Honestly, you don't have the balls to use the advanced training principles I'm about to outline in this article. This training method usually only works with elite, coached athletes – athletes forced into the gym and driven into the ground by a hard-driving high-level coach.
The training is brutal. Your body will scream. The psychological effect is agonizing. Your mind will rebel.
You will want to quit. Very few of you will even attempt this type of training.
That's good. Most people shouldn't even try it. It's not for them. It very likely isn't for you. You can't handle it.
In spite of all of the above, I'll show you this madness. But you've been warned.
That Which Does Not Kill Us...
One of my earliest mentors (no, not Nietzsche himself) once said that unless athletes start complaining of tendonitis, they're not training hard enough. They should train until they're literally depressed, then back off.
In other words, if you're not making progress in the gym, smash yourself into the ground for two weeks – purposefully overtrain until you're mentally depressed and your body is about to shutdown – then take five-seven days off. When you come back into the gym, you'll hit new personal bests.
Hypertrophy, for example, is an adaptation to a biological stress. If something doesn't kill you, then the more you put stress on it, the more it'll adapt. If the .22 caliber doesn't work, use a .50 caliber.
This type of training can be manipulated to work for pure strength gains, to develop hypertrophy, or to correct a weak muscle group or body part.
The idea of planned, brutal overtraining isn't new. I didn't invent this; many have come to these same conclusions. Some have stumbled upon the idea even by accident
Many athletes have learned this lesson the hard way. "Fatigue masks fitness" they say. In other words, when run into the ground, you can't really see where an athlete's potential is.
Can you benefit from this training style? Yes, if you can stick to it. Let's talk about why that's probably not going to happen.
YOU HAVE TO BE WEAK TO BE STRONG." AYURVEDIC MEDICINE PARADYGM
So the idea is simple: train yourself into the ground for two weeks, take five-seven days off, and come back to rebound and break your size and strength plateaus. But here's the catch: during the two weeks of loading/forced overtraining, your goal is to LOSE strength... then keep right on training!
When people get weaker they stop. That's a mistake on this program. You have to go until you get much weaker. You must shoot for a drop of 20% in strength. So if the weight you use for a certain exercise is 100 pounds for sets of 8, then at the end of the two weeks you should have a hard time doing sets of 8 with 80 pounds.
If you lose more than 20% that's even better. I've seen guys lose as much as 40%.
If at the end of the two weeks you're happy and cheery, then you must have used the pink dumbbells for all the exercises. I've seen guys whining, asking if they could go home!
The point is, you have to be very clear that you won't quit for two weeks. You'll get to the point where every joint hurts, and you'll see your weights tank. You may start your squats with 300 pounds on Monday and by the next Friday only be able to use 240. That's when you know you're doing it right.
And so begins the physical and psychological agony. And there's more: you're going to lose muscle at first too. But during and after your off period, if you eat correctly, you'll gain that back and usually another five-six pounds in one shot.
A 200 pound man may go 190 by the end of the two weeks. Then he will slingshot past his previous best and hit 205-206 (same or even slightly lower % body fat) If he follows the program and if he has the testicular fortitude to accept the initial losses.
So, by the end of the first two weeks of this program, you will:
Be chronically overtrained
Experience aching tendons and joints
Be brutally sore (and train right through it)
Be mentally fried
Feel like killing anything that moves or makes noise
If you don't experience these things at the end of two weeks, then you didn't do it right.
But let's keep our eyes on the prize here. This isn't just self-torture. If you can get through the two weeks of loading, then properly execute the five-seven day recovery period, then you will, without a shadow of a doubt, blast though your previous strength and/or hypertrophy goals.
Your mouth will literally drop as the recovery process begins. You'll feel like your muscles are about to burst through your skin and your friends will accuse you of being on six grams of gear. The rewards are indeed great... if you survive the first two weeks.
The Super-Accumulation Program
I would do Total body training with this program if your main goal is hypertrophy. You'll be training six times a week for two weeks.
What's that? You can't train six days a week? Then screw off. This wasn't written for you.
Each set goes balls to the walls!
Not counting warm-ups, take each set to concentric failure. In other words, don't do a set of 8 with a weight you can rep to 15. Do sets of 8 with a weight you can only lift 8 times.
Use your normal recovery methods: pre-workout drinks, intra workout drinks, whatever. You'll need it. Take at least 20 grams of EAA'S during each workout. Yes, I said 20.
Your appetite will go up at first during the end of the two weeks of loading, then it will begin to decrease. That's a sign of overtraining by volume. The second sign is that you'll find you can't get enough sleep. Sneak in a nap anytime you can; the more sleep the better.
If you choose your own exercises, remember that all the movements you use have to be "most bang for your buck" exercises. Every exercise should involve at least two joints or more. No dumbbell flyes, kickbacks, or other Men's Health exercises done with pursed lips.
Don't mess with the recipe. If anything, add more training, but don't substitute dinky exercises. Don't do alternating dumbbell curls on the Bosu ball while holding a Bodyblade between your teeth.
During the two weeks of overreaching, if you don't bother to eat at least 1,5 grams of protein per pound of body weight, stay home.
Don't worry about direct arm work. You'll gain plenty of arm size without direct biceps and triceps work during this program if you choose to use dips, chins, and presses.
Now, if you want to use different exercises – back squat one day, 45° leg Press the second and hack squats the next day, etc. – that doesn't matter. But, week one and week two should look the same. You need to make sure of this so you'll be able to see if you got 20% weaker on those same exercises.
You have to make a contract with yourself to do the work. Reward yourself with a big dinner on the last Saturday night. No junk, plenty of GOOD food.
5-7 Day Recovery Period Guidelines
Off is off. No "recovery work." Besides, if you squat to failure for multiple sets 12 days in two weeks, you really think there's anything you're going to do without cursing?
During this five-seven days off, you'll want to eat something every hour and a half. Alternate solids meals with liquid meals. Always start with solid. Wake up and have a high protein breakfast – buffalo steak and berries, for example. Ninety minutes later, have a bunch of whey protein and carbohydrate powder.
If you don't eat and eat and eat, it's not going to work. Calories are the focus during this recovery period.
If you're not putting the weight back on, I don't have a problem with you eating some empty calories. Eat some ice cream if you want it. Five days of that isn't going to hurt you, especially considering the average American eats like that 365 days per year.
Massage and frequency-specific microcurrent acupuncture (when available) will accelerate recovery.
Once you start overeating, your joints and tendons will begin to feel better. In this five day phase, your whole demeanor and physique will change. You'll feel like the Incredible Hulk(on steroids, of course).
Back To The Gym
You trained to near-death for two weeks, then took five-seven days off. Now what?
After your off period, go to the gym and do your Monday morning workout from the loading phase. Take a day off. Then do Tuesday's workout. Your goal here is to evaluate your progress. Prepare yourself to see some major gains. After that, you can start the cycle all over again if you choose (doubtfully, nightmares about this program are going to last quite a bit).
You have to push yourself, both physically and mentally, to reap the massive benefits of this type of training. If you want to blast through your training plateaus, you have to pull out the big guns. And this program is the biggest gun in the arsenal.
The question is, are you man enough to pull the trigger?