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This is going to be a very short article, sort of as an additional remark, for when you start putting together your workout. Exercise cycling is a collection of different approaches I use to provide variety in a muscle according to that muscle's capacity and make-up. You are all aware I hope, as you should be if you read my keys to success article, that you need to switch up your exercises to keep the muscles guessing and avoid boredom or getting stuck in a rut.
For continual growth this is a must. But instead of making totally new programs every other month, I've come up with a better solution for the intermediate to advanced bodybuilder. I call it exercise cycling. Its innovative, but it works, because it lets you stay with your best exercises.
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You Need To Switch Up Your Exercises To Keep
The Muscles Guessing And Avoid Boredom.
This one only works for a few people, and even then only for a single muscle-group. I use it for my
shoulders because they seem to react well to consistency. This one is easy to remember since it involves no work. Most of the year you just do the exact same exercises. I'll alter one or two for contest prep, but basically I do the same exercises every week.
I think that the exercise plan of overall stimulation followed by individual attacks on each of the deltoid heads is a practice that never fails for me, so I kept it and it has paid off. I mention it because by now, most intermediates have this idea of change is a must. Where that holds true most of the time, you should be aware that there are exceptions.
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While Most Of The Time Change Is A Must, You
Should Be Aware That There Are Exceptions.
Odd One Out Cycling
This is one I devised for my
chest. For such a large muscle I find there are very few different exercises. And if some of them don't work for you, well, you have to go with what you have. So what I did was pick the 5 best exercises, for me that would be
decline dumbbell press,
incline dumbbell press,
dumbbell pullovers and
dips. Although sometimes I substitute decline dumbbell press for
barbell bench press.
What I do is 4-5 sets of each of the first exercises and I drop dips. The next week I'll drop decline presses and do the dips again. The week after that I bring back decline presses and drop dumbbell flyes. And so on. After 5 weeks I've done each one 4 times, I get the benefit of all of them, but I still provide muscle confusion and training variety.
By using odd one out cycling I have managed to keep track of my chest growth and use the exercises that have maximum effect. I suggest this routine for any weak body-part you may have.
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After 5 Weeks I've Done Each Exercise 4 Times, And
Provided Muscle Confusion And Training Variety.
Plan A/Plan B Cycling
Though I never applied it fully the way I intended to when I came up with it, I use it to an extent with
triceps, and I believe for most people it could be effective for
shoulders as well. My one vice is that I always start my triceps training with a superset of skull crushers and close-grip bench presses. That wasn't the original idea, but it works for me. But then I try to stimulate each of the three heads separately.
I'll pick two exercises that target each head specifically and do the first of them one week, the second the other week. So one week I do pushdowns, kickbacks and seated French press with a dumbbell, the next week I'll do French presses, rope pushdowns and 1-arm reverse pushdowns. And if I still get bored, I can mix the two up to do an all-cable, or all free weights session.
This variety supplies me with a mighty arsenal for trashing triceps. And in this instance there are plenty of exercises to choose from. Since the delts also have three heads, plan a/plan b cycling is very good for that body-part too.
Everyone has bad days, and some body-parts suffer immensely from those days. One of those body-parts is no doubt
quads, since they are trained with high reps, they require the intensity of an all-out aerobics session. What training comes down to is fulfilling the basics. That's why I invariably start with 4 sets of
leg extensions and 6 sets of
After that I can honestly say I did what I had to do. But if my recuperation allows for more, it only makes sense that I get out of it what I can. So on a good day I'll add up to 9 sets when doing leg press, lunges and hack squats. Sometimes I'll just do lunges, sometimes I won't add a thing. I rely on my instinct and on what I know about my recuperation. This way I always get what I need.
This refers to the common practice of just altering the program completely after having used it for several weeks. This is what most trainers do, which shows a clear lack of common sense and definitely a lack of imagination. Of course even I use it, just not all the time. Sometimes you hit a complete plateau, and then standard cycling is best. A complete change around in exercises, number of sets and intensity can awaken a muscle and shock it into new growth.
Standard Progressive Cycling
This consists of continually making the exercises easier, as you progress. This way you annihilate the muscle, then involve another one and annihilate it even more, until you walk out of the gym completely destroyed. As an example I'll use back. When doing thickness exercises, one of my favorites is the
2-arm dumbbell row.
I'll start with a light weight to pump up and then jump to the heaviest I can handle for 6 reps. Then with a mere 20second rest scheme, I'll drop 5 pounds and try for 8, I'll fail at 7, then drop another 5 and try for ten, failing at 8. Lowering the bench, I'll take a single heavier dumbbell and repeat the process with one-arm rows, after which I'll move on to cable rows. The idea here is that whatever exercises you select, you always start with the harder ones and progress downwards.
This one is very handy if you are training a weak body-part more than once a week. By doing a brutal workout early in the week, fatiguing and destroying the muscle completely, it will obviously not recover as easily. So at the end of the week you do exercises at moderate to light intensity, keeping reps high, but providing a very decent pump that lets the muscle know it'll have to recover faster and grow, because you aren't about to let up. This way you get your message across without impairing full recuperation. Of course the practice of training a muscle group twice a week, isn't something I recommend doing more than 2 months on end.
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Early In The Week You Destroy The Muscle Completely,
And Follow It Later in The Week With A Light Workout.
When coming close to a contest or great event for which you need to pack on some extra pounds, this one is very useful. I don't advise anyone short of advanced use it, and definitely don't recommend doing it too often. A shock cycle is best used on a body-part that plateaus easily. When such and event occurs, stop training the body-part for a week. The week after that you will do two enormous workouts spaced over the week and try to hit up to 5 sets of that body-part after every other workout as well.
You understand now why I told you to take a week off? After that take another week off and make sure your recuperation is up to par. By the time your resume your normal routine, you'll find that you may have sprouted and entire inch.
Some warnings however: Make sure the body-part can take it, treating a bicep this rudely takes some planning, and a watchful eye to avoid injuries. Do not overdo it. Do this only once or twice a year, as making a habit out of it will turn against you and completely fry the muscle, turning it to mush.
Whichever cycle you end up using, be sure to use good judgment when selecting your exercises. The aim has to be a complete development of the muscle, so make sure you target all muscles in the muscle-group. Exercise cycling allows you to get more benefit out of limited options. Next time we will discuss the progression of training as you move from beginner to advanced. After discussing that we can get into body-part training and exercise selection.Recommended Articles
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