More is Better

As a former bouncer, I've encountered many esoteric individuals in my life. I guess anyone could say the same, but those who choose to spend the better part of their lives as bouncers are a bit abnormal. Moreover, I can honestly say that the bouncers I've worked with have given me some of the best (and worst) advice I've ever heard.

One of the more memorable axioms I've been told was from a bouncer in Chicago. He said, "CW, fighting ain't cool. Just remember, two wrongs don't make a right. Therefore, you should always hit 'em three times." That advice came in rather handy on an occasion or two, but honestly, I'm glad those days are long gone.

Since I now spend my days writing articles, I've found it useful to devise my own maxims. A well-designed program is useful, but general rules and philosophies will help readers more than any conglomeration of sets and reps. So what's my maxim? It's this:

If you seek hypertrophy (size gains) at the fastest possible rate, the more often you can train a muscle group the better.

I've made that statement on a few occasions, but I doubt most readers have made a diligent effort to apply and understand the veracity of it. Indeed, a properly periodized, high-frequency training plan will cause the fastest level of hypertrophy – bar none.

What High Frequency Training Means

The term "high frequency" is very vague. For some, this would probably mean that they should bump up their frequency of training each body part to three times per week. For others, high frequency training would mean nothing short of training each body part twice each day for six days a week.

Well, both parties are correct because everything in life (and training) is relative. If you've only been training each body part once every 5-7 days, then training every body part for three sessions each week would create an appreciable stimulus for hypertrophy.

On the other hand, those who currently train each body part for 3-4 sessions per week are advised to focus on multiple daily training sessions.

What's the point of this talk? The points are given in an effort to help you understand how complex this issue is to tackle since I must cater to thousands of readers (i.e. thousands of fitness levels). Indeed, the Perfect 10 program has been nothing short of an extraordinary undertaking. Before we get to the parameters, let me explain the genesis of this program.

The Cirque du Soleil Factor

As a physiologist, 2001 turned out to be a profoundly influential year in my life. Specifically, that was the year that I first attended the Cirque du Soleil show called Mystere. The show opened up my mind to accept training methodologies that I'd never previously considered. And it subsequently led to many of my most effective training regimes – regimes that I've never written about, until now.

I heard about the show through various clients of mine, but I never would've guessed what I was about to see. For those of you who aren't familiar with Cirque shows, I can tell you that they're some of the most invigorating, inspirational, and mind-blowing displays of physical prowess that you'll ever encounter. Not only do these performers possess remarkable levels of strength and flexibility, but they also have some of the most extraordinarily-developed bodies that you'll ever see.

Gymnasts

As I sat through the show, I thought about their training regimens. I thought, how in the hell did these guys build such proportionally huge lats, delts, and upper arms? Was it Mentzer's Ayn Rand infused ranting that led them to this physique? Well, since their schedule consisted of up to twelve shows each week, I found it easy to dissolve that line of thinking.

Was it the incredible levels of training intensity with a primary focus on the eccentric muscle actions? After all, numerous skeletal muscle research studies have demonstrated the notion that the eccentric phase of training (the negative or lowering part of an exercise) leads to the most damage, thus the most perceived muscle growth. Nope, couldn't be since such training methods would leave them in a state of stiffness, soreness, and poor athletic performance (during the recovery phase).

Instead, they must have found a "sweet spot" within their training parameters that allowed them to induce a stimulus sufficient for muscle growth without burning out their skeletal and neural systems. Based on what virtually every strength coach, fitness writer, and muscle magazine recommended, such a training regime just didn't seem possible.

Hmmm, it seemed I'd stumbled upon a puzzle that had many missing pieces.

My Serendipitous Experience

That night I went back to my hotel room and decided to belly-up to the bar for a pre-bedtime toddy (usually I stick with ZMA, but this was Vegas, after all). The bartender opened up a conversation with, "What'd you do tonight?" I told him about the Cirque show and he replied, "Those two dudes who do incredible acrobatic tricks with each other? They're brothers and they're neighbors of mine."

He went on to explain that they spend the better part of their day practicing the Cirque routine. He further expounded on the issue by saying, "Yeah, I often look out my window and see them in their backyard for hours perfecting the routine." Man, I thought, these guys possess two of the most incredible physiques I've ever seen and they're training with an unbelievable level of frequency – a level of frequency that I've never read about from any "expert."

I probably got about three hours of sleep that night. I just couldn't stop wondering how these performers built up their capacity to withstand such training frequency. Then I started to question myself and thought that it must be genetics, drugs, or a combination of the two. But that line of thinking quickly shifted when I thought about my own experiences.

I thought about the soccer players I'd encountered and the level of calf development they displayed. Then I thought about the mechanics I'd befriended over the years in my hometown – all with massive, ripped forearms. I also reminisced about the times I achieved the fastest, most profound levels of hypertrophy in a given muscle group.

In college, I spent the summers working for an apartment complex and one of my primary duties consisted of pulling mattresses up and down stairwells. I'd do this for hours throughout the entire week. I gained an inch of upper arm girth after three weeks of this "mattress labor." I'd never gained a full inch of arm girth on any training routine in such a short period of time.

Viola! The answer to the puzzle must be hidden within high-frequency training parameters that didn't annihilate my muscles on a daily basis. I couldn't wait to get back to Tucson and start my own experimentation.

6 Caveats

Well, that was four years ago, and I must say that it's taken this long to find an answer. Why so long? Here's why:

  1. Hypertrophy Training Dogma  First and foremost, the pertinacity of the exercise community is rather large. Therefore, some of my "non-paying" clientele didn't follow my high-frequency training parameters precisely as I prescribed. As such, I've been forced to scrap my data on a number of occasions.
  2. Training Tenacity  This goes along with point #1. You must be persistent with high-frequency training plans in order to reap the benefits. A week or two of high-frequency training won't give you the results you want. The idea of high-frequency training is to build up your work capacity and specific muscle fitness to levels that the system has yet to encounter.
  3. Lack of Recovery Aids  Stretching and ice massage are mandatory during the initial periods of high-frequency training. Those who didn't follow my recovery modalities often burned-out in a matter of weeks. On the other hand, those who did perform stretching and ice massage as prescribed excelled and built muscle faster than ever before.
  4. Lack of Personal Ingenuity  The Perfect 10 training plan mandates numerous exercise variations. Since it's not possible for me to personally train thousands of readers, a little ingenuity is necessary. You must understand that even the slightest variations in hand position, foot placement, one-arm exercises, and switching from dumbbells to barbells for any given exercise is sufficient to be termed a "different exercise."
  5. Overzealous Trainees  For some, too much just isn't enough. As such, a few people I worked with took the ball and ran way past the end zone on the first carry. In other words, they tried to do too much too fast, and they burned out.
  6. Limited Training Schedules  Obviously, high-frequency training is only ideal for those who can follow such a schedule. If you're one of the ones who can make time to train for 2-3 sessions per week, this info isn't for you. Now, this isn't to say that we should all quit our jobs and follow Kevin Spacey's character in American Beauty, but high-frequency training does mandate some lifestyle changes. That's a big pill to swallow for many weekend warriors.

Now, with those caveats out of the way, I'm here to give you a program that'll induce hypertrophy at a rate that's faster than you've ever experienced. But, please be diligent with my entire prescription. If you skimp on a single element, you'll suffer – trust me.

Perfect 10 Training Guidelines

1 - Choose 1-2 body parts that you want to improve the most.

When you embark on a high-frequency training plan, overtraining is always knocking at your door. Therefore, it's necessary to not bombard your entire body with such parameters. Most people only have a few lagging body parts. If you're one of those who needs to improve everything, this program isn't for you, so I suggest you perform my Anti-Bodybuilding Hypertrophy, Total Body Training, Waterbury Method, and the Art of Waterbury programs in order to build up your musculature. This program is for those who need to bring up underdeveloped body parts at the fastest possible rate.

2 - Perform a different exercise for each session throughout the week.

There are countless different exercises for every body part, so this shouldn't be too tough to follow. Let's take chest exercises for example. If you're attempting to improve your chest development, there are hundreds of exercise variations when you consider: all of the angles between a 30 degree decline and a 45 degree incline, variations in arm/hand position (pronated and semi-supinated), and variations in dumbbells, barbells, and cables.

Make a diligent effort to list every possible exercise that your available equipment allows. Both compound and single-joint exercises are fair game in this program. The more variations and options you have, the greater your success will be.

3 - Don't worry about the tempo of your muscle actions and don't accentuate the negative.

Considering how many sets and sessions you'll be performing each week, you should be ecstatic about this rule. Just lift as fast as possible while maintaining perfect form and controlling the negative portion. Any eccentric portion longer than two seconds is excessive during this program. We aren't attempting to annihilate the muscles; we're trying to provide a sufficient stimulus for growth without causing undo strain.

4 - Perform stretches and ice massage after the prescribed sessions.

There exist a myriad of stretching methods but this program only mandates static stretching. Each prescribed session should consist of four static stretches for the trained muscle group. Hold the muscle in the stretched position for 30 seconds, then rest for 30 seconds before repeating three more times. It's that simple.

Ice massage should be performed with a Cryocup or a paper cup filled with ice. Use one Cryocup or one paper cup on each side of the body. Once the cup is empty, perform the same technique on the other side of the body. Use long, deep strokes and apply baby oil or olive oil to your skin to avoid ice burn. Perform ice massage within two hours of your training session.

5 - Learn to train through soreness.

Soreness is your new friend so learn to love it. This program causes continuous soreness for the first few weeks of training (at least). Slowly but surely, over time you'll find that you become less sore. That's a good thing! But you must understand that you need to force your muscles to train more often. All of that infrequent training dogma will be run over by your newfound high-frequency karma.

6 - Train the rest of your body as usual.

You don't need to alter the rest of your current program. In other words, feel free to train your other muscles groups as usual. If you incorporate Perfect 10 training for chest and triceps, just omit those exercises from your current program. Think of Perfect 10 as an addition to the program you're following (actually, a supercharger would be more accurate).

The Program

Here's what you've been waiting for! You're probably wondering why this program is titled Perfect 10 Training. That's because (surprise!) I'm going to outline a program that leads to training your lagging body parts for ten sessions each week! Think of this program as the antithesis to the mythical Colorado Experiment.

Pull out that Zippo and get ready to light the stick of muscular dynamite!

Week 1

Addendum for Weeks 1-4: Perform for one or two body parts. Choose one exercise for each body part, each day. Stretch after each session.

Day Sets Reps Rest Load
1 6 3 70 sec. 6RM
2 Off
3 3 10 2 min. 12RM
4 Off
5 5 5 90 sec. 8RM
6 & 7 Off

Week 2

Day Sets Reps Rest Load
1 7 3 70 sec. 6RM
2 2 25 3 min. 28RM (~50% of 1RM)
3 4 10 2 min. 12RM
4 Off
5 6 5 90 sec. 8RM
6 & 7 Off

Week 3

Day Sets Reps Rest Load
1 8 3 70 sec. 6RM
2 2 25 3 min. 28RM (~50% of 1RM)
3 5 10 2 min. 12RM
4 Off
5 7 5 90 sec. 8RM
6 2 25 3 min. 28RM (~50% of 1RM)
7 Off

Week 4

Day Sets Reps Rest Load
1 3 3 70 sec. 5RM
2 Off
3 3 8 2 min. 12RM
4 Off
5 2 12 90 sec. 15RM
6 & 7 Off

Week 5

Addendum for Weeks 5-8: Perform for one or two body parts. Choose one exercise for each body part, each day. There must be at least 6 hours between AM/PM sessions. Stretch after each session. Perform ice massage when prescribed.

Day Sets Reps Rest Load
1  AM 3 3 70 sec. 5RM
  PM 3 8 2 min. 12RM
Ice Massage
2 Off
3  AM 2 12 90 sec. 15RM
  PM 3 5 90 sec. 8RM
Ice Massage
4 Off
5  AM 2 25 3 min. 28RM (~50% of 1RM)
  PM 1 * 12 N/A 12RM
Ice Massage
6 & 7 Off

* This set should be taken to concentric failure only.

Week 6

Day Sets Reps Rest Load
1  AM 4 3 70 sec. 5RM
  PM 4 8 2 min. 12RM
Ice Massage
2 2 25 3 min. 28RM (~50% of 1RM)
3  AM 3 12 90 sec. 15RM
  PM 4 5 90 sec. 8RM
Ice Massage
4 Off
5  AM 4 3 70 sec. 6RM
  PM 1 * 15 NA 15RM
Ice Massage
6 2 25 3 min. 28RM (~50% of 1RM)
7 Off

* This set should be taken to concentric failure only.

Week 7

Day Sets Reps Rest Load
1  AM 3 8 90 sec. 10RM
  PM 2 20 3 min. 24RM
Ice Massage
2 2 25 3 min. 28RM (~50% of 1RM)
3  AM 3 3 70 sec. 5RM
  PM 3 12 2 min. 15RM
Ice Massage
4 2 25 3 min. 28RM (~50% of 1RM)
5  AM 3 3 70 sec. 5RM
  PM 1 * 10 NA 10RM
Ice Massage
6 2 25 3 min. 28RM (~50% of 1RM)
7 Off

* This set should be taken to concentric failure only.

Week 8

Off completely from training the muscle group(s).

Week 9

Day Sets Reps Rest Load
1  AM 3 5 70 sec. 7RM
  PM 2 15 2 min. 18RM
Ice Massage
2 2 25 3 min. 28RM (~50% of 1RM)
3  AM 3 3 70 sec. 5RM
  PM 2 20 3 min. 22RM
Ice Massage
4 2 25 3 min. 28RM (~50% of 1RM)
5  AM 3 10 2 min. 12RM
  PM 6 3 90 sec. 5RM
Ice Massage
6  AM 2 25 3 min. 28RM (~50% of 1RM)
  PM 1 50 50RM (~25% of 1RM)
7 Off

Once you've completed week 9, you're Officially a high-frequency protégé! If you follow the program precisely as prescribed, and if you avoid failure (except on the designated days) you'll have helped to beget a new revolution of hypertrophy training.

Who knows, maybe your newfound hypertrophy from the Perfect 10 program will help you land your own "perfect 10."