September 20, 2018
If you're a natural lifter, you can't train like an enhanced bodybuilder or action movie star. And if you have average genetics, you can't train like a genetic freak. Sure, it's tempting to copy the training programs of those we admire, but always chasing the next "star program" will get you nowhere.
So how should natural lifters should train to get the best results? Basically like this:
The most common mistake made by those who don't use performance enhancing drugs is doing too much volume. The whole purpose of training to build muscle is to trigger protein synthesis. Once it's been triggered, there is no added benefit in continuing to punish a muscle – it will not grow more. In fact, it might even lose size!
The key to growth is to have a big difference between protein synthesis (building muscle) and protein breakdown (mobilizing amino acids from muscles for energy). The more volume you do, the more protein breakdown you get. You don't want that.
To maximize growth, frequency is king. That not only applies to how often you train a muscle per week, but also the number of training sessions you do per week.
Frequency is crucial for the natural lifter because the actual training session is the stimulus to trigger protein synthesis. In other words, the workout itself is what puts you in anabolic mode, whereas the enhanced bodybuilder doesn't need to use the workout as a trigger. The enhanced lifter is in anabolic mode 24 hours a day!
So the more often you train, the more your body stays in an anabolic state and the more muscle you'll build. But don't forget that frequency and volume are inversely related. Remember, you can't do a high volume of work if you have a high frequency of training when you're natural.
Frequency works better than volume. Hitting a muscle three times per week is the optimal frequency for a natural trainee (with a low volume to compensate for the increase in frequency). Train six days a week, doing short, low volume workouts hitting half the body each time. That's the only way to get the optimal frequency without the excessive cortisol release.
The best split, both physically and psychologically, is the push/pull split:
Each push or pull workout will have 4 exercises – one per muscle group (two for back since it's made of many different muscles).
You do three pull workouts and three push workouts three times per week, using different exercise at every workout. While you can use any exercise you want, when possible I like to use 2 multi-joint exercises and 1 isolation exercise.
For example, our first hamstring workout of the week might consist of Romanian deadlifts while the second might consist of lying leg curls. The third hamstring workout of the week – the isolation move – might consist of glute ham raises.
You will do two preparation sets for each exercises. These are sets where you get the feeling for the weight and decide what training weight you'll use for the work set(s). It also gets some blood in the muscle to increase the mind-muscle connection.
These sets are not typical warm-ups. They're done with weights close to your working set weight, or you can even use the same weight as your work sets but do fewer reps. Basically, your level of effort on these two sets is about 7 out of 10.
Then you'll do one all-out work set. This will use a special technique/method (explained below) and need to be taken to technical failure (but don't go to the point where you need to cheat to get the weight up). These special techniques will only be used on the third and last set of each exercise:
Here the key is how you perform each rep. Accentuating the eccentric (negative) and loaded stretching are the contraction types that increase mTor activation the most. So with this method you'll do as follows:
This program is unconventional, at least when compared to most modern-day plans, but how has conventional been working for you so far?
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