I am going to write my first forum post in over 4 months of checking T-mag?s articles and posts and chatting and PM-ing with a group of members. I write this post because I think we have all forgotten a couple of simple things about body building because we have been listening to the ?gurus? far too long and far too much as to become weak.
I used to be a 135lbs pencil neck nerd. I am now a ripped, dense and hard 165lbs nerd. I did it in less than 3 months, without using special shakes or any sort of supplements, dietary programs, steroids or creatine of any kind. I just ate good food, 5 or 6 meals a day and I even used soy protein milk, which isn?t really a supplement as 90% of the bodybuilders consider it to be kind of prejudicial and all.
My training wisdom comes from the fact that at age 20, I got into boxing and wrestling after been mugged 6 times in a year, and not to mention the fact I wasn?t getting any attention from the ladies (and it was one hell of a dry spell, if you know what I mean) and the job I landed as a warehouse employee. Believe it or not, they proved to be much more useful than any book, or training advice. Now allow me to explain it to you:
I started getting big in my first month of boxing, which also was the first month of my job. I had the idea back then to go to the gym, pump some iron, thinking ?man, if I am putting on some muscle with this, imagine what it could do for me to pump iron in the gym again?. And so I went to the gym.
Before any asshole tells me that this comes from the fact that I was a beginner, let me tell you, this wasn?t the case. I had already been going to the gym for 14 months, and didn?t gain an ounce of muscle. I did lose like 4 or 5 pounds of body fat, but that?s about all I got from it. I went back again and this time, I decided to look up for the biggest guy there to give me advice. Turns out, they were all juiced-up and psyched about the gym.
I also found out that the speed of movement, tempo and the T.U.T. concepts, as valid as they may be, were not for me. I could never find a good tempo-load combination. Let alone a way to finish a 40-70 seconds set without getting pain in my joints and feeling my muscles half-worked, to say the least. I just didn?t feel anything good, period.
That?s when a boxing tip given to a pro boxer in my gym turned the tables for me. He was given a bodybuilding program for him to get bigger, and lose body fat to move to Welterweight, and he needed 15 pounds before February (we were in the final week of November) so it was a must for him to succeed. The program was outlined for him to use his speed, his natural tempo, if you prefer, to move the weights and make each set challenging enough, by staying 2 or 3 reps shy of failure on each. He hit a muscle group 2 times per week, resting 72-96 hours between sessions, and he was not doing any jogging or boxing training during the 2 months of the off-season.
A chest workout would be to do Flat and Incline Bench Presses with a barbell, Dips and Cable Flies. The compound exercises and bodyweight exercises were done in progressively heavier sets: 5 sets, of 20, 15, 10, and 5 reps, respectively. The isolation exercise was done in 3 sets of 15-20 reps.
This means you are doing reps which last between 1 and 2 seconds, like an 10X0 tempo, on each set of each exercise, reaching a maximum contraction and going as high as 200 reps per session for each muscle group, and since each muscle group gets 2 weekly sessions, you are doing 400 reps per muscle group.
An advice from the trainer was that if you could lower the weight in 2 seconds instead of one, if you could slow down and lower in twice as much time, then you could cut the volume in half.
I say it again; you are going as high as 400 reps per week. Trust me; it works, since I got results from it. This seems to agree with the whole concept of Christian Thibaudeau?s article ?Timed Sets?, only applied to heavier loads and standard sets.
I was reading T-Nations archives after my chat with a reader here, and fond a very interesting fact, after reading the Timed Sets article and the Game Plan article by Christian Thibaudeau. As he proposes, any program found in T-Nation uses around 80 to 120 total working reps per muscle group, split during the week. Such reps last from 5 to 6 seconds, and up to 7 in some cases, so you must always look beyond the numbers and see that the body is getting an average of 500-600 seconds of T.U.T. for a muscle group, in order to promote growth.
This reader?s theory is very easily supported when you see any T-Nation routine and multiply the total number of reps that a muscle group has to reach during the week by the total duration of the rep as the tempo is noted. An example of this would be GVT, and a simpler interpretation would be that actually, you need to put between 8 and 12 sets of 50-60 seconds on each muscle group, split during the week, to force it to grow.
The method works wonders, but I know the body keeps adapting to training, so I decided to cycle it with another thing I learned from moving stuff around in a warehouse, as my job was, and also to wrestle with a guy bigger and stronger than you, when you can?t let him bend your arm backwards but you can?t move his arm either, like an arm wrestling mach where both competitors reach a sticking point, a stalemate of sorts… Isometrics and slow movements can help you grow, if you can adapt them to your own mechanics. I can?t really say I could hold a weight in the air for more than 20 seconds, if it is a heavy load, not a wimpy one.
I devised an idea when I saw the size of my biceps increase during my first weeks on the job, as we were moving heavy furniture which always had to be handled with caution. I didn?t just keep my arms immovable, I let them go down sometimes, and as I sensed they were going too low, I curled them back up to lift the load and keep it high. This reminded me of the concepts of the 21?s and the one-and-a-half?s.
I started doing my reps in the isolation movements, those in which I could have a range of motion above 90?, like 120? and up to 135? approximately, to get the most out of such a long range of motion, for bi?s and tri?s. I started to use this on cable flies as well. The concept is fairly simple: you will perform a series of reps, much like a 21, but instead of doing 7 reps for each portion of the lift and 7 reps for the total range, you will try a 10X or 20X tempo and 8-10 reps when you use the full range of motion, and only count seconds, moving as slow as possible in the partial ranges, counting down from 20 seconds, in order to make the weight move as slow as possible.
It is like an isometric hold, but you have some wiggle room, for you can move the weights up and down a little, so it is like arm wrestling, let it go down a notch, then getting it back up a notch. It is better than to simply freeze in a static position, since it feels better and places less stress on the joints, which can get hurt from isometric training. Here, the idea is that each set lasts 50-60 seconds, and you should stick to 10-12 sets per week for a given muscle group.
One thing about this method is that large muscle groups such as chest and back can only work like this in isolation exercises where constant tension is provided. A cable flye can be good for this method, while a normal dumbell flye only gives the muscle a good tension during the first half of the movement. The compound movements are just like this. I would perform modified one-and-a-half sets for the chest and back, lifting in a 10X0 tempo for the full-range rep and then performing a half-rep in the lower half of the rep, from bottom to midpoint, going up in a normal speed, but going down as slowly as humanly possible, still not going down slower than 5 seconds or faster than 3.
A set would be timed so it fit inside the 50-60 seconds T.U.T. timeframe (I used a 45-60 seconds timeframe in those days), so counting reps isn?t necessary, you have to consider the duration of the sets. Again, only perform 10-12 sets per week of these exercises as with the modified 21?s.
I would say to you all that this method worked for me, without steroids and without supplementations, and in a record time of 4 months. I have to say, this was a method to which I am grateful, so I am sharing this method to let you tweak and tinker with it a little, so we can all benefit. I am sick and tired of seeing guys go to the gym and get no results, like me, and then become slaves of book authors who are in this only to get a a buck. I recognize that they do deserve a recognition and a revenue from their hard work, but not at the expense of the freedom of information.
Share with the rest of the boys, play nice, tell your buddies about this program and try it on for size. Power to the people, live free or die and all?..I don?t care how you call it. Bottom line: share and comment, modify it, adapt it and when you start to grow, share it with the pencil neck nerd you see in the bench next to you, or the skinny insecure teenager in the dipping bars, someone once did it for you too, didn?t he?