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Big Scheme Progression


I've been learning a lot about BIGGER SCHEME progression (ie on the scale of weeks/programs) rather than just workout by workout and I need some help on figuring out what is best for my next program starting in a week.

Over the summer I focused on strenth - 4 total body workouts on M-Thu, then Fri-Sun off. Reps 8x3, 6x4, 3x12, and 4x7. I used 60 second rest periods and alternated exercises.

The last 3 weeks (and I will finish it out this week) I have done something different. I did not make great strength gains, but I have been busting out higher rep sets with 0-30 sec. rest with higher and higher weight each week. The workouts have been crazy hard. I did this last summer to lean out. The schedule was:

First 2 weeks - 6 total body workouts, am, am+pm, off, am, am+pm, off, off.

Last week: 8 total body workouts, am+pm on 4 days and now I get the weekend off!!! YAY. I need it.

Next week just 5 total body workouts (backoff week).

Now my ultimate goal is strength and SIZE (esp on legs). I have maintained weight in the last 3 weeks hoping to get super lean again before "bulking" starts again in 1 week. I probably screwed that up though because I had a milkshake yesterday on my last day of my 8 workout week - I am dissappointed in myself for messing up after being so precise the whole time.

Anyway, I am not sure what to try. Should I go back all the way to 60 sec. rest periods again? And how can I come off such a high high frequency plan to maximize gains? Do you think I am in "super comp" mode and should just take it easy for a whole week after next week? I tend to not rest enough and I think that can hinder gains? My waist has gone down 1 inch, but my legs have only remained constant size over this time. I want now to INCREASE the legs while maintaining a smaller waist.

Thanks for any ideas!


I'm not good at giving advice as precise as you appear to be asking for, but I have to ask why the emphasis on legs? Not that there's anything wrong with that.


My legs are a weakness - they just do NOT Grow!!! Naturally my body just has stick legs and a large waist!


no you just probably don't have the knowledge to achieve your goals efficiently. im sure ppl will help you with that though


Its hard to belive that some people have problem growing thier legs. Quad growth is probably the first thing a new lifter would notice if they are hitting legs hard.

I dont know why I felt the need to post this, feel free to ignore me.


I really dont see how you could have done true strength work with such short rest periods.
Maybe, just maybe, you could consider trying to use enough loading that your rest periods go up to like, 2 minutes.
If you can try to base your sets on how you feel.
If you dont feel rested enough, rest some more,if you feel rested before the 2 minute or any other rest period you choose, go for it, but give all you got on every set, dont just "acomplish" the reps.

And on the legs, i will assume that you are talking about quadriceps. The thing that is making my quadriceps grow quick is to use heavy weight for six reps.
I warm up, do two to three sets on the squat, then proceed to the leg press and more two sets.

I know its not fancy but i really believe that the effort you put on moving heavy loading surpasses any concerns with rest periods.

Hope it was not harsh, and treat as only a view of what has been working for me.


Thanks for the replies. I know my STRENGTH hasn't really gone up in the last 3 weeks with my super low rest - more endurance. But what I want to figure out is how often is okay to change?

CT talked about not changing goals too often or you'll never reach one. Well, is doing 4 weeks of short rest, high volume not long enough to warrent a change back to strength based? Am I just getting good at it so I should keep at it more, or is it time to shift gears back to strenth? That is what I'm wondering.

My main goal is SIZE by the way.

And by legs I mostly mean butt/hams, and quads as well.


Oh..so different response.
Butt/hams = Traditional deadlifts mainly for the butt and romenian/stiff legged deads.
I say to use one at a time, and give time to the exercise to show its effects on your physique.
After you know how you react to these exercises feel free to implement them.

I understood that your main goal is size.

One is not dissociated of the other. Geto to know what exercise shape your body in the way you want, and get strong at them. size will follow if your diet is good.

And questions: do you squat? if you do, how deep?
Do you leg press? if you do, do you use full ROM?

One thing that is imperative is that you find what exercises and rep ranges work best for you, so maybe its not a good idea to every 4 weeks to change everything... some adaptations take time, time that depends on many factors.
Small changes in training over big ones. Find something that works for your goal of size and stick with it until change is nescessary. And when this time comes, small changes.


Hmm. I do squats (full rom), front squats, deads (although I am limited by a strained hamstring), lunges, bulg. split squats (I hate them!!!), leg press only recently, ham curls, and glute kickbacks.

I just was wondering about the idea of periodization - cycling "strength" and "accumulation" phases? Is this not a good idea - so I should stick to one set/rep range until I'm good at it? How long is that? I've been doing the higher rep/ lower rest for 4 weeks - so how long should I stay with it before changing?



Muscle growth can only come with a caloric surplus. :slightly_smiling:


sarah1: At this point in time, rest periods and other minutia like that really don't matter at all to be honest with you.

The only things that matter as far as increasing the size of your muscles is supply and demand.

You have to force your muscles to get stronger (progressive strength gains for reps/demand)

Then you have to provide enough nutrients and create the right environment for growth to occur (rest, food and protein/supply)

In my opinion you are simply trying to do way too much. 4 weeks isn't long enough for practically ANYTHING when it comes to bodybuilding, even 4 months is pushing it if you're looking to gain muscle.

To answer your question about how often to change things.... you change things up when they stop working.
But you have to stick with something long enough to see results first!

Try just picking 1-2 exercises for each of your major muscle groups, and increasing your strength in those exercises. Couple that with a high calorie/protein diet, and consistent rest and over the course of several months you should be seeing progress as far as muscle gains go.


Hi there again sarah1.
I dont think there is a need for periodization right now.take the rep ranges more suited for hypertrophy ( 6 and above in most cases ) and just keep adding poundage or reps or both.

If you have a caloric surplus and adequate protein, you will see gains. They may come slowly at first, but is imperative that you simplify your training the most, too see what works for you and what not.

If you progress in the gym you will gain size. It just doesnt happen in 4 weeks.

And... yes, bulgarian split squats are evil.


Okay, that sounds good. Over the summer I found it really helped to kind of view my training as 4 week cycles though to keep me motivated. I would try to hold back the first week a little so then I could slowly increase and increase and by the 3rd week the workouts were SO hard!!! BUT I had in my mind that the next week I would have to back off, so I pushed even harder. Then I switched exercises up a bit and did it again.

So I guess I will just try something like that again with the basic moves. Should I not even switch exercises every 4 weeks though? I mean some ALWAYS are there like dips, chins, squats, etc, but I rotate around which ones are on what rep days and such.....


I find that high volume (like 10x10) with relatively short rest periods (like 1 minute) are effective at building mass, so I think your routine is good for the size gains you are after. But this kind of training does a lot of damage, so you have to make sure you are getting plenty of rest between workouts and eating enough to grow. You should probably be eating a lot more than you normally do and may have to insert more rest days (you get incredibly sore, especially the first few weeks). And yeah, high volume hurts, but you have to work through the pan to squeeze out the last reps to really reap the benefits in size gains. I also think it is also good to follow high volume with lower volume high weight routines.

Good luck.


Great post.

Sarah, this is really as complicated as you need to get as far as your goals (especially at this point). Things like accumulation/intensification phases are good for athletes who also have to allocate a lot of time to skill development and the development of other athletic qualities.

But, for someone who's primary goal is building muscle (bodybuilding) then worrying about accumulation and intensification phases is really just over-complicating things.


Hmm. 10x10. That's something I have never tried. Do you structure this as a total body split? Like how many moves do you do per workout?



Progress doesn't come from a magical formula of numbers you create. Many people new to bodybuilding believe that building muscle revolves around a certain amount of repititions with a certain amount of sets, with an exact amount of rest time.
They do their routine like it's a rain-dance, believing that if they go through the motions, the results will come.

But the fact is, growing new muscle is a FORCED adaptation. In simplistic terms, you need to expose it to some "holy shit this could crush me!" type of weight. Which of course is largely individual, but the point here is to force progress in LOAD.
Unless you give your body -- a survival tool -- a true reason to NEED to be bigger and stronger, it's going to just sit there in homeostasis where it likes to be.

In a case like this, where it looks like you simply want to gain some muscle mass all over, but especially in the lower body... the "Big Scheme" would be adding 50-100lbs onto your squat, adding 15-20lbs or more to your bodyweight, and thus adding inches to your thighs.

The "progression" is going to be whatever has you reaching those goals in the simplest, quickest way.