The Key to Gains
The true key to growth and gains is progression. Find a way to progress in the gym and you'll get bigger and stronger.
Now, "progress" doesn't necessarily mean adding weight. After all, simply adding as little as 5 pounds per week on a lift would lead to a gain of 250 pounds in a year, 500 pounds in two years, 750 pounds in three years... you get the picture.
And it can't be about adding reps either since there's a limit to how much you can add. Otherwise, you'd have tons of guys bench pressing 225 pounds for 200 reps.
"Find a way to progress" means that your training sessions should be gradually more demanding. Making every week progressive in difficulty will ensure progress. This too is part of progressive overload.
The body can sustain such a progressive demand in training stress for 4 weeks. After that, you'll need to start a new "block" from a lower intensity level and ramp back up over the next 4 weeks.
This is one of my favorite 4-week blocks for hypertrophy-focused training. I'm currently using this approach with stellar results and so are my two training partners. I call it the "drop-block" because it's based on the drop set method.
Here's the type of drop set I use:
- Start with a weight that's challenging for 6 reps.
- Drop the weight by around 25% and immediately perform 8 additional reps.
- Drop another 25% and perform a final 10 reps.
We'll use a starting weight of 225 pounds, which means that our drops will be roughly 55 pounds:
- 225 x 6
- 170 x 8
- 115 x 10
This is called the "6-8-10 drop set" and it's one of the most powerful muscle-building methods I've experienced.
Now that you understand the type of drop set to use, here's how to organize the progression model during the 4 weeks block. On each of the weeks, perform 4 work sets per exercise. While you can add weight from week to week, if you don't this isn't a problem because the progression model is built on an increase in intensity via a higher ratio of drop sets.
- 3 sets of 8 reps
- 1 x 6-8-10 drop set
- 2 sets of 8 reps
- 2 x 6-8-10 drop sets
- 1 set of 8 reps
- 3 x 6-8-10 drop sets
- 4 x 6-8-10 drop sets
Note that you use more weight at the start of the first 6-8-10 set than for the sets of 8 reps. It's possible that when you have more than one 6-8-10 set you might have to reduce the weight from set to set. That's fine if it's necessary.
Week 2: Dumbbell Bench Press, Starting With 65 Pound Dumbbells
- Set 1: 65 x 8 reps
- Set 2: 75 x 8 reps
- Set 3: 85 x 6, 60 x 8, 40 x 10
- Set 4: 75 x 6, 50 x 8, 30 x 10
This is a progression model, not a program. It can be integrated into pretty much any muscle-building plan. A good approach is starting with one big lift trained for heavy sets of 4-6 reps, then do 3 exercises for a muscle using the drop-block approach. But it could also be integrated as the assistance work in a program like 5/3/1. Or you could make it into a pure muscle-building plan where your 4 exercises for a muscle group all use this model.
Regardless of how you use it, this is a fantastic way to rapidly build new muscle.