TRAINING OBSERVATIONS – FEAST PHASE
The common denominator to success in this phase is upping intensity (creating heavier tension) and cutting your workload and frequency. Heavy weights, lower reps, longer rest intervals and less frequent workouts. You get the picture. Do not be afraid to experiment with VERY infrequent workouts in this phase. Some people excell with just 6-7 workouts these 4-6 weeks. If that’s you, go for it.
The focus should be on increasing the weight and/or reps each subsequent workout. While your diet is rapidly super-stocking muscle glycogen and amino acid pools, your training is working hand in glove with your diet to give those muscles the stimulus to grow! Here are some ideas:
.5) SLOW NEGATIVES
For all of the following methods, there’s a way to dramatically improve your results – controlling the lowering or “eccentric/negatives”. Multiple studies look at re speed clearly shows the superiority of controlling the negative. In a nutshell, lowering the weight for a count of 5 (5 seconds) followed by an explosive lifting of the weight (concentric or positive), yielded THREE TIMES THE MUSCLE GROWTH and FIVE TIMES THE STRENGTH INCREASE vs. people who just lowered the weight for 1 second.
Not only that, but controlling the negative for just 3 seconds resulted in Growth Hormone secretions SEVENTEEN TIMES HIGHER vs. those that lowered the weight for just 1 second. Folks, whether it’s increased GH or an extended time under tension, there is no longer any doubt: You’ll grow a LOT faster controlling the negative. The only downer is you have to check your ego at the door.
For those that find this difficult, do your strength work (loading patterns) FIRST perhaps doing 1-2 second negatives and explosive positives. Once you’re done, simply lower the weight and shoot for 7-10 reps with slower negatives. Or pick a different movement and perform 2 sets of 7-10 reps with slow negatives. Because 3X THE GROTH and 5X THE STRENGTH opportunities don’t come along that often!
1.) High Intensity – Yes, one set to absolute muscular failure for each bodypart in the 4-6 rep range. Sounds radical but it’s tailor made for many people in this phase. The de-load in total volume and increase in intensity is exactly what we’re looking for. Curiously, many people who’ve this in the past and failed find it working here. If that’s you, give it a shot. I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised.
MIKE MENTZER’S HEAVY DUTY – ONE SET TO FAILURE TRAINING
I was a client of Mike’s prior to his death and found him to be both brilliant and crazy.
Here’s his plan:
CHEST/BACK Chest Routine #1
1. Dumbbell flyes
2. Inclines Press 1-2 cycles 3. Dips – 1-2 sets
Chest Routine #2
1. Incline press – 1 set 2. Dumbbell flyes
3. Dips 2 cycles Back Routine #1
1. Straight arm pulldown
2. Close grip underhand pulldown 2 cycles 3. Rows – 2 sets
5. Upright rows 2 cycles Back Routine #2
1. Close grip underhand pulldown 2 sets 2. Straight arm pulldown
3. Rows – 2 sets 4. Shrugs
5. Upright rows 2 cycles
LEGS/CALVES Leg Routine #1
1. Leg extensions 2. Squats
3. Negative-accentuated leg press 1 tri-set 4. Leg curls – 2 sets
5. Toe press (on leg sled) – 3 sets Leg Routine #2
1. Leg extensions
2. Leg press 1 cycle
4. Leg curls – 2 sets
5. Standard calf raise on machine – 2 sets 6. Toe press – 1 set
2.) Total tonnage lifting. Weight used per exercise x sets x reps divided by time to complete that bodypart = X lbs per minute lifted. The goal is to exceed the previous number each workout. If you grow better on volume, this is best for you.
Here’s an example:
Squat: Weight used is 200lbs for 5 sets of 5 reps. Rest intervals = 3 minutes between sets. Calculation: 200lbs x 5 sets x 5 reps = 5,000lbs/15 minutes to complete all 5 sets start to finish.
Results: That yields a number quantifying intensity. You demanded that your muscles lift 333.33lbs/minute. The goal is to beat that number next time out. You don’t need be an accountant to see as numbers get bigger, so do you!
Further reading: Power Factor Training by Pete Sisco and John Little, available at most bookstores. Although this book espouses partial range movements be used exclusively, you can apply the principles to your full range routine as well. I encourage you to experiment with both methods.
3.) Heavy negatives, partials and/or static holds at the end of your sets. Used sparingly, these techniques really amp up your nervous system and set the table for explosive strength gains. They are appropriate in this phase and can be used to maximize the rebound effect your body is going through. While they shouldn’t be used exclusively, they make a nice finishing touch to your workouts as noted above. Further reading at http://www.precisiontraining.com/
5.) Super Squats: How to Gain 30lbs of Muscle in 6 Weeks: available via Amazon at: http://www.amazon.com/Super-Squats-Pounds-Muscle- Weeks/dp/0926888005
A classic by Randall J. Strossen, Ph.D. Don’t laugh if you haven’t tried it. The original 20 rep squat routine and well worth the asking price. It has turned scarecrows into supermen. As with every other program it doesn’t work forever but boy, does it work for the un-initiated. If you’re underweight and looking to bulk in a hurry this is the ticket. Plug this workout into your Feast phase and explode!
Bench press or Dips – 2 sets of 12 Squat – 1 set of 20 supersetted with Pullovers – 1 set of 20
Bent rows – 2 sets of 15
Don’t let the simplicity fool you. Those 20 rep squats are done with a weight you usually use for 10 reps, performed with deep breaths in between each rep, followed immediately by a light set of breathing pullovers.
The devil is in the details though, and Strossen brilliantly walks you through the execution, rep by rep. Such abbreviated, full body routines are way undersold today and exactly what’s needed for many lifters. Sorely needed in some cases.
If one set doesn’t feel like enough to you, please look at the weight you’re using. Properly done, this should border on a religious experience. The LAST thing you should be thinking about is doing another set. Strossen recommends peforming this workout up to 3 days a week, adding 5lbs a session. Younger trainees may be able to do it, but plan on lowering that frequency as your Feast phase progresses. I’ve found if you can hack it, that 3x a week frequency quickly moves to 2x a week or even less in the final week of a 4 – 6 week feast phase.
If you’re concerned about your lower back given the time it takes to execute the squats (over 3 minutes for all 20 reps, in some cases), look into the Ironmind hip belt or Spud Squat Belt. Briefly, the hip belt suspends the weight between your legs vs placing the bar on your back. This removes the vertical compression of the spine during the lift and allows for unrestricted breathing (deep breaths) during the lift.
Whether or not you have back problems, this is a lift worth looking into. It takes a few sessions to get used to but you can finally open the throttle with very little risk of injury and really reap the benefits of this fantastic routine.
There are two quality hip belts available for sale: The IronMind Hip Belt and the Spud Belt available here:
If you do order either one, I highly suggest getting the Ironmind loading pin, which makes loading/unloading a snap:
I personally use the Ironmind belt and loading pin and have had over 500lbs on there with no problems. The carryover to your barbell squat is almost pound for pound too. Solid investment and can also be used for weighted chins, dips, sled dragging etc.. Very versatile.
Hard work, lots of milk and a true test of your inner strength.