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Yearlong Workout: Phase III Intro

The third installment in our 12-month series builds brute strength

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If you've only experienced maximum strength in the form of Tylenol, you're going to love what this month's workouts will do for you. It's time to build car-lifting, bull-squatting brute strength.

If you've been a faithful follower of our Yearlong Workout Program, you began the prep work two months ago with Phase I, and you started building muscle size in the March issue with Phase II. Now you're good and ready to lift huge amounts of weight, creating the dense muscles and strong bones that come along with it.

While simply lifting with heavy loads and low reps is a great formula for strength gains, we have an even better one. It's called wave loading, and it will be the backbone of the next four weeks' workouts. It works like this: Choose a weight you can get six reps with. Perform your set, and then rest. Now increase the weight to a load that permits only three reps. Rest again, and drop the weight down to a number you think you can get another six reps with (it should be heavier than what you used on your first set of six). Increase the weight again to perform another three-rep set, but choose a heavier weight than you used in your first set of three reps.

Confused yet? Amazed? By undulating your loads high and low (picture the pattern of a radio wave), you trick your central nervous system into handling more and more weight. Following a six-rep set with a set of three reps makes your body think you're going to be making the weight progressively heavier throughout your workout, so it recruits all the muscle fibers it can to help you continue. But when you suddenly cut the weight back and go for more reps, you can lift heavier on a higher-rep set that would usually call for lighter weight. This combination of heavy loads and a high volume of work is the perfect equation for mass and strength.

Directions:

Frequency: Perform each workout once per week, resting at least a day between each session.

How To Do It: Perform the exercise pairs (marked A and B) as alternating sets, resting the prescribed amount of time between sets. (So you'll do one set of A, rest, then one set of B, rest again, and so on for all the prescribed sets.) Perform exercises that are not marked with a letter as straight sets, completing one set after the other before moving on.

Exercises that call for "21" reps, should be done as follows: Perform seven reps in the hardest range of motion. For instance, for the dumbbell shoulder press, you would press the weights from shoulder level to about halfway overhead. Then perform seven full-range reps as normal. Finally, complete another seven reps in the easiest range of motion (from halfway overhead to lockout on the shoulder press).

Tempo: The first digit is how many seconds you should take to lower the weight. The second digit is how long you should pause at the bottom (when your muscles are under the most tension). The third digit is how long you should take to lift the weight.

Weight: Use the heaviest weight that allows you to complete all the prescribed repetitions for each set.

Phase III Workouts:

Workout A
1 Deadlift
2A Dip
2B Bulgarian Split Squat
3A Triceps Pressdown
3B Russian Twist
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Workout B
1 Stepup
2A Bentover Row
2B Bench Press
3 Lunge
4 Cobra on Bench
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Workout C
1 Front Squat
2A Wide-Grip Pulldown
2B Single-Leg Romanian Deadlift
3A Dumbbell Curl
3B Swiss-Ball Crawl
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