Train More Often, Gain More Muscle
When intensity, tactics and techniques run their course, you may find increases in strength come from the least likely sources …Frequency.
On leg day, a strong squat is your singular thought. On other days, your foremost thought is a heavy pull off the ground. And then there are those days when your mind focuses only on benching the most weight you possibly can. But doing all those feats on the same day — is that plausible? This month we’ll focus on developing and increasing overall body strength by hitting your total body hard in a single workout — and often. The bonus is that your big lifts will also get a boost … and that’s a guarantee!
Many experts agree that training frequency where strength is concerned is an oft-overlooked factor. Yet it can make a major impact. For that reason, most strength coaches in professional athletics focus much of their attention on a frequent full-body attack, one that focuses on all muscle groups each time the athletes step foot inside the gym.
This approach might be contrary to what you’re currently doing. You might be doing heavy squats every 7–9 days, or deadlifting off the floor once a week at best. The thought of not letting your body rest for days on end seems counterproductive, if not simply flat out wrong. But wait.
Take a step back, if you will, and you’ll see why athletes incorporate a full-body strength-training approach as often as possible. The reason is simple: their body needs to work as one system or unit. For that reason, training the body in such a way is the most direct way to promote whole-body power and strength for such athletes. As someone who trains for strength on the other hand, you move in only a certain number of planes. Squat, bench, dead … period. What else is there, right? Well, perhaps more than you might realize.
First, if you’re new to the strongman world, experts agree that the full-body approach employed by professional athletes would be an excellent approach for beginners in the field of strength training because a beginner’s neuromuscular system adaptation is extreme. Hitting the entire body in a strength-training session will stress more of the nervous system than a bodypart-specific plan does, and therefore beginners and people coming off of a layoff or injury would adapt well to such a scheme.
But even the experienced weightlifter, who might be in a rut from week to week, will benefit from confusing the target muscles associated with a whole-body approach; keeping each lift primed throughout a training cycle, while also experiencing new recruitment patterns, stresses, as well as new muscle growth. While you may be a strongman, who doesn’t want a little more muscle? Then when you return to your infrequent big-lift scheme, you’ll not only have sparked new strength and muscle, but you’ll also have renewed your psychological approach to the bar.
Now, let’s be clear. Hitting the entire body during every workout isn’t a walk in the park, nor does it mean you’re lifting like a bodybuilder. You’ll still be hitting some heavy-duty weight, as well as, strategically beginning each workout with a different “big” lift, so that each workout your major muscles and exercises are trained when you’ve got the most energy (at the start). For example, you’re going to bench every workout on this kind of plan, however, you’ll hit the bench first in at least one workout when you’re energized. It’s on that day that you’ll be lifting the most weight on the bench press. The other days, it’ll come later in the workout and you’ll use less weight, keeping the muscle group primed and stimulated when it would typically be dormant on your previous strength plan.
So each day will have a specific focus, and it’s that particular goal or bodypart that’ll get some additional work with the next exercise for the day. Keeping with the bench press example, on that day you’ll follow the bench with another chest-press move before moving to another bodypart. For the remainder of the workout, each bodypart or move on the list is the only one for that particular muscle.
Finally, you’ll find no biceps curls or pressdowns in this plan. Your focus will remain on your favorite compound moves, recruiting the most muscle and requiring the most effort. After the fourth working day, take a rest day and repeat the cycle. However, we suggest that you keep the four days centered on the squat, deadlift, bench press and overhead press, with your second exercise for those days being up to you. Just make sure it’s a compound move. Try this frequent approach for 4–6 weeks, then taper off and go back to your normal routine.
FULL-BODY 4-DAY STRONGMAN PLAN
Day 1: Bench Press Focus
|Bench Press||4||80–90% 1RM^|
|Incline Dumbbell Press||3||8|
Day 2: Rest Day
Day 3: Squat Focus
Day 4: Rest Day
Day 5: Overhead Press Focus
|Overhead Press||4||80–90% 1RM^|
Day 6: Rest Day
Day 7: Deadlift Focus
|Bent-Over Barbell Row||3||6-8|
Day 8: Rest Day, then Repeat Cycle
*Rest 2–3 minutes between sets or until you feel completely rested. Each new exercise will require warm-up sets (not listed).
^Choose a weight that’s 80–90% of your one-rep max; that corresponds to a weight in which you can do just 4–6 reps at muscle failure.