If you divide your yearly training into phases or cycles, you’ll maintain a better mental outlook, more motivation and your body will also respond better physiologically.
The first phase of training is the one that builds muscle size and pre-orients your muscles to be geared up (condition-wise) to go for strength and power which will theoretically allow you to even add more muscle size. Plus, you will condition your tendons and joints to handle the stresses of heavier weights to come.
It is recommended that you do 6-15 reps per set for size with the great majority of reps falling somewhere from 8-12 reps. Try 3-4 heavier “work” sets after a systemic warm-up plus 2-3 warm-up weight sets per exercise. As you might note, so far this sounds pretty much like a standard common sense bodybuilding workout.
The strength and power phases are next. This will be another 8-week cycle. To develop strength and power, the greatest athletes in the world generally work with 2-6 reps. Since we are geared to bodybuilders we adjust this slightly and in this phase, we advocate 4 – 5 sets of 5 – 7 reps.
Here is how this cycle works. We’ll use our previous example for the Bench Press where you ended Phase 1 at 235 for 10 reps. Do an active system warm-up, then with weights 95 x 10 and 155 for 10. On your final warm up set do 205 for 6.
Then go to your “target weight” which is actually only 10-lbs. above the weight you ended up at sets of 10 in your first phase. So, start at 245-lbs. x 3 sets of 5-6 reps. You are leaving yourself some extra so you continue to gain positively all the way through the cycle.
In physics, work is a measure of force and distance. (w = f x d). Power means doing a specified amount of work per unit time. If you can move mass M over distance D in 10 seconds and then (after training) move the same mass M the same distance D, but do it in 5 seconds, you are twice as powerful!
Our experience has been to spend a maximum of four weeks in the power phase and to use 2 -3 reps in benches and deadlifts, 3 – 4 reps in the squats and bent-over rows, and 5 – 6 reps for all other exercises. Again, follow your 2-3 warm-ups, and 3 power work sets and then do a down set of 10 reps with about 70% of your target weight, just as you did in the strength phase.
Phase 4 is the rest cycle, a must for great results and essential for building strength and lean mass. Be sure to add about a week of rest into your online workout program, about 1 week every 12. You’ll love the way you feel afterwards!