| Article Summary:
Activating Your Survival Instincts
We all know the pitfalls of 'yo-yo' dieting ... ultimately what you struggle so hard to lose you almost inevitably end up gaining most of it back once you return to a so-called 'normal' eating pattern. But, here's the thing, what if you could take this same principle and use it to your advantage in your training schedule?
Now, I bet that is something that didn't exactly knock on your 'training wisdom' door! Truth be told, it was not something I ever considered experimenting with until fate brought it to my attention.
Just over a year ago I was diagnosed with mononucleosis (glandular fever) triggered by an ever-present Epstein Barr Virus (no doubt caused by years of overtraining).
| Mononucleosis & Epstein Barr Virus
Infectious mononucleosis is an infectious, viral disease which most commonly occurs in adolescents and young adults. It is characterized by fever, sore throat and fatigue, along with several other possible signs and symptoms.
The Epstein-Barr Virus (EBV) is one of the most common viruses in humans. Most people become infected with EBV, which is often asymptomatic but commonly causes infectious mononucleosis.
This debilitating event led to me having to seriously reduce my workout sessions and the intensity I threw into them. Of course I knew that any form of strenuous exercise was not the RX for recovery, but I don't need to tell you how stubborn us lifelong muscle heads are when it comes to working out - no matter what malady we are suffering from or what crisis is going on in our lives.
I can guarantee that, in the event of a nuclear war, for every two people running to the fall out shelter there will be a bodybuilder running to the gym trying to sneak in one extra session before Armageddon!
Click Image To Enlarge.
Author, Leigh Penman Created Anorectic
Anabolism After A Bout Of Overtraining.
So, rather than completely shun working out, I opted for the train less intensely and keep workouts shorter principle. I also increased my protein intake and significantly reduced my carbohydrate consumption - which was not such a good idea, but more of that later.
I must admit this was extremely difficult at first since I was used to pushing myself to the limits at every workout e.g. lots of sets, hitting the muscle from all angles, everything to failure.
However, every time I relapsed into my old training habits my glands reacted so badly I felt like I was wearing a weighted ankle bracelet around my neck - which is a further example of how much stress intense exercise puts on the body.
Anyways, I am straying from the point and the point in this case is the end result. After years and years of high-intensity training I was pretty much tired all the time and my muscles had reached a standstill when it came to growth.
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Then, within one month of training by my new 'back-off a little' technique I had gained 7 pounds and reduced my body fat levels significantly. At that point I realized I was onto something ... I had discovered the 'yo-yo' principle of anorectic anabolism.
Applying Anorectic Anabolism
So how can you apply this to YOUR training schedule and YOUR diet? Well, if you are anything like most bodybuilders and athletes you are probably already in a state of borderline overtraining and this is GREAT!
"Okay," I hear you cry, "now you have gone too far! How on earth can being borderline overtrained be an asset?"
Click Image To Enlarge.
If You Are Anything Like Most Athletes You Are Probably
Already In A State Of Borderline Overtraining.
Well, I grant you, in a normal case scenario this suggestion would seem a little on the crazy side. However, we are not talking 'normal' here, we are talking 'survival' and, being in a semi-overtrained state is a great place to be when it comes to activating the survival instinct in your muscles.
For the purposes of this experiment though, I want to push you a little bit further so for the next month I want you to work out five days (even six if you want to throw in some extra work for abs and some cardio on one of your 'days-off').
If you have reached the level where you can use 'instinctive selection' then use that when it comes to deciding which exercises and how many sets to use per session.
By 'instinctive selection' I mean just letting your mind take over the direction of your workout, bearing in mind the fact that you want to hit each muscle group from as many angles as possible and your workouts should be at least 1 hour long for larger body parts.
For those not sure that their instinct is a reliable road map to the ideal workout here are a couple of examples of 'survival set up' training for major body parts. Take a look at them and you should get the idea:
Now bear in mind that ALL these sets are taken to failure and the rest periods between sets are kept to a minimum (no sitting around for 2 - 3 minutes gazing around the room!).
The main thing is to try and go by instinct. If you feel like adding a set here and there to really knock a muscle out ... go for it! Remember, this is all about activating the 'survival response' in your muscles.
Stick to this training program for 4 - 6 weeks at least and split body parts so that you are training five days a week. A sample of this would be:
Just split your workouts according to your own schedule. After this training period is over I guarantee your body will be screaming for a rest in the same way as your stomach would be screaming for a slice of apple pie after a pre contest diet!
If you have followed the plan though, you should definitely have primed your body for the next stage, the stage I will call 'Anorectic Anabolism.'
This is when you bring the final principle into training, this is where you 'back-off' and allow your body to begin the overcompensation process (so that it is prepared, should you decide to do this program again).
For this phase you will want to cut back your training to four times per week (either two days on, one day off or training every other day). For example, if you go for the two on, one off option you will be working out Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday and taking the whole weekend off.
The exercises in this case will be limited. You will stop just before you reach failure, and you will keep your workouts to around 30 minutes (40 max).
Once again here are a couple of samples. I will stick to the same body parts to give you a better idea of the difference between the two phases.
The main thing is to try and keep total sets performed to around 12 sets for larger body parts and 8 - 10 for smaller body parts (as low as 6 for
This will allow your body to recognize the relative 'down-time' as a chance to prepare for the likelihood of another all out attack on your muscles.
As for your diet, try and keep your ratios at around 40%
protein and 30%
fat and your
calories fairly constant throughout the program. Your main aim is to initiate the survival mechanism in your muscles, not your
After all, your metabolism is given the shock treatment every time you go on a diet, so give it a break and let your muscle take the impact of this experiment.
So give this program a try and feel free to fine-tune any element to suit your own unique metabolism. Survival training may be just the jolt your body needs to trigger it into a whole new phase of quality muscle growth.