Don't Be Afraid To Try New Things For Muscle Growth!

Get over the fear of implementing a new training strategy if you are looking for even better gains. See what my new routine is and why I designed it the way I did. Try something different!
Natural Muscle Volume 11, Number 5, May 2006 Natural Muscle Magazine: Volume 11, Number 5, May 2006.

Issue six of the Natural Muscle publication is now available. This issue will showcase PBL Hottie of the month, Ava Cowan, the Arnold Fitness Expo, the science behind calf training and much more! Check it out!

Download May 2006 Issue (PDF Format):

     PDF  Volume 11, Number 5, May 2006. PDF (4.9 MB)


Don't Be Afraid To Try New Things
It May Be Just What You Need For New Muscle Growth!

I am a creature of habit. I get up at the same time everyday, go through my pre-workout ritual and hit the gym to start my day. I have always lived by the motto, "If it ain't (yeah, I'm from the South) broken, don't fix it!" So when I find a weight training program that produces good results, I have a habit of staying with it.

While these qualities of consistency and persistence are helpful in sticking with a workout plan and getting results, I now believe that being too "hard-headed" may prevent us from reaching our maximum potential. I had been following one particular type of weight training routine almost exclusively for about 3½ years up until this past December.

This program is very solid and helped me make some great progress over that time, but I couldn't help but think about trying something different. However, I never did because I was scared my results would not be as good with a new program.

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Time To Shake Things Up

Finally, I realized I needed to chill out and just give something else a try. What is the big deal anyway? At worst, my results would not be as good and I could go back to my old way of training. It's not like I am a professional bodybuilder risking messing up an upcoming competition, or that changing workout routines would cause me to shrink away to nothing.

So, I decided to just go for it and implemented a new training strategy starting around mid-December. I stuck with this new routine for 12 weeks until the beginning of March. I wanted to give this new routine an honest run for a significant amount of time before I did any kind of analysis and write-up so that I could be as accurate as possible in honestly assessing both the positives and negatives.

Before I get into the routine I have been following, I want to talk briefly about why I designed my routine the way I did. I have learned in the past and always hear people talking about different muscle fiber types and how to stimulate different fibers using a variety of repetition ranges, rest intervals, and rep counts.

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However, it was not until recently I started studying the human body more and how our bodies respond to weight training that I started to really understand why these things make sense. I started to think that performing strictly heavy weight training with low repetitions all the time may not be the most effective way to maximize your muscle-building potential.

Working in a lower rep range (i.e., 4-6 reps) with heavy weight stimulates the Type IIb or fast-twitch muscle fibers, which are the fibers associated most with an increase in size and strength. There is no doubt about that. This type of heavy training also stimulates the less strength-oriented and more endurance Type IIa and Type I muscle fibers.

It may even be that low repetitions and heavy weight stimulates all muscle fiber types more than any other type of training. However, using only this rep range may not provide enough stimulus to all types of muscle fibers in order to create the most growth possible.

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Think of it this way, low reps and heavy weight may be able to account for 75% of your maximum muscle mass and strength potential, but if you only work in this repetition range then you are missing out on 25% of muscle fiber development. I'm completely making up these percentages, but I think you get the idea.


My New Experimental Program

That was my "scientific" thought process for trying something different. My other thought process was that I am not doing a contest this year so, "What the heck do I have to lose by trying something completely different?" At worst, I will not get good results and be able to share that information with all of you and never use the program again.

During my little experiment I also changed my nutrition plan, and designed the training routine and nutrition program to work together. I don't have room to go into details on the nutrition and supplementation plan I followed, but am going to write a separate article covering this aspect next month. Here's my new routine:

Monday: Cardio & Abs

    30 minutes moderate-intensity cardio (usually the Gauntlet) and 10-15 minutes of abdominals.

gauntlet gauntlet
Click Image To Enlarge.
The Gauntlet: Brutal!

Tuesday: Chest & Back

Wednesday: Legs

Thursday: Shoulders, Biceps, Triceps


Click Image To Enlarge.
Hammer Strength Dips.

Hammer Strength Dips Video Guide:
Windows Media (371 KB)
MPEG (1.2 MB)

Friday: Cardio & Abs

    Friday: 30 minutes moderate intensity cardio (usually the gauntlet) and 10-15 minutes of abdominals.

Saturday: Full Body


Conclusion

As you can see, this workout is much different from the low-volume, low-rep, heavy weight workouts I am use to. The volume and reps are much higher and the rest time between sets is less (especially during the weekday workouts). So, how did I feel about training this way?

First of all, physically performing these higher rep/short rest workouts was very demanding physically (especially leg days which were absolutely brutal!). I definitely liked the change of pace and felt like my workouts went very quickly because I did not have time to do anything or think about anything between sets except getting ready for the next set.

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Also, my muscle "pump" was significantly more than with lower rep workouts. I even got accused of using steroids a few times, which I just take as a nice compliment. (If I saw me, I wouldn't be thinking that, but what the heck - I'll take it!)

Whether or not creating a muscle pump by increasing the amount of blood in the muscles results in muscle growth is debatable, but it sure is motivating to have your muscles and veins busting out while you are working out!

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You will have to check out the "HardGainer Column" next month (my next article) to learn about the nutrition and supplementation strategies I followed, as well as my overall analysis and conclusion on this program, but I will go ahead and say that what I was able achieve left me pleasantly surprised!

For more articles, visit my Bodybuilding.com Writer Page, and my website: RussYeager.com.

Reprinted with permission from Natural Muscle Magazine.

Natural Muscle Volume 11, Number 5, May 2006 Natural Muscle Magazine: Volume 11, Number 5, May 2006.

Issue six of the Natural Muscle publication is now available. This issue will showcase PBL Hottie of the month, Ava Cowan, the Arnold Fitness Expo, the science behind calf training and much more! Check it out!

Download May 2006 Issue (PDF Format):

     PDF  Volume 11, Number 5, May 2006. PDF (4.9 MB)