Saturday, October 17, 2015

Variable Cycle Rotation - Scott T. Kroculick (1989)

The Soft Cover edition of Bill Pearl’s "Keys to the INNER Universe" is back in print, revised, and available at This revised edition includes updated exercise images and degree of difficulty indicator is now included.

[Note: Adding unilateral leg and arm variations to Mr. Pearl's listed exercises will add even more variety, as will adding the variety of the various machines now available.]

Variable Cycle Rotation: 
How to Overcome Plateaus With Exercise Variation
Scott T. Kroculick (1989)

Have you ever noticed that almost every time you try a new exercise and do it right you get sore? Then you go to your favorite exercise, the one you've been doing for years, and you feel nothing. This phenomenon happens all too often. When you reach a point with one particular exercise or training routine where you can go no further, the VCR (variable cycle rotation) approach can help you overcome this sticking point.

The VCR method has been designed specifically to combat training plateaus. Implementation of this system may help the athlete overcome the "staleness" problems encountered with many of the current training routines being used. This method borrows from the research done at the Bulgarian Institute for Higher Physical Education and Sport Instruction. The simplest use of the VCR method is to change the exercise stimulus every two to four weeks to "force" a muscular adaptation. This principle is called Specific Adaptation to Imposed Demand (SAID).

It is a well-documented fact that strength increases dramatically when you begin a new exercise. This is due in part to the adaptation of your neuromuscular system to the newly imposed stress. When a new stress is placed on muscle tissue and the corresponding motor nerves, your system reacts by increasing the efficiency of its electrical system. The increased electrical firing rate of the nervous system allows more muscle tissue to contract when this new stress is encountered again. A second reaction to this new stress (a new exercise) is tissue growth, also known as hypertrophy.

The current myth -- that muscle tissue is "torn down" during exercise and "built up" again during rest -- is simply not true. It is theorized that exercised muscle demands nitrogen to create the protein that makes larger muscle fibers. To keep making this progress, continual change is necessary. When the muscle finishes an adaptation to a new exercise (about two to four weeks), it is generally believed that continuation of this exercise will result in no further change or a decreased rate of change.

Changing an exercise every couple of weeks will cause positive, adaptive changes in the muscle being exercised. The VCR method provides for continuous, adaptive change.

With this approach you select three to five exercises from a pool of exercises for each particular bodypart [and here we don't really need to be reminded that muscle 'groups' and muscle ('actions') can be considered as very similar, as in 'back' and ('pull'); 'chest' and ('horizontal push')' 'legs' and ('squat')]

Do three to five exercises for larger bodyparts (legs, chest, back), and two to four exercises for smaller bodyparts (shoulders, arms, calves).

Perform three to five sets or each exercise for each bodypart, keeping in mind that overworking with this method is a distinct possibility.

After training with these exercises for a cycle of two to four weeks, select new exercises from the pool (Table One gives some examples) and perform them for the next cycle. The exercises should be selected wisely and balanced between agonist/antagonist; for example, three quadriceps exercises should be balanced by at least two hamstring exercises.

During a mesocycle (approximately three weeks) follow a consistent repetition scheme (see Table 1). Beginning with the next mesocycle, change the repetition scheme to further force adaptation from the muscle tissue.

Remember, exercise selection during this period is entirely up to you. Try not to do the same thing for more than four weeks, and pick entirely different exercises for the next microcycle, even if the change is simply the use of a different machine or a switch from a barbell to dumbbells. At the completion of this macrocycle you can either peak, or repeat the cycle in its entirety.

Remember, each athlete is different and so will have special considerations in developing a program. Those who recover quickly might try shorter mesocycles with more sets and more exercises. Those who recover slower might try longer microcycles to allow more time for adaptation.


 Table One: Cycles

Here is a sample eight month macrocycle, broken down into meso- micro-cycles.
You can come up with many other set/rep schemes over time, going from single rep sets
all the way to 100-rep sets.

Mesocycle 1 - 3 Months - Endurance - 12 - 15 reps.

Microcycle One - 4 weeks
Microcycle Two - 2 weeks
Microcycle Three - 4 weeks
Microcycle Four - 2 weeks

Mesocycle 2 - 3 Months - Hypertrophy - 8 - 10 reps.

Microcycle One - 4 weeks
Microcycle Two - 2 weeks
Microcycle Three - 4 weeks
Microcycle Four - 2 weeks

Mesocycle 3 - 2 Months - Strength - 6 - 8 reps.

Microcycle One - 2 weeks
Microcycle Two - 2 weeks
Microcycle Three - 2 weeks
Microcycle Four - 2 weeks

 Table One: The Pool of Execises

[Can be done one or two limb, with barbell, dumbbell, machine, cables, kettlebells, etc.]


Squats -
Narrow Stance, high bar
Wide Stance, low bar
Front Squats
Smith Machine Squats
Hack Squats
Sissy Squats
Partial Squats
Isokinetic Squats
Explosive Jump Squats
Leg Presses
Trap Bar Deadlifts
Leg Extensions
Leg Curls
Standing Leg Curls
Stiff-legged Deadlifts
Romanian Deadlifts
Glute Ham Raise


Bench Press - narrow, wide, medium grip
Cambered Bar bench press
Bench Flyes
Incline Press
Incline Flye
Cable Crossovers
Pec Deck
Decline Press
Decline Flye


Pulldowns - behind neck, front of neck, reverse grip, parallel grip
Cable Row
Machine Row
Bentover Row
One Arm DB Row
Two Arm DB Row
Power Clean, Clean, Snatch
Straight Arm Pulldown
Machine Pullover
T-Bar Row
End of Bar Row
Off-Loaded BB Row
Reverse Hyperextension
Good Morning
Regular Deadlift


Press - behind neck, seated, standing, kneeling, sitting on floor, standing on head on acid
front of neck, reverse grip, parallel grip, military, push . . .
Lateral Raise - side, front, rear, machine, cable


Upright Row
Shrug - upright, bentover, behind back


Barbell Curl - standing, seated, strict, cheat
Dumbbell Curl, standing, seated, incline, ditto above type of things friendo
Preacher Curl
Hammer Curl
Reverse Curl
Concentration Curl


Close Grip Bench Press
Reverse Grip Bench Press
Pushdown - narrow grip, wide grip, parallel grip, thick bar, rope, reverse grip
Triceps Extension - Standing, seated, lying, incline, decline, lowering to different areas,
Bench Dips


Standing Calf Raise
Seated Calf Raise
Toe Press on Leg Press
Donkey Raise
Tib Raise


Wrist Curls
Reverse Wrist Curls
Isometric Squeezes
Dumbbell Rockers
Wrist Roller

These are partial lists. You will, over time, come up with all kinds of exercise variations.
The good, the bad, as well as the ugly and inexcusable.
We all go there now and then!


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