Main | Training | Microcycles | Nutrition | Supplements | Meal Replacements | Start Program
The Shortcut to Size program is based on microcycled periodization. Research shows it's most effective for strength gains and increasing muscle size. The Shortcut to Size is a 12-week program composed of 12 one-week microcycles. Each microcycle lasts one week, after which you change rep ranges and weights. The constant cycling creates muscle confusion, forcing your body to adapt to the new rigors.
12-Week Shortcut To Size Microcycles Overview
Watch The Video - 10:42
Microcycle 1: Low weight, high reps
Microcycle 2: Increase weight, decrease reps per set
Microcycle 3: Heavy weight, fewer reps per set
Microcycle 4: Very heavy weight, very few reps
*After 4 weeks, return to microcycle 1 and rase the weight!
Sometimes, with longer periodization programs (where you stick with a certain rep range for 4 weeks or more), your muscles grow accustomed to that rep range.
If you use heavy weight for 3-5 reps for several weeks, it trains your muscles to be stronger, but it's not the best rep range for building muscle growth. Microcycles give you the best of both worlds.
Microcycles allow you to reap the benefits of one rep range without losing benefits of the other rep range. There are no extended periods where you're not building muscle or gaining strength!
1 Microcycle = 1 Week
4 Microcycles = 1 Phase
3 Phases = Shortcut to Size
How much muscle soreness can I expect, particularly during the different microcycles?
Depends on your experience. If you're fairly new or just coming back to strength training, you're going to have a lot of soreness, regardless of what rep ranges you get into. You'll have a little more soreness as the weight gets heavier because the heavier weight causes more mechanical damage to muscle fibers. Even experienced lifters will ache when going through Microcycle 3 and Microcycle 4.
The rep ranges for Shortcut to Size are based on science, so abide by them! Choose a weight that allows so you can complete the reps. As you go through each stage, you'll be stronger, so increase your weights by 5, 10 or 20 pounds from phase to phase.
Choosing your weight at each microcycle is a little bit hit-or-miss. Some experts want you to use a percentage of your 1-rep max (1RM), which works for some trainees. The problem I find with it is that, depending on the type of athlete you are (whether you have more muscle endurance or muscular strength), the numbers might not be an accurate reflection of true strength for a given rep range. For example, guys with a lot of muscular endurance can typically lift heavier in the 12-15 rep range than a 1RM percentage prediction.
So, it doesn't always work out. I'd much rather you guys find the actual weight that limits you to 12-15 reps in Microcycle 1, rather than using math to predict. Use that first set to decide if you need to add weight in the second set, or decrease weight to stay in the 12-15 rep range, or keep things consistent if you hit the mark and can complete all 4 sets for that desired rep range.
You will up the weight between each microcycle, but there are various factors that determine weight increases.
- Those with high muscular endurance won't add that much more weight.
- Those with high muscle strength may add more weight to each set.
Most people can jump up 5-10 pounds when shifting from the 12-15 rep range of Microcycle 1, to the 9-11 rep range of Microcycle 2. Some people may even have to add less weight. Figure it out, try what you can, and expect to see a big increase in mass and strength each week.
The fact that you're only sticking with that heavy, heavy weight in very low rep ranges for one week reduces your injury risk. Then you immediately switch back to Microcycle 1, where you go for light weight for high reps, further lessening your injury risk.
Research shows that heavy weight for low reps can cause some damage to joint tissue, but going to lighter weight in high reps actually enhances the regeneration of that joint tissue. That's how it works on this program.