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whole-body workout for serious bodybuilders may be the ticket to
maximizing your time and effort in the gym.
Ask yourself this: Is training all your bodyparts over a 4–7-day period the only way to pack on quality mass? Truth is, many people who use a training split that requires daily trips to the gym aren’t satisfied with the results. Furthermore, heading off to the gym each day often places a greater demand on your time than a lot of us working stiffs can afford. If you’re looking for a new approach to get the most out of your time and effort in the gym, the full-body blast may be the ticket.
The idea of working your whole body in one training session has received a bum rap. Most people envision a lightweight circuit workout designed to develop (or build) muscle for general fitness. The full-body routine I propose, however, saves time in the gym, requires maximal muscle contraction by employing heavy weights, allows for full recovery so you can grow and train at a high intensity, and prevents muscle loss by avoiding the overtraining trap. In fact, you can expect big gains when you perform this program to the letter.
Needed: Heavy Weights
Muscles respond to overload, and the most effective way to overload a muscle and stimulate growth is by lifting heavy weights. That’s why I suggest using basic, heavy exercises that enable you to lift the most weight. For chest, do the bench press and incline bench press. For back, choose the bent-over row and chin; the squat and leg press are basic exercises for legs. All these movements allow you to move heavy weights and overload the muscles.
Isolation exercises that emphasize specific muscle groups aren’t particularly necessary. Cable movements for chest, leg extensions for the quadriceps and pull-overs for the lats have their place, but to recruit the largest amount of muscle fibers in the shortest time, stick to the basics.
In designing your full-body workout, keep in mind how resistance training affects your natural anabolic and androgenic steroid levels. For example, you can expect both testosterone1 and growth hormone (GH) levels to rise in response to hard training. One study that looked at the intensity of work in relation to GH output found that while training at intensities of around 70% and 55% of their one-rep max, subjects produced more GH than at 90% intensities.2 Even in women, GH levels rise in response to multiple-set exercises.
Maximizing your GH output is important — this hormone initiates fat breakdown, spares muscle glycogen and helps rebuild muscle tissue by increasing amino-acid uptake into muscles. Testosterone, of course, exerts a direct anabolic effect on muscle fibers, whether male or female.
Basic & Limited Sets
Can muscles grow using a relatively small number of sets? Just ask Dorian Yates, six-time Mr. Olympia. He’s an advocate of quality, not quantity, and says he works up to one or two maximal-effort sets per exercise. He uses basic movements and heavy weights, and his physique has redefined the word massive. He proves that building muscle doesn’t necessarily require set after set or multiple exercises. You can develop quality muscle with a limited amount of total work; the key is to work as hard as possible when you do train.
With the full-body blast, prepare your body for the workout with five minutes of treadmill walking to increase your core body temperature, then perform a couple of very light sets of bench presses and pull-downs to warm up your upper body. Choose one basic exercise per bodypart (see "Full-Body Blast Menu of Exercises" on page 5) and perform each to failure with as much weight as you can with good form and still do 10–12 repetitions per set, working continuously from set to set. If you’re a novice, rest for one minute between sets. Intermediates or advanced athletes should try to complete each cycle with little or no rest between sets. This, too, can increase GH levels.
When you complete a cycle, rest for two minutes, then repeat the cycle using the same exercises. At the end of the second cycle, rest for two minutes, then again work your larger bodyparts only. When you’ve finished the full-body blast, you’ll have performed a total of 20 grueling sets. All your bodyparts will have been worked to fatigue in well under an hour. You’ll have burned a huge amount of energy and taxed your entire body, so you’ll need 2–3 days off to fully recover. For variety, choose different exercises for your next full-body workout.
Complicated Diet? No Way!
Many bodybuilders use a food scale and notebook to map and record their nutritional regimen. One important goal in this tedious process is to ensure that muscles become fully saturated with glycogen.
Derived from carbohydrates, glycogen is the chief fuel source during weight training. If glycogen stored in muscle falls to inadequate levels, your performance diminishes, your intensity level diminishes and the result is a sub-par workout. This could lead to overtraining and even a loss of muscle tissue. When glycogen levels are low, the body calls upon protein, in the form of branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs), as a backup fuel source. Some of these BCAAs come from protein foods, but others come from your hard-earned muscle!
Daily workouts continually stress your glycogen stores. With the full-body blast, muscle-glycogen levels are typically high. Though large amounts of glycogen are used in the workout, you have 2–3 full days between workouts to increase your muscle-glycogen stores with adequate carbohydrate intake. Furthermore, it’s easier to keep your glycogen stores high because you don’t continually deplete them each day. This allows you to train with peak intensity — the kind that’s required for muscle growth.
Aerobic exercise is a popular way to burn additional calories and keep bodyfat levels down. Full-body workouts burn plenty of calories in a short time and encourage fat loss. If your bodyfat levels are on the high side, perform some additional aerobic work to facilitate bodyfat loss.
The goal of the full-body blast is to add mass. Since muscle recovery is related to rest, you may want to limit your total amount of cardio work to no more than 1–2 hours on a weekly basis. Remember that experts advise at least three 30-minute sessions a week for cardiovascular health
Incline Barbell Press
|Back||Bent-Over Barbell Row Pull-Up
One-Arm Dumbbell Row
Seated Cable Row
Alternate Dumbbell Curl
|Calves||Standing Calf Raise
Seated Calf Raise
Donkey Calf Raise
|Abs||Hanging Leg Raise
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