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The Lyle McDonald Project


Table of Contents
Chapter 1: Overview of Everything 5

Training, Diet, Supplements, etc

Chapter 2: General Training 5 8

Basic Overview of Routine Setups

Training Secrets
Periodization 8 10 12

Periodization for Bodybuilders, Part I 12

Periodization for Bodybuilders, Part II 13

Periodization for Bodybuilders, Part III 15

Problems with Linear Periodization 16

"Dreschler's Reciprocal Mini-Cycle for Squats"

Additional Aspects of Training
Pyramiding 18 18 19

Fat-Targeting Cardio
Chapter 3: Strength Training
Basic Principles 17 20 21 21

Sets, Reps, & Other Stuff 22

MU Recruitment 22

Prilepins Table 24

Deloading 25

Comments on Kortes 3x3 26

Stretch Shortening Cycle 27

Strength Routines 28

Current Lesbian Powerlifting Training

Lyles Theoretical Cycle Idea
Chapter 4: Hypertrophy Training
Sets & Reps 28 32 34 34

Ideal Rep Range(s) for Hypertrophy

Aspects of a Hypertrophy Program 34 36


Frequency: 2x/Week vs. 3x/Week

Progressive Overload
Explanation of RBE 36 37 40

Effectiveness of Strategic Deconditioning

Advanced Techniques 41 42

Body Part Specialization 42

Block Training 43

Hypertrophy Routines 45

Lyles Bulking Routine 45

FortifiedIrons Isolation-Free Hypertrophy Program

Chapter 5: Diet 46 49

General Diet Principles 49

Basic Guidelines 49

Excess Calories Needed for Growth 50

Transitioning Between Bulking and Cutting

Supplements and Post-Workout Nutrition 51 52

Lyles Top Supplements 52

Post-Workout Nutrition 53

Thermogenesis 54

Protein and Thermogenesis 54

Thermic Effects of Protein, Carbs, & Fat

Carbs, Carbs, Carbs 55 56

Comparison of High/Medium/Low Carb Diets

Who the Low Carb Bulk Is For
Insulin 56 57 58

Carbs and Maintaining Anabolism

Nutrient Partitioning 59 61

Nutrient Partitioning via Low Carbs vs. Food Combining

When Carbs Go to Fat 62 63

Low Carbs and Keeping a Moderate Caloric Excess

-3- 64

1. Overview of Everything
Training, Diet, Supplements, etc.
Here are my general principles for training (and I'm not gonna differentiate between
training for mass and training for fat loss because I'm of the mind that training shouldn't
change hugely while cutting).
Frequency: 2-4 times/week in the gym depending on recovery. For natural lifters, with
normal recovery capacity, I simply see no reason to be in the gym more than that. Even
Louie Simmons' guys only train 4 days/week, so tell me why a natural bodybuilder needs
to train 6 days/week. I also don't like to see more than 2 days in the gym without a day
off, because it tends to screw up hormone levels. Again, there are always exceptions, I'm
talking about the great majority of lifters out there.
Intensity: While I'm not a hardcore 'you MUST go to failure proponent', neither do I think
that going easy is a great way to get big (an exception might be Poliquin's 10x10 where
you make up for the lack of intensity with a large volume and short rest periods). Failure
or a rep or two short on most work sets is about right to me.
Volume: I think most people do far too many sets in the gym (this is a function of
inadequate intensity for the most part). I personally find anywhere from 4-8/bodypart
(depending on a lot of factors that I can't get into here) to be about right for most natural
bodybuilders. Some real hardgainers may need towards the end of that range (I seem to
do best with 3-4 sets/body part), guys with good recovery can use more if it suits them.
With regards to volume, I also think workouts should be about an hour in length,
although there are always exceptions. With my partner, with all the BS'ing and making
fun of other folks in the gym, we usually take 1.5 hours from start to finish. I've seen
folks who started training when I got there with my partner, and *still* be in the middle
of their workout 3 hours later after I've trained the 1-2 clients I still have. That's
excessive, plain and simple.
Overload: While many bodybuilders may disagree with this, in general, if you're not
getting stronger (adding weight to the bar), you're probably not growing. Put differently,
if you're benching 185 now and you're still benching 185 next year, I can almost
guarantee you that your chest won't be any bigger no matter what else you do for it. Put
even differently, it's somewhat rare (there are exceptions in pure strength sports where
athletes commonly keep weight down deliberately by not eating enough) to see someone
who's very strong that's not also very big (I refer you again to power and Olympic lifters).
It's very common to see someone using light weights but training for the 'feel' or the
'pump' who's not very big at all (unless they are juiced, where all the rules go out the
window). Get stronger and eat enough and you will get bigger.


----Even though I have occasionally lapsed into silliness myself (I like to call it being openminded, ha ha), diet needn't be complicated either. If your goal is to gain mass, you need
to ensure adequate protein and calories for growth, and the rest of your diet will be less
important (yeah, you need sufficient dietary fat for optimal testosterone levels and carbs
for glycogen replenishment/maintaining training intensity). But in the long run I doubt
minor changes (within a reasonable range) in macronutrient percentage intake will make
a humongous difference in results.
If your goal is fat loss, you still need adequate protein, but you need to create a slight
caloric deficit (either by decreasing food intake or increasing activity level, within
reason). Carbs and fats will depend on which particular diet philosophy you believe in
and which allows you to most easily control your caloric intake, etc (i.e. the diet must fit
you psychologically at least as much as it fits you physiologically. If you hate the taste of
ketogenic diet foods, then no matter how great or not great the diet is, you won't follow it
in the long run).
So here are my general diet principles:
Mass gains:
1. Set calories: a good starting point is 10-20% above maintenance but this should be
adjusted based on body composition changes. The sad fact is that to gain muscle at any
kind of appreciable rate typically means that you have to gain some body fat as well. The
folks I've known who stay ripped year round generally don't get much bigger either.
2. Set protein: 1 g/lb or thereabouts
3. Set fat intake: I like to see 15-25% of total calories as fat or so, mostly from
unsaturated sources.
4. Set carbs: the rest. If you believe in the glycemic index concept, stick with lower GI
foods most of the day but higher around training.
5. Eat 4-6 meals/day (women, with lower caloric intakes may have trouble eating 6x/day
as each meal ends up so small).
6. Make sure and have a carb/protein drink right after training for recovery/anabolism.
For fat loss:
1. Set calories: a good starting point is 10-20% below maintenance but this should be
adjusted based on body composition changes. Ideal is 1-1.5 lbs fat loss/week. Of course,
this depends on starting body fat. You'll lose more fat if you start out fatter, and have to
slow fat loss as you get leaner to prevent muscle loss.
2. Set protein: 1 g/lb.
3. Set fat intake: again, 15-25% of total calories or so, as this tends to be satiating and
help decrease hunger. Obviously if you're using a Zone/Isocaloric or keto approach, fat
intake will be higher.
4. Set carbs intake: the rest (depending of course, on fat intake).
5. Eat 4-6 meals/day (women, with lower caloric intakes may have trouble eating 6x/day
as each meal ends up so small)


So those are basic dieting templates. Yes, there will be some variety. If you are just
absolutely sure that you gain better with 1.5 g/lb of protein (but make sure you are eating
enough calories from carbs and fats, and that the excess protein isn't just being used as an
energy source, before you draw that conclusion), fine.
----------To make this article complete, I have to say a few words about supplements. Contrary to
what many may think, I am not staunchly anti-supplement. However, I am staunchly
anti-worrying about supplements before you get your diet and training in order. Let's
face it, all the creatine or andro-poppers in the world won't make you gain muscle if
you're training 7 days/week for 2 hours/day and only eating 1500 calories/day (at a
bodyweight of 160 lbs).
In this vein, I'd like to repeat something I wrote on a month or two
ago: "If you are not growing from your current diet and training program, no supplement
will change that. If you are growing from your current diet and training program,
supplements will only add a small amount to that."
The problem, as I see it, is that many trainees focus on the supplement end of things
before they even figure out how to train or eat (this type of attitude is promoted by the
major muscle magazines who tend to promulgate the idea that supplements are a
REQUIRED aspect of bodybuilding). I did it years ago, too, so I can understand how it
goes. But I've made some of my best gains (at one point this year, 12 lbs of muscle in 6
months, although that came with 12 lbs of fat) just focusing on basic training and lots (in
hindsight, too much) good food.
Personally, I use a protein powder (for convenience only because I get tired of eating
whole food), a multivitamin (generic grocery store brand) and extra Vitamin-C when I'm
massing. I'll use ECA and yohimbe when I'm dieting. THAT'S IT. Up until about 2
years ago, I probably tried just about everything out there at least once. Nothing ever
worked as well as hard training, progressive overload and eating enough calories for mass
So I guess the bottom line in my mind is this: if you have found out, training and diet
wise, what you need to grow, and you want to experiment with supplements to see if you
can measurably increase the rate or magnitude of those gains, go for it. But if you're still
struggling with how to train correctly, or your diet sucks, supplements are simply a waste
of money that will have zero benefit.


2. General Training
Basic Overview of Routine Setups
As far as the most basic of basic routines, I'd say two times per week, full body
Day 1:
squat, leg curl or SLDL, a compound push, a compound pull, tinkering
Day 2
deadlift or leg press, leg curl or SLDL, a different compound push, a different compound
pull, tinkering
Reps vary from 2-3x6-8 to 2-3 sets of 5 on everything (not including warm-ups). Then
move to 2 sets of 3 and one burnout set of 8 for a better mix of strength and size. BTW,
this is pretty much the John Christy routine.
You can get big and strong on that.
If you wanted to add a third day, you have multiple options.
Option 1: 3 full body workouts. Use a Bill Starr type of approach. You can go
heavy/light/medium if you want, probably recover better.
Option 1a: 3 full body workouts. Make Mon/Fri heavier, make Wed a tinkering workout
(pick less intensive exercises) and a little bit lighter. Better gene expression with this one
IMO. So hit sets of 5 or 6-8 on Mon/Fri and sets of 10-12 on Wed. Do the heavy
compounds on Mon/Fri and stuff like front squat or leg press, shoulder press, and arms
on Wed.
Option 2: basic upper/lower split. Split your workouts in two and alternate
Mon: upper
Wed: lower
Fri: upper
Mon: lower
Wed: upper
Fri: lower
You hit everything once every 5th day or 3 times in 2 weeks.


4 day basic routine becomes

Mon/Thu: lower body + abs
Tue/Fri: upper body
Mon/Thu: Legs + Back
Tue/Fri: Pushing
You can make both workouts the same or make each one different. So make Mon a squat
emphasis, Thu a deadlift emphasis. Emphasize flat bench and row on Tue, incline bench
and chin/pulldown on Fri. That sort of thing.


Training Secrets
Training secrets for size and strength gains (for naturals)
1. If you are natural, you must get stronger to get bigger. If, over time, you are not
adding weight to the bar, you are not growing.
2. Training a body part less than 2x/week will not give you optimal gains. An
upper/lower split done Mon/Tue/Thu/Fri is close to optimal for most. Full body twice a
week can work very well. Once every 5th day is the least frequently I would ever
recommend a natural train. You'll get less sore training more frequently and you'll grow
better. Save once/week body part training for pro bodybuilders (read: steroid users) and
the genetically elite.
3. When in doubt, do less volume, not more. You don't need a zillion sets to stimulate
hypertrophy, the bullshit written in the magazines to the contrary. If you can't get it done
in 4-8 hard sets (sometimes less, rarely more) you need to quit training like a pussy in the
gym. I had a friend who sold supplements one time who kept asking me to design him a
product that would really work. I told him to make a supplement that would make people
work hard in the gym and watch their diets. He thought I was joking.
4. Generally, basic compound exercises are best but isolation stuff has its place. Same
for the machines versus free weights 'argument': both have their place. Anybody who
tells you that you MUST do a certain exercise is arguing from an emotional stance, not a
physiological one.
5. If you think you can gain muscle without eating sufficient food or calories, you should
quit bodybuilding and take up something easier, like golf. You can't magically make
muscle out of nothing, you need calories and protein to grow. If you can't buckle down
to eat enough on a consistent basis, you won't grow an ounce of muscle. And spare me
the excuses that you're not hungry or your schedule won't allow it. It's about priorities,
eat more or stay skinny.
6. Most hardgainers train like idiots and don't eat enough.
7. Diets should be based around whole foods first, supplements second. Remember the
hoopla over zinc and testosterone and ZMA from Balco (hi Victor, hope you're enjoying
the forced sodomy in jail)? Red meat is a great source of zinc, iron, B12 and protein. Not
to mention who knows how many other trace nutrients that are involved in optimal
human physiology. Eat it every day. Remember all of that crap about indole 3 carbinole.
Guess what, it's found in cruciferous vegetables like broccoli and cauliflower. Every
time you hear about a new magic compound, 99 times out of 100 it's found in some
whole food that you're probably not eating. Eat whole foods with a shitpile of veggies
every day.


8. There is no singular best protein, each one has pros and cons. Generally, I think
casein is better for dieting, whey for around workouts, whole proteins the rest of the time.
You can't beat milk (and the dairy calcium has benefits on body fat). I think mixing
proteins at a given meal is a good idea to eliminate any shortcomings of one. I think food
combining (or protein rotation) is a lot of hippy holistic bullshit.
Dieting secrets for fat loss:
1. You can't magically lose weight unless you eat less or burn more calories with
activity. Not unless you take drugs and those either make you eat less or burn more
2. Don't bitch about how much you hate dieting or exercise. You can either change your
diet and activity patterns, or you can stay fat. Those are your two options, except for
3. The key to losing weight and keeping it off is the following
A. Change your eating habits: so that you're eating less
B. Change your activity patterns: so that you're expending more calories
C. Repeat: Keep doing this over a long period of time.
D. Forever: Newsflash, you don't EVER get to go back to your old eating habits unless
you want to get fat again. To maintain weight loss means maintaining at least part of the
changes you made to A and B.
4. All diet books, no matter what line of bullshit they sell you, are working in terms of
A-D. Cutting all of the carbs out of your diet will generally make you eat less, so will
cutting out all of the fat, so do diets that change your eating habits in one fashion or
another. Some books go the activity route. At the end of the day, even if they tell you
that you don't have to eat less to lose weight, they will trick you into doing it one way or
Note: My job, as a diet book author, is to turn A-D into a 300 page book. Most diet
books do it with 150 pages of recipes.
Everything else that you may come across, including my various gibberings in my books,
are just details on the above. But at a fundamental level, until you are dealing with that
1% of 1% of trainees (elite athletes, bodybuilders trying to get to 5% body fat without
muscle loss), those secrets are about all you need to know.
The equation is this:
Ass busting work + consistency + time = results.

- 10 -

Periodization for Bodybuilders: Part I
Problems with Non-Periodized Training

People get bored doing the same thing all the time
There are different components that can be trained/manipulated which contribute
to maximal size: myofibrillar hypertrophy, sarcoplasmic hypertrophy, capillary
density, etc.
Physical adaptation over time, the body seems to adapt to a given training style

Problems with Linear Periodization

While you are training one biomotor capacity (i.e. muscular endurance,
hypertrophy, maximal strength), the ones not being trained are going to hell
Studies done years ago found that athletes moving into low rep ranges (for
maximal strength) frequently lost muscle size; adding back even one high rep set
(remember this, it's important) frequently prevented the problem

- 11 -

Periodization for Bodybuilders: Part II

Strength Training

The goal of pure strength training is to improve the neural components of strength

Weight should be 85% of 1 repetition maximum or higher

Sets should last 20 seconds or less

Generally 5 reps or less done with a 2-3 second negative

The concentric portion should be done as fast as possible

Intensive Bodybuilding Method (or Power Bodybuilding)

The goal of this zone is to increase myofibrillar size and muscle density, and also
to increase maximal strength although not to the degree that pure strength training

Weight should be in the 80-85% of 1 RM range

Set length ranges from 20-30 seconds

A generic approach might be repeat sets of 4-6 reps on a 3-4 second down, 1 up

Rest periods should be about 3 minutes between sets

2 to 8 sets per body part might be done

Extensive Bodybuilding Method

The goal of this zone is a combination of myofibrillar and sarcoplasmic

hypertrophy with the lower end of the range (6-8 reps) being more geared towards
myofibrillar growth (with some strength gains) and the higher end of the range
(10-12 or even 15 reps) geared towards more sarcoplasmic hypertrophy

Weights should be in the 70-80% of 1RM range

Set length ranges from 30-45 (or 60) seconds

Rest periods are generally 1-2 minutes

Anywhere from 6-12 repetitions

3 down, 2 up tempo

3-6 sets

This category can be divided into two different ranges, one spanning the 6-8 rep
range and the other spanning the 12-15 rep range
Really Extensive Bodybuilding Method

The goal of this zone is purely sarcoplasmic hypertrophy, with the emphasis on
capillarization and mitochondria more so than on the other components such as

A good approach to this type of training is to forget about reps and do 1 or 2

timed sets of 1-2 minutes with the goal being continuous movement

Isolation, rather than compound, movements should be used

In any given 6-8 week cycle, you would choose to focus on one or two of the above
- 12 -

components and simply maintain the others.

Strength Training
Intensive Bodybuilding
Extensive Bodybuilding
Really Extensive Bodybuilding

Training Load
6-10 sets
2-8 sets
3-6 sets
1-2 sets

- 13 -

Maintaining load
2-3 sets
1-2 sets
1-2 sets
1 set

Periodization for Bodybuilders: Part III

Type of Training
Strength Training
Int. Bodybuilding
Ext. Bodybuilding

Really Extensive

Reps (%1RM)
1-5 (85%+)
4-6 (80-85%)
6-8 (75-80%)

Rest Tempo

10-15 (70-75%)
N/A (60-65%)



Set length
20" or less Compound
1-2' 3/0/2

Notes: Tempo reads X/Y/Z where X is the lowering speed, Y is the pause, and Z is the
lifting speed. Some coaches add a fourth value for the pause at the top. Rest intervals are
in minutes, set length is in seconds. The really extensive zone should be timed for 1 to 2
minutes (up to maybe 3 if you're a masochist) without focusing so much on reps. If you
must count reps, 15-30 reps on a 2/0/2 tempo works fine.

- 14 -

Problems with Linear Periodization

(Problems with linear periodization are also addressed in the section Periodization for
Bodybuilders: Part I)
The big issue always brought up with the typical linear periodization scheme is that you
move from high volume to high intensity in a more or less straight fashion. Problem
being that

volume and intensity arguably stimulate different gains

when you're training one, you're detraining the other

So you set up a cycle with both to some degree. As I mentioned, Dreschler offers what
he calls a 'reciprocal mini-cycle' for squats in his book, with one volume oriented, one
intensity and one medium day (front squats) in it.
(See next section for Dreschler's Reciprocal Mini-Cycle for Squats")

- 15 -

"Dreschler's Reciprocal Mini-Cycle for Squats"

Week 1: Tue: Squat 85%x5x3 Thu: Front Squat 90%x3 Saturday: Squat 90%x5
Week 2: Tue: Squat 85%x3x5 Thu: Front Squat 90%x2 Saturday: Squat 90%x5
Week 3: Tue: Squat 85%x5x3 Thu: No Front Squat Sat: 101%x3 or 5
This doesn't include warm-ups but you san see that Tuesday is the volume day, Saturday
is the intensity day (90%x5 is an ass kicker) and after a short deload in week 3, you go
for a new max.

- 16 -

Additional Aspects of Training

So the following is an old set of rules of thumb for overtraining and the weight room. A
friend was finally able to recreate it for me but I think it ties in with some of the
discussions in other threads.
Of course, some recent work (Cytokine Hypothesis of Overtraining) tends to suggest that
they may all be part and parcel of the same thing but the below is probably reasonably
I guess the question is how to get the most of out of each style of training without
suffering the consequences. The answer is probably rotation of each type of exercise.
1) To overtrain the muscles, do heavy eccentric work.
2) To overtrain the nervous system, do high %MVC work (lots of rate coding).
3) To overtrain the endocrine system, do lots of work (all volume included).
4) To overtrain the joints, do lots of heavy (load - volume above some threshold) work.

- 17 -

For the most part, I think ascending pyramids suck although there are exceptions where
I'll use them, usually having to do with motor learning and determining training loads. I
suppose you could consider wave loading to be an ascending pyramid of sorts.
Why waste energy pyramiding up (ignoring warm-ups here)? Do a low volume warm-up
and then jump to your heaviest set. You might wave load (back off and back up) or stay
at that weight for multiple reps. You can pyramid down for either hypertrophy (to
maintain repetition range) or do a back down set to add volume (3x3 + 1x8) or for
strength endurance (all heavy work and then a set of 50).

- 18 -

Fat-Targeting Cardio
Cliner9er (slightly modified as suggested by Lyle):
1. 5-10 minutes balls-to-wall cardio
2. 5 minutes short rest period
3. 30-45 minutes of steady-state cardio
"What time of day would you suggest this type of cardio plan?"
This is one of those few places where I think first thing in the morning before eating
might be ideal. Failing that, at least 3 hours away from a meal.

- 19 -

3. Strength Training
Basic Principles
All Rhea basically did was scientifically demonstrate what 8 decades of practical
experience had determined:

Beginners should work 3x/week at around 60%.

More advanced an average of 2x/week at a mean intensity of 85%. 4 sets/muscle
as I recall.
The second analysis looked at higher level athletes, still 2x/week, 85% mean
intensity, 8 sets/muscle.

I laid out the principles describing Rhea's review papers. Shaf has added a couple even
though we can debate the specificity vs. variety thing to death. I'd say:

Train a muscle/lift at least 2x/week

Depending on training age, training intensity can range from 60-100% with 80100% working better; one heavy day and one light day may be superior at higher
training/strength levels
Reps 1-5 for primary movements, 6+ on supplemental movements
Intelligent choice of assistance movements
Don't forget to add weight to the bar, moron

- 20 -

Sets, Reps, & Other Stuff

MU Recruitment
A motor unit (MU) is the combination of a single motor nerve and all of the muscle fibers
that it innervates.
Now, as gets mentioned here about once every 3rd week, MU recruitment maxes out
around 80-85% of 1RM which is about 5-8RM.
Beyond that further increases in force output are accomplished through rate coding (more
Using heavier loads (85% 1RM and above) won't increase recruitment. It will affect rate
coding (and other neural processes), but it will decrease fatigue (shorter sets) at least
looking at a single set.
For what it's worth, one of the earliest studies on strength concluded that medium reps (in
the 4-6 range or so) were better for strength than sets of either 2 or 10. The premise was
that sets of 2 were too short and sets of 10 were too light.
Likewise, the original Atha review paper concluded that 4-6 sets of 4-6 was optimal for
strength gains. It's where Starr got his 5 sets of 5 (he just rounded it for the math
impaired). Also, it's fairly well established that higher level lifters require a higher
threshold of intensity to make gains compared to lower level lifters.
There was a study along these lines mentioned in the Nerd Shit forum a couple
months ago. One group did 4 sets of 6, failing on 1-1.3 of the 24 reps. The other
group did 8x3, failing on less than 0.2 of the 24 reps. The length of both sessions
was the same, as well as the volume and tension. The 4x6 group had a 103%
greater strength gain and a 63% greater power gain than the 8x3 group.
(Link for the study:

- 21 -

This goes back to the whole 'recruit and fatigue a MU' thing that Zatsiorsky goes on
Zatsiorskys whole premise is that for a motor unit to be trained it must be
A. recruited (a function of loading)
B. fatigued (which will be a function of rep count although you can probably do the
same if you keep rest periods short enough).
So compare a 1RM to a 5RM. You don't get any more recruitment with the 1RM (though
you get higher rate coding, maybe you get more of an effect on inter/intramuscular
coordination, disinhibition of whatever) than with the 5RM. The 5RM generates more
fatigue to any given MU.
Then again, someone should tell the OL's (who rarely go over 3 reps in the competition
movements) that.
It may be that a steady diet of 5s with some occasional forays into very low reps gives the
best results. You're getting more than pure neural stimulation with sets of 5 (MU fatigue
in addition to whatever neural effects are occurring) and almost pure neural factors
(inter/intramuscular coordination, etc) with the very low reps.

- 22 -

Prilepins Table

# of Reps per Set


Lifts Per Workout


- 23 -

Optimal Lifts Per Workout


Lyles Deloading Recommendations
Deloading needn't be that complicated. You can cut volume (in half or more), or cut
frequency (for example, drop out the second two workouts in the week in the generic
program) and some like cutting intensity along with it.
Some deloading schemes actually increase intensity (load on bar/whatever) as volume
comes down although that's usually more for tapering than deloading per se.
I'd say cut back to 80% of previous maxes and build back up over 2 weeks, cutting
volume in the first week, add some 2nd week, back to full volume the next. Then
hammer for 6 weeks and do it again.

Dual Factor Theory and Deloading/Intensity Phase

"i.e. 3 weeks loading, 1 week deloading for 4-5 cycles, then 3 weeks deloading?"
Yeah, something along those lines. The 3 weeks deloading would generally be the final
taper before a major peak.

- 24 -

Comments on Kortes 3x3

The problem I have with Korte is that it's too specialized. Over time, it will lead to
imbalances. This is true of all overly specialized routines. At the very least, I'd want a
dynamic midback exercise like a row to avoid shoulder problems.
Also, lots of people said it worked great for their squat/dl and did jack for their bench.
Considering that bench volume was roughly 1/2 of squat/dl, I'm not surprised.
I'd put a second pressing exercise into the program, or double the bench volume, which
necessitates more balancing/pulling work IMO. At which point you might as well set up
a normal PL training program.
Starr's program is a little bit more varied, at least it can be.

- 25 -

Stretch Shortening Cycle

Reactive shit or strength means potential kinetic energy stored in the negative
phase of a movement which is converted to kinetic energy in the concentric phase,
much like stretching and releasing an elastic band. SSC means stretch shortening
cycle, technical terminology for reactive strength. When you try to make an
exercise easy by doing quick, rhythmic and bouncy movement you are in fact
using SSC.

- 26 -

Strength Routines
Current Lesbian Powerlifting Training
----------I have the girls working on a fairly typical 4 day/week workout, two lower body days,
two upper. Each workout takes about 1.5 hours.
Tue: Squat + Assistance
Wed: Bench + Assistance
Fri: Speed Squat (DL) + Assistance
Sat: Speed Bench + Assistance
Squat + Assistance
---------------------Squat: loaded according to Prilepins table (see section Prilepins Table). I decided to
move to this after finding that grinding out high reps too close to failure was causing the
girls to stall. So for the first month, we used 6 sets of 2 in the 80-85% range with a 3-4
rest period. For the last few weeks, Ive had them doing 4-6 sets of 1 in the 90%+ range
using competition commands.
This is an autoregulated sort of thing: if the girls are really blowing up the weight with
good bar speed and no real sticking point, Ill let them add 5 lbs although this is usually
only done once per workout. If its not (i.e. because Pattie, who is doing the
bodybuilding show, is tired from cardio), I wont. Amalia gets pissed at me a lot because
I wont let her up the weight. But if its not moving how I want it to, I hold her back until
the next week. Basically, Id rather see them get 6 perfect singles with 90% then run out
of steam with the heavier weight. I also use this to gauge sticking points, see where they
are slowing down.
Assistance: So far, box squats at varying heights (loading described below). This
exercise will change every 3-4 weeks (right now they are on a 3 week rotation but thats
more because they had 9 weeks before the meet when I set this up). The first week of a
new exercise, Ill take them to 2-3 medium sets of 5 to get a feel for it. The next week is
done for triples, starting 5-10 lbs over their previous 5 rep weight. 3 attempts with the
goal of setting a 3RM. So if the first attempt goes up with room to spare, they move up.
And again for a maximum of 3 attempts. The final week is done for singles starting at 5
lbs over their previous 3 rep weight, three attempts to set a new 1RM.
The first 3 weeks I had them us a below parallel box. In watching their heavy squat (and
DL) work, it became apparent that both were coming out of the bottom fine, and stalling
in the midrange. So we moved to a slightly above parallel box with pull throughs to
bring up that weak point.

- 27 -

Supplemental work:
Pull through: 3x10-15.
Narrow stance leg press: 1-2x6-8
Leg curl: 1-2x6-8
Calf raise: 3-4x6-8
Back extension with 2 second pause: 1-2x6-8
Crunch on Swiss ball: 1-2x6-8

Heavy Bench + Assistance

------------------------------Main Lift: Bench Press (loaded as with squats above)
Cable Row: 3-4 sets of 6-8
Bench assistance: Loaded as with squats above. First I had them target pecs which meant
Hammer incline presses. 1 week of 5s, 1 week of 3s (followed by a back off set of 6-12
to maintain hypertrophy), 1 week of singles (followed by a back off set of 6-12). Since
they both have a sticking point about 2-3 off the chest, I have moved them to floor
presses. They get funny looks from the doofuses at the gym. I think thats mainly
because my girls can bench more off the floor than these guys can period.
Pulldown: 2-3 sets of 6-8 or 2 sets of 10-12
Second pressing exercise: 1-2 sets of 10-12. This was originally shoulder presses. Since
I moved the girls to floor presses, I have them do a single set of incline barbell to
maintain pec strength/size.
Barbell curl: 1-2 sets of 6-8
Decline nose breaker: 1-2 set of 10-12
Rotator cuff: 1-2 sets of 8-12

Thursday: Speed Squat (DL) + Assistance

------------------------------------------------Deadlift: As already mentioned, DLs are currently being worked heavy one week and for
speed/technique the other. Usually on the heavy day, Ill start them with a medium heavy
weight and just pyramid up. If the weight goes up easily/quickly, we go up 5-10 lbs.
When they get to a heavy enough place for the day, Ill have them stop there and
complete however many reps are left to a maximum of 6.
On the speed day, its an easy 6x1 at 70% of previous contest max, just switching off
with very little rest.

- 28 -

Speed Squat: Done on a below parallel box. 10-12 sets of 2 loaded just like WSBB. On
the heavy DL days, I will often pull this back to 6x2 because the girls nervous systems
are just wiped out. No bar speed, no spring so I call it early.
Assistance: Usually a combo of leg curls (no glute ham machine) and back extensions.
We had tried heavy SLDL but it tended to overwork the girls backs. 1-2 sets of 6-8
each. Heavy box squats on the other lower body day also serves as assistance for the DL.
Narrow stance leg press: 1-3 sets of 6-8
Calf raise: 3-4 sets of 6-8
Crunches on Swiss Ball: 2 sets of 6-8

Fri: Speed Bench + Assistance

-----------------------------------Speed Bench: 8x3 at 60% (just like WSBB)
Medium Overgrip Chin: 6x2 loaded the same as squat/bench on the heavy days. If they
are moving quickly, they can hang weight. Once it gets reasonably challenging, I keep
the weight static and have them get the total number of sets. Amalia is currently using an
extra 15 lbs, Pattie 5 lbs.
Assistance: Originally barbell incline. Currently, shoulder press to support the floor
press. Same loading as other assistance work. 1 week of moderate 5s, 1 week of
maximum 3s with a back down set to maintain hypertrophy, 1 week of maximum singles
followed by a back down. Then pick a new exercise depending on sticking point.
Cable Row: 2-3 sets of 6-8
Barbell Incline: 1 set of 6-12
Decline Nose Breaker: 2-3 sets of 6-8 (Pattie often does a set of weighted dips to replace
one of these sets)
Barbell Curl: 1-2 sets of 10-12
Rotator Cuff: 1-2 sets of 8-12
Intensity Cycling
-------------------I don't have them working at a true max all the time, each exercise has an easy week (sub
maximal 5s), harder week (3 triples), and a max out week (singles). Then back to 5s for
As well, they typically do different ME exercises on the different days (i.e. floor press
one day, shoulder press the other).

- 29 -

Contrast that to someone trying to work ME at maximum levels every week.

- 30 -

Lyles Theoretical Cycle Idea

Ok, so a while back (couple of months) I mentioned in someone's training log (maybe
Jon's) about an idea I had for a training cycle.
Had come up within the context of the way that the Metal Militia guys train (balls out for
3-4 weeks, take 1-2 weeks off), I think I also mentioned Smolov and the fact that WSBB
isn't a true conjugate system (at least as defined in Supertraining).
Also commented on the idea of rotating exercises being able to avoid stagnation at 90%+
(though the WSBB guys seem to take roughly 1 week in 4 off from ME exercises). There
were other issues contributing to this as well.
Anyhow, throwing that all together, my idea (roughly sketched) was this:
Monday: Competition Bench + Assistance
Competition Style Bench: work up over a number of sets to a max single using your
competition style. Keep increasing until you fail. Note
where/how you fail.
You could conceivably do an assistance exercise here (i.e. a board press or some such)
but pick it depending on where you failed during the first exercise. So
Off the chest:
2" off the chest:

wide grip/paused bench press

2 board press
floor press
3-4 board press or pin presses

Probably work this for doubles and triples or even 5's. A lot of this depends on recovery;
working to a max single in the bench may be enough maximal work for the day (see
Additional supplemental work for shoulders, back, triceps: 3-4 sets of 8-10 or whatever.
Tuesday: Competition Style Squat + Assistance
Squat: same as above, work up to a single until you fail. Note where/how you fail.
Possibly an assistance exercise picked based on where you failed.
below parallel box squat or pause squat or bottom position squat or whatever
Midpoint: above parallel box, GM or SLDL
Lockout: who fails at lockout
Work it for doubles or triples, even 5's.

- 31 -

Some supplemental work for hams, glutes, abs, low back.

Thursday: Assistance Bench Day
Assistance Bench: instead of competition style bench to a max single, do assistance
work to a max single. Picked as above, based on where you failed.
Work up to a max single just as per WSBB ME day. I'd say warm
up with normal bench pressing for technique.
Supplemental work for delts, back, arms.
Friday: DL + Assistance Day
DL: Work up to a max single DL in competition style.
Assistance exercise chosen based on where you fail.
elevated DL (be very careful) or switch to sumo
Midpoint: GM or SLDL again
Lockout: band DL or something similar
Supplemental work
Basically it's all ME work with a combo of competition and assistance work. The idea
was that you worked to a max single in the competition lift at each workout and used
your failure point to determine your selection of an assistance exercise. Alternately, you
could progress the loading over the 3-4 weeks.
Week 1: work to a 4-5RM
Week 2: work to a 3RM
Week 3: work to a 2RM
Week 4: work to a 1RM
The 4-5RM week might be dropped if you can only handle 3 weeks of extreme loading
like this. In any event, your choice of assistance work depends on where you fail during
the competition movement.
As well, conceivably, your choice of assistance would change week to week depending
on where you failed that week.
The above would be done for 3-4 straight weeks, attempting to break records each
After that comes the deload. But rather than the Metal Militia approach to doing nothing,
I figured on putting speed work during the deloading. So you're going to do basically
nothing but speed work (use standard WSBB recommendations or not) with a lowered

- 32 -

volume of supplemental work. Do that for 1-2 weeks. One possibility would be to work
to a 5RM prior to speed work, to maintain a bit of heavy loading.
Then return to heavy loading again. If you wanted, you could move to more intensive
means (i.e. chains, bands) in subsequent blocks which is also more in keeping with true
conjugate periodization.
As above, it's sort of a mix of MM (heavy loading for 3-4 straight weeks), Smolov (do
speed work during the LDTE of the heavy work), and WSBB (pick assistance work based
on weakness).

- 33 -

4. Hypertrophy Training
Sets & Reps
Ideal Rep Range(s) for Hypertrophy
The more I ponder about the best hypertrophy program and the more I read Lyle, I
feel that the ultimate hypertrophy program will be the ultimate strength routine.
To a first approximation, I don't disagree. As I've been saying for years, progressive
tension overload is THE SINGULAR MOST IMPORTANT key to growth.
The big question is the role of other factors (cf. metabolic). I mean, in premise, you
should be able to grow on progressive singles (and some do). But is that optimal
compared to using sets of 5 (less tension but more metabolic work) or sets of 8 (about the
optimal balance between MU recruitment and metabolic work)?
You achieve basically 100% MU recruitment around 80-85% of 1RM which is about 5-8
reps (note, some studies find 80% 1RM for lower body to be a higher rep range which
may explain the old empirical saw about legs needing higher reps; then again, a lot of big
legs were built with low rep leg work).
This explains why the 5-8 rep range gives damn near optimal growth. It maximizes
metabolic work (and volume/workout) at a tension sufficient to hit all MU's. Any higher
rep range and tension falls off and you're no longer getting 100% MU recruitment. Any
lower rep range and you run into CNS fatigue issues.
So if you use that loading and do 5-8 reps, you get what would appear to be the optimal
mix of tension/recruitment and metabolic work.
However, based on some data, a range of repetitions may be necessary for optimal size
If you had to pick a single rep range, it'd be 6-8. I made this point years and years ago.
That gives you the optimal balance between MU recruitment and metabolic work.

- 34 -

If I had to pick 2 ranges, I'd pick 4-6 and maybe 10-12 (or 12-15). Obviously, as per the
periodization articles, you can subdivide that even further.

- 35 -

Aspects of a Hypertrophy Program

Frequency: 2x/Week vs. 3x/Week
"In your opinion, how effective are 2x/week workouts, compared to 3x/week workouts?"
I think 2x/week full body can work very well, I have used such before.
3x/week full body might generate better results overall for all the reasons Bryan goes on
and on about on the HST forum. How much better than 2x, I can't say.
Another option instead of alternating (I'm assuming quad dominant exercise is squat and
hip dominant exercise is DLs, and that can be problematic) is to set up a third workout,
almost a 'light' workout type of thing.
So if you're currently doing back squat/DL for workouts 1/2 respectively, put in front
squats or leg press for Wed. Nothing super heavy, just a couple of sets of 6-8 or 10-12
for gene expression/upregulation things. Same for upper body work.

- 36 -

Progressive Overload
Bryan's basic premise is that 'progressive tension overload' (plus some ancillary stuff)
stimulates growth. Ergo he set up the program to have a weight increase at every
The problem is that, in order to do this, you MUST start very submaximally. It's the only
way to guarantee a weight increase at every workout, by starting with pansy ass weights.
Now, this gets into a separate debate: is say 50% of your previous best 10RM sufficient
to stimulate growth or adaptation? Noting that it's incorrect to look at it on an acute
single workout kind of thing, we're looking at the cumulative effect of several workouts
in a row.
This also ties into the SD thing, with the idea being that 50% is now a tension overload
because of the deconditioning. A lot of if's going on in there.
You can draw an analogy to endurance training. We basically know that, once your
fitness is X, you don't get any impact on anything if you are below some threshold %age
of X. You may get active recovery, you may get some type of mild benefit, but you don't
get fitness gains.
The same should basically hold for mass gains. If the tension threshold to stimulate
growth is X, there should be some threshold %age of X below which you don't stimulate
jack crap.
Hell, even the HG guys never start lower than about 80% of previous bests, ramping up
over 2-4 weeks and then trying to set PR's at whatever rep range they are working in.
And now I've lost my train of thought on all of this. I guess my point being that I have
trouble seeing the value of the very low %age workouts. Until you get to some threshold
level of your previous best, I doubt you are doing anything in terms of stimulating growth
(going that light may have value from relearning the movement, breaking back in after a
layoff, or whatever).
I think a lot of it was practicality, knowing the mindset of the typical bodybuilder (who is
trying to go all out at every workout) he had to force them to use submaximal weights.
Knowing also that all too many bodybuilders never add weight to the bar, he wanted to
force a weight increase. Also, knowing that most people will screw it up if you leave
them to their own devices, it was a good idea to make it very regimented. Even there,
look at the HST board, people insist on finding new and creative ways to muck up a
rather simple system.
Of course, there were other issues, making sure they could maintain sufficient frequency
(every other day) which also means submaximal workouts, etc.
- 37 -

Bringing us around to your question because you can implement some of the above
principles without using the exact HST methodology. You can readily train full body
3x/week as long as you don't try to go all out at every workout. Look at any 5x5
interpretation or Pendlay's stuff or a lot of approaches to training.
I guess the question is whether adding weight at every workout is required for growth?
Empirical experience says a resounding hell no. Do you need to add weight at some
point? Absolutely. Short of starting with pansy weights, or rank beginners, expecting a
weight (or rep) increase at every workout when you're using semi-challenging loads is
wholly unrealistic.
Secondarily, if needing to add weight at every workout means starting with totally useless
loading, are you gaining more from adding weight at each workout than you're losing
from starting with useless loading? And, related to that, is the detraining you're going to
get from working so submaximally going to hurt you even more?
I think if you have someone who has trouble knowing when to increase weight or hold
back in the gym (i.e. typical hardhead), HST might be superior only in that it saves them
from their own bad habits. If they are required to follow a certain progression on loads
and stop at a given rep count, you stop them from going all out at every workout and
hampering the frequency issue.
If they have enough self control to keep a rep or two in the tank, add weight when it gets
easy, I'm not so sure HST would be necessarily superior. As per that other thread, old
time bodybuilders trained that way all the time, 3x/week, full body stopping short of
failure except once every week or every 2 weeks, they'd go all out and have a PR/record
day. Then a lot of submaximal work to a new peak.
Adding, I suspect that Bryan may have gotten the idea that loads need to be increased at
every workout from looking at the adaptation rate of rats and mice (because the research
sure isn't there in humans). As noted, the adaptation rate on vermin is way faster than in
humans because of differences in tissue turnover/metabolic rate, etc., being 3-7 times as
fast. So a need to increase load in rats that is one day might mean a need to increase
every 3-7 days.
Translation, I see no problem and it would probably work well to train full body 3x/week
at maybe 90% of an RM load (so 90% of 5RM or 90% of 8RM or whatever) and add
weight once per week. So add weight on Monday and keep it the same on Wed and Fri.
By the time next Monday rolls around, you should be a little bit stronger, add some
You're still getting progressive tension overload (just on a slower time scale) but each
weekly workout is much closer to the threshold to actually stimulate gains.

- 38 -

Or be more subjective about it, when you feel like you have that extra rep in the tank (so
instead of 1-2 reps extra, you have 3-4) and it feels easier, go up next workout.

- 39 -

Explanation of RBE
RBE = repeated bout effect, it occurs in response to loading and is basically the muscle's
way (OK, one of the ways) that it limits further damage. Bryan is of the opinion that
RBE ultimately conspires to limit further growth because it becomes so damn hard to
further damage the muscle and stimulate gains. Hence the suggestion to strategically
decondition (technical way of saying "Take time off", old time bodybuilders referred to
this as 'softening up', they'd take a month off of training and felt that they grew better
when they came back to heavy training) between cycles.
Unfortunately, what I've seen/looked at in terms of RBE tends to use some really silly
loading schemes. Like some serious eccentric protocols (10 sets of 10 maximal
eccentrics), makes you question the relevance to more sane loading. Not suggesting that
the RBE doesn't occur to some degree, but I might debate if it's to that same level.

- 40 -

Effectiveness of Strategic Deconditioning

I doubt you're going to lose much/if any real LBM during a short deload. You might lose
some glycogen/water size though. Most strength gains during this time period are neural
As far as SD vs. DL, I think the as of yet semi-unanswered question is whether 7-9 days
totally off of training actually has any real impact in terms of the repeated bout effect.
After all, the whole concept of Bryan's strategic deconditioning (which is just a
techifying version of the old concept of letting a muscle 'soften up' from about 50 years
ago) is that connective tissue proliferation (this is a typical adaptation to the types of
training that induce hypertrophy) prevents one's ability to generate further
tension/damage overload and stimulate growth.
The idea is that, by deliberately detraining, you lose the CT adaptations and can go back
to stimulating growth. I think the wishful thinking part is in hoping that the CT
adaptations are lost more quickly than actual muscle mass gains are lost.
The couple/few studies I've seen suggest that the RBE hangs around for many weeks
approaching months. Hard to believe you decondition your muscles that much in such a
short time period.
That's along with the other issues. A lot of folks get mentally stressed/antsy from not
doing anything for a week. Doing a couple of light high rep workouts gives joints and
CNS a break, keeps you sane, etc. We discussed some other issues with regards to this in
one of the strength training threads (it was mainly an exchange between FortifiedIron and
I). Or do something very different, do a bunch of bodyweight stuff or something that is a
very different stressor than you were doing in the weight room.
To a degree, any periodized program starts the same although the explicit goal is usually
different. The transition period isn't so much about deliberately detraining as letting
whatever vestiges of fatigue and such dissipate so that you can start a new training cycle
and train up to a new peak. Standard linear periodization (such as a Coan routine) is no
different really.
That said, I took a full week off and did nothing after the last ice season. It's probably the
longest time I've gone without doing any training in over a decade (excepting being sick
or injured). But I was pretty burnt after that ice season and it really didn't affect me. I
also knew it was important in the long-term to let all of the traces of both physical and
psychological stress dissipate so I'd be ready for another hard year of training.

- 41 -

Advanced Techniques
Body Part Specialization
For all but beginner and maybe intermediate bodybuilders, it's usually impossible to bring
up all body parts at once. Rather, focusing on one or two upper body muscles and one or
two lower body muscles, while maintaining the others, works much much better. So in
most of my sample workouts, at most two body parts are emphasized while the others are
trained at maintenance levels.
On that note, the first body part (or two) that you work in a workout will generally
receive the greatest training effect. So if you want to bring up your shoulders (strength or
size), train them first in the workout, putting chest second and working it at maintenance
levels. Will this hurt your chest poundages? Yes. But it's better than the converse where
chest training will limit how much emphasis you can put into your delts.
So when you're focusing heavily on chest and back, plan on working delts and arms at
maintenance. If you want to focus on delts, work chest and triceps at maintenance. If
you want to focus on triceps, work on chest and delts at maintenance. The same goes for
pulling exercises. Legs are a little more complicated because the amount of overlap isn't
necessarily as great. Hamstrings are certainly worked during compound leg stuff but it's
not quite the same as how hard delts or tris are worked during heavy benching. This
means that you can use more volume for leg exercises (there are also fewer body parts to
worry about: quads, hams/glutes and calves) and the sample workouts will be setup that
At the same time, my comments on body part emphasis still hold: if you always train
quads (squats) first, this will limit how much energy you have left to train hamstrings. I
think that's a big part of why so many bodybuilders have terrible hamstrings. Putting
hamstrings first and quads at maintenance is a way to avoid this common problem.
Another approach (that can also be used for upper body) is to make one leg workout a
quad emphasis workout and the other a hamstring emphasis workout with volume set
accordingly. For upper body you might make one workout a push emphasis (with light
pull meaning back/bis worked at maintenance) and the other a pull emphasis (with light
push meaning chest/delts/tris worked at maintenance).

- 42 -

Block Training
The basic gist of block training is that rather than spread out your high intensity days and
try to get full (or nearly) full recovery between, or even use hard/easy approach, you put
the heavy days back to back to generate a lot of fatigue and then either take full recovery
or very light training (Typically in a 1:1 ratio so 2 hard days = 2 days off, 3 heard days =
3 days off) to allow adaptation.
Generally speaking it's reserved for more advanced athletes (who need more of a training
stimulus to generate adaptation) and would be more likely to be used in the precompetition as opposed to the preparation phase in a periodized scheme.
It's traditionally been used in endurance training, I first read about it in Dan Morris'
cycling book although Daniels' mentions putting two hard workouts back to back in his
running book. A new cycling book "Maximum Performance for Cyclists" by Ross also
uses it extensively.
So a typical block training week might be
Mon: high intensity intervals
Tue: high intensity intervals
Wed/Thu: off or light aerobic training (Talking HR 120-130)
Fri/Sat: more intervals
Sun/Mon: day off
I ran into problems trying to apply this myself with a 7 day week so I ended up with
Mon/Tue: hard
Wed/Thu: easy
Fri/Sat: hard
Sun: easy
With a bigger volume reduction on Saturday.
Morris actually recommends a 10 day cycle in his book but that doesn't fit most people's
The basic goal would be to maintain intensity across the days of block training but cut the
volume on subsequent days.
Ross has several different schedules, either 3 days hard/4 days off, 4 days hard/3 days off,
5 days hard/2 days off (which he doesn't widely recommend).
Note: block training for cycling would be different than for running because of
differences in joint pounding, etc.

- 43 -

So I figured why not apply it to bodybuilding so that's what I suggested to Sporto. I

originally suggested he train specialization body parts two days in a row with decreasing
volume (so 8 sets day 1, 4-6 day 2) and then take a couple of days before training them
again. Maintenance body parts were put on the rest days. He extended this to a 3 day
cycle himself. So he's training the same body parts 3 days in a row (I believe 8-10, 6-8,
4-6 sets respectively) with maintenance work on the intervening days.
Thats the basic gist of it anyhow.

- 44 -

Hypertrophy Routines
Lyle's Bulking Routine
Monday: Lower
Squat: 3-4x6-8/3' (3-4 sets of 6-8 with a 3' rest)
SLDL or Leg Curl: 3-4x6-8/3'
Leg Press: 2-3x10-12/2'
Another Leg Curl: 2-3x10-12/2'
Calf Raise: 3-4x6-8/3'
Seated Ralf: 2-3x10-12/2'
Tuesday: Upper
Flat bench: 3-4x6-8/3'
Row: 3-4x6-8/3'
Incline Bench or Shoulder Press: 2-3x10-12/2'
Pulldown/Chin: 2-3x10-12/2'
Triceps: 1-2x12-15/1.5'
Biceps: 1-2x12-15/1.5'
For the Thu/Fri workouts either repeat the first two or make some slight exercise
substitutions. Can do deadlift/leg press combo on Thu, switch incline/pulldown to first
exercises on upper body day. A lot depends on volume tolerance, if the above is too
much, go to 2-3x6-8 and 1-2x10-12

- 45 -

FortifiedIrons Isolation-Free Hypertrophy Program

By FortifiedIron (slightly modified as suggested by Lyle)
This program is great for the upper level beginner and intermediate lifter!
Week 1: 3x12
Week 2: 3x10
Week 3: 3x8
Week 4: 4x6
Week 5: 5x5
Week 6: 8x3
(You will do this on ALL lifts)
-ORWeek 1: 3x12
Week 2: 3x12
Week 3: 3x10
Week 4: 3x10
Week 5: 3x8
Week 6: 3x8
Week 7: 4x6
Week 8: 4x6
Week 9: 5x5
Week 10: 5x5
Week 11: 8x3
Week 12: 8x3

Upper Day 1:
- Bench Press
- Rows
- Military Press
- Pulldowns

- 46 -

Lower Day 1:
- Conventional Deadlift
- Narrow Stance Squat
- Barbell Shrugs
Upper Day 2:
- Incline Bench
- Weighted Pull-Ups
- DB Bench
- Rows
Lower Day 2:
- Narrow Stance Squat
- Goodmorning
- Reverse Hyper
- Dumbbell Shrugs
** This is the program, DO NOT SUBTRACT any of the exercises! If you dont know
how to do them, learn how to do them! The only reason you should ever pull out any of
these during the whole 5 week cycle is if you feel pain doing them. If you dont know
the lift I'd suggest doing an alternate pattern with the movement. Basically rather than
progressing with the given rep/set pattern I've showed continue to do:
Once you start the cycle over again after the 5th week, you can then continue the same
rep/set pattern as the first outline (with the regular lifts) and progress in the lower reps.
This will 1) keep you from getting hurt, 2) teach your form, and 3) break the learning
chain/curve. Its key that if you dont know anything about the movements that you
spend as much time working with them and do as many reps as possible with the given
movement. This is where motor skills develop and intra-inter neuromuscular
coordination develop with the movement.
** Biceps/Abs, Upper days throw in a bicep exercise if you want. On lower days throw
in some ab work. This is accessory work, so its not that important. Keep the reps
around 3x8-4x6 if you want. Be aware that isolation movements are GAY and that
people spend too much time training them when they are 150 pounds!
** Keep a journal that I'll have access too. I'll look at how youre progressing. If you
have any before pictures send them to me or save them. Once youre done with the first
meso cycle compare your progress from before you started till then with pics and lift

- 47 -

achievements. Do the same when you repeat the cycle. This is key in mental motivation,
and that is where too many people fail.
** Once you get a whole meso cycle Wave (12 total weeks) you'll take some low volume
work to help recovery. Its key that you dont take ANY time away from the gym. Too
many people just walk away for a week or two weeks, this makes coming back a sore
painful mess for at least 2 weeks. Now you've spent 4 weeks without making any
progress. This is a typical deloading pattern. By training under your adaptive threshold
(i.e. low volume) then you will not adapt, therefore you will recover. This is the
fundamental basis of periodization!!

- 48 -

5. Diet
General Diet Principles
Basic Guidelines
1. Meal frequency: 4 meals per day should be considered the bare minimum, 6 per
day is probably closer to ideal
2. Total caloric intake: for mass gains, a rule of thumb starting place is 16-18 cal/lb.,
for fat loss 12 cal/lb.
3. Water intake: high, 6-8 8 oz. glasses per day*
4. Protein intake: 0.8-1 gram/lb. from high quality sources
5. Carbohydrate intake: 45-55% of total calories from a mix of starchy and fibrous
carbohydrate sources, high GI carbs right after training
6. Fat intake: 15-25% of total calories, with most coming from unsaturated fats
*Probably the best rule of thumb I've seen for water intake is this:
You should strive to have 5 clear urinations per day, with at least two of those coming
after a workout. That takes into account individual variance in water requirements. A
high intake of vitamin supplements will make this method fairly useless.

- 49 -

Excess Calories Needed for Growth

It takes somewhere between 1200-2400 cal to synthesize a pound of muscle (in addition
to the caloric content of that muscle).
If 100% of extra calories were going to muscle (a doubtful assumption I think), that's
170-350 extra per day or so to gain one pound a week. If you assume only 50% of extra
calories are going to muscle (just general inefficiency), that's 350-700 cal/day extra.
That's also assuming you're gaining one pound of muscle per week. Which can happen
but only when the moons align.
Assuming 1/2 lb muscle per week and you're down to ~80-170 cal/day extra at 100%
efficiency and double that if you're at 50%.
Of course, that's a really simplistic analysis, some people do seem to burn off extra
calories as heat more effectively than others, leaving less for storage. Those folks often
need to take calories really high.

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Transitioning Between Bulking and Cutting

I am of the current opinion that 2 weeks of eating 'normally' (= at maintenance calories
and at least non-ketogenic levels of carbs) between bulking and dieting cycles is the best
The basic logic:
A. Coming out of dieting, your body is basically prepped to store fat at an accelerated
rate (1), jacking up calories to a high level right away will put the fat on quickly. 2
weeks at maintenance calories will help to normalize some of these problems (they won't
be eliminated completely).
B. Coming out of bulking, I have a vague hunch (it gets complicated, involves techie
molecular biology shit dealing with the stabilization of proteins) that going straight into
hard dieting might be bad from a muscular point of view.
Spending a couple of weeks 'consolidating' the changes (which, unfortunately, means as
much attention to diet as when you were dieting or bulking) from the previous bulk or
diet cycle just seems like a good idea to me.
1. Note that I have seen, and experienced, any number of times that the first 4-7 days off
of an extended diet, as people eat more, they just keep getting leaner. I don't know if it's
some kind of metabolic dieting momentum, if it's something hormonal (i.e. leptin and
metabolic rate come up faster than the body can go back into fat storing mode) or what.
But I've seen it enough times to know something is going on. Into the second week or so,
you just get fat again.

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Supplements and Post-Workout Nutrition

Lyles Top Supplements
General use:

protein powder, if that counts

fish oils

basic multivitamin/mineral

vitamin C (1-4 grams of vitamin C per day may help to keep cortisol under


maybe a basic anti-oxidant (torn on this considering the recent data)

Specifically for Dieting



lots of people seem to like green tea

Specifically for Strength/Size

For Endurance Weenies

glutamine (immune function)

citrulline probably

some type of lactate buffer (I miss PhosFuel)

Specifically for Joint Health

MSM, chondroitin, etc.

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Post-Workout Nutrition
Typical recommendations for post-workout are 1-1.5 g/kg of carbs and about 1/3rd as
much protein.
Probably the best way to control cortisol during a workout is to sip a diluted carb drink.
By maintaining blood glucose and insulin at a higher level, cortisol levels shouldn't
increase as much. The gut can only handle between 30-60 grams of carbohydrate per
hour and that should be mixed in about 32 oz of fluid to get the optimal concentrations.

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Protein and Thermogenesis
Excessive protein burns off calories for heat, increases protein degrading enzymes
(meaning that if you don't take in that much protein all the time, your body breaks it
down that much faster). I remember Duchaine suggesting that high carb/high protein was
causing the body to burn off calories too well thermogenically that mass gains were
inhibited (calories wasted as heat can't go to synthesis of tissues), why he suggested
moving to isocaloric ratios: using fat as a metabolic 'damper' (essentially) on top of every
other reason to eat more fat.
I guess what we're trying to find is that optimal combination of both protein intake and
caloric intake to optimize mass gains while minimizing fat gains. Preferably with the
smallest deficit possible.
That is, you may be able to/need more calories on low-fat, high protein/high-carb because
of increased metabolism from thermogenesis. You might need less of a surplus with a
lower carb higher fat approach because less calories are being wasted as heat.

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Thermic Effects of Protein, Carbs, & Fat

The main difference in varying protein/carb ratios is that the thermic effect of food from
the higher protein will mean a lower effective caloric intake.
The thermic effect of carbs vs. fat is fairly minimal (3 vs. 6%). Protein clocks in at 2025% thermic effect meaning the body is using a lot of calories in processing.
So take someone from a 50% protein, 25% carb, 25% fat to 25% protein and you're
reducing caloric wastage by quite a bit.
For example:
300 g protein = 1200 calories * .2 = 240
300 g carbs = 1200 calories * 0.06 = 72
fat: whatever, it's miniscule
Total = 312 calories
150 g protein = 600 calories * .2 = 120 calories
450 g carbs = 1800 calories * .06 = 108 calories.
Total = 228 calories.
About 100 calories/day difference in effective caloric intake.
Beyond that, it shouldnt make a difference, research shows that protein above what is
needed is just oxidized in the liver. Once you've maxed out what your body needs to
support protein synthesis and growth, the rest is just an expensive fuel.
Shuffling around carbs and fats has a much smaller effect, amounting to 3-4% at the end
of the day (yes, DNL wastes like 23% but is still fairly minimal quantitatively except
under extreme circumstances).

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Carbs, Carbs, Carbs

Comparison of High/Medium/Low Carb Diets
LC/HF Standard
LC/HF Targeted
LC/HF - Cyclical


Insulin Sensitivity

- 56 -

Carb choices
Low GI
Medium GI

Carb addict

Stubborn fat

Who the Low Carb Bulk Is For

Low carb bulking diets are a matter of compromises and nothing more. Carb intolerant
individuals, for whatever reason, tend to get fat on high carbs. So you modulate carbs.
Will that impact anabolism? Very possibly. It's a compromise you have to deal with.
Life, she is full of them.
It might very well be that increasing carbs will increase muscular anabolism to some
proportion (meaning you'll gain muscle at a faster rate) but you also increase fat storage.
Alternately, it might be that increasing carbs results in no more muscle gain. The diets
are equally anabolic (in muscle) but the higher carb approach leads to greater fat gain.
This particular approach isn't something I'm recommending across the board. Someone
with superior muscular insulin sensitivity/muscular partitioning in the first place is going
to get better results on higher carbs/less fat.
This is for someone with mediocre to poor muscular insulin sensitivity (meaning that
high carb diets tend to result in poor results), an attempt to improve partitioning within
that context.
In other words, it is for folks who find that they do poorly in terms of muscle vs. LBM
gains with a standard carb-based diet.
I don't consider it an absolutely superior approach, just under those circumstances.

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Insulin is one of several important hormones. It is anti-catabolic, maybe anabolic, and is
a storage hormone. I don't think it needs to be super high for optimal effects (protein
synthesis is stimulated at fairly low levels of insulin, higher levels do seem to affect
catabolism more) but I don't think minimizing it completely (ketogenic/very low carbs) is
optimal either.
"Why is more insulin not better?"
If someone has wonderful muscular insulin sensitivity and all of that, it probably is.
Then again, it only takes basal levels of insulin to pretty much maximally stimulate
protein synthesis. Insulin's main role is anti-catabolic and more *may* have a greater
effect. But insulin should be high (and stable enough) at 100 g/day + pre/post workout
carbs IMO.
You can jack insulin all the time and that's certainly anabolic (technically: anti-catabolic)
to muscle but, without stunning muscular insulin sensitivity, you get fat.
Which is the whole point behind isocaloric/what I'm suggesting types of approaches:
trying to find a happy medium for all of this stuff.

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Carbs and Maintaining Anabolism

To be optimally anabolic, you need a few things (and there are assuredly more than this):
A. Proper hormone levels (meaning sufficient insulin but more isn't necessarily better,
low cortisol, etc, etc)
B. Sufficient protein
C. Sufficient cellular energy to support protein synthesis (this ties into E)
D. You want to maintain liver glycogen
E. You want to at least maintain muscle glycogen
Muscle glycogen isn't going to really affect hormones to a huge degree, that's going to be
more of a diet issue. And this is really my 'problem' with keto diets for mass gains, even
at high calories, ketosis simply isn't an ideal hormonal state for growth.
I guess the question comes down to how many carbs are necessary to achieve those goals.
From the standpoint of say A and D, the answer is not much. Just avoiding ketosis (100
g/day or thereabouts) should do it. E would depend on how much volume you're doing in
the gym and it would probably be best to set carbs relative to that. As per the keto book,
you need *roughly* 5 grams of carbs for every 2 sets you do. So a 24 set workout
requires around 60 grams of carbs to refill muscle glycogen (24/2 = 12 * 5 = 60). Which
really isn't very much.
I think that setting total daily carbs at 100 g/day on low carb days and adding 25-50
grams of additional carbs around training (that's a TOTAL of 125-150 grams of
carbs/day, hardly high) is a better approach than just about any form of CKD for mass
So across 6 meals, that's 17 grams of carbs or so. A glass and a half of milk, 2 slices of
lowcarb bread, a small baked potato.
To that, add 25-50 grams around training with whey protein. So figure 50 grams split
into 25 grams before training and 25 after with 15-20 grams of whey protein each time.
On non-training days, stick with the 100 grams total. Obviously lots of veggie intake
(don't worry about the carbs in the veggies. Protein at 1 g/lb LBM or higher, the rest fat
with the majority from monounsaturated sources, some saturated fats, fish oils.).
Once you've met those requirements, I'm not sure that pumping more carbs into the
system necessarily does much beyond simply providing energy. Said energy can be

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provided just as easily by fat calories.

"What Lyle is proposing is supplying just enough carbs to keep glycogen stores full, thus
sustaining the anabolic milieu (gotta love that word)." - Blade
First you fulfill basic carb needs for brain, etc with the 100 g; also keeps hormones in a
better place IMO.
Then you add carbs around training to fuel/replenish glycogen from training (rather than
a flat 50 g, I should work out how many carbs to take for a given volume of training).
Bump protein, rest of your cals from fat. Slight surplus of calories. Hopefully you get
better partitioning towards muscle.

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Nutrient Partitioning
Basically, there are two issues (ok, more) at stake here which are
A. the number of calories going into the system (set by diet)
B. where they are going: partitioning, which is set by hormones/genetics, drugs, and
training (and hopefully diet which is the whole point of this).
Now this gets even more complicated because the number of calories that go into one
pound of muscle is different than what goes into one pound of fat (it's roughly 1200-2400
cal/lb for muscle vs. 3500 cal/lb for fat).
So assume a 10,000 calorie surplus over some time period. If you get 100% muscle gain
(let's use 2400 cal/lb), you gain just over 4 lbs of muscle, zero fat. If you get 100% fat
gain, you gain 2.85 lbs of fat (note, total body mass change is different, caloric value of
that body mass change is not). If you gained 50/50, you get 2 lbs of muscle (5000
calories) and 1.42 lbs of fat (5000 calories).
Since most people will gain some proportion of each, how much total mass they gain will
be in between those two extremes.
"Doesn't this contradict the kcals in vs. kcals out argument??"
What's changing, hopefully anyhow, is where those calories are going.
That is, for a given number of excess calories, you will gain a given amount of body
mass. Note that this isn't even absolute because the number of calories that go into one
pound of muscle isn't the same as what goes into one pound of fat.
So the real issue is what's determining where the calories are going, into muscle, fat or
some combination of the two. That's the partitioning issue. Much of which is out of our
control being due to genetics and hormones. What we can control is training and diet (I
guess add supps/drugs to that) to hopefully shift the ratios of what's gained or not.
Diet is only one factor in nutrient partitioning, there is the interaction of diet with training
and genetics which was the whole point of this approach: an attempt to get better
partitioning of calories towards muscle cells, which means less going to fat cells.
Lowering carbs to increase blood FFA levels (and reduce glucose availability for TG
synthesis) is an attempt to limit caloric storage in fat cells. Add to that weight training
(which locally improves nutrient uptake/partitioning) and you hopefully get more calories
going towards muscle cells.

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Nutrient Partitioning via Low Carbs vs. Food Combining

"Makes perfect sense but how is this any different to Berardi's P+F and P+C meal
combos, which you said was voodoo nutrition??
Have you changed your opinion on that??"
Nope. I consider food combining voodoo bullshit.
But the scheme I'm describing is fundamentally different, each meal will contain carbs,
protein and fat. I'm also not just worried about insulin dynamics, I'm as concerned with
other hormones and overall 24 hour nutrient balance.
By reducing carbs to a minimum (100 g/day), you shift the body's metabolism (except the
brain) away from carbs and towards fat. You then add carbs pre and post-workout to
support the workout and keep glycogen replenished.
By not reducing carbs to zero, you also keep insulin higher than it would be (which
improves the overall hormonal situation in terms of many hormones). You avoid ketosis
and all that entails.
This does a few things one of which is to increase blood fatty acid levels chronically.
This has the end effect of causing systemic insulin resistance, including at the fat cell.
High blood FFA levels also inhibit alpha-2 receptors. Both of these should make it more
difficult to store fat (i.e. you get calorie partitioning away from fat cells which is the
adaptive benefit of insulin resistance in evolutionary terms).
Weight training will increase local insulin sensitivity and nutrient storage.
So we have a situation where nutrient storage in fat cells is made more difficult and
you're using training to locally improve insulin sensitivity/nutrient uptake and storage at
the muscle.
End result: calorie partitioning, hopefully away from fat cells and towards muscle cells
(with training and proper pre-/post-workout nutrition).
This won't happen if your overall daily carb intake is high (as it will be in Berardi's

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When Carbs Go to Fat

Up to a point the body will just increase glycogen stores when carbs are increased. It
simply can increase it more (200% of normal) with depletion + activity. At the same
time, fat oxidation is dropping like a stone.
Ok, now what, you've jacked up glycogen over a couple of days without depletion.
Glycogen is full, whole body fuel metabolism is almost 100% glucose. If you're still
eating super high carbs (above maintenance), and muscle is full, they've got nowhere to
go but to fat (and Acheson showed that this is one of the times that DNL does become
relevant, multiple days of super high carb intakes).
It's usually argued that, because carbs are filling (eh?), folks aren't going to be consuming
that many carbs on a day to day basis and that is probably true if you stick your head up
your ass (i.e. you're a nutrition researcher who has no clue about real world eating habits)
and ignore all of the absurdly high carbohydrate, calorie dense foods that people eat in
the real world and pretend, instead, that they are eating the types of unrefined carbs
you're giving them in the lab.

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Low Carbs and Keeping a Moderate Caloric Excess

"I think it will make a difference in that you are limited to 100g of carbs, where carbs are
a hunger trigger this will most likely lead to a more modest caloric surplus."
And maybe that's just the key to making a 'high-carb' bulk work, keep the surplus modest.
I mean, from a numerical standpoint, it doesn't take that many calories above
maintenance to (theoretically anyhow) support muscle growth. At 1 lb/week muscle
gain, and 1200-2400 cal/lb muscle to synthesize, that's a tiny caloric surplus. A few
assumptions going into that (most of which are wrong) but even if only 50% of the excess
go to muscle, that requires 2400-4800 cal/week over maintenance. 350-700 above
maintenance. Cut that to 1/2 lb muscle/week and you're down to 175-350 cal/day over
maintenance. A pittance.

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