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Grow With The Flow

Try these night-time high-rep sets to induce rapid muscle growth.

By Tony Estrada


Let’s face it: If this article supported a theory that drinking bull semen guaranteed the drinker five pounds of new lean muscle mass each week, more than a few of us would try it. If it really worked, I’d wager that the world may have a shortage within the first months of discovering this scientific breakthrough.

At the end of each day, “gains” is our desired result and we constantly look for new ways to get bigger. So whether I’m whisking chocolate syrup into my egg whites to get an undenatured raw protein or wrapping my limbs with rubber straps for blood flow restriction training, I’m always willing to experiment and learn.

For years it has been believed that working out late at night will disrupt your sleep. But some recent studies have shown that only a small number of people (as low as three percent) have difficulty falling asleep post-exercise if it coincides with their normal bedtime. Since that myth has been busted, how can we capitalize on it? Specifically, can increased blood flow to muscle groups provide additional benefits during sleep?

First, let's look at the role blood has in muscle recovery. Blood supplies nutrients to muscle cells and removes metabolic waste. Since the nutrition needs of a bodybuilder are far greater than that of the average person, we need to take every advantage of supplying ample energy to replace damaged tissues in abundance. Taking in a significant portion of protein, generally in a shake, is recommended before bed to fight off the catabolic effects of seven to eight hours of fasting. Since we now have the proper building blocks in our system, let's force more into the muscle when it needs it the most.

We have all done our sets of 50 push-ups before a date arrives for one last “pump.” In most cases that soon-to-be-failed relationship will be the basis for another champion emerging from a broken heart—but that's another story. It’s debatable how long that bulked-up feeling lasts for, but one thing we know for sure: Whether we get a 30-minute pump or a three-hour tour, we can all agree that the more blood pooling into the trained muscles the better.

To increase my gains, I’ve been doing normal random split routines for my daily workouts. Just before retiring for the night, I consume a high-protein shake. Thirty minutes later I use strength bands to do high-rep sets that activate the muscles I trained earlier that day in order to force more plasma into the affected muscle groups. Since more nutrients become available, the chance for growth increases. I look at this tactic the way: When a sport is that competitive, you bet I’m going to do what I can for first place rather than second. If dedicating an extra 10 minutes to my daily routine gives me a one-percent competitive edge, I am going to do it.

Here is the split I use. If yours differ, just use a set of bands to perform at least two to three high-rep sets of each muscle group you trained earlier that day. You’re looking for a pump, not more muscle damage, so keep the resistance relatively light and rests short. I like to use giant sets or super sets to keep the pace fast. This pre-bedtime ritual should only take about 10 minutes.




Chest/Biceps: Attach the band to a secure hook or some immovable object. Facing away from the wall, push forward holding the handles of the bands to do a chest press motion. Perform 30 reps and then go into a flye for another 30 reps. As you bring your hands in, slightly curl your arms to recruit the biceps. After flyes, go straight into full biceps curls. Repeat two more times and get to bed. It’s important to note that this is not an exercise performed to failure. Adjust reps accordingly.




Delts/Abs: Stand on the center of the resistance band and perform lateral and anterior raises in groups of 30. To add in recruiting the abdominal muscles, simply do an anterior raise, hold your hands at eye level, and slowly crunch downward, then come back up. The moves should be smooth and relatively easy. Remember, we are not breaking down muscles, we are supplying them with nutrients.




Back/Triceps: Use the same setup as we did for chest/biceps, but this time face the point of attachment. With a handle in each hand, take a few steps back and put light tension on the band. You can do this seated, standing, or kneeling. Perform a row, bringing both elbows behind your back, and then transition into a triceps kickback in one fluid motion. Then follow up with some reverse flyes. Perform three giant sets of 30 reps of each exercise.




Legs: For a quick leg pump, I like banded squats to calf raises. Step on the middle of the band and then loop the band over your feet (this will prevent it from snapping you in the ass when you do the calf raise). Hold each handle at shoulder height with your palms facing up. Drop into a squat and come back up. At the top of the squat, extend into a full calf raise. Perform three super sets of 30 reps each. IM


One Time At Band Camp

Over the last few years, bands have become a highly respected training tool for both strength and physique athletes. For this workout, in which you don’t want to stimulate your central nervous system or accrue muscle damage, bands are the perfect intervention.  Here are four major advantages to training with bands:

1) Bands provide consistent resistance.

2) The load gradually increases as the bands stretch and go from an elastic to plastic state.

3) They are very forgiving on your joints.

4) Bands are highly portable and adaptable for home use.

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