Transformation Factors For Success: Part One.

In this article I will broadly discuss two rules that I consider to be paramount for the successful undertaking of my individualized program, and for bodybuilding success in general. Learn what they are right here!
Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3

Throughout my recent transformation process, as documented here on Bodybuilding.com, a number of important factors have presented themselves as being crucial to my programs ongoing success. As noted in previous articles, my transformation has been nothing short of successful - a 10 kg muscle gain bearing testimony to this.

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The inspirational stories from interviews I have done in the past have prompted me to start my own quest. At this time I am setting some new bodybuilding goals for 2006.

Over the next three-and-a-half-months, muscle gains are expected to again sore to unprecedented levels, allowing me to compete on May 14 at more than 185lbs solid muscle. The lessons learned during my transformation have underscored the importance of attention to detail and enabled me to forge ahead with an unmitigated degree of determination.

Throughout my transformation, in concert with my advisor Dan Gastelu, many of bodybuilding's most important questions are being addressed (for example: body fat assessment, supplementation, correct training strategies and nutrition), and presented to the wider bodybuilding community so others can profit from what I have learned.

Indeed, the science of bodybuilding is becoming clearer by the day, as muscle building process has, for me, shifted to another level.

My three transformation articles (outlining my recent successes) have primarily covered the training, nutrition, supplementation and assessment methods used to gain muscle and lose fat in preparation for bodybuilding competition. There are, however, many variables associated with my new program, all of equal importance to the achievement of advanced muscle growth.

In this article I will broadly discuss two "rules" that I consider to be paramount, not only for the successful undertaking of my individualized program in particular, but for bodybuilding success in general.

With any training program, the concept of intensity as a means to achieve total muscular failure and a positive adaptation to the methods used, cannot be understated.

Throughout programs One and Two, intensity levels have been deliberately kept high with a view to forcing muscle growth. Without the right degree of intensity there results I am seeking will have failed to occur.

Before 11-29-05
Click Image To Enlarge.
Before & After. Week Four Of Program Two: 182.5lbs

In saying this, intensity, and all other important program variables, will only work if they are used consistently, and this leads me to my second rule for bodybuilding success.

Applying intensity for one week only to ease off for two, might only lead to regression. My experience has shown me that all aspects of diet, training, supplementation, and recuperation should be undertaken as prescribed. Being consistent means doing everything right all the time.

My two "transformation success rules" (for the purposes of this article), will now be considered in greater detail.


Rule One:
Apply The Intensity.

To stimulate the muscles into growth, training intensity should be high. This is one of bodybuilding's golden rules, a rule known widely among beginners and advanced alike.

In other words, training should be as hard as you can make it. When it becomes too easy, it is time to look at new ways to increase intensity. If asked, we would all probably say our training sessions are hard.

But how many people really train with the kind of intensity that, if reached in sufficient proportions, would leave them unable to walk (after training legs for example), or even think straight, following a workout. In my experience, I would have to say very few people train with the kind of intensity that builds real muscle.

Indeed, workout intensity, in my view, is the most important facilitator of muscle growth period. Sure, nutrition and rest are major facilitators of growth and without the right proportions of each, muscular development will not occur.


Click Image To Enlarge.
Intensity Is The Most Important Feature.

However, before nutrition and rest are able to work their wonders, the right cellular conditions for growth must be present. When the muscles are adequately stimulated through intense training, micro trauma of the muscles myofibrils (the cylindrical organelles found within muscle cells, that run from one end of the cell to the other) will result.

This micro trauma will signal greater growth as a compensatory measure against further damage, if the right nutritional and rest factors are in place. So before growth can begin, there must be a sufficient enough stressor (i.e. the training stimulus must be great).

Is it a coincidence that almost all of the most massive pro bodybuilders subscribed, or subscribe, to ultra-high-intensity training methods. Dorian Yates, Ronnie Coleman and newcomer Branch Warren - as well as countless other mass monsters - are renowned as being some of the hardest training bodybuilders on the planet.

If you were to read interviews with some of these gentlemen, they would say during their younger years - when they made the majority of their gains - they would routinely train to the point of vomiting. Training would be an all-consuming experience, one where there would be no holding back. I think you get the picture.

If you think your workouts are tough, remember, there is always that little bit more that can be done. The intensity of my own workouts has increased a lot over the years. In hindsight, I know I wasted many years training at only 70-80 percent intensity, although, at the time I though this was sufficient.

Now when my muscles shake uncontrollably and are pumped beyond belief, I tell myself the set is only just beginning. Once that nauseous feeling overcomes me, and not a single further rep can be accomplished I terminate the set.

I will admit this does not sound like an enjoyable experience. This it is not. However, the rewards and enjoyment have presented themselves in the form of quality muscle. Anything worth having in life comes at a price, and mind-numbing intensity is the price you will need to pay to realize your bodybuilding goals. To increase your workout intensity, do the following.


1. Use The Various Intensity Techniques:

    Straight sets and reps are generally most effective, and will, for the most part, get the job done if taken to failure.

    However, intensity techniques are a way to periodically boost training progress to a while new level. Some bodybuilders use them often, and swear by their efficacy. Find which ones work best, and use them to maximal effect.

    Super Sets:

      Super sets can be done in various ways. The most popular method might be the combining of opposing muscle groups to achieve an extreme total pump. For example, standing biceps curls can be combined with lying triceps extensions to fully saturate the muscle with blood and increase exercise intensity.

      Complete the first set (the curls) before going straight onto the extensions - no resting in between.

supervid.htm
Super Set Video Guide:

    Drop Sets (or descending sets):

      To complete a drop set, go immediately from one set to a second comparatively lighter weight set. A third and fourth set can also be included to add intensity to the overall set.

      Just remember to use a lighter weight for each succeeding set. For program Two drops sets with three successive weight reductions have been prescribed for several of the bigger compound movements. These, as well as their other methods described here have worked wonders.

      The theory behind drop sets posits that one will thoroughly exhaust the muscle through multiple sets of an increasingly lighter weight. For example, one might go from 80-pound standing biceps curls for eight reps to 50-pounds for another eight reps, and so on, until the muscle can do no more (ouch).

stripvid.htm
Drop Set Video Guide:

    Forced Reps:

      This is a good technique to use for the last two or three sets of an exercise, to completely exhaust the muscle. The technique involves a partner assisting with the final few reps, to force additional growth.

forcedvid.htm
Forced Reps Video Guide:

    Flexing (isotension):

      Isotension is a technique used by bodybuilders for decades, which involves flexing the muscle following a set of any given exercise. This is a great method for increasing intensity, bringing out cuts and enhancing muscle density.

    Rest/Pause:

      Arguably one of the more hardcore intensity techniques available, rest/pause proves an excellent way to prolong a set to get the maximal amount of intensity from that set.

      The twenty rep squat method is a great example of rest/pause training. Pick a squatting weight that will allow only 10-15 conventional style reps.

      One these have been achieved, and muscular exhaustion has set in, pause for one-five seconds while breathing deeply. Complete a 16th rep, and pause again for one to five seconds. Continue this process until a 20th rep is completed.

      This method will allow for significant increases in weight over subsequent sets. Rest/pause can be applied to all exercises, to maximize training intensity.

forcedvid.htm
Rest/Pause Video Guide:


2. Increase Reps, Sets Or Weight:

    These three methods are fundamental ways to increase intensity. At every workout one should, depending on the training goals they have, try to increase either, or all, of these parameters. Enough said.


3. Time Workout Duration:

    An effective way to intensify any workout is to time its duration with a view to decreasing rest between sets. For example, a workout that might take one hour could be reduced to 45-minutes, thus adding corresponding increase in intensity.

    Often, picking up the pace will dramatically improve the quality of muscle stimulation in that the muscles will be forced to work at a faster rate. To achieve this kind of stimulation with a bodybuilding workout, decrease the rest between sets by timing the duration of the workout.

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4. Apply 100-Percent Focus:

    100-percent focus should be applied to every rep of every set to maximize workout intensity. The way to attain complete focus is to block out all extraneous stimuli, and concentrate on the set at hand.

    Put everything else to one side and view the next set as the last one you will ever perform. As the set progresses, only one mantra should be racing through your head: squeeze, stretch, and one more rep. It is often advantageous to view yourself as a machine with an endless capacity for work.


Rule Two:
Be Consistent.

The greatest advice in the world will contribute to very little in the way of real results, if it is not followed consistently. People are always looking for elusive secrets - something that will give them profound results in shortest possible time.

The reality is, real, long lasting results, come at a price. This price is often disguised in the form of discipline and regimentation. Become disciplined and regimented, and I guarantee amazing improvements in muscle mass.

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When one begins training, results often come very fast - the body will significantly increase its muscle mass so as to adapt to the unique stresses weight training brings. However, this initial burst of muscle growth is short lived before reality sets in - the body has adapted to the initial stimulus and a plateau ensues.

The way to break this plateau, to continue an upward growth phase, is to persevere with the training and nutritional basics, gradually refining these as one's program progresses.

It often takes years to make significant progress, depending on individual genetic limitations and lifestyle factors. If the main constants are a solid nutritional plan and increasingly intense workouts, results will come. Be consistent, and never give up.

Ways To Improve Consistency Include:


1. Set Realisitic Goals:

    Setting realistic goals and working toward them until they are achieved. I know this sounds overly simplistic, but if you your goals are reachable, your life can be structured in such a way as to allow them to come to fruition.

    Write your goals down and re-visit them every day, and ask the question:

    "Have I done all I can today
    to help make these goals a reality."

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2. Don't Deviate:

    Try not to deviate from your set plan. Have training, nutrition and rest become as integral as breathing and sleeping. This is the essence of consistency:

    Routinely adhering to whatever needs to be done.


3. Do Everything Necessary:

    Within reason, do whatever needs to be done to achieve your bodybuilding goals. Tell yourself that the great champions, like Arnold for instance, became champions because they did what was necessary.

    Get a training partner, or friend, with similar goals and work towards these together. If inconsistency creeps in, you will be letting yourself and your partner/friend down. Be accountable to yourself and those who would like to emulate your positive example.


4. Eliminate Distractions:

    Obviously this is not practical for many. However, if it can be managed, comparatively speaking, a distraction free existence will enhance one's ability to remain consistent.

    It is often the distractions, the unforeseen events, that derail us, causing a break in the flow of consistency. Try to live a less complicated life and bodybuilding progress will occur at a faster rate.


5. Do A Transformation, Or Enter A Bodybuilding Contest:

    This tip dovetails well with goal setting as it provides an incentive to do whatever is necessary to achieve all training objectives. In my experience, most gains in muscle are made in the weeks and months leading up to a contest.

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    This is due to an increase in workout intensity and the specific attention given to eating correctly. With my current transformation, achieving all of my goals is made easier as my program is planned in advance and the results are made available for all to see.

    All of this helps me to be Consistent. When one undertakes a transformation, or plans to compete in a show, typically they advertise this fact more widely than they would if they were just training for personal satisfaction.

    Letting people know your plans adds a greater degree of accountability to the process of goal achievement, which, in turn, ensures consistency and greater results.


6. Keep A Workout Diary:

    To stay Consistent, it is important to document everything related to the achievement of your goals. If one does not have the time to document everything, at the very least keep a training log.

    The key to successfully detailing this log, so as to ensure consistency, is to plan workouts weeks in advance and add the weights lifted the day of the session. Always try to lift a little more than the previous workout and use the intensity techniques listed in this article (it may even be wise to write these techniques in your log book).

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    Again, keeping a log book holds you accountable and serves as a visual reminder regarding the specifics of what needs to be done to succeed.


Conclusion

As my transformation continues, it is becoming clear that in order to achieve training goals, many factors should be in place. This is not to say the experience should be dull, boring and overly regimented. My transformation is, in fact, very enjoyable, with many new concepts learned, and as many old ones revisited. I will endeavor to share all I have learned as the process continues.

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3