As promised in my week 6 progress update article, today I am going to break down the training routines I have been following during these past 6 weeks and the alterations I have had to make to my carb cycling plan in order to maximise the effectiveness of it.
Initially, during the the first 3 weeks of the challenge, I was following the plan outlined in my carb cycling article:
Monday (Chest/Biceps): High Carb
Tuesday (Back/Triceps): Low Carb
Wednesday: No Carb
Thursday (Legs/Traps): High Carb
Friday (Shoulders/Abs): Low Carb
Saturday: No Carb
Sunday: Low Carb
As you can see, this is based on a 4 day a week split, which includes no cardio whatsoever. I am not a fan of cardio, and I wanted to use this challenge as a way of confirming how much of a difference diet makes to your body shape – by putting cardio into my routine I would not be staying true to myself, as I doubt I would of had the motivation to stick with it after the challenge came to an end.
That being said, as we approach the final few weeks of the project, if my ego starts getting in the way, I may well start adding some in to shed those final few pounds.
The New Training Plan
If you have read my week 6 progress report, you will know that I found myself losing size due to my calorific intake not being high enough. In order to combat this further, I decided after week 3 to modify both my training plan and carb cycle, in order to try and maximise my muscular gains and lean definition.
After reading some excellent research recommended by previous Maximuscle challenge participant – and now professional men’s fitness model – Scott Baptie, I decided to move to a 5 day workout split.
To view the research and findings he made, you are going to have to visit his Official FaceBook Page and scroll down to a post dated October 11th 2012. Here is the most important part of the post for those that cannot find it:
To conclude, consider using the research on hypertrophy on natural athletes to your advantage by:
- Concentrating on the 6-12 rep range for the majority of your training.
- Using the heaviest weights possible to increase tension.
- Keeping maximum tension on the muscles for up to 60 seconds.
- Rest for 2-3 minutes between sets.
- Aim to hit each muscle group 2/3 times per week.
- Taking advantage of eccentrics and breakdowns.
- Reducing the metabolic demand of your hypertrophy workouts by recovering fully between sets.
New 5 Day Workout Split
This is great advice, as I have always personally found in the past (and so have my training partners) that hitting a muscle group twice a week definitely increases hypertrophy. With this in mind, I moved to a five day split:
Monday: Chest, Biceps and Shoulders/Delts
Tuesday: Back, Triceps and Lats/Rear Delts
Friday: Chest, Biceps and Shoulders/Delts
Saturday: Back, Triceps and Lats/Rear Delts
As you can see, there is no dedicated day for ab work here – I generally do it twice a week at the end of two of the above sessions. The idea being less sets but working them like you would a typical muscle group: lift heavy and controlled in the 8-12 rep range for 3/4 sets.
Adjusting My Carb Cycle
In order to support this new training schedule, I adjusted my carb cycle to suit:
Monday: High Carb Day
Tuesday: Low Carb Day
Wednesday: No Carb Day
Thursday: High Carb Day
Friday: Low Carb Day
Saturday: Low Carb Day
Sunday: No Carb Day
Depending on how my body reacts and my results going forward, I have been advised my Maximuscle Nutritionist that I could potentially swap out another low carb day for an additional high one. Again, it is all about adjusting to your situation, body response and how you feel when you train.
Training Routine Breakdown
The Basic Principles
I have always been a fan of supersets. For me, as a man with little spare time, I find that I can pack more reps and sets into an hour long session than I could if I performed all exercises individually. It is the reason that I pair opposite muscle groups together – such as chest/biceps and back/triceps.
For each of the exercise plans below, you will be supersetting both chest and biceps together, back and triceps together and your shoulders together. The only thing this doesn’t apply to is legs, because they are hard enough as it is if you train them properly!
Try to stick to the advice previously summarised above: Lift controlled during both the concentric and eccentric part of the lift, lift as heavy as possible on every set whilst staying in the 6-8 rep range (my personal preference) and try to have around 2/3 minutes rest between each set (not between the actual 2 superset exercises).
Exercises listed together below are supersets, meaning as soon as you finish the first exercise you go straight on to the second, then rest for 2/3 minutes.
- Flat Bench Press (Barbell) / Standing EZ Bar Bicep Curl: 4 Sets, 6-8 Reps
- Incline Bench Press (Barbell) / 45 Degree Bench Dumbell Curl: 4 Sets, 6-8 Reps
- Standing Cable Crossovers / Cable Double Bicep Curl: 4 Sets, 6-8 Reps
- Dumbell Shoulder Press / Dumbell Side Raises: 4 Sets, 6-8 Reps
On the second day of the week, I like to mix it up by switching out the barbell bench presses for dumbell variations, whilst also adjusting the order of the exercises:
- Incline Flys (Dumbells) / Weighted Chin-ups: 4 Sets, 6-8 Reps
- Incline Bench Press (Dumbells) / Preacher Curl (Barbell): 4 Sets, 6-8 Reps
- Flat Bench Press (Dumbells) / Standing Hammer Curls (Dumbells): 4 Sets, 6-8 Reps
- Arnold Shoulder Press (Dumbells) / Shoulder Front Raise (Dumbells): 4 Sets, 6-8 Reps
- Weighted Pull-ups / Weighted Tricep Dips: 4 Sets, 6-8 Reps
- Bent Over Row (Barbell) / Decline Closed Grip Bench Press (Barbell): 4 Sets, 6-8 Reps
- Seated Wide Grip Cable Row / Triceps Cable Push Down (Rope Attachment): 4 Sets, 10-12 Reps
- Shrugs (Barbell) / Upright Row (Barbell): 4 Sets, 6-8 Reps
- Single Arm Row (Dumbells) / Skull Crusher (Barbell): 4 Sets, 6-8 Reps
- Wide Grip Lat Pulldown Machine / Overhead Triceps Extension (EZ Bar): 4 Sets, 6-8 Reps
- Close Grip Lat Pulldown Machine (V-Bar) / Triceps Push Down (Straight Bar Attachment): 4 Sets, 10-12 Reps
- Shrugs (Dumbells) / Lying Rear Lateral Raise (Dumbells): 4 Sets, 6-8 Reps
These exercises should be performed individually, and I like to use one set as a warm-up for the big compound movements such as squats and deadlifts. It is imperative that you do both of these correctly, which means below parallel squats and the deadlift bar should touch the floor on each rep.
It doesn’t matter how much you lift, it is all about doing these exercises correctly for maximum gains – so leave your ego at the door:
- Squats (Barbell): 1 Set, 12 Reps | 4 Sets, 6-8 Reps
- Deadlifts (Barbell): 1 Set, 12 Reps | 4 Sets, 6-8 Reps
- Leg Press (Spring Plate Loaded): 4 Sets, 6-8 Reps
- Hamstring Curls (Machine): 4 Sets, 6-8 Reps
- Standing Calf Raises (Barbell): 4 Sets, 6-8 Reps
You have also probably noticed that I only train legs once a week, even though I have already sang the praises of training muscle groups twice a week. This is because I don’t seem physically able to complete two hard core leg sessions a week – plain and simple. Maybe it is because I am getting old, maybe it is just the way my body reacts; either way, I do them once and I do them properly.
In my original article on carbohydrate cycling, I listed the supplements that Maximuscle had kindly provided in order for me to achieve my goals. Not much has changed since then, with my supplementation including Promax, Maxiraw Casein Sustain and Thermobol each day.
However, now I am required to eat more carbs on both high and low days, I have also started taking the Maximuscle Progain range. These products are for hard gainers and those who are looking to pack on size rapidly. Each and every product within the range is packed with huge amounts of protein, quality carbohydrates, fats and healthy calories to help guys hit their calorific and macro nutrient intake each day.
Personally, for me, they have been a lifesaver. I am not sure how many of you have tried to eat 300+ grams of ‘quality’ carbs (not: pizzas, chips etc.) a day but it is not as easy as it sounds! Having a shake that supplies nearly 70 grams per serving is a great way of keeping yourself from feeling bloated or sick from eating too much pasta, rice, couscous, oats and the like.
Not only that, both the Progain Flapjacks and Shake taste superb, and honestly feel like a treat when compared to some of the other stuff I have been eating!
So there you have it – the exact training routine I am following and how I have adapted my carb cycling and supplementation in order to cope. It is important that you change up your training program regularly, in order to keep your muscles guessing, so although I have set out two days for each body part above, don’t be afraid to switch in your favourite exercises, mix up the total reps/sets or even juggle the workout order around.
Also, remember to adapt your training and supplementation to your specific needs and always listen to your body – it knows better than you!
Again, if you have any questions about my routine, the challenge or my personal diet plan, leave a comment below and I will get back to you as soon as possible. Likewise, if you would like to hear about anything else in more detail over the coming weeks, let me know and I will do my best to create a dedicated article.