Many a great workout program has been published at T NATION over the last 12 or so years.

How many workouts? Well, let's just say that if you were to choose your favorite five workouts per year starting from the day we started publishing and planned to follow each one for six weeks: you wouldn't have to worry about what your next program is going to be for about seven years!

How's that for having your life planned?

The problem with a haphazard system like that is, well, it's just not ideal. You're just stringing together a bunch of workouts; workouts that might kick ass on their own but aren't part of a larger plan. In a few months or years you might find yourself burned out, injured, or even worse, subscribing to Muscle & Fitness. And we don't want that, do we?

The answer lies in an entirely different form of periodization that takes into account strength phases, size phases, and of course, peaking. Enter a little bit of old school Russian wisdom, served up JP Catanzaro style.

As you read, or skim, this article (you lazy bastard), you may at first think it's confusing. Stick with it and by the end of the article (where the author provides some examples), it'll make as much sense as wearing a cup during a dodgeball tournament.

— Bryan Krahn

Way back in the dark ages of athletic training, strength coaches often went to great lengths to ensure that their athletes added as little muscle mass as possible.

The importance of strength was undeniable, as it was often correlated with an athlete's medal haul. But extra muscle mass? Forget it, you'll just get "muscle bound." Save that for those unemployed nut-jobs strutting down the Venice beach boardwalk.

What a difference a generation or two can make. Today, it's widely accepted that "optimum" hypertrophy is required for "maximum" performance. The reason is simple: muscle protects athletes from injury, provided it's obtained in the proper manner.

Performing a high volume of slow, limited range isolation movements on machines will not help. In reality, the opposite is true: it will hinder performance and set you up for injury.

The Russians Are Coming! The Russians Are Coming!

The following workout template is inspired from the work of Professor Yuri Verkhoshansky, a senior track and field coach for the Soviet national team, a pioneer of the shock method of training (known as plyometrics), and an innovator in the area of planning and training periodization.

If you're a seasoned athlete looking to add some size and strength to take your on-field performance to the next level or just trying to find that perfect marriage of strength and hypertrophy, this is the system for you.

Wide Grip Pull Ups

Before We Begin

The methods are divided into three categories: Maximum Size, Size and Strength, and Maximum Strength. Picking just one method and following it to a T will produce results, and picking two or three and following them in any haphazard fashion will likely work as well, to a certain degree.

But following the programs in an intelligent, systematic fashion that gradually increases intensity up towards a final peak will produce the greatest gains by far. That's having the wisdom and foresight to see each workout as a small step towards a much larger goal. That's smart programming. That's periodization.

Let's get started!

Maximum Size Methods

  Sets Reps Tempo Rest
Method #1 4 10 4-0-2-0 60 sec.
Decrease the load by 5% each set.
Method #2 3 10-12 4-0-2-0 2 min.
Method #3 5 8-10 4-0-2-0 2 min.
Method #4 8 6-8 4-0-2-0 3 min.
Use partner assistance if necessary on last repetition of a set.
Method #5 2 AMRAP + 2FR 4-0-2-0 3 min.
AMRAP - As Many Reps As Possible
FR - Forced Reps- partner assistance during the concentric action for 2 additional reps
Barbell Back Squat

Size and Strength Methods

  Sets Reps Tempo Rest
Method #1 4 4-6 3-2-X-0 4 min.
Method #2 6 2-3 3-2-X-0 4 min.
Method #3 8 12,10,7,5,12,10,7,5 3-2-X-0 4 min.
Method #4 9 10,5,2,10,5,2,10,5,2 3-2-X-0 4 min.
Method #5 10 5-6 3-2-X-0 4 min.
Incline Barbell Press

Maximum Strength Methods

  Sets Reps Tempo Rest
Method #1 4 2-3 5-0-X-0 5 min.
Method #2 6 3,2,1,1,1,1 5-0-X-0 5 min.
Start at 90%1RM and increase load 2-4% each set.
Method #3 3 4-5 5-0-X-0 5 min.
Use 10-30% greater than your 1RM and perform eccentric training.
The load is raised to the initial position with help of partners.
Method #4 6 1-3 5-0-X-0 5 min.
Use 20-40% greater than your 1RM and perform eccentric training, gradually increasing the weight each set.
Use eccentric hooks (aka weight releasers) - bar weight should equal 70-80% 1RM.

Periodization, aka Putting It All Together

Use an undulatory, or wave-like, sequence of intensity among programs in the following manner:

Program #1 Maximum Size Method #1
Program #2 Size & Strength Method #1
Program #3 Maximum Strength Method #1
Program #4 Maximum Size Method #2
Program #5 Size & Strength Method #2
Program #6 Maximum Strength Method #2
Program #7 Maximum Size Method #3
Program #8 Size & Strength Method #3
Program #9 Maximum Strength Method #3
Program #10 Maximum Size Method #4
Program #11 Size & Strength Method #4
Program #12 Maximum Strength Method #4
Program #13 Maximum Size Method #5
Program #14 Size & Strength Method #5

This plan presents five gradually increasing waves of intensity. By the end of the final program, the athlete will peak. Personal records will be set at this point. Book your victory sex now: you'll have earned it.

The duration of each program is determined by frequency and rate of adaptation.

Behind the Neck Press

Frequency

To determine the ideal frequency, pick which scenario describes you best:

The 3 In 5 Approach:

Monday: Day 1
Tuesday: Day 2
Wednesday: Off
Thursday: Day 3
Friday: Off
Saturday: Cycle Repeats.

Use this approach if you're in your late teens or early twenties, still going to school, get plenty of sleep, get plenty of sex, eat right for the most part, and live in your parents' home.

The 3 In 6 Approach:

Monday: Day 1
Tuesday: Off
Wednesday: Day 2
Thursday: Off
Friday: Day 3
Saturday: Off
Sunday: Cycle Repeats

Use this approach if you're in your thirties, have a family, work full-time, try to get eight hours of sleep but it's more like six on most nights, skip breakfast every once and awhile but try for four meals a day, and get sex once a week if you're really lucky, but you've got to pull tooth and nail for it.

The 3 In 7 Approach:

Monday: Day 1
Tuesday: Off
Wednesday: Day 2
Thursday: Off
Friday: Day 3
Saturday: Off
Sunday: Off

Use this approach if you're in your mid-forties and beyond, you run your own business, you're lucky to make it home for dinner most nights, you live off two or three meals a day with plenty of coffee to keep you going, you can barely afford three hours a week to train, your son wants a car even though his grades suck, your daughter is planning to wed a guy she met online last week, your wife couldn't be any bitchier if she tried, and sex is only something you see on cable.

Rate of Adaptation

To determine the duration of a program, one must make progress each workout: either a 1-2% increase in load or a 1-2 rep increase with the same load as the previous workout.

When you fail to progress in this manner, it's time to change the program.

Training Splits

Day 1 – Upper Body (Vertical Push & Pull, Elbow Flexion & Extension)
Day 2 – Lower Body (Quad & Hip Dominant, Trunk/Hip Flexion & Extension)
Day 3 – Upper Body (Horizontal Push & Pull, Elbow Flexion & Extension)

Mid Grip Chin Up

Exercises

Perform no more than four exercises per workout, and many times just two (multi-joint) exercises are all you need particularly during a maximum strength phase.

Workouts should last no longer than an hour. By alternating between antagonistic movements, rest intervals can be cut in half, thereby allowing double the work to be conducted in that time frame.

Choose from the following pool of exercises:

The exercise list provided below is not exhaustive by any means - I'm sure you can think of many exercises that are missing – but it should be more than enough to get you through this plan without repeating an exercise.

Download List of Exercises

Note: The terms "vertical push", "vertical pull", "horizontal push", "horizontal pull", "quad dominant", and "hip dominant" are part of a classification system introduced by Australian strength and conditioning coach, Ian King, in his book Get Buffed! These are multi-joint movements; whereas, trunk/hip flexion & extension and elbow flexion & extension are all single-joint movements.

I have intentionally omitted the Olympic lifts – feel free to include them as a hip dominant movement for your athletes that are competent in performing them correctly!

To give you an example of how to structure your routines, let's take a look at the first wave of this Russian attack.

Sample Russian Attack - Wave One

Deadlift

Program #1 – Maximum Size Method #1

Sets:  4
Reps:  10
Tempo:  4-0-2-0 *
Rest:  60 sec.

* Perform a 4 second eccentric, no pause at the bottom, then perform a controlled, 2-second concentric. No pause at the top before beginning the eccentric portion of the next rep.

Day 1 Upper Body
(Vertical Push & Pull, Elbow Flexion & Extension)

A Close-Neutral-Grip Chin-Up
B Seated Neutral-Grip Dumbbell Press
C Preacher Reverse-Grip Cable Curl
D Flat EZ-Bar Triceps Extension

Day 2 Lower Body
(Quad & Hip Dominant, Trunk Flexion & Extension)

A Back Step-Up
B Low-Pulley Split Squat
C Romanian Barbell Deadlift
D Low-Pulley Knee-In

Day 3 Upper Body
(Horizontal Push & Pull, Elbow Flexion & Extension)

A Parallel-Bar Dip
B Bent-Over Reverse-Grip EZ-Bar Row
C Kneeling Rope French Press
D Incline Dumbbell Curl

Note: Decrease the load by 5% each set

Program #2 – Size & Strength Method #1

Sets:  4
Reps:  4-6
Tempo:  3-2-X-0
Rest:  2 min.

* Perform a 3 second eccentric, pause at the bottom for 2 seconds, and then perform an explosive concentric. No pause at the top before beginning the eccentric portion of the next rep.

Day 1 Upper Body
(Vertical Push & Pull, Elbow Flexion & Extension)

A1 Mid-Grip Chin-Up
A2 Mid-Incline Dumbbell Press
B1 Seated Midline Hammer Curl
B2 Standing Reverse-Grip Cable Pressdown

Day 2 Lower Body
(Quad & Hip Dominant, Trunk Flexion & Extension)

A1 Back Squat
A2 Hanging Leg Raise
B1 Bent-Knee Deadlift
B2 Decline Sit-Up

Day 3 Upper Body
(Horizontal Push & Pull, Elbow Flexion & Extension)

A1 Decline Close-Grip Barbell Press
A2 One-Arm Dumbbell Row
B1 Incline Dumbbell Triceps Extension
B2 Standing Reverse-Grip EZ-Bar Curl

Note: The 2-second pause is taken at the top position for the seated midline hammer curl and at 30 degrees of elbow flexion for the standing reverse-grip EZ-bar curl. For the rest of the exercises, the 2-second pause is taken at the bottom position.

Program #3 – Maximum Strength Method #1

Sets:  4
Reps:  2-3
Tempo:  5-0-X-0 *
Rest:  2.5 min.

* Perform a 5 second eccentric, no pause at the bottom, then perform an explosive concentric. No pause at the top before beginning the eccentric portion of the next rep.

Day 1 Upper Body
(Vertical Push & Pull, Elbow Flexion & Extension)

A1 Wide-Grip Pull-Up
A2 Standing Mid-Grip Barbell Press
B1 Incline Hammer Curl
B2 Seated One-Arm Dumbbell French Press

Day 2 Lower Body
(Quad & Hip Dominant, Trunk Flexion & Extension)

A1 Front Squat
A2 Glute-Ham Raise
B1 Snatch-Grip Deadlift
B2 Sicilian Crunch

Day 3 Upper Body
(Horizontal Push & Pull, Elbow Flexion & Extension)

A1 Flat Mid-Grip Barbell Press
A2 Seated Close-Neutral-Grip Cable Row
B1 Preacher One-Arm Dumbbell Curl
B2 Decline EZ-Bar Triceps Extension

Glute Ham Raise

A Word Of Caution

Some workouts will seem short and you'll be tempted to do more. Don't do it! There's more than enough stimulus to promote muscle size, strength and power gains necessary for improved athletic performance.

And yes, despite the reassurances your girlfriend gave you, size does matter- at least in sport, to a certain extent.

Russian Wrap Up

This plan can be used successfully by athletes of all levels of competency, from recreational hackers to paid professionals: simply include energy system work (i.e. interval training) to address work capacity and body composition, as well as regular games and practices in your given sport.

Getting bigger and stronger isn't just for the guys in the string tank tops and clown pants. Even those who have on-field performance as their number one priority will benefit from a few extra pounds of muscle mass.

As the Russian lifters say before a big lift,Udachi!

References

Yuri V. Verkhoshansky, Maximal Strength Training In Speed-Strength Sports

Excerpt from "Special Strength Training – A Practical Manual for Coaches" published in 2006 by Ultimate Athlete Concepts (www.ultimateathleteconcepts.com ) and available from the publisher.

Translation by Dr. Michael Yessis. Retrieved from: www.athleticscoaching.ca.