Ok, ok, so it's not so bad this time around. In our last article, we not only addressed our fear of training theory, but also embraced the aforementioned lovable communist science and turned it into something that could be useful in the weight room (i.e..- something that will actually give us a leg up on reaching our physique and performance goals).
In the last article I presented a sample program which utilizes 2FT (Dual Factor Training), and in this article we'll break down all aspects of the program to better explain how to make 2FT work for you.
Before we start, let's recap what we've learned so farï¿½.
Supercompensation theory says to beat the crap out of our muscles and deplete them of all their good stuff (like glycogen, amino acids, creatine, etc.), let them recover for 3-10 days, and provide them with all the nutrients they lost (and then a little bit more).
The result should be that the muscles will store more nutrients than they originally had, and thus will be bigger and stronger.
Doesn't really work - at least not very well. Unfortunately, it's almost impossible to time your workouts just right, meaning that you either won't rest long enough, which will quickly lead to overtraining, or rest too long, which means that the growth stimulus is lost, and you end up back where you started.
Dual Factor Theory (2FT):
Dual Factor theory, on the other hand, provides a better (and correct) view of training theory. Instead of looking at each single training session as fatiguing, and the few days after it as the recovery period, 2FT views entire periods of training as fatiguing or recovery.
And as I mentioned in the last article, science has shown us that the body makes extraordinary gains when provided with a period of peaking fatigue, or "loading," (2-6 weeks) followed by a period of recovery, or "unloading" (1-4 weeks).
So the most important thing about 2FT is to understand how long and how hard to "load" during the fatiguing phases and how long and how much to "unload" during the recovery phase.
You can have shorter training cycles, more precisely timed peaks, and generally more progress in both physique and performance goals.
Loading and Unloading
The first thing to remember about the program is that it is setup with periods of peaking fatigue (called "loading"), where you will slowly reach the point of overreaching (near overtraining). In simple terms, during loading periods you will train hard and not allow yourself to fully recover before training again.
By doing this, fatigue will slowly build up in your system until you approach overtraining. These loading periods should last around 2-3 weeks. It's important to note that the program laid out will most likely be fatiguing to just about any athlete, but some may over-reach in only 1-2 weeks, and for others, it might take 3 or even 4 weeks. So it's important to note that what is loading for me might not be loading for you.
In the same manner, if you follow this program and feel like you are overtrained after only a week or so, then you will need to back off a bit and find the right amount of work for you as an individual.
Overreaching & Overtraining!
Let's look for answers systematically (there are some, you know!). First, let's talk about stress. Then about how it causes overreaching and overtraining, and what to look for as markers. Finally, how can we control it.
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"How Will I Know How Hard To Load And Unload?"
Well, honestly, it's not an exact science. The easiest thing to do is to start this program and load for only one week, and follow it with a one week unloading period. If you felt fine, and never felt like you were overreaching, then try to load for 2 weeks next, followed again by a one week unloading period. If you are still fine, then you could even try loading for 3 weeks, followed again, by just one week of unloading.
I would note, however, that I have found that most athletes do best with a 2 week loading period, followed by a one week unloading period.
For unloading, it's usually best if intensity is kept relatively high. (Intensity is not a perception of how hard you are working, but is a term relating to how close of a % to your rep maximum you are working - therefore, it's important during unloading weeks to still train heavy.)
However, even though intensity is kept high during unloading, volume is drastically reduced, by dropping the workouts from approximately 7 exercises down to only two or three. Frequency (number of training sessions per week) is sometimes reduced, but in this program it's kept the same.
"How Will I Know If I Am Overreaching?"
Well, again, it's not an exact science, but you'll feel lethargic, your joints will probably hurt, and most importantly, the amount of weight you can lift will begin to decrease.
If at any time the weights you are using fall down to 85% or so of your previous best, then you are overreaching (and nearing overtraining), and it's time to start unloading.
Now, sometimes you just have a bad day in the gym, or you didn't sleep well last night, or maybe you've been sick. I rarely make a decision about overreaching after just one bad workout. However, if two or three training sessions go by, and you aren't even getting close to hitting new maxes, then it's time to start unloading.
The goal of this program is to get to that point (or near it) after approximately two weeks of loading. The first week you'll probably feel fine, and you'll get in some good hard workouts. By midway through the second loading week, however, you'll probably start feeling run down, and by the Friday or Saturday session of the second week, you'll probably feel really run down and "beat up."
When you hit that point, then it's time to back off the volume substantially for a week or so and allow your body to recover from the two hard weeks of loading.
If done correctly, the result will be a noticeable improvement in size and strength following the unloading period. Now, obviously you aren't going to notice huge gains after a single three week cycle of this program, but after several cycles, you should begin noticing real differences in your strength and appearance.
Loading Weeks: (2-3 weeks)
Upper Body - Workout One (Monday)
- Barbell Bench Press - 4 x 10, same weight used for each set.
For this exercise you should do either flat or low incline bench press (preferably alternating each week), and use primarily wide grip. Make sure to use plenty of warm up sets and then pick a weight you can do for 4 sets of 10 reps.
- Dumbell Bench Press - 3 x 8-12 same weight for each set.
For this exercise you can choose to do flat, incline, or decline dumbbell press. (I prefer a slight decline.) - Make sure to bring the dumbbells deep into your armpits. The final set should be very hard to complete.
- Barbell Rows - 5 x 5, same weight.
"The best way to do them is to start with the bar on the floor every single rep. Your middle back will have a slight bend to it. You pull the bar off the floor quickly with the arms, and by a powerful arch of your middle back. You finish by touching the bar to your upper stomach or middle stomach.
At no time is there any movement of the hips or knees, no hip extension at all, all that bends is the middle back and the shoulders and elbows. This is hard to do and you have to have good muscular control to do it, or you'll end up straightening up at the hips along with the arching of the back. But if you can master doing them this way you will get a big back" (Glenn Pendlay).
- Shoulders / Traps
For shoulders / traps, you'll want to pick one or two exercises that put an emphasis on medial delts, like heavy shrugs, high pulls, dumbbell cleans, lateral raise complex, face pulls, etc. Do a total of 4-6 sets (2-3 per exercise). Reps don't matter that much, but I prefer something in the 8-12 range.
- Tricep Extension - 3 x 8-12, same weight.
For triceps, pick an extension exercise like skull crushers, French presses, JM Presses, rolling dumbbell extensions, Tate Presses, or pushdowns. Pick one exercise and knock out 3 sets of 10-12 reps.
- Biceps - 3-5 sets of 8-12, same weight
Lord knows that most of you guys don't need any help here, as most of you would do curls all day long if given the chance. Basically pick one or two curling exercises (I couldn't care less which ones you do, although the foundation should be some sort of compound bicep movement, like standing barbell curls or ez bar curls), and knock out 3-5 total sets.
Click here for a printable version of this page.
Lower Body - Workout One (Tuesday)
- Heavy Squats - 5 x 5 working up each set to a 5rm (rep max), or try for an occasional 1-3rm.
Well, if there is any exercise most guys don't do correctly, its squats. This is pretty simple. If you aren't a competitive powerlifter (powerlifters squat to parallel), then you have no business squatting anything higher than absolutely rock bottom.
Learn how to squat right. Anyone can put 4 or 5 plates on each side and quarter or half squat it. It takes a real man to put on 500 and squat it down until he's sitting on his calves. Your leg size will thank me for it.
This is our heavy squat day, and typically you'll want to work up to a 5 rep max. However, you need to make sure you get in 5 good work sets with equal weight jumps between each set.
For example, if you best set of 5 is 325 x 5 (rock bottom), then you might do this; bar x 10, 95 x 5, 135 x 5, 185 x 3, 225 x 1, 250 x 5, 270 x 5, 290 x 5, 310 x 5, 330 x 5. Occasionally, feel free to try to work up to a 3rm or even a 1rm, but the majority of the work done on this day should be 5 x 5.
- Goodmornings - 3 x 5 same weight or work up to 5rm
There are multiple variations of goodmornings. All have their place. There are wide stance arched back GMs, narrow stance rounded back GMs, suspended GMs, seated GMs, etc.
Pick one, push your butt back, bend over at the waist, and work hard to goodmorning the weight up, rather than squatting it up. Usually pick a weight you can do for 3 sets of 5 (after a proper warm-up of course), but occasionally, feel free to work up to a 5 rep max.
- Pullthroughs - 3-5 sets of 10-12, some arched back, some rounded back.
Dave Tate offers a good explanation of pullthroughs at his site, www.elitefts.com.
Here is how he says to perform them:
"The pull through is one of the best movements to use to bring up the glutes, hips and hamstrings. The muscles of the posterior chain are the most important when it comes to squatting and deadlifting.
To do this movement you will need a low pulley unit (a band will also work). Stand facing away from the machine with the cable between your legs using a medium to wide stance. Begin by letting the cable pull your torso through your legs. Then flex back to the starting position making sure to squeeze your glutes as you rise."
- Glute Ham Raises or Hamstring Curls followed by Leg Extensions - 2 sets each
Leg Presses - 3-4 sets of 10-12
Hack Squat (occasionally) - 3-4 x 10-12
Basically after your squats, goodmornings, and pullthroughs, find a leg exercise you like to do and knock it out. I think glute ham raises are top notch, but many of you won't have a glute ham raise bench, so feel free to knock out a few sets of leg presses or hack squats, or some other good compound leg movement.
- Weighted Abs / Obliques - 5 x 10, same weight.
- Calves - 5 sets of 12-20, same weight.
Click here for a printable version of this page.
Upper Body - Workout Two (Thursday)
- Flat Barbell Bench Press - 5 x 5, or occasionally a 1-5rm.
This is our heavy bench press day. Use a regular or medium-close grip and typically perform 5 sets of 5 reps, using the same weight for each set. Occasionally feel free to work up to a 1-5 rep max.
- Board Press / Floor Press - 5 rep max..
Usually start where you left off on bench press, (or drop 10-20%) and do sets of 5 reps, working up to a 5 rep max on either a 2-3 board press or a floor press.
- Overhead Press - 5rm, 5 x 5, or 4 x 10
For overhead pressing, pick a standing exercise that meets your needs. My personal favorite is strict standing military press, but push presses or standing dumbbell overhead press will do as well. If you are looking to add strength, work up to a 5 rep max.
If hypertrophy (gain in muscle size) is your main goal, then do 4 x 10 with the same weight. If you want a good combo of both, do 5 x 5 with the same weight.
- Dips - 2-3 sets
- Vertical Lat Work - 5 sets of 10-12
For vertical lat work, choose either pull-ups for 5 sets of failure, or lat pull-downs for 5+ sets of 10-12 using different bars and working on different planes.
- Tricep Extension - same as workout one.
- Biceps - same as workout one.
Click here for a printable version of this page.
Lower Body - Workout Two (Friday)
- Squats - 5 x 5 or 4 x 10, same weight.
Choose either back squats or front squats (I think for most guys 2 weeks of back squats followed by one week of front squats would be optimal). Do 5 sets of 5 or 4 sets of 10 using the same weight for each set. SQUAT ROCK BOTTOM.
- Deadlifts - 3 x 5, same weight or 1-5 rep max.
Choose either conventional deadlifts or deadlifts standing on 2-3" box, mat, or 100lb plate. If you can't deadlift at least 2x your bodyweight, then don't use a belt. Keep good form.
- Pullthroughs - same as workout one.
- Glute Ham Raises or Hamstring Curls followed by Leg Extensions - same as workout one.
- Weighted Hyperextensions - 2-3 sets of 10-12 reps.
- Weighted Abs / Obliques - same as workout one.
- Calves - same as workout one.
Click here for a printable version of this page.
A Few Quick Notes About The Program
Rest and tempo should be natural. For big compound movements you'll need more rest. For smaller ones you'll need less. Tempo of the concentric (raising) and eccentric (lowering) of the movement should be natural as well. You should just about always try to lift the weight as fast as you can, and lower it under control.
This is a simple term to understand, most guys make it too complicated. Simply stated, if you complete all your reps for a given exercise, then next time bump up the weight 5-10 pounds. If you don't complete all the reps, then keep the weight the same until you do. Now was that hard?
Remember, the workouts listed are for loading weeks. It's a good amount of volume and lots of gut busting sets. Your body will build up fatigue training this way, and every couple weeks or so, you will need to unload and allow your body to recover.
For unloading weeks, reduce volume drastically by completing only the first two exercises on lower body days, and the first three exercises on upper body days. Slightly reduce intensity/load (with regards to one rep max - ie. - drop your weights down just a tad), and keep frequency the same (four workouts per week).
In our next issue, we'll deal with questions you have about the program. So feel free to email me any questions you might have, and I'll address them in the next article!
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