Wednesday, December 1, 2021

Muscularity: The Original 6/20 Method - Don Ross (1984)


The updated 1991 version is here:

Stop whatever routine you're doing and try this one! If your current workout isn't causing remarkable gains anymore, this one will. 

It combines two rep systems on the opposite ends of the bodybuilding specturm working in unison to achieve one end . . . 


I've often recommended routines with 6 reps per set (in my articles "Six Sets of Six" and "The Whole Body Routine," just to mention two). With 6 reps you can handle the heavier weights. Less than 6 reps will build strength, but without as much corresponding size and muscularity. More than 6 reps means the weight is too light. 6 reps with increasingly heavier poundages works the deep muscle fibers, your myofibrils. 

Sets of 20 reps perform another muscle building function. They create a maximum pump, build capillariies, more avenues tocarry muscle building nutrients to your cells. Elimination of lactic acid, the waste product of muscle exertion becomes more efficient. Mitochondria are also built. These are passage ways into the cells that feed oxygen to the muscles and carry the chemical, ATC, which causes muscle contraction. Existing blood vessels are enlarged. Aside from making the muscles more efficient for growth, these componnents themselves add mass to the muscles. 

The routine consists of the basic movements. This is not to be confused with basic exercises, like military press, squat, and bench press which are muscle group exercises. Basic movements isolate and incorporate the exact function of each muscle group. You're seen similar routines in my other articles, but not the 6-20 method! 

This is a 3-way split routine. Rest only as long as necessary between sets. Make each set n all out effort. Do all your sets of 6 followed immediately by your sets of 20.

 - Do a warmup set on the first exercise. The routine is planned synergistically so one exercise warms up the next area to be worked. This eliminates the need for so many counterproductive warmup sets.

 - Next, take the heaviest possible weight for 6 strict reps. Use an explosive positive movement in lifting the weight, and a medium-speed, controlled return movement. Avoid quick negatives, since they will make it too easy to use momentum and swing the weight, minimizing the muscle resistance. This also creates trauma to the muscles and tendons, increasing the chance of injury.

 - Do two more sets of 6, reducing the weight in the descending set fashion. Decrease the poundage by one or two increments, just enough to maintain the same number of reps while maxing out on every set.     

 - Reduce the weight by 50% or less. Do two or three maximum efforts of 20 repetitions each. Use a medium-to-slow speed on the initial (positive) movement and a slow speed on the return (negative) movement.  

Monday and Thursday

1) Incline dumbbell press - 4 sets of 6 - 2 sets of 20
2) Decline cross-pulley flyes - 4 x 6 - 2 x 20
3) Pulley front raise - 4 x 6 - 2 x 20
4) Side laterals - 4 x 6 - 2 x 20
5) Rear delt machine or bentover cable flye - 4 x 6 - 2 x 20
6) Nautilus pullover or decline pullover with floor pulley - 4 x 6 - 2 x 20
7) Pulldown - 4 x 6 - 2 x 20

Tuesday and Friday

1) Triceps pushdown (medium grip) - 4 x 6 - 2 x 20
2) Floor pulley French press - 4 x 6 - 2 x 20
3) Supinating seated dumbbell curl - 4 x 6 - 2 x 20
4) Vertical (spider) curl (close grip) - 4 x 6 - 2 x 20
5) Dumbbell wrist curls (three positions: palms up, palms down, thumbs up) 2 cycles of 6 - 2 cycles of 20
6) Hyperextensions - 2 x 6 - 2 x 20 
7) Neck resistance (four ways) - 1 cycl of 6 - 1 cycle of 20

Wednesday and Saturday

1) Leg press - 4 x 6 - 2 x 20
2) Leg extension - 4 x 6 - 2 x 20
3) Leg curl - 4 x 6 - 2 x 20
4) Adductors (with machine or cross pulleys) 2 x 6 - 2 x 20
5) Standing calf raise - 4 x 6 - 2 x 20
6) Seated calf raise - 4 x 6 - 2 x 20
7) Abs - 4 x 6 - 2 x 20

First Day

Incline Dumbbell Press: 35 degree angle. Palms forward, works the upper pectorals. Gives you a tall look.

Decline Flyes between cross pulleys: Place decline bench between the floor pulleys. This not only shapes the lower pecs, as do dumbbell declines, but they maintain tension at the end of the movement, working the central chest (cleavage). 

Pulley Front Raise: Turn the decline bench toward one floor cross pulley. Attach a revolving bar. Do straight arm front raises This is a transitional exercise between chest and shoulders, working your front deltoids.

Standing Laterals: For the medial deltoid, creating shoulder width. Do these with palms down.

Rear Delt Machine: If your gym doesn't have this machine (also called a Nautilus row) substitute bentover flyes between cross pulleys. Fills in the posterior deltoid.

Nautilus Pullover: Also generic pullover machine. Works the terres of the upper back. The low movement thickens the lower lats.

Lat Pulldown: Behind the neck. Widens your lats.

Second Day

Triceps Pushdown: Medium grip. Stand back a couple of feet from the machine to create tension at the end of the movement.

Floor Pulley French Press: Attach a knotted rope handle to the floor pulley. Do seated or standing French presses, your back to the pulley.

Seated Dumbbell Curl: Start with palms in. Supinate your hands and curl both dumbbells simultaneously.

Vertical Curl: On preacher bench angled straight up and down (spider curl), use a close grip on a curling bar. 

Dumbbell Wrist Curl: Sit on the edge of a bench with a dumbbell in each hand. Do one set with your palms up, followed by one set with your palms down. For the third set in the cycles, turn your hand thumbs-up.

Hyperextensions: Do your low reps with a barbell behind your neck. 

4-Way Neck: If your gym doesn't have a neck machine, lay on a bench having a partner supply resistance. Lay on your back, moving your head forward. Next, lay prone, moving your head back. Do a set on each side next. Don't neglect neck training. 20 inch arms just don't go with a 15 inch neck. 

Third Day 

Leg Press: This works the powerful pushing muscles. Linear squats on the Smith machine can be substituted. 

Let Extension: If you have a long bench on the extension, do your high reps lying down. Hold the lockout for half a second on the low rep sets.

Let Curl: Use any type of leg curl; lying, seated, or standing. if you use the standard leg curl, keep your hips down.

Adductors: Bringing your knees together from the apart position, hold in the together position for a half of a second. If your gym doesn't have an adductor machine, fasten two weight belts on the cross pulleys and sit on a low stool or bench with a belt around each thigh. 

Standing Calf Raise: Use the three toe positions, toes in, forward, and out. Do full movements, all the way up and all the way down. Use quick movements on the heavy sets, slow movements on the light sets. 

Seated Calf Raise: Do deep, full movements with your toes forward onall your sets. 

Nautilus Abdominal Machine: If you don't have access to this machine, do rope crunches on the lat machine. Supersetted with leg raises on the leg raise stand. Exhale hard with effort to help contract your ab muscles.

The most effective diet to use with this routine is the carbohydrate loading diet. Eat mostly protein foods for three days, then carbohydrates for two days. 

During the protein days, your high rep exercises burn the glycogen reserves in your muscles. Protein is converted into muscle. Excess protein is used for energy when the glycogen level is low enough. To do this, nitrogen is eliminated through your urine. This requires much water. The protein, then, acts as a diuretic. Water retention present in high carbohydrate diets is eliminated. 

On the carbohydrate days, three days of carb depletion cause a rebound effect. Your body absorbs and utilizes the carbohydrates faster and more efficiently. Your energy level is sustained and the muscle building process continues. Carbs supply energy for the muscle building process as well as physical activities. Drink a lot of water on your protein days.

Protein Day

A.M. Meal: Lean steak, tea or coffee with no sweetener. 

Noon Meal: Chicken, piece of fruit, water, tea or one cal soda. 

Early Evening: Eggs, small salad (no oil).

P.M. Meal: Broiled fish, chicken or turkey, cooked green vegetable, water or tea. 

Carbohydrate Day

A.M. Meal: Pancakes, glass of milk. fruit salad, bran muffin.

Noon Meal: Whole wheat spaghetti or macaroni, glass of fruit juice.

Evening: Peanut butter sandwiches on whole wheat, yogurt with fruit, glass of juice. 

P.M. Meal: Barley soup, steamed rice, cooked vegetables, 4 oz. natural ice milk or tofutti. 

Sometimes on the sixth day, you can eat a 50-50 balance of carbohydrates and proteins if you feel you need extra carbs.

Stay with this program for at least two months. You can continue it as long as it's giving you the results you want. 

Enjoy Your Lifting! 




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