With Team ALLMAX Coach Eric “Merlin” Broser’s Muscle Mass Gaining System you can “GROW WITHOUT PLATEAU!” I am pretty sure that the majority of serious gym-goers would agree the first few years of training are the most fun – and this is likely because for most of us, they are also the most productive. Back in your early days of hitting the gym you probably grew stronger at just about every workout and watched as your muscles became bigger and thicker almost every week. Exciting times!
But then the inevitable occurs. As you begin to make the transition from beginning lifter to the more “seasoned” bodybuilder things just don’t pan out like they once did. Gains in muscle size become less and less apparent. The weights you push no longer climb at every workout. And despite putting forth what you feel are your greatest efforts in the gym – plugging away on that same tried and true routine – nothing truly significant seems to be happening anymore!
SOONER THAN LATER YOUR FRUSTRATION/CONFUSION MOUNTS AND YOU ASK YOURSELF, “WHAT THE HECK IS GOING ON?”
The first thing you must understand is that muscles are not just simple lumps of tissue. They are extremely complex structures that like onions have many layers to be peeled before reaching the core. Muscle is composed of bundles of muscle fibers also known as myofibers. Each fiber contains myofibrils, which themselves are composed of small bundles of myofilaments. The myofilaments are made up of two proteins, known as actin and myosin, and are the elements of muscle that actually shorten upon contraction. The actin and myosin function within the sarcomere to produce these contractions. The sarcomere is the smallest functional unit within muscle.
In general there are three distinct fiber types found in skeletal muscle. These include:
|The Type I
||These muscle fibers have high concentrations of mitochondria and myoglobin, and are surrounded by a great amount of capillaries. This supports their capacity for aerobic metabolism and high fatigue resistance, which is particularly important for prolonged submaximal exercise activities. Type I fibers deliver less force, and are slower to produce maximal tension (due to lower myosin ATPase activity) compared to type II fibers, but they are able to maintain longer-term contractions.
|The Type IIA
||These are also known as “intermediate fibers,” as they show characteristics of both type I and type II muscle fibers. They are able to use both aerobic and anaerobic energy systems, have a high oxidative capacity and fatigue more slowly than the type IIB’s.
|The Type IIB (or IIX)
||These fibers produce the greatest force, but are extremely “inefficient” when considering their high myosin ATPase activity, low oxidative capacity, and tremendous reliance on anaerobic metabolism.
As you contract a muscle, each fiber type is recruited in a specific order. The smallest (lowest threshold) fibers (Type I) are recruited first. As the speed or force of contraction is increased, you then will sequentially recruit the intermediate fibers, and then finally the Type IIB muscle fibers jump into action. However, in order to recruit the Type IIB fibers it may take over 90% of a maximal contraction! All humans are born with these muscle fiber types. Most muscles contain just about an even split of these basic slow (Type I) and fast (Type II) fibers, however, there is some genetic variation (in dominant fiber types) between the different muscles, and from person to person. Some are “born” to run marathons (slow-twitch dominant), while others are meant to run sprints (fast-twitch dominant – and quite lucky if bodybuilding is their chosen sport).
…TYPE II FIBERS THAT HAVE THE GREATEST POTENTIAL FOR HYPERTROPHY…
Although it is the Type II fibers that have the greatest potential for hypertrophy, in order to obtain maximal muscle size, it is imperative that we regularly, and systematically train all muscle fibers. Why would anyone limit him or herself to maximizing the growth of just a portion of their fibers? Doesn’t it make sense that in order to come as close as possible to reaching our genetic limits that we strive to “attack” every last fiber in each of our muscles? Of course! In addition, it is important to understand that muscles will become larger due to other training adaptations aside from fiber hypertrophy, such as increases in mitochondrial enzymes, stored ATP, phosphocreatine, stored glycogen and triglyceride, as well as the creation of additional capillary beds.
So now the question arises — “How do we go about successfully stimulating all of our muscle fibers, as well as igniting all of the other physiological pathways associated with maximum muscle hypertrophy?” The answer can be summed up in one simple word: VARIATION! After you have laid a solid foundation in your first few of years of lifting weights, it is time to begin varying your approaches to training. Too many misguided trainees utilize the same exercises (often in the same order), with the same rep tempo, rest between sets, training techniques, and rep ranges…day after day…for months at a time! It is vital to understand that the human body is a highly adaptable machine and thus will quickly cease to respond to stimuli that it is exposed to in an almost relentless manner. Just remember this – “Doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result,” was Einstein’s definition of insanity!
…TAP INTO ALL OF YOUR BODY’S ESSENTIAL ANABOLIC PATHWAYS AND MECHANISMS.
Now that you can clearly see why varying your routine is essential to your continued bodybuilding progress, I would like to introduce my readers to a system of training that is designed specifically to tap into all of your body’s essential anabolic pathways and mechanisms. It is called POWER/REP RANGE/SHOCK™ – a cyclical program that has you changing your training protocols every week so that your body never has a chance to fully adapt to a single type of stimulus. I developed P/RR/S™ over the course of several years after researching and experimenting with countless training techniques, styles and methodologies, tested meticulously both on myself, and several hundred personal clients, which included bodybuilders, athletes of all types, and weekend warriors – both male and female, aged 14 to 74. I was determined to find a way to keep progress consistent, and to put an end to training plateaus once and for all. But enough chatter! Let’s take a closer look at POWER/REP RANGE/ SHOCK™ and how you can utilize it to help you achieve all of your own physique dreams and goals…
PRRS Week 1: POWER
The goal during POWER week is to coordinate a direct attack on the Type IIA and IIB muscle fibers, with an emphasis on IIB. These are the higher threshold fibers and the way we get to them is with heavy weights, low reps, and maximal contractions. The mission for this week is to utilize poundage that allows for between 4-6 reps to concentric (positive) failure. The way in which you perform your reps is of great importance during POWER week. I have found that an eccentric (negative) contraction of about 3-4 seconds (depending on the exercise) followed immediately by an explosive concentric contraction works best at smashing those fast-twitch fibers. Remember – even though you will be attempting to “explode” with the weight during the positive portion of the rep, it will actually not move very quickly due to the heavy load you are lifting. Rest between sets is also very important. Since you want to be able to push as much weight as possible during POWER week, you will be resting about 3-4 minutes between sets in order to fully regenerate ATP and creatine phosphate stores in the muscle cells.
THE WAY IN WHICH YOU PERFORM YOUR REPS IS OF GREAT IMPORTANCE DURING POWER WEEK.
As far as the exercises go, you want to choose mostly those that are basic or multi-joint/compound in nature (although you can still incorporate some traditional “isolation” exercises into POWER workouts). These include movements like bench presses, squats, deadlifts, military presses and bent rows, which also have been shown to encourage your system to release more natural testosterone. POWER week workouts will not impart a tremendous pump, but rather will make your muscles feel as if they’ve been crushed with a wrecking ball. Deep muscular soreness from this type of training is to be expected due to the micro-tears that slow, heavy, eccentric contractions can cause to muscle fibers.
PRRS Week 2: REP RANGE
As I mentioned earlier there are three distinct fiber types in human muscle. The goal of REP RANGE week is to primarily target the type I and type IIA groups! You will accomplish this by using four distinct rep ranges (hence the name of this week) for 4 separate exercises for each body part (although for some smaller body parts only 2-3 exercises will be used to cover all three rep ranges). The first exercise will be to (positive) failure in the range of 7-9 reps. The second will be to failure in the range of 10-12 reps. The third exercise will be to failure in the range of 13-15 reps. And the final exercise will be to failure in the range of 16-20. In order to make the stimulus this week even more unique from POWER week, there will also be an alteration in the rep tempo. Both the eccentric and concentric portion of each rep should take 2 seconds to complete, while the mid-point of the movement (stretch position) should be held for one full second.
THE GOAL OF REP RANGE WEEK IS TO PRIMARILY TARGET THE TYPE I AND TYPE IIA GROUPS!
Additionally, if you happen to be using a movement that contains a strong “peak contraction effect,” such as leg extensions, you are also encouraged to hold this portion of the rep for one full second as well. The exercises used this week should be both compound and isolation in nature, with free weights, machines and cables all being fair game. Of course, as you become more experienced with P/RR/S™, you are encouraged to experiment with the specific exercises you utilize during REP RANGE week. This will help you to get an idea of what proves most effective to you. Rest between sets during REP RANGE week will be approximately 2 minutes. You can expect a wicked pump, with a massive flush of blood to the targeted body parts from these workouts, and possibly some muscle soreness in the days that follow…but we love that kind of pain, don’t we?
Week 3: SHOCK
In my opinion (and most of my clients concur), SHOCK week is the most intense and excruciating portion of this program. It will most certainly test your ability to withstand pain, fend off nausea, and fight back the tears! SHOCK week separates the men from the boys, the pros from the peons! The goal during this week is complete and utter annihilation of every fiber, from slow-twitch, right on up to the fast-twitch Type II A’s; to induce the release of greater levels of natural GH (and in turn more IGF-1) like water from a collapsed damn; and to literally “shock” your muscles to hypertrophy in a “do or die” like fashion! Each grueling session during shock week contains 2 distinct types of supersets and a gruleing dropset for each major body part. The first superset will be performed in what is known as “pre-exhaust” fashion. This means that an isolation movement will be performed first, with a compound movement immediately following. The second superset will be what as known as “post activation,” wherein the compound movement precedes the isolation movement. Each of these supersets provides a unique stimulus for both your muscles and central nervous system.
SHOCK WEEK IS THE MOST INTENSE AND EXCRUCIATING PORTION OF THIS PROGRAM.
Once you have completed your supersets it is time for a dropset, which will complete the torture that you will impart on your muscles during SHOCK week. Reps for each exercise will generally be in the range of 7-9 or 10-12, and the tempo will be more “rhythmic” in nature. An eccentric contraction of just one second will be followed immediately by a concentric contraction of the same speed. There will be no resting (as long as you can handle it) at the top or bottom (creating “constant tension”), as each rep should be performed in a “piston-like” fashion. Rest between sets should only be long enough to allow you to fully catch your breath (cardiovascular recovery), as well as to prepare your mind for the next onslaught (mental recovery). Your individual level of cardiovascular conditioning, as well as your constitution, will determine the length of your rest (as will the exercises being used – compound vs. isolation). Free weights, cables, and machines are all on the docket during SHOCK week. My warning to you is that you better be prepared when you enter the gym on SHOCK week, because every set should leave you breathing with the intensity of a steam engine and a burn that will reach your very core! Fun stuff! *Coach Broser’s Note: Lifting Tempo is the phrase used to describe how fast you lower, lift and pause with the weight in each phase of a repetition. It is expressed in seconds and begins with the negative (lowering) portion of an exercise, then the midpoint (stretch) portion, then the positive (lifting) portion, and if there is a forth number used it will be the peak contraction (squeeze) portion. Although some exercises begin with a negative contraction (such as the bench press) and some with a positive contraction (such as the BB curl) the way “tempo” is approached remains fixed.
Once you complete a 3-week “mini cycle” of P/RR/S™, simply return to the beginning and repeat. Keep the exercises the same, but strive to train more intensely during the next cycle. Your goal should be to either increase the amount of weight you lift while maintaining the same reps, or, to complete more reps while using the same weights. After 9 full week “meso-cycle” (three 3-week P/RR/S cycles) it is best to take a solid week off from the gym, or to at least engage in one week of very light training to allow you to “recharge your mental and physical batteries.” After this off week, it is time to return to P/RR/S, but this time with a new arsenal of exercises to challenge your mind, muscles, and nervous system. However, changes do not necessarily have to be dramatic. Something as simple as switching from barbell bench press to dumbbell bench press is often enough to stimulate new growth and strength gains. Trust me when I tell you that the combination of the weekly tweaks in training protocols and the switching up of exercises every nine weeks is going to send your gains into the stratosphere if you put 100% effort into this program – while at the same time keeping your diet, rest and supplementation regimens on point! Now its time to Grow Without Plateau download the full workout pdf below!