By M R Sameer Khan
This program is suited for those having just finished a hypertrophy phase. The major goals of this program are to:
Switch from hypertrophy to strength training
Lose bodyfat while maintaining LBM
Increase Max VO2
Increase overall health
Muscular Strength – this is the greatest amount of force a muscle or muscle group can exert in a single effort. The reason for strength training in this program is that most people tend to train for hypertrophy during their bulking phase, and it is good to periodize all aspects of your training. Also, training in the strength rep range tends to produce more solid, dense-looking muscles, which is what we want to shine through when the fat peels away. Performing low repetitions with high weight (3-5 reps, 4-5 sets, 2 minute rest) best serves strength gains (1).
Body Composition – This is a measurement of bodyfat, versus LBM. In general, it is better to have more muscle and less fat, within reason. In particular, the combination of training and nutrition in this program are designed to get you to your desired leanness while maintaining or even increasing muscle mass (i.e., you’ll be ripped).
Cardiovascular Fitness – Cardiovascular fitness is a result of aerobic exercise, which serves to increase Max VO2. Aerobic refers to oxygen uptake, which increases during energy expenditure. At some point, the oxygen uptake plateaus with no further increase, even though the workload is still growing. This point is called the maximal oxygen uptake or Max VO2. Additional exercise above Max VO2 generally produces lactic acid, resulting in a deterioration of the performance (2).
Cardiovascular fitness has a host of benefits, ranging from decreasing risk of coronary heart disease (3), preserving muscle and bone mass, maintaining sexual function, and may even offset declines in cognitive performance (4).
To increase VO2 and thus cardiovascular fitness, this program utilizes sprint interval training 3-4 times a week. Interval training has been shown to effectively increase Max VO2 in a study of twelve healthy men who performed 10 intervals of 30-second maximal sprint effort with 2-4 minutes of recovery (5). The specific type of sprint training is discussed below.
Warm-up – Each workout is preceded by a 10 minute warmup of jump-roping. I’ve found that this type of warm-up is one of the best ways to raise total body temperature and muscle temperature, thus priming the cardiovascular system, respiratory system, nervous system and the musculoskeletal system for the real workout. Of course, there are other ways to effectively warm-up; this one just happens to be my favorite.
Flexibility – According to my own experience, I prefer to stretch between the warm-up and the workout. While various studies indicate that stretching may have a detrimental effect on subsequent strength/power performance (6, 7), I’m just set in my ways. Perhaps the best way is to stretch after the entire workout. Regardless, it is important to stretch some time after the muscles are warm, to prevent various injuries. So don’t forget to incorporate stretching into your routine.
Phase 1 (weeks 1-3):
A classic 5×5 powerlifting program was chosen to meet the set goals. The following is the core program, following a 3-day split. The exercises were chosen for their effectiveness in both myself and various other testimonials. Exercises are meant to alternate between A1 and A2, not supersetting, but rather taking 1-2 minutes rest between all sets. Ten minutes of light cardio on the elliptical machine will precede each workout.
Monday – Back, Chest, and Arms
A1) Bench Press
A2) Weighted Chins
B1) Incline Dumbbell Press
B2) Weighted Dips
Wednesday – Legs, Back Extensors, Shoulders
A1) Back Squats
A2) Deadlift with shrug at top of lift
B1) Clean and Press
B2) Calf Press in the Leg Press Machine w/ a 5 sec. pause at the top of the movement
Friday – Shoulders, Traps, Arms
A1) Seated Arnold Press
A2) Alternating One-arm Dumbbell Shrugs w/ a 3 sec. pause at the top of the movement
B1) Preacher Curls
B2) Triceps Pushdowns
In addition, abdominal work and cardio will be performed on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays. The abdominal workout and cardio program is as follows:
Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday – Abdominals and Cardio
Unlike the core weightlifting program, abdominals will be worked at a higher rep range and fewer sets. Each of these exercises will be performed with 10 reps and 3 sets, supersetting (no rest) between the core abdominal exercise and the oblique/serratus exercise. The abdominal exercises are to be preceded with 10 minutes of jump-roping to warm-up.
A1) Hanging Leg Raises
A2) Cable Woodchoppers
B1) Decline Weighted Crunches
B2) Weighted Twisting Side Raises on a Roman Chair
Cardio will follow the abdominal training, and will consist of sprint interval training on the stationary bike. This will involve 8-10 intervals of 30-second maximal sprint effort with 1.5-2 minutes of recovery between each sprint. Before the sprints begin, a warm-up on the bike should be performed for 5 minutes. Also, a 10-minute cooldown should be performed on the bike, jogging, or something like the elliptical machine after the sprint training.