Week 1: POWER
The goal during POWER week is to make a direct attack on the Type II A and II B muscle fibers, with an emphasis on the II B?s. These are the higher threshold fibers and the way we get at them is with heavy weights. The goal for this week is to utilize weights that allow for 4-6 reps to failure. The way in which you perform your reps is of great importance during POWER week. I have found that an eccentric (negative) contraction of about 4 seconds followed immediately by an explosive concentric (positive) contraction works best at nailing those fast-twitch fibers. Remember...even though you will be attempting to explode with the weight during the positive portion of the rep, it will not move very quickly at all due to the heavy load you are lifting. Rest between sets is also very important. Since you want to be able to lift as heavy as possible during POWER week, you will be resting about 4-5 minutes between sets in order to fully regenerate ATP and creatine phosphate stores in the muscle cells. As far as the exercises go, choose those that are basic or compound in nature. These include movements like bench presses, squats, deadlifts, military presses and bent rows. POWER week workouts will not impart a tremendous pump, but rather will make your muscles feel as if they?ve been smashed with a wrecking ball.
Rep Goal: 4-6
Rest Between Sets: 4-5 minutes
Lifting Tempo: 4/0/X
Exercises: Mostly compound
Here is an example of a typical POWER workout for chest:
1-Bench Press: 4 x 4-6
2-Incline Dumbell Press: 3 x 4-6
3-Weighted Dips: 2-3 x 4-6
Week 2: REP RANGE
As I mentioned earlier there are several fiber types that lie along the continuum between Type I and Type II muscle fibers. The goal of REP RANGE week is to show these ?intermediary? fibers no mercy! We will accomplish this by using three distinct rep ranges (hence the name of this week) for three separate exercises for each body part. The first exercise will be to failure in the 7-9 rep range. The second will be to failure in the 10-12 rep range. The final exercise will be to failure in the 13-15 rep range.
In order to make the stimulus this week even more unique from the POWER week, you will also change your rep tempo. Both the eccentric and concentric portion of each rep should take 2 seconds to complete, while the mid-point of the movement (isometric contraction) should be held for one full second. Additionally, if you happen to be using a movement that contains a strong ?peak contraction effect,? such as leg extensions, you are also encouraged to hold this portion of the rep for one full second before you begin the eccentric portion of the rep. The exercises used this week should be both compound and isolation in nature, with free weights, machines and cables all being fair game. One particularly effective approach is to choose a free weight compound movement for the 7-9 rep range; a free weight isolation movement for the 10-12 rep range; and a machine or cable movement for the 13-15 rep range. Of course, you are encouraged to experiment a bit to get an idea of what feels most effective to you. Rest between sets during REP RANGE week will be 2-3 minutes. You can expect a tremendous pump from REP RANGE week workouts, and some deep muscle soreness in the days that follow...but we love that kind of pain, don?t we!
Rep Goal: 7-9, 10-12, 13-15
Rest Between Sets: 2-3 minutes
Lifting Tempo: 2/1/2/1***
Exercises: Compound, Isolation, Machine or Cable
***1 second hold at peak for certain exercises
Here is an example for a typical REP RANGE workout for shoulders:
1-Military Press: 4 x 7-9
2-Seated Side Lateral: 3 x 10-12
3-Reverse Pec Deck Flye: 2 x 13-15
Week 3: SHOCK
In my opinion, SHOCK week is the most intense and excruciating portion of this routine. It will without a doubt test your ability to withstand pain, fend off nausea, and fight back the tears! SHOCK week separates the men from the boys, the freaks from the fakes! The goal during this week is complete and utter annihilation of every fiber, from slow-twitch, right on down to the fast-twitch Type II A?s; to force your body to release natural GH like water from a collapsed damn; and to literally ?force? your muscles to grow in a ?do or die? like fashion! Each grueling session during shock week contains 2 different types of supersets and a punishing dropset for each major bodypart. The first superset will be performed in what is known as ?pre-exhaust? fashion. This means that an isolation movement will be performed first, with a compound movement immediately after. The second superset will be what as known as ?post activation,? made famous by Ironman contributing author Michael Gundill. In post activation supersets, it is the compound movement that proceeds the isolation movement. Each of these supersets provides a unique stimulus for both your muscles and nervous system. Once you have completed your supersets it is time for a dropset, which will complete the torture that you will impart on your muscles during SHOCK week. Reps for each exercise will be in the range of 8-10, and the tempo will become more rhythmic in nature. An eccentric contraction of just one second will be followed immediately by a concentric contraction of the same speed. There will be no resting (as long as you can handle it) at the top or bottom, as each rep should be performed in a ?piston-like? fashion. Rest between sets should be long enough to allow you to catch your breath fully, as well as to prepare your mind for the next onslaught. Your individual level of cardiovascular conditioning, as well as your constitution, will determine the length of your rest. Free weights, cables, and machines are all utilized during SHOCK week. My warning to you is that you better be prepared when you enter the gym on SHOCK week, because every workout will leave you breathing with the intensity of a steam engine and a burn that will reach your very core! Fun!
Rep Goal: 8-10 (dropset is 8-10, drop, 6-
Rest Between Sets: cardiovascular and mental recovery
Lifting Tempo: 1/0/1
Exercises: Compound, Isolation, Machine or Cable
Here is a typical SHOCK workout for triceps:
1-Superset: Rope Pressdown/Lying Extension: 2 x 8-10 each
2-Superset: CG Bench Press/Underhand Grip Pressdown: 2 x 8-10 each
3-Dropset: Single Arm Overhead Dumbell Extension: 1 x 8-10, drop, 6-8
After you have completed the 3 week POWER, REP RANGE, SHOCK cycle, return to the beginning and repeat. With each cycle do your best to increase the weights you lift and/or the reps you achieve. After three full cycles I recommend that you take off one full week from the gym before returning to the program. After your break, you might want to switch up some or all of the exercises that you used in the cycle proceeding.
I would like to mention that the P/RR/S program that I presented in this article is not meant for beginners (although in a future article I will explain how those with less experience can begin to employ my system, as well as how more advanced lifters can work with an even more intense version). You can begin to use the program as presented here, after about two solid years in the gym.
So, if you have been training for some time, are stuck in a rut, or are looking to take your physique to the next level, POWER, REP RANGE, SHOCK training may just be your first class ticket to ?FREAKVILLE!? Enjoy the ride my friends.
**Ironman magazine 2006
Eric Broser -- All American EFX: Board Rep/Internet Marketing Manager/Team Natural Freak
Current AAEFX Stack: KA Pro, Cell Rush, LG-5 Pro, Nytric Pro, HBM, Kre-Generator
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-Creator/Pioneer of the P/RR/S and FD/FS Training Protocols
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