2021 Fall DB Physique Cycle

Say hello to our newest DB Physique cycle! Week 1 of training begins Monday October 18th


Program Details:

  • 60-75 minute sessions. Training cycle = 12 weeks long
  • 4x/week Training with 1 Optional Conditioning Day (Saturday)
  • Lower Body/Upper Body/Lower Body/Upper Body/Optional Conditioning Day
  • Parts A and B repeat week-to-week on each day 

Equipment Required: 

  • Dumbbells, bench

This will be a 12-week cycle, designed as:

  • Pre-cycle Intro/Deload Recovery Week
  • 5-week progressive building phase (Mesocycle 1)
  • Mid-cycle Deload Recovery Week
  • 5-week progressive building phase (Mesocycle 2)

How This Program Works

Hey Paragon fam! Programming expert and Paragon Cofounder Bryan Boorstein here!

Research has clearly confirmed that sets of ~6-30 Reps can stimulate muscle growth, set for set, as long as working sets are taken within a few reps of technical failure. 

In less technical language, this means that even with a small variety of dumbbells or weights, you can still optimally train and enhance your strength/physique (:

For example: 10-12 Reps with a pair of 10 lb dumbbells might be perfect for Bicep Curls or Lateral Raises, but much too light for movements like Bent-over Rows or Shoulder Press. But by increasing reps up the ~20-30 Rep range, we can create an effective stimulus similar to what we could achieve for less reps at a heavier weight.

Lower body might initially seem challenging or more difficult to overload if we only have light/moderate weights. For this reason, we modified the base movements in the DB Physique program to be “single leg” variations. As an example, Backsquats and Deadlifts might be replaced by Rear-Foot Elevated Squats and Single Leg RDL’s.

If you’ve ever done a set of 30 reps on each leg for Split Squats, you know you don’t need much weight to create a gnarly stimulus (;


How To Properly Implement This Programming

1. Begin each 5-week period with approximately 2-3 “reps in reserve” (RIR) or 2-3 reps from failure. (This is a representation of the # of reps shy of “technical” failure).

RIR = Reps in Reserve / what you have “left in the tank” after your set. If you were building to a set of 10-12 with 2 RIR, it would = a weight you hit for 12-12 reps, but COULD hit 13-15 quality reps at  

In general with DB Physique, if you have heavier weights available, you’ll likely go less reps. If you only have lighter weights available, you’ll likely go more reps to achieve the correct level of fatigue and reps in reserve/reps from failure. Remember that movements should be done with a 2-3 second tempo: one-one-thousand. two-one-thousand…

Choose your starting weight wisely, as each week, the goal would be to increase weight/difficulty on the repeating movements (parts A & B) from the previous week. More on this here soon, but this might include increasing weight, increasing reps, increasing tempo, adding pauses, etc. Progressive Overload = gradual increase of stress and difficulty on the body over time (:

 

2. Each Repeating Movement has a LARGE rep range prescribed as everyone will have different access to different weights. This program can be done by individuals with only 2-3 pairs of dumbbells, but obviously the more weights, the better.

In DB Physique programming, you might see: 6-20 Reps, 8-25 Reps, 12-30 Reps, etc…

– If you have tons of dumbbells to play with, go heavy and aim for the lower end of the rep ranges.

– Happen to have a barbell? You’ll see on parts A & B, we sometimes give the option for a barbell. Lift heavy + get ittttt!

– If you are limited on weight selection, lean towards the higher end of the Rep scheme (20-30 Reps) and try to push close to failure.

 

3. The goal is to keep the SAME number of “reps in reserve” on each of your sets that day. 

So if you achieved 11-12 reps on the first set, and also achieved 11-12 reps on the third set, you could be assured that the third set would be way harder than the first set. This is why we want to see some reps decrease set to set (such as 11-9-8). This will ensure equality of effort across all sets.

 

4. Rest periods between sets should be 90 seconds to 3 minutes if unlisted. 

You will want to rest toward the longer end of the range if weights are heavier or movements are more fatiguing. Make sure that your breathing is not a limiting factor in your performance of the movement or ability to focus and execute optimally! It is important to truly push these sets and really make a strong mind/muscle connection. Get the most out of each rep and each set and avoid rushing your movements or “going through the motions”. This isn’t CrossFit, look to improve execution and efficiency of your movement with each rep.

 

5. Add weight and/or reps gradually each week so that you will be approaching “technical” failure by week’s four and five

*** Ultimately, the examples below demonstrate that we need to make training harder week to week. There are a number of different ways in which you can increase your training effort each week. Adding weight or adding reps are the simplest ways, but you can use any of the below options to increase perceived effort throughout the cycle. 

How to Implement Progression Each Week: 

  1. Increasing weight
  2. Increasing Reps
  3. Increasing QUALITY of movement (improving mind-muscle connection)
  4. Increasing Time under Tension (increase tempo)
  5. Add pauses at bottom/top of reps

 

Example: Has Variety of Weights to Choose From***

Rear-Foot Elevated Split Squat 6-25 Reps (Goal = lower end of rep range)

Week 1 – 25 lbs each hand for moderately difficult sets

Week 2 – 25 lbs each hand for 1-2 more reps than week 1

Week 3 – 30 lbs each hand for a slightly more difficult set than week 2

Week 4 – 35 lbs each hand for a slightly more difficult set than week 3

Week 5  – 40 lbs each hand for 0-1 reps shy of technical failure

Week 6 – DELOAD RECOVERY WEEK

Week 7 – Start over SLIGHTLY heavier (more challenging) than Week 1

 

Example: If You Have Access Only to Lighter Dumbbells (15/10#)***

Rear-Foot Elevated Split Squat 6-25 Reps (Goal = higher end of rep range)

Week 1 – 15# per hand for moderately difficult sets

Week 2 – 15# per hand for 1-2 reps more than week 1

Week 3 – 15# per hand for 1-2 reps more than week 2

Week 4 – 15# per hand for 1-2 reps more than week 3

Week 5  – 15# per hand for 1-2 reps more than week 4

Week 6 – DELOAD RECOVERY WEEK

Week 7 – Start over SLIGHTLY heavier (more challenging) than Week 1

 


Sample Days from DB Physique:
Sample Day #1: Lower Body + Core 

Part A and B repeat week to week. Track metrics

A. Heels Elevated Squats (hold one or 2 DB’s as needed for loading)

After warm-up sets as needed, complete:
4 sets of 8-10 Reps with the weight established on DELOAD WEEK
(something you *could* complete for a failure set of 15 reps)

Rest 60-90s between sets, and expect the sets to get harder due to incomplete recovery
*Increase weight in subsequent weeks when the FINAL SET can achieve 10 Reps

———————

B. “At Home” Leg Extension variation of choice

After warm-up sets as needed, complete:
4 sets of 10-12 Reps with the weight established on DELOAD WEEK
(something you *could* complete for a failure set of 15 Reps)

(variations listed with video in app)

———————

C. DB RDL
4 sets of 8-15 Reps
2 progressively heavier sets, then 2 top sets at the same challenging weight

+ Superset the FINAL SET ONLY with:
Superman’s x challenging # of Reps (8-20+ Reps)
(1-sec pause top of every rep)

———————–

D. Four-Part Crunch Dropset Sequence x 2 Rounds:
Note the tempo of movement and deliberate nature of the reps
The Rep scheme is in the caption
The second half of the video demo sequence is on the second swipe
Rest 2-3 min between Rounds

———————–

E. Lying Windshield Wipers (scale with bent knees)
2 x 10-20 Reps (5-10/side)

———————–

F. Seated Calf Raise (DB on thighs)
2 x 10-15 (heavy/challenging)
1 x 15-20 (lighter, but still challenging!)

———————–

Sample Day #2: Upper Body
Part A and B repeat week to week. Track metrics

A. Pause Incline DB Bench Press
The pause is at BOTTOM of each rep, to ensure proper engagement of the chest muscles on the ascent

4 sets of 8-20 Reps

———————

B. One Arm DB Row

4 sets of 8-20 Reps PER ARM
Remember to rest EQUALLY BETWEEN ARMS (approx. 1-2 min)

———————

C. Seated DB Lateral Raise
One TOP SET of 10-15 Reps
Rest a few minutes
Then using the SAME weight as the top set, complete 35 Reps in as few sets as possible
Rest only 10-20s whenever you need to break (expect sets of 4-6 reps after the initial large chunk)

+ Superset the ONLY FINAL “chunk” SET with:
Bentover Rear Delt Flies (pinkies up) x 15-25 Reps

——————–

D. DB PJR Pullovers
Complete one TOUGH set of 15 Reps
Rest a few minutes
Then complete 4 sets of 8-10 Reps, using the same weight as the TOP SET
Rest only 60 seconds between sets, and expect the final 1-2 sets to be quite challenging

——————–

E. For Both Movements Below:
Quickly build to a TOP SET of 12 Reps

Incline DB Tricep Extensions
Standing DB Curls

Rest a few minutes

Then, using the TOP 12-REP WEIGHT ESTABLISHED ABOVE:
Complete 3 sets of 6-8 Reps per exercise
Rest only while the opposing muscle works
The final set of each should be quite challenging!


Proximity to Failure (How Hard Should I Be Working?)

First let’s define failure: We should assume that taking a set to failure means that you can no longer perform a rep with the same technique.

This does NOT mean that you contort your body to achieve another rep. That is beyond failure, because the intended musculature is no longer the one moving the weight. Your first rep should look the exact same as your last rep, just a slower grind through the concentric portion of the rep.

We like to begin each 5-week progressive building phase (mesocycle) with approximately 2-3 reps “in reserve” (shy of failure). This allows you to confidently progress reps or load week to week with the intention that you will reach 0-1 reps from failure by the final week before deload.

The cool thing about this model, is that you get a sense of assessment at the end of each 5-week period and you can know accurately whether the training, nutrition and lifestyle you are living is “working.”