No More Training Confusion: Enter The 16-Week Metamorphosis!

Someone emailed me and was confused about which strength coach to follow: Charles Poliquin, Chad Waterbury or Charles Staley? The bottom line is that all 3 of these coaches are right.
Lets face it; we live in an information-overloaded society where the options are virtually unlimited. Whether it is Coffee at Starbucks, or training regimens for getting bigger and stronger, the options are endless. In some ways this is exciting. I mean who wants to have the same meal at a restaurant every single time that you go to it. However, when it comes to training, it can cause massive amounts of confusion.

Recently, I had someone email me that was really confused about which strength coach to follow. He was wondering who is right? Charles Poliquin, Chad Waterbury or Charles Staley? Well the bottom line is that all three of these strength coaches are right and have hundreds of satisfied athletes to back up their reputations.

Rather than wonder whom is right and what is the best way to go, why not design a 16-week size and strength program that uses principles from some of the top strength coaches in 4-week blocks? This will allow you to sample a variety of programs in a disciplined manner to ensure that you reap the benefits of each one.

That is exactly what I am going to outline in this article. A 16-week program that is super effective that will address the variety that trainees demand as well as balance the overload of training information that drives trainees crazy.


Month One:
Pack On Serious Size With Charles Staley's EDT program.

Charles Staley is one of the top strength coaches in the world. Not too long ago Charles came up with a brilliant form of training called EDT (Escalating Density Training). After several years as a top strength coach Charles finally came to the conclusion that the key to getting bigger is not tied to rep speed or going for the pump, but to the amount of training volume that is done in a designated time period.


Charles at one of his seminars.

For example if you bench press 300 pounds for 40 total reps in a 15-minute period, taking the total reps up to a minimum of 41 at the next workout will result in hypertrophy. Well, Charles' theory was dead on and the testimonials came pouring in from trainees around the world that are ecstatic with EDT. Trainees are getting tremendous increases in size and strength as well as mind blowing muscle pumps.

Here is an EDT program that I came up with that many of my training clients have been using to pack on some size fast. It involves a 4-day-per-week training cycle in which each major muscle group is hit twice a week.

Monday-Friday: Upper Body Emphasis

Tuesday-Saturday: Lower body Emphasis

* Shown with barbell.

OK, here is how it works. Pick a weight for each exercise that you can do six times with solid form. Instead of doing six reps though, start off by doing as many sets of three as possible for each exercise within each PR Zone time frame. Do the exercises in each PR Zone back to back.

For example, do a set of bench presses, wait a minute, do a set of barbell rows, wait a minute and so forth for as many sets as possible. As fatigue builds, lower the reps to 1-2 and increase the breaks. Record the total number of reps for each exercise at the end of each PR Zone. Lets say that the total number of reps for the Standing Military Press is 50.

BB.com 12 Week Workout Log
Tired of forgetting how much weight you lifted yesterday and how many reps you did with it? How about whether or not you've done enough cardio this week, how you felt last workout, or if you're making progress?

Your goal at your next Military Press workout is to do a minimum of 51 reps. As your conditioning improves take shorter breaks in between each set. You are on the clock so strive to do more work in each period at each workout. For more info on EDT, go to http://www.edtsecrets.com.


Month Two:
5x5 Program.

After a month of EDT, you are going to be burned out with high volume and the 5X5 protocol will be a welcome change of pace. Legendary bodybuilder Reg Park was a big fan of the 5x5 program for obvious reasons. It is simple and it works. The goal is to do five sets of five with the same training load for all five sets. For example, barbell squat 315 for five sets of five.

Once you can use the same training load for all five sets, increase the weight by five percent. Here is a 5x5 program that involves a 4-day-per-week training regimen that hits each major muscle group twice a week.

Monday & Friday (Upper Body Emphasis)

Wednesday & Sunday (Lower Body Emphasis)


Month Three:
The German Volume Training Program.

OK, after taking it easy with the 5x5 program it will be time to ramp up the volume again. Several years ago top strength coach Charles Poliquin brought the German Volume Training (GVT) program to the masses in the U.S. While it worked really well for some people, many trainees complained that it leaded to burnout all too easily.

After all doing ten sets of ten is an incredible amount of volume and is mentally taxing just thinking about. Rather than do ten sets of ten, I have found that ten sets of four works really well and does not lead to the high levels of burnout that ten sets of ten leads to. In addition, another complaint regarding the German Volume Training program is that strength was compromised.

With ten sets of four you are going to be doing enough volume to pack on some size and you will be using weights that are heavy enough to ramp up strength big time. Now similar to the 5x5 program, use the same weight on each set until you can do ten sets of four. Once you can do that, increase the training load by five percent.

With this program you will be alternating between upper and lower body workouts every other day. For example, upper body on Monday, lower body on Wednesday and upper body again on Monday. Here is a 4-week program to get you in gear:

Day 1: Upper Body

    Do one set of weighted dips, wait a 90 seconds, then proceed to a set of weighted chin-ups, wait 90 seconds, do another set of weighted chin-ups, wait 90 seconds and so forth until you have completed ten sets of four on both exercises. Once you have completed all ten sets take a 5-minute break and then move on to the following:

    Do these exercises back to back and take 1-minute breaks in between each set. You are going to be pretty tired from doing the high volume sets so use a weight that you can handle for 5-6 reps on each exercise, but limit the working set reps to three reps.

Day 2: Lower Body

    * Shown with barbell.

    Do one set of Barbell Front Squats (A-1), wait a ninety seconds, then do a set of Dumbbell Snatches (A-2), wait ninety seconds, do another set of Barbell Front Squats (A-1), wait 90 seconds and so forth until you have completed ten sets of four on both exercises. After taking a 5-minute break, proceed to

    Again, do these exercises back to back and take 1-minute breaks in between each set. You are going to be pretty tired from doing the high volume sets so use a weight that you can handle for 8-10 reps on each exercise, but limit the working set reps to five reps per set.

* Shown with barbell. For more information on Charles Poliquin, go to http://www.charlespoliquin.net.


Month Four:
Rest Pause Training.

For the final stretch home we are going to end the 16-week transformation program with Rest Pause Training (RPT). In addition to being a proven method for blasting through strength and size plateaus, RPT is going to stimulate your CNS to such a high degree that you are going to feel like you just had two strong espressos. Here is how RPT works.

Take your one rep max on an exercise and do several reps with 10-15 second breaks in between each rep. The short breaks will allow you to recover quickly to gut out several reps. I find that it is more effective to gradually break into RPT. Thus, instead of using your one rep max on various drills for your first workout, use your 3-rep max instead.


Calculator

Calculate Your One-Rep Max (1RM)

Weight Lifted
Reps Done

= One-Rep Max

95% 1 RM
90% 1 RM
85% 1 RM
80% 1 RM
75% 1 RM
70% 1 RM
65% 1 RM
60% 1 RM
55% 1 RM
50% 1 RM

Instructions:

Enter the amount of weight you lifted (Lbs/Kg) and the number of reps you completed. Your One Rep Max (1 RM) will appear at the bottom left, and your various percentages of 1 RM will appear on the right side.


Increase the weight by 5% at each workout and your will be increasing strength and building dense muscles in no time. Here is a 4-week, 4-day-per-week RPT program that you can put into action to complete your sixteen week metamorphosis.

Workout 1: Upper Body Emphasis M-Th

    Bottom Position Incline Bench Presses 6x1 (six reps with 15-second breaks in between each rep)
    Barbell Rows 6x1
    Standing Military Press 6x1
    Weighted Chin-ups 6x1

Workout 2: Lower Body Emphasis T-F

    Deadlifts 6x1
    Power Cleans 6x1
    Turkish Get-ups 5x5 (five sets of five) l, r (left and right) take 1-minute breaks in between each set

For more info on RPT, visit my website at http://www.mikemahler.com.

Well there you have it, a 16-week program with enough variety to keep any serious trainee content. It is time to relinquish confusion and get into action. Commit to this 16-week metamorphosis regimen and say goodbye to mediocrity once and for all.

About The Author

Mike Mahler is a strength coach and kettlebell instructor based in Santa Monica, Calif. He is the author of the DVD "Mahler's Aggressive Strength For MMA." For more info on Mike, go to www.mikemahler.com.