Q: I’ve been reading up on all your workouts and columns and am very thankful for your information and for your dedication to staying natural and promoting health and fitness—while still looking huge and monstrous! Do you have any suggestions for a power-building type routine that works everything twice a week? I know that less is more with this stuff, but I like training, and, as you know, it’s hard to walk a line between overreaching and stimulating enough to grow. I want to train as much as I can, and I feel two times a week is perfect, but I want to avoid overuse injuries. Any advice would be much appreciated. Also, I know that a lot of guys your age write to you with kind words, but I gotta say that as a 24-year-old man I consider you a kick-ass inspiration. You are giving me something to look forward to!
A: Thank you for your kind words. It’s really nice to know that the over-40 folks are not the only ones who read my column and appreciate my physical work! I didn’t start out old, and I wish I knew at 23 what I know now.
First, I want to address your question about training bodyparts more than once per week. When I was in my early-to-middle 20s, I trained muscle groups two times per week. Like you, I was young, enthusiastic and loved going to the gym. For the first 12 years I usually trained five to six times per week. It worked out great for the first few years, but then my muscle gains slowed to a crawl of one or two pounds a year. After 12 years of training and competing (very successfully), I needed to step up my game in order to be competitive on the pro level as a drug-free bodybuilder.
The thing that worked incredibly well for me was cutting back my off-season training to three days per week, training each bodypart only once per week. That said, I’ve come to realize that how hard you train is probably the biggest factor in determining the optimal frequency of training for you. Especially if you are a competitive bodybuilder hell-bent on adding muscle, you learn to train harder and harder over the years. The harder you train, the more recovery time you need—and the older you are, the more recovery time you need. At your age you should have optimal hormone levels and recovery ability.
Here’s a power-bodybuilding program that should help you gain size and strength without overtaxing your ability to recover. Pay close attention to chronic soreness (especially joints) and any dips in strength. I would highly recommend keeping a workout journal in which you record every set, rep and weight that you perform, as well as any soreness or fatigue that is out of the norm. If your strength drops, or if you have persistent soreness, you should drop back to training each bodypart once per week for at least a month.
This workout is a combination of volume training and high-intensity training. It’s set up on an eight-day rotation (which I personally would have a hard time with; I like training certain bodyparts on certain days of the week). The variations in training style and the built-in rest days should enable you to recover sufficiently—especially at your age.
After a few months on this program you may want to investigate Dr. Mike Zourdos’s daily undulating periodization program, known as DAP. I had the pleasure of hearing him speak on training frequency and got to talk with him afterward. Mike, who’s an accomplished drug-free powerlifter, has his powerlifting team squatting three times per week, and he’s experimented on himself, squatting up to 72 consecutive days. His thoughts on human adaptability to exercise are intriguing, although I must note that much (if not all) of his work has been done with college-age lifters, his powerlifting team. You are still in the age group that enjoys elevated recovery ability, so you may want to take advantage of that.
For the sake of simplicity I’m defining a week as one eight-day rotation.
Day 1: Volume Legs
Leg presses, 6 x 20
Squats, 4 x 12, 10, 8, 20
Leg curls. 4 x 12
Leg extensions, 4 x 12
Standing calf raises, 5 x 15
Day 2: Chest, Front Delts,
Medial Delts, Triceps
Bench presses, 5 x 10
Incline dumbbell presses, 4 x 10
Cable crossovers, 2 x 15
Standing barbell presses, 4 x 10
Lateral raises, 4 x 12
Dips, 4 x max
Day 3: Back, Rear Delts,
Pullups, 4 x max
Seated cable rows, 4 x 10
One-arm dumbbell rows, 3 x 12
Rear-delt-machine flyes, 4 x 12
Dumbbell shrugs, 3 x 12
Barbell curls, 4 x 10
Day 4: Off
Day 5: Off
Day 6: Powerlifting Day*
Day 7: Shoulders, Arms, Abs
Seated dumbbell presses,
5 x 12, 10, 8, 6, 15
Lateral raises, 4 x 10
Bent-over dumbbell laterals, 4 x 10
Skull crushers, 4 x 15
Pressdowns, 4 x 12
Seated dumbbell curls, 4 x 12
EZ-curl-bar cable curls, 4 x 15
Hanging knee raises, 4 x max
Crunches, 4 x max
Day 8: Off
• Do as many warmup sets as you feel necessary but for no more than six reps each.
• Rest three to four minutes between sets.
• Take 10-to-15-minute rests between exercises.
• Do squats, bench presses and deadlifts.
Week 1: 3 sets x 6 reps x 85% 1RM
Week 2: 4 sets x 4 reps x 90%
Week 3: 5 sets x 2 reps x 95%
Week 4: 3 sets x 2 reps x 98%
Week 5: 3 singles
First x 95%
Second x 100%
Third x 105%
On week 6 recalculate based on your new maxes.
Week 6: 2 sets x 2 reps x 98%
Week 7: 4 sets 2 reps x 95%
Week 8: 4 sets x 4 reps x 90%
Week 9: 3 sets x 6 reps x 85%
Week 10: Drop the powerlifting day from your schedule. If everything has gone well, start another cycle the follow week. Or just e-mail me for other ideas! Good luck, and let me know how it works for you!
Train hard, and eat clean!
Editor’s Note: See Dave Goodin’s blog at www.IronManMagazine.com. Click on Blogs in the top menu bar. Check out his new Web site at Shredderbuilt.com. To contact Dave directly, send e-mail to [email protected] IM
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