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The introduction and more frequent use of ‘back off sets’ has become quite popular of late.
You’ll find you can use them to determine suitable loading for your next session, increase total TUT and even help you maintain your progress if you find your gym training time has been chopped down due to life getting in the way.
In the past this has happened several times and as such a way and to be found to get in some quality work, here is an option for you, it will take anywhere from 20-30min tops, try not to spend longer than 30min (especially if your time is limited), just focus on hard work.
This protocol will:
– Provide suitable mechanical tension for strength
– Generate metabolic stress for adaptation
– Create muscle damage for new growth
All you need to do is follow the guidelines and put in all your effort, eat the calories required for your goal (I’ve written about this previously), sleep and stay focused.
Let’s get down o the details.
– Use compound movements (Squat, DL, Press, Chin, Row, etc)
– 1 or 2 per workout (A1/A2 pairing)
– Ramp up your weights each set, start off with 5’s and work to one heavy set, then add a little more weight for a 3, then finally a little more for 1 single. The triple/single aren’t all out efforts, only the 5, they’re just for extra neural stimulation.
– Take 70% of the top 5 and perform 1 back off set of 10-20 reps unbroken
– Rest is minimal between sets, go as soon as you feel ready
– 3 sessions per week is a good minimum to cover the full body
You will be in and out in no time at all.
This short style of workout will allow heavy enough loads to trigger a host of positive things and the back of set will further potentiate this.
If you find you’re doing all of this in 20min then use the extra 10 for some accessory movements (arms, calves etc).
The protocol above is nothing fancy, it’s devised to get maximum results out of minimum time and as such leaves no room for dilly-dallying.
If you find yourself stuck for time here is a 20min workout that will hit most of the major muscle groups in the body, improve your CV and also bring down your body fat levels. The idea is to aim to do more in the same amount of time, thus increasing the volume, intensity and destiny of your workouts along with your work capacity.
These workouts can be done daily, all you need do is alternate the two pull body lifts day to day. Use one or two kettlebells for the main lifts.
– Kettlebell Swing
– Clean & Press (or Jerk)
– Kettlebell Swing
*A note: If you are a complete beginner you can do a simple workout of kettlebell swings as the main 10min workout with goblet squats, press ups and rows as the warm up until you learn/master the skills of the C/J & S.
The sets and reps will be very simple as the workouts will be based on time. After a general warm up of 5min this leaves you 15min to workout being split in to a 10min solid block of work then 5min warm down.
5min – Warm Up – Swings
10min – Clean & Press/Jerk or Snatch
5min – Warm Down – Swings
You warm up and warm down swings will all be crisp reps, so 5,10,20 or however many feel crisp, strong and snappy.
Perform your reps in the two key exercises (C/J or S) and when you need to rest of you find your form/speed slowing down you place the kettlebells down and rest as needed. The more advanced you get you will find you can rest in the rack position in the C/J and the overhead lockout in the Snatch.
This workout looks easy enough on paper, however a word to the wise… It isn’t. Remember to vary the loads as needed, wave through heavy days, medium days and light days, don’t attempt to use the same weight everyday as this can cause not only excessive fatigue but damage to your hands and potential injury.
In the early stages I would structure it as follows:
Monday – Heavy
Tuesday – Light
Wednesday – Medium
Thursday – Light
Friday – Heavy
Saturday – Light
Sunday – Medium
So you have a light day after a heavy or medium day. The more advanced you get you can have more medium days.
The idea of this workout is to build cumulative volume over the week, that is what will help you strip fat, build lean muscle and increase your overall fitness.
It’s been said that the truly successful people out there have the perfect balance of science and anecdote. I have to say I’m inclined to agree.
In this group we all enjoy a good debate and discussion about training, nutrition, mindset and ‘supplements’ however I feel there are lots of things we don’t cover as well, such as the length of time required for progress, how to accurately create a training plan based on DUP, Block Periods and so on.
It would be great to have people put up suggestions regarding various topics and also the backing (both scientific/anecdotal) for their claims. This is so that knowledge can be shared and lessons can be learnt.
I will start with a brief snippet on the different ways to build muscle/strength and where I got the info from.
You can stimulate growth one of three ways:
1 – Heavy Lifting
2 – Constant Tension
3 – Volume/Cumulative Fatigue
How do they work?
1 – Heavy Lifting (as it sounds, Franco’s fav):
– Micro-trauma, a high force output leads to a high rate of protein degradation, meaning increased protein synthesis post training.
– Neural factors, you can recruit more muscle fibres/motor units more efficiently, meaning you can lift more weight progressively over time.
– Hormonal response is typically an increase of free Testosterone.
*Christian Thibaudeau speaks of this in detail in the book ‘Black Book of Strength Training Secrets’ well yea actually speaks about this in all his books to be fair.
2 – Constant Tension (pump training, Arnold’s fav):
– When you perform a strength/hypertrophy training exercise while starving the target muscle of oxygen through constant tension, several things happen: lactate production increases, hGH and IGF-1 levels (very anabolic hormones).
– Muscle is being stimulated finds itself in a hypoxic state (oxygen deprived), fast-twitch fiber activation is increased as a result, it has been said this is due to the type 1 fibres lack of activation because of the shortage of available oxygen to said target muscle.
– Sets lasting at least 30 seconds, preferably 40-70 seconds of time under maximal tension (to maximize lactate production).
*Check out Dr Squat (Dr Fred Hatfield) and his book ‘A Scientific Approach to Bodybuilding or any of his other books.
3 – Volume/Cumulative Fatigue (reps for days, Serge Nubrej’s fav):
– Volume work with short rest periods (90 seconds tops – this also helps increase IGF1 & HGH) typically will increase the number of muscle fibers being stimulated via the cumulative fatigue effect.
– Due to the moderate weights used they type 1 fibres become fatigued meaning more type 2 recruitment will occur to keep you pumping out the reps.
– The more total volume the more adaptation is required, meaning more muscle growth to keep up with the volume demands. Think of rowers and other athletes that have high volume outputs and their overall muscular size.
*This is mentioned in several of the books written/co-authored by Zatsiorsky, check out ‘Super Training’.
Usually you will end up combining al three of these method in some way shape or form over the years, but for those who didn’t know this is how muscle/strength typically is built. I’ve always used the Heavy Lifting Method,, however I got he best results when I had a high degree of TUT (constant tension) as well but like a true idiot I stopped with the maximal tension because it was hard going….
More fool me.
What knowledge are you going to share?