Monday, November 25, 2013

Christian Thibaudeau - Built for Bad: Strength Circuits

From T-Nation, strength coach Christian Thibaudeau offers up a simple program based on percentages of one-rep-max (1RM) that combines low-rep/heavy weight with enough volume to stimulate muscle growth alongside increases in strength.

This is a five lift, five set, five days a week program - no variety other than reps and percentages of 1RM. But the volume is a bit high for most people, so be sure that you have at least five consistent years of weight training under your belt and some solid nutrition. Recovery is more about proper rest and proper nutrition than it is about supplements.

I did not include the final section of the article - it's little more than an advertorial for Biotest products, which are good products. You can see his supplement protocol at the link below.

Built for Bad: Strength Circuits

by Christian Thibaudeau | T-Nation   

Here's what you need to know . . .
• Coach Thibaudeau is always physically impressive, but he was at his all-time most muscular condition using strength circuits.
• Strength circuits provide the perfect balance of heavy loads, rep volume, and work density to produce the very best gain in strength, size, and leanness.
• The plan consists of 5 sets of 5 big lifts, performed 5 days per week as a circuit, using a progressive-intensity 5/4/3/2/1 rep scheme.
Using this program, I ended up weighing 232 pounds with veins on my abs. At five-foot eight, that's not bad. And it's definitely the biggest and most muscular I've ever been. The gains came so fast and consistently that every week, even every workout, I could feel myself growing and getting stronger.

I attribute a large amount of the gains I made from this program to Plazma.™ There's simply no way on earth that I could ever perform heavy whole-body workouts 5 days a week and recover without it. But beyond recovery, you still have to grow, and Plazma™ delivers gains like nothing I've ever experienced.

The Methods

The most important loading zone for building strength is sets of 1-3 reps using 88-100 percent of your max. The problem is, training in that zone lacks the rep volume required for making optimal size gains — but not by much. To achieve the added effect of maximum muscle growth, without limiting strength gains, simply add two sets of 4-5 reps using 80-82.5 percent of 1RM.

Performing strength circuits using a 5/4/3/2/1 rep scheme — each round decreasing the reps and increasing the weights on all exercises — provide the perfect mix of load, density, and volume for maximizing strength and hypertrophy, as well as shredding up.

With these strength circuits, you're going to finish strong every workout, which will lead to the greatest workout-to-workout progression. Your metabolic rate, insulin sensitivity, and recovery capacities will all be sky-high, while minimizing inflammation. This will put slabs of muscle on you while at the same time allowing you to perform at a high level on a daily basis.

Expect circuit number three (3 reps) to be the hardest. Get tough and power through it, because after that is when the magic happens. The last two sets will actually feel easier, so much so that you'll wonder if you forgot to add weight.

The set of 3 reps is where the activation of the nervous system surpasses the muscle fatigue. During the sets of 3, 2 and 1 there is partial muscle recovery occurring at the same time as neural activation. The result? At the end of the workout you are stronger than when you started.

Always chase performance, not fatigue.

Program Notes

1. This is a 6 week program designed to help you create maximal muscularity: a combination of size, strength and leanness.
2. You will train 5 days per week, Monday through Friday.
3. Each workout consists of 5 full-body strength circuits, using a 5/4/3/2/1 rep schedule, performed with minimal rest between sets and circuits.
4. A circuit consists of 5 exercises where you move through the circuit by performing one set of each exercise.
5. If your workout lasts over 40 to 45 minutes, you aren't trying hard enough.
6. Every week you will add weight to each exercise or die trying.
7. Move to another program after 6 weeks or when you stop progressing, whichever comes first.

The Program

Warm-up: Perform 3 sets of 3 reps on every movement, gradually increasing the weight on each set.

Monday / Wednesday / Friday

A1: Dead-Squat
A2; Bench Press
A3: High Pull
A4: Military Press
A5: Lat Pulldown

Circuit 1: 5 reps x 85%
Circuit 2: 4 reps x 87.5%
Circuit 3: 3 reps x 90%
Circuit 4: 2 reps x 95%
Circuit 5: 1 rep x 100%

• Perform 1 set of each exercise per circuit.
• Rest 30 to 60 seconds between exercises.
• Change weights between circuits in 2 minutes.
• Add 5 lb to exercises each new week.

Tuesday / Thursday

A1: Dead-Squat
A2: Bench Press
A3: High Pull
A4: Military Press
A5: Lat Pulldown

Circuit 1: 5 reps x 80%
Circuit 2: 4 reps x 82.5%
Circuit 3: 3 reps x 85%
Circuit 4: 2 reps x 90%
Circuit 5: 1 rep x 95%

• Perform 1 set of each exercise per circuit.
• Rest 30 to 60 seconds between exercises.
• Change weights between circuits in 2 minutes.
• Add 5 lb to exercises each new week.

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