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Fazc 01-19-2012 01:49 PM

Specialisation
 
By Faheem Chauhan.

An often overlooked way of training for the more advanced trainee is super abbreviated training, taken further, Specialisation. This involves pairing back to one or two lifts per cycle. This is a huge step away from even abbreviated training but for me at least has been a super way to train and hugely productive in the last year.

Specialisation lets you pour all you energy and recovery into one or two lifts.
All your intensity and focus are on these one or two lifts for the period of a cycle. Since your having to learn and perfect fewer movements you can quickly become proficient at performing them. This way they'll improve tremendously. You'll quickly up your core strength and basic strength and importantly for our purposes, your potential.

Potential

Get the bigger muscles growing and the little ones will be easier to follow...Your eventual progress will be limited by the foundation in your legs and back...The legs and back comprise 70% of your muscle mass, trying to gain weight? Build a base…Build a foundation…

Time and time again we're reminded of the importance of a good foundation in the legs and back. For strength athletes like Olympic lifters and Strongman competitors legs and back are key areas in their training. Any strongman will tell you the ability to pull and push heavy weights comes from great strength in the legs and back. Try pulling a mini-van on rope with just your arm flexors, it ain't gonna happen.

Try bending a horseshoe with just your forearms, its just ain't gonna happen! But what about the fledgling bodybuilder? The chest and arms are the pretty areas, is there as much need to emphasise the legs and back. Sure! Aside from never being able to look truly powerful without a well developed set of legs and a rugged back.

It must be remembered that the chest and arms will never get totally out of proportion to the rest of the body. The body has no need for it and it just wont happen. So not having your legs and back at the highest level will limit your eventual size in the pretty areas. So get bigger legs and back and half the battle is fought

Working a big compound lift hard and heavy and focusing entirely on the progression of that movement will lead to big progress. The largest muscles, which will be the focus of the routine, will be taken up a level in strength. Working only one or two lifts gives you at last two things in your favour

1. Increase in strength of the largest muscle groups
2. Smaller muscles have been softened up ready for gaining.

The increase in strength and size of your largest muscle groups gives the smaller muscle groups a much greater potential for growth. Also your other muscle groups will be going through a period of softening up making them more responsive to the eventual training next cycle.

The Programme

It's entirely up to you which exercise(s) you choose to use. It's much better to choice to perform lifts that you know well and can perform safely. Judging your experience level you'll be at the point where you immediately have some lifts that come to mind. I'll lay out some criteria for you, the basic principles of specialisation programmes.
  • Choose at most two lifts. Three to four lifts aren't specialisation, it's merely super-abbreviation.
  • The lift(s) should cover as much muscle as possible. Seeing as the Legs/Hip/Lower back comprise about 70% of the bodies muscle mass in an average person, prioritise this area it will pay off later. Variations of Squats, Deadlifts are ideal choices.
  • Choose a rep range you are familiar with - Due to decreased overall demands on the body's recovery, it's possible to work each lift more often that you usually would. This doesn't give you reason to lift each lift six times a week so don't get carried away, but lifting hard two or three times a week for each major exercise shouldn't be a problem. It would be wise to vary rep scheme on each day if you're going to do this.
  • As we are after maximum increase in strength at this point it may be an idea to incorporate partial rep training. Work in a power rack or other sturdy-supporting device for safety.

Finally include abdominal work, as you will be working the lower back hard and you're strength will increase rapidly, work your abdominals for stability.

For the Intermediate

This type of routine is not for the beginner. They would be better of focusing on an abbreviated full body routine and would make good gains doing so. The benefits of a beginner's routine include much more than merely strength and these benefits need to be realised before even considering advancing.
Ideally the time for specialisation would be as part of a gaining cycle. The idea being to really bump up your strength in the largest muscle groups of the body. Taking them far past former bests.

Muscular Imbalances

By virtue of being a one or two lift programme it will unbalanced to a degree. This is temporary and for the purpose of the programme necessary. However it is very unlikely that you will develop any muscular imbalances over this 3-6 month period. In any traditional abbreviated routine as long as each muscular function is directly hit for at least a few months every year imbalances will not occur.

It's the constant year round attention to one muscular function and the constant year round neglect to the opposite function which causes imbalances. In my own case the emphasis on overhead press movements and neglect to upper back pulling movements didn't produce any imbalances throughout two specialisation cycles. Consisting of the Squat and the Push Press for one cycle and the Power Clean and Push Press for the other. Both excellent choices for specialisation routines

The Wrap Up

Why specialise then play catch up later? Why not just give equal attention from the start? Why not do just a few more exercises? Because it's another way to get the job done.Mentally it may seem easier as progress is fast to show, albeit incomplete progress, but fast progress nonetheless. It may also be necessary for some trainees to break past a strength plateau and be just what they need to achieve that next level for strength they sought after. For others just trying the epitome of abbreviated training for at least one good effort maybe a rewarding experience in itself. Either way it's a valid alternative and just one of the weapons in a wide arsenal of choice.
A short period of specialisation at the right time can up your strength a notch, ready for the next advancement of your bodybuilding progress.
This article is the culmination of a years training and discussion, I'm still learning I hope you are too.

BendtheBar 01-19-2012 05:13 PM

Thanks for taking the time to post this. Hope it wasn't too much of a burden to dig it up.


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