Building High-Performance Muscle™
Pendulum Bodybuilding


The Basic Bodybuilding Pendulum

As explained in my first article on Pendulum Training, if you're a bodybuilder it's best to use a three-step approach that includes two structural/hypertrophy phases and one functional/strength phase. That last phase is important to maximize neural improvements, which will, in turn, potentiate the muscle gains you’ll get from your "regular" bodybuilding training. It’s also a phase that can have drastic effect on muscle tone, hardness, and density. Therefore, I feel it's necessary to include some heavy lifting, even in a purely aesthetic program.

Both structural phases will focus on muscle mass, but both are also very different from one another. The first phase includes more volume and more density (thus the use of several "advanced" techniques) while the second phase uses slightly more weight. Each phase lasts one week and the general schedule is as follow:


Phases 1 and 5: Structural 1

This phase of training will use less weight but will be the most energy-draining phase of all. The focus is on increasing lactic acid build-up and maximizing total muscle breakdown (to stimulate a massive anabolic response to training). To do so we'll use techniques such as supersets, tempo contrast, and isometric-dynamic contrast. The rest intervals will be short and the volume relatively high. Each muscle group is to be trained once a week. The training schedule is as follow:

Monday: Quads and Hams

Tuesday: Biceps and Triceps

Wednesday: OFF

Thursday: Chest and Back

Friday: OFF

Saturday: Shoulders

Sunday: OFF


Monday: Quads and Hams

A) Tempo contrast back squat

You'll perform sets of 8 reps in the back squat. Sound easy? Not so fast! We'll use a tempo contrast method. This means the rhythm of the repetitions will vary during the set from slow to explosive:

Reps 3 and 4 = 20X tempo (down in 2 seconds, up as fast as possible)

Reps 7 and 8 = 20X tempo

Rest between sets: 120 seconds


B) Isometric-dynamic contrast leg curl

Regular leg curls are easy; they’re for sissies! Instead, we're going to use an action contrast method here. This means that on each rep you'll include a pause at the mid-point of the exercise (halfway down). The duration of the pause will vary on each rep. We'll perform 7 reps:

Rep 2 = 10 second pause

Rep 4 = 6 second pause

Rep 6 = 2 second pause

Work sets: 4 x 7


C) Back squat

You'll perform only one set of squats, but that'll be one set of 20 reps! Right after those 20 reps of pure pleasure you'll step out from under the bar (if you can), put your back on the wall, bend the knees 90 degrees and hold the position until you drop on the floor. Try to handle the position for more than 20 seconds without crying please.


D) Romanian deadlift

Just when you thought the fun was over! Once again we'll only perform one set of twenty reps on the Romanian deadlift. After all the work you’ve done I'll be nice to you and you won't have to do any isometric work … for now! Complete your twenty reps in good form, lie down on the floor until you regain your composure, drink your shake and go home to rest and grow!

This first workout is brutally intense, but it should be completed in less than 45 minutes.


Tuesday: Biceps and Triceps

Ah, a beach workout! After all that leg blasting I'll throw you a bone! But this doesn’t mean it'll be an easy day; far from it. If we want those huge guns, we’ll have to work for them!


A1) Isometric-dynamic contrast standing barbell curl

We'll use the same concept as we did for the leg curl: you're going to hold the weight at the mid-point (arms at 90 degrees) for some time. Once again, the duration of the pause will vary on each rep:

Rep 2 = 10 second pause

Rep 4 = 6 second pause

Rep 6 = 2 second pause


A2) Reverse barbell curl

This is a simple reverse curl performed with either a straight bar or an EZ-curl bar. The exercise is straightforward; no special technique. You're going to perform 12 reps of this movement. Use a controlled rhythm, but don’t go too slow either.

A1 and A2 are a superset. Both exercises are performed without taking any extra rest in between. You'll perform this superset 5 times.

Rest between supersets: 180 seconds


B1) Tempo contrast nose-breaker (lying barbell extension)

This is your basic nose-breaker. Lie down on a bench and lower the bar to your face while keeping the elbows pointing straight up. We'll use a tempo contrast method. This means the rhythm of the repetitions will vary during the set from slow to explosive:

Reps 3 and 4 = 20X tempo (down in 2 seconds, up as fast as possible)

Reps 7 and 8 = 20X tempo


B2) Cable triceps extension with V-shape bar

This is a regular cable triceps extension. You'll perform 12 reps using a controlled, but not too slow-rhythm.

B1 and B2 are a superset. Both exercises are performed without taking any extra rest between. You'll perform this superset 5 times.

Rest between supersets: 180 seconds


C) Tempo contrast preacher curl

By now it isn’t necessary to explain what a tempo contrast is (hopefully).

Reps 3 and 4 = 20X tempo

Reps 7 and 8 = 20X tempo

Rest between sets: 90 seconds


D) Isometric-dynamic contrast straight-bar cable triceps extension

Contrary to other exercises, for this exercise you'll hold the pause in the fully extended position. Focus on really flexing your triceps super hard!

Rep 2 = 10 second pause

Rep 4 = 6 second pause

Rep 6 = 2 second pause

Work sets: 3 x 7


Thursday: Chest and Back

A) Tempo contrast bench press

We'll use the same type of execution as the other tempo contrast exercises:

Reps 3 and 4 = 20X tempo

Reps 7 and 8 = 20X tempo

Rest between sets: 90 seconds


B) Isometric-dynamic contrast seated cable rowing

Perform this exercise seated with a straight back. Stretch the lats during the eccentric portion of the movement but don’t bend the trunk forward. Once again, we're going to include a pause on each rep; this time the pause is performed when the bar is on the sternum.

Rep 2 = 10 second pause

Rep 4 = 6 second pause

Rep 6 = 2 second pause

Work sets: 3 x 7


C) Isometric-dynamic contrast incline bench press

On this drill the pause is executed when the bar is two inches from the chest. At that position, really concentrate on not only holding the bar, but on flexing the pectorals hard.

Rep 2 = 10 second pause

Rep 4 = 6 second pause

Rep 6 = 2 second pause

Work sets: 3 x 7


D) Tempo contrast machine pullover

When this exercise is performed with a tempo contrast, it can be one of the best back builders you can do!

Reps 3 and 4 = 20X tempo

Reps 7 and 8 = 20X tempo

Rest between sets: 90 seconds


E) Dips

You'll do three sets of dips with no added weight. Perform as many reps as you can on each set. Really emphasize a controlled motion.

Rest between sets: 90 seconds


F) Barbell shrugs

Perform 4 sets of barbell shrugs. Hold the fully shrugged position for 2 seconds on each rep.

Set 2: 8 reps

Set 4: 20 reps

Rest between sets: 90 seconds


Saturday: Shoulders

This is the hit and run session of the week. If done properly it should take you no more than 30 minutes to complete. This will leave you some time to perform your favourite abdominal routine or work on your perceived weaknesses with some extra work. Note that all exercises are performed in a regular fashion, no contrast.


A1) Military press

Tempo: 501


A2) Dumbbell shoulder press

Tempo: 301


A3) Lateral raises

Tempo: 201

Note: A1, A2 and A3 are a superset and are performed without any rest. Repeat the superset 6 times with 120 seconds between each superset.

Remember that this phase is to be performed on weeks 1 and 5.


Phases 2 and 4: Structural 2

We'll still be working on developing muscle mass, but this time we'll use less "advanced" techniques and increase the average load to be lifted. We'll also increase the training frequency to two sessions per muscle group. There'll be less direct work for the biceps and triceps (which will be directly trained only once a week) following this schedule:

Monday: Quadriceps, Hamstrings

Tuesday: Chest, Back, Shoulders

Wednesday: OFF

Thursday: Quadriceps, Hamstrings, Shoulders

Friday: OFF

Saturday: Chest, Back, Biceps, Triceps

Sunday: OFF


Monday: Quadriceps, Hamstrings

A) Front squat

Tempo: 501

Rest between sets: 90 seconds


B) Romanian deadlift

Tempo: 501

Rest between sets: 90 seconds


C) Leg press

Tempo: 301

Rest between sets: 90 seconds


D) Leg curl

Tempo: 301

Rest between sets: 90 seconds


Tuesday: Chest, Back, Shoulders

A) Bench press

Tempo: 501

Rest between sets: 90 seconds


B) Barbell rowing

Tempo: 501

Rest between sets: 90 seconds


C) Military press

Tempo: 501

Rest between sets: 90 seconds


D) Incline dumbbell press

Tempo: 301

Rest between sets: 90 seconds


E) Seated cable rowing

Tempo: 301

Rest between sets: 90 seconds


F) Lateral raise

Tempo: 301

Rest between sets: 90 seconds


Thursday: Quadriceps, Hamstrings, Shoulders

A) Back squat

Tempo: 301

Rest between sets: 90 seconds


B) Good morning

Tempo: 301

Rest between sets: 90 seconds


C) Seated dumbbell shoulder press

Tempo: 301

Rest between sets: 90 seconds


D) Lunges (alternate)

Tempo: 201

Rest between sets: 90 seconds


E) Front raise

Tempo: 201

Rest between sets: 90 seconds


Saturday: Chest, Back, Biceps, Triceps

A) Bench press (close grip)

Tempo: 301

Rest between sets: 90 seconds


B) Weighted chins (or lat pulldown)

Tempo: 301

Rest between sets: 90 seconds


C) Flat dumbbell bench press (hammer grip)

Tempo: 201

Rest between sets: 90 seconds


D) Barbell shrugs

Tempo: 201

Rest between sets: 90 seconds


E) Preacher curl

Tempo: 201

Rest between sets: 90 seconds


F) Cable triceps extension

Tempo: 201

Rest between sets: 90 seconds

Remember that this phase is to be performed on weeks 2 and 4.


Phase 3: Functional Strength

During this week of training we'll use heavy weights and only include compound exercises. Each session will be a whole body workout. The objective is to stimulate the nervous system while giving the muscle, energy and hormonal systems a break. The schedule to use is as follows:

Monday: Whole body 1

Tuesday: OFF

Wednesday: Whole body 2

Thursday: OFF

Friday: Whole body 3

Saturday: OFF

Sunday: OFF


Monday: Whole body 1

A) Front squat

Tempo: 201

Rest between sets: 180 seconds


B) Incline bench press

Tempo: 201

Rest between sets: 180 seconds


C) Seated rowing

Tempo: 201

Rest between sets: 180 seconds


Wednesday: Whole body 2

A) Back squat

Tempo: 201

Rest between sets: 180 seconds


B) Close grip bench press

Tempo: 201

Rest between sets: 180 seconds


C) Barbell rowing

Tempo: 201

Rest between sets: 180 seconds


Friday: Whole body 3

A) Back squat

Tempo: 201

Rest between sets: 180 seconds


B) Bench press

Tempo: 201

Rest between sets: 180 seconds


C) Deadlift

Tempo: 201

Rest between sets: 180 seconds

This phase is to be performed on the third week of the cycle. Don't skip it! It'll really help boost your bodybuilding gains in the future. Strive to move a lot of weight, but never sacrifice form for more weight!


Conclusion

This training program is to be followed for two to three consecutive cycles (10 to 15 weeks) for maximum gains. You can change the exercises with each new cycle, but you’ll find out it's not necessary for continuous gains on this program because the variation of training methods, volume, and intensity is enough to keep the body in an adaptive mode.

This program is best suited to someone who wants to gain a lot of lean body mass; however, for it to be maximally effective, you should adopt a sound bodybuilding diet.

The bottom line is that this program is extremely effective, probably even more so than you think!

The great part is that Pendulum Bodybuilding is fun to do! The frequent variation will help you stay motivated and you'll end up enjoying your training just as much as your progress!

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