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Many people who follow me on Instagram after reading my book Bigger Leaner Stronger have been asking about my workouts lately.
That’s because I’ve been posting my daily workouts in my stories, and what I’ve been doing doesn’t match my recommendations in BLS. Naturally, this causes a bit of confusion.
So, what exactly am I doing in the gym, and why? Why am I not following my own program?
Well, I am.
I’m following Beyond Bigger Leaner Stronger, which is my book for intermediate and advanced weightlifters.
The workout routine in BLS is great for beginners, but if you’ve already gained your first 25 pounds of muscle and want to gain the remaining 15 pounds or so you have left before hitting your genetic ceiling, you want to follow Beyond Bigger Leaner Stronger.
So for this podcast, I’m going to share with you a chapter from my Beyond Bigger Leaner Stronger audiobook where I break down the program in detail and explain how it works and how to do it.
So if you want to know exactly how I’m training and see if it’s something for you, I think you’re going to like this episode!
Lastly, if you want to support the show, please drop a quick review of it over on iTunes. It really helps!
10:34 – Periodization plan
12:09 – Training routines
17:16 – Workouts
23:15 – Progression methods
44:09 – Double Progression
48:07 – How long should I rest between sets?
53:20 – How to warm up for your workout?
56:58 – De-load week
59:58 – Should I do cardio?
Mentioned on the Show:
Legion VIP One-on-One Coaching
What did you think of this episode? Have anything else to share? Let me know in the comments below!
Hey, Mike Matthews here and welcome to another episode of Muscle for Life. Thank you for joining me today. Now, I have been getting asked fairly often these days over on Instagram. Come follow me at Muscle for Life Fitness about my workouts. Many people find their way to me. Many guys in particular find their way to me through my book, Bigger, Leaner, Stronger, and then.
Follow me on Instagram and they watch my stories and I post my daily workouts to my stories and they are confused about what I’m doing because I’m not doing what is in bigger than or stronger. What am I doing? Why am I not following my own program? I am following my program. I’m just following the program from my book, Beyond Bigger, Leaner, Stronger, which is meant for intermediate and advanced weightlifters.
So specifically bigger, Leaner, Stronger is for guys who have yet to gain their first 25 pounds or so of muscle bls. The program itself, the fundamentals apply all the way to the end, but the program itself is on average gonna be good for probably your first 25 pounds of muscle or so, and the strength that comes with that, the level of strength that comes with that, which is gonna be through your novice level and into your intermediate level of strength.
If though you’re a guy who wants to gain, let’s say, The remaining 10 to 15 pounds of muscle that you have genetically available to you, which is gonna be the case with most guys. And the strength that comes with that, most guys can work their way toward the 3, 4, 5, 1 RM benchmarks, three plates on the bench, four plates on the squat, five plates on the deadlift.
Most guys are gonna have to do a bit more than bigger, leaner, stronger to get there. To gain that last bit of muscle and strength, they’re going to have to work a bit harder in the gym for a lot less result. And that’s what beyond bigger, Leaner, stronger is for. And that is the program that I’m following, because for me, bigger, leaner, stronger would be totally fine for just the purposes of maintaining my physique.
But if I want to try to gain a little bit more muscle, which I’m not sure how much I can still gain, it’s not gonna be more than a couple of pounds. And that would take years. So the progress. As far as muscle building is very slow, so much so that I don’t even pay attention. I don’t take measurements.
It’s just not worth it. My physique is more or less where it’s going to be for the rest of my life no matter what I do short of getting on drugs, but I am able to improve my strength. A bit more. I’m working back toward previous prs. My previous PRS actually were about through four five in terms of one rms.
I was short on the deadlift though. I think my one RM on the deadlift was in the mid fours, maybe four 60 or so. And then I hurt my SI joint. Fortunately it wasn’t a major injury, but I aggravated it and that took quite a bit of time actually to get over and get back to pain free pulling and squatting.
And I also weighed more back then, so when I hit, it was like 2 95 on the bench for two or three, and it was, I think 365 on the squat for three or so. Barbell back squat on that one, low fours, maybe four 30 to. 40 for two or three on the deadlift. I weighed probably about 2 0 5 to 2 0 7 at that time, and now I weigh 1 93 and my one rms are moving back in that direction.
My bench one RM is in the two eighties. Right now. My squat one rm, I haven’t. Barbell backs squatted in a bit because I did one macro cycle of front squatting and now I’m doing a macro cycle of safety bar squatting. But I’ll get back to the barbell back squat, and I suspect that my one RM is in the mid threes right now, probably 360 or so, and my deadlift is in the low fours, four 40 or so.
And I’m using beyond bigger, leaner, stronger to just slowly creep back toward those previous prs. But at a significantly lower body weight, 10 to 15 pounds makes a big difference in terms of strength and performance in the gym. And so what does all of that have to do with today’s podcast? I thought it might be helpful for people to hear exactly what I am doing.
I’m gonna share with you a chapter from my Beyond bigger, leaner, stronger audiobook, where I break down the program in detail and explain exactly how it works. This is how you do it. And so if you want to know. What I’m doing, the exact programming that I’m following right now, and if you wanna see if it’s maybe something for you, then I think you’re gonna this episode.
And if you’re a woman by the way, beyond, bigger than or stronger, obviously the book is written for men, but the fundamentals in the book apply equally to men and women. And the programming principles that you are going to hear in this episode also apply equally to men and women. The specifics of the workouts though, are gonna be a bit different.
I will do a beyond thinner, leaner, stronger, and it’s just going to have a bit less upper body volume and a bit more lower body. Volume. But otherwise I probably won’t change much. I don’t think that there’s a good reason to change much so for my female listeners, you can get something out of this episode too.
And lastly, if you like this episode, definitely check out the rest of the book or the audio book if you want to do that beyond bigger than or stronger. And with that, you will also get bonus material that you just have to go to the URL in the book and put in your email, and then you’ll get it. And it has a number of useful goodies.
But one thing in particular that I think you’re really gonna like is a year’s worth of beyond bigger, leaner, stronger workouts programmed by me in various formats. I use the Google Sheet format, for example. I just pull that up in the gym. And it does the math for you. Not that there is that much math to do.
You just have to do some percentage of one rep max calculations. And it also just has your workouts laid out one by one, each training cycle one by one. It makes it really easy to follow the program. Also, if you like what I’m doing here on the podcast and elsewhere, definitely check out my v i p one on one coaching service because my team and I have helped people of all ages and all circumstances lose fat, build muscle, and get into the best shape of their life faster than they ever thought possible, and we can do the same for you.
We make getting fitter, leaner, and stronger paint by numbers simple by carefully managing every aspect of your training and your diet for you. Basically, we take out all of the guesswork, so all you have to do is follow the plan and watch your body change day after day, week after week and month after month.
What’s more, we’ve. That people are often missing just one or two crucial pieces of the puzzle, and I’d bet a shiny shackle, it’s the same with you. You’re probably doing a lot of things right, but dollars to donuts, there’s something you’re not doing correctly or at all that’s giving you the most grief.
Maybe it’s your calories or your macros. Maybe it’s your exercise selection. Maybe it’s your food choices. Maybe you’re not progressively overloading your muscles or maybe it’s something else. And whatever it is, here’s what’s important. Once you identify those one or two things you’re missing once you figure it out.
That’s when everything finally clicks, that’s when you start making serious progress. And that’s exactly what we do for our clients. To learn more, head over to www.by legion.com. That’s view why legion.com/v IP and schedule your free consultation call, which by the way is not a high pressure sales call.
It’s really just a discovery call where we get to know you better and see if you’re a good fit for the service. And if you’re not for any reason, we will be able to share resources that’ll point you in the right direction. So again, if you appreciate my work and if you want to see more of it, and if you also want to finally stop spinning your wheels and make more progress in the next few months than you did in the last few years, check out my VIP coaching [email protected] legion.com/vip Chapter 18.
The Beyond Bigger Leaders, Stronger Training Plans. Superhuman effort isn’t worth a dam unless it achieves results. Ernest Shackleton, You now know more about weightlifting than 99% of the people who will ever step into a gym. You understand the preeminence of progressive overload, the relationship between volume and muscle growth and the benefit of puritization.
You also know your newbie gains are in the rear view mirror, and you’ll have to work harder and harder for less and less from here on out. In other words, you’re loaded for bear and ready to go, great guns in the gym. You could use everything you’ve learned so far to create your own training plan, but I recommend you follow mine for at least four months before going off on your.
Workout programming can be difficult because there are several layers of periodization that must work together and several interdependent factors to consider, including goals, intensity, frequency, volume, recovery, and others. Also, before creating your own training plans, a little experience with this new approach helps so that you’ll know firsthand what is and isn’t likely to work.
That’s why this chapter will give you an entire macro cycle of beyond bigger, leaner, stronger workouts. If you like them and would rather continue with my programming versus going solo, you’ll find an entire year’s worth of workouts in the free bonus material that comes with this book, www.blsbook.com/bonus.
I also recommend you download and review this material even if you don’t end up following my workouts, because it’ll help crystallize how to translate the theory into effective training. You can also get all of my workouts in the training journal that compliments this book called The Beyond Bigger, Leaner, Stronger Challenge, www.blsbook.com/challenge, and my free workout app stacked www.getstackedapp.com.
So let’s start our review of how the training is periodized, and then we’ll talk routines, the workouts themselves, how to progress and deload, and how to incorporate cardio into your regimen, The Beyond, bigger, Leaner, Stronger Periodization plan. The training plan consists of three periods, one, Macro cycles.
Each 16 week macro cycle will begin with lighter weights and more reps, and end with heavier weights and fewer reps, culminating in a strength week where you’ll try to set new personal records on primary exercises, followed by a deload week, two meso cycles. Each four week meso cycle involves three weeks of hard training, followed by a deload week similar to the macro cycle.
Each meso cycle begins with lighter weights and more reps, and moves toward heavier weights and fewer reps. This pattern repeats every meso cycle with weights getting heavier as you progress through a macro cycle. Three micro cycles each one week. Micro cycle involves three to five days of training per seven days.
There are also two types of micro cycles in the program. One training micro cycle. Three per meso cycle, two deload micro cycles, one per meso cycle. And that’s it for the basic overview of how the program is periodized. Let’s now review the three training routines you can choose from the beyond, bigger, leaner, stronger training routines, whereas the different training periods, the macro, meso, and micro cycle determine how your rep ranges and intensities change over the course of the program.
Your training routine delineates how often you’ll train and what you’ll do in each workout in the program, you have three training routines to choose from a five, four, or three day. Each is a weekly seven day routine, so the most you can do is five strength workouts per seven days. As far as results go, the five day routine is better than the four and three day routines, and the four day is better than the three day.
That doesn’t mean you can’t do well with the four or three day routines, though. All three training routines can work for cutting, lean, bulking, or maintaining. But if you’re cutting on the five day routine and begin feeling run down, you may want to switch to one of the other two routines to put less stress on your body.
Every routine trains each major muscle group one to three times per week with the upper body receiving more attention than the lower body because it takes a lot more work for most guys to get the upper body they want than their ideal lower body. Try not to change training routines during a macro cycle as this can alter volume and results.
Ideally, you’ll choose one routine and stick with it for an entire macro cycle. However, if you’d like to upgrade from the three or four day routine to the four or five day routine in the middle of a macro cycle, give it a. Avoid downgrading, however, unless you have to. If you’re not sure which routine to follow, pick the one you know you can stick to.
If you’re sure you can get to the gym four days per week, but not five, go with the four day routine. Remember, consistency is the key to results with any workout program, and this is especially true when you’re using percentages of one rep maxes like you’ll do in this one. All right, On to the routines, the five day routine workout, one, upper body, a workout, two pull and calves workout.
Three. Upper body B work out four legs and calves work out five. Upper body C. If you have the time and inclination, start here for your first macro cycle. You can always try the other routines in later macro cycles. Most people who follow this routine train Monday through Friday and take the weekends off, but you can incorporate your rest days however you’d like.
The important thing is you do each of the workouts every seven days in the order Given I recommend including at least one day of rest between workouts, five and one, as doing these workouts on back to back days is counterproductive. Your larger upper body muscles need more time to recover than smaller ones that can survive daily beatings like the abs or calves.
So for example, if you need to train on the weekends because of your schedule or lifestyle, you might work out Monday. Push and arms Tuesday, pull and calves, and Wednesday, upper body rest Thursday, and then train Friday legs and calves and Saturday upper body and rest Sunday. The four day routine workout, one upper body a workout, two pull and calves workout.
Three, upper body B workout, four legs and calves. The main difference between this and the five day routine is less upper body training. Here you do two upper body workouts per week, plus a poll workout, and on the five day routine, three plus a poll session. Again, you can do these workouts on any days of the week, so long as you do each once per seven days in the order.
Given the three day routine workout, one push workout, two pull and calves workout three full body. This is basically your time proven push pull legs routine with some extra upper body work on the legs. Once again, you can do these workouts on any days of the week, so long as you do each once per seven days.
In the order given, you’ll also want to put at least one day of rest between workouts, two and three, so you don’t have to squat the day after you do several sets of heavy deadlifting. Most people like to put at least one day of rest between each workout. That’s it for the training routines. Next, let’s review the workouts, the beyond, bigger, lean, stronger workouts.
The workouts follow a simple pattern. You do four exercises per session. You do one or two primary exercises first, followed by two or three accessory exercises. You do warmup sets as needed. You do four hard working sets per exercise, 16 hard sets per workout. You do between two and 10 reps per hard set for primary exercises.
You end hard sets of primary exercises, one to two reps shy of technical failure, which is where your form begins to break down. You do between six and 12 reps per hard set for accessory exercises. You end hard sets of accessory exercises, one rep shy of technical failure. You rest for two to four minutes between each hard set.
You’ll also do the exercises one at a time and complete all hard sets for each before moving on to the next like this. Exercise one hard set, one rest, exercise, one hard set, two. Rest, exercise. One. Hard set. Three. Rest, exercise. One. Hard set. Four. Rest, Exercise two. Hard set. One. Rest and so on. If you can’t do an exercise for whatever reason, you can replace it with an alternate exercise from the previous chapter.
Do four more sets of an exercise already in your workout or do more sets of the three exercises you can do for a total of 16 for the workout. Here are the workouts themselves. Macro cycle one, the five day routine workout, one upper body, a barbell bench, press warmup, and four hard sets. Close grip bench press four hard sets, dumbbell sideways, four hard sets, triceps.
Press down four hard sets, workout two, pull and calves barbell deadlift warm up, and four hard sets. Pull up four hard sets, one arm dumbbell row. Four hard sets. Seated Cas four hard sets. Workout three, upper body B standing military press warm up and four hard sets machine rear dealt fly. Four hard sets, dumbbell curl.
Four hard sets, dumbbell sideways. Four hard sets. Workout four legs and calves. Barbell back squat, warm up, and four hard sets. Leg press four hard sets, leg curl, lying or seated. Four hard sets. Leg press. Cas four hard sets. Workout five, upper body C incline barbell bench press warmup and four hard sets.
Barbell bench press four hard sets, seated cable row four hard sets, barbell curl. Four hard sets. Macro cycle one four day routine workout, one upper body, a barbell bench. Press warm up and four hard sets. Close grip bench press four hard sets, dumbbell sideways. Four hard sets triceps. Press down four hard sets.
Workout two pull and calves barbell deadlift warm up and four hard sets. Pull up four hard sets. One arm dumbbell row. Four hard sets seated cas four hard sets. Workout three upper body B standing military press warmup and four hard sets. Incline barbell bench. Press four hard sets seated cable row four hard sets, barbell curl.
Four hard sets. Work out four legs and calves. Barbell back squat. Warm up and four hard sets. Leg press, four hard sets, leg curl, lying or seated. Four hard sets. Leg press. Cas four hard sets. Macro cycle one three day routine workout, one push barbell bench press warmup and four hard sets. Close grip bench, press four hard sets, dumbbell sideways.
Four hard sets triceps. Press down four hard sets. Work out two. Pull and calves barbell, deadlift warmup, and four hard sets. Pull up four hard sets. One arm dumbbell row. Four hard sets seated Crays. Four hard sets. Work out three full body barbell backs, squat, warm up, and four hard sets. Leg press four hard sets.
Incline barbell bench press warmup, and four hard sets, Barbell curl four hard sets. And that’s it for the first macro cycle of workouts. Again, to get more workouts, download the free bonus material that comes with this book, www.bblsbook.com/bonus. Pick up a copy of the Beyond Bigger, leaner, Stronger challenge, www.blsbook.com/challenge.
Or check out my free workout app stacked www.getstackedapp.com. The beyond, bigger, leaner, stronger progression methods in this program, you’ll progress in three ways. One, you’ll increase the intensity and reduce the reps per set throughout each meso cycle, week by week, weekly undulating periodization.
Two, you’ll increase the average intensity and reduce the average reps per set throughout each macro cycle meso cycle by meso cycle wave loading. Three, you’ll aim to increase your training weights, whole body strength as you progress from macro cycle to macro cycle progressive overload. Here’s an example of how this might go in the beginning of a macro cycle, Let’s say you can bench press 205 pounds for 10 reps, then a few months later in your next macro cycle.
If you’ve made progress, you might get 10 reps with 210 or even 215 pounds. Let’s take a closer look at each part of the progression system and how they’re implemented in the program weekly. Undulating pur. We recall from chapter 13 that weekly undulating periodization involves changing your rep ranges week to week as opposed to day daily undulating periodization in the beyond bigger, leaner, stronger program.
You’ll accomplish this by reducing your rep targets by two reps each week for your primary exercises, but not your accessory exercises. More on that soon. For example, here are your rep targets for your primary exercises. In the first meso cycle of the first macro cycle of the program, week one, 10 reps at 70% of one rep max.
Week two eight reps at 75% of one rep max week three six reps at 80% of one rep max. Week four de. In later meso cycles, the weights will get heavier and rep targets lower, but you’ll still always start with lighter weights and more reps and lift slightly heavier weights for fewer reps each following week, and then deload, for instance, here are your rep targets for your primary exercises in the third me cycle of the first macro cycle of the program, week nine six reps at 80% of one rep max week, ten four reps at 85% of one rep max.
Week 11, two reps at 90% of one rep max. Week 12 de load. Every meso cycle of every macro cycle works in the same basic way. Week by week, reps go down and weight goes up, wave loading. Wave loading involves increasing the amount of weight you’re lifting over the course of a meso cycle or macro cycle, or both punctuated by periodic reductions in intensity to enhance recovery in the beyond bigger, leaner, stronger program.
We apply this to both meso cycles and macro cycles just as the weights get heavier as you progress week by week through a meso cycle. They also get heavier as you progress meso cycle by meso cycle through a macro cycle. Here’s what this increase in intensity looks like for an entire macro cycle of your primary exercises.
Week one, 70% of one rep max week two, 75% of one rep max week three 80% of one rep max. Week four volume deload, 80% of one rep max week five, 75% of one rep max. Week six, 80% of one rep max week seven 85% of one rep max week eight volume deload, 85% of one rep Max week, nine 80% of one rep Max week, 10 85% of one rep Max week 11 90% of one rep Max week 12 volume deload, 90% of one rep Max Week 13, 85% of one rep.
Max Week, 14 90% of one rep Max. Week 15, strength Week, 95% of one rep max. Week 16 full deload. 50% of one rep max. As you can see over the course of the macro cycle, you go from weeks of working with weights that are 70, 75, and 80% of one rep max, 2 80, 85, and 90% of one rep max. Don’t worry, we’ll talk about the strength weeks and deloads soon.
You may have also noticed you don’t increase your weights in a perfectly linear way. For example, you’ll end your first meso cycle using 80% of one rep max on your primary exercises. But instead of starting week five with 80 or even 85% of one rep max, you’ll dial the weights back to 75%. This increases your chances of succeeding on the program by helping your body better adapt to the heavier loads, while still producing a small but steady increase in intensity over time.
The gradual reduction in reps is important too, because trying to increase both intensity and reps simultaneously would lead to a plateau or injury or burnout. The accessory exercises in the program use wave loading as well. Here’s how it looks for each macro cycle. Weeks one to four, meso cycle one, 10 to 12 reps, weeks five to 12, meso cycles two and three, eight to 10 reps weeks 13 to 16, meso cycle four, six to eight reps.
And why do you spend eight weeks in the eight to 10 rep range and only four weeks in the 10 to 12 and six to eight rep ranges? Three reasons. One. The eight to 10 rep range works well with most accessory exercises, being easy on the joints and allowing for consistent increases in weight. Two, The 10 to 12 rep range provides the benefits of higher reps.
You learned about in chapter 13, three, the six to eight rep ranges for the benefits of heavier work, progressive overload. You’ll achieve progressive overload in two ways. One, linear progression, which you’ll use with your primary exercises. Here you’ll use percentages of one rep max to dictate your training weights and rate of progression.
The primary advantage of this method is it forces you to overload your muscles by gradually increasing your weights over time. Two double progression, which you’ll use with your accessory exercises. This is the same progression model used in bigger leaner. . After working with a weight in a rep range, once you hit the top of that rep range for a certain number of hard sets, you increase the weight.
The primary advantage of this method is its simplicity. Why don’t we use double progression with all exercises like in bigger lean or stronger? This works well for beginners, but as an intermediate or advanced weightlifter, linear progression is better for primary exercises because it pushes you to get stronger no matter how hard your workouts feel.
With double progression, your performance is strongly impacted by how you feel during a workout, especially toward the end of your sets. Do you feel you can get that extra rep or two without reaching technical failure, or does the weight feel too heavy today and you’ll have to try again next time? On one hand, this makes planning your training as easy as scrambling.
You work in a rep range until you hit the top of it for a number of sets, and then you add weight. That’s it. No spreadsheets required. Where this can work against you, however, is when the weights get heavy on your primary exercises and your workouts get hard. It’s difficult to stay motivated to keep pushing your limits voluntarily.
Instead, you’ll advance when you feel great and retreat when you don’t, resulting in a lot of work for little ground. Here’s the rub though. How tough a set or workout feels often has little bearing on how well we can perform because how our training feels isn’t merely a reflection of how physically capable we are of working out.
There are powerful psychological factors in play as well. Something you’ve undoubtedly experienced, ever stepped into the gym, feeling crappy and expecting a horrible workout, only to be pleasantly surprised by your perform. The point is, assuming we’ve been eating and sleeping well, we can often accomplish more in our workouts than our minds would have us believe.
Linear progression allows us to tap into this potential regardless of how we feel in the moment. We won’t hit every set, and sometimes we will have to take one step back before we can take too forward. But more often we’ll be impressed by how well we did despite feeling off accessory Exercises are another story though.
Not only are they less challenging than primary exercises, they aren’t as important either. Thus, why do the extra work required to use linear progression when you can do equally well with double progression, linear progression in beyond bigger lean or stronger. On the program, you’ll keep track of your one rep maxes for your primary exercises and use these numbers to calculate how much weight to lift in every workout.
For example, my bench press one rep max is about 275 pounds. So if a workout calls for 75% of one rep max for eight reps, I multiply 275 by 75% to get 206.25, which I would round down to 205 pounds on the bar. I would then go for eight reps with 2 0 5 regardless of how I felt or how the weight felt light or heavy.
I may not get the eight reps more on this in a minute, but I’d have to try. This means for your average training weights to go up macro cycle to macro cycle progressive overload. Your one rep maxes must go up. If they don’t, average training weights will stagnate along with your results. Therefore, the program includes a strength week at the end of each macro cycle where you test your strength on primary exercises to see if you’ve gotten stronger over the course of the macro cycle.
Here’s how these strength week workouts look. Primary exercise one set one. 95% of one rep max as many reps as possible. Set two 85% of one rep max four reps. Primary exercise two. Set one 95% of one rep max as many reps as possible. Set two 85% of one rep max. Four reps accessory exercise one set one. One rep in reserve.
Six to eight reps. Set two, one rep in. 6, 2 8 reps. Accessory exercise two. Set one. One rep in reserve. Six to eight reps set two. One rep in reserve. Six to eight reps. As you can see, the primary differences on the strength week are one. Your workouts entail two sets for each primary and accessory exercise.
Instead of four half of the normal workout volume, two, two of the sets call for as many reps as possible Amap with 95% of one rep max and ending at technical failure, not absolute failure, followed by a backoff, which involves doing four reps with 85% of one rep max. Before moving on to the next exercise, you’re probably also wondering about reps in reserve.
R i r. If you’re like most experienced weightlifters, this is how you talk about your training after a set of hard barbell curls, for instance, you might say, Man, that was a grinder. I had maybe one rep left in the tank. In other words, r i r is how we naturally express how hard a set feels and research shows.
It’s an accurate way to track how close we are to failure. And so in the case of the Strength Week workouts, you’ll take each set of accessory exercises to the point where you feel you can do one more good rep before your form breaks down one R I r. Why the AMAP sets based on how many reps you get in these sets.
You can then update your one rep maxes for each of the primary exercises and use those new estimates for programming your next macro cycle. For example, let’s say you begin a macro cycle with a Squat one rep max of 315 pounds, and in the strength week, get four reps with 300 pounds, 95% of 315. Plug that into the one rep Max calculator, available at www.bblsbook.comslashonermandinmyfreeworkoutappstackedwww.getstackedapp.com and you’ll get your new approximate one rep max of 327 pounds, which you can then use to determine your new training weights for your next macro cycle.
Why amap with 95% versus one rep with 100% or even 105% as you’ll find in some program? Because a true one rep max attempt is time consuming, risky, and exhausting. To test your true max, you need to train with lighter weights and lower volumes for several days to a week beforehand to make sure you’re rested.
You then have to push yourself very close to absolute muscular failure, which means your technique is likely to falter, and the risk of injury is higher. It leaves you feeling drained for at least a few days. Some advanced weightlifters say it takes one to two weeks until they feel normal again after a one-up max test on the squat and deadlift.
So most of the time, true one rep max tests are inappropriate. Instead, we can just use equations to predict our one rep maxes based on how many reps we can get with lighter weights. All right. That’s it for Strength Week programming. Let’s touch on one more important aspect of linear progression in the program.
What if you miss reps in sets of primary exercises? As I mentioned in the beginning of this section, you should end hard sets of primary exercises, one to two reps shy of technical failure or expressed differently at one to two r i r. For most people, this is about three to four reps shy of absolute muscle failure, so your hard sets should be hard, but not gut busting.
You want to avoid taking sets to technical failure because it won’t increase muscle and strength gain often leads to bad form, and if done too often, hampers recovery as. In practice, this means your goal in every set of primary exercises except amap sets in strength weeks, is doing the prescribed number of reps without reaching technical failure.
And if you feel you can exceed the target without reaching technical failure, don’t stop when you reach your rep target. What’s more likely, however, is failing to hit your target without reaching technical failure or at all. For me, this usually occurs in my third or fourth set of eight or 10 reps and less often with heavier weights, and it typically stems from the one rep max calculations used to determine training weights while they work.
For most people there’s variability from person to person. For instance, if you tell a group of people to get as many reps as they can with 80% of a calculated one rep max most will get about eight reps before reaching absolute failure. However, there’ll always be outliers. Some may only get four or five reps before petering out and others may get 10 or more.
One factor that heavily influences this is training experience. A one rep max calculator will say you should be able to get eight to 10 reps with 80% of one rep max. But if you’ve focused on sets of two to three reps with 90% of one rep max for years, you’d probably struggle with. Likewise, if you’ve mostly done 10 to 12 reps with about 65% of one rep max, you’ll likely be unable to do a set of two to three reps with 90% of one rep max as a calculator would predict as you gain experience working in different rep ranges, as you will in the program.
However, you’ll find your strength lining up well with the calculated targets even so you can expect to miss rep targets now and then. So let’s talk about how to deal with those scenarios. If you fall short by even one rep on a first or second set of a primary exercise, reduce your estimated one rep max by 10 pounds and recalculate your training.
For instance, if my workout calls for eight reps with 205 pounds on the bench press, and on my first set I get six reps, I’d reduce my estimated one rep max from 275 to 265 pounds and recalculate my training weight to 198.75 pounds, which I’d round to 200 pounds. Then if I loaded the bar with 200 pounds and on my second set, I still couldn’t get eight reps.
I’d continue decreasing my estimated one rep max and recalculating my training weight until I could get eight reps. If you miss your rep target by one or two reps on a third or fourth set of a primary exercise, don’t change anything. Just. Maybe you didn’t rest enough between sets or didn’t sleep or eat enough the day before, or maybe you just ended your set too soon.
If, however, you miss your reps again on the third or fourth sets, the next time you do that workout, chances are the weight is too heavy, forcing you to take your first and second sets, too close to failure here, decrease your estimated one rep max by 10 pounds and recalculate your training weights as needed until you don’t miss reps on any sets.
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Double progression in beyond bigger, leaner, stronger. In addition to linear progression, the program will include double progression because it’s simple and effective, especially with accessory exercises, which don’t require more complex methods of periodization and progression. Here’s how to implement double progression in the program.
When you reach the top of the prescribed rep range for all four sets of an accessory exercise, increase the weight by 10 pounds total, then work with that weight until you can hit the top of the rep range for all four sets, move up again and so on. For example, let’s say you’re doing barbell curls in the 10 to 12 rep range, and you get 12 reps with 90 pounds on all four sets.
Great. The next time you do that exercise for 10 to 12 reps up the weight to 100 pounds and use that until you can get 12 reps for all four sets. Another important element of double progression is how hard your hard sets are supposed to be. Should you be pushing to the point of absolute muscle failure?
If not, how close did you come? As a general rule and all sets of accessory exercises, one rep shy of technical failure, but you don’t have to adhere to this guideline perfectly at the beginning of the program. For instance, you may prefer to end most of your accessory sets, two or three reps shy of technical failure as you get used to the exercises and rep ranges.
You’ll also inadvertently take some of your sets of accessory exercises to technical failure now and then, especially as you attempt to move up and wait. This is fine, so long as it’s not happening often, which can speed up your progress in the short term, but get in the way later. Now, what if you move to heavier weights and can’t reach the bottom of your rep range before your form starts breaking down?
For instance, in the barbell curl example I gave earlier, what if you can only get eight or nine reps with a hundred pounds before reaching technical failure? Here you have two options. One, increase the weight in smaller increments. Most dumbbells and preloaded barbells advance in increments of 10 pounds, five pounds per dumbbell, and sometimes this is too challenging to work around this.
You can buy a set of 2.5 pound magnetic micro plates that attach to the barbells or dumbbells, allowing you to move up just five pounds total. So with the curls, this would allow you to move from 90 to 95 pounds, not 102, continue with the original lighter load until you can get four clean sets of your rep target.
Often when a progression fails to stick, it’s because the third and fourth sets were sloppy, or grinders almost reaching absolute failure. When this is the case, an easy fix is to go back to the lighter weight and keep working with it until you can get four sets of the top of your rep range with good form ending shy of technical failure in each.
Continuing with our example, this would mean going back to 90 pounds and curling it until you can get four sets of 12 reps without compromising your form or pushing to technical. If following these instructions keeps you from progressing on an accessory exercise for some time, that’s okay. As far as results go, the quality of your training matters just as much as the quantity, and it’s not worth sacrificing the former for the latter.
How long to rest between sets in bigger, leaner, stronger. You learned that resting enough between sets helps you do more reps with more weight and continue to gain muscle and strength. As you also know after reading chapter 13, you have to work much harder as an intermediate or advanced weightlifter to keep getting bigger and stronger.
You have to use big boy weights and do more hard sets per major muscle group per week than when you were a beginner. So it’s even more important now to ensure you’re resting enough in between sets for your primary exercises. Rest, three to five minutes between each set. For accessory exercises, two to three minutes.
During your strength weeks, you may wanna rest longer between your amap sets, five minutes or even longer if necessary. As these sets involve lifting heavy weights for as many reps as possible, it’s worth resting an extra minute or three to increase your chances of setting a personal record. Plus, you’re doing half the normal sets per workout so you have time to rest more.
How do you know when you’re ready to do your next hard set? One. Your breathing should be back to normal. You should be able to talk comfortably. Two, your heart rate should have settled down. It’ll still be elevated, but it shouldn’t be racing. Try not to rest too long as well. Mostly because it wastes time and hurts focus.
You shouldn’t need over five or six minutes of rest between even your hardest sets. How to find your starting weights. Before you can start the Beyond bigger, lean, Stronger program, you must determine your starting weights for your primary and accessory exercises to find your starting weights. For the primary exercises you’ll be doing in your first macro cycle, review your workout logs and find your strongest set in the last two months for each.
Your strongest set is the one that involved the most weight for the most reps. For example, let’s say your strongest set on the squat in the last two months was 235 pounds for six reps. When you plug that into the one rep max [email protected] slash one rm, it estimates your one rep max at 273 pounds.
Going back farther than the two month cutoff increases the likelihood of inaccuracy. If you use a set from six months ago, for instance, you might be stronger or weaker now and thus won’t get a correct estimate of your current strength. If you haven’t performed one or more of the primary exercises in the last two months, go back as far as you need to.
But keep in mind, the weights may need to be adjusted. If you haven’t performed one or more of the primary exercises in a very long time. Use trial and error to find a weight you can get four to five reps with two or three reps in reserve. Then put your best set into the one rep max calculator and use the result as your estimated one rep max for your first macro cycle.
Also, the weights may feel a little easy when you first start, but remember, they will get heavier as you continue on the program, and it’s better to air on the side of starting a macro cycle with weights that feel a tad light rather than heavy. To find your starting weights for the accessory exercises you’ll be doing in the first macro cycle, review your workout logs and look at the most recent sets in the same rep range of the first meso cycle of the macro cycle.
Start there and adjust as needed. If you haven’t performed one or more of the accessory exercises in a very long time, start light, try it out, and increase the weight for each successive hard set until you’ve dialed everything in. Again, this is mostly trial and error, so don’t worry if your first week is awkward as you calibrate your weights.
This is normal and by week two you should be able to go whole hog on the program. The final scenario to be addressed here is finding your starting weights on accessory exercises as you move from one me cycle to the next. For example, in the first meso cycle of a macro cycle, you’ll be working in the 10 to 12 rep range on your accessory exercises.
Then in the second meso cycle, you’ll be working in the eight to 10 rep range. How do you determine your starting weights for that second meso cycle? Easy. Just add 10 pounds to the bar, machine, or dumbbells, total five side, and you’ll lose two or three reps. So for instance, if you wrapped up a meso cycle doing sets of 10 to 12 reps of one arm dumbbell rows with 95 pound dumbbells, you’d use a hundred pounders in the next meso cycle, which calls for eight to 10 reps per set.
How to warm up for your workouts? To ensure the major muscle groups you’ll train in a workout are warmed up and primed for optimum performance, you’ll do several warmup upsets with the first exercises for each muscle group. For instance, let’s say you show up to do a leg workout of squatting, leg pressing, leg curling and calf raising.
In that order, as you do on the leg day of the five day routine, you’d first warm up on the squat and then do your hard sets. Next is the leg press, but you won’t need to warm up first because the major muscle groups involved are the same as in the squat. The same goes for the leg curls and cal phrases.
Your hamstrings and calves will be more than ready after the squatting and leg pressing in this way, your warmup upsets for the squat. Serve as your warmup sets for the entire workout. Let’s say you are going to do a full body workout, however, of squatting, leg pressing incline, bench pressing, and barbell curling in that order, as you do on the full body day of the three day routine, in this case, you’d warm up on the squat, do your hard sets, followed by your hard sets of the leg press.
Then you’d warm up on the incline bench press before doing your hard sets, because squatting and leg pressing doesn’t involve your push muscles. Next, you’d move directly into your hards of barbell curling because the biceps will be warmed up after your incline bench. Pressing the bench press doesn’t train your biceps per se, but does stimulate them.
As for warming up on an individual exercise, here’s an easy and effective routine that’ll get the job done without compromising your performance on your hard sets. One, do six reps with about 50% of your hard set weight and rest for a minute. Two, Do four reps with the same weight at a faster pace and rest for a minute.
Three, Do two reps with about 70% of your hard set weight and rest for a minute. And that’s it. You’re now ready to do your hard sets. The beyond bigger, leaner, stronger deload week. Each four week meso cycle of this program will conclude with a deload week where you do less stressful workouts to allow your body to catch up with recovery.
Some people say deloading by reducing workout volume is better than reducing intensity and vice versa. I’m in the middle. I think both methods can work, but I lean toward Deloading volume for two reason. One. Studies show that reducing volume instead of intensity is more effective for decreasing fatigue, which is the main goal of a deload.
Two. Research shows that reducing volume instead of intensity is more effective for maintaining performance, which makes it easier to pick up where you left off when you get back to your hard training. On the other hand, there are benefits to deloading intensity as well. Reducing intensity in addition to volume helps reduce fatigue even more than reducing volume alone.
Reducing intensity helps eliminate any niggling aches, pains, or soreness before you start another stint of hard training. Reducing intensity gives you a mental break and can increase your enthusiasm for hitting the heavy weights. Again, for these reasons, there are two deloads in the program. One the volume deload.
Week two, the full deload week. Let’s review each the volume deload week. This is what it sounds like, a reduction in volume. In a volume deload week, you cut your number of hard sets and reps per set in half, but use the same heavy weights as your previous week of hard training. If it’s an odd number of reps round down to an even one before having it.
With this deload, you’re reducing your number of hard sets and reps for the week and staying well away from technical failure, which greatly reduces the stress placed on the body For example, if you did four hard sets of six reps of bench pressing with 80% of one rep max in your third micro cycle, week of a meso cycle in the following volume deload week, you’d warm up and do two sets of three reps with 80% of one rep max.
And if you did four hard sets of four reps with 85% of one rep max in your third micro cycle, you’d warm up and do two sets of two reps with 85% of one rep max in the following volume deload week. In this way, the training weights used during volume deload weeks change from meso cycle to meso cycle as intensities change volume.
Deloading works the same with your accessory exercises as well. Reduce your sets and reps by half and use the same weights as the previous week of hard training. Most of your deload weeks will be volume deload weeks except for the final deload week of a macro cycle following your strength week, which is a full deload week, the full deload week.
In the full deload week, you reduce both your volume and intensity by cutting your hard sets in half. Reducing your intensity to 50% of one rep max and doing just five reps for all of your hard sets. Why five reps? You could do more or fewer than this number, but five is enough to get blood flowing, reinforce proper technique and keep your workouts short.
Although you might feel rusty after you return from a full deload week to start your next macro cycle, don’t let that deter you. It’s a small price to pay to ensure you’re recovered and ready for more intense training. Another option, instead of a full deload week, is just taking a week off if you’re feeling particularly exhausted, sore or beaten up after a strength week, or would just like a week of rest before starting the next macro cycle.
It’s fine to stay out of the gym instead of deloading. What about cardio? You don’t need to do any cardio on the beyond, bigger, leaner, stronger program. In fact, if you go about cardio the wrong way, doing too much at too high in intensity or at the wrong times, it may do more harm than good. Cardio does offer many health and fitness benefits, however, including better metabolic health, more stamina, significant calorie burning, and possibly even faster post workout recovery.
You don’t have to do much cardio to enjoy these benefits either. Just 45 to 60 minutes per week is enough, and this can even include walking. In fact, walking is better than many. Weightlifters realize because it’s easy on the joints, causes little to no fatigue and can even help reduce cortisol levels.
When. It’s also easy to do and sometimes even enjoyable when you’re feeling tired or unmotivated. Walking is about as low impact as it gets to, so it won’t impair your strength or muscle gains, and you don’t need to fuss over how you incorporate it into your workout routine. You can walk on days, you train your upper body, lower body, or your whole body, and it won’t have any negative effect on your recovery or progress.
Finally, walking burns more calories than most people realize. About 200 to 400 per hour depending on your body weight and pace, and most of these calories come from body fat. That said, you may want to do moderate or high intensity cardio while on the program, and here’s how to do it, correct. Limit these types of cardio workouts to no more than 50% of the time you spend weightlifting.
If you lift weights for five hours per week, don’t do over two and a half hours of moderate or high intensity cardio per week. Limit your cardio workouts to no more than 30 to 45 minutes per session. Do your cardio and weightlifting on separate days if possible. And if you have to do them on the same day, try to separate them by at least six hours to minimize the cardio’s interference effect on your weightlifting.
When lifting weights and doing cardio on the same day, try to schedule moderate and high intensity cardio workouts on days with upper body training and low intensity cardio workouts on lower body days. Additionally, do your cardio after your weightlifting, not before. This two will minimize the degree to which your cardio can interfere with your weightlifting.
Choose low impact types of cardio such as cycling, rowing, elliptical, and swimming over high impact options like running or biometrics. This will minimize muscle damage and soreness. Keep high intensity interval training hit to a minimum and stick mostly to steady state. Cardio hit burns more calories per minute than lower intensity cardio, but it also causes more fatigue, muscle damage, and wear and tear on the body.
To illustrate how this might work, let’s say you’re doing the five day routine and want to do a couple of walks and higher intensity cardio workouts per week. Here’s how you could organize your schedule Monday weightlifting upper body, a cardio 30 minutes of cycling. Tuesday. Weightlifting, pulling calves, cardio rest.
Wednesday. Weightlift, upper body B. Cardio 30 minutes of walking Thursday. Weightlifting legs and calves. Cardio rest Friday. Weightlifting. Upper body C. Cardio 30 minutes of walking Saturday. Weightlifting. Rest cardio. 30 minutes of cycling Sunday. Weightlifting. Rest, Cardio rest. Notice how this plan checks all the programming boxes we just discussed.
The total weekly cardio volume is just two hours and only one hour. If you don’t count the walking, the cycling workouts are just 30 minutes each, and not on lower body days. You’re only doing low impact forms of cardio. If you wanted to include hit in your routine to maximize fat loss, let’s say you could take that layout and swap the cycling workouts for 20 to 30 minutes of hit cycling.
Well done on working your way through this door stopper of a chapter. Can you hear me clapping for you? Bravo. You may want to listen to this chapter again before continuing because we’re just about ready to get you started on the program, and that means you’ll need a good grasp of the major moving parts you just learned about.
Also, if you haven’t already, please take a minute to download the free bonus material that comes with this book, www.bblsbook.com/bonus, and peruse the workout spreadsheets. They’ll boost your overall understanding of the program tremendously and you can use them to track your progress. So what’s next for us?
A quick chat about supplementation, a quick review of some frequently asked questions, and a quick ask for a quick favor. Pretty please. And we’re off to the squat rack. Key takeaways, The Beyond Bigger Leaders Stronger training plan consists of three periods, 16 week macro cycles, four week meso cycles, and one week micro cycles.
There are also two types of micro cycles in the program, training micro cycles, three per meso cycle and deload micro cycles, one per meso cycle. All three training routines can work for cutting, lean, bulking, or maintaining. But if you’re cutting on the five day routine and begin feeling run down, you may wanna switch to one of the other two routines to put less stress on your body.
Try not to change training routines during a macro cycle as this can alter volume and results. If you’d like to upgrade from the three or four day routine to the four or five day routine in the middle of a macro cycle, give it a go, but avoid downgrading unless you have to. If you can’t do an exercise for whatever reason, you can replace it with an alternate exercise from the previous chapter.
Do four more sets of an exercise already in your workout or do more sets of the three exercises you can do for a total of 16. For the workout in the beyond, bigger, leaner, Stronger program, you’ll utilize weekly undulating periodization by reducing your rep targets by two reps each week for your primary exercises.
In the case of accessory exercises, you’ll work in one rep range per meso cycle, going from the 10 to 12 rep range to the eight to 10 rep range, and finally the six to eight rep range. You’ll achieve progressive overload in two ways. Linear progression, which you’ll use with your primary exercises and double progression, which you’ll use with your accessory exercises.
The Beyond, bigger, leaner, Stronger program includes a strength week at the end of each macro cycle, where you test your strength on primary exercises to see if you’ve gotten stronger over the course of the macro cycle Reps in reserve, r i r refers to how many more reps you could have gotten in a set before your form breaks down.
You should end hard sets of primary exercises, one to two reps, shy of technical failure, or expressed differently at one to two r i r. If you fall short by even one rep on a first or second set of a primary exercise, reduce your estimated one rep max by 10 pounds and recalculate your training weight. To implement double progression in the program when you reach the top of the prescribed rep range for all four sets of an accessory exercise, increase the weight by 10 pounds total and work with that weight until you can hit the top of the rep range for all four sets, move up again and so on.
As a general rule and all sets of accessory exercises, one rep’s shy of technical failure, but you don’t have to adhere to this guideline perfectly. If you move to heavier weights and can’t reach the bottom of your rep range before your form starts breaking down. You have two options. Increase the weight in smaller increments, continue with the original lighter load until you can get four clean sets of your rep target for your primary exercises.
Rest three to five minutes between each set and for accessory exercises to three minutes. To find your starting weights for the primary exercises you’ll be doing in your first macro cycle. Review your workout logs and find your strongest set in the last two months for each. The strongest set is the one that involved the most weight for the most reps two.
Warm up on an individual exercise. Here’s an easy and effective routine that’ll get the job done without compromising your performance on your hard sets. Do six reps with about 50% of your hard set weight and rest for a minute. Do four reps with the same weight at a faster pace and rest for a minute.
Do two reps with about 70% of your hard set weight and rest for a minute. Each four week meso cycle of this program will conclude with a deload week where you do less stressful workouts to allow your body to catch up with recovery. In a volume deload week, you cut your number of hard sets and reps per set in half, but use the same heavy weights as your previous week of hard training.
If it’s an odd number of reps round down to an even one before having it in the full deload week, you reduce both your volume and intensity by cutting your hard sets in half, reducing your intensity to 50% of one rep max, and doing just five reps for all of your hard sets. If you’re feeling particularly exhausted, sore or beaten up after a strength week, or would just like a week of rest before starting the next macro cycle, it’s fine to stay out of the gym instead of deloading.
If you want to do moderate or high intensity cardio while on the program, here’s how to do it correctly. Limit these types of cardio workouts to no more than 50% of the time you spend weightlifting. Limit your cardio workouts to no more than 30 to 45 minutes per session. Do your cardio and weightlifting on separate days if possible.
And if you have to do them on the same day, try to separate them by at least six hours to minimize the cardio’s interference effect on your weightlifting. When lifting weights and doing cardio on the same day, try to schedule moderate and high intensity cardio workouts on days with upper body training and low intensity cardio workouts on lower body days.
And do your cardio after your weightlifting, not before. Choose low impact types of cardio, such as cycling, rowing, elliptical, and swimming over high impact options like running or plyometrics. Keep high intensity interval training hit to a minimum and stick mostly to steady state cardio. All right. That’s it for this episode.
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