Hard to believe, but it’s true. The summer is actually over and it’s time for us to go back to another gaining phase. One thing’s for certain: The constant experimentation with routines and diet, along with our new, or often revised, goals has managed to somehow keep us motivated for yet another year. In that sense, this winter isn’t much different than last. We did have a more successful summer this year, but we’re still motivated to make next summer even better. Well, after a brief and well-deserved one week layoff, it’s time for a no-holds-barred growthfest… within reason, of course.
While last winter’s training and diet did lead to some good gains, I personally felt a bit uncomfortable in my own skin. I tend to get used to, and enjoy, the feeling of being in good shape. Once I get to a point that I can feel the skin around my waist bouncing as I drive along the freeway, I start to lose that good feeling. This winter I’ll be concentrating on putting on quality muscle, while maintaining a decent amount of conditioning’as long as it doesn’t interfere with my main goal of building muscle, my biggest priority.
The first thing we’ve had to do is change the amount of volume we’re doing. By simply using a three-day split, and not training on Wednesdays, we can easily accomplish that goal without making it too drastic of a change. By not training on Wednesdays, we get a nice mid-week recovery day as well as a way to mix up the routine’and our minds if we lose track of what bodypart we’re supposed to be training, but that’s another story all together. With this routine, only one workout gets repeated within the same week so we’re guaranteed to get enough recovery between sessions. We’re also alternating between postactivation-based and standard POF-based workouts. Therefore, when the bodypart that was trained on Monday is trained again on Friday, we’re not repeating the same type of training techniques. As many readers may recall, we did a variation of the postactivation technique in our previous routine. We were happy with the results and are giving it a real chance to work better by using it on our heavy training day now.
For those who are new readers, or if you just don’t remember, you may want to read Michael G’ndill’s full explanation of postactivation training. A very basic explanation is that we do a modified superset between a compound movement and an isolation movement in order to increase muscle fiber recruitment. The superset is ‘modified’ in that you allow yourself to rest between sets, but you still alternate the exercises, rather than doing a few sets of one movement and then moving on to the next. Most people tend to react differently to various training stimuli, including targeting different muscle fibers. This technique is one of the reasons we seem to have been able to stoke our muscle gains once again. Not only has the use of this technique allowed us to feel the exercises more in the targeted areas, in many cases it’s also increased the number of reps we can get in subsequent sets’a fairly surprising side effect.
On our POF days, we’ve stuck to a mostly standard protocol of midrange, stretch and contracted positions’in that order. In many cases we’ve also been doing drop sets or stage sets on the last movement. Steve seems to react better to that type of training, so he does them more constantly than I. I do, however, use both techniques on a more instinctive basis. If my reps stay too low, or I simply don’t get the pump I’m after, I’ll incorporate either one of those techniques. It’s not laziness that keeps me from doing them all the time, however. Just the opposite, in fact. I actually feel both stage and drop sets very well and enjoy doing them. I just have to be careful, as I seem to respond to them better by doing them intermittently. When we were dieting and trying to get as cut as possible, I’d have avoid them at times or risk losing muscle. That’s just more proof that people with seemingly similar physiques can still react so differently to various techniques based on the muscle fibers being used.
One technique that we have added to our new routine that I can do without much worry of muscle loss is the stretch burns. This is done at the end of a stretch movement. After you’ve reached failure, you simply allow yourself to go back into the full-stretch position and do small partial rep burns until you really reach failure. It probably won’t be many reps, but it can add to an already great pump and an incredible burn.
As most of you are already quite familiar with the standard POF workouts, I’ll just give a brief sample of the postactivation routine. Below is the what we’re using for the heavy postactivation lat workout, which also incorporates the stretch burns:
Modified Superset for postactivation
Wide-grip chins 2-3 x 6-8
Stiff-arm pulldowns 2-3 x 8-10
Machine pullovers (with stretchburns) 1 x 8-10
As noted before, we’ve found that the modified postactivation supersets make a great change, and we’re often stronger, or at least feel the exercises much better, on the second round. While this may look brief, keep in mind that you are resting during the modified supersets, and this is only a small part of the training day. With lats, we also do midback, biceps and forearms. You can view the full routine, including an alternative, time-sensitive version, in Train, Eat, Grow in the December 2001 IRONMAN.
This routine is proving to be just the change we needed after our summer sessions. We’re already planning the next routine too, which looks to be quite a bit different that anything we’ve done thus far, so stay tuned.
To follow the ITRC training program in ‘Train, Eat, Grow,’ get a copy of the latest issue of IRONMAN. For more on POF training go to www.ironmanmagazine.com.
This special report was submitted by Jonathan Lawson
From the IRONMAN Training & Research Team
The ITRC Training Newsletter is not intended as training advice for everyone. You must consult your physician before beginning any diet or training program. You may forward this email to as many friends as you want, but do not photocopy or reprint this report in any format without the written permission of the copyright holder.
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