Saturday, July 18, 2015

Powerbuilding - Don Saladino (2015)

Bill Pearl

When you've been in the iron game a while, you begin to ask yourself some tough questions: 

How do I maximize size without sacrificing strength? 
How do I get stronger without getting injured?
In short, how can a lifter have it all -- muscle, power, and pain-free joints to enjoy the benefits?

The answer is a combination of powerlifting and bodybuilding programming, colloquially known as "powerbuilding," blended in the formula we offer here. 

The Dynamic Duo

Our program is a mix of the Westside Barbell powerlifting template, and old-school, high-volume bodybuilding. The "Westside Conjugate Method," as it's known, is a system that incorporated heavy workouts and lighter ones. The heavy days are called Max Effort sessions, because you work up to a max, the heaviest weight you can use for reps in the one to five range. The lighter days can be done in two different ways.

Many lifters who powerbuild do the lighter workouts exclusively with higher reps and go for the pump, and that works fine to build muscle. Our routine includes plenty of pump work, but we're also making use of the "dynamic effort method" (DE) -- a technique whereby you lift lighter weights explosively. Even though the weight may not feel challenging, moving it as quickly as you can trains your nervous system to recruit the biggest, strongest muscle fibers an it helps you to overcome sticking points. If your bench press usually stalls midway through a rep with a heavy weight, DE can help you develop the speed off your chest to blast through.

Lifting for Life

Of course, building muscle and setting PRs isn't much fun if it wrecks your body in the process. Heavy training is hard on the joints, but by rotating your main lifts and generally changing up the workouts on a weekly basis, you can avoid the overuse and overtraining injuries that plague many lifters. The main lift in each max-effort workout should be switched every week. In fact, you can switch out practically every exercise in the program week to week if you like -- just follow the basic template we set up here. It includes two weeks of sample workouts.

On the first max-effort day, for instance, when you'll train your chest and biceps, stick to three to four chest exercises and three biceps movements per session, but the exact exercises you pick are up to you. The main lift can be a bench press one week, then an incline press the next, and a floor press after that if you'd like. Feel free to experiment and find exercises that work best for you and keep the workouts fun. 

List of sample max-effort bench exercises:

List of sample max-effort squat/deadlift exercises:

Directions: The Schedule

You'll perform two max-effort and two dynamic-effort workouts per week, rotating through a bodypart split of chest/biceps; back; legs; shoulders/triceps. Note that it will take two weeks to work each bodypart group with both the max- and dynamic-effort methods -- follow the template for how they fit together. Day 3 in each training week is for cardio and recovery. It will help improve your performance in the workouts as well as protect against injury. 

Strength: Max-Effort Training

Max-effort workouts focus on improving one main lift. To do that, you need to train heavy. Warm up thoroughly and then chose a variant of whatever the main exercise is (some type of squat, bench press, deadlift, or overhead press), and begin working up in weight slowly. Add weight in small increments and keep your reps to five or fewer until you reach a load that allows you only 3 to 5 reps. When you've maxed out those reps, move on to the next exercise. 

Speed: Dynamic-Effort Training

The goal of dynamic-effort work is to move a weight as fast as possible. (Note that when doing DE pullups on back day, you'll be lifting your bodyweight). Aim for 60-70% of your max on these exercises and keep the reps to three. If that feels too heavy or your latter sets get sluggish, reduce the weight. The point is to be as explosive as possible -- while maintaining perfect form -- so don't get too anxious to add weight.


Use the exercise of your choice to raise your heart rate to a moderate level (120 - 140 beats per minute) and keep it there for 30 - 60 minutes. Afterwards, foam roll and stretch.


Day One (Max Effort)


Bench Press (any variation) - 
as many sets as you need to work up to a 3-5 rep maximum.

Dumbbell Bench Press:
4 sets of 8 reps.

Flyes, or machine flyes:
5 x 12-15.

Seated Dumbbell Curl:
4 x 8.

Hammer Curl:
2 x 10.

Barbell Curl:
4 x 10-12.

Day Two (Dynamic Effort)


8 sets of 3 reps.
Simply perform reps as explosively as possible on both the positive and negative phases. 

Chest-Supported Row:
4 x 10-15.

Reverse-Grip Pulldown:
4 x 10.

One-Arm Dumbbell Row:
3-4 x 10.

Bent-Arm Pullover:
3 x 15-20.

Day Three (Cardio)

Day Four (Max Effort)


Squat (any variation):
as many sets as you need to work up to a 1-5 rep maximum.

Unilateral Leg Press (or one-legged squat variation):
3-4 x 10-12.

Goblet Squat:
2 x 10-12.

Leg Extension:
3 x 8.

Glute Ham Raise, back extension, or RDL:
4 sets of as many as you can.

Leg Curl:
3 x 15.

Day Five (Dynamic Effort)


Overhead Press (any variation, seated or standing):
8 sets of 3.
Rest 60 seconds between all dynamic effort sets.

Seated Dumbbell Lateral Raises:
4 x 10-12.

Rear Delt Raises:
4 x 10-12.

Close-Grip Bench Press:
4 x 6-8.

4 x 10-12.


Day One (Dynamic Effort)


Bench Press (any variation):
8 sets of 3 reps.

Incline Dumbbell Press:
4 x 10.

Pushup on Handles:
3 x as many as you can.

Dumbbell Flye:
3 x 8.

EZ Bar Curls:
4 x 8.

Hammer Curl:
2 x 10-12.

Incline Dumbbell Curl:
4 x 10-12.

Day Two (Max Effort)


Deadlift (any variation):
as many reps as you need to work up to a 1-5 rep maximum.

Lat Pulldown:
4 x 12.

T-Bar One Arm Row:
4 x 10.

One-Arm Pulldown:
4 x 12-15.

Straight-Arm Pulldown:
2 x 15.

Day Three (Cardio)

Day Four (Dynamic Effort)

Leg Press (or squat variation):
10 sets of 3 reps.

Hack Squat:
4 x 12.

Bulgarian Split Squat:
3 x 15.

Seated Leg Curl:
3 x 15.

Lying Leg Curl:
2-3 x 12-15.

Farmer's Walk:
4 x 45-90 meters.

Day Five (Max Effort)

Overhead Press (any variation):
as many sets as you need to work up to a 1-5 rep maximum.

Cable Lateral Raise:
4 x 10-12.

Face Pull:
4 x 12-15.

Lying Triceps Extension:
4 x 10-12.

Triceps Pushdown:
4 x 12-15.


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