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For anyone looking to pack on some serious muscle mass, one of the top priorities will be to determine what the best bodybuilding workout to follow is.
There are a wide range of different workouts available, so choosing the one that will suit your needs best is important.
It’s also essential that you understand which factors contribute the most to gaining lean muscle mass. A program that utilizes these principles will often fare better than one that doesn’t.
Let’s take a brief look at some of my top 10 muscle building programs/products I have come across in 2017.
1. Anabolic Running 2.0
If Superman did a running workout, this would be it.
It’s the #1 method for packing on lean muscle and cutting inches off your waist in the shortest amount of time.
While also skyrocketing your testosterone and growth hormone levels. studies show, from the very first Anabolic Running workout your body will INSTANTLY be flooded with 530% more growth hormone and nitric oxide. It’s that quick.
Most ordinary folks know nothing about it…
2. Bulk Up Fast
Following the “old rules” of bulking, all I ever wanted to do was sleep. I had to take stimulants hand over fist just to psyche myself up for my workouts! Then I’d spend weeks of cutting with terrible pumps, nosediving strength, and zero energy.
That’s because I was working against my body and it’s natural cycles of growth and hormonal reset.
And that all changes with the Bulk Up Fast system…Inside, you’ll discover the “new rules” of bulking.
With them, you’ll enter the most shocking period of hyper-growth humanly possible. All your hormonal and metabolic growth factors are firing at 110%.
And you’re going to send them an overwhelming signal to build massive amounts of new muscle. Do not be surprised if you experience noticeable growth from one day to the next. You’ll literally be taking advantage of every single hypertrophy factor that modern science has proven to work.
3. No Nonsense Fat Loss
With January around the corner, we are all in dire need of an epic fat loss program.
This is it.NNFL Is The ONLY “Non-Cardio” Fat Burning System Customized To Your Muscle Fiber Type So That You Destroy Unwanted Fat, Sculpt New Muscle Mass & Reveal Eye Catching Six Pack Abs
The best part? It has a LIFETIME guarantee.
You have literally nothing to lose but your gut, love handles and man boobs.If this isn’t the most effective fat burning system you’ve tried to date… and you’re not 100% with the amount of fat loss you experience in the coming months…
Simply let the ladies at Vince’s Helpdesk know and they’ll provide you a no-hassle, immediate, refund on the spot. And heck, you can keep the program just for trying it.
What’s the risk in at least trying? Here’s what you and I both know, one year from today you will certainly arrive. The question is where? Will you be in the same body or the body of your dreams?
4. Hollywood Abs
What are the most cutting edge techniques Hollywood actors, bodybuilders and pro athletes use to break records and transform at a lightning fast pace?
First off is probably drugs; steroids, growth factors, and injected insulin come to mind.
Second is natural supplements such as creatine. Thirdly, nutrition hacks such as carbohydrate depletion/loading, ketosis hacking, etc
I’m not debating that these methods work; they do.
The legality and safety, these Hollywood actors or stage ready bodybuilders are choosing to do to look perfect before they hit the bodybuilding stage/screen is another issue altogether.
However, there’s another more potent technique that has recently come to light that gives them an unfair six pack advantage.
Fasted abdominal training via abdominal blood flow circuits.
New research shows that “spot reduction” isn’t a myth, but a real thing. Research shows that A.B.C. is the best method for building your abs and melting belly fat.
It’s also one of the dirty secret’s marvel uses to get it’s superhero’s looking ripped for the camera in record time.
5. Anabolic Reload
This muscle building secret from my friend Steve… (also known as the “Jacked Grandpa”) Is working out less… and lifting less.
However, that’s not all…
He uses what’s called STX sets or “slow-twitch Xhaustion” sets…
Which force your muscles into sleeve splitting muscle growth… almost on command.
It won’t matter if you’re in your 30’s, 40’s, 50’s or beyond… Steve’s techniques will have you packing on strength and mass FASTER than you did as a teenager.
It can even be used by younger guys to accelerate results!
Check it out for yourself: STX sets for maximum growth
6. Anabolic Sleeping
There are two times in the day your body builds muscle. One, post workout. The other, during sleep.
Unfortunately, most guys only build muscle post workout…
Meaning, you’re leaving MASSIVE results on the table…
However, today you can have the muscle-building edge 97% of men know nothing about. That will allow you to pack on mass overnight and skyrocket your strength.
Simply follow this simple pre-bed routine and let your body do the rest…
Starting in the 80’s, supplement companies began pushing massive protein consumption.
We all believed that “MORE PROTEIN = MORE MUSCLE GROWTH”.
I’m here to tell you that IT’S A BIG FAT LIE.
Just because something contains 40 grams of protein… it doesn’t necessarily mean you’re gonna absorb all 40 grams. Without enzymes, most of it ends up in your toilet bowl.
Enzymes have been one of the greatest nutritional discoveries ever.
I myself have just been learning about the benefits of a QUALITY enzyme – not all are created equally.
8. The Biohacker’s Guide
I’ll warn you. This is NOT your average health book. It’s written by one of the most controversial health coaches in the world…
At first I was a bit skeptical… Yet after talking to Anthony via Skype about his “methods” I couldn’t help but share this information…
Because he’s helped men across the globe hack their hormones, health, and energy…
So I asked him for a favor… to write you a detailed guide on how to biohack your testosterone levels and record a value packed video course to help you boost your male hormones and libido using his “unusual” methods (that REALLY work)…
And he did… He’ll also show you how you can drop over 100 lbs of fat, pack on lean muscle, boost your energy levels, and feel 20 years younger all through “biohacking”…
Anthony put all his secrets into a single book which you can have today for FREE… All you have to do is pay for shipping. Check it out…
9. Anabolic Priming
Your hormones are the biggest dictator of how much muscle you can build. how well you perform and how good you look and feel.
Anabolic priming takes care of you form the inside out. Anabolic Priming is a cutting-edge and scientifically-proven system that unleashes floods of anabolic hormones in your body, creating the prefect environment for more muscle, better recovery and more strength.
It also prepares and activates your muscles, joints, nervous system, and even your psychology and mind, for any type of workout you are about to do.
If you are ready for the full, badass program, check it out below while it’s on sale for 90% OFF (until copies run out). You won’t be dissapointed.
10. Anabolic Stretching 2.o
This is exactly the kind of thing that Arnold used to do in his workouts to build his incredible chest. He would hold the bottom position of a flye for 45-60 seconds (at the end of a chest workout when his pecs were pumped full of blood).
The key thing is that you’re not really “stretching” like in the way you do with most static stretching…you’re resisting the load in the stretched position.
There is a big difference.
And you will feel this difference the first time you try it.
If you aren’t familiar, Anabolic stretching can dramatically speed up muscle growth (334%), strength, and recovery. It’s the ultimate anabolic post workout solution.
If Superman did a running workout, this would be it.
It’s the #1 method for packing on lean muscle and cutting inches off your waist in the shortest amount of time. While also skyrocketing your testosterone and growth hormone levels. Most ordinary folks know nothing about it…
Listen up. Not all running is created equal. And the most efficientOlympic athletes and buffest Hollywood actors and fitness models know this…
Now, there’s always traditional high intensity interval training…
However, you can screw HIIT up quite a bit. And you’ll leave tons of muscle building results on the table because of it…
So instead of spinning your wheels, feeling like a lab rat trapped in a cage… Combine the below techniques to your running workouts for superhuman results…
Anabolic Cardio Workout For Massive Muscle Gains
Just imagine having eye-popping vascularity. With veins the size of pythons hanging off your arms.
And a massive 530% boost in growth hormone for greater muscle gains and accelerated fat loss… with a ramped-up sex-drive so you can perform like superman in the sack…
All because you’ve adopted an anabolic cardio philosophy…well, it’s possible man. Yet there’s some bad high intensity interval training habits you have to break first.
Most “Traditional” Interval Training Workouts Won’t Give You The Results You Crave.
Traditional interval training workouts typically last 6-10 seconds per interval. Although, this isn’t a bad thing… it’s not ideal if you want maximal results.
A recent study published in the British Journal of Sports Medicineshows lactic acid is the #1 factor for achieving an exercise induced growth-hormone response (1).
Which is vital for muscle-growth.
Yet traditional 6-10 second sprint interval workouts don’t last long enough to reach the lactic threshold… a.k.a. the secret sauce of muscle building cardio…
Not until 15 to 20 seconds of all-out sprint effort does your body begin producing muscle-building lactic acid… yet most guys never reach that point in their training.
Unlike common thought, the first 10 seconds of a sprint are aerobic (with oxygen). Not anaerobic (without oxygen)…. this according to the author of The Oxygen Advantage and Buteyko Breathing expert, Patrick McKeown…
(Buteyko breathing is crucial for your gains… I’ll reveal why in a moment)…
Back to oxygen. As long as it’s present during exercise, it’s impossible to reach the coveted lactic threshold responsible for turning your cardio workout into a muscle-building matrix.
To make a long story short… your Sprint Interval Workout should last 20-30 seconds for max gains.
Word of warning: It’s going to hurt. Your lungs will feel on fire. Your legs and arms will weigh heavy like cement. And the last 10 seconds of each sprint will test your mental grit.
Yet because you’re on my site, I know you’re a guy who’s serious about making gains… and you’ll trade a little pain for the glory of a ripped, attention-grabbing physique that would grace the Hollywood big-screen in the next superhero flick…
Am I right?
Buteyko Breathing For Nitric Oxide Gains
Here’s another trick you’ll want to add to your sprint training workout if you’re determined to get the best results from your cardio regimen and become an anabolic animal…
Have you heard of Buteyko breathing? Probs not. Most guys haven’t. It’s a special breathing technique developed by a Soviet Union scientist in the 1960’s…
And when used during sprinting you’ll experience tons of anabolic benefits… one being, a massive surge in nitric oxide production (2)…
Here’s why that rocks.
Nitric oxide is the infamous “Viagra chemical” that helps guys last longer and perform stronger in bed. Yet instead of becoming a slave to the little-blue pill… and selling your soul to Big Pharma and their nasty side-effects, this one breathing hack may do the trick…
And there’s plenty more benefits to the increase in natural nitric oxide levels…
Like improved cardiovascular health, lowered blood pressure, bigger muscle pumps, and greater nutrient delivery to your muscles for faster recovery.
Here’s the trick.
How To Turn Traditional HIIT Into Anabolic Running
Combine the simple Buteyko nasal breathing method to your sprint while in the lactic threshold during your sprint interval workout and your natural nitric oxide levels will shoot through the roof (3)…
It may feel strange at first. But you’ll get used to it. And I guarantee you’ll never perform your cardio workouts without this technique moving forward. It’s that powerful and the results are that noticeable…
In fact, with only 16-minutes per week following an anabolic cardio workout like this and you’ll trigger better results than what most people spend hours chasing in the gym…
I’ve been there. I used to follow traditional cardio methods. Which destroyed my sex drive, stripped me of my hard-earned muscle mass, and nearly ruined my marriage…
Yep, my marriage. It’s embarrassing to admit, and you can read more about my story here…
What I’ve learned is your cardio workouts can be your greatest muscle-building, testosterone boosting ally… or it can steal your gains, make you more fat, and send your male-libido on life support…
Question is… what’s it gonna be for you? To be honest, Anabolic Running is only for guys who don’t want to go through the motions anymore…
What To Do Next…
For guys who want the MOST out of their workouts and aren’t willing to leave any results on the table… If that’s you, here’s your next action step:
Add Anabolic Running to the beginning of any workout, or perform on your days off from strength training and you’ll be on the fast track to a lean and rock-hard body that subconsciously demands respect from other men and attracts the opposite sex…
Just like a superhero… They’ve got the brawn. The respect. The lady. And the power. You can too.
These Anabolic Running workouts take as little as 4-minutes per workout. That’s it. And you don’t have to necessarily “run” to experience the results…
Just follow the Anabolic Running principles while on a stationary bike, elliptical, ergometer, etc… and watch your body transform into a lean and muscular physique.
Now’s your chance to harness the power of Anabolic Running:
1. The Role of Lactate in the Exercise Induced Human Growth Hormone Response: Evidence From McArdle Disease. Centre For Sports Medicine & Human Performance. Brunel University, Uxbridge. Godfrey, Richard. 2009, July.
2. Mercola, Joseph. “Buteyko Breathing Method Helps Reverse Health Problems.”Mercola.com. N.p., 24 Nov. 2014. Web. 08 July 2017.
3. McKeown, Patrick. The Oxygen Advantage: The Simple, Scientifically Proven Breathing Techniques For A Healthier, Slimmer, Faster and Fitter You.
Do you even lift bro?
I thought so, but how do you prove it.
The average lifter usually judges you on your lift. Yes- just one lift- the bench press.
It just looks so badass seeing the most jacked guy in the gym burying himself under a mountain of iron and pumping it down to his chest and back up again.
And even personally, I cannot even count the amount of times I’ve received the “Hey, how much can you bench, man?” question.
Over time we grow bigger, stronger, and a bit older and wiser in the process, showed me that the flat bench isn’t all that.
In fact, the flat bench may be KILLING your progress in the gym.
Here are 3 reasons you need to ditch using the flat bench for good today.
#1 You Want Muscle- Not Man-Boobs
Ever see a big muscular guy pop his shirt off only have have big saggy pecs?
That guy may even be you! See, all that effort pushing the pace and killing it in the gym might not be helping your body. This happens despite getting a solid night of sleep regularly and eating the cleanest foods with plenty of protein and veggies.
It drives most guys crazy to not figure this out sooner. The secret is your biomechanics. Here’s what I mean…
When you use a flat bench you develop the muscle and make it larger. That’s kind of the idea of exercise, so that should make sense. However, it isn’t that simple.
You see, new research is showing that muscles are composed of different units. For example, you can split your chest into an upper unit and a lower unit. While flat bench can work the lower region it doesn’t efficiently work the upper part. The result?
Your chest muscles get larger but they sag when you stand because the top muscles aren’t developed as much as they can be.
The solution is simple. You want to skip the flat bench and go right into an incline bench. With different leverage on your muscles, you’ll work the chest here with a greater emphasis on the upper chest to give you those ideal pecs that are strong AND catch attention at the beach.
#2 You Don’t Want to Turn Into A Plank
Generating stability and pressing for a heavy bench press may build your chest and get you stronger…
But it may be destroying your mobility.
You’ll notice in the tiny aspects of your life that while you feel stronger and put up bigger numbers on your flat bench, it’s tougher to tie your shoes or put on shirts. Even your walk is more mechanical and still.
It literally looks as if you have a stick shoved somewhere unpleasant, right?
That’s because when you set up for the bench press your shoulders are pinned under all that weight. This means, you’re placing a heavy load on your body and pinning your scapula and spine down.
Without working on your mobility, this shoulder tightness simply spreads making you stiffer and stiffer, possibly leading to injury.
Another alternative is skipping the flat bench and working the chest in a similar way with cables or with bodyweight pushing exercises. You can get massive strength (and bring out your 6-pack abs) with the stability demands of cable pressing or working towards a 1-arm pushup.
#3 You don’t want excess elbow and shoulder stress
Bench pressing can put a ton of stress on your wrists, elbows, and shoulders if you’re not used to it. Unfortunately, the joint strength comes largely from the condition of your tendons and ligaments. There take much longer than muscles to respond to training loads and grow stronger.
This means that if you’re pushing your strength and muscles on the bench press you may be overtraining these vital connective tissues!
That being said, the flat bench is a surprisingly technical lift- it isn’t just lay down and push.
You need to have your arms the proper distance apart (based on your arm length), you need traction from the floor, your shoulders back and down, ribcage slightly lifted, torque generated in your shoulders, and traction from the floor.
Whew, that’s a lot!
And if you’re off a bit it could mean more strain down the road because your elbows, shoulders, or wrists will have to make up for the slack.
A good alternative is to use dumbbell presses.
Here, you don’t have a rigid barbell so you can more easily rotate and align your body for optimal pushing. The extra stability challenge means that you can use LESS weight but still build REAL strength.
At the end of the day, the flat bench press isn’t going anywhere. It’s a classic test of strength. But maybe, it should remain a test and not a normal part of your training. Unless you want to get really good at the flat bench press, you really don’t need to practice it all the time.
Instead, use the substitutions in the article above and you won’t even miss the flat bench press.
You’ll be able to build more functional strength with increased shoulder and core stabilization.
You’ll be able to improve the look of your pecs so no one mistakes your chest muscles for man boobs after all your hours in and out of the gym.
You’ll even save your joints tremendous strain by preventing pain in your elbows, shoulders, and wrists.
Not to mention, you’ll save time at the gym by not having to wait for EVERYONE to use the flat bench.
Try these variations this week and enjoy your results.
Is your training moving you closer to your goals or are you just killing time in the gym?
You see, 92% of the guys out there snag an average routine from offline or from a magazine to get into average shape. Guys like you follow the same plan for months before realizing it’s not getting them the results they want.
The truth is they either get injured OR discouraged from seeing no results and stop lifting.
It’s a painful pattern especially since lifting isn’t hard. Getting fit gives you three key things; strength, muscles, and makes you harder to kill.
Pass all 8 of these tests and you’ll know you’ve become one big strong badass.
Can You Bench Enough?
It seems the first question a novice asks is the same old, “how much do you bench”.
It’s about the same as giving someone a passing “how are you”.
While most guys go through the motion of the bench press in hopes of gaining monstrous strength and looking ripped, few achieve those goals.
So, let’s separate those boys from us men.
If you can bench press your bodyweight you’ve officially passed a tremendous milestone, which makes it our first badass test.
Not there yet? No problem! This usually comes down to two sticking points; either your technique or distractions.
For your technique, you want to place your wrists above your elbows to stack the joints on top of each other. This means you’ll have to widen up your grip a bit
For distractions, you want to quit killing your muscles with all that extra nonsense in your routine. That means if you bench, incline bench, do chest flys, and other chest exercises you won’t be developing that badass bench pressing strength.
Stay focused and you’ll knock this one out of the park.
But the truth is that the bench press isn’t that special…
..how much do you front squat? Clean?
I think you get it, for big compound lifts you know you’re a badass when you can rep out ATLEAST your bodyweight.
Join the Double Bodyweight Deadlift Club.
The deadlift checks out your ability to produce tension, grip strength, and fire your ‘go’ muscles that are used in everything from mind-blowing sex to walking up stairs.
You don’t need a 505 pound deadlift, but pulling double your bodyweight means you’re ready for whatever lift has to throw at you. It could be that you avoid pain carrying the groceries into the house or you may save a friend’s life by picking him off the floor and taking him to the emergency room.
The best part is getting a better deadlifting just requires you be strong. So, work your grip with pullups, work your hips with kettlebells, and work your tension with high rep squats. This guarantees a flexible training approach that avoids boredom or burnout.
The 2-Minute Plank Meltdown.
Let’s be honest. It feels challenging to push or lift a heavy weight, but once it’s lifted you’re done, right?
Unfortunately, we can’t label you as a badass without proof of some endurance. Here, the test of endurance is all about your core strength.
We’re talking functionality, posture, strength, endurance, and the mental toughness to sweat out a two minute plank.
If you can squat or deadlift big numbers this will be a walk in the park for you because all three moves require abdominal tension.
And by tension we aren’t talking about floating in this position like a hippie, we mean actively flexing with the lats, glutes, and core engaged so you’re actively working here.
Look Ma- No Hands!
Remember those commercials?
“I’ve fallen and I can’t get up”
Here’s a crazy fact: the average man in the United States is too weak to do a single pushup. This means when they fall down they cannot get up.
Can you imagine struggling to crazy to a phone because you’ve fallen and don’t have the strength to get back up?
This test doesn’t focus on the push up. If you’re reading this you are NOT the average guy. I challenge you to take getting up off the floor to the next level and lift yourself up using only your feet.
That’s right, from laying down to standing without using your hands.
The easiest way is to sit up, get your legs underneath you, and get into a lunge position and step up.
If you want to get fancier you can teach yourself to kip up like Bruce Lee!
Balance On One Foot For 10 Seconds
More men fail this test than you’d believe.
Balancing is a sign of coordination. It’s where your strength meets your mobility. If you can’t balance on one foot for 10 seconds you’re infinitely more likely to have muscle imbalances, hip problems, and will likely fall down in the near future.
Plus, you can’t use the ultimate defense from the Karate Kid!
By focusing on balance your lifts WILL go up too. Better balance allows you to not fight the weights as much because you’re properly grounded in the lift and naturally in better alignment.
Do yourself a favor and invest 20 seconds on this one.
Too easy? You can step this test up by closing your eyes and shaking your head while you balance.
The Death Grip Test
How healthy are your shoulders?
Apparently, we’ve evolved from climbers. Whether it was snagging fruit from a tree or scaling a cliff to run from a lion, you and I were meant to climb.
However, men who hang from branches, or even pull up bars, are a rare sight. You can even see it in the “forward head” posture that most guys have because they completely skip hanging movements and have poor posture, weak shoulders, and lead mediocre lives.
But not you.
You’re a badass, right?
That’s why we’re going to hang. This test has several stages:
First, you just want to actively hang for 30 seconds. By actively hanging I’m talking about shoulder blades drawn back and down, like you’re trying to pinch a dollar between your scapula, and a slight bend in the elbows.
Next, after 30 seconds, do a pullup.
If that’s all you can do, it’s a start. Otherwise, you can repeat the cycle of 30 second hang and one pull up for 9 more times and see how far you get.
If you can do that you’re probably set for ninja warrior with strong healthy shoulders with a killer grip.
What is the point of having a big squat or deadlift if you can’t use it for anything?
The long jump teaches you to use all that strength quickly and powerfully. Meaning you can sprint faster, jump farther, and kick harder.
With the long jump it’s mostly about dialing in your form to get proper distance and being strong. The key is to not bend your knees too much.
Simply throw your arms back as you go down to a quarter squat (this preloads your leg muscles like a stretched rubber band) then fling your arms forward as you explode from your hips- just like a power clean.
Hips, knees, ankles all extending as your arms reach out and you soar.
Cardio For The Modern Badass
If the deadlift and the plank had a baby it would be the Farmer’s Walk.
Sure, you can lift weights all you like BUT can you walk with them? Try this test and you’ll find out. Take a deep breath and pick up half your bodyweight in each hand and go for a walk, the farther the better.
Just do yourself a favor and end your walk near the weight racks- you’re welcome in advance.
If you ace this, not only can you hold onto a decent amount of weight but you’re proving you can walk and stabilize the weight without falling and getting hurt. Your forearms will burn, your lungs will beg for more air, and you’ll want to take a break- don’t you’ve got this.
At the end of the day there are many different reasons to train. If you’re looking to be stronger, harder to kill, and be useful in a crisis to friends and family these are the test you need to pass.
I challenge you to try at least one tomorrow and see how you stack up.
There I was, doing pushups in my bedroom. Twenty pushups per set, if memory serves me.
Not that I couldn’t do more, of course. I could easily have done more than fifty pushups per set- and I wanted to.
I knew I could have pushed myself a lot harder- hell, I could have been in the gym lifting daddy weights instead of at home doing pushups. But I remembered the times when I had pushed myself too hard, trained too much and too often. I remembered the injuries, the sleepless nights, the depression and apathy.
And so that’s why I was taking a deload week. In fact, I wasn’t even supposed to be doing the pushups, but I couldn’t quite bring myself to not work out for a whole week.
I figured there had to be a better way- some way that I could push myself as hard as I wanted to, and avoid overtraining, without needing to take a week off every two months.
And there is. But first, let’s take a step back and look at why most programs incorporate de-loads.
Suppose you’re a trainer designing one of these programs. You want the people following your program to progress as fast as possible.
However, you know that some trainees will push themselves harder than others. You know that some people can recover faster than others. So how do you design a one-size-fits-all program that will work for most of the people who follow it?
If a trainee’s workload is less than what his body could handle, his progress will be slower than it could be. Maybe he’ll make no progress at all, but in all likelihood he’ll make progress- it will just be slow.
On the other hand, if you dial up the volume and intensity too high, many of the people who follow your program will develop overtraining syndrome. Their gainz will plateau and even start to reverse, they’ll be fatigued, depressed and sick all the time, and their dicks might even stop working.
Faced with this choice, under-training is clearly the lesser of two evils. And indeed, most programs err on the side of creating too little training stimulus rather than too much. Most dedicated trainees will be satisfied with any progress at all, even glacially slow progress.
But what if there was a better way? What if you could push your body to its limits- without ever going over?
Auto-regulation: The secret to making faster gainz, without overtraining
Auto-regulation is a set of techniques used to dynamically adjust the volume and intensity of your workouts. Properly employed, they allow you to build strength, work capacity and muscle mass as fast as physiologically possible.
In other words, auto-regulation is fucking awesome. But let’s be clear on what it is and is not.
There have been time when I worked out harder than planned, because I felt like my body could take it. There have also been times when I cut my workouts short, or used lighter weights than planned, because I felt more fatigued than expected and didn’t want to over-exert myself.
That can be useful, but it’s not auto-regulation.
Auto-regulation is more than just “listening to your body.” Rather than acting on subjective feelings, it’s characterized by the use of specific, objective, and pre-planned rules for adjusting your fitness programming on the fly.
Auto-regulation techniques come in a few varieties. Here’s a basic typology:
Positive techniques increase the training stimulus when possible, while negative techniques decrease the training stimulus when necessary.
Single-exercise techniques modulate the training stimulus applied with a single exercise, while whole-body techniques modify the training load applied to your whole body, usually by adding or subtracting rest days.
Finally, dietary auto-regulation adjusts your diet, adding or subtracting calories in order to either maximize hypertrophy without fat gain, or maximize fat loss without losing strength or muscle mass.
I know what you’re thinking- Cool story bro, but how do I use it? I gotcha. Here are for auto-regulation techniques you can start incorporating today.
Technique #1: Reactive deloading
One of the more commonly used methods of auto-regulation, reactive deloading is a single-exercise negative technique. Out of all the auto-regulation techniques, this is the one that most directly substitutes for traditional deloads.
Here’s how it works: when you fail to hit the expected number of reps on one of your sets, you lower the weight by about 20% for all remaining sets of that same exercise. All remaining sets are performed at high speeds in order to reach high muscle activation levels, and are still limited to the same number of reps despite using a lower weight.
Example: you’re bench pressing 245 pounds for five sets of five, at a low, controlled cadence. On the second set you only make four reps. You lower the weight to 195 pounds and perform the remaining three sets as sets of five, lifting with an explosive tempo.
Note that the weight is only lowered for that one exercise, and only for the remainder of that one workout. Once you’re done with the last set, it’s back to your regularly scheduled program.
Reactive de-loading is best used with heavy, compound exercises that produce the most fatigue, and therefore present the greatest risk of overtraining. For lower-weight and isolation exercises, you’re better off either using AVT, which I’ll describe later, or not auto-regulating at all.
Technique #2: Autoregulatory volume training
Another negative, single body part technique, AVT has similar goals to reactive de-loading, but takes a different approach. Reactive deloading holds volume constant while allowing intensity to be lowered as needed. AVT takes the opposite approaching, holding the weight constant while allowing reps per set to free-float.
How it works is, you perform your first set of a given exercise as normal, carefully noting how hard you exerted yourself on the last rep. For subsequent sets, you use the same weight but instead of completing a target number of reps, you stop each set after doing a rep that was as difficult as the last rep of the first set.
This frees your mind from the need to count reps so that you can focus on moving the weight. Not thinking about reps lets you focus on your technique, and it tends to increase force production since you don’t hold back during the first few reps of each set.
Another way to look at this is that traditional weight training hold both volue and intensity constant from one workout to another, while difficulty varies. By contrast, both AVT and reactive deloading maintain consistent difficulty by allowing either the weight or volume to be adjusted as needed.
AVT is a great tool for normalizing the training stress produced by your workouts. It works best with exercises that are performed for at least five reps, but can be used with pretty much any exercise. The main determinant of whether to use it is your psychology.
This isn’t a good choice for unmotivated trainees who will use it as an excuse to slack off. On the other hand, it’s also a bad idea for people who can’t hold themselves back- those people will find themselves going to failure on the first set, then doing it again on every subsequent set.
In order to implement AVT, you need the discipline and determination to push yourself exactly as hard as planned- no more, no less.
Technique #3: Conditional failure training
Conditional failure training is a positive single-exercise technique, and in a sense it’s the polar opposite of reactive de-loading or AVT. Instead of lowering the workload when you fall short, you raise it when you meet or exceed expectations.
Here’s how it works: when you hit your expected number of reps on every set of a given exercise, you continue until muscle failure on the last set.
For instance, say you’re doing three sets of eight dumbbell shoulder presses. You make your eight reps on the first two sets, so when you hit eight reps on set three, you keep going, squeezing out two more reps before you can’t go any further.
Obviously, you only want to do this with exercises for which going to failure won’t be dangerous- nothing like military presses or back squats where you could drop the weight on yourself.
It works best with higher-rep exercises where you’re only reaching full muscle activation later in the set, and is best reserved for the last exercise in your workout that targets a given muscle. In other words, it works well with pec flyes, but not if you have dips coming up in a few minutes.
Technique #4: As-needed rest days
This one’s pretty self-explanatory; take an extra rest day when you need one. That makes this a negative, whole-body auto-regulation technique.
The catch, of course, is that you have clear rules for determining when you “need” an extra rest day. And of course, you have fewer pre-planned rest days, since the point here is to replace, not add to, your existing rest periods.
If you want to start doing this, first cut back on your planned rest days. If you’re currently working out every other day, switch to a two days on, one day off schedule. If you’re working out four days a week, raise that to five or six days a week.
You’ll want to take an extra rest day when you see signs of a whole body plateau. That means you’re falling short on multiple exercises across several body parts. Of course, we all have bad workouts sometimes due to normal day to day variation in strength and sleep quality, so you only want to throw in an extra rest day when this happens several times in a short period.
Example: You’ve been working out three days a week. You raise that to five days a week. On any given workout, if you fall short of your expected number of reps on three or more exercises, you mark that on your calendar as having been a bad workout.
If you have three bad workouts within a seven-day period, you add an extra rest day after that workout. You never take two rest days in a row however, so if this happens on the day before a rest day, you instead take your extra rest day on the day after the next workout.
While single body part methods like AVT and reactive de-loading are my first choice for negative auto-regulation, as-needed rest days make an effective second line of defense for people who are particularly prone to whole-body overtraining syndrome. I commonly recommend them for people who chronically under-eat, or who have irregular sleep schedules, whether due to insomnia, shift work, or frequent travel.
Your next steps
Any serious intermediate or advanced trainee can benefit from autoregulation. The first three techniques listed here can be added to any existing program without changing the workouts or overall schedule, so that’s where to start.
Pick three exercises in three different workouts you’re currently using. Apply reactive deloading, autoregulatory volume training, and conditional failure training to one exercise each, in accordance with the exercise selection guidelines I’ve laid out here.
Next time you change up your program, use each of those three methods on two exercises each. Additionally, raise your training frequency by one or two workouts per week, but start incorporating as-needed rest days into your schedule
By combining these four techniques, you can optimize your training load to the precise needs and capabilities of your body.
Auto-regulation is one of the many tools that elite coaches use to get their clients very big and very lean, without making them very, very exhausted. I’ve compiled twelve of these techniques in The Dirty Dozen: 12 Techniques for Greater Gainz, my free primer on advanced weight training methods.
By applying the right training method at the right time, in the right amount, you can optimize your workouts around whatever goal you want- whether that’s hypertrophy, strength, strength-endurance, fat loss or work capacity.
If you want to upgrade your body, you need to upgrade your knowledge.
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