by Anthony Ditillo (1978)
After several years of weight training, in order to assure continued progress, advanced training principles will have to be used in order to further work your muscles and thereby continue their growth. In the formative years of training, muscle growth comes in fairly regular spurts, provided your training is systematic and your metabolism is at a normal rate of operation. At this time, a well supplemented diet, regular sleeping habits and a positive mental attitude will see you quite far. However, should you continue to train PAST this intermediate stage (most men don’t) you will soon discover that in order to continue on to further physical heights, some changes are in order. For you will have to increase BOTH your training load and intensity or you simply will not continue to gain.
During the past two years I have greatly added to my overall size and power, but it was not until I completely revamped my concept for what constituted hard work and advanced work that I thereby began to gain quickly and steadily, and I hope with this article to explain to you just what is necessary to continue your progress.
It was close to two years ago that my coach began to discuss with me his opinions and experiences with advanced training methodology and by incorporating his theories and examples in my own training, I have gained to a point I had never believed possible beforehand. It is also quite evident to both of us that the stronger and more muscular you become, the HARDER it is to become even STRONGER. This is not due to any ‘secrets’ of the champions being withheld, rather it is due to the time factor in your training and the ability of the trainee to recuperate after great muscular exertion.
By time factor, we mean the length of time it takes to finish your workout. In my opinion, this HAS to increase as you become advanced, unless you strictly bodybuild, are not concerned with strength gains and use multiple sets ad light weights. It only stands to reason – the more heavy sets performed, the longer the workout, the greater the gains. You can, however, find ways to cut down on wasted time. Let us say you can perform 10 sets of 3 to 5 repetitions with a certain weight. In preference to increasing the weight, OR the repetitions, you can slowly reduce the rest between sets until only 30 seconds is the time used. This is making TIME the intensity factor. Then you can increase the weight by twenty pounds or so and begin the process once again. As far as warmup sets are concerned, this too is an individual matter. Dezso Ban prefers 20 lb. jumps on most presses and 50 lb. jumps on squats and heavy pulls. Usually, I use the same. However, when feeling exceptional, I may take larger jumps to get to my working weight. By working weight I mean a weight you will use for many sets (10 to 15) of 3 to 5 repetitions for power or 4 to 6 repetitions for gaining size. Such a training concept is not new at all. Reg Park used this same theory and method during the 50’s and would perform as many as 15 sets of each movement for between 5 and 7 repetitions. What worked for Park should also work for you in time, if you’ve got the intestinal fortitude for it. If you can train 5 times per week each workout should take in the neighborhood of 2 hours. If only 3 training days are available, expect to be training for 3 hours at each one. Remember, we’re talking about advanced men who want to go still further in their strength and development. Should you disagree with my requirements, possibly thinking them excessive, then I advise you to contact the various lifters you’ve been reading about and you’ll find them all following similar schedules when it comes to training volume and intensity.
This type of training would KILL a beginner. He should think of himself as a child beginning his journey into life. He should stick to brief, basic routines which will build the FOUNDATION for future gains that have yet to come. But sooner or later such a routine is just NOT going to do the job. Then it is time to incorporate my suggestions. THEN you will be ready.
Proper recuperation is a process which you can adapt the system to accept. With regular increases in workload, saturating the tissues with Vitamin C and various minerals will improve recuperation as the system adjusts to the stress. This theory of adaptation is founded in physiological and psychological fact. It is this theory which enable you to continue to progress. When necessary, the body can produce miracles in recuperating after trauma or stress. The law of adaptation makes use of this phenomenon.
The rate at which you recuperate has a lot to do with the amount of INTEREST you have in your training and how much you are willing to sacrifice in order to go further with it. Some men are incapable of accepting even minor physical discomfort and for them advanced training is simply out of the question. Advanced training is not for the weak and it is certainly not for the lazy.
The amount of sets and repetitions, choice of exercises and training frequency are personal matters and require personal attention. These points differ greatly from lifter to lifter, since no two lifters recuperate exactly the same. However, I have come to certain conclusions regarding basic requirements for successful advanced training and I am sure that by using the following recommendations as a GUIDE, you will IN TIME find what works best for YOU.
I have found that it is not enough to work each set ‘into the ground,’ for strength is an ACCUMULATIVE process. In my opinion, the answer lies in increasing BOTH training load and intensity. By working long and hard with many, many sets with heavy weights, you are assured of continued progress. I press EVERY DAY for between 15 and 20 sets including warmups, using heavy weights and 3 to 5 repetitions, and since I started this severe type of schedule my presses have gone up and up and UP, to the point where I recently pressed 350 for a double, only not being able to lock it out the last two inches on the second repetition. This was due to improper position and lack of flexibility. I intend to remedy the situation very shortly. The reason I can continue to press day after day is THAT SINGLES ARE RARELY DONE, so nervous energy is not drained. Heavy pulls and squats are performed on alternate days, but in severe situations could also be done DAILY for some time with no ill effects other than muscle soreness.
All in all, you should for the most part perform 3 movements per workout, between 15 to 20 sets per movement, between 4 and 6 repetitions per set and between 3 and 5 training days per week, depending upon your availability of time. The following is the type of schedule I am presently using:
Overhead Press, Power Clean, Bentover Row.
Press From Eye Level, High Pull, Full Squat.
Seated Press, Shrug, Power Clean.
Press Behind Neck, Full Squat.
Repeat Monday’s workout.
Just remember to use basic movements, reps of 3 to 5 for strength and 4 to 6 for size, and in regular jumps increase BOTH the poundage and total sets until your mirror and the weight on the bars you are lifting begin to tell you that you’re training at your optimum level of ability.
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