Targeted Hypertrophy Training – NEW Volume Cycle!
by Mark McManus
Ready to grow? Want to stimulate each body part more than you probably ever have before?
The new THT cycle is here!
This is a higher volume (more sets) approach and looks more like the old T.A. 2.0 cycle.
I’ll be going away for a couple of weeks and I know that some of you will be finishing your first T.A. 3.0 cycle about now. I wanted to get this out there before I leave so you know how to progress and keep growing.
So this article doesn’t break it down FULLY, but when I release Total Anabolism 3.1 I’ll have it thoroughly fleshed out in there.
Here’s the concept summarized…
In the current T.A. 3.0 cycle you overload each muscle group in a single set then wait until the peak overcompensation point (P.O.P.), then do it over again. Each successive full-body workout should progress in reps or weight to ensure continuous muscle growth.
In this new cycle we place MORE overload on each muscle. This will stimulate more growth by imparting more muscle damage in each workout; anabolism (building up) is stimulated by catabolism (breaking down) which is a negative feedback control.
However, this means that the POP will be longer in coming i.e. you will have to take longer breaks between working the same bodypart. In short, you’ll ignite new growth in each muscle group then work it again one week later.
The fundamental principles of training for hypertrophy are:
If you change one of these factors the others must be changed to compensate. Intensity CAN’T change because high-intensity muscular contractions are absolutely required to stimulate growth. We CAN alter the other 2 variables however.
If you increase the volume, the frequency of working the same muscle must decrease. If you increase the frequency you must decrease the volume e.g. if you go from working your biceps once a week to 3 times a week, you can’t perform 25 sets per workout like drug abusers do.
The short answer is that you’ll be overtraining. Read on for the long answer.
Remember that you don’t overcompensate (grow) until you’ve finished recovering. Too many sets will virtually guarantee that you won’t even be recovered let alone have grown before you hit that body part again. This means that you’ll reach a sticking point in your workouts and probably try all sorts of tricks to overcome it when you should actually:
- Reduce the volume, or
- Decrease the frequency
Here’s the Peak Overcompensation Point diagram from 3.0
Using the above as a guide we can define overtraining as working the same muscle before it has come out of the grey area. This second workout creates another ‘dip’ meaning that you never get to rise above the baseline and experience that delicious overcompensation you so desire.
This is the story of those unfortunate souls who drag themselves to the gym twice a day and throw in some counterproductive cardio on top of it all. Perhaps they got their advice from a roid-head, or perhaps they have bought into the notion that more work means quicker results. It absolutely does not!
Let’s get back on track…
This new cycle creates:
- a greater ‘dip’ into recovery
- a higher peak at point 2 – the Peak Overcompensation Point i.e. more growth
- a longer duration between points 1 (workout) and 2 (POP) i.e. lower frequency
So the fundamental principles of THT cannot be discarded, but 2 of the variables can be altered to vary the training cycles and help prevent plateaus and guarantee continuous growth.
Now here’s the weekly workouts:
- Monday – Shoulders & Traps
- Tuesday – Legs
- Wednesday – Chest & Abs
- Thursday – Back & Biceps
- Friday – Triceps
Stick to the above schedule as planned if possible.
It’s best to keep 48 hours between shoulders, chest, and triceps. Working one of these muscle groups involves one or both of the other. Therefore for optimal recovery and growth it is only prudent to keep a 48 hour buffer between them.
We also want to keep 48 hours between legs and back workouts since you can’t squat without involving the back, and you can’t deadlift without involving the legs.
THT ‘Volume Cycle’ Rules
Train to positive failure on each and every set
Pick a weight that forces you to reach failure between 8 and 12 reps i.e. train within the Anabolic Window
This means that you will probably have to drop-set i.e. lower the weight on successive sets of the same exercise. So if you got 9 reps @ 65lbs on your first set of preacher curls, you’ll use 55-60 lbs for your second set.
Cadence is a little faster with this THT cycle. Raise for 1-2 seconds and lower for 2 seconds.
Allow some CONTROLLED loose form to kick in at the end of a set where practical and safe to do so e.g. barbell curls is a good choice, deadlifts is VERY BAD one – strict form always with deadlifts.
Take the amount of rest displayed in brackets below and keep this constant throughout the cycle. Taking the same amount of rest between sets will allow you to assess your progress accurately.
So now it’s time to look at the workouts in more detail…
Monday – Shoulders & Traps
- Set 1 – Overhead Press (4 mins rest)
- Set 2 – Dumbbell Lateral Raises (no rest) followed immediately by
- Overhead Press (4 mins rest)
- Set 3 – Dumbbell Lateral Raises (no rest) followed immediately by
- Overhead Press (1 min rest)
- Set 4 – Overhead Press (Now take 4 minutes rest before hitting the traps)
- Set 5 – Cable Shrugs/Trap bar shrugs or alternatively, Dumbbell (or EZ bar) upright rows (2 minutes rest)
- Set 6 – Cable Shrugs/Trap bar shrugs or alternatively, Dumbbell (or EZ bar) upright rows (2 minutes rest)
- Set 7 – Cable Shrugs/Trap bar shrugs or alternatively, Dumbbell (or EZ bar) upright rows
Notes: It will prove very beneficial to perform your overhead presses while seated at smith machine. This is because the muscle fibers of your shoulders will be so FRIED that it will be hard to maintain balance will performing this movement with free weights.
Tuesday – Legs
- Set 1 – Barbell Squat (4 mins rest)
- Set 2 – Barbell Squat (4 mins rest)
- Set 3 – Leg Press (4 mins rest)
- Set 4 – Leg Press (3 mins rest)
- Set 5 – Leg Extensions (3 mins rest)
- Set 6 – Leg Curls (4 mins rest)
- Set 7 – Seated or Standing Calf Raises (2 mins rest)
- Set 8 – Seated or Standing Calf Raises (2 mins rest)
- Set 9 – Seated or Standing Calf Raises
Note: While squats and leg presses are great exercises, don’t skip the leg curls and extensions. Only these exercises can place maximum resistance to the quads and hamstrings in the fully contracted position or peak contraction point i.e. that point in the range of motion where all of the muscle fibers are recruited.
Wednesday – Chest & Abs
- Set 1 – Flat Bench Press (3 mins rest)
- Set 2 – Pec Deck (3 mins rest)
- Set 3 – Pec Deck (no rest) followed immediately by
- Flat Bench Press (4 mins rest)
- Set 4 – Pec Deck (no rest) followed immediately by
Flat Bench Press (Take 5 minutes or more if you need it before proceeding to abs)
- Set 1 – Weighted Sit-Ups (decline if you are strong enough) (2 mins rest)
- Set 2 – Weighted Sit-Ups (2 mins rest)
- Set 3 – Weighted Sit-Ups (2 mins rest)
- Set 4 – Leg Raises or Reverse Crunches if you don’t have access to a leg raise machine (2 mins rest)
- Set 5 – Leg Raises or Reverse Crunches (2 mins rest)
- Set 6 – Leg Raises or Reverse Crunches
Note: Building the abdominal muscles requires no special exercises. The ones above are recommended because they place a lot of resistance on the abs at the Peak Contraction Point (P.C.P.) i.e. your spine is rounded and your abs have shortened and hardened to their full potential. Any exercise that achieves this is good. Some gyms have dedicated ab stations that fit the bill very well, go ahead and use them if you wish.
An example of an inferior ab exercise would be the ‘plank’ because the abs aren’t ever brought into the P.C.P., nor can the resistance be mathematically increased over time for progressive gains.
Thursday – Back & Biceps
- Set 1 -Deadlift (4 mins rest)
- Set 2 -Deadlift (4 mins rest)
- Set 3 -Barbell Row (2 mins rest) optimized form really works best for barbell rows
- Set 4 -Barbell Row (2 mins rest)
- Set 5 -Lat Pullovers (pullover machine) or Decline Cable Pullovers or Seated Cable Rows (2 mins rest)
- Set 6 -Lat Pullovers (pullover machine) or Decline Cable Pullovers or Seated Cable Rows (Take 5 minutes or more if you need it before proceeding to Biceps)
- Set 1 – Cable Preacher Curls (2 mins rest)
- Set 2 – Cable Preacher Curls (2 mins rest)
- Set 3 – Cable Preacher Curls (No rest) Proceed immediately to next set in superset fashion
- Barbell Curls (straight barbell not EZ bar) (2 mins rest)
- Set 4 – Barbell Curls (2 mins rest)
- Set 5 – Barbell Curls
Note: Allow a little controlled movement in your barbell curls, especially at the end of the set
Friday – Triceps
- Set 1 – French Curls (3 mins rest)
- Set 2 – French Curls (3 mins rest)
- Set 3 – French Curls (4 mins rest)
- Set 4 – Tricep Pushdowns (3 mins rest)
- Set 5 – Tricep Pushdowns (3 mins rest)
- Set 6 – Tricep Pushdowns
Note: I haven’t included any dedicated exercises for forearms in this cycle. More than likely you’ll be experiencing muscle soreness in your forearms before you get to Friday. However, if you wish to work them directly, throw in 2 or 3 sets of wrist curls on Friday after your triceps.
This program works! The great thing is that you won’t have to wait very long to start noticing results!
P.S. As I stated above, I am going away for a little while and won’t be able to answer your queries. This is a pity because I’d love to answer any questions you have and discuss this further with you. For this reason I’m going to switch comments off on this post. I am literally leaving in a few hours and spent quite a long time writing this article because I know some of you need the new cycle ASAP. I hope you understand. Enjoy the workout and your NEW gains!