I recently started noticing that my progress had come to a full stop for some time (The more you advance, the slower your gains will come!) and I was just maintaining rather than gaining. I decided to break my most holy training "law" - the last one I just couldn't get the guts up to break for the longest time. So I did it and it paid off big time! Just as I had gained from switching to once a week workouts long ago, I recently gained from training more often.
This proves that you should have an open mind when it comes all aspects of your training. I do like to train for balance so I decided to save more recuperative energy for my lagging body parts. My legs are at least five years ahead of my upper body because of extreme bicycling in my youth so I decided to not train them for a while and let my body concentrate on its weaknesses rather than its strengths. My upper body is now improved after that decision since it can use the recuperative energy my legs were draining from it.
The extra energy I had left over allowed me to get away with training my upper body more often and still avoid overtraining. I also eliminated upper body workouts that overlapped each other(at the suggestion of a totally huge guy in my gym) and trained all pushing muscles on one day and all pulling muscles on the other. Just as my double shock system gives a muscle group COMPLETE rest, so does this one. I have heard the argument that you should train the delts and tris fresh and on a different day than chest, but in this program, my delt and tri strength has increased past my previous records so I listen to results, not ideas. My elbows and shoulders have also let me know it was a good decision. My workout poundages have also went up considerably. It works for Kevin Levrone (jeez what delts and tris!) so I thought I would give it a try.
Here's my split:
Day 1 - Chest, Delts, Tris
Day 2 - Back, Rear Delts, Bis, Forearms
Day 3 - rest
Day 4 - Cardio
Day 5 - Chest, Delts, Tris
Day 6 - rest
Day 7 - Back, Rear Delts, Bis, Forearms
Day 8 - Cardio
Day 9 - rest
Day10 - Chest,Delts,Tris
Day11 - Back,Rear Delts, Bis, Forearms
Day12 - rest
Day13 - Cardio
Day14 - Chest,Delts,Tris
Notice in this split that you alternate between 3 and 4 days of complete rest for a muscle group. Training more than 2 days in a row WILL produce overtraining and this program avoids that while still hitting the targeted muscle groups fairly often. I hit my workouts heavy as often as possible but when my joints hurt a little and I'm dragging, I will have a light day. Look for tell tale signs of overtraining like lack of energy and joint pain, difficulty sleeping, muscle twitches while laying in bed, loss of appetite and motivation, or loss of strength in the face of hard training. This way you don't overtax your system but you still keep the area worked and full of blood so it doesn't begin to atrophy from not being worked often enough. Still, occasionally do a machine and cable workout (I have long been a free-weight devotee) when you feel good so you can benefit from the different stimulus they provide your body with. I opened my mind to using machines and dumbbells more and it has paid off A LOT-especially in my lats and pecs. I arrange my pattern like this:
- Heavy day - strictly heavy barbell basic movements
- Heavy day - strictly heavy dumbbell movements
- Light day - higher reps of machine supersets (this has really added a lot of shape to my less cut muscles)
Here, always begin the workout with an isolation movement to pre-exhaust larger muscles (pecs, lats), rest less between sets and use many exercises to hit the muscle from angles it is not used to. Do everything you can imagine that you haven't done before to shock your body.
Also, my upper chest is my most stubborn area to respond to anything and this technique has put 30 freakin' pounds on my incline barbell press (which is a joy to gain in ones worst responding area!) On my heavy dumbbell day for chest, delts and tris, I begin the workout on a low inclined bench and work my way up to my heaviest dumbbells. I then jack the angle of the incline up a little and do another set. Then I jack the angle up just a little more and do another set. Keep gradually increasing the angle of the incline until you are doing your dumbbell presses straight up and down for delts.
After you are done with the heavy dumbbells, redo the whole thing with lighter dumbbells for higher reps. This method will challenge new angles for your upper chest (a suggestion by Lee Priest) which are not normally used and teach your body how to do something new as well as adding a more rounded, bulging appearance to your upper body. If you are concerned about your width, start the workout with side laterals before chest and don't worry, it wont drain your chest pressing strength one bit.
I have also found an awesome superset combo that got my lats very sore and helped widen them a bit. I usually rely on really heavy sets of weighted pull-ups and chins to build lat mass but here is a cable superset that provided the fresh stimulus to my lats that my normal workouts were not producing. Start with wide grip pull downs and do at least 12-15 reps and immediately go to the seated cable row and do another 15 reps. Rest about 15-30 seconds and go back to the pull downs and then directly over to the seated cable rows again but this time keep going back and forth until you can do no more on either exercise. Gives an awesome pump, stretch, and contraction that keeps on going. Also, refer to my previous articles on how to perform back exercises properly for best gains. I'll bring you some great arm shockers next cause I just recently found a few and cant wait to share 'em.