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Strength Training for Muscle

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When I first got into bodybuilding I developed a program that was intended to carry me through my first year to establish a "year one baseline". It has ended up being a permanent fixture in my training, as well as the foundation for all of my clients` programs as well.


It is based on 4 13 week "phases". 12 weeks of training,1 week of recover/recoup/whatever you`ll call it (I like to call it CNS deprogramming LOL). For the very new trainee, the first two weeks is reserved for anatomical adaptation training. I`ll illustrate the program for the experienced trainer:


weeks 1 - 4: Setting baselines, establishing your foundation. Basic, compound lifts to build a strength base and strengthen joints, and to build a frame of skeletal muscle stimulation. Heavier lifts, fewer reps (6 to 8, generally), more rest between sets. This is also where anatomical issues like biomechanics and injuries will identify themselves.


Weeks 5 - 8: Evaluate your goals, refine the program. Focus on lagging lifts or bodyparts. Start to see your body as a whole, develop your eye for personal symmetry. Less barbell work, more specific lifts, slightly higher rep range (8 to 12).


Weeks 9 - 12: Specific effort to attain a specific end result. (very personal. Can be anything from crazy oblique striations to better bicep peak or even that last inch from the waist or those last few pounds you were shooting for). CLEARLY identify your goal. Make any necessary changes to the program to get you there, maintain what has proven effective over the previous 8 weeks.


Week 13: reevaluate. Did you hit your goals? Why or why not? Use this week to applaud yourself for the effort and to gear up for the next round.


Training frequency will stay the same same throughout. I prefer a schedule that gets each muscle group three times in two weeks. (My legs are freakishly responsive so I`m lucky if I train them 2 or three times a month, but that`s another discussion). I do encourage a split routine to keep the intensity very high and time in the gym to an hour or so on the training itself. Cardio can tack on a few more minutes. My personal split is chest/biceps/triceps, shoulders/back, legs. When I`m in full force, my routine is this : Monday CBT, Weds SB, Friday CBT,Sunday Legs, Monday 2 SB, Weds 2 CBT, Friday 2 SB. That gives a full day between upper body workouts, and three days recovery before repeating the bodypart. I do abs just about every workout. I will usually superset them in with my last exercise of the day. I`ve discovered an ab exercise that works very, very well so I don`t have to go crazy with the sets and reps. 4 sets of 10 - 12 is all it takes.


Obviously there will be tweaks to the program if someone`s personal goals are extreme. For instance, I`d have someone stay on phase 1 for 6 to 8 weeks if their goal was to add a significant amount of muscle in the shortest time, or if they wanted to drop an extreme amount of bodyfat I`d spend more time on phase two. With that said, I have found that this program delivers the most satisfying and motivating results. If you`re 20 pounds over weight and your goal is to "get shredded", you`ll get discouraged blasting straight toward that goal with no checkpoints along the way. Following the phased program you`ll get more visible results quicker, and stay motivated. And for the person wanting that beach body and gain 25 pounds of muscle, they`ll find that adding a little bit of muscle, then chiseling it down to a rock solid, lean body will be far closer to what they actually wanted to look like and won`t waste 6 months trying to "get huge".


There is obviously a LOT more to it than what`s written here. once it goes from being *A* program to being *your* program, it`ll be personalized to you as an individual.

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Here is an interesting articleon rep ranges I thought I'd share.


Just to note... since stretching was mentioned, I was recently reading a sports science journal that says static stretching before lifting can decrease your lifting strength - by up to 30%! They recommend dynamic stretching and a warm up set instead of static stretches. Static stretches are okay after your work out.

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  • 1 month later...

Wow, all the replies truly show how "everyone is different"! What works best for some, don't work best for others.


I take a combined approach. I am a power lifter, so I combine my Stronglift's 5x5 workout with the Max-OT Training (I'll keep it brief):


I work out, full body, 3 days a week! But it's simply the power lifting exercises.


2 a couple sets to warm up first!!!!!!



*All sets are to failure*



Squat (or dead lift): 2 sets of 12-15 reps

Bench Press : 2 sets of 12-15 reps

Military Press : 2 sets of 12-15 reps

Bent Over Rows : 2 sets of 12-15 reps



Squat (or dead lift): 2 sets of 8-12 reps

Bench Press : 2 sets of 8-12 reps

Military Press : 2 sets of 8-12 reps

Bent Over Rows : 2 sets of 8-12 reps


Friday ("Heavy Day"!):

Squat (or dead lift): 2 sets of 4-6 reps

Bench Press : 2 sets of 4-6 reps

Military Press : 2 sets of 4-6 reps

Bent Over Rows : 2 sets of 4-6 reps


***Every day I go into the gym, I add 5 more pounds to the exercise than what I had the last time I was at the gym. This follows the "you're not building muscles if you're not adding weight!"


I don't do arm curls, or tricep exercises. I don't need to! My muscles grow in accordance to what I lift! This follows the "...if you can bring a muscle to grow two times per week instead of only once, you will grow 104 times per year instead of 52". And it WORKS.


I'm in and out of the gym in less than a hour.


I also agree to mix it up every 3 months to keep from plateauing.


I'm up to 385 on bench press. 550 on squats. 600 on Dead lifts. I'm a Vegan and don't take any supplements.



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  • 2 months later...

Wow Boodie, those lifts are crazy strong! Very inspirational, reading your bench number is some added motivation for an upcoming chest workout haha.


Agree with other comments here, I've been switching up the workouts as of late. Just switched to a full body workout three times a week. This was something I would be open to a year ago (was set on keeping a regular four day or five day split) and have seen some good results lately. Also helps for keeping things interesting and fun in the gym, and not doing the same things over and over again which can hurt my motivation sometimes.


Good luck to everyone in reaching your goals!

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A workout that worked for me...


Squats 1 x 20 reps


Dumbbell Pullovers 1 x 20 reps (Immediately after squats)


Barbell or Dumbbell Bench Presses 3 x 6 to 8 reps


Chins 2 x as many reps as possible


Bent Over Barbell Rows 2 x 8 to 10 reps


Seated or Standing Dumbbell Press 2 x 8 to 10 reps


Barbell or Dumbbell Curls 2 x 6 to 8 reps


Standing Calf Raises 2 x 15 to 20 reps


Sit-ups 1 x 25 to 30 reps


Each workout I would add 5 lbs to my lifts, my strength increased and I gained 24 lbs in about 4 months. I ended up only being able to do this workout 3 times in 2 weeks, I increased the weight no matter what.

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