I spend about an hour searching this site for block training, more specifically accumulation/intensification phases. I understand that it is based on the dual factor theory, fitness vs Fatigue. I was wondering if you would give your 2 cents on this subject, and explain in detail on this topic. Also, do you find this type of training superior for strength and size gains, or do you prefer different protocols? If so, what are they?
Thanks for your time and help. Much is appreciated!
LOL! Man I wish I had that kind of knowledge to write about a book. Call it paralysis by analysis, but I am just trying to learn all about training, and was thinking T-Nation would be a great place to do it. I love all the great info on this site, and if I can get it for free, 100's of post are worth it! Haha! I learned you can incorporate everything that sounds good to you or is effective. I am just at the point where reading this stuff just makes me "happy" lol. Well I appreicate the inputs. Thanks
Were a guy to have aspirations of writing an aricle or 20 for T-Nation, he'd get all the goods beat out of him before ever being published.
I like undulation, conjugation, and random or irregular cycles. The fun part is integration of the above. You can really do any type of an individual workout and simply move to a significantly different set of parameters for the 2nd, 3rd, or 4th workouts in that weekly micocycle. Conjugation. With this as a microcycle base, I then like to use an undulating pattern in 2 or 3 week "swings". One being a bit more focused on a particular strength quality and the other being something related but different. Say, total hyper mixed with funct hyper for the meathead in us all. Or strength mixed with power. etc... If your goal is size then keep the frequency high(necessary for all qualitites) and volume to at least 25 or so per session per body area. Once you've got a conjugation weekly microcycle, an undulating mesocycle (lasting 4-6 weeks) and then you can get "crazy" and maneuver this into a random cycle such as Tsatsouline likes to use. For a good example, check out the irregular wave cycling in Jack Reape's latest article.
I don't like western periodizaiton as it's phases are too narrow and don't allow for optimal retention of various strength qualitites that one spent time on in earlier cycles. Really ignorant approach overall. It'll work to a degree, but then making 3 lefts equals making a right too. You just burn mucho gas and look stupid in the process. See my point?
Bompa has some good stuff in his book (Serious Strength Training), but don't latch on to the linear periodization. He has specific cycles that are good for size (both total and functional). Just don't follow the traditional AA, H, M, MS, T sytle. If you want mass and strength then take his H, M, and MS stuff and use sufficient volume. Then be sure to coax your weights and/or volume upward slowly. There must be an overall trend toward imposing greater demands while respecting the fact that at your current level, you can only hand so much stimulation before it becomes excessive.
Periodization is just a fancy way of trying to further a particular quality(s) by drawing upon and building off of pervious fitness gains. It is in essence trying to find the best way to capitalize on the Dual Factory Theory of maximizing fitness while minimizing fatigue. And a good way to enhance any one quality, for example strength, is to include necessary and properly timed elements that focus on hypertrophy (allowing for increased strength potential via greater cross section) or speed while still focusing on the one primary goal.
The above is why I think conjugation is best overall. Undulating and random are very good also, so feel free to play around with those.
Use ABBH for example. Start with 10x3 at 80%. Slowly move your way up to 10x5 by week 3.
Week 1: 10x3 at 80% w/60 sec rest Week 2: 10x4 at 80% w/60 sec rest Week 3: 10x5 at 80% w/60 sec rest
Then we will back off a bit to allow for delayed transmutation (let all the gains come in). You could do this in a number of ways...
Week 4: 8x3 at 80% w/150 sec rest Week 5: 8x3 at 80% w/150 sec rest Week 6: off.
This is just a quick, simple example of how you could move your body closer and closer to acute overtraining, then undulate into a "back off" peroid with a lessened volume and density for full expression of gains. Next time it must be a bit more in some fashion. Say doing the whole thing at 82.5% or any number of other variants.
It's tough to really pin down periodization when you understand that in essence it's much more esoteric than standard western though has made it. It is just utilizing the needed fact the progressive overload is essential for any organism to continue to positively adapt, but at any given time, said organism has a limited momentary adaptive range that it is capable of moving in. Periodization is trying to find that sweet spot.
Hey DH! Thanks for the great response! You always provide a deep and thoughrough answer. I have a few questions though.
1) You talked about a conjugated microcycle, switching parameters from every session. Is this like CT's Quattro Dynamo? or SFMS?
2) Do you use this type for 1 week? then follow it with 4-6 weeks of undulating training?
3) What do you mean by "Swings"?
4) CT generously provided his expertises on Block training, specifically Accum/Intens. Basically he prescribed an accumulation phase where 50% of the weekly volume is devoted to hypertrophy while 50% is divided between Power and strength for maitenance. Then Vice Versa for the intensification phase. I was wondering if you could give your 2 cents, and maybe throw it a little Block training a la hoss on this subject? Thanks for your time!
Well, without getting uber technical and hairy here, undulation is the "swing". Like a pendulum. That is what CT is having you do in the block sequence you mention below. Lets say you want to train whole body 3x per week to make this simple and effective. Your goals are the following, and in this order:
speed strength (exp. power)
Well this so happens to be what the guys at Westside are after too, ableit with a differing priority order.
On day 1 you'd pick a total hypertrophy parameter such as 3x10 using about 70% 1rm. Use 90 sec rest
On day 3 you'd pick either a pure strength parameter such as 3x3 or a hypertrophy strength parameter such as 5x5, 10x3, 8x4 using at least 80% 1rm if you really want some mass focus Use 60 sec rest
On day 5 you'd pick 8x3 using about 55% 1rm for explosive reps. Use 60 sec rest
As you can see we are using CP (conjugate periodization) during this microcycle of one week.
Now, pay attention. We will using conjugation INSIDE of undulation. What I laid out above will be the first week of our "accumulation" or volume focused phase. We will "accumulate" for 3 weeks. So in week 2 we would then move the volume up on each day while keeping all else the same.
day 1: EITHER increase your reps by going 3x11 OR increase your sets by going 4x10. This is more volume and thus allowing for progressive overload to occur. still 90 sec rest
day 3: turn 5x5 (if that is what you chose the first week) into 6x5. We will add a set instead of reps to allow for a heavy enough (80%) load to still be used for a strength focus today. Or if you started out with 8x4 then bump it to 9x4. This again increases volume and this provides progressive overload. Still 60 sec rest
day 5: turn 8x3 into 9x3. Speed is still the focus so the load remains the same as in week 1. Still 60 sec rest
For the final week of "intensification" we will do this:
day 1: EITHER 4x12 OR 5x10 (sticking with the SAME method you picked in week 2 ie. if you increase only reps in week 2 then increase only reps in week 3) Rest 90 sec
day 3: EITHER 7x5 or 10x4. Follow same method you chose in weeks 1 and 2. Rest 60 sec.
day 5: 10x3 speed day. All else same as previous weeks on speed day.
We have now completed our volume or "accumulation" phase.
For the next 3 weeks we will "undulate" into a strength focused phase while still conjugating our weekly microcycle.
day 1: 5x3, 6x3 or 7x3 on a strength day. Pick one. A lowered volume compared to the previous phase.
day 3: 3x8 on a hypertrophy day. A lowered volume compared to previous phase.
day 5: 8x2,9x2 or 10x2 on a speed day. Pick only one and stick to it. A lowered volume compared to the previous phase
Now I like to keep this phase (intensification) for about 2-3 weeks. In each week I keep the loading and volume the same BUT I increase the rest peroids. On week 1 of this intensification phase use 120 secs. Week 2 use 150 secs. Week 3 (if used) use 180 secs. This will allow you to get stronger and recuperate from the volume phase as well. You will keep all the mass gains because you are getting a "size" day in the last 3 weeks still to hold you over, plus your loading is high while each week being progressively easier by giving longer rest. Your gains will "solidify".
We undulate from a volume focus of 3 weeks to a intensity focus for 2-3 weeks with lesser volume and density. You ramp up and then coast down. Your overall structure is undulation, but your weekly approach is conjugation. After this 5-6 week phase, feel free to take a week off and start again.
Thanks for the info DH! I was wondering what you thought about this.
CT explained that you could possibly train hypertrophy every session while switching off with strength and power for the accum, allowing most volume for size.
Allow me to explain.
Mon- Strength 30 min Hypertrophy 30 min Wed- Power 30 min Hypertrophy 30 min Fri Strength 30 min Hypertrophy 30 min Sun- Power 30 min Hypertrophy 30 min
So for the whole week, you will have 2 hours devoted to size, while 1 hour for power and 1 hr for strength on matienance.
I really like your training ideas and split on this. I was just thinking though, that what CT recommends isn't undulating, as the parameters do not vary every session. Just in terms of progression, where sets, density, are added. What do you think?
Is it important to vary loads through out the week?