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Rotation for Recuperation

Muscle Energetics: Anaerobic Glycolysis, Part 2

In IRONMAN's Home Gym Handbook the point was made that if you want to build mass as rapidly as possible, you should make phase training, or intensity cycling, one of your basic bodybuilding tools. You've undoubtedly noticed the phase-training concept in the various periodization programs that turn up frequently in bodybuilding magazines, and you've probably heard quite a few people talking about its muscle-building benefits. Talking about it and actually doing it are two completely different things, however.

* So many trainees swear by the phase approach-they just never quite get around to switching to those necessary low-intensity workouts that allow the body's recovery system to complete its job. Here's why:

* When gains are coming at a furious pace, you don't want to cut back your intensity for fear of slamming on the bodybuilding brakes.

* When you're making slow-to-no gains, you reason that the only way to get past the plateau is with gut-busting effort.

Because most bodybuilders spend their training careers in one or the other of these situations, they keep the pedal to the metal at almost every workout. Unfortunately, as you probably already know, if you push yourself constantly without a break, you can drive your body into an overtraining rut that's as deep as the Grand Canyon.

For all of those trainees who understand and believe in the phase-training concept-and let's hope that's the majority-but who never feel that the time is right to crank down the intensity, there is a way to shift into low gear without being fully conscious that you're doing it. You just employ a little psychological trickery, which can go a long way when you're trying to temper the obsession for mass that keeps you pushing to the limit every time you hit the iron. It's easy enough to do: Simply overhaul your exercises-and I mean every one-every four to six weeks. This is the Rotation-for-Recuperation concept, and it's a good one.

By completely revamping your routine, you can still go all out without really going all out. Although that may sound contradictory, it's not if you understand the concept of specificity of training and how your body adapts to high-intensity work. When you incorporate a new exercise into your workout, it usually takes a week or two for your body to get used to it. For the first three or four sessions your coordination improves, and you eventually find the right groove. In other words, during those initial workouts you learn how to efficiently perform the movement so that you contract the fibers in the working muscles or muscle groups more effectively.

You've no doubt noticed how fast your strength improves on a new exercise for the first few weeks. The learning process is part of the reason that this strength surge occurs. What you may not realize is that during those two weeks of learning-or relearning-an exercise, your intensity is lower, even if you're going to failure on the new movement. So you can see how changing your entire exercise lineup will automatically lower your intensity a notch or two for a few workouts.

Let's say that you want to follow proper phase-training protocol-four to six weeks of high-intensity training followed by two weeks of low-intensity work-but you just can't corral your motivation long enough to stop your sets short of positive failure. You have a couple of choices:

1) Do completely different routines every six weeks, pushing every set to positive failure, or at least very close to it. This automatically builds in two weeks of lower-intensity work as you relearn the new exercises, which are followed by four weeks of higher-intensity sessions after your coordination and muscle-contracting abilities get up to speed.

2) Do your favorite routine for four to six weeks, then do a completely new workout for one week before going back to your original routine for another four to six weeks. Here you get a lower-intensity learning phase during the one week of new exercises as well as during the first week back on your old program.

Use this Rotation-for-Recuperation tactic throughout your bodybuilding career to help avoid overtraining and to spark more growth. It works with any training strategy. Take a look at the two basic routines at the end of this chapter and you'll get a true understanding of this concept. All of the routines in this book come with an alternate so that you can incorporate Rotation for Recuperation in whichever approach you choose.

Phase training is essential for fast rapid mass gains, so don't be afraid of a little psychological trickery. With it you can treat yourself to some monstrous size and strength.

Editor's note: The following routines are also perfect for breaking back into training after a layoff. If you're trying to bring your muscles out of winter hibernation, ease into one of these routines for two weeks-no straining-then begin upping the intensity. Watch for a more extensive routine on this Web site in another six weeks that's perfect as a follow up to these two.

Basic Routine 1

Monday & Thursday
Quadriceps Squats
2 x 10-15
Hamstrings Stiff-legged deadlift
1 x 10-15
Chest Bench presses
2 x 8-12
Lats Chinups
2 x 8-12
Midback Bent-over barbell rows
Cable rows 1 x 8-12
Deltoids Behind-the-neck presses 2 x 8-12
Wide-grip upright rows 1x 8-12
Calves One-legged calf raises
Standing calf machine 2 x 12-20
Triceps Lying triceps extensions 1 x 8-12
Biceps Barbell curls 1 x 8-12
Abdominals Crunches 1 x 15-25

*Do one light warmup set with about 70 percent of your work weight, then take a heavy weight that allows you to get the first rep range listed (8 on most exercises). After this set, rest one to 1 1/2 minutes, then do another set with the same weight. On both work sets do as many reps as possible, pushing until another rep in perfect form is impossible.

Note: This routine is excerpted from IRONMAN's Mass-Training Tactics by Steve Holman.

Basic Routine 2

Monday & Thursday
Quadriceps One-leg squats
Front squats
Leg presses 2 x 10-15
Hamstrings Leg curls
Good mornings 1 x 10-15
Chest Incline dumbbell presses 2 x 8-12
Lats Undergrip chins
Undergrip pulldowns 2 x 8-12
Midback Incline dumbbell rows
T-bar rows 1 x 8-12
Deltoids Seated dumbbell presses 2 x 8-12
Lateral raises 1 x 8-12
Calves Donkey calf raises 2 x 12-20
Triceps Bench dips 1 x 8-12
Biceps Alternate dumbbell curls 1 x 8-12
Abdominals Reverse crunches 1 x 15-25

*Do one light warmup set with about 70 percent of your work weight, then take a heavy weight that allows you to get the first rep range listed (8 on most exercises). After this set, rest one to 1 1/2 minutes, then do another set with the same weight. On both work sets do as many reps as possible, pushing until another rep in perfect form is impossible.

Note: This routine is excerpted from IRONMAN's Mass-Training Tactics by Steve Holman.

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