T Nation

Conjugate Bodybuilding Program


#1

Hey CT,
I just bought your conjugate bodybuilding program which I can’t wait to begin… I just have a few questions to help us get started-

  1. For the assisted exercises in the program they follow a volume based scheme, but with your recent writings about 1 set to failure/ rest-pause keeping volume low, what is the thought process around this? I particularly don’t mind either way of training.

  2. Are the double stimulation days considered more of a light day than a normal training day? You have mentioned about moving towards 4 or maybe 5 training days a week rather than 6 -7 for optimal results, does the double stimulation still adhere to 4 training days a week, maybe be considered more of a recovery day than a typical training day?

a) How should I change the double stimulation day on Thursday into an arm day? Looking at my body development, my arms are holding my physique back so want to bring them up in size. What would be the best way to go to focus on arms?

b) Referring to Q1 about volume vs 1 set to failure/rest-pause, in your double stimulation article you suggest using techniques like this (rest-pause/mechanical drop sets) when focusing on bringing up 1 or 2 lagging muscles, how would you use it for this program, if applicable at all?

c) Do I keep the arm isolation exercises in the program done on the other days?

  1. On the overcoming isometrics for bench, squat and deadlifts, should I just use an empty BB or should I have some weight on the ends?

  2. I use a home gym so what substitutes would you implement for-
    Leg Press =
    Hack Squat =

Thanks a lot for the help, can’t wait to get started,
PK


#2

They are two different methods/approaches. I’m a man of many systems. The “Best Damn Workout” was named that way because it sounds more appealing that “Hardgainer program”. The BDW is, IMHO, the best approach for people who are hardgainers; those who always struggled to gain muscle and strength.

The conjugate bodybuilding approach will work best for those who prefer variety and have a performance component to their plan. YES there is more volume. But it’s not a high volume program in the traditional sense, and most people will be able to handle the volume.


#3

Double stimulation workouts ARE lighter, shorter and you don’t go as hard. The main goal is to get a pump and get out. YES they are active recovery days BUT they will contribute to building more muscle tissue.


#4

I like antagonist pairings here. I keep it simple:

1st pairing = neutral grip (e.g. hammer curl with lying DB triceps extension)
2nd pairing = supinated grip (e.g. preacher curl with reverse grip cable pressdown)
3rd pairing = pronated grip (e.g. reverse cable curl with V-bar triceps pressdown)

1st pairing is heavier but with a slow eccentric tempo… something like 6-8 reps with a 4-5 seconds eccentric

2nd pairing is moderate with one intensification technique (I like to add partial reps at the end of the full reps… so for example 8-10 full reps + maximum partials)… in your case you could use tempo contrast as it helps with mind-muscle connection (2 slow reps, 2 regular reps, 2 slow reps, 2 regular reps, 2 slow reps, 2 regular reps … slow reps being something like 5 sec. up and down)

3rd pairing is lighter using an extended set technique a rest/pause or a drop set with a starting load allowing you to get 10-12 reps

I would do 4 sets of the first one, 3 sets of the second and 1-2 sets of the last one


#5

Read preceding answer


#6

Yes.


#7

Overcoming isometrics use an empty bar, functional isometrics use weight


#8

In both cases you can use the following:

Barbell hack squat (elevate your heels by 1-2", hold the bar or a KB behind your back and squat staying as upright as possible

Deficit trap bar deadlift (if you have a trap bar) BUT focusing on doing it more like a squat (keeping torso upright), deficit meaning that you stand on a 1-2" platform

DB squat… elevate your heels by 1-2", hold one DB in each hand, squat while staying as upright as possible

Goblet squat

Lumberjack squat


#9

Bonus trick for biceps.

End every one of your workouts (not just the arms workouts, all of them) by doing a total of 3 minutes hold at the top of a chin-up.

Here’s how you do it:

  1. Use a narrow grip (narrower than shoulder width)
  2. Focus on flexing your biceps when you are holding yourself at the top
  3. When I say “the top” in reality it is a bit short of the top position… eyes in line with the bar
  4. Accumulate 3 minutes, you will need many sets to get there of course, rest as little as possible between mini-sets, see it as one long rest/pause set
  5. When you can do the 3 minutes in 2 sets only, add weight

#10

Can this trick be used for other muscles?
Like holding peak contraction on dips for the chest or in a higher position for the triceps?
Same with pull up for the back?


#11

For dips I would use a position that is about the mid-range point, lean forward so that the torso is at an angle (almost parallel to the floor). What I would do is hold while trying to “squeeze in” the handles to activate the pecs more.

For triceps I would use a position that is just a bit higher than for the chest, keep an upright position and try to spread the handles apart.

For lats I would use a pronated grip, shoulder width, holding the arched active hang position (do a youtube search for “arched active hang”)


#12

Thank you CT!

For how long can/should this method be used ?


#13

Only do it for one muscle at a time. 3 week blocks.


#14

Thanks CT for the response… Just have a few follow up questions-

  1. In terms of volume training, what would be a good protocol to use per exercises, for instance, should I not hit failure on any of the sets, hit failure on all sets or only hit failure on just the last set?

  2. The arms double stimulation day looks great just a few things:

a) Should I keep these exercises for the whole 12 well 11 weeks? Or change every say 2 weeks?

b) In terms of rest, for each pairing, should I rest between biceps and triceps movements, say 30-60 secs or do I complete the biceps movements than move straight onto the triceps movement than rest?

c) For the 2nd pairing, should I use the maximum partials/intensification techniques on every set or just the last set?

d) Are the maximum partials and tempo contrast meant to be done together or are they separate intensification techniques?

e) For the 3rd pairing using the rest pause or a drop set technique, should I just use the basic protocols or should I use techniques such as from the ‘Advance Rest-Pause’ variations or would that be overcomplicating it?

f) In terms of failure training, how should the sets finish with these arms exercises?

a) With the Chin Up holds for biceps, is it a total of 3 minutes in that position not including the rest/pause, or is it within 3 minutes you accumulate the holds which include the rest/pauses

b) Should I do this for 3 weeks than after do the triceps version using the dip position for the next 3 weeks?

I’m coming off a long time training with low reps so I feel my body will really respond well to this type of training along with igniting my personality which this program has already done!

Thanks again
PK


#15

Yes exactly


#16

Honestly it doesn’t matter. I personally change some “minor” exercises every week. Not all of them but some of them. Just like you could stick to the same minor exercises for 12 weeks if you still get a great mind muscle connection and are motivated by the exercises.


#17

Rest 30-45 sec between the first and second exercises rest 60-75 sec after the second exercise


#18

All the sets


#19

Separate


#20

Just use the regular version to start with.