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How to get the most out of your training

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  • How to get the most out of your training

    Let us go over some important truths

    1: People do too many sets and hit a muscle too often. Remember, muscle does not grow while training, it grows while eating, sleeping, resting. Don't hit a bodypart twice a week, hit it every 6 days if you want growth. The IFBB pro hitting it twice a week is already huge, genetically superior, and on a ton of drugs.

    2: People do not train with enough intensity to stimulate growth. They sit on equipment playing with their cell phone, and when it comes time for the set they put no intensity in. They get butthurt if you ask to work in. Then they are confused as to why they make no progress. Years ago, long before cell phones, if you sat on a piece of equipment monopolizing it you would be taken behind the gym and beaten. That leads us to truth number three.

    3: You must understand the difference between a sofa or other furniture you sit on at home and workout equipment. One is meant for relaxation, the other for maximal effort. If you are going to sit there playing on your phone, or worse yapping away followed by a half assed set with no effort then please stay at home.

    The only way to progress is to push your muscles harder every work out. You either increase the weight, reps, or utilize other training techniques that push your body harder. Drop sets, forced reps, diminishing time between sets.

    To understand what these facts mean when put into practice, lets look at the philosophy of the great Dorian Yates.

    According to Dorian. there is a "world of difference between simply going through the motions of a group of exercises versus the type of workout that stimulates muscle growth each and every time."

    The "real key to improving your workouts is to have goals, both short- and long-term. If you’re not really working on achieving anything specific, why would you bother to train terribly hard in the first place? It’s critical that you have both types of goals. A long-term goal like turning pro or weighing 250 pounds when you’re just 170 now is too daunting. It can seem like making those things happen is going to take far too long, and you can easily get discouraged. Instead, break all long-term goals down into smaller ones, and set realistic time limits for each one."

    You need to clearly define your goals and write them down. "Once something is down on paper or in a computer file for you to see, it instantly becomes stronger and more imprinted" in your mind.

    Training Journal

    According to Dorian, one of the most valuable tools in creating perfect workouts is the training log. "I used my journal to write down goals and workouts every day from when I began bodybuilding in 1984 to the day I retired after the 1997 Mr. Olympia. Every month in the off-season, I would choose about 10 key exercises like the incline barbell press, barbell row, leg press and so on and set a goal for how much stronger I wanted to be in a month’s time."

    Dorian thought of bodybuilding as his mission in life. He was a warrior, and each workout represented a battle he had to win. If he felt run-down or getting sick, he would not train that day. Why bother working out if you can’t give your best effort? That’s a mistake a lot of bodybuilders make.

    Yates' method is what I call a Neo Mentzer Heavy Duty approach. The late Mike Mentzer postulated that muscles needed an extremely intense stimulation to foster growth. Warm up, and then do one all out set utilizing forced reps, drop sets, rest pause.

    Mentzer argued that one super high intensity set stimulated growth. If you do more you are cutting into growth and recovery. So one all out set then rest, sleep and eat.

    I believe in this philosophy. However I change it slightly. I will fully warm up, do a set until failure, then do the all out set utilizing primarily drop sets to achieve adequate intensity.

    I call these working sets. I do 2 working sets per exercise. To illustrate, I will do 2 warm up sets on the Nautilus bench press machine. One my 3rd set I give 100%, going to failure. One my last set I will do a triple drop: 10-12 reps on my first set (failure) then I drop a plate and do 8 more reps, drop and 8, drop and 8.

    That is it for my mid-chest section. No flys, no other exercise whatsoever. I then do the same thing on the incline press machine. As I am already warmed up, I do a working set (to failure) then an all out triple drop. The same goes for decline. One to failure, then one triple drop.

    That is all. I then move on to shoulders and triceps. Training this way gives the muscles maximum stimulation at the same time ensuring adequate recovery.

  • #2
    I really enjoyed reading your post. I have actually been doing a lot of research on training and growth as I have reached a sticking point in my life. I have about 24 years of consistent experience and have competed at a high level but there is a difference now. Couple age with over 20 years in the gym, the body has different requirements. As difficult it is, we need to spend more time and attention to recovery than always pounding it in the gym. The problem is my body needs 4 days off per week minimum to fully recover, but I reach a point of psychosis staying at home on those off days. So what I have done was create recovery days in the gym on the days I want to be there.

    The recovery days are focused on 5 components. 1) stretching and increasing flexibility 2) Driving muscle into the blood to promote healing 3) Experimenting with new movements 4) Improving neural pathways to lagging muscles 5) Core activation.

    For the purposes of this post I will keep it short. I only want to convey the idea. There is plenty of literature and video on the internet to find individual exercises and stretches. I start by dong 5 minutes of muscle activation movements in succession to create firing of the muscle (muscle activation), active stretching in succession creating a cardio type of feel. No weights being used at all. After my body is fully warm I will do more focused stretching, 30 seconds each muscle until I feel ready. The previous day I research different movements or exercises I want to try in the gym that I have never performed. This allows you to possibly uncover a different exercise that maybe you can respond much better to. Also, the variety creates a psychologic stimulus that I feel is important to creating new motivation for workouts. We tend to go to what we already know and I think that is what gets us in a training pit. So, I will perform a new excursive for each body part. One, with very little weight to get the feel of it and then maybe raise the weight were I can perform 10 reps with moderate intensity. Then I simply move on.

    For a lagging body part I feel it is necessary to hit the muscle more often for a couple of reasons. It is lagging most likely because you cannot get the muscle to fire the way you want. This is the case when other surrounding muscles take over and do the job because they are so used to being activated. For these lagging body parts I find multiple exercises and try multiple angles with different grips. I do not every feel the weight. I put enough weight on so I can focus on squeezing the muscle and feeling it. I will mix in explosive force and sometimes partials. I will also try to load different parts of the range of motion. Usually, you have a bottom, middle and top (contraction). I will focus sometimes on one part of the movement at a time.

    Finally, I finish up with some core movements and activation. The reason for this is more personal. With my years of training I have pounded and beat up the body to the point I need to address some back issues. Some of the issues come from past heavy lifting but some come from muscle imbalances. I will address the imbalances with some core strengthening movements and stretching tight muscles. This day is actually very fun and does not tax my nervous system. The recovery day is to designed to actually recover by being active. I will never reach muscle failure on this day. I will never do slow negatives. You want to activate the nervous system. Not tax it!


    • #3
      Did I read correctly, are you training a total of 3 days a week? For recovery day I stay out of the gym altogether. If I am getting plenty of sleep and everything else is right in my world, I only take one day aff a week. Sometimes when I train martial arts I will only do technique, no active sparring or bag work. That sounds similar to your in-gym recovery days. I will say, however, that a day of doing absolutely nothing physical is needed now and then.

      For those want to get bigger I recommend training 2 on one off, keeping training to no more than 1 hour with maximum intensity. If someone wants to take a finite period to devote to getting bigger then I suggest no cardio. However, for everyone else, especially if you re running gear, I believe cardio is a must. Lets get real here for a second: There are way, way too many bodybuilders who died young from heart disease. It is a combination of variables. First, yes steroids are part of the reason, but I want to make clear that conservative/intellegent steroid consumption will not damage your health. Men treated with HRT are much healthier than men with low T and GH. Also, moderate dosage cycles with responsible pct's and off time are also healthy.

      The problem is that the megorexia (reverse anorexia, obssession with being big) lifestyle is bad for the heart. Eating 2 pounds of red meat a day for years is a factor. Extremely high dosage steroid cycles with no time off are a factor. Simply being much, much bigger that you were designed to be is a factor. Your body was meant to be 170 lbs. Your cardiovascular system was not meant to support 260 lbs even if that extra weight is all muscle.

      For competative bodybuilders I recommend changing your training and gear program as soon as you retire from the stage. Assuming you have not done any serious damage to your heart, adopt the type of training I lay out below. Get screened by a cardiologist. It is expensive, but your life is worth it. Many of you will have an enlarged heart. That is not necessarily bad if it is athletes heart. Before my last surgery my heart was found to be enlarged. After a $4k analysis the cardiologist told me I had athletes heart (good) not enlarged heart. Dorian has athletes heart so I am in good company.

      You want to do high intensity cardio for a number of reasons. As you get older you want your heart to be as strong as possible. If transitioning from competative bodybuilding, take up martial arts. I will be perfectly honest here: Much of my identity was tied up in being bigger and stronger than everyone. This obssession is the defining characteristic of megorexia. Martial arts make it easier to accept being 20 lbs smaller, since your smaller body could whup your bigger body. Childish? Yes. I admit it, but the switch will do wonders for your mind and spirit. You won't feel "less than" when you step into the gym, because you know deep down inside you could easily handle the bigger guys. As you really become mature you will not care about any of the above, but take these baby steps.

      A number of studies have come out and the #1 predictor of longevity is the ability to train at high levels of cardio, more than 80% of your max heart rate. The treadmill and stepper or whatever fixed station cardio machine is f'ing boring, I have a much more interesting way of getting cardio in. I was also convinced by a local IFBB pro to increase my rep range. He does 20 reps on everything. After my last shoulder surgery I went to a 10 rep schema and now do 10-15, less if super setting.

      I have developed a very interesting program that achieves these goals in under 40 minutes a day. However, it is not easy. I believe that all the pros and big amateurs who died could have lived had they incorporated this type of training before their hearts went into permanent decline. Of course they would also have to stop the massive doses of gear. You can function very well on 350 mgs or less test/week and 1.5 iu's GH/day. This amount will enable you to recover fully. Recovery and conditioning are the goal, not getting bigger. You will reatain a remarkable amount of size and strength from this program. You may not loose much size at all, and will look more full. The catch is the training is brutal. This workout might kill someone who has damaged their heart already, so please see a Dr first.

      I trained heavy basic for 35 years, and have all the joint damage that goes along with that. If I did it again I would have switched my training earlier. If you have a minimum of 5 years of hardcore heavy basic training this workout may be for you.
      Last edited by BanePhD; 05-29-2016, 05:11 PM.


      • #4
        OK, so here is the routine: You must find a gym that is relatively uncrowded. You are going from station to station. I know that I preach not sitting on/monopolizing equipment, but you will be at each station for about 4-5 minutes. Eventually, people will understand what you are trying to do. In my position people tend to give me a wide birth. The training is brutal and others at the gym are frightened seeing me train this way. I think they think I am going to die, lol. When I get done, and am laying on the floor, invariably someone, usually a female will come up and say "are you OK sir?"

        Structure every detail of your training before starting. Have a plan B for each exercise in case some lazy ass is sitting on the equipment playing with their phone. Gasping for breath I usually ask to work in and normally they oblige. If they don't, I gasp "sorry for interrupting your phone call and sorry about your confusion over furniture vs gym equipment." No matter what, try and stay polite. Eventually people will understand what you are trying to do.

        Here is another important point: Equipment selection. When you are new, and for at least 5 years (preferably 10) you should train heavy basic in a power/bodybuilder type program focusing on free weights.

        Once you have this base, you can start transitioning to more machines. The reason for doing so is that machines enable less rest between sets. You do not have time to remove plates/set up free weight exercises.
        Lets look at back. First, do you train with wraps or no wraps? If you train with wraps you must become fast at wrapping and unwrapping. I have to use wraps for heavy dumbbell shrugs, but for other back exercises I don't need them unless I want to go heavier.

        I will start with a machine rowing movement, doing one set of wide to warm up, and one set of narrow. I then do some stretching and I check the clock. I go for a full 30 minutes, sometimes more so you must know your start time.

        Now it is go time. I move the weight stack up to the maximum and crank out 15 wide grip reps. I then immediately shift to a narrow grip and crank out about 8 reps. If you are new, extend your "rest time" a bit. Sometimes I will do three deep breaths. It may take a while before you are capable of absolutely no rest between sets. Even then you may need a bit more rest. but the idea is to keep it to a minimum.

        I do 3 sets wide and 3 sets narrow. I may need to reduce the weight a bit. The 6 working sets should take less than 5 minutes once you start to become conditioned. Next, it is lat pull downs to the neck/upper chest. I do 4 sets wide and three sets narrow. That puts me close to the 10 minute mark.

        Then, it is dumbbell shrugs. Only rest enough to wrap and unwrap. 4 sets. You should be a wet noodle at this point, so off to the tread mill. Put it on an incline, level 9. Walk for a bit and check your heart rate. Then, jog/run for 30 seconds and bring it back to a walk. You should be maxed out at this point. Your heart rate should be well over 80% of its max, preferably 85%.

        After 2-3 minutes on the treadmill, get off the treadmill (keep it running) and do a set of dumbbell bent over laterals, focusing on your rear delts. Back to the treadmill for 2 minutes, rinse repeat for a total of 4 sets.

        Then, finish with a rotator cuff exercise hitting 2 sets for each side of the arm with no rest between sets. Then it is back to the treadmill. You are now at about the 27-28th minute mark and start warming down. Drop the incline a bit every minute or so, then the speed until you are doing a slow walk. You should be at the 31-32 minute mark. You accomplished a full back trap rear delt workout AND 30 plus minutes of cardio all in 35 minutes.


        • #5
          Here is a program for leg day. Start your workout with deadlifts, do a standard 5 sets with a full 2 minutes between sets. Do the following rep schema: 14, 12, 10, 8, 8. The first two sets are warm ups, 3rd set is borderline warm up/working set. I do 10 reps with 225 lbs. The last 2 reps are pretty tough, at about 90% of max intensity. The last 2 sets are at max intensity, the first grinds out 8 reps of 275 lbs using a traditional deadlift method. The last set utilizes a straight leg deadlift (the legs are about 95% straight during the movement, not completely locked out). The weight is 185 lbs for 8 reps, although you can go a bit lighter with more reps.

          I personally do not squat any more, but was a heavy squatter for 35 years. If you still squat, then you will limit yourself to three rotations of the next portion of the workout.

          This workout combines a leg curl with a lunge and then leg press. Start with some stretching, then do four rotations with minimal rest between sets. You should be struggling by rotation # 3, and 100% taxed on your last time through, rotation 4. You should finish in about 11-12 minutes. Once done immediately go to the tread mill. Set the incline at level 9, and speed at 3.7. You want to be at or above 80% of VO2 max. Once settled in run for 30 seconds. Your heart rate should be above 85% of max and you should be hammered. Back it down to 3.7 and survive for 2 more minutes. Get off the treadmill and superset leg extensions with 2 ab exercises. Then go back and forth between the treadmill/leg extensions/ab exercises. By the time you are done you should be at the 25-26 minute mark.

          At this juncture all that matters is survival. You are no longer running, only walking on the treadmill at an incline. Nonetheless, your heart rate is well north of 80%. At the 27-28 minute mark you will start backing off the incline. At 29 minutes the incline is down, yet your heart rate is still pegged above 80%. You then back the speed down to 3.1 and doing so will bring your heart rate down below 80%. You should be done by the 31-32 minute mark.


          • #6
            Originally posted by WalterWhite View Post
            I really enjoyed.......

            Finally, I finish up with some core movements and activation. The reason for this is more personal. With my years of training I have pounded and beat up the body to the point I need to address some back issues. Some of the issues come from past heavy lifting but SOME COME FROM MUSCLE IMBALANCES. I will address the imbalances with some core strengthening movements and stretching tight muscles. This day is actually very fun and does not tax my nervous system. The recovery day is to designed to actually recover by being active. I will never reach muscle failure on this day. I will never do slow negatives. You want to activate the nervous system. Not tax it!
            I would be very interested to read your take on muscle imbalance. The topic is rarely broached, but the problem is very, very common.


            • #7
              I don't fully agree with hitting the muscle Once per week. I agree you need time to recover and muscles grow while sleeping and eating. But most people do not workout hard enough to remit key achieve their goals.

              I do believe having goals and training cycles is the way to go. I personally do 4 week training cycle with the 5th week being a deload week. I find this works good for. With that being said. I do chest 3 times a week and not only has my chest grown I've gotten a ton stronger. Especially on my bench press.

              I'll give you an example of my Day 1

              Bench press (Spoto Presses stop 2" from chest) 5x7
              Incline press 4x10-12
              Standing military press 3 12-15
              Chest supported row 4x 8
              Tricep push down 3 AMRAP

              Also what I do say for my main lift that day which is flat bench. I have 5 sets 7 reps. Total 35 reps. Say I pick a weight of 315. I'll never drop the weight even if I can't get all 7 reps I stay with the weight and add sets until I get a total of 35 reps. So my volume stays the same and also my weight doesn't decrease.


              • #8
                Diesel: There are 2 aspects that must be considered for recovery. First, and one you may use is that the specific muscle is sore the day after workout, but is completely recovered (as indicated by the lack of soreness) 2-3 days later. Thus, you posit that the muscle is ready to be hit again. For something like chest, you are correct. You hit chest a lot and it grows. However the recovery I am referring to is systemic.

                To illustrate, you train your entire body over 3 days. The soreness is gone so you repeat the process, taking one day a week off while hitting each body part twice a week.

                But when I say systemic, I am talking about your entire body. Hard training produces lots of cortisol and lots of other bad things when you train hard very day. Cortisol and other bad things emerge when the whole body is taxed hard every day, day after day. That means your environment will not be a good one for overall growth.

                Of course that is where steroids come in. Among all the other good things they do is that the suppress cortisol and other undesirable hormones. If you are repping out at 315 for 5 sets 3 times a week, that is a hell of a load and some serious strength. However, as a champion combat athlete, I am more concerned about your deadlift and squat.

                For those that don't know him, and I cannot reveal Diesel's identity, he was a world class martial artist, a prodigy. As such, I believe that the deadlift is in many ways the best single lift. Do a heavy leg and lower back day, and then a heavy chest day and cortisol levels will escalate.


                • #9
                  Combat yes back in the day. I don't train for that anymore. That part of my life is long gone. I train for purely looks and strength. As far as squat I train legs twice per week and I train them heavy an high volume. I do 5-6 worksets of squats and each set is no less then 20 reps and I use 365lbs. Some days depending how I feel. I'll do 20's on leg press and I'll do heavy 5's on squats ending with top of 500 or 545 depending. 20's are per Stan efferding. He loves and told me to do them. So that's what I'm doing. lol. As far as deadlift I do deadlift usually twice a week 1 day being traditional deads and the other being a rack pull from knee big or just below. I find working out like this I'm still getting bigger I'm about 275lb. I'm fairly lean and I'm getting stronger every week. Yes I'm on gear. But just recently went back on. Was off for about 2 years.

                  I modify my training routine from sheiko routine I use to follow couple years ago. Just squat bench and deadlift 4 days a week. I got strong as hell doing this. 540 bench 660 squat and 720 deadlift. All gym numbers no competition. I since use a modified approach and use the sheiko 90% of 1 rpm philosophy on other body parts and seems to be working nicely for now.

                  This is what I do and what I like right now. That might and probably will change in the coming months.


                  • #10
                    Please tell us a bit about the names you mention, Stan Efferding and Sheko routine. Also, please tell us about your gear use/history. Those are all some pretty serious numbers.