Sooner or later all top lifters after years of experienced training and with an amazing physique will consider to just specialise in one type of lift. Normally they come to this decision as a motivation factor due to basically coming to a dead end. What I mean by that is that lifters end up training so hard just to maintain their physical strength and they stop achieving muscle growth, so something has to change quickly.
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At the end of the day it\’s all down to focus or just changing it, so I would recommend that you concentrate hard on a couple of lifts while just maintaining the others. Through this method you won\’t actually be punishing you body so much and this will allow you to recover quicker between sessions, which will lead to renewed muscle growth progress.
If you were to apply these changes to body-building it would be like bringing up a lagging body part and improve balance and symmetry. You may choose to work on getting bigger legs and although other parts may be missing out at least you are making some progress, which is hell lot better than no muscle growth.
It\’s a big decision to make and may not be ready yet so let\’s look at another alternative, which is looking into enhancing your recovery ability. Consider things such as nutrition, targeted supplements, post training recovery aids such as hydrotherapy and massage and take a good look at your training program to see if you can make any muscle growth improvements including active rest. Another stumbling block for a lot of people is an unsuitable lifestyle and you really want to take a closer look at yours and make some tough decisions.
If you know you are slacking in your approach to restoration, or your training volume / frequency is inappropriate then sort it out before you go in for a specialised approach such as the one I am about to describe. However, if everything is perfect with your nutrition, restoration etc and you are simply no longer making progress, then give this a try.
Now I am going to allow you to choose the lift you want to specialise in, but don\’t forget that cable crossovers and triceps kick backs aren\’t \”lifts\”! This is what I consider to be a list of lifts that body-builders use for the different related body parts;-
Posterior chain (erectors, glutes, hamstrings), Quads. Deadlifts: Posteriors chain, quads, traps. Stiff Leg deadlifts: Posterior chain, traps. Bench Press: Pecs, front delts, triceps. Standing Press: Deltoids, triceps. Weighted Chins: Lats, teres, rhomboids, biceps, rear delts.
For the chosen lift you will need to determine your one rep maximum, as the cycle will be based on % of that maximum lift. If you don\’t know your 1rep max for your lifts then it is probably a good indication that your record keeping is not what it should be or maybe simply that you are a perpetual fluff bunny who doesn\’t like heavy iron. You can guesstimate your one rep maxes from experience if you like, or hold on your cookies, get a decent spot and find out for sure. Your choice!
It doesn\’t matter which specialty lift that you choose as far as your cycle is concerned as that will stay the same. Below you will see a chart indicating what your training frequency and the intensity should be for each of the lifts. There really isn\’t a better way to start out in specialty training and this routine has served me well and we will develop on it during the rest of this article.
Monday Wednesday Friday Wk 1 80% (62)* 80% (63) 80% (62) Wk 2 80% (64) 80% (62) 80% (65) Wk 3 80% (62) 80% (66) 80% (62) Wk 4 85% (55) 80% (62) 90% (44) Wk 5 80% (62) 95% (33) 80% (62) Wk 6 100% (22) 80% (62) 102-110% (new max) *(62) means 6 sets of 2 reps, not 2 sets of 6 reps you muppets! Whaddya think this is? An aerobics routine? Hehehehe. The percentages are calculated from your one rep max, so get your calculators out boys and girls.
I assume that you and the majority of people that have decided to read this article are just normal bodybuilders and that your bodybuilding bible is the \”Muscle and Shitness\” mag. You wouldn\’t find this routine in that rag as you have probably already noticed. You may think this is just a big joke, so don\’t lose heart yet as everything will soon look different.
\”Enhanced\” Olympic lifters, track athletes and powerlifters train up to 30 times a week and get great results. I am drug free and manage to hit deadlifts over 220Kg up to 5 times in a training week, and that is just bloody NORMAL. Now a bodybuilder is not advised to session being heavy and no sets being taken to failure is NOT a high volume program by any stretch of the imagination.
Par for the course will be that you have to eventually drop the low intensity (6 sets of 2 reps @ 80%) during the 4th or 5th week. You will soon realize when a change is necessary when your recovery times begin to get out of hand. You will have to get to at least week 3 before you increase load and reduce volume in order to get to your new max.
If you are in week 2 and find yourself unable to face the 80% x 6 x 2 light session because you \”feel tired\” then you can go back to reading Men\’s Health magazine cause you are not destined to be strong. Feeling tired is just a fact of life to an athlete, not an alarm bell that you need to take a week off and stay in bed playing with your pee-pee. You judge how well you are recovering by whether or not you made your lifts. If you are making your lifts you are recovering just fine, whether you feel like shit or not.
You can rearrange the remaining exercises over the week at whatever set and rep scheme you prefer. In the case that you were to specialize in overhead press, you could consider choosing to squat press on Monday, chin press on Wednesday and bench press on Friday. The best thing I like about this is that you can keep the poundages for the other lifts at around 80 – 90% of maximums and it doesn\’t matter which rep range I am using.
For example say you can bench 100Kg for 12 reps, you would do sets of 80-90Kg for 10-12 reps in the bench. It is also worth rotating what days you do your assistance work on so that you never perform similar assistance to your main lift on a \”heavy\” day.
For example if your specialization lift is the overhead press then rotate your bench press so that it always falls on one of the 6 x 2 days, not on one of the more intense days. This makes sure that your heavy overhead pressing does not make benching impossible. The same would apply if squats were your main lift and you were deadlifitng for assistance work. You would not squat heavy and deadlift on the same day, as your deadlift would most likely not be worthwhile. The name of the game is maintenance when it comes to your other lifts.
When the first 6 weeks are up you can decide on another specialization lift and start again or just revert back to a more regular bodybuilding routine in order to put that new strength to work by creating even more muscle by increasing the rep range slightly. But anyway it goes without saying that most people have a total disregard for their incredible gains they have just achieved and revert back to doing leg extensions once a month cause training my way was just \”too tough\”.
I\’m sorry to be such a mean old sod but it is utterly true. People are all too quick to disregard methods that work extremely well if they take them out of their comfort zone. Need I remind you that if strength training and bodybuilding were comfortable then everyone would be big and strong?
A few guys have asked me what kind of results they can expect on a routine like this in terms of muscle growth gains. I get a guaranteed 7.5 – 10% on a lift every time I put myself through this torture, with bigger increases on repetition work following the program.
Past results I\’ve seen from this exact program include a deadlift going from 200Kg to 220Kg and reps with 180kg from 6 to an easy 11 at a bodyweight of 93Kg. Not to bad for 6 weeks work eh? I\’m shooting for 180Kg x 20 reps by the end of this year and I\’ll train for that in a very similar manner to what\’s described above, and by increasing my limit strength repetition lifting will increase automatically.
No 2 people are the same and I am hardly the incredible hulk, and I am sure other bodybuilders could get better muscle growth results by doing my routine. You need to have balls to go out there and look for better routines and if you find any, well please share them with me. Just look for the Mick Hart blog and you will see what I mean when there are a lot of great bodybuilders out there and I am honoured to have them sharing their thoughts and ideas with me.