Cycle For Growth!

No, I am not going to go over the ultimate steroid cycle for ultimate growth or anything like that, what I am referring to is the different cycles of my own bodybuilding life. Read and learn.
No, I am not going to go over the ultimate steroid cycle for ultimate growth or anything like that, what I am referring to is the different cycles of my own bodybuilding life. I find that when I talk to people about bodybuilding or weightlifting and we talk about the various aspects of the sport (diet, supplements and training) one thing always stands out, these people are in a rut and can't get out and their lack of growth is the end result.

Now sometimes it could be a number of things that are the cause for the lack of growth but for a lot of people just changing things up every six to eight weeks is the key for continuous growth. You would be surprised at how many people use the exact same training, diet and supplement regimen that they had 3 even 4 years ago.

Now in this article I will cover the many different ways I cycle each of the main three components in bodybuilding: Diet, Supplements and Training. I feel that it is my approach that has really benefited me the most in my life and I think it will work for many of you. I really believe it is one of the main factors in my growth over the past couple of years especially.

Check out my previous article on my progression.

Now in my cycles I change up everything so much it's like night a day. To me, and if you have read any of my previous articles you know my stance on this, change is the key to growth, especially when it comes to weight training. The body needs to be shocked and there are many different ways to shock the body other than changing your style of training.

By cycling different supplements and diets your body is shocked by the change and responds with new growth in the end. I know a ton of people who have been on creatine every day for the past 2-3 years, who have been on the same protein and aminos for the past 1-2 years and these people take it everyday.

Diet

In my bodybuilding lifestyle I have three different phases of diet: Bulking (which is most of the time) Maintenance (which I always do after a hard bulking phase) and Dieting (trying to burn some body fat, which isn't very often right now).

Now my beliefs towards dieting are far different than most peoples but hey, it works for me and that's all that I can write about are my own experiences.

Bulking Diet

Now for me this is a no holds barred type of diet. The only thing I am worried about when bulking is consuming enough protein, which is usually around 300-350g a day, everything else if fair game. I eat everything and anything when bulking and I mean everything. It's the off-season and I am bulking so why not partake in the finer more tasty foods the world has to offer. My favorite foods on a bulking diet are anything fried, ice creams and breads.

Now I know it sounds that I eat a ton of crap while bulking and basically I do. But I do thank God everyday for blessing me with a fast enough metabolism to keep most of it from turning to fat so I can get away with eating like this. Now just because I eat a lot of crap while bulking I assure you I don't eat that kind of food for all of my six meals in a day. I keep that food limited to lunch and supper and sometimes only lunch.

that if I were to eat like this for a very extended period of time then the body fat levels would increase quite a bit.

During a bulking period my caloric intake a day is around 5000-6000 a day, mostly from whole foods and some from calorie rich shakes and such. Also around 150g of protein come in the form of protein shakes.

Maintenance Diet

This is what I do after each and every bulking phase. I mainly do this just simply because I am so sick and tired of eating so much I just need a break. In this phase I cut everything back to a minimum, just enough to maintain my current size, you know not too much and not too little but just right. I usually cut my calories down to 3000-3500 a day and my protein down a ton. I have read some articles on protein cycling before and decided to give it a try and I have found that it really works well for me.

In my maintenance diet I normally consume between 50g (yes your read that right) to 150g of protein a day. That is quite a bit of difference than what I use for a bulking diet. But the reason for this is while on a maintenance diet I am using a maintenance training style (which I will cover later in this article) so the need for more protein is well, not needed. I consume all of my food for the day over 4 meals versus 6 meals a day. Let's face it, eating every 6 hours gets old so this is a great thing for me to use when I start to get burned out.

The Diet (to lose some fat)

I don't do this much mainly because I am trying to gain as much size as possible for the 2003 Muscle Mania but I do this from time to time just to shed some body fat. My diet is a little different than most peoples when it comes to dieting it is very similar to the Animalbolics diet but I have made some modifications to suit me better. I consume all my carbs in only two meals during the day, post workout (which is my first meal of the day) and before I go to bed (which is the last meal I will eat before I train).

The reasoning for this is the only time you really need carbs is pre and post workout, well for me at least. See, I have a job where I sit on my butt all day long so why is there a need to consume carbs during the day when all they will do is be stored as fats, I don't think typing constitutes as cardio. I have had great success with this diet.

Here is a sample of my diet:

6 A.M.

- Protein shake
- 6 Eggs (and yolks for fat)
- 2 Packs oatmeal
- 1 Banana

9 A.M.

- 1 can tuna

12 P.M.

- Salad with light dressing
- Beef or chicken or fish

3 P.M.

- Protein shake

6 P.M.

- Green veggies
- Beef or chicken or fish

9 P.M.

- Protein shake
- Cereal
- Fruit
- Oatmeal/pasta/rice



With this diet all the carbs I intake are being burned. Diet is all about timing and for me this is the perfect. Of course it is not written in stone and can be altered but this is just the right schedule for me. If you train in the evening then your meal prior to training would be your carb up meal rather than before bed. The protein is kept high and fat is kept moderate and I keep my carbs at 150g or below and adjust them to the progress I am seeing.

By cycling these different diets my body is always guessing. Now after doing my maintenance diet for 4-6 weeks and I start on a good bulking diet and increase my proteins from 50-150g a day to 300-350g a day my body really responds and swells up over night almost. If you don't do any cycling with your diet I strongly you give it a try, just come up with a plan of attack and your body won't know what hit it.

Supplements

I truly believe in cycling all types of supplements including protein shakes and aminos. During a good bulking phase I will consume a ton of supplements so after I get finished with the phase the last thing I want to do is take any more tablets, pills or shakes. Here is an example of my last bulking phase as to what supplements I took.

Anabol-X - 4mls after training (2mls applied to each body part trained), 4ml before bed
Megabol-X - 1 cap 3 times a day
Universal Uni-liver - 3 tabs 4 times a day
Optimum 2222 Amino - 3 tabs 4 times a day
Optimum ZMA - 3 caps prior to bed
Higher Powers Creatine - 10g post workout, 10g afternoon
Eclipse 2000 Complex 24 - 2 tabs a day
EAS Simply Protein - 3 servings daily, 1 post workout, 2 with meals
Sportpharma Thermedrene - 2 caps prior to training


After this 8-week bulking phase was complete I continued with ZMA and creatine for about 3 weeks post cycle then I stopped taking all supplements for about 6 weeks. During that six-week span I went into my maintenance diet phase. Now I am on Trenabol-X along with creatine, Muscle Milk and aminos and my body is responding very well to the shock of adding more nutrients to my diet. The body adapts and gets used to anything that goes into your body and my body seems to stop responding after continued use of a product. So by cycling my supplement intake my body never has a chance to get used to what is going on.

I schedule my maintenance diet and maintenance style of training around the times when I am not taking any supplements; this is sort of my break time from bodybuilding for a few weeks. So for all of you who think you have to be on some sort of supplement to see some growth try not taking anything for a few weeks then load up on them and your body will respond.

Training

People have this view that your training styles will determine if you cut up, bulk up or tone up, for me my training style is fairly consistent all year long with the exceptions of changing things up a bit as far as reps, negatives, drop sets and so on. My training style for the most part always revolves around the core exercises (squats, bench and dead lift) and training heavy. Face it, cutting up and getting that muscle tone comes from diet and cardio and training really has no effect on either one.

It is a common misconception that higher reps equal cuts and tone. It's like those fools in the gym who bust their butt everyday training abs but they do know cardio and their diet sucks, I try and tell them that to get that six pack it takes some diet and cardio but they think that doing 500 crunches a day will get it for them, so they train their abs everyday for about 20-30 min. and never get the six pack they want, I think it's funny.

Here is a look at my three different workout cycles or phases.

Bulking

Like I said above my workouts always revolve around the three main movements: squats, bench and dead lift. During a bulking phase I train heavy and intense, keep my rep range around 4-6 reps for 3-4 sets and usually do around 3 exercises for each body part. I may change the exercises that I use from week to week and the order in which I do them but my overall philosophy during this time always stays constant: heavy and intense.

Here is a sample of my current Bulking workout that I am using for my biceps: Barbell curls - 4 sets of 6 reps, Dumbbell curls - 4 sets of 6 reps, after performing these sets I giant set preacher curls and concentration curls for 10 reps for 2 sets. This style stays the same for the other body parts. On the giant sets I use a 4 second negative doing slow and controlled reps. On some days I may do a higher volume but for the most part I will stay in the range mentioned above, I just go on how the muscle feels after I have done the workout and I will add things as I feel needed.

Maintenance

During my maintenance phase I have almost no intensity and I keep my weights moderate and I concentrate on using perfect form. This is a must after training heavy for a while and it allows the joints to recoup for a few weeks and get ready for another heavy training load. During this phase I do 2 sets of 8-10 reps and usually do 3 exercises per body part. This is also a great style of training to do for someone who is going through a period where they feel burned out.

This is a very refreshing style of training after weeks of intense hard training. It's nice to go to the gym for those few weeks and just train and not have to expend all my energy being so intense and forcing through pain barriers and such, this is probably when my body feels the best just simply because I am not putting all the stress on the joints and such.

Diet Training

So many people think that because they are dieting they must do high reps or go to failure on each set with the mind set that the high reps are responsible for cutting, maybe one day people will learn that cardio and diet are responsible for cutting. My belief is to train as heavy as possible but limit the volume of work done for each body part.

The reasoning for limiting the volume is simple, I am dieting so I am operating on a lower nutritional intake so all I want to do is stimulate not annihilate the muscle being trained.

Now once the diet has been going for a few weeks then strength levels will drop but I still lift as heavy as I can. For me this style of training is a must in order for me to maintain my hard earned muscle mass and it keeps my muscles thick and dense through out the diet.

Now that we have covered all of the different ways to cycle I do hope that some of you will give it a try and I believe you will see some outstanding growth through out the course of the year. Like I mentioned above this is one of the main reasons why I hit so few plateaus in the year, once my body adapts to one style of training, diet or supplement schedule I change it up. Change is the key to muscle growth.

One thing to note is this. You can change too frequently. On occasion I will change things up every couple of weeks but that usually doesn't last longer than 8-10 weeks or so. I have talked with a few people who change everything up on a weekly basis, to me that just isn't enough time for you to maximize one style of training or diet or supplement schedule. Like one guy would do 6-8 reps one week, then the next do 20 reps then the next 10-12 doing all different exercises each week but at the same time wonder why he isn't getting stronger on any of his exercises. To me the optimal time is to continue with one style of training, diet or supplement schedule for 6-8 weeks.

Bodybuilding is one big cycle and to maximize it you must form a good cycle routine for you, try some of the different things that I have mentioned above and form your own that best suits you.

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Good Luck,