Unnatural Gains For Natural Bodybuilders
By Eric Broser, Muscular Development
In last month’s “No Juice” I began discussing the processes behind muscle hypertrophy and what type of physiological trigger is necessary to set them in motion. I also introduced you to a training protocol I developed in the last couple of years meant to precisely address these issues: Fiber Damage/Fiber Saturation, or simply FD/FS. Part one of this piece focused on the Fiber Damage portion of the program, which is meant to maximally ‘traumatize’ the muscle fibers in order to set the anabolic machinery in motion. Now I would like to talk about Fiber Saturation and the role it plays in encouraging rapid gains in lean tissue once you have sufficiently torched your muscles with the specific FD training techniques.
The Hurricane Is Over… It’s Time to Clean Up!
While it is absolutely essential to train in a manner intense enough to stimulate the anabolic process, it is equally as vital that one does everything possible to facilitate the body’s recuperative mechanisms as well, for if you fail to do so, your progress will stagnate no matter how hard you go at it in the gym. Once you have caused sufficient micro-tears in the muscle fibers, the goal is to bathe them with as much nutrient/hormone-rich blood as you possibly can. In other words, it’s time to chase the pump, and chase it furiously! The idea here is to begin generating immediate repairs to the damaged muscle tissue, so that you will already be ahead of the game once you return home from the gym.
After quite a bit of experimentation with various Fiber Saturation protocols, I have found that what works best for our purposes are: 1) Very High Repetitions, 2) Continuous Tension, and 3) Post-Activation Supersets (i.e., a compound movement followed by isolation movement). I recommend a 1/0/1/0, or ‘piston-like’ tempo, where the weight is in almost-constant motion when performing your FS sets. This is not the time to ‘stretch and squeeze,’ as all we wish to do in this phase is force so much blood into the target muscle that it feels as if it may burst! The muscle has already undergone the trauma necessary during the Fiber Damage portion of the workout, and now it is time to nourish, repair and recuperate!
And Speaking of Nourishment!
In order for FD/FS training to work to its greatest potential, I developed a specific nutritional protocol to be used in conjunction with the program. The types of training techniques utilized during the FD phase are very brutal to both the muscles and CNS, which is why the FS stage of the workout is a necessary component. Since there will be a tremendous amount of blood circulating to the muscles during FS (almost five times as much as when at rest), we can take further advantage by overloading the system with certain nutrients before, during, and right after training. The period immediately preceding the workout to shortly after is your greatest opportunity nutritionally to hasten the muscle-building process! In fact, I would postulate that FD/FS training is about 30-40 percent more effective for muscle hypertrophy when the following protocol is utilized:
30-45 Minutes Before Training:
Whey Protein Isolate… 50 grams
Waxy Maize Starch or Maltodextrin… 50 grams
Vitamin C…1000 mg
Phosphatidylserine… 800 mg (efficient cortisol blocker)
Sip Throughout Workout:
Gatorade or similar product containing electrolytes and glucose… 50 grams
Essential Amino Acids 5-10 grams
Creatine Monohydrate… 5 grams
Beta Alanine…3 grams
15-30 Minutes Post-workout:
Whey Protein Isolate… 50 grams
Vitargo… 50 grams
Leucine… 5-10 grams
Antioxidant Blend (there are several excellent products available)… 1 serving
*Other ingredients can also be utilized as well, such as ATP, citrulline, arginine, ALA, energy boosters, etc., but the above is more than adequate to maximize the benefits of FD/FS. If on a budget, the most important items would be the whey isolate, a liquid/powdered fast-acting carbohydrate source, creatine and leucine.
*The example above is based on a bodybuilder in the range of 200-250 pounds, although the exact amounts of each nutrient will vary somewhat, due to several important factors.
FD/FS in Action
Now that I have bombarded you with the ‘whats’ and ‘whys’ of FD/FS, let me show you what a typical day of training might look like, using a couple of examples drawn directly from my own training journal:
Hammer Incline Press… 3 x 3-4 (2/0/X tempo)
Smith Incline Press… 2 x 4-6 (6/1/X tempo)
Flat DB Flye… 2 x 6-8 (2/4/X tempo)
Machine Bench Press… 2 x 25-30 (1/0/1 tempo; non-lockout reps)
Superset: Bodyweight Dips (1/0/1 tempo; non-lockout reps)/Cable Crossover (1/0/1 tempo)…1 x 20-25 each
Hack Squats…3 x 3-4 (2/0/X tempo)
Angled Leg Press…2 x 4-6 (6/1/X tempo)
Sissy Squats…2 x 6-8 (2/4/X tempo)
Squats…1 x 25-30 (1/0/1 tempo)
Superset: Vertical Leg Press (1/0/1 tempo; non-lockout reps)/Leg Extension (1/0/1 tempo)… 2 x 20-25 each
*Rest between sets on the first three movements should be about 2-3 minutes. Rest between sets on the remaining movements should be 60-90 seconds and no more, as we are looking to literally swell the target muscle with blood as quickly and forcefully as possible.
Because of the extremely demanding nature of FD/FS training, I highly recommend that it only be utilized during periods of the year when gaining muscle mass is the primary goal. You need to be well-fed and completely rested to truly reap the rewards of this program. With the exception of the most advanced bodybuilders, and/or those who do not train drug-free, I do not feel that FD/FS should be used during a cutting phase, except for perhaps the very early stages.
Further, FD/FS was not created for continual use, and should be cycled in and out of your regular training regimen, whether it be Power/Rep Range/Shock, DC, HIT, or any other method. It should only be used for two- to three-week periods, or both physical and/or mental burnout can occur. Consider FD/FS as a ‘short burst’ mega-mass gaining strategy! Many students of mine have added between 8-10 solid pounds in a single three-week FD/FS cycle!
Just do me one favor… if you guys try FD/FS and achieve similar results, don’t get pissed at me if some of your supplement cash needs to be put toward a new wardrobe!