T-Mag's Training For Gaining - AnabolicMinds.com

T-Mag's Training For Gaining

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    T-Mag's Training For Gaining


    PHASE 1


    Classic Strength and Mass

    The dieted down, ripped and veiny look may be necessary for today's bodybuilding contest stage, but for most T-men (junior, senior or in-between), mass and power rule. The quest for size and strength drew most of us to the iron game in the first place, and the quest for size and strength still keeps most of us pumping.

    Regardless of age, building size and strength is basically a matter of synergy. It's a combination of proper training, nutrition, rest and recuperation, and mental attitude. But the one element of the equation that seems to grab us the most is training. It's the challenge and joy of exceeding a personal best, the pure "rush and fix" of the pump, as Charles Gaines described it in Pumping Iron, and the endless search for that one perfect routine that will bring us to our self-appointed goal.

    In years past, there were places you could turn to for help in finding that routine. Readers eagerly looked forward to the latest issue of magazines such as Ironman, Muscular Development, Strength & Health, and Muscle Power and Muscle Builder to see what the top stars of the day were doing to develop their massive physiques. When Reg Park revealed that he used the 5 x 5 method to develop his Herculean size and strength, people in gyms throughout the world eagerly followed his lead. Some years later when the Weider magazines showed Arnold doing chest/back super-sets (which I personally have seen him do at the original Gold's), gyms were full of guys supersetting bench presses and chins.

    Of course, there were ads in these magazines, and some of the training articles were laced with pitches to buy the publisher's latest product, but for the most part the selling was balanced by solid information and the articles were based on actual fact, either as told by the bodybuilder himself or as related by an eye-witness observer.

    But all that was before most muscle mags turned into catalogues for supplement companies, with glossy infomercials thinly disguised as articles and T&A spreads featuring curvaceous babes who've never set foot in a gym. Now readers are presented with articles designed almost totally to sell or promote rather than inform. Sometimes it can get confusing, even for a senior T-man.

    So if you're a senior T-man (or any type of T-man!) who wants more mass, strength, and power and that good feeling that goes not only with having such attributes but also with simply striving for them, listen up. We're going to lay out a solid training blueprint that will make you the big dog in a yard full of pups!

    A word of caution: What we're embarking on is a serious program of training for gaining. If you're new to the iron game or have laid off so long you need a map to find the gym, search the T-mag archives for training advice and focus on the basics. The "Dawg School" articles would be a good place to start.

    We're going to do this program in phases. Why? Simply because, when it comes to training, everything works — but nothing works forever! In Phase I we're going to hit the gym just three times a week on alternate days. If you like to keep your weekends free, training days would be Monday, Wednesday and Friday, but the exact days are your call. Just be sure to get at least a day of rest between training sessions. This phase may seem like a step back to some of you who've been training five or even six days a week and doing a high volume of sets and reps, but the idea is to allow time for rest and recuperation.

    Incidentally, the three-times-per-week routine I'm about to outline is similar to one recommended for size and strength by Joe Ladnier, former world powerlifting champion (he's squatted 960 and recently benched 661!) and winner of several bodybuilding competitions, including Mr. Florida and Mr. Greater Gulf States. Now making a comeback in powerlifting, Joe stands about 5'7" and weighs in at a thick, dense and muscular 260 to 270 pounds!


    Training for Gaining: Phase I

    Here's an outline of how your workouts should go:


    Monday: Legs

    Most guys lack in the legs more than any other muscle group. Let's get them out of the way at the beginning of the week when we're coming off two days of rest.

    Quads

    Squat, 5 x 5

    Leg Press, 3 x 12

    Hamstrings

    Lying Leg Curl, 5 x 8-10

    Calves

    Standing Calf Machine, 5 x 8-10

    Seated Calf Raise, 3 x 12

    Neck

    Neck Strap, 3 x 12


    Exercise Performance Notes

    Squats: Regular barbell squats are generally preferred, but if necessary, in order to maintain a flat back or for other safety reasons, use a Smith machine. I know it's frowned upon, but it beats not doing squats if that's the alternative. Besides, Dorian Yates can tell you it worked fine for him.

    Either way, the squats are done bodybuilding style: bar high on the traps, feet less than shoulder width apart, descend to below parallel, explode out of the hole but don't lock out at the top. Keep tension on the target muscles. It helps to keep everything tight. (This means everything: tense the thighs, hams, glutes, lower back, abs, lats and traps. Even grab the bar with serious intent!)

    Leg Press: The incline leg press seems to be the most popular type of leg press machine these days. Leave the all-too-common practice of loading on every 45-pound plate in reach and doing little quarter movements to the kids. It doesn't do much for development and it sure as hell doesn't impress anybody. Again, keep tight, and lower down as far as you can without rounding the lumbar region off the back pad. As with the squat, stop just short of lockout. Definitely avoid hyper-extending the knees.

    Lying Leg Curl: Nothing very complicated here, except that you want to stretch at the bottom and flex the thigh biceps (an older term for hamstrings) at the top of the movement.

    Standing Calf Machine: The amount of overload is always important when you're trying to add muscle size, but getting a good stretch is paramount when it comes to calves. Go down as low as you can—try to touch the heels to the floor—pause for a two count, then up as high as possible and pause again.

    Seated Calf Raise: For some reason, most guys tend to do even more short bouncy movements with seated calf raises than other calf exercises. The style should be the same as the standing movement: down — stretch — hold — up — contract — hold.

    Neck Strap: Most guys neglect the neck. Don't be like most guys! It's an important muscle group for appearance and injury prevention. The reason I included the neck strap (basically a harness that fits over your head and is attached to a chain to hold weights) instead of a neck machine is that very, very few gyms have a neck machine. Very, very few have a neck strap either, so I bought one and carry it in my gym bag. You may want to do the same.

    With the neck strap, start by using the standard bent-over style, hands braced on your knees, with the weight hanging down in front of you. Lower your chin down toward your neck, pause, then raise your head as far back as possible and pause in the contracted position.

    As an alternate exercise, you can use manual resistance, either by applying pressure with your hand or having a workout partner do the honors. For starters, sit on a bench, touch your chin to your chest, hold one of your hands to the back of your head, then raise your head backward, applying as much resistance with your hand as is necessary to limit your reps to the target range.


    Tuesday: Light cardio

    Walk and/or slow jog for 20 to 30 minutes, just enough to get the circulation going to help the legs recuperate from the previous day's session.


    Wednesday: Chest/Shoulders/Triceps

    Today we're working all the "pushing" muscles.

    Chest

    Bench Press, 5 x 5

    Low Incline Flyes, 3 x 12

    Shoulders

    Dumbbell Press, 5 x 5

    Seated Laterals, 3 x 12

    Triceps

    Dips or Close Grip Bench, 5 x 5

    Pressdown, 3 x 12

    Abs

    Hanging Knee-In, 2 x 15

    Weighted Crunch, 2 x 15


    Exercise Performance Notes

    Bench Press: The granddaddy of upper body exercises! Everyone knows how to do it, but not everyone does it right. For senior T-men, protecting the shoulders and rotator cuff is a priority. This means you set your grip just slightly outside of shoulder width, flare the elbows in, and push up straight, not in a modified "S" curve or back. We'll do this touch-and-go style, stopping just short of lockout at the top. The tempo is piston-like but controlled.

    Low Incline Flyes: Set an adjustable bench at the lowest level possible, or prop one end of a flat bench up on a solid block. You want to have an incline of no more than 25 to 30 degrees; any higher tends to impact the shoulders at the expense of the upper pecs. And remember, just because flyes are an "isolation" exercise doesn't mean you should do them light.

    Dumbbell Press: If you've been doing this in the usual manner—seated with a back brace —try them the old fashioned way: standing! Sure, you can handle more weight seated and braced, but the standing version will build not only shoulder size and power, but overall core strength. Plus, after you work on these awhile, it'll be fun to shut down a young stud half your age when you challenge him to do his presses "like a man."

    Seated Laterals: Nothing fancy here, no twisting the wrists or pouring anything out of an imaginary cup. Just keep the elbows slightly bent, palms flat toward the ground, and keep them reasonably strict. A little body motion is okay on the last couple of reps, but fight to get a peak contraction at the top and don't drop the weight on the negative.

    Dips: A great all-around upper body exercise, especially for the tri's and delts. To put more emphasis on the tri's, stay more upright and lock out at the top of the movement.

    Be careful not to lower too far; triceps approximately parallel to the ground will do the job. If you opt for close grip bench presses instead, your index fingers should be about eight to ten inches apart with the elbows flared out slightly to emphasize the outer head of the tri's.

    Pressdown: You can use a straight bar or a tricep rope. Use full-range motions; make sure the forearms touch the biceps. And, squeeze at the bottom (contraction) part of the movement.


    Thursday: Active cardio

    You have two choices here. You can perform a combination of sprinting and walking, or you can jump rope. If you like the sprinting/walking combo, sprint for thirty seconds, then walk for one minute. Ten sprints is a good goal for now, and no, they don't have to be very fast at the beginning.

    If you choose the jump rope option, don't worry about anything fancy with your form, just keep moving. Start with one minute rounds, resting a minute or so between rounds. For most seniors, a half dozen rounds will give you a surprising cardio workout.


    Friday: Back/Traps/Biceps

    We finish off the week by working the "pulling" muscles.

    Back

    Deadlift, 5 x 5

    Barbell Row, 5 x 5

    Close Grip Chin-up, 3 x 12

    Traps

    Shrugs, 5 x 5

    Biceps

    EZ-bar curl, 5 x 5

    Alternate Dumbbell Curl, 3 x 12


    Exercise Performance Notes

    Deadlift: I recommend the use of straps and an overhand grip, where both palms are facing toward the lifter. The opposing or alternate grip (used for powerlifting where straps aren't allowed) has two drawbacks for our purposes. One is that the opposing grip puts a lot of stress on the biceps tendon — witness the numerous torn biceps suffered by powerlifters. This grip also tends to put a slightly uneven stress on the back and hips due to difference in "length" of the arms when using the opposing grip.

    Place your feet no more than shoulder width apart, set your grip as described above with the bar close to the shins, look up and pull, keeping your weight on your heels. No need to lean back at the top of the movement as this can be dangerous to the lower lumbar region and, again, we're not in a powerlifting meet.

    Barbell Row: Though Dorian popularized the reverse grip for rows (a style, incidentally, that Reg Park had used decades before), the regular pronated or overhand grip puts less stress on the biceps and is safer for most people. Keep your knees bent (this acts as a sort of shock absorber to protect the lower back), angle your torso above parallel to the ground, and pull the weight to the waist, not the chest. Save the wrist straps for your max set.

    Close Grip Chin: You can use either a triangle bar (I sometimes place the bar used for seated cable rows over the chin bar) or a parallel grip if your gym has a chin bar with this setup. Keep tension on the lats throughout the movement. The trick is to stretch the lats at the bottom without fully straightening the elbows (which transfers stress to the shoulders), then arch your back and pull your chest as close to the bar as possible. If chins are too difficult at this point, substitute the close grip pulldown, same basic style.

    Shrugs: Regular barbell shrugs off a power rack is the number one choice, but Smith machine shrugs work well and, for some, minimize back strain. If you have access to a Hammer shrug machine, this is also a good alternative.

    Keep the elbows straight (don't make a good trap movement a poor bicep movement), shrug as high as possible, hold for a count of two, then lower and repeat. Some guys do shrugs like they do calf raises — short little jerky movements that might boost their egos but don't do a thing for calves or traps. A senior T-man knows better!

    EZ-bar Curl: The EZ-bar is less stressful on the elbows than a straight bar and still gives the old bi's a great workout. Strict style here, thighs, glutes, abs, lower back tight, full extension at the bottom of the movement and a slight pause and squeeze at the top. The last couple of reps on the last set you can loosen up a bit, but work the biceps, not the back.

    Alternate Dumbbell Curl: A favorite of big arm guys from Leroy Colbert to Bill Pearl to Ronnie Coleman. From a dead hang, curl the dumbbell up and pause at the top, then lower completely before beginning the rep with the opposite arm. Try starting off each set with the weaker arm first (if you have one).


    Saturday and Sunday: Rest, Eat, Enjoy Life!


    Phase I: The Details

    Exercise Tempo

    Let's keep this simple. The matter of tempo of repetitions (so many seconds up, so many seconds down, so many seconds in the stretch and contracted positions) is not without importance, but the simple fact is that building mass and power isn't rocket science.

    From the standpoint of empirical evidence, or observation, I've trained around Larry Scott, Draper, Arnold, Pearl, Franco, Zane, Ferrigno, Platz, Serge Nubret, Bertil Fox, Ed Corney, Casey Viator, Mike Mentzer and numerous other top guys from the 60's, 70's, 80's and early 90's, plus more current bodybuilding stars, and almost without exception, if they paid much attention to a strict "count" tempo, they were doing their best to keep it a secret!

    In fact, most of these guys seemed to use fairly rapid, less than full range of motion movements. Arnold, for instance, didn't lock out on pressing movements, neither did Nubret or Ferrigno. Wheeler did a lot of short, quick movements; Ronnie Coleman uses incredible poundages in an explosive style. Near the end of some sets, Platz did everything within his power just to keep the weight moving, and Bertil Fox gave new meaning to the term "loose form" — but then you can't knock the results as he was as thick and strong as they come. Fact is, a lot of these guys didn't even count reps, let alone seconds up and down!

    So fellow T-men, what can we take home from all this? Beside the obvious need for consistency and intensity in training, one thing that's key to size and strength is keeping tension on the target muscle. How do we do that? In general there are two scenarios. With compound movements (those involving more than one joint and muscle or muscle group, such as squats or bench presses), a general rule is to stop short of lockout in order to maintain tension on the primary target muscle(s).

    On squats for example, if you come fully erect with locked knees, you remove most of the tension from the quads, hams and glutes. To prove this to yourself, walk out of the rack with your normal squatting poundage and just stand there. You might feel some discomfort in your traps and lower back, but little or nothing in the quads or hams. Now bend your knees and lower yourself into a quarter squat and hold that position. It won't be long before your quads, hams, and glutes start talking to you — loudly!

    With isolation movements (exercises that involve a single joint and/or a single muscle or muscle group), the reverse is true. On leg extensions for example, muscle tension is increased by locking the movement out at the top and holding for a brief pause. Again, a simple self-administered test will furnish proof. Select your normal max weight for reps on the leg extension and power through a set with no attempt to lock out on any of the reps. Rest a couple of minutes, then do the same weight with a two second pause at the top of each rep. Halfway through the set you'll feel the difference!

    None of the above should be construed to mean that you should use an "anything goes" cheat-style of exercise. Rather, on your heavy basics, keep the movement controlled, concentrating on the eccentric or negative part of the contraction and exploding on the concentric or positive part, much like a well-oiled piston. As Bill Pearl once

    told me, "Listen to your body and it'll tell you everything you need to know about bodybuilding."


    Rest Between Sets

    Again, we're going to keep it simple. On your 5 x 5 exercises, usually the first exercise for each body part in this routine, rest approximately a minute and a half to two minutes. (On your last couple of sets of squats, you'll probably be leaning toward the two minute mark.) This will allow you to recuperate enough between sets to put forth maximum effort with maximum poundage.

    On the second exercise for each body part, the 3 x 12 exercises, cut the rest to about one minute. The idea here is to promote the pump. On body parts where there's just one listed exercise (shrug for traps, leg curl for hamstrings), rest about a minute to a minute and a half.


    Sets, Reps, and Poundage Progression

    For the 5 x 5 exercises, warm up very light prior to the first set, add weight for the second, and hit your working weight for the next three sets. When you get three sets of five with a given weight, increase by five pounds the next workout and work up again.

    As an example, for bench presses a hypothetical T-man might warm up with an empty bar, then do 135 x 5 the first set, 175 x 5 the second set, then 205 for the work sets. When he can do 205 for all three sets of five, add five pounds and start the process over. In actual practice, the work sets might then run something like 210 x 5, 210 x 4, and 210 x 3. Try to add a rep each workout until 210 x 5, 210 x 5, and 210 x 5 can be performed.

    For the 3 x 12 exercises, do one warm up set, then use the same poundage for the remaining two sets. When you can hit the same working poundage two times in a row, increase by about five pounds (this doesn't apply to the 5 x 5 workouts). Let's use the low incline flyes for example. Our hypothetical trainee might warm up with 30's x 12, then jump to the 40-pound dumbbells. When he can do the 40's for two sets of twelve, two workouts in a row, it's time to go up in poundage. The reason for stabilizing at least two workouts on a poundage is to give the body time to adapt, and to make sure the one workout wasn't just one of those super days we all have from time to time.


    Program Duration

    Phase I of our "Training For Gaining" program will last from four to six weeks, depending on individual circumstances. I recommend that you record some baseline stats — weight, body composition, your best weight/rep efforts in each exercise, and maybe even some measurements — at the beginning of the program.


    Increasing Volume

    Once you get broken into this routine, you can add a little more volume by making the last set of each secondary exercise a drop set. For example, on chest, work up to your max weight on the low incline dumbbell flyes for set number three, immediately drop the weight about 20% and knock out as many reps as you can, then immediately reduce the weight again and max out on reps (which won't be many at this point). In essence, this procedure will mean you're doing ten sets for each body part — not too many when you're only hitting that muscle or muscle group once a week.

    Next time we'll step it up a notch as we get into Phase II of our "Training for Gaining" Program.


    Conclusion

    Remember that any workout program is only as good as the effort you put into it. Focus on the muscle or muscle group you're working, make the last set of each exercise a maximum effort, and most of all, train like you don't know how old you are! If you train like an old man, you'll look and feel like an old man!

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    PHASE 2

    1. We allowed for extra rest and recuperation by training only three days a week on an alternate day schedule. We further helped ensure against overtraining at this stage by splitting our routine so that there was as little overlap between muscle groups as possible.

    2. In order to enhance recovery and promote a degree of cardiovascular fitness that would translate into more effective performance in our "real" training periods, we did brief and specific aerobic workouts on two of our "off" days.

    3. Our routine consisted of a combination of basic mass and power movements done for low reps, and isolation movements done for slightly higher reps to promote a good, full pump.

    The recommended length of time to stay on Phase I is at least four to six weeks, though in actual fact and practice, the exact duration will depend on a number of factors, primarily how well you're responding. If you're making steady progress in terms of gaining size or strength or both, stick with the program until your progress begins to stall out. Simple, isn't it?

    In Phase II, we're going to add a fourth training day to the week, which still gives us three days off for rest and recuperation. The routine will be based on a two on/one off, two on/two off schedule. We're going to maintain two brief cardiovascular sessions for the reasons stated above, but these sessions will be scaled back a notch to ensure that we don't make inroads into recovery stores.

    Finally, we're going to keep the pattern of basic movements with low reps and isolation movements with higher reps, but on some body parts we're going to add a third movement to help ensure maximum growth by hitting the muscle or muscle group from all angles.

    Let's get to it!


    Monday: Chest, Shoulders, Abs

    For senior T-men who may be increasingly prone to shoulder injury or nagging shoulder pains, combining pecs and delts makes sense from several standpoints. Shoulders get worked strongly with chest and back and to a lesser degree with arms and even legs. By hitting chest and shoulders together, we allow more days for rest and recuperation.

    Also, since the delts are pre-fatigued by doing chest work first, you can get a shirt-splitting pump with less weight (which minimizes joint/connective tissue trauma) and less volume, especially if you choose the right exercises.

    Enough of the sales pitch. You'll note with this that routine we're concentrating on "upper" pecs. Here's the outline; descriptions and a few photos will follow:

    Chest

    Incline Press, 4 x 6-8

    Incline Dumbbell Press, 3 x 8-10

    Low Incline Flyes, 3 x 12

    Delts

    Seated Smith Machine Press: 4 x 6-8

    Seated Non-Stop Laterals, 4 x 12

    Abs (superset)

    Weighted Crunches, 3 x 15

    Weighted Knee In, 3 x 15


    Exercise Performance Notes

    Incline Press: We want a 30 to 35 degree incline on this one — any higher shifts too much of the focus from the upper pecs to the delts. Lower the bar slowly, then explode upward. Try stopping just short of lockout to keep tension on the pecs.

    Incline Dumbbell Press: An old standby for size and power. Take the dumbbells off the rack, sit on the incline bench and rest a dumbbell on each knee. Lean back and "kick" the bells up to your shoulders one at a time. Begin the presses from a dead start and explode upward, again stopping just short of lockout.

    Low Incline Flyes: Set an adjustable bench at the lowest level possible or prop one end of a flat bench up on a solid block. You want to have an incline of no more than 25 to 30 degrees — any higher tends to impact the shoulders at the expense of the upper pecs. And remember, just because flyes are an "isolation" exercise doesn't mean you should do them light.

    Seated Smith Machine Press: After the preceding three exercises, your delts will be pre-fatigued. For some, this means a cutback in poundages used for shoulder pressing movements, but this can be an advantage as we can promote growth and pump without having to stress the joints with super heavy weights.

    Keep the reps nice and smooth — slow descent from the top to just below chin level, then a controlled explosion upward. As with most compound movements, stop reps just short of lockout to keep tension on the target muscle.

    Seated Non-Stop Laterals: This is a unique movement that'll make you feel like someone is holding a blowtorch to your delts. Don't load up on this one until you get used to it. The first couple of sets seem easy, but then the fun begins!

    Sit on a bench with a dumbbell in each hand. Always start with your weakest side. Perform twelve laterals with one arm only, then do twelve reps with your other arm. Still holding onto the dumbbells (you don't let go until all sets have been completed), switch to the first arm for twelve more. Continue back and forth until all sets have been completed.




    By the end of your last set you'll know what I mean about not starting too heavy. You'll also know why I've only included two direct delt movements in this program!

    Weighted Crunches Supersetted with Weighted Knee-Ins: For the weighted crunches, lie on a flat bench with a dumbbell held behind your head. Cross your ankles and raise your knees until they point directly at the ceiling (your thighs will be at right angles to the bench and floor), then curl your torso up slowly, hold the contracted position for a full two seconds, then slowly return.



    As soon as you get your reps, adjust your position so that the dumbbell is held between your feet for the weighted knee-ins. Keeping your back flat on the bench and your knees bent, lower the dumbbell until it nearly touches the floor. Pause until you feel a lower ab "stretch," then return until the knees are once again pointing toward the ceiling.



    It's important to keep your knees slightly bent during the "leg raises" as the straight legged position puts undue stress on the lumbar region and also transfers some tension to the quads. In engineering terms, you have one "pivot point," which is the hips.


    Tuesday: Back, Traps, Neck

    Back

    Deadlift, 4 x 6
    EZ-Bar Row, 4 x 6-8
    Seated Cable Row, 3 x 8-10
    Front Pulldown, 3 x 12

    Traps

    Dumbbell Shrugs, 4 x 6-8

    Neck

    Neck Strap, 4 x 12


    Exercise Performance Notes

    Deadlift: We went over this one thoroughly in Phase I. To recap: Use straps and an overhand grip. Place your feet no more than shoulder width apart, position yourself so that the bar is close to your shins, look up and pull, keeping your weight on your heels. Again, there's no need to lean back at the top of the movement as I feel this can be dangerous to your lower back.

    EZ-Bar Row: With the EZ bar you can use a reverse or curl grip with greater safety than with a regular bar because the angle places less stress on the biceps and biceps tendon.

    Keep your knees bent (this acts as a sort of shock absorber to protect the lower back), angle your torso above parallel to the ground, and pull the weight to the waist, not the chest. The combination of a reverse grip and pulling into the abdomen really hits the lower lats.



    Seated Cable Row: Great for the entire upper back. Use a narrow grip (the triangle bar used for close-grip pulldowns is good here), keep the knees bent, lean forward slightly to feel the stretch on the lower lats, then bring your torso to an upright position as you pull the bar into the abdomen. Hold at the contracted position for a second or two, then repeat.

    Don't lean back past the 90-degree angle or you'll transfer a lot of stress from the lats to the lumbar region. A tip for those of you who tend to feel back work in the biceps — try using a false grip, i.e. don't wrap the thumbs around the bar. Grip the bar lightly and mentally relax the wrists and forearms while focusing the tension where you want it.

    Front Pulldown: A good finisher for the lats and one that gives the lower back a rest after all the deadlifts and rows. Use a grip just slightly beyond shoulder width, pull the lat bar smoothly to the upper chest, hold for a definite pause, trying to squeeze your shoulder blades together, then return slowly. Here we want to stop just short of a full extension because once you straighten the elbows and go to a full "lockout," a lot of stress is transferred from the lats to the shoulder joint.

    Dumbbell Shrugs: Three main pointers here: 1) Use a straight up-and-down motion. No rolling the shoulders unless you're using pink plastic dumbbells in the morning "toning" class. 2) Go heavy. 3) Use straps if needed. If you follow pointer #2, you'll need them!

    Neck Strap: We covered the neck strap in Phase I. A brief recap: If your gym has a neck machine, use it, but since a neck machine in a fitness center is about as rare as somebody using a squat rack for squats instead of curls with a dime on each end of the bar, I opt for the neck strap. If the place where you workout doesn't have one, you can get one for a few bucks at fitness equipment outlets or even at Wal Mart.

    We'll use the standard bent over style, hands braced on your knees, with the weight hanging down in front of you. Lower your chin down toward your neck, pause, then raise your head as far back as possible and pause in the contracted position.




    Wednesday: Optional Cardio

    After the previous day's back workout, we're ready for rest, so our cardio will be mild in terms of intensity. Walk or bike for 20 minutes and call it quits. Remember, this is Training for Gaining!


    Thursday: Biceps, Triceps, Forearms

    Biceps

    "21" Curl, 4 x 21
    Seated Dumbbell Curl, 3 x 8-10
    Cable Curl, 3 x 10-12

    Triceps

    Lying Triceps Push, 4 x 6-8
    Rope Extension, 3 x 8-10
    Pressdown, 3 x 8-12

    Forearms

    Double Reverse Curl, 3 x 12


    Exercise Performance Notes

    21 Curl: A proverbial oldie but goodie. Start with the bar at the extended position, down at the thighs. Curl up to the halfway position, stopping at about mid waist level. Pause momentarily, then lower and repeat for a total of seven reps.

    At the completion of the seventh half rep, bring the bar up to the shoulders, then lower to the halfway position, hold momentarily, and repeat. At the end of the seven "top" half reps, lower the bar all the way to the thighs and do seven full reps, all the way up and all the way down. 7 + 7 + 7 = 21. Do these right (strict with little or no swinging and swaying) and you'll pump, you'll burn, and you'll grow!

    Seated Dumbbell Curl: You can use either a regular flat bench or a bench with a back brace. If you go for the brace, minimize the pressure you exert against it — we're working biceps here, not thighs and lower back. Starting with the palms facing one another, curl the dumbbells up simultaneously, twisting the wrists slightly so that the palms face up at the end of the movement. Reverse the movement on the way down.

    Cable Curl: Do this one standing, using the short, straight bar. Cable curls are usually more productive if you do them in a very controlled manner, with a definite "cramp" or "squeeze" at the top of each rep.

    Lying Triceps Push: No, this isn't a misprint. It's a lying tricep push, not a press. This is a movement first popularized by Larry Scott (the first Mr. Olympia, for you newbies) at Vince's Gym in North Hollywood. Done correctly, it puts a lot of meat on the triceps, especially the outer head, and it greatly minimizes strain on the elbows as compared to the standard lying tricep press.

    Use a narrow grip on an EZ-curl bar. Lie on a flat bench with the bar extended over your chest. Lower the bar slowly until it nearly touches your chin, flaring your elbows out. Push the weight up in a slightly forward motion, then repeat with rapid, non-lockout movements. Bringing the bar to the chin and flaring the elbows are what make this movement unique and productive.




    Rope Extension: Though a "machine" exercise, rope extensions are great for adding size, especially to the long head of the triceps. Stand facing away from the overhead pulley. Using the rope attachment, extend your arms fully, tensing the tri's and locking out. Bring the rope back behind the head, stretching fully and pausing, then repeat.




    Triceps Pressdown: You can use a straight bar or a triceps bar on a pulldown machine. Either way, squeeze at the bottom (contraction) part of the movement.

    Double Reverse Curl: This one gets both the forearm flexors and extensors (bottom and top of the forearms). Grasp a straight bar with a pronated (palms down) grip. Starting from a position with the bar touching your thighs, elbows tucked tightly into your sides, curl the bar up slowly. Pause at the top, then lower slowly to the starting position and do a wrist curl, rotating your palms back and up as far as possible. Hold the contracted position for a count of two, and repeat. After three sets of these, simple tasks such as holding a pen or buttoning your shirt can be a challenge!






    Friday: Thighs, Hamstrings, Calves

    Quads

    Squat, 4 x 6-8
    Dinosaur Hack Squats, 4 x 8-10
    "5 Breath Pause" Leg Presses, 4 x 12

    Hamstrings

    Seated Leg Curl, 4 x 8-10
    Stiff Leg Deadlift, 4 x 12

    Calves

    Calf Machine, 4 x 8-10
    Donkey Calf Raise, 4 x 20


    Exercise Performance Notes

    Squats: Again, regular barbell squats are generally preferred, but if necessary in order to maintain a flat back or for other safety reasons, use a Smith machine. As mentioned in Phase I, the squats are done bodybuilding style: bar high on the traps, feet less than shoulder width apart. Go to slightly below parallel and explode out of the hole but don't lock out at the top.

    Dinosaur Hack Squats: The original hack squat — this one is guaranteed to have the tennis player looking, clip board clasping, certified personal trainers waving their "toned" arms frantically and screaming for you to stop. Here's how we get such an amusing reaction:

    Place your heels on a two inch block of wood with a narrow stance. Hold a barbell up tight against your lower glutes, right where they tie in to the upper hamstrings. Keeping the bar in that position, lower into a full squat, pause momentarily at the bottom, and come back up, but don't quite lock out. Keep the movement controlled but piston-like: down, pause, up to near lockout and back down again.




    A couple of sets of these and you'll either want to throw the gym's fancy hack squat machine out of the window or you'll embrace it!

    "5 Breath Pause" Leg Presses: The icing on the leg pump cake! We'll use the same basic technique as described in Phase I with one important difference: you do the goal reps, then lock out at the top position, take in five breaths, do your second set of goal reps, lock out at the top while you take in five breaths, and repeat for four total sets.

    Will you feel the pump and burn? Oh, hell yes! But you'll probably be more concerned with just trying to breathe — or trying not to throw up!

    Seated Leg Curl: These hit the hamstrings from a slightly different angle than the lying leg curl, similar to doing a concentration curl for biceps versus a standing barbell curl. If you don't have access to a seated leg curl machine, no problem, just revert back to the lying leg curl. Either way, remember to stretch at the extension part of the movement and "flex" the thigh biceps (hams) at the contraction part.

    Stiff Leg Deadlift: These are actually semi-stiff legged in that the knees are "soft" or just slightly bent. The wrinkle here that really hits the hams is to place your toes on a two inch block of wood or a couple of 25 pound plates. Get a full downward stretch, but come only to a position where the bar is at mid-thigh level. This restricted upward range of motion combined with the elevated toe position really keeps the focus on the hamstrings.



    Calf Machine: The amount of overload is always important when you're trying to add muscle size, but stretch is paramount when it comes to calves. Go down as low as you can (try to touch the heels to the floor), pause for a two count, then up as high as possible and pause again.

    Donkey Calf Raise: If you have access to a donkey calf machine, great. If not, do them the old fashioned "Arnold" way: a solid bench to rest your forearms on, a two inch block or weight plate for stretch, and a partner or two to ride your back.




    Saturday: Light Cardio

    Walk and/or slow jog for 20 to 30 minutes, just enough to get the circulation going to help the legs recuperate from the previous day's session.


    Rest Between Sets

    Rest between sets will vary anywhere between zero to two minutes, depending on the exercise. For instance, a couple of minutes between sets of dinosaur hack squats won't seem like much, while on arm work a minute will be about right. But don't forget, on some exercises like seated non-stop laterals and "5 breath pause" leg presses, there's no rest at all!


    Sets, Reps, and Poundage Progression

    On exercises that call for sets of six to eight reps, pyramid up, starting light for your first set and maxing out for the target reps on the fourth and final set. On exercises that call for sets of eight to ten reps, warm up on the first set, hit your max weight the second, then immediately drop the poundage 10 to 20% for the third set. On exercises that call for sets of twelve reps, try to maintain the same poundage for all sets.

    As stated in Phase I, when you can hit the same working poundage two times in a row, increase by about five pounds.


    Program Duration

    Phase II of our Training For Gaining program will last from four to six weeks, depending on your progress. If you've recorded baseline stats (weight, body composition, your best weight/rep efforts in each exercise, etc.), you've taken a lot of the guesswork out of the equation.


    Conclusion

    Once again, a reminder that any workout program is only as good as the effort you put into it. Focus on the muscle or muscle group you're working, make the last set of each exercise a maximum effort, and most of all, train like you don't know how old you are! If you train like an old man, you'll look and feel like an old man!

    Next time we'll finish off with Phase III of our Training for Gaining Program!
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    Another great post by YJ. Interesting read bro. Sounds like a plan for gaining. It covers all the bases and hits a homerun. Thanks for being the man Pimp Daddy.
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