A 12-Week Training Cycle for Muscle Size and Strength

Periodization 4 specific phases

By: Roger Riedinger
Magazine 12 #3

Hypertrophy Strength Power Rejuvenation

In my last article I detailed the 1985 training routine I used to achieve my best ever condition. In that article I told you how I took a weight that I could get for about 20 reps (for example 205 lbs in the bench press). But then, I’d work up to 25-30 reps with that weight, then once I reached the upper range I’d add about 10% and try to work up to 25-30 reps again. Same for the squat. Instead of ten reps with 315, I’d try for 30 reps with 225 and follow that with set of 20-25 with 255.

The problem with a program like that is it only works for a specified period of time. I found that after eight weeks the gains slowed down. Mentally, and probably physically too, I was getting burned out trying to set a new max rep record every workout. The workout I’m going to give you in this article is one that you can do indefinitely and continue to make gains. In fact, every world-class Olympic athlete follows one variation or another of this training system. Virtually every world record in weight lifting, track and field and even swimming is a result of this training system. If you follow this workout you will be able to make continuous "drug free" gains in both size and strength year round.

Over head press
Personally, I have used this "Periodized" training system for at least two 12-week cycles each year for the past ten years.
Simply put, the "classic" periodization breaks up training into four specific phases:
1. Hypertrophy – muscle size increase – moderate to high reps
2. Strength / power – medium reps, heavier weights
3.  Power – low reps, heavy weights
4.  Rejuvenation – active rest

Phase 1 – Hypertrophy

The first phase of training is the one that builds muscle size and sets your muscles up for strength increases to follow. You’ll do 8 – 12 reps per set. Three work sets plus two warm-up sets per exercise. Sounds pretty much like a standard bodybuilding workout so far, doesn’t it?

Here’s the essential difference between a Periodized program and your typical bodybuilding workout. It’s also the difference between consistent drug free gains and zero progress week after week.

   With a cycle training approach your training weights should come near, but never exceed, your limit. That means you do not train to failure. Training yourself to fail can mentally shake your confidence. But more importantly, training to failure can disrupt your neural patterns and do more harm than good.
  Instead make small steady increases on a weekly basis. Remember success breeds success. On the designated (Heavy) days above start the first week with 90% of your 10RM (limit weight you can do for 10 reps.) If your max Bench Press is 225 for 10 reps in good form without a spotter, start Week One with 205 for your three work sets. Increase your training weights each week by 4%. Week two is 210, week 3 – 220lb, and week 4 – is 102% of your starting 10RM or 230lb for 3 sets of 10. If 230 goes easy, add another 2% and stay with the hypertrophy phase for a fifth "training week." If 230 feels like your limit go into the next phase. (Note that even though you only trained near failure for one workout out of the eight workouts during this phase you’ve added at least five pounds to your 10-rep max. Remember a five-pound increase each month for a year results in a 60lb annual increase.)

You will be training each bodypart eight times during the first phase, but four of those days will be "Light". On "Light" days use just 85% of your planned heavy day poundage. This is crucial. The greatest strength increases occur when a particular muscle group is trained heavy once every 7 – 10 days and stimulated but not maximally trained 3 – 5 days later. If 205lb was your first week target weight, your (Light) day poundage would be 85% of 205lb or about 175lb. That’s what you should use.

Remember, it’s supposed to be light
Week Heavy Day   Light Day (85% of Heavy Day)
1 205 175
2 210 180
3 220 190
4 230 (new 10 rep max)195
Here’s a recommended workout to add muscle size and increase strength using Cycle Training follows:
Days 1 and 4
Chest: Bench Press and Incline Press (Barbell, DB’s, Hammer Incline or other Incline Pressing movement)
Back: Bent Row and Pulldowns or Chins
Shoulders: Choose one Shoulder Press movement (Smith, Military, Behind Neck, DB’s, Hammer)
Days 2 and 5
Legs: Olympic Squat (Bar High – below parallel), Leg Press, and Dead Lift on heavy leg day only (traditional style – bent legs / flat back) omit the Dead Lift on light days
Biceps: One Biceps Curling Movement (Barbell or Dumbbell)
Triceps: One Triceps Pressing Movement (Close Grip Bench, Dips or Dip Machine, or Pullover & Press)

Research shows that the Hypertrophy training phase will cause you to add muscle and lose fat. For best results follow Beverly’s Gain Muscle – Lose Fat Diet Plan of 50% Protein, 20% Carbs, 30% Fat during this phase.

Supplement with Beverly’s Ultimate Muscle Protein / heavy cream combination. Take Mass Aminos with meals for greater protein utilization and Muscle Mass BCAAs during training for an added build muscle – lose fat effect. You will definitely be adding muscle during this phase but if you find that your bodyweight is decreasing add Mass Maker as a post recovery drink to build more muscle and pack on the weight.

Phase 2 – Basic Strength

Do 4–5 sets of 5–7 reps in the Basic Strength phase. You want to start this phase with a weight that is just slightly higher than the weights you ended with during Phase 1. Even though you’ll be doing as few as 5 reps, don’t increase the weight too much. Start every phase with weights that are easy to get the recommended number of reps. Then work up to a new goal at the end of a four or five week cycle.

We’ll use our previous example for the Bench Press where you ended Phase 1 at 230 for 10 reps. In phase 2, warm-up with 135 for 10, 205 for 5, then your “target weight” for week one – 240lb for 3 sets of 5 reps. Once again increase your “target weight” each week. Ten pound increases per week see you end week 4 at 270. Not bad – by the end of phase 2 you’ll have already added ten pounds to your best set of 5.

It’s best to use the same exercises for Phase 2 as for Phase 1. Use 5 reps as your goal for Bench Press, Bent Row, Squat and Deadlifts. Use six or seven reps as your goal for arm and shoulder exercises as well as the secondary exercises like Inclines, Pulldowns and Leg Press.

If your primary focus is bodybuilding include one "down set" of 10 reps to maintain your increased muscle size from the "hypertrophy" phase. This is a "down set" not a burn out set. Don’t go to failure here. Instead use about 70% of the weight you used on your "work" sets and stop when you reach 10 reps.

As Lee Haney said, "Stimulate – don’t annihilate."
Week Heavy Day 10-Rep (Down Set) Light Day (85%)
1 240 (3x5) 170205
2 250 (3x5) 175215
3 260 (3x5)180 230
4270 (new 5 rep max) 190 230

If you’re on the bulky side still add the clean complex carbs but cut down on the beef and whole eggs to lower your fat intake. Switch your protein drinks from Ultra Size and heavy cream to Ultimate Muscle Protein mixed in water. Drink a serving of Muscle Provider pre and post workout. Be sure to add Ultra 40 Liver tabs if you’re not already taking them during phase 2. They’ll give you strength benefits found in no other food.

Regardless of whether you are a little too bulky or too thin, be sure to go on Creatine Select at the beginning of this phase. Always take 1 or 2 scoops before training. Take any additional servings to get your quota with meals. For example, on week 4 it’s 1 scoop with each meal and 2 scoops before training to get your 8 servings.

Creatine Select

Here is the dosing schedule that I recommend you try:

Always take 1 or 2 scoops before training. Take any additional servings to get your quota with meals. On week 4 it’s 1 scoop with each meal and 2 scoops before training to get your 6-8 servings in.
Creatine Select Dosing Schedule for Maximum Results
Week 1: 2 scoops per day (10g total)
Week 2: 4 scoops per day
Week 3: 4-5 scoops per day
Weeks 4 & 5: 6-8 scoops per day (30g-40g total)
Week 6: 6 scoops per day
Week 7: 4 scoops per day
Week 8: 2 scoops per day

Phase 3 – Power

Use 3 reps as your goal for Bench Press and Deadlifts, 3–4 reps for Squats and Bent Rows, and 5-6 reps for the others. Follow your two warm-ups, and three "work sets" with a “down set of 10 reps with 70% of your target weight, just as you did in the Strength Phase.

You ended your Strength Cycle at 270 for 5 reps. Now go to 280 for 3 as your target weight for Week 1, then 290 for 3 the second week. If the 290 goes fairly easy add a 3rd week at 295. Spend just three weeks in the Power Phase.

During the eleven-week cycle you went from a 300lb max bench (10-RM of 225 equates to about a 300 1-RM). Now you should be able to do a single with 315lb. Yes, three plates in just eleven weeks.

The Rejuvenation Phase follows the power phase. Here’s a chance to stay out of the gym completely, focus on a little cardio, or if you must go to the gym try some new equipment with no structured routine. After a week or two of active rest it’s time to start Phase One cycle again at a slightly higher level than your first time through.

Review

  • Start each phase with a relatively light target weight.
  • Make sure to keep light days light – about 85% of your target weights for the heavy days.
  • Stick to your planned program even if your target weights on a particular day feel light. Resist the temptation to add more weight.
  • Rest long enough between sets so you can be successful on the next set.
  • If you are unable to get all your sets with a planned "target" weight, use that same weight when your next heavy day comes around.
    • Start your second complete cycle at a slightly higher level than you did the previous cycle.
    • You should do two warm up sets and three work sets per exercise during each phase.
    • Your first warm-up is always 10 reps.
    • The reps on your second warm – up should be the same number of reps as your target sets during a particular phase.
    • Don’t forget your "down" set of 10 reps with 70% target weight during Strength and Power phases.

Determining your 1-rep Max
Here’s another way to determine your ‘target’ training poundages: If you know your One Rep Max (1RM) for a specific exercise multiply by the %RM to arrive at your target weight for that week. In this example the Target Weight is based on a one rep max of 300lbs.
2
One Rep Max (1RM) Target Weight
Week % 1RM Reps Target Weight
1 68% 10 205
2 71% 10 215
3 74% 10 220
477% 10 230
5 80% 5–7 240
6 84% 5–7 250
7 87% 5–7 260
8 90% 5–7 270
9 93% 3-5 280
10 95% 3-5 290

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