How much ya' bench? As physique enthusiasts, we have all probably heard this many more times than we care to remember. The bottom line is that most hardcore bodybuilders don't train for strength. Anything less than six reps will not cause hypertrophy (muscle growth), correct?
The bottom line is that if volume is sufficient and you are incorporating bodybuilder-type exercises in your workout, you will grow! Also, with this high volume, low rep scheme, your body will have no choice but to respond with slabs of lean mass! And to make it even better, this article will even outline how you can customize this training method to your goals, body fat loss or lean mass gains.
Sound too good to be true? Is gaining both strength and lean body mass while losing fat at the same time nothing but a fairy tale? Read on. Once again, Scivation is about to turn the training and diet world upside down and help make you the strong, ripped and muscular person you have always dreamed of becoming.
The Science Behind 10 Sets Of 3 Reps
What we are recommending is a bit different than what the common bodybuilder does. We are recommending 10 sets of 3 reps while most bodybuilders do 3 sets of 10 reps. So why the flip flop of sets and reps? The answer is motor unit recruitment.
Muscle contractions are signaled by action potentials (electrical signals) in the plasma membranes of muscle fibers. This signal is transmitted by nerve cells, known as neurons, from the central nervous system (CNS) to the muscle fiber. Nerve cells that innervate muscle fibers are called motor neurons.
The Central Nervous SystemThe human central nervous system consists of the brain and spinal cord. These lie in the midline of the body and are protected by the skull and vertebrae respectively.
This collection of billions of neurons is arguably the most complex object known.
The central nervous system along with the peripheral nervous system comprise a primary division of controls that command all physical activities of a human.
Neurons of the central nervous system affect consciousness and mental activity while spinal extensions of central nervous system neuron pathways affect skeletal muscles and organs in the body.
A motor neuron originates in the CNS and spans to a muscle, where it divides into multiple branches. Each branch forms a junction with a single muscle fiber. A motor neuron plus all the muscle fibers innervated by its branches is known as a motor unit.
Muscle fibers of a motor unit are all the same type (fast or slow twitch). The more motor units you can activate equates to stimulation of a greater number of muscle fibers to grow. So how do you recruit the most motor units? By lifting HEAVY!
The term volume is used to describe the workload of a workout. Volume = Sets * Reps. 10 X 3 and 3 X 10 both have the same volume (30), but the stimulus and metabolic demands from each of the workouts are different.
Motor units are recruited according to the "Size Principle," which states motor units are recruited from smallest to biggest. The type I slow-twitch muscle fibers are small while the type II fast-twitch muscle fibers are larger.
When lifting a submaximal load, the smaller, slow-twitch muscle fibers are recruited before the larger, fast-twitch muscle fibers are called upon (if at all). When lifting a near maximal load, both the larger fast-switch and smaller slow-twitch muscle fibers are activated at the same time!
You must lift heavy to fully stimulate the fast-twitch muscle fibers, which are the muscle fibers with the greatest force production potential. 10 sets of 3 reps provides a strong stimulus for both gains in strength and size.
So why not train heavy (i.e. 3 reps) on every set? While the slow-twitch muscle fibers are recruited during near maximal lifts they may not be fully "weighted" or stimulated. As bodybuilders who are after both size and strength, we want to fully stimulate ALL muscle fibers, which means we must do both low rep and high rep sets.
This is why we include the "Assistance Days" in this program that use the 8-12 rep range. By performing the big three lifts (bench, deadlift, and squats) with low reps we create the stimulus for size and strength in the fast twitch muscle fibers. By performing other compound exercises on the Assistance Days in the 8-12 rep range we create the stimulus for hypertrophy of the slow twitch muscle fibers.
The Rep Range
We will be doing 8-12 reps on assistance days. This is the hypertrophy range. Start with a weight you can get for three sets of eight reps and once you can get 3 sets of 12 reps, raise the weight. But how much do you raise the weight? Normally ten pounds, or a 5-pounder on each side of the bar, is sufficient.
On 3 x 10 days, we do three reps, period. If you can only do two reps after the first few sets, then only do two reps or one rep on the remaining sets and complete all ten sets. If this happens, do NOT raise the weight for the next workout. Once you can get all reps and sets, add ten pounds or a five on each side of the bar.
How To Determine What Weight To Use On 3x10 Days
You will want to either find your three rep max or if you are intermediate or advanced, you can estimate.
Let's say you can do 275 for three reps on any of the three lifts (this example works for all of them—bench, squat and deadlift). We will want to start the program at about 80-90% of your three rep max. Thus, your starting weight for week one of the program will be 235.
On week two, assuming you completed three reps on all ten sets, you will raise the weight to 245. Then week three, raise it to 255, and so on. Here is a weight progression chart assuming a 275 pound 3-rep max:
Three Rep Max = 275 pounds
- Week 1: 235
- Week 2: 245
- Week 3: 255
- Week 4: 265
- Week 5: 275
- Week 6: 285
- Week 7: 295
- Week 8: 305
- Week 9: 315
- Week 10: 325
- Week 11: 335
- Week 12: 345
How To Determine What Weight To Use On Assist Days
Simply pick a weight you can do 8 reps for 3 sets. When you can get 12 reps, raise the weight so you can get 8 reps for 3 sets the next workout. It is as simple as that!
Rest Time Between Sets
On the heavy three rep days, we recommend you rest 2-3 minutes between sets. On the assistance days we recommend you rest 1-2 minutes between sets.
How Long Can I Do This Program For And What Is Next?
We recommend doing this program for 12 weeks at a time. We recommend doing Tri-phase Training (www.scivationbooks.com) upon completion of this program. In fact, by doing 12 weeks of P2BP Training and then following it with 12 weeks of Tri-phase Training, your results would be AMAZING!
Here is your new workout schedule. It is six days per week, period. No turning this into a 5-day program or a four day program. If you cannot commit to six days, forget about doing this program. If you can suck it up and do this for 12 weeks, then be ready to hop aboard the SWOLE TRAIN!
- 10 sets of 3 reps
Tuesday: Squat Assist
- 3 sets of 8-12 Reps of EACH
- Leg Press
- Hack Squat
- Leg Extension
- 10 sets of 3 reps with 2-second pause at bottom of each rep
Thursday: Bench Assist
- 3 sets of 8-12 Reps of EACH
- Shoulder Press
- Close-Grip Bench Press
- 10 sets of 3 reps with a complete stop and 2 second "reset" at bottom
Saturday: Back Assist
- 3 sets of 8-12 Reps of EACH
- Low Rows
- Straight-Arm Pulldowns
- Leg Curls
- Cable Curls
Performing The Big 3- Squats, Bench Press, and Deadlift
Using proper form is vital to not only having a productive workout but also staying injury free. (Instructions taken from www.exrx.net)
Preparation: From a rack with barbell upper chest height, position bar high on back of shoulders and grasp barbell to sides. Dismount bar from rack and stand with shoulder width stance.
Execution: Descend until thighs are just past parallel to floor. Extend knees and hips until legs are straight. Return and repeat.
Comments: Keep head forward, back straight and feet flat on the floor; equal distribution of weight throughout forefoot and heel. Knees should point same direction as feet throughout movement.
Preparation: Lie supine on bench. Dismount barbell from rack over the upper chest using a wide oblique overhand grip.
Execution: Lower weight to upper chest. Press bar until arms are extended. Repeat.
Preparation: With feet flat beneath bar squat down and grasp bar with a shoulder width or slightly wider over hand or mixed grip.
Execution: Lift bar by extending hips and knees to full extension. Pull shoulders back at top of lift if rounded. Return and repeat.
Comments: Throughout lift keep hips low, shoulders high, arms and back straight. Knees should point same direction as feet throughout movement. Keep bar close to body to improve mechanical leverage.
We feel that cardio should be done year-round no matter what your goals are. We recommend performing 30 minutes of low-intensity cardio pre- or post weight training.
Supplements for Strength and Size
Workout Nutrition StackTM—Xtend + VasoCharge
Our company has made pre-workout supplementation a thoughtless endeavor. Imagine if you could take the scientifically-proven, synergistic ingredients to guarantee you have all bases covered and to assure that you get the skin-bursting pumps, mind-blowing energy and unbelievable endurance to help you attack the weights like a beast.
Then imagine if you could fuel your muscles DURING your workout to encourage lean muscle growth and endless energy with enhanced recovery. If you're like anyone here at Team Scivation, this is a dream come true. Time to stop dreaming.
Scivation Xtend is the ULTIMATE pre, during and post workout formula ever created. It has even created its own category—Workout NutritionTM. VasoCharge, formerly known as VasoXplode, has become the standard in pre-workout supplementation featuring beta alanine, NO-enhancers, mental performance boosters and the VasoRushTM Blend.
What are two of the main causes of poor performance and lack of growth/progress for bodybuilders and fitness enthusiast?
Fatigue and increased protein breakdown (catabolism).
If you do not have the energy and drive to lift harder and heavier each workout then you will not grow.
If you leave protein breakdown levels unchecked and allow muscle breakdown to occur during a workout then you will not grow.
Without proper workout nutrition you will not grow and progress at the rate you could with sufficient diet and supplement strategies. We have taken the guesswork out of workout nutrition and created a supplement combo that will increase your energy and performance, delay fatigue and decrease protein breakdown WHILE increasing protein synthesis (the key to muscle growth).
It's time to start taking your workout nutrition (pre and during workout) seriously and supplement with a Workout Nutrition Stack—Vasocharge + Xtend!
We have formulated this product around ingredients that are scientifically proven to increase performance and muscle growth. It contains synergistic ingredients that work together to take the results you will see to the next level and beyond.
- Creatine + Citrulline Malate: Synergistically increases performance
- Creatine + Beta-Alanine: Synergistically increases performance and lean mass gains
- Citrulline Malate + Arginine: Increases blood flow and amino acid deliver to skeletal muscle, leading to increased protein synthesis (muscle growth)
- Tyrosine + ALCAR + Caffeine + D,L-Phenylalanine: Increases energy and mental focus while delaying fatigue, allowing you to workout harder and longer
This product is formulated to allow you to increase the intensity of your workouts while delaying fatigue, which results in greater progress being made. It also increases energy production and power output, decreases H+ accumulation and fatigue, and increases blood flow and the delivery of amino acids to skeletal muscle, making it an all-in-1 pre-workout powerhouse.
- We have formulated this product to increase protein synthesis, recovery and performance using a precise blend Branch-Chained-Amino Acids (BCAA), L-Glutamine, and Citrulline Malate.
- Substrate for energy production
- Substrate for protein synthesis
- Precursor for the formation of other amino acids: primarily Alanine and Glutamine
- Metabolic signals (Primarily Leucine): Stimulates protein synthesis through insulin secretion/activation of the PI3K pathway; stimulates protein synthesis through activation of mTOR; stimulates leptin expression in adipocytes through activation of mTOR
BCAA's are a must have for workout nutrition. In summary, the metabolic roles of the BCAA include:
This great product was formulated to give the body what it needs during exercise. As you exercise, the body increases the demand for various nutrients and if the body is not fed those nutrients, it must obtain them from other sources (i.e. breakdown of skeletal muscle to obtain amino acids).
Both BCAA and Glutamine oxidation/demand is increased during exercise. In order to meet this increased demand for BCAA and Glutamine, the body breaks down muscle protein.
The goal of weight training is to increase protein synthesis. In order to gain muscle mass, protein turnover (protein turnover = protein synthesis - protein breakdown) must be positive.
An increase in protein synthesis from weight training can lead to an increase in muscle mass. If we are increasing protein breakdown during training, we are decreasing the training session's overall anabolic effect and limiting muscle growth.
BCAA supplementation has been shown to not only increase protein synthesis, but also to decrease protein breakdown. By supplementing with Xtend during your workouts you are creating an ideal environment for muscle growth.
What all this means is ingesting BCAA primes your body for growth by increasing protein synthesis and energy production in muscle. All of these actions are beneficial to an athlete and should not be overlooked.
There is endless research backing BCAA supplementation as part of one's workout nutrition. In addition, the citrulline malate found in Xtend increases atp/energy production, delays fatigue and increases blood flow and amino acid deliver to muscle and the glutamine promotes increased recovery.
Vasocharge + Xtend:
By combining these two great products pre-workout; you prime your body for heightened performance and anabolism. Our pre-workout recommendation (taking 15 minutes pre-workout) is:
- 1 Serving Vasocharge
- 1-2 Servings Xtend
You should follow this up during your workout by sipping 4-5 servings of Xtend throughout your entire workout. This will ensure protein synthesis levels stay elevated and your body is primed for growth.
While many people overlook the power of workout nutrition, with the Workout Nutrition Stack you can be ensured that your body has the nutrients and substrates it needs to performance better than ever and grow like never before.
Wrapping it Up
The Power to be Pretty Program is an intense strength/hypertrophy program different from any program you have ever trained with. The 10X3 Power days are very taxing! Performing 10 sets with a near maximal load is no laughing matter and takes focus and determination to complete.
We have no doubt that at the end of this 12-week program you will be bigger and stronger than when you started. At the end of the 12-week program we recommend taking a week off from the gym (you can do some low-intensity cardio if you like). After your week off we recommend using Tri-Phase Training for the next 12 weeks.