by Gavin Kane
In the first article of the series we attacked hardcore dieting and how to gain maximum mass without maximum fat gains. There are two more pieces to this puzzle, training and cycles. This article is going to focus on the aspects of hardcore training, the type of training that goes along with all those calories you have been eating. Off-season is the time we hit the heavy weights, a return to the basics, meaning no cable-curls, no chrome weights, and no listening to Backstreet Boys while training.
In a return to the basics, I assume and hope that you have been to the basics before, if not this article is exactly what you need to start making gains again. We need to define the basics, what they are, what they mean and why you need them. When I refer to the basics, it is in reference to basic compound weight lifting movements; squats, deadlifts, bench, clean and press, etc. The core of your weight training should consist of basic compound movements since they work the maximum amount of body parts at one time, they require stabilizer muscles for support, and you can use the most weight possible to create hypertrophy.
A compound movement such as the bench press is used primarily to train your chest, but in addition to working your chest you will also train your triceps, deltoids, rotator cuff, biceps, lats, and all tiny stabilizer muscles required to balance and support the weight. Core exercises use more muscles than isolation exercises; therefore, you can use more weight since more muscles are recruited to lift the weight. If you want big triceps, you should bench heavy. This may go against ingrained logic, by now you might be thinking how the hell am I going to get huge triceps when I am benching to get a big chest.
Well, look at simple logic….if you do the ever popular tricep pushdowns as your mainstay of tricep training, you are short cutting your way to huge tri’s. If you are truly strong on tricep pushdowns, say you are so strong you can do the entire weight stack at your gym, you might be pushing 200 +/- pounds and you’re probably thinking you are gonna get huge triceps…wrong. An isolation exercise will never give you the mass you are looking for. Even if you can pushdown 200 pounds and you get a great pump, that is nowhere near the amount of weight you are putting on your triceps for growth when you are benching 315 pounds or more. No matter how much you can pushdown, it will still never be as much weight as you can press, and with that logic, you will never get big triceps because you are short cutting yourself on gains. Obviously if you are doing pushdowns with 200 pounds but can bench press 315 pounds, you are not using the most efficient training to grow big triceps.
This logic applies to all your body parts; bicep curls are nowhere near as effective as reverse grip bent over rows for back, leg extensions will never get your legs big like squats and on and on. So now that you understand the importance of compound exercises, you need to incorporate them into your training off-season for ultimate growth. There is a time for isolation exercises, like during pre-contest training, or when doing pre-exhaustion movements for higher intensity training.
The whole training program is designed with the idea of maximum weights, maximum recovery, and maximum growth. It is important to remember that muscular growth takes place outside the gym, not inside it. Growth comes from rest and proper nutrition. In the gym training is actually causing trauma and damage to your muscles, you are not going to grow until you leave the gym, eat and sleep. This training program is designed to incorporate with my hardcore bulking diet, the training matches the eating. Compound movements burn a lot of calories, cause the most tissue damage and require massive amounts of calories and protein to repair and recover.
Each muscle is only trained one time per week, you can train most body parts multiple times per week when you are doing primarily isolation exercises, but heavy compound movements require lots of rest, usually one week will suffice for recovery in most trainees, but since many exercises overlap body parts, if you do not feel fully recovered before your next workout, don’t train.
Ectomorphs require more rest than mesomorphs or endomorphs. If you are not making gains on this training program and you are following my hardcore bulking diet, chances are you are overtrained. Common signs of overtraining include; restlessness, sleepless nights, chronic fatigue, lack of appetite, loss of interest in usual activities, decreasing strength, and body aches among others. There is an old saying that there is no such thing as overtraining, just under eating. While this may be true in many individuals, this will not be true if you are following my hardcore bulking diet.
The following is a 4 day per week workout, designed to train each body part one time per week, with overlap usually working each part twice per week. Each workout day should allow for one hour of training, rest periods are to be 2-3 minutes between sets for all large compound movements, and 1 minute for smaller exercises. You should strive to increase weight by 5lbs per week in all large compound movements, and 2.5 lbs in small movements. It is important to either go up in reps or weight each workout. Do not guess, keep a log book, just as with your diet, you cannot know what you are doing and where you are going, if you do not know where you have been. It takes 2 seconds to write down your sets and reps in a small book, and then refer to it the next week so you know what you need to improve on when you start your workout. Have a solid game plan, do not walk around the gym with imaginary lat syndrome like the rest of the morons who do not make any gains year after year. Commit to making gains, follow my training and diet and you will grow…it is that simple.
Day 1: Chest and Delts
Bench Press 5×5 (ex: 135×5, 185×5, 225×5, 315×5, and 365×5)
Incline dumbbell press 3×8
Weighted Dips 3×8 *
Jerk and Press 5×5
Side laterals 2×12
Day 2: Legs
Leg Extensions 2×15
Stiff leg deadlifts 3×8
Heavy dumbbell lunges 3×6
Standing calf 3×12
Seated calf 3×8
Day 3: Back
Chins 3x max reps or Pulldowns if you are too weak or heavy to do chins
Reverse grip barbell rows, Yates style 3×8
Rack Deadlifts 5×5 **
Barbell Shrugs 3×6
Reverse flyes 2×15 ***
Day 4: Arms, Abs and other crap
Standing barbell curl 3×8
Reverse grip bench on smith 3×12 ****
Preacher curls 3×8
Skull crushers 3×12
Full body stretching
* Dips for chest require elbows tucked in close to your body, chin tucked in your chest and a forward lean.
** Set the pins 2 inches below your kneecaps on the squat rack. Add as much weight as you can, take a wide stance and pull your dead. You will be able to use much more weight and the focus will be on your traps and lats.
*** Bend over at the waist with 20lb or so dumbbells and do what is similar to db chest flyes but reverse them to work your rear delts, rhomboids and terres major and minor.
**** Use a smith machine and weight similar to your bench press. Keep your triceps tucked in close to your body, lay totally flat on the bench and hold the bar across your palms with your fingers facing away from your body – toward your toes, the opposite of a bench press grip. Let the weight come down slowly building tension in your triceps like a spring and then explode up. Higher reps make the triceps grow faster, you do low rep tricep workouts with chest and delt day.
That is it, each workout is one hour if you are slow, 30 minutes on a quick day. The point is not how much you do, it is how hard you do it. For some trainers this might seem like too much, for others, not enough. Even though the large exercises are listed as 5 sets, that includes your warm-up and working sets. See the example for bench, if you can do 365 for 5 reps, start with 135lbs for 5 reps, go to 185 for 5 reps, etc until you reach your working set as your last set. That 5th rep must absolutely be your last rep. The following workout, use that weight until you get to 8-10 reps, then add weight to bring it back down to the 5th rep being your last and repeat each workout in that fashion so you make gains every single week. So while 5 sets may seem like a lot on paper, you are really only doing one all out full working set on each exercise with it taken to full muscular failure.
I do not like or recommend forced reps. If you can’t lift it, you shouldn’t. Sticking points is one issue, but you have all seen the kid in they gym benching 225lbs, where he is only do 135lbs and his partner is rowing the rest. Don’t be that guy. Do your own damn set and rack it. Occasionally add a drop set, pre-exhaust, change the order of the exercises that day, etc., but stick to the workout and make an honest effort to go up in weight each week or add reps.
Do this while following my hardcore diet in article one and you will make gains, bar none. Even supposed hard gainers add 10-20 pounds of mass while following my workouts. Drugs are not needed, food is. But since most everyone is on a cycle these days, part 3 will address the hardcore cycle…stay tuned.