Saturday, March 31, 2012

Rotation for Recuperation - Steve Holman

Rotation for Recuperation
by Steve Holman (1993)

Always use a phase-training approach. "Phase training" means that you cycle your intensity; for example, you do four to six weeks of all-out training, during which you take every set other than warmups to at least positive failure, alternated with two weeks of lower intensity workouts, during which you stop all sets one or two reps short of positive failure. This allows you to completely recover, and therefore gain faster in the long run.

Don't neglect your warmup set or sets.

Use intensity techniques sparingly. When you incorporate forced reps, 1 and 1/4 reps, negatives, rest/pause and/or others into your routine, you up your effort considerably and are more vulnerable to overdoing it. Never do more than 10 of these extended sets in any one workout.

Rely on the big, basic exercises to build size and strength. Multi-joint movements such a squats, presses, bench presses, deadlifts, chins, dips and variations thereof should be at the core of any mass-building routine.

Work harder, not longer. Don't add a lot of sets to your routines. In fact, you should never do more than 24 total work sets in any one session, and it's worth knowing that most lifters will make optimal gains with less.

Always use variation. If you're bored with your workouts (not just getting lazy), that indicates a need for something fresh to make it more interesting.


If you want to make gains as quickly as possible you should make intensity cycling one of your basic tools. You've undoubtedly noticed this training concept in the various periodization programs that turn up frequently in lifting books and magazines. However, talking about it and actually doing it are two completely different things.

Most trainees just never seem to get around to switching to those necessary low-intensity workouts that allow the body's recovery system to complete its job. Here's why:

- When progress is coming at a furious pace, you don't want to cut back your intensity for fear of slamming on the gaining brakes.

- When you're making slow-to-no gains, you reason that the only way to get past the plateau is with more and more gut-busting effort.

Unfortunately, as you may have already found out, if you push yourself constantly without a break you can wind up not gaining at all after a while.

Here is a way to shift into low gear without being fully conscious that you're doing it. You just employ a little psychological trickery, which can go a long way when you're trying to temper the obsession for size and strength that keeps you pushing to the limit every time you lift. It's easy enough to do. Simply overhaul your exercises -- and I mean every one -- every four to six weeks.

By completely revamping your routine, you can still go all-out without really going all-out. Although that might sound contradictory, it's really not if you understand the concept of specificity of training and how your body adapts to high-intensity work. When you incorporate a new exercise into your workout, it usually takes a week or two for your body to get used to it. For the first three or four sessions your coordination improves, and you eventually find the right groove. In other words, during those initial workouts you learn how to efficiently perform the movement so that you contract the fibers in the working muscles or muscle groups more effectively.

You've no doubt noticed how fast your strength improves on a new exercise for the first few weeks. The learning process is part of the reason this strength surge occurs. What you may not realize it that during those two weeks of learning -- or relearning -- an exercise, your intensity is lower, even if you're going to positive failure on the movement. So you can see how changing your entire exercise lineup will automatically lower your intensity a notch or two for a few workouts.

Let's say that you want to follow proper phase-training protocol -- four to six weeks of high intensity training followed by two weeks of low intensity work -- but you just can't corral your motivation long enough to stop your sets short of positive failure. You have a couple of choices:

1.) Do completely different routines every six weeks, pushing every set to positive failure, or at least very close to it. This automatically builds in two weeks of lower intensity work as you relearn the new exercises, which are followed by four weeks of higher-intensity sessions after your coordination and muscle-contracting abilities get up to speed.

2.) Do your favorite routine for four to six weeks, then do a completely new workout for one week before going back to your original routine for another four to six weeks. Here you get a lower-intensity learning phase during the one week of new exercises as well as during the first week back on your old program.

Use this rotation for recuperation tactic to help avoid going stale and to spark more size and strength. It works with any style of weight lifting. Here are two sample mass routines that illustrate the rotation for recuperation layout:


Squats - 2 x 10-15
Semi-Stiff Legged Deadlifts - 1 x 10-15
Bench Presses - 2 x 8-12
Chins or Pulldowns - 2 x 8-12
Bentover Barbell Rows or Seated Cable Rows - 1 x 8-12
Presses or Behind the Neck Presses - 2 x 8-12
Wide Grip Upright Rows - 1 x 8-12
One-Legged Dumbbell Calf Raises or Standing Calf Raises - 2 x 12-20
Lying Triceps Extensions - 1 x 8-12
Barbell Curls - 1 x 8-12
Ab Work - 1 x 15-25


One-Legged Squats or Front Squats - 2 x 10-15
Glute Ham Raises or Good Mornings - 1 x 10-15
Incline Dumbbell Presses - 2 x 8-12
Undergrip Chins or Undergrip Pulldowns - 2 x 8-12
Incline Dumbbell Rows or T-Bar Rows - 1 x 8-12
Seated Dumbbell Presses 2 x 8-12
Lateral Raises - 1 x 8-12
Donkey Calf Raises - 2 x 12-20
Bench Dips - 1 x 8-12
Alternate Dumbbell Curls - 1 x 8-12
Reverse Crunches or Hanging Leg Raises - 1 x 15-25

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