"Don't overtrain! You'll only set yourself back and won't make any progress." We've all heard that one before. The way some gym dudes preach about the dangers of overtraining, you'd think it was the Bubonic Plague.
Today, we're throwing all that overtraining stuff out the window, because every once in a while, you just gotta open the hatch and drop some seriously explosive work on your body.
I'm not saying you need to engage in scorched-earth policy on your muscles day-in, day-out, but running your body through the workout ringer every once in awhile is what the pros do, and it might just put some hair on your chest (just kidding, ladies). To ALL my brothas and sistas - I challenge you to take a walk on the wild side and blast your muscles into oblivion.
1 / The "Psyche Up"
When I was younger, I would train all day if I had the time, and I'd read all the popular muscle magazines before hitting the hay. I grew up idolizing Schwarzenegger, Ferrigno, Robinson, Michalik and DeFendis, the bodybuilding greats. I even had the book of Pumping Iron, which will make you want to train on the spot!
I can still remember Arnold's "bombing" trips that he used to do. He and some buddies would drag a carload of weights and equipment into a clearing in the middle of the woods and lift. They'd train during the day and camp over night. The reason Arnold called it "bombing" was because he would pick a weak body part and work the hell out of it.
He'd do dozens, yes, dozens of sets to bring that body part up to snuff. The first time Arnold tried this method, he ended up doing 40-plus sets of squats and could hardly walk for days after. That's hardcore all the way!
If weekend work-athons in the forest doesn't get your blood pumping, then surely a little story about John DeFendis will. One day DeFendis didn't feel like training because his dog had just died that morning. But Michalik wouldn't have it-he reamed DeFendis for not wanting to train. So DeFendis went home, grabbed his dead dog's collar and leash, wrapped it around his neck, and did around 75 grueling sets for legs!
2 / The Preparation
All right, you got your head in the right place to move some weight like there's no tomorrow, but a word of caution: you NEED to be in good shape and injury-free. If you've got a sore shoulder, it's just plain stupid to do dozens of bench press or military press sets. And if you've got a joint problem, rest up. Let it heal. This is workout to do when you are 100 percent, full-steam ahead.
You should also have at least a year or two of hard training under your belt. Getting up off the couch and stepping into a gym for the first time and lifting your brains out won't prove anything to anyone, except that you're an idiot and probably injured.
It's also a good idea to plan for a workout this intense. I'd plan on making it your Saturday session and allowing for the rest of the weekend to rest up--you're going to be sore. Have plenty of protein sources and good carbs at home, too, because you can't afford to miss meals and need ample nutrients for growth and repair.
3 / The Crazy Workout
First off, pick a weak body part you want to target. Let's say it's your chest. If you do the standard four exercises at five sets each, you're hitting your chest with 20 working sets. I want you to take your total sets from your normal workout (in this case 20) and double it. You'd be doing 40 sets because we aren't coddling ourselves in the gym anymore.
And we'll be focusing on just two exercises to work that one body part. Each exercise will get half of your total sets. If you want to do more sets, go ahead. The point is to work your ass off!
As far as rep ranges go, do sets of 20 with a lighter weight for your first couple of sets, and then increase the weight gradually while lowering the reps in a pyramid style. Always keep your reps above six, because you really don't want to risk lifting too heavy with really low reps and causing an injury. Aim to keep most of your sets in the 10 to 12 range for the best results.
Another way to get in a crazy amount of volume is by picking a number like 400 or 500, and not leaving the gym until you complete that many reps. Do sets of 10, 15, or 20 until all the reps completed add up to 400 or 500. Adjust the weight accordingly so you get a workout no matter how many reps you are doing.
Intense workouts like this will take you a couple hours, so give yourself plenty of time. I'd suggest starting the workout at about noon so you can get at least two whole-food meals in before you start. Take a good pre-workout supplement like NO-Xplode, SuperPump, or Jack3d, and have an intra-workout drink like Xtend or SizeOn to keep nutrients in your system while you're training.
Afterwards, take in a good whey protein and carb shake. Wait an hour eating some protein-packed meat and carbs. Eat every two to three hours and rest up really good for a couple days. Don't do any cardio on Sunday or Monday. Use all your energy for repair.
4 / The Reason
A workout like this will toughen you up physically and mentally. These workouts teach you how to break your barriers and how far you can actually push yourself. You will be tired, you will not want to complete every rep and set, and you will really see what you're made of.
Why do people run marathons? Is it just for maintaining cardiovascular endurance or improving your running? Of course not! It's about realizing that you just ran 26 miles, and you're still alive. Pretend this workout is your marathon. Don't worry about overtraining and just enjoy the challenge of it. You don't need to do it more than once or twice a year.
Will this one workout add a half-inch to your arms or chest or add a half-pound of muscle? No, but at the end of the workout you'll feel comfortable sporting a tattoo that says "BADASS" on your chest.