbell Wrist Curls 2 x 6-8
Wednesdays - Back and Traps - Bent Rows (3-4 warm-ups) 2 x 4-6, V-bar Pull downs 2 x 4-6, Weighted Pull-ups 2 x 4-6, Straight-bar Cable Rows 1 x 4-6, Dead lifts (2-3 warm-ups) 2 x 4-6, Barbell Shrugs 1 x 4-6
Thursdays - Shoulders and Triceps - Seated Dumbbell Press (4 warm-ups) 3 x 4-6, Seated Military Press 2 x 4-6, Side Laterals (1 acclimation set) 2 x 4-6, Lying Extensions (1-2 warm-up sets) 2 x 4-6, Pushdowns 2 x 4-6, Seated Overhead Dumbbell Extensions 1 x 4-6
Fridays - Biceps and Abs - Barbell Curls (4 warm-up sets) 2 x 4-6, Hammer Curls 2 x 4-6, E-Z Bar Curls 1 x 4-6, Weighted Leg Lifts (1 warm-up set) 2 x 12-15, Cable Crunches 2 x 8-10
There you have it. All of the whats and whys to get you started onto new and fast muscle growth. Tune in next time when I will show you how to eat for Maximum Weight Loss. In the meantime, train hard!
Copyright 2006 James Cipriani
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