by Mike Westerdal
We all know what overtraining is and how it should be avoided at all costs, right? Overtraining can result in the loss of strength and muscle mass accompanied by increased risk of injury. Even more, it often includes emotional symptoms similar to depression and can really just wreak havoc on the body’s immune system. This is all pretty serious stuff and no laughing matter—breaking out of an overtraining period can be really tough sometimes.
But what about ‘controlled’ overtraining? What if we could take ourselves right to the ‘edge’ of overtraining and then introduce something new to prevent us from actually reaching the point of overtraining?
Well I can tell you that such an animal exists and it’s called Accumulation and Intensification. Essentially, this is another way of saying “controlled overtraining.” The basic idea is that you gradually build up your training volume while decreasing rest periods until you hit overtraining. This high level of training (right before overtraining) is where FAST results can be achieved. When you hit this level, you then switch up to low-volume, longer rest-period training, which can dramatically increase strength as your body recovers from the higher-volume training. It’s a killer framework that has been proven effective by top-level coaches and trainers for years. Let’s take a closer look.
The approach has been around for a very long time and has been used by some well-known bodybuilding names including Charlies Poliquin and Charlie Francis. It was also very popular among the world famous bodybuilding coaches in the former Eastern Bloc nations. There has also been quite a lot of research done on this approach so there’s some sound science behind it.
The entire approach is really pretty simple—for several weeks you pump up your workload by increasing your training volume while decreasing your rest period between sets almost until you get to the point of overtraining. This is what’s known as the ‘accumulation’ phase—you’re increasing the demand on your body every day.
Once you get to the point of overtraining, it’s time to back off by reducing the training volume and increasing the rest periods between sets. While you’re doing this, you also start using heavier weights. This is the ‘intensification’ part of the approach. The purpose of the intensification component is to move you towards ‘under training.’ This under training phase allows your body to fully recover from the accumulation and intensification phases before you kick it back up again and start all over. During the under training phase, you really cut back on your training.
There are a variety of different exercise approaches you can use during the accumulation phase. The important thing to remember is that this is a period during which you’re focusing on doing higher volume and fewer reps with weights lighter than what you would otherwise be using.
You also need to keep your rest periods shorter during the accumulation phase than you would in an ordinary training phase. As you move through the accumulation phase, you can push your body towards overtraining by increasing the number of reps and reducing the rest periods between sets. You can increase the weight too but only do so when you’ve increased the number of reps you’re doing by about 20%–and then only increase your weight by no more than five percent.
During the next phase, the workouts are going to get a lot more ‘intense,’ which is of course where the name ‘intensification’ comes from. The goal of this phase is to take a lower-volume, higher-intensity approach to training. You’ll want to do fewer sets, using more weight to really build up your size and strength. In comparison to the accumulation phase, your rest periods will be longer.
The de-loading or under training phase of accumulation and intensification is where your body finally gets the break it’s been craving. This part is absolutely essential because your body needs the time to rest and recover. Depending on each individual, the under-training phase will last two to three weeks. For most guys, two weeks of de-loading is sufficient but it will vary from one person to the next. It’s important to note that this phase isn’t a ‘vacation’ and it’s not a free license to go to the gym and hang around chatting with your buddies. You still need to work out, but at a significantly lower intensity than either of the two previous phases.
This is a basic overview of the accumulation and intensification approach to training. If you’re looking for something different that will yield excellent results, you might want to give this one a try. In fact fellow trainer Nick Nilsson is the author of a muscle mass building program called Mad Scientist Muscle which lays out a nice workout schedule for you based on this training principle.
You can incorporate accumulation and intensification in your workout by checking out Nick’s program at: http://www.madscientistmuscles.com
I”m glad to be back home even if it’s so hot it feels like I”m walking through pudding when I go outside.
I just returned from a trip to CT to visit the parents while attending a wedding in MA for my wife’s cousin Cassie.
Anytime I meet new people and I tell them I run an Internet Business related to building muscle the questions always start pouring in.
One guy at my table said he only trains each body part once per week. Another guy says he makes better gains training each body part twice a week. They asked who was right and I’m going to have to agree with my buddy Jason Ferruggia.
If you don’t know Jason he’s the Chief Training Advisor for Men’s Fitness and he runs a hardcore gym in Jersey. He’s one of the top strength & conditioning guys in the country so when he takes the time to explain something, I listen.
I told the guys at the table I’d write a blog post about their question and I couldn’t think of a better person to have do a guest post than Jason. Here’s what he said when I asked him who was right…….
“I believe the two keys to effective training are overload and frequency. He who makes the greatest strength gains (in a hypertrophy rep range) over a given time period, while training the muscle as frequently as possible, will get the greatest size gains. The key is to do just enough to stimulate a hypertrophy response then get out and recover and get back to the gym as soon as possible. As long as you keep the volume low, the frequency can remain high and you can make consistent strength gains. As long as the weights are going up you know you are not over trained.
Like Lee Haney said, “stimulate, don’t annihilate.” No matter how many sets you do, the majority of people will not require a full seven days of recovery between body parts. But when you do a ton of sets you create the need for that amount of time between workouts because each workout would take three hours if you hit more than one or two muscle groups on a typical high volume bodybuilding program. That may be fine if you are inhumanly strong and 260 pounds of rock hard muscle. But for the average guy, he is going to detrain and actually start to lose size. It’s two steps forward, two steps back. With lower volume and higher frequency you can actually take one smaller step forward, but remain there with no steps back. This is the optimal plan for the average, drug free trainee.”
Another question people ask me a lot is what sites I like to visit and who I like to read up on. Well Jay’s site is right up my alley. I like his no BS attitude and he doesn’t sugar coat anything.
He’s the author of a best selling program called Muscle Gaining Secrets. It’s a great mass building program and totally explains why 95% of all hardgainers are dead wrong in how they train for muscle growth.
Jason is actually running a promo right now. He’s giving away three extra bonus items for anyone that buys his MGS program in the next 3-days.
Limited-Time Bonus #1: Renegade Cardio: Intervals, steady state, fasted, fed, high intensity, low intensity… with all the conflicting information and confusion it’s no wonder most people will never see their abs no matter how hard they try. They’re doing it all wrong! But I finally set the record straight and allow you to steal my closely guarded secret cardio workouts, usually only reserved for my highest paying clients. Get ready to get shredded!
Limited-Time Bonus #2: MGS Advanced Mass Building Guide: After you’ve completed the main program and packed on your first 20-30 pounds of ripped muscle you’ll be ready to move on to the advanced level. But be warned, this workout is so powerful that you absolutely must complete the basic program first in order to prepare your body for the extreme metamorphosis it’s about to experience!
Limited-Time Bonus #3: Armed & Dangerous: Let’s face it, everybody wants and envies a pair of big, muscular, sleeve stretching arms. A pair of pipe cleaners dangling in a loose t-shirt is a terrible look and one that will get you no respect from the guys or the girls. With this arm specialization workout you will add 2 inches of awe inspiring, rock solid muscle to your arms in just 8 short weeks!
You should go over to Jay’s site and find out more about his Muscle Gaining Secrets program while he’s offering these cool Bonus items.