Sunday, May 1, 2011

More Often - Jimmy Peña

Issue #1

Issue #349

More Often
by Jimmy Peña (2011)

When intensity tactics and techniques run their course, you may find increases in strength come from the least likely source . . . frequency.

On leg day, a strong squat is your singular thought. On other days, your foremost thought is a heavy pull off the ground. And then there are those days when your mind focuses only on benching the most weight you possibly can. But doing all those feats on the same day -- is that plausible?

In this article we'll focus on developing and increasing overall body strength by hitting your total body hard in a single workout -- and often. The bonus is that your big lifts will also get a boost . . . and that's a guarantee!

Many experts agree that training frequency where strength is concerned is an oft-overlooked factor, yet it can make a major impact. For that reason, most strength coaches in professional athletics focus much of their attention on a frequent full-body attack, one that focuses on muscle groups each time the athlete steps foot inside the gym

This approach might be contrary to what you're currently doing. You might be doing heavy squats every 7-9 days, or deadlifting off the floor every 8 or 10. The thought of not letting your body rest for days on end seems counterproductive, if not flat out wrong. But wait.

Take a step back and you'll see why athletes often incorporate a full-body strength-training approach. The reason is simple: their bodies need to work as one unit. As such, training the body in this way is the most direct method of promoting whole-body power and strength. As some who trains for strength, you may move in only a certain number of planes. Squat, bench, dead . . . what else is there, right? Well, perhaps more than you might realize.

Inside-Out Strong

First, if you're fairly new to the strength and bodybuilding world, experts agree that the full-body approach employed by professional athletes is an excellent approach for beginners in the field of strength because a beginner's neuromuscular system adaptation is extreme. You can pretty safely expect to make your quickest gains as a newbie. Hitting the entire body in a strength-training session stresses more of the nervous system than a bodypart-specific plan does; as a result, beginners and bodybuilders that are coming off a layoff or injury would adapt well to such a scheme.

But even the experienced lifter who may be in a rut from week to week will benefit from confusing the target muscles associated with a whole-body approach; keeping each lift primed throughout a training cycle, while also experiencing new recruitment patterns, stresses, and new muscle growth. While you may be a strength athlete, who doesn't want a little more muscle? Then when you return to your more infrequent big-lift scheme, you'll not only have sparked new strength and muscle, but you'll also have renewed your psychological approach to the bar.

Now, let's be clear. Hitting the entire body during every workout isn't a walk in the park, not does it mean you're lifting like a bodybuilder. You'll still be handling some heavy-duty weight, as well as strategically beginning each workout with a different big lift, so that each workout your major muscles and lifts are trained when you've got the most energy (at the start). For example, you're going to bench every workout on this type of plan; however, you'll hit the bench first in at least one workout when you're fully energized. It's on that day that you'll be lifting the most weight on the bench press. The other days, it'll come later in the workout and you'll use less weight, keeping the pressing muscles primed and stimulated when they would typically be dormant on many other strength plans.

So, each day will have a specific focus, and it's that particular bodypart, lift, or goal that'll receive your freshest energy as well as some additional work -- with the second exercise of the day. Keeping with the bench press example, on that day you'll follow the bench with another chest-press before moving on to another bodypart/lift focus. For the remainder of the workout, each movement on the list is the only one for that particular group.

Finally, you'll find no curls or pressdowns in this plan. Instead, for this period of time your focus will remain on your favorite compound movements, recruiting the most muscle and requiring the most effort. After the 4th working day, take a rest day and repeat the cycle. We strongly recommend that you keep the four days centered on the squat, deadlift, bench press, and overhead press -- or similar compound movements. Front squat, clean or high pull, incline press, two dumbell press -- you get the idea. Your second exercise each day is up to you -- just make sure it's also a compound move. Try this frequent approach for 4-6 weeks, then take a deload week and go back to your normal routine.

Full-Body Four-Day Layout

Day 1: Bench Press Focus
Bench Press - 4 sets x 80-90% max.
Incline Dumbell Press - 3 sets of 6-8 reps.
(Work your hardest on the first two exercises of each day.)
Deadlift - 3 x 8.
Overhead Press - 3 x 8.
Squat - 3 x 8.

Day 2: Rest

Day 3: Squat Focus
Squat - 4 sets x 80-90% max.
Romanian Deadlift - 3 x 6-8.
Overhead Press - 3 x 8.
Deadlift - 3 x 8.
Bench Press - 3 x 8.

Day 4: Rest

Day 5: Overhead Press Focus
Overhead Press - 4 sets x 80-90% max.
Upright Row - 3 x 6-8.
Bench Press - 3 x 8.
Squat - 3 x 8.
Deadlift - 3 x 8.

Day 6: Rest

Day 7: Deadlift Focus
Deadlift - 4 sets x 80-90% max.
Bentover Barbell Row - 3 x 6-8.
Bench Press - 3 x 8.
Squat - 3 x 8.
Overhead Press - 3 x 8.

Day 8: Rest

Day 9: Repeat Cycle.

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