Fast Gainer Training Protocol
This program is the epitome of exercise economy. Every one of the included exercises packs serious strength and muscle building wallop. The real benefit of a streamlined program like this is that you can focus your efforts on just a few simple goals each workout. The game plan is simple: go in, hit it hard, and leave enough fuel in the tank to allow for maximum muscle growth.
Our general warm-up will begin with 5-8 minutes of cardio work on a treadmill, bike, rowing machine, elliptical trainer or stepper. Try to choose a cardio warm-up that comes the closest to approximating what you will be doing in the workout. For instance, the stepper brings into play a fuller range of motion in the hip joint than a bike or treadmill, so it will be a better warm-up for deep squats, lunges or leg presses. The goal here is to simply raise the core temperature of the muscles, increase general blood flow and get the mind into training mode.
Next, we do one or two GPP/Core Cycles. GPP stands for general physical preparedness (otherwise known as conditioning). Core refers to the stabilizing muscles of your midsection. If you haven’t read my previous writings on the topic, a GPP/Core cycle is a complex of four of five basic multi-joint exercises done with no rest between sets. These are done with either bodyweight or very light poundages. These exercises are just meant to further warm-up the muscles and prepare your muscles and soft tissues to work through a full range of motion.
- My current favorite GPP/Core series is:
- 1. Push-ups (10 reps)
- 2. Dumbbell Clean and Press (10 reps)
- 3. V-up Leg Raises on a bench (10 reps)
- 4. Burpees (10 reps)
Feel free to substitute exercises but try to choose a collection of movements that will bring almost every major muscle group into play. Perform 8-12 reps with no rest between exercises. Your heart rate should be increased and you should be breaking a sweat after going through this cycle. For those new to training or returning to training after a layoff, two to four of these cycles can be done to increase your conditioning and tolerance to exercise.
The 5-8 minutes of cardio and the one or two GPP/Core Cycles handles the general warm-up. We also need to include a specific warm-up. A specific warm-up is merely one to three light warm-ups sets preceding the major exercises for each body part/functional group. Keep the reps low on these warm-ups. High reps cause lactic acid release that hampers your strength and impedes your results. Five or six easy reps will wake up your muscles, lube your joints, and ensure that your head is in the right place for some serious work.
The workout program involves a four-way bodypart split. Each workout will involve one or two major max strength exercises that will be worked extensively with six heavy, all-out sets.
- Strength coaches generally categorize major compound exercises into one of four groupings in the following manner:
- 1. Lower body – quad dominant (i.e. Front Squats, Leg Presses, Lunges)
- 2. Lower body – posterior chain dominant (Romanian Deadlift, Good Mornings, Glute-Ham Raise)
- 3. Upper body push
- a. Horizontal (Incline Press, Dumbbell Bench Press)
- b. Overhead (Military Press, Press-Behind-Neck)
- 4. Upper body pull (Bent Row, Chin, Seated Cable Row)
As we are going to be performing upper body pushing exercises from both angles, horizontal (for pecs) and overhead (for delts), this gives us FIVE major compound exercises. We will be working this with the same type of very simple (yet effective) linear progression periodization that is found in many traditional powerlifting programs. Linear progression involves a steady, gradual decrease in the reps as the weeks progress, with the weights increasing accordingly. In other words, rather than using a percentage of your one-rep maximum when determining poundages, you will use whatever weight you estimate (based on your performance in the previous microcycle) is appropriate for the required rep range.
So what will the rep range be for the six Maximum Strength sets? As mentioned earlier, we will be following the tried-and-true strategies of the classic powerlifting greats like Ed Coan, Mike Bridges and Kirk Kawarski. These early icons of strength prepared for meets by progressively decreasing their reps every one to two weeks while concurrently increasing their working poundages. When the day of their meet arrived they were prepared for to perform heavy all-out singles. In our program, this progression will look like this:
Micro-cycles 1 and 2: 5/5/4/4/3/3
Micro-cycles 3 and 4: 4/4/4/4/4/4
Micro-cycles 5 and 6: 4/4/3/3/2/2
Micro-cycles 7 and 8: 3/3/3/3/3/3
Micro-cycles 9 and 10: 3/3/2/2/1/1
Please note that I used the term microcycle instead of week. A microcycle is often (but not always) a seven-day period. The microcycle’s length consists of however long it takes to rotate once through your workout split. This program allows for two different options. The first is a repeating "two-on/one-off" protocol with the program being composed of four different workouts (Microcycle Option 1). It takes six days to go completely through one microcycle before it is repeated. But, if you’re locked into a seven-day calendar, maybe your schedule requires that you have every Sunday off or there are certain days in which you would be unable to workout, it would be better to skip to Microcycle Option 2.