It was a rare but welcome rainy day here in my newly adopted hometown of Fort Lauderdale, Florida, where we had just come through about three straight weeks of sunny, blazingly hot weather. At this point I think most everyone was looking for a little cooling down—well, all except for me, that is! While most people were happy to stay at home and listen to the raindrops rhythmically pounding against their windows, I was looking to heat up my shoulders at the local L.A. Fitness with a little Power/Rep Range/Shock treatment.
It was about 5 p.m. when I arrived, and by then it was raining so hard, I had to make a mad dash from my car to the gym. Luckily, I don’t have a single hair on my head, so no worries about getting my do messed up. (Ah, the perks of being bald.)
Once inside I said a few hellos to some gym regulars and then headed for the locker room for my “pregame warmup.” After a quick trip to the restroom, I downed about 10 grams of BCAAs, five grams of L-glutamine and 2.5 grams of creatine mixed in water, which has become rather widely know as the Body FX Cocktail (Body FX being my screen name on many of the bodybuilding message boards). I then grabbed my belt, towel and straps, cranked up my MP3 player with a little Godsmack, and muttered to myself, “Okay, let’s go to war!”
As I was walking out of the locker room, I ran into a friend whose name is Charles; however, I affectionately refer to him as “Up-Chuck.” And, yes, it’s exactly what you’re thinking. Every time I train with Charles, he ends up in the bathroom, praying to the porcelain god. Great thing about Up-Chuck, though, is that he keeps coming back for more. Yeah, we’ve put in some great workouts together, even when he’s not tossing his cookies.
“Eric! What’s up, playa?”
“Not much. Just here for some deltoid detonation!”
“You’re training shoulders today? So am I!”
“Cool. Did you start yet?”
“No, I just got here. Can I train with you?”
“That depends: How close to the workout did you eat?”
“Oh, stop! I won’t puke from shoulders!”
“You said the same thing about the arm workout we did two weeks ago, and—”
“Okay, okay…but I came back and finished the workout, didn’t I?
“Yes, you absolutely did. You are a warrior, bro!”
We continued our conversation as we walked out to the free-weight area, where I started to warm up my rotator cuffs with some internal- and external-rotation exercises (yeah, I’m getting old!), as well as a series of light lateral raises.
“So, Eric, are you doing Power, Rep Range or Shock today? This is my Power week, but I will do whatever you’re doing.”
“Well, I’m doing all three!”
“Huh? I don’t get it.”
“This week I’m working with what I like to call Hybrid P/RR/S training.”
“Hybrid P/RR/S? Explain, please.”
“Hybrid P/RR/S combines elements from all three protocols into one workout. It’s something I like to add into the mix every four to eight weeks, and it provides a unique training experience. You activate the anabolic machinery through every possible physiological mechanism and stimulate the mind with the challenge.”
“So, how will it work with our shoulder training today?”
“Well, rather than tell you, I’ll just show you. Let’s get to work.”
First stop was the seated military press station. The goal was to follow the Power-week protocol, which means choosing a weight for your work sets that will take only four to six reps to get you to concentric failure. The lifting tempo is 4/0/X—a four-second eccentric rep with no pause—zero seconds—following it and then an explosive concentric contraction. The rest between sets for this particular movement would be about four minutes, to allow for maximum recovery and synthesis of ATP and creatine.
ALL “Do you always start a Hybrid workout using the Power-week protocol?” Up-Chuck queried.
“Yes—because Power training is best for stimulating the central nervous system, which then carries over into the rest of the workout.”
“And by stimulating the CNS, the benefit is what?”
“More-powerful muscle contractions and increased fiber recruitment.”
“Which means more growth potential?”
Luckily, when it comes to shoulders, Charles and I are of very similar strength levels, and we were able to follow the same warmup and work-weight patterns:
Warmup: 135 x 10
Warmup: 185 x 7
Warmup: 225 x 4
Work set: 255 x 5
Work set: 255 x 4
Work set: 245 x 5
“Damn, Eric, those felt great! I’ve been using your preworkout cocktail consistently lately, and it has made a big difference.”
“Like with everything in this game, my friend, the basics work the best.”
“Okay, what’s next?”
“The reverse-flye machine for rear delts!”
“And what style are we using here?”
“Bro, you have no style. I mean, look at you, still wearing baggy clown pants from the 1980s.”
“Yeah, yeah, and the chicks love me. Always smiling my way.”
“No, bro, they’re laughing, not smiling!”
“You’re a real comedian. Are we using Rep Range or Shock training for this movement?”
The reverse-flye machine is definitely my favorite exercise for rear delts. Although I will also use various dumbbell and cable bent-over lateral raises, I find I get the tightest contraction in my posteriors delts from reverse flyes.
On this occasion we used a pronated grip, so our palms were facing the floor. I actually prefer that to the semisupinated grip on this movement.
Because we were using the Rep Range protocol, our goal would be to get seven to nine reps on set one, 10 to 12 reps on set two and 13 to 15 on set three, again working to positive failure on each. Our rest between sets was about two minutes, and the lifting tempo was 2/1/2/1—a two-second negative with a one-second pause before we performed the positive portion of the rep in two seconds. The final number in the tempo refers to the contraction point. With movements on which you can get a strong peak contraction, like this one, I often add a one-second pause there for even more muscle-stimulating action.
Here’s how our sets panned out:
Warmup: 120 x 8
Work set: 180 x 9
Work set: 165 x 12
Work set: 150 x 14
“Man, Eric, I am loving this! Going from four to six reps to seven to 15 reps feels great! The pump is outrageous. I feel like someone just injected my delts with synthol!”
“God forbid, bro! Your delts look round and full, not distorted, like synthol users’ shoulders!”
“You know what I mean, you mad scientist! What’s next?”
“I’m not sure. How are you feeling? You look a little pale.”
“Oh, stop! I’m fine! Bring it on!”
I must admit that when Up-Chuck told me to bring it on, I immediately became quite motivated to see him on his knees doing the Technicolor yawn. And what better way to accomplish that than with some Shock-week techniques?
My exercises of choice for what would be a postactivation superset—a compound movement followed immediately by an isolation movement—were wide-grip barbell upright rows and seated laterals. That combo really zeroes in on the medial-deltoid heads. I’m a great believer in paying the most attention to the medial, or side, delts, as they’re not only the most difficult delt heads to develop but also the ones that do the most to improve the overall look of a physique.
Since we were about to engage in a Shock-week protocol, the corresponding rules would apply: A lifting tempo of 1/0/1, keeping the up-and-down movement almost constant and the rest between sets to the minimum time it takes to catch your breath and mentally prepare for the next assault.
After I did my first superset, I told Up-Chuck to add X-Reps partials to his seated laterals. Yes, I was trying to send my friend over the edge.
Our two delt-destroying supersets were as follows:
Work Superset 1
Upright Rows, 135 x 10
Seated Laterals, 40 x 9
Work Superset 2
Upright Rows, 135 x 9
Seated Laterals, 40 x 8
“Holy crap, my delts are torched!” Up-Chuck exclaimed. “Seriously, Eric. I can’t even lift my arms.”
“Yeah, Hybrid P/RR/S usually has that effect because the muscles and CNS are literally attacked from every angle.”
“So let me ask you: Should I work Hybrid week into my regular P/RR/S rotation?”
“For the past year or so I’ve occasionally done a full four weeks straight of Hybrid P/RR/S—but I change the workouts completely each week. Remember, however, that I’ve been using P/RR/S for six years. You’ve been using my program for only six months, so I suggest you hit a Hybrid week every seventh week in the rotation (P/RR/S/P/RR/S/H).”
“Cool, man. That was an amazing workout.”
“I’m glad you enjoyed it! And look at that, you didn’t even end up with your head in the toilet bowl!”
“Guess you have to stop calling me Up-Chuck, bro.”
“Not so fast my often-vomiting friend. Tomorrow is legs. Care to join me?” IM