BEGINNER NO MORE: If you’ve been in your rookie year of training, it’s time to step up your program.
By Roger Lockridge
Reprinted from Muscle Media Magazine
It’s a new year and with the singing of “Auld Lang Syne” comes New Year resolutions, many centered around fitness. There will be many programs out there catered to people starting training programs for the first time. What many people don’t consider is that a lot of these folks aren’t doing this for the first time. Either they have failed and are starting again or they’re moving up from those beginner programs. If you fall into either of these categories then keep reading because this is your program.
If you’re ready to step up from the beginner level then you will need to add some more advanced techniques to challenge yourself and push your muscles to new limits so you can see that new growth. This workout split will have a few of those techniques included in them and if you follow it for eight weeks, you should see progress that will motivate you to keep going long after the revolutionaries (yes, I made that up)have given up.
It’s one thing to do a warm before getting into your big lifts but this is a little more advanced than that. Let’s say you’re doing back and you normally start with pullups. Before you might’ve done a couple of light set of pulldowns or used the assistant. With pre-exhaust you actually do work sets with an isolation movement like straight arm pulldowns before doing pull ups. You’re probably thinking “if I do that I won’t be able to do as many pull ups.” Exactly, that’s the point. Well one of them. Think about it like this. If you normally do 12 pull ups but can only do 8 after three sets of straight arm pulldowns, then your goal should be to do 12 again with the pre-exhaust sets done beforehand. If you get to that point, obviously you’ve gained strength and you should notice some size gains too. There are more benefits than that though. It will help you establish a great mind/muscle connection that can help you throughout the rest of your workout. It will also help pump some nutrient rich blood into the area that you’re training which will make for a better pump.
With your other programs you performed rep after rep after rep and very likely used a consistent cadence while doing so. There’s nothing wrong with that but now it’s time to try something new. Static contractions are periods where you hold the weight you’re using in a contracted position for a certain period of time. This time, we’ll focus on leg day as an example. You would go to the leg press and load more weight than you normally lift. I mean load more than even your max. You would then get on the position and prepare to do a set like you have many times in the past. However when you un-rack the weight you hold it for a count of five to ten seconds. After this period expires, you rack it. If it felt easy to you then load more weight and repeat after resting for a minute or so. You will need to experiment to find the weight that works for you. If you feel like you can’t hold it for that long then you went heavy but if you could hold it there for an hour then you need to add more weight. It’s a delicate balance to find that weight that will work for you but this comes with taking your training to this level. This can work with free weight movements like bench press in a safety rack or with curls. With this program, you’ll perform the static contraction at the end of your set so if you need to go lighter, it will be okay but try to go as heavy as you can without sacrificing form. The benefits of this include increasing static strength that could eventually lead to full range of motion strength increases, helping with muscle thickness and hardness, and hypertrophy. In other words, by simply holding heavy weight in one place, you can get bigger and stronger. Crazy, right?
Rest Pause Drop
If you’ve been reading Muscle Media for a while then you might be familiar with this already but there are some of you who may not be. Rest Pause Drop is a combination of two intensity boosting techniques: rest-pause training and drop sets. For this technique, we’ll use barbell curls as an example. You would load a bar with weight that will allow you to get 6-8 reps. Once you reach failure, you count to five and try to get a couple of more reps (rest-pause). Upon reaching failure again, you reduce the weight by 20-25% (drop set). Once you remove this weight, you repeat the pattern. Lift to failure, count to five, lift to failure. You take the same amount of weight off that you took off last time and repeat the pattern one more time. This will be like doing six sets in one.
With Rest Pause Drop, you can go with heavy weight but also perform high volume since the weight decreases throughout the set. It will challenge your strength levels and your endurance which means you can be stronger longer.
Have you been stuck with a certain weight on a big lift like deadlifts and can’t seem to get any stronger? This might be your remedy. Cluster sets are a group of “mini-sets” with heavy weight. We’ll use the deadlift as the example. Let’s say you can lift 315 for 3 reps but that is it. You couldn’t get a fourth rep if I was standing there with a million dollars. With cluster sets, you would do 315 for 3 reps but instead of taking a full 90 second to two minute rest, you would only rest for 30 seconds and then go for three more reps. Another 30 second rest followed by three more reps would finish it off for this cluster set. It’s like extended rest-pause sets. Instead of 3 reps with that same 315, you did 9. That extra load with the short rest will help increase power over a period of time.
Putting It All Together
This full body weekly split implements all of the training techniques listed above at various points. Try this program for eight weeks and you should notice serious gains in both your strength and size. This program is for anyone whether you’re trying to lose bodyfat or gain size.
Day 1 – Chest and Abs
Flat Dumbbell Flye – 1-2 warm up sets of 8-10 reps. 3 work sets of 8-10 reps.
Incline Barbell Bench Press – 3 cluster sets of 3 reps per cluster for 9 reps total.
(3 reps, 30 seconds rest, 3 reps, 30 seconds rest, 3 reps. This is one cluster set.)
Flat Dumbbell Press – 3 sets of 10-12 reps with a 10 second static contraction at the end of each set.
Cable Crossover – 3 Rest Pause Drop Sets.
Lying Leg Raise – 3 sets of 15-20 reps with a static contraction at the end of each set.
Weighted Sit Up – 3 sets of 15-20 reps.
Day 2 – Back
Hyperextension – 1-2 warm up sets. 3 work sets of 10 reps while holding a weight on your chest.
Deadlift – 3 cluster sets of 3 reps for 9 reps total.
One Arm Row – 3 sets of 10-12 reps per side with a 10 second static contraction at the end of each set.
Straight Arm Pulldown – 3 Rest Pause Drop Sets.
Day 3 – Off
Day 4 – Shoulders and Traps
Front Dumbbell Raise – 1-2 warm up sets. 3 work sets of 12 reps.
Standing Barbell Press – 3 cluster sets of 3 reps for 9 reps total.
Seated Lateral Raise – 3 sets of 10-12 reps with a 10 second static contraction at the end of each set.
Wide Grip Upright Row – 3 Rest Pause Drop Sets.
Barbell Shrugs – 3 sets of 20 reps.
Day 5 – Arms
One Arm Preacher Curl – 1-2 warm up sets. 2 work sets of 10 reps.
Barbell Curl – 2 cluster sets of 3 reps for 9 reps total.
Incline Dumbbell Curl – 2 sets of 10-12 reps per side with a 10 second static contraction at the end of each set.
Cable Bar Curl – 2 Rest Pause Drop Sets.
Single Arm Cable Pushdown – 1-2 warm up sets. 2 work sets of 10 reps.
Close Grip Bench Press – 2 cluster sets of 3 reps for 9 reps total.
Rope Pressdown – 2 sets of 10-12 reps per side with a 10 second static contraction at the end of each set.
Overhead Cable Extension – 2 Rest Pause Drop Sets.
Day 6 – Legs
Leg Extension – 1-2 warm up sets. 3 work sets of 15 reps.
Squat – 3 cluster sets of 3 reps for 9 reps total.
Leg Press – 4 sets of 10-12 reps per side with a 10 second static contraction at the end of each set.
- Do two sets with feet low and wide for quad emphasis & two sets with feet high and close for hamstring/glutes emphasis.
Lying Leg Curl – 3 Rest Pause Drop Sets.
Standing Calf Raise – 3 sets of 20 reps with a 20 second static contraction at the end of each set.
Seated Calf Raise – 3 Rest Pause Drop Sets.
Day 7 -Off
Rest for 90 seconds between all sets.
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