Transitioning from a bro to an advanced lifter
To begin with I am going to start with what the 95% of lifters do. I will then go on to explain why i believe there is a better way! This is an article i have been excited about writing for a long time, as i feel its unfair that so many are mis-informed on this matter.
So how do most people start training?
They start from reading magazines, and learning from what they believe are the best by looking and learning from pro bodybuilders and physique athletes. (Its who you learn from, learn from top researchers and coaches who know how to train the natural lifter.) So what do these preach? you may ask..
Point 1: Most preach training each body part one time per week, you know the “bro split”…
Chest on a Monday, Back on a Tuesday, Legs on a Wednesday, Shoulders on a Thursday and Arms on a Friday, or something similar.
Point 2: Most lift solely in the 8-12 “hypertrophy range”
Point 3: Most go in the gym and lift super high volume during this one session, don’t track their workouts do tons of dropsets and other intensity methods and end up with an awesome pump but little more results..
So why do the majority keep training this way?
Simple, they have built their foundation and got some good results this way so it must work, plus if it works for jay cutler it must work for me.. there must be something wrong with me, why isn’t what worked before working now?
They then may go on to read more literature in the forms of learning from more “experts” which only re-consolidates that what they are doing is on the right path. They watch youtube videos of pro’s, read more magazines and articles written for supplement companies and bodybuilding websites, and continue slogging it out. This leads to a heightened state of what i have named “bodybuilding confusion” and frustration from spinning your wheels and making little progress. Trust me i have been there, personally. Which is why i wanted to write this article so bad!
If you look at any other sport like gymnasts for example have often very good physiques and they use their body parts frequently and they are developed, footballers have big legs because they use them often etc….
Is there a better way?
In short yes I do believe there is a better way. I am not saying the bro split doesn’t work or that the hypertrophy range isn’t there for a reason. I am saying though, that yes the bro split does work(to a certain extent) but there is a better way and here’s why:
Lets refer back to point 1: Training each body part once per week, see whilst this may work at the beginning of your lifting career it is because the body is primed and will respond to most stimuli hence the term (newbie gains.) It works for pros and other drug assisted athletes too because their body can handle over-training and therefore needs the week-long recovery they also have a better rate of protein synthesis from the steroids, plus they have already built up the majority of their size so they can hit their much more developed bodies with a large amount of volume in one session. If you train chest on a Monday for example by the time you come to hit it again it has got stronger at some point and then de-trainedl, leaving you with not much of a progression and nearly back to where you began by the time you get around to training it again! Meaning you dont’ get much stronger or bigger “spinnin’ your wheels!”
A good training program factors in all aspects, frequency, volume and intensity. So here’s the ticket, training a body part more frequently than once per week will allow you to maximize results and frequency because you are stimulating the muscle, allowing it to recover and then hitting it again for another chance for it to grow. Lets now talk volume and intensity, if you are training on the bro split, hitting each muscle group once per week for as most do 20+ sets… How much intensity can each of those sets really have? you are either pacing yourself because you know how much more you have to do! Or you hit it hard but because of the fatigue of previous sets you aren’t as strong and aren’t lifting with maximum performance for the rest of the workout.
So how about still doing relatively high volume (as recent research shows is beneficial for muscular hypertrophy) but spreading it over the week. This allows you to then bring in the frequency element and makes sense to stimulate each muscle twice per week. Something like a push/pull/legs split, or a upper/lower/rest split. Then comes intensity as you are doing less volume per bodypart on each session (but the same over the week) you can train each body part much more intense and progress and get stronger on each bodypart often. This programming also allows you to incorporate good exercise rotation into the program for example for the chest on session 1 you may do Flat bench Barbell presses and on session 2 you may do incline dumbell presses and because of the reduced per session volume, and higher frequency you can train each exercise with a high enough intensity that elicits growth.
Point 2: Most solely lift in the 8-12 range whilst this is good and well backed in some research papers. Research suggests that we should train in a range of rep ranges to optimize muscular development. Why not get the benefit from a cross variation of rep ranges occasionally dipping into the lower ranges and occasionally dipping into the higher rep ranges. By increasing strength in the lower range, and endurance in the higher range occasionally, you can then lift stronger and for longer in your normal range of around 8-12. Whilst building really strong dense, aesthetic and developed muscles. I will leave this point at that.
Point 3: Sure dropsets are good for taking a set past failure it shouldnt form the basis of your whole workout, at least in my opinion, get a pump but dont pump-chase. Again i have been here and done this, getting a good pump can help but not at the expense of not progressing on lifts due to fatigue and therefore missing the chance to grow optimally, which often leaves people transitioning from beginner to advanced stuck on the same weights that although lifting relatively heavy you aren’t progressing on.
My final point for the scope of this article NOT TRACKING. I think this is stupid you cant possibly remember the weight and reps to try and progress on (with good form) from every exercise of every workout until your next workout if you are not tracking,sure you may be lifting heavy but that isn’t enough, if you aren’t progressing. Get a logbook track your lifts and workouts and try and progress on them with good form next time. PERIOD!! it feels damm good progressing often and seeing the results as a result of this smarter programming. A good way for example is say you set a rep range of 6-10 for a compound lift you go in and hit 50kg for 6 reps next time try and beat it on reps and every time until your at the top of the range (10) then add on some small weight to the bar and continue with the same method until your’e ready for a new weight.
Make sure you have read the above article first, for context but To conclude:
Train each body part more frequently, with purpose and intensity, and track your lifts in a logbook. Since transitioning and implementing the above strategies i made more progress in 6 months than i did in a couple of years.
Logbooks are available in the store under packages. For smarter programming and a smart all in one approach with the stress taken out to achieve a aesthetic beach body/model physique and optimal health* check out my packages or use the contact form for a consultation which is free!
Chow For now!!