Experiments With Hypertrophy & Wellness
Josh came to see me in the Fall of 2009. His reason for initiating this journey that he was looking for a balanced variation of between training & performance that could help improve his neck and lower back pain.
Josh had also recently lost his sister Ari to Cancer and he was also seeking a renewed approach to nutrition & wellness.
Here is his success story & a brief look at his training & nutrition.
The determining characteristic of Josh’s success was that he was not raised in a family that encouraged eating sugar. This meant that his Insulin Sensitivity was far better than mine.
- Insulin sensitivity describes how sensitive the body is to the effects of insulin. Someone said to be insulin sensitive will require smaller amounts of insulin to lower blood glucose levels than someone who has low sensitivity.
For this reason he was better able to tolerate the rights kinds of carbohydrates at the right times. Josh’s bodyfat on initial assessment was sub 10%! A marked contrast between many of the transformations I’ve overseen.
The second thing was that Josh had finally found a coach that was not squeamish about programming goals over the course of a number of training cycles.
Josh started out with 8 weeks of Uni-Lateral Lower Limb training which corrected his lower back pain strength deficiencies. After this we progressed him into German Volume Training.
Why German Volume Training?
I’m not sure if you have ever performed this style of workout but essentially the set and repetition scheme is the following:
Calculate your 1RM (total load one can perform a single repetition) on all your compound movements (Backsquat, Incline Barbell Press & Close Grip Pull-up). The workout is the completed using 60% on your 1RM. Example: if I can back squat 100Kg with good form then I would complete the set & rep prescription below with 60Kg.
10 Sets, 10 reps, 4 second descent on every rep (counted aloud by your partner). Only 60 sec rest is allowed between sets. You can see the full article below on T-Nation.
What to expect:
This style of programming is definitely not for beginners but it is definitely a plateau busting method that can be used to pack on solid amount of lean mass. While that may seem counter intuitive from a holistic standpoint there are many studies currently being published showing that longevity & lean muscle mass are highly correlated.
The importance of maintaining muscle mass and physical and metabolic functions in the elderly is well-recognized. Less appreciated are the diverse roles of muscle throughout life and the importance of muscle in preventing some of the most common and increasingly prevalent clinical conditions, such as obesity and diabetes. It is therefore imperative that factors directly related to muscle be included in future studies designed to demonstrate optimal lifestyle behaviors throughout the life span, including physical activity and diet. Read more HERE.
Is this even possible for the average person?
I have to admit that when I had designed training programs in the past I obviously lacked the insight of an esteemed coach like Charles. Programming for sports & body composition is an extremely complex topic that has been explored by many other (far more qualified) people.
The thing that really stuck with me (despite the obvious deep muscular soreness) after each session was a quote that I heard recently that went,
“Performance is Fatloss”.
This has to be one of my favorite methods for seeing immediate results in all your major lifts.
During the second phase of the training when we were using only 5 reps my strength shot up to an all time PB of 120Kg on back squat for 5 reps. That was an incredible feeling.
This marked a distinct point in my training career where I was clearly able to differentiate between those who were earning their results in the gym and those who were not.
While not a program for beginners it rang the bell and that bell was ‘results’. Never again was I to underestimate the power of linear program design.
We did not deviate from a standard body part split of upper/lower body workouts & only the frequency of training undulating according to the goal of Hypertrophy or Strength.
It looked a bit like this:
What you will notice here is the rhythmic nature of the volume (total amount of work completed in each training session). Initially as we worked out his specific weakness’s (2 months of general preparatory work to fix structural weakness’s) then we began the first training cycle of training.
The last week of every month was dedicated to recovery strategies such as foam rolling & dynamic stretching. Half the amount of total work was performed on these training sessions.
Here is graph 2. This was the total time under tension of sets as performed over the course of the 6 months. 80 Seconds is an extended period but toward the final phases of the GVT we were including negatives on the last reps (lowering the same load or more for up to 10 seconds as slowly as possible).
We trained upper and lower body 2 times per week during the last 2 training cycles.
Sticking Points & Nutrition:
You absolutely cannot engage in a training method such as GVT without first covering your most common micro-nutrient deficiencies. Both Josh & I used this replenishment protocol for our D3 intake. You can find out more information about this here.
Once we had the the basic requirements for our D3, Zinc & Magnesium taken care of we moved on to our macro-nutrient intake & this was where we both failed to an extent. We simply did not eat enough.
I’m not a stringent believer in the ‘counting calories’ style of nutrition but when your not consuming adequate amounts of mono-unsaturated fats or protein you are pretty much wasting your time in the gym.
That being said be both tried our best to consume at least 150g of lean protein each day & we both carbed up each evening right before bed which made a tremendous difference to our ability to recover from the training.
Pre Workout Nutrition:
15g Nut Butter (I occasionally had 10g Taurine)
I am not normally a fan of commercial pre workouts so I did not include these at all.
10g BCAA powder
40g Reflex Whey Protein
We both took ZMA & 45g of Fishoil per day to limit inflammation as much as possible…
Most people forget that training is a stimulus applied with a specific load & is varied by the tools available. On the one hand we needed to illicit the micro trauma needed for Hypertrophy but also control the inflammation we created. That is why attention to micro nutrient supplementation is so important.
Here is what people struggle with most in my opinion:
- An inability to graduate the correct style and methods of linear periodization
- They fail to attend the training sessions in the cycle
- They fail to optimize their recovery by sleeping enough
- They do not meet the micro/macro nutrient requirements that are aligned with their goal
- They keep changing programs
- They don’t understand that no tool will work without consistent effort
- They do not use compound movements to facilitate their development
I hope that the above information has given you some idea of how important even small details can be in the big scheme of things.
While all of the gentleman that took part in the program gained or lost some weight I believe that these methods work best by applying basic standards of nutrition, supplementation & periodization.
Thanks for reading…