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Hybrid Hypertrophy bodybuilding strength training



by Chad Waterbury

Torching the Burnout Method


One method that�s always resurfacing in various forms in the field of hypertrophy training is the "burnout method." Excluding the awful name, a few trainees have found it somewhat useful in packing on a little muscle. It basically consists of performing an exercise with pseudo-maximal strength parameters, followed by a sub-maximal set taken to failure. It�s reared its head in many forms, but one of the better known methods is this:

Exercise: Squats (for example)

Sets: 5
Reps: 10, 8, 6, 4, 2
Load: 10 Reps Max, 8RM, 6RM, 4RM, 2RM

Followed by:

Exercise: Squats

Sets: 1
Reps: 18-20 (taken to failure)
Load: 18-20RM

To summarize, the first five sets consist of increasing loads and decreasing reps in an effort to recruit the high-threshold fast-fatigable (FF) motor units. Once maximal strength has been "primed," one last set with a sub-maximal (~60% of 1RM) is taken to failure.

Not a bad idea, but it definitely has its shortcomings:

Shortcoming #1 � Failure training. Bad, bad and more bad. Sending your kids to play with Michael Jackson bad. Training to failure is so outdated that I can�t even bear to discuss it. Failure training induces excessive CNS fatigue. Successful training (of any sort) revolves around fatigue management. Therefore, any method that induces excessive fatigue should be avoided.

Bottom Line: The burnout method revolves around taking the last set to absolute failure and this should be avoided in order to keep the nervous system as fresh as possible.

Shortcoming #2 � Excessive Parameters. If you try to accomplish everything in one session, you�re going to be in trouble, and overtraining will be right around the corner. If you focus on increasing one or two strength qualities during a single session, you�ll be much better off.

Bottom Line: Excessive sets + Excessive rep ranges + Muscular failure = Shitty results.

Shortcoming #3 � Inferior Maximal Strength Gains. I don�t care if you have no desire to ever step foot inside a powerlifting or Olympic lifting circle, you must be cognizant of maximal strength training if you want to become massive and massively strong.

Bottom Line: The burnout method leads to sub par strength gains which, in turn, wreak havoc on your hypertrophy efforts since the recruitment of the massive FF motor units are only emphasized in the middle portion of the workout.

Shortcomings #1 and #2 are relatively easy to resolve. Regarding failure training, the only modification that needs to be made is to stop one rep short of failure. Simple enough.

Shortcoming #2 (excessive parameters) can also be fixed. You could merely replace the inverse set/rep relationship with more constant parameters such as 3 x 3 or 5 x 5. But the biggest shortcoming of all (inferior maximal strength gains) hasn�t been addressed � until now.

One of the most interesting observations I�ve made within the realms of iron apparatuses is that the nervous system best "remembers" the last set. It�s akin to listening to a three-hour seminar: you usually only remember the end points. The same appears to be true with weight training.

Therefore, the traditional burnout method leaves your nervous system remembering a light load that primarily taxed the fast fatigue-resistant (FFR) motor units. This is bad news if it�s done week in and week out because you�ll lose your maximal strength levels in no time.

But wait, you don�t care about maximal strength, you only care about muscle mass increases, right? Please refer back to my "bottom line" statement in the aforementioned point #3 before I track you down and choke you out!


The Solution

I�ve found a better way. If you incorporate the following method into your next hypertrophy phase, you�ll be bigger and stronger than ever. This method is based on three important principles:

1) Avoiding absolute muscular failure.

2) Maintaining relatively constant parameters that don�t confuse the hell out of your nervous system.

3) Achieving greater maximal strength increases.

Here�s how it works. To begin, you�ll perform the first compound exercise for 3-4 sets until you reach a 3RM for that lift. Remember, a 3RM represents a load you could lift for three perfect reps without losing form. If you must compromise form to reach the third rep, decrease the load 2.5% and try again.

Second, you�ll pick a different exercise for the same muscle group and perform 12-14 reps while stopping one rep short of muscular failure.

Lastly, you�ll perform one set of 2-3 reps with the same compound exercise that you start with. Oftentimes, you won�t be able to perform all three reps with the same load you started with, but you should be able to perform at least two reps. This will effectively re-recruit the FF motor units so you won�t leave the CNS remembering a light load.

Keep in mind, this isn't a "pure" maximal strength program; this is a hypertrophy-based program that also causes maximal strength gains.


The Program

I titled this program "Hybrid Hypertrophy" since it combines a few different methods into the same session. Up to this point, most of my programs revolved around training a single strength quality within each session. Since this program combines a few methods into each workout, you�ll be able to perform it for up to four weeks before switching programs. (Some of my clients have performed this program for as long as six weeks without losing the effect, but stick to four weeks as a starting point.)

Note: Please do everything in your power to adhere to the following exercises. I tried to choose exercises that are virtually ubiquitous to every gym, whether it be commercial or home. Each day consists of specific exercises that I�ve found most useful.

DAY 1

Exercise: Close-Grip Bench Presses
Sets: 3
Reps: 3
Loads: 6RM, 5RM, 3RM
Rest: 60 seconds between sets

Rest 60 seconds and perform:

Exercise: Barbell Skull Crushers
Sets: 1
Reps: 12-14
Load: 14RM

Rest 180 seconds and perform:

Exercise: Close-Grip Bench Presses
Sets: 1
Reps: 2-3
Load: 3RM

Exercise: Deadlifts
Sets: 3
Reps: 3
Loads: 6RM, 5RM, 3RM
Rest: 75 seconds between sets
Note: Shoulder-width stance, non-mixed grip. Keep your torso as vertical as possible.

Rest 75 seconds and perform:

Exercise: Front Squats
Sets: 1
Reps: 12-14
Load: 14RM

Rest 180 seconds and perform:

Exercise: Deadlifts
Sets: 1
Reps: 2-3
Load: 3RM
Note: Shoulder-width stance, non-mixed grip. Keep your torso as vertical as possible.

Exercise: Chin-ups
Sets: 3
Reps: 3
Loads: 6RM, 5RM, 3RM
Rest: 75 seconds between sets
Note: Use a palms-up, wider than shoulder width grip.

Rest 75 seconds and perform:

Exercise: Decline Bench Dumbbell Pullovers or Straight Arm Cable Pulldowns
Sets: 1
Reps: 12-14
Load: 14RM

Rest 180 seconds and perform:

Exercise: Chin-ups
Sets: 1
Reps: 2-3
Load: 3RM
Note: Use a palms-up, wider than shoulder width grip.


DAY 2

OFF. Perform 15-20 minutes of jogging, uphill walking (for calf development), or GPP work.


DAY 3

Exercise: Power Cleans
Sets: 3
Reps: 3
Loads: 6RM, 5RM, 3RM
Rest: 75 seconds between sets

Rest 75 seconds and perform:

Exercise: Barbell Back Squats
Sets: 1
Reps: 12-14
Load: 14RM
Rest 240 seconds and perform:

Exercise: Power Cleans
Sets: 1
Reps: 2-3
Load: 3RM



The Power Clean

Exercise: Decline Sit-ups or Flat Sit-ups w/Feet Hooked
Sets: 3
Reps: 3
Loads: 6RM, 5RM, 3RM
Rest: 60 seconds between sets
Note: Hold a dumbbell at your chest for added resistance.

Rest 60 seconds and perform:

Exercise: Cable Crunches or Swiss Ball Crunches
Sets: 1
Reps: 12-14
Load: 14RM



The Cable Crunch

Rest 180 seconds and perform:

Exercise: Decline Sit-ups or Flat Sit-ups w/Feet Hooked
Sets: 1
Reps: 2-3
Load: 3RM
Note: Hold a dumbbell for added resistance.

Exercise: 45 Degree Incline Dumbbell or Barbell Bench Press
Sets: 3
Reps: 3
Loads: 6RM, 5RM, 3RM
Rest: 60 seconds between sets

Rest 60 seconds and perform:

Exercise: Standing Dumbbell Military Press
Sets: 1
Reps: 12-14
Load: 14RM
Note: Keep your palms facing each other throughout movement.

Rest 180 seconds and perform:

Exercise: 45 degree Incline Dumbbell or Barbell Bench Press
Sets: 1
Reps: 2-3
Load: 3RM


DAY 4

OFF. Perform 15-20 minutes of jogging, uphill walking or GPP work


DAY 5

Exercise: Dips
Sets: 3
Reps: 3
Loads: 6RM, 5RM, 3RM
Rest: 60 seconds between sets

Rest 60 seconds and perform:

Exercise: French Presses
Sets: 1
Reps: 12-14
Load: 14RM
Note: Perform with an EZ-Curl bar, if available. If not, use a barbell or use dumbbells and keep your palms facing each other.
 






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