"Everyone wants to be a beast... Until it's time to do what beasts do.
Swole Town is what beasts do. It's blood, sweat and tears with plenty of Gains to show for it. Specifically, it's a hypertrophy program designed to pack on slabs of muscle and have you training like a beast.
For those who have entered the Lion's Den, this is a manual and description of the program and how you can get the best results from it. So let's dive in.
Methods: What causes Hypertrophy?
The first step in designing any program is to define to goal of the training. Here, it is hypertrophy with strength as a secondary goal. The next step (for me, anyways), is to define what methods will be used and how they will be deployed.
Training is simply a stress placed on the body. Our bodies ADAPT to stress that we encounter on a regular basis. In the case of building muscle, we specifically need to focus on two things:
Mechanical load is simply resistance placed on the muscle fibers. The heavier the weight, the greater the mechanical load.
Think of doing a high rep set of Biceps Curls. The burning, and the subsequent "Pump." That is the result of metabolic stress. Metabolic fatigue in the muscle is a huge stimulator for hypertrophy.
To maximize hypertrophy, it's ideal to have a healthy combination of both, which is why bodybuilders typically operate within the 8-12 rep ranges. You can still use relatively heavy weight while inducing metabolic fatigue.
For this training, we will use specific methods to harness the power of mechanical load and metabolic fatigue. Specifically, we will use:
Giant Set AMRAPS
AMRAP = As Many Rounds/Reps as possible
Giant Set = 3 (or more) movements for the same muscle group performed one after the other without rest.
On days 1 and 5 of each week, we'll deploy this method. It will be timed, as many rounds as you can get in. The purpose here obviously being serious metabolic fatigue.
The time will increase as the program progresses, as will the reps for each set. Basically, it will get harder.
Extended Drop Sets
Drop sets = hitting a prescribed number of reps, or going for max reps, then stripping weight off and immediately doing it again.
We'll deploy these as "extended" drop sets, meaning there is short rest (45-60 seconds) between stripping the weight off and going back at it. This will allow for greater volume/more reps to be accomplished while still inducing heavy metabolic fatigue.
Clusters are sets broken up into smaller sets. For example, instead of hitting a set of 8-10, you'd hit smaller sets of 3 reps on 15 seconds rest, looking to achieve more than 8-10 reps. We're calling them "volume" clusters as the goal is a high number of reps, vs. traditional clusters which are done for strength purposes.
The all important principle of progressive overload should be a part of almost all training cycles.
It means simply that each week is a little harder, either moving just a little bit more weight, or doing more total work, or both.
Several movements are set up for the entirety of the 10 weeks with the goal being to add weight and continue hitting the same or greater number of reps. You'll quickly spot these and it will be noted in the instructions. (Deadlifts, Close grip inclines, Overhead press, bench press singles).
The program is a blueprint.. the one actually doing the work is YOU. You are responsible for reading all instructions for every segment and performing them as described.
This includes listed rest periods between sets, looking to add weight to the bar, and sticking to the protocol. I am available for any questions, and substitute movements are listed should you be unable to perform certain movements.
You're also responsible for scaling where necessary. If a segment says to perform Dips with 45lbs, and you are not physically capable of that, you should scale to your current ability and aim to add to what you can do the following week.
Lastly, you are responsible for your own effort. Without some fortitude, building muscle is unlikely. It is uncomfortable and you need to push yourself through.
If your goal is to build muscle/size, it will NOT happen if you are not eating at a surplus. Your body needs the resources to build muscle and it needs them consistently.
Building muscle takes considerable energy and resources from the body. It will not be in a hurry to do so. You should be consuming at least 0.8 grams of protein per pound of body weight. That means if you weigh 180lbs, you should be consuming about 140g of protein or more per day.
As far as calories, it depends on how aggressively you're trying to put on size. If you're being aggressive, multiply your body weight x 20 and that will be your general daily calorie target. Less aggressive, multiply by 16-18.
A solid approach is to weigh yourself every week first thing in the am. If you're gaining 1-2lbs/week, you're on the right track. If your gaining nothing, eat more. If you're gaining too much, you may be overdoing it.
Using the mirror is also useful. The scale can be misleading. Do you notice a change? Use both as a guide to tweak your nutrition until you get it right.
I'm not a big supplement junkie. I'd highly recommend taking Creatine at 5-10g/day, and having a protein supplement to ensure you're getting adequate amounts. You should strive to get quality protein through your diet first, and then use the supplement.
Carbs are essential in building mass, and i recommend sticking to quality carbs wherever possible, such as oats, rice, potatoes, fruits, vegetables, sweet potatoes.
How much cardio should you do? It depends on your overall goals.
Excessive cardio is going to pull energy away from the goal of hypertrophy. It will cause interference in what you're telling your body to do.
At the same time, you never want to ignore your aerobic base. Programmed in is basic, steady state cardio. You can also add in walks 3-5 days per week as well. Hiking, light rucking, and other cardio/active recovery is fine as well. Just don't overdo it. More is not always better, especially here.
In conclusion, I am glad you're here. This program will work for you if you do the work. Be consistent, have some discipline and fortitude, and may the iron gods bless you.