Following is a four-day a week training program that will pack muscle on the most-stubborn frame - provided you consume the needed protein and calories and get adequate rest. (See: The Art of Eating Big left sidebar, and for a complete article on eating to get big, BodyMuscle Journal No. 4.) The routines seem basic and uncomplicated but are guaranteed to kick your butt when you put forth the required effort.
Dave Uhlman has certainly mastered "The Art of Getting Big"
One of the most concise and profound statements on the subject of how to best train to increase size comes from noted Soviet strength specialist Vladimir Zatsiorsky. In, Science and Practice of Strength Training, Zatsiorsky states that, "The main objective of such a training routine is the maximal activation of protein catabolism (breakdown of muscle proteins), which in turn stimulates the synthesis of contractile proteins during rest periods."
To maximally encourage protein breakdown, rep ranges between five and twelve are utilized with relatively short rest periods. For many exercises, this can be as little as sixty seconds between sets. Sets of deadlifts and squats in which reps are higher than eight per set may require longer rest periods due to the fact that such large muscle groups may cause one to go into a temporary state of oxygen debt (a need to catch one's breath). Once breathing and heart rate have returned to an acceptable (only slightly elevated) level, one may continue.
Two other considerations are vital to your success. First, you must develop basic strength in the core areas: the abdomen, lower back and hips. Second, the use of compound exercises involving large muscle complexes (in this case, high rep deadlifts) is employed. In addition to improving general conditioning, these build "mental toughness" and MAY even sprout a little hair on your chest! Similar to high-rep squatting which has been a popular method for weight gain, high-rep deadlifts, are so taxing that they have a noticeable effect on appetite and muscle growth.
In each workout, there is one exercise marked by an asterisk (*). That is the KEY movement of that workout and the exercise that your efforts should be aggressively directed towards.Your primary workout goal should be to make some improvement in these key lifts on a consistent basis.
You will also notice the workouts are split, with "Phase One" sets and reps in the first column and "Phase Two" additions listed in a second column. One should follow the "Phase One" program for at least four weeks before considering the jump to "Phase Two." The additional workload is necessary for continued progress but SHOULD NOT be attempted before you are ready. The sets listed below are for work sets. You may wish to add a warm-up set or two when needed. Be certain that any added sets are "warm-ups" and not additional work sets.
Once you are ready to add the sets in Phase Two, be cautious of shakiness and hand tremors toward the end of a workout. These could be signs that your nervous system was not quite ready for the increase in volume. If this happens, take a week off training before returning to the original set scheme. Also, honestly reassess whether you are giving your body the nutrients and rest it needs for growth.
If you want to get big, learn to LOVE squats. Squats separate the bodybuilders from those that just want to look good in a T-shirt. Everyone starts out struggling with unimpressive squat poundages but, if given consistent attention, you'll eventually build up to squat weights that earn the respect of the veterans in the gym. Note that it says "FULL squat." Start out from day one learning to lower down as deeply as possible. Deep squatting is the common denominator in the biggest and most thickly developed lifters.
On the full squat, we will be pyramiding the weights. Begin with a warm-up set with just the bar and possibly a second warm-up with a little more weight, if you feel you need it. The first "work set" consists of a relatively easy dozen reps. Increase the weight slightly to a weight in which you are able to do nine reps. Then increase the weight on your next set, to a poundage in which you can do a hard but still strict six reps. Your POWER SET will be a heavy triple. If you have been lifting for less than six months, stop here (at the novice workout). Those who have trained longer and have met the requirements for Phase Two can add two additional work sets of eight reps.
The Frog Leg Press is done with feet spread slightly wider than shoulder width and pointed outward. The weight carriage is brought down deep with your knees going out to the sides of your ribcage. It can be done on a 45-degree or vertical leg press machine.
The Push Press is a standing military press with a slight cheat to allow for use of heavier weights. The bar is pressed from the upper chest to an "arms-extended-overhead" position. A slight (about 2-inch) dip in the knees will allow you to drive the weight overhead powerfully. Make sure you perform one or two light warm-up sets so that the delicate shoulder joint isn't expected to move heavy weights before it is ready.
We finish off with a very strict overhead press with dumbbells, using higher reps for one or two sets.
This workout focuses on chest and triceps (pushing muscles of the upper body) with some work for side deltoids, forearms and abs. Ab work is important because it balances the lower back and hip exercises we do in order to build "core strength." Core strength involves strengthening the muscle of the midsection and hips used to balance the torso, which allows for overall body power. If you blow-off ab work, you limit your progress.
Cable Ab Crunches are done kneeling in front of a triceps pushdown station, holding a "rope handle." From a kneeling upright position, curl your torso down to a strong ab contraction. Ab Bicycling is done by starting in a crunch position and alternately lifting first the left, then the right knee toward your head in a pedaling motion while slightly lifting the opposite shoulder from the mat. In addition to the abs this exercise activates the obliques.
Incline Dumbbell Presses emphasize a deep pectoral stretch at the bottom and should be done on a low incline (about 25-30 degrees). Keep trying to make twelve reps on each of your three work sets. When you do, increase each dumbbell by five pounds the next workout. Pec Dips should also emphasize the stretch position, only lifting up about 2/3 of the way to full arm lock-out (since the last portion of this movement is mostly triceps). These should be done with the torso bent forward (like the contracted position of a crunch), with your chin down toward your chest, elbows spread wide out to the sides, and feet forward under the face. Rest just sixty seconds between these two sets of dips.
Floor Dumbbell Triceps Extensions are done lying on the floor with two dumbbells extended overhead. The weights are lowered to either side of your head. Be careful to keep the upper arms perpendicular to the ground and stationary throughout the set. Close-grip Benches are done with a grip about 6-8 inches between your thumbs. Your arms should stay in towards your torso and the bar is lowered to the mid to upper pecs. Forcibly contract the triceps at the top.
We're training the "posterior chain" in this workout. The posterior chain is aptly named because it includes the lower back, hips, glutes, hamstrings and calves - the large collection of interrelated muscles that make up about a third of your muscle mass and establishes your base of power. The major muscles of this group cross over more than one joint and rarely work without assistance from neighboring muscle groups. Like the squat workout, this session is short in order to allow you to go in there and hit it hard. Once you leave the gym you should be tired and insatiably hungry. Pound a double dose of protein and watch yourself grow!
Deadlift Shrugs are quite simply a traditional deadlift in which the rep is completed by a strong shrugging of the shoulder girdle by the trapezius muscles. The one difference we will be making from a powerlifting deadlift is the use of wrist straps on heavier sets since we will need to be holding onto the bar for a dozen reps. Use of straps will also allow us to use a double-overhand grip.
The Glute/Ham Raise is done on a special piece of equipment that looks like a hyperextension bench with a large curved hip pad on it. The foot rollers should be adjusted so that they close enough to the hip pad to allow you to lift your body by allowing your knees to drop, with the pull coming from your hamstrings. This targets that muscle group better than any leg curl EVER could. If you do not have access to a glute-ham raise bench, substitute either Reverse or regular Hyperextensions.
This workout will seriously work your upper back, biceps and abs. Both the pulldown and rowing exercises for your back cause a greater growth response when there is a strong two-second pause in the contracted position. In the Front Pulldown, this is when the bar is pulled down to the collarbone. In the barbell row, this takes place when the bar is pulled in to your belly-button area and your shoulder blades are squeezed inward. Don't worry about using heavy weights for your Dumbbell Curls. Your biceps have been hit with heavy resistance during your back exercises. Concentrate on good form and resisting the weight on the negative. This will cause biceps soreness (and growth) in the days to follow.
There is your complete training program. Feel free to e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org and fill me in on your progress. I also recommend that you contact someone from Beverly International if you need a personalized weight-gain diet. These guys have the process perfected down to a science. For more training and nutrition articles, look at my website: www.ironsubculture.com.
There are two schools of thought, as far as weight gain. The most popular currently is to gain weight at a slow rate, keeping bodyfat levels at a slow rate, keeping bodyfat levels in an acceptable range. The thinking here is that if one allows oneself to gain too much bodyfat, the extreme dieting needed to strip away that flab will cause the loss of what-ever muscle was gained in the bulk-up period.
Excessive bodyfat obviously puts a great deal of strain on the body. Cardiovascular health is severely compromised and day-to-day functioning is impaired. Your age, personal and familial health history (heart attacks, strokes, blood clots, diabetes, etc.) and current condition must be seriously scrutinized before beginning a bulking regimen.The "old school" strategy entails getting as big as humanly possible. This involves gaining huge amounts of bodyfat and water weight. You may even gain up to two pounds of flab for every pound of muscle. On the positive side, the added bodyweight translates to improved leverage and HUGE increases in strength. It also means that your body will be constantly super-saturated with raw materials for building muscle.
So which route of weight gain is best - gradual lean muscle gain or "old school" bulking? Both methods of wight gain work. Decide for yourself which route is for you based on your goals. If you decide to bulk-up, it has to be a serious decision, with a full understanding of the sacrifices involved.
Once you've chosen your strategy, the information in the " Art of Eating Big " (found in the BodyMuscle Journal #4) applies to both strategies. For bulking, you will simply continue to gradually increase your calorie levels to keep your bodyweight increasing. Make sure that you are pushing your gym poundages hard, in order to take advantage of your improved leverage and maximize muscle growth. Continue to increase your protein level (at a minimum of two-grams per pound of bodyweight) as your weight climbs. Carbs and fats should be consumed liberally to fulfill rest of your increasing calorie levels.