Dual Factor Training: The Program<>/h1
Ok, ok, so it's not so bad this time around. In our last article, we not only
addressed our fear of training theory, but also embraced the aforementioned
lovable communist science and turned it into something that could be useful in
the weight room (i.e: something that will actually give us a leg up on
reaching our physique and performance goals).
In the last article I presented a sample program which utilizes 2FT, and in this
article we'll break down all aspects of the program to better explain how to
make 2FT work for you.
Before we start, let's recap what we've learned so far.
Supercompensation theory says to beat the crap out of our muscles and deplete
them of all their good stuff (like glycogen, amino acids, creatine, etc.), let
them recover for 3-10 days, and provide them with all the nutrients they lost
(and then a little bit more). The result should be that the muscles will store
more nutrients than they originally had, and thus will be bigger and stronger.
Result: Doesn't really work at least not very well. Unfortunately, it's almost
impossible to time your workouts just right, meaning that you either won't rest
long enough, which will quickly lead to overtraining, or rest too long, which
means that the growth stimulus is lost, and you end up back where you started.
Dual Factor Theory (2FT):
Dual Factor theory, on the other hand, provides a better (and correct) view of
training theory. Instead of looking at each single training session as
fatiguing, and the few days after it as the recovery period, 2FT views entire
periods of training as fatiguing or recovery. (And as I mentioned in the last
article, science has shown us that the body makes extraordinary gains when
provided with a period of peaking fatigue, or "loading," (2-6 weeks) followed by
a period of recovery, or "unloading" (1-4 weeks).
So the most important thing about 2FT is to understand how long and how hard to
"load" during the fatiguing phases and how long and how much to "unload" during
the recovery phase.
Result: You can have shorter training cycles, more precisely timed peaks, and
generally more progress in both physique and performance goals.
Loading and Unloading:
The first thing to remember about the program is that it is setup with periods
of peaking fatigue (called "loading"), where you will slowly reach the point of
over-reaching (near overtraining). In simple terms, during loading periods you
will train hard and not allow yourself to fully recover before training again.
By doing this, fatigue will slowly build up in your system until you approach
overtraining. These loading periods should last around 2-3 weeks. It's important
to note that the program laid out will most likely be fatiguing to just about
any athlete, but some may overreach in only 1-2 weeks, and for others, it might
take 3 or even 4 weeks. So it's important to note that what is loading for me
might not be loading for you. In the same manner, if you follow this program and
feel like you are overtrained after only a week or so, then you will need to
back off a bit and find the right amount of work for you as an individual.
"How will I know how hard to load and unload?"
Well, honestly, it's not an exact science. The easiest thing to do is to start
this program and load for only one week, and follow it with a one week unloading
period. If you felt fine, and never felt like you were overreaching, then try to
load for 2 weeks next, followed again by a one week unloading period. If you are
still fine, then you could even try loading for 3 weeks, followed again, by just
one week of unloading. I would note, however, that I have found that most
athletes do best with a 2 week loading period, followed by a one week unloading
period. For unloading, it's usually best if intensity is kept relatively high.
(Intensity is not a perception of how hard you are working, but is a term
relating to how close of a % to your rep maximum you are working therefore,
it's important during unloading weeks to still train heavy.) However, even
though intensity is kept high during unloading, volume is drastically reduced,
by dropping the workouts from approx 7 exercises down to only two or three.
Frequency (number of training sessions per week) is sometimes reduced, but in
this program it???s kept the same.
"How will I know if I am overreaching?"
Well, again, it's not an exact science, but you'll feel lethargic, your joints
will probably hurt, and most importantly, the amount of weight you can lift will
begin to decrease. If at any time the weights you are using fall down to 85% or
so of your previous best, then you are overreaching (and nearing overtraining),
and it's time to start unloading. Now, sometimes you just have a bad day in the
gym, or you didn???t sleep well last night, or maybe you???ve been sick. I rarely
make a decision about overreaching after just one bad workout. However, if two
or three training sessions go by, and you aren???t even getting close to hitting
new maxes, then it's time to start unloading.
The goal of this program is to get to that point (or near it) after
approximately two weeks of loading. The first week you'll probably feel fine,
and you'll get in some good hard workouts. By midway through the second loading
week, however, you'll probably start feeling run down, and by the Friday or
Saturday session of the second week, you???ll probably feel really run down and
"beat up." When you hit that point, then it's time to back off the volume
substantially for a week or so and allow your body to recover from the two hard
weeks of loading.
If done correctly, the result will be a noticeable improvement in size and
strength following the unloading period. (Now, obviously you aren't going to
notice huge gains after a single three week cycle of this program, but after
several cycles, you should begin noticing real differences in your strength and
Loading Weeks: (2-3 weeks)
Upper Body Workout One: (Monday)
1. Barbell Bench Press: 4x10, same weight used for each set.
For this exercise you should do either flat or low incline bench press
(preferably alternating each week), and use primarily wide grip. Make sure to
use plenty of warm up sets and then pick a weight you can do for 4 sets of 10
reps. The final set should be very hard to complete. The progression might look
like this; barx10, 95x10, 135x5, 185x3, 225x10x5sets.
2. Dumbell Bench Press: 3x8-12 same weight for each set.
For this exercise you can choose to do flat, incline, or decline dumbbell press.
(I prefer a slight decline.) ??? Make sure to bring the dumbbells deep into your
armpits. The final set should be very hard to complete.
3. Horizontal Lat Work: Preferably Heavy Barbell Rows: 5x5, same weight.
"The best way to do them is to start with the bar on the floor every single rep.
Your middle back will have slight bend to it. You pull the bar off the floor
quickly with the arms, and by a powerful arch of your middle back. You finish by
touching the bar to your upper stomach or middle stomach. At no time is there
any movement of the hips or knees, no hip extension at all, all that bends is
the middle back and the shoulders and elbows. This is hard to do and you have to
have good muscular control to do it, or you'll end up straightening up at the
hips along with the arching of the back. But if you can master doing them this
way you will get a big back" (Glenn Pendlay).
4. Shoulders/ Traps
For shoulders/ traps, you???ll want to pick one or two exercises that put an
emphasis on medial delts, like heavy shrugs, high pulls, dumbell cleans, lateral
raise complex, face pulls, etc. Do a total of 4-6 sets (2-3 per exercise). Reps
don???t matter that much, but I prefer something in the 8-12 range.
5. Tricep Extension: 3x8-12, same weight.
For triceps, pick an extension exercise like skull crushers, French presses, JM
Presses, rolling dumbbell extensions, Tate Presses, or pushdowns. Pick one
exercise and knock out 3 sets of 10-12 reps.
6. Biceps: 3-5 sets of 8-12, same weight
Lord knows that most of you guys don???t need any help here, as most of you would
do curls all day long if given the chance. Basically pick one or two curling
exercises (I couldn???t care less which ones you do, although the foundation
should be some sort of compound bicep movement, like standing barbell or ez bar
curls), and knock out 3-5 total sets.
Lower Body Workout One: (Tuesday)
1. Heavy Squats: 5x5 working up each set to a 5rm, or try for an occasional
Well, if there is any exercise most guys don???t do correctly, its squats. This is
pretty simple. If you aren???t a competitive powerlifter (powerlifters squat to
parallel), then you have no business squatting anything higher than absolutely
rock bottom. Learn how to squat right. Anyone can put 4 or 5 plates on each side
and quarter or half squat it. It takes a real man to put on 500 and squat it
down until he???s sitting on his calves. Your leg size will thank me for it.
This is our heavy squat day, and typically you???ll want to work up to a 5 rep
max. However, you need to make sure you get in 5 good work sets with equal
weight jumps between each set. For example, if you best set of 5 is 325x5 (rock
bottom), then you might do this; barx10, 95x5, 135x5, 185x3, 225x1, 250x5,
270x5, 290x5, 310x5, 330x5. Occasionally, feel free to try to work up to a 3rm
or even a 1rm, but the majority of the work done on this day should be 5x5.
2. Goodmornings: 3x5 same weight or work up to 5rm
There are multiple variations of goodmornings. All have their place. There are
wide stance arched back GMs, narrow stance rounded back GMs, suspended GMs,
seated GMs, etc. Pick one, push your butt back, bend over at the waist, and work
hard to goodmorning the weight up, rather than squatting it up. Usually pick a
weight you can do for 3 sets of 5 (after a proper warm-up of course), but
occasionally, feel free to work up to a 5 rep max.
3. Pullthroughs: 3-5 sets of 10-12, some arched back, some rounded back.
Dave Tate offers a good explanation of pullthroughs at his site,
www.elitefts.com. Here is how he says to perform them, "The pull through is
one of the best movements to use to bring up the glutes, hips and hamstrings.
The muscles of the posterior chain are the most important when it comes to
squatting and deadlifting. To do this movemnt you will need a low pulley unit (a
band will also work). Stand facing away from the machine with the cable between
your legs using a medium to wide stance. Begin by letting the cable pull your
torso through your legs. Then flex back to the starting position making sure to
squeeze your glutes as you rise."
4. Glute Ham Raises or Hamstring Curls followed by Leg Extensions (2 sets each)
4. Leg Presses (3-4 sets of 10-12) ???or- Occasionally a Hack Squat (for
Basically after your squats, goodmornings, and pullthroughs, find a leg exercise
you like to do and knock it out. I think glute ham raises are top notch, but
many of you won???t have a glute ham raise bench, so feel free to knock out a few
sets of leg presses or hack squats, or some other good compound leg movement.
5. Weighted Abs/ Obliques 5x10, same weight.
Pick one or two weighted exercises for abs and do approximately 5 total sets.
You could choose from weighted situps, ab pulldowns on high cable or with bands,
dumbbell side bends, etc.
6. Calves: 5 sets of 12-20, same weight.
Pick one or two heavy calf exercises (standing calf raises, donkey calf raises,
seated calf raises, or calf raises on the leg press machine) and knock out
approximately 5 sets of 12-20 reps.
Upper Body Workout Two: (Thursday)
1. Flat Barbell Bench Press: 5x5, or occasionally a 1-5rm.
This is our heavy bench press day. Use a regular or medium-close grip and
typically perform 5 sets of 5 reps, using the same weight for each set.
Occasionally feel free to work up to a 1-5 rep max.
2. Board Press/ Floor Press: 5 rep max.
Usually start where you left off on bench press, (or drop 10-20%) and do sets of
5 reps, working up to a 5 rep max on either a 2-3 board press or a floor press.
3. Overhead Press: 5rm, 5x5, or 4x10
For overhead pressing, pick a standing exercise that meets your needs. My
personal favorite is strict standing military press, but push presses or
standing dumbbell overhead press will do as well. If you are looking to add
strength, work up to a 5 rep max. If hypertrophy is your main goal, then do 4x10
with the same weight. If you want a good combo of both, do 5x5 with the same
4. Dips (2-3 sets)
5. Vertical Lat Work: 5 sets of 10-12
For vertical lat work, choose either pull-ups for 5 sets of failure, or lat
pull-downs for 5+ sets of 10-12 using different bars and working on different
6. Triceps Extension (same as workout one)
7. Biceps (same as workout one)
Lower Body Workout Two: (Friday)
1. Squats: 5x5 or 4x10, same weight
Choose either back squats or front squats (I think for most guys 2 weeks of back
squats followed by one week of front squats would be optimal). Do 5 sets of 5 or
4 sets of 10 using the same weight for each set. SQUAT ROCK BOTTOM.
2. Deadlifts: 3x5, same weight or 1-5 rep max.
Choose either conventional deadlifts or deadlifts standing on 2-3" box, mat, or
100lb plate. If you can???t deadlift at least 2x your bodyweight, then don???t use a
belt. Keep good form.
3. Pullthroughs (same as workout one)
4. Glute Ham Raises or Hamstring Curls followed by Leg Extensions (2 sets each)
5. Weighted Hyperextensions: 2-3 sets of 10-12 reps
6. Weighted Abs/ Obliques (same as workout one)
7. Calves: (same as workout one)
A few quick notes about the program:
Rest and Tempo should be natural. For big compound movements
you???ll need more rest. For smaller ones you???ll need less. Tempo of the
concentric (raising) and eccentric (lowering) of the movement should be natural
as well. You should just about always try to lift the weight as fast as you can,
and lower it under control.
Progressive Overload: This is a simple term to understand, most guys make it too
complicated. Simply stated, if you complete all your reps for a given exercise,
then next time bump up the weight 5-10 pounds. If you don???t complete all the
reps, then keep the weight the same until you do. Now was that hard?
Remember, the workouts listed are for loading weeks. It???s a good amount of
volume and lots of gut busting sets. Your body will build up fatigue training
this way, and every couple weeks or so, you will need to unload and allow your
body to recover.
For unloading weeks, reduce volume drastically by completing only the first two
exercises on lower body days, and the first three exercises on upper body days.
Slightly reduce intensity/load (with regards to one rep max ??? ie. ??? drop your
weights down just a tad), and keep frequency the same (four workouts per week).
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