Concomitant Training: Strength, Power And Hypertrophy Gains!

Originally I was going to ask whether you wanted simultaneous gains in strength and power as well as maximal hypertrophy development. Quickly I thought to myself it was a rhetorical question - of course you want it!

Originally I was going to ask whether you wanted simultaneous gains in strength and power as well as maximal hypertrophy development. Quickly I thought to myself it was a rhetorical question - of course you want it!

As such welcome to the experience of concomitant training. Essentially the program outlined below is a variation of the heavy-medium-light full body workouts used by the natural guys back in the forties and fifties. All I've done is tweaked and fined tuned the program in order to bring it kicking and screaming into the new millennia.

Many times I have commented that in order to gain maxim muscle development you must train all the facets that make up a muscles size or aids in its ability to produce force. These components of a muscle can be classed as either metabolic or neural components.

Metabolic components include myofibril hypertrophy (increased protein), sarcolpasmic hypertrophy (increased cytoplasm and stored energy substrates) as well as capillarisation (increased blood vessels) and other structural components. Neural components that lend themselves to increased force include the ability for increased motor unit (MU) recruitment, MU synchronisation and rate coding, as well as intermuscular coordination.

Many argue that neural training will not directly make a muscle bigger. While it's true that minimal direct hypertrophy occurs, the indirect benefit would be increased poundage on your metabolic training days.

Many individuals try to train these facets of the muscle in a periodised manner. Usually the training will involve periods devoted to either maximal strength, speed strength, muscular endurance etc. the problem occurs as when one biomotor ability is trained the other starts to detrain.

Secondly as a bodybuilder I don't want to structure my training to excel at any one motor ability, rather I want development of all the components in order to maximise muscular development. However If you are a powerlifter or olympic lifter then you should focus your training on peaking a single motor ability.

For those who wish for maximal muscular development concomitant holds the key. The program involves a weekly cycle (microcycle) with individual days for each major biomotor ability. The resultant effect is hypertrophy from the white fibres all the way to the red and all the subtypes in-between.

This style of training also offers a few other benefits. Training all the motor abilities creates a support system that heightens the training of one element through development of another (i.e. maximal strength work is improved by speed strength work as the rate of force development improves).

Secondly the alternating format of neural, metabolic, neural and then metabolic will decrease the chance of overtraining either the central nervous system (CNS) or the endocrine system. In fact alternation of neural to metabolic will help increase recovery as the metabolic training helps flush increased blood flow and nutrients to the previously trained muscles.

The Program

Day One

Day one is maximal strength training day. Three exercises will be performed - wide stance squats, bench press and bent over rows. The focus is poundage; as such four sets of between two and four reps will enable you to work with a minimum of 90% of your one rep max.

The rest periods should be long (3-5 minutes) in order to enable maximal force output in all sets. Your rep cadence (repetition speed) should be controlled but not exaggerated. The weights will probably move slowly even if you try to accelerate them due to the sheer weight being used.

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Day Two

Day two is devoted to muscular endurance. As such short rest periods (10-20 seconds) is required combined with high reps. The best alternative is to do a circuit of machine based exercises to build local muscular endurance and sarcoplasmic hypertrophy.

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Day Three

Day three should be a 'rest' day. Only light activity and flexibility work should be performed.

Day Four

Day four is speed strength work. Upon this day there should be a real focus on quality, as such avoid failure like the plague. All repetitions should be performed explosively in order to improve your rate of force development (RFD).

Conventional weight exercises are limited for this kind of work as your body will try to brake or check the movement at the distal (end) range by recruiting the antagonist muscles in order to maintain soft tissue integrity.

Considering this dynamic exercises such as Olympic lift variations and plyometric exercises are the chosen tools (see my article Holistic Hypertrophy part two for descriptions of these exercises).

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Day Five

Day five is your standard bodybuilding affair that aims to develop myofibril hypertrophy. Rest should be kept to around sixty seconds and your rep cadence should be about four seconds for the eccentric, a slight pause in the mid range and a two second concentric phase.

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Days Six & Seven

Days six and seven are rest days. Again light activity and flexibility work will aid recovery.

Some may feel that training your whole body four days in the week is too much, but remember each day focuses on different biomotor abilities and different movement patterns. As such the loadings will present themselves as different stressors and in some cases can enhance the recovery of the muscles from the previous session.

The only critiscm of concomitant training is the possibility that training several motor abilities will decrease the fitness gains as opposed to training a single motor ability per mesocycle.

The argument for concomitant training suggests that all the above motor abilities are a subdivision of strength and other motor abilities (aerobic conditioning, Flexibility, Maximal speed and skills training) are not being trained to any great degree. Therefore the gains seen should be comparable with single motor ability training within a mesocycle.

Another major benefit to the program is the raised protein synthesis seen throughout the week for the whole body. Typical bodybuilding programs will usually result in an elevated protein synthesis for a given body part for up to forty eight to seventy two hours post workout but the tissue remodelling takes longer.

Working the body part again with different loading parameters and motor patterns will allow protein synthesis to be almost constantly raised throughout the week. As with any training program the proof is in the pudding. Try it and feel the full benefits of concomitant training.