Q: I want to thank you for putting together the Freak-Physique e-book. What a blockbuster resource of training information and programs. I’m using the 3D Power Pyramid Program. The quote from the trainee who gained so much muscle and strength in only a few weeks using it got me stoked. My question is, I’m more of a train-each-bodypart-once-a-week guy, so can I use it that way instead of training each bodypart twice a week? If so, how should I adjust it?
A: First, you picked a great program. We get lots of positive feedback on the 3D Power Pyramid because it’s simple Positions-of-Flexion methodology but you add weight over three sets on the big midrange move (pyramid), and do only one set each of the stretch- and contracted-position exercises. It’s basically a POF strength-building workout with a big muscle-size side effect.
The low volume is the reason you can train each bodypart four days a week on a two-way split; however, we have no doubt that it will work extremely well splitting it differently so you can do once-a-week workouts…
As we’ve mentioned, the muscle trauma you create in a workout dictates the amount of recovery you need of optimal size and strength gains. The way it’s laid out in Freak-Physique e-book allows you to recover quickly so you can train a muscle again a few days later.
So to make the Power Pyramid as effective as possible in your new version retooled to your specifications for once-a-week workouts, you re-organize the split and add a few sets (for more muscle damage). We suggest the following…
Monday: Chest, Calves
Tuesday: Back, Abs
Thursday: Quads, Hamstrings
Friday: Delts, Triceps, Biceps
If you must, you can train three days in a row—for example, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday; however, for best recovery, we recommend taking a day off after every two workouts. Systemic recovery (nervous system, endocrine system, etc.) is just as important as individual-muscle recovery.
Okay, it’s easy enough to reformat the 3D Power Pyramid Program into the above split for once-a-week workouts; now let’s talk about eliciting more muscle trauma so the muscles need that extra recovery to grow…
First, we suggest you either add a few sets to the big midrange exercise—for example, for biceps you would do barbell curls over five work sets: 10, 8, 7, 5, 3. You can add weight on each set or add weight at every other set, whichever you are most comfortable with. Either way will increase the volume of max-force-production sets and create more muscle damage…
Or, use the three-set pyramid as shown in the e-book—8, 6, 3-4—adding weight on each set, but do a second midrange-position exercise for two sets—8, 6. For biceps, you could add preacher curls, dumbbell curls, or cable curls.
You may also consider doing one of the sets in a negative-accentuated (NA) style; that is, one to two seconds up and a slow six seconds down on every rep. The eccentric, or negative, part of the stroke has been shown to produce the most muscle-fiber microtrauma, and you may need that excess damage to mandate seven days of recovery.
As for the other two Positions-of-Flexion, simply add a set to each so you do two sets instead of one. Your new once-a-week Power Pyramid biceps routine might look like this…
Midrange: Barbell curls, 3 x 8, 6, 3-4
Midrange: Cable curls, 2 x 8, 6(NA)
Stretch: Incline curls, 2 x 8-12
Contracted: Concentration curls, 2 x 8-12
Make those new adjustments for every bodypart, and train all out. Will it be enough to require seven days of recovery? Go with the above recommendations for six weeks. If you aren’t making excellent size and strength gains, simply add a set or two and/or try negative-accentuated training on one set of all stretch-position exercises—careful, NA training will get you sore… It hurts, but it works!
Till next time, train hard—and smart—for BIG results.
—Steve Holman and Jonathan Lawson
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