2021 Fall 5-Day Glutes & Shoulders Specialty Cycle

Say hello to our newest (Limited Time) Specialty Cycle! Week 1 of Training Begins Monday October 18th

Program Details:
75 minute sessions. Training cycle = 12 weeks long
5 Training Days
Parts A and B repeat week-to-week on some days, and A, B and C repeat on other days

Equipment Required:
Barbell, Dumbbells, Squat Rack, Bench, way to do Pull-ups

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)

Special Notes:

This is a FIVE-DAY, very goal-specific program. If we’re going to follow this program, we need to be able to consistently hit 5 days of training per week and follow the program as intended. While we normally promote flexibility within our programs and love seeing you get after it fitness-wise in the ways that light you up in conjunction with our programs, this program has the most training volume of any program we’ve put out.

Before deciding this program is for you:

1. Do you NEED to specialize? If you are still making gains in your glutes/delts with an evenly split program, there’s no need to specialize at this time of your training journey.

2. The entire point of specialization is to eliminate any outside stimulus that would take away your energy and focus from the goal of specializing on these bodyparts. Adding in additional training will impact weekly volume “per bodypart” and has downstream effects on fatigue accumulation that would render the specialization much less effective.

Opting to do CF classes, embarking on a running program, or any other outside endeavor would be better combined with some of our other programs.

We also need to follow *all* parts of the training each day, or we’ll likely be missing major parts of the intended stimulus. If we can’t consistently dedicate a solid 60-75 minutes to training 5 days a week for 12 weeks time, this program is likely not for you.

How This Workout Program Works

Programming Expert and Paragon Co-founder Bryan Boorstein here to discuss something exciting!! Welcome to the newest specialty program from Paragon! We have been discussing the idea of a “specialization” cycle for a long time, and it has finally come to fruition! Given the ethos of Paragon, and it’s love of all things glutes, of course the first one has to specialize in the BOOTY!

This is a unique cycle for Paragon, because it has FIVE training days per week (with two rest days).

Cycle Design, How Specialization works, and Fatigue Cost

Monday: Glutes/Shoulders
Tuesday: Upper Body (not shoulders)
Wednesday: Full Lower Body + Shoulders
Thursday: Rest
Friday: Full UPPER Body (including shoulders)
Saturday: Full LOWER Body
Sunday: Rest

The nature of specialization requires that certain muscle groups receive additional training volume, while volume is decreased in other areas. Let’s assume, hypothetically, that we have 100 “work sets” per week to train the entire body in an evenly split program.

Just because we want to bring up the glutes and delts does NOT mean that we can arbitrarily add work to those muscle groups. If we implemented it in that manner, we would now be performing something like 120 total sets for the week.

We must remember that we still have the same amount of “recovery capacity,” so we have to play a little game of subtraction and addition.

Glute Dominant Exercises

It’s also important to note that many of the “glute dominant” exercises have quite a high fatigue cost. Think about the movements that target the glutes well:

Split Squats
Back Squats
Hip Hinges (RDL, SLDL, Good Mornings)
Hip Thrusts

This cycle will have both Hip Thrusts AND Kas Glute Bridge. We will use Hip thrust as a repeating movement on Mondays, and the Kas Glute Bridge on Saturdays. In many ways, the Hip Thrusts is NOT always the most optimal movement to train the glutes, due to the THRUSTING nature of the movement. In a Hip Thrust, the shins change angle, and the upward force is produced by a combination of glutes, quads, hamstrings, adductors etc…  Due to the contribution from all these large muscle groups, the Hip Thrust requires an exorbitant amount of weight, and therefore has a relatively poor “stimulus to fatigue” ratio.

To use an analogy here, the Hip Thrust is sort of like the Low Bar Back Squat; Lots of musculature used, lots of weight required, and a super high stimulus (but also high fatigue). In this analogy, the “Kas Glute Bridge” would be like the Heels Elevated High Bar Squat with a pause at the bottom. Much less weight required, and more direct/targeted stimulus to the intended area.

This post from Jordan Lips is one of the better ones I’ve seen, comparing and contrasting the two lifts: https://www.instagram.com/p/CRj3tvNr3gZ/

In a Kas Glute Bridge, the top position is the same as the Hip Thrust (vertical shins, table-top hip position). The main difference in execution, is that the Kas Glute Bridge has a much smaller Range-of-Motion. The shins remain vertical the ENTIRE REP, so there is no THRUSTING motion; only a “squeeze” of the glutes to create hip extension at the top.

This execution style accomplishes two objectives:

  1. Overloads the SHORTENED position (i.e. the TOP of the rep). Movements that overload the SHORT position have significantly less fatigue cost per unit of training
  2. More acute stimulus to the glutes (without contribution from other lower body musculature).

The use of the Kas Glute Bridge on the second “glute focus” day willl allow us to use this more isolated glute movement to keep fatigue lower, and implement more of the exercises with higher muscle damage capacity (such as the single leg squats and hip hinges). If we were using a hip thrust on both days, we would have to do less of these other movements.

Shoulder Dominant Exercises

In contrast to glute exercises, almost all shoulder movements are already overloaded in the short position. This mean the TOP OF THE REP IS THE HARDEST PART.

Think about lateral raise variations, upright rows, Y-raises, face pulls, etc… All of these exercises are relatively easy through the beginning and mid-range of the exercise, but the final few inches are the challenging part. This “short overload” makes these movements significantly less fatiguing. This is great, because the shoulders also receive a ton of stimulus from other compound movements (front delts with all chest pressing movements, and rear delts with all back pulling movements).

The LATERAL or “side” delt is the only area of the shoulder that doesn’t receive stimulus from compound movements. Therefore, the majority of the volume we will allocate to shoulders, will be focusing on the lateral delts. This will also have the most dramatic effect on your physique, as the lateral delt is responsible for the “cap” on shoulders.

How to Build Up To Your Heavy Working Sets + Rest Periods

The reps may differ, but this is a common way we will conduct our repeating movements:

Example: Stiff Legged Deadlift or Back Squat (or any large compound movement, IE squats, bench, row, etc)

GOAL: Build to working weight for 6-8 Reps with 200 lbs

Ramp-up sets:
Empty Bar x 10-15 Reps
85 lbs x 8-10 Reps
125 lbs x 4-6 Reps
155 lbs x 3-4 Reps
180 lbs x 2-3 Reps

Work sets:
200 lbs for 6-8 Reps

It’s important to understand that the “ramp-up” // warm-up sets are low-fatiguing. That earlier sets of higher reps are meant to be a super easy effort in which you are just beginning to prepare the muscles for the work ahead (Less than 50% of the weight you’ll use for your first working set).

As the weight increases, we continue to PREPARE (but not fatigue) by lowering the reps. Even the FINAL ramp-up set of 180 lbs is only 2-3 reps. This will allow the body to FEEL the heavier load, such that there is a psychological and physiological adaptation that occurs, ensuring that the “work sets” don’t feel overwhelmingly heavy.

If you are stronger, you may need 1-2 additional preparatory sets. If you are not as strong, you may need fewer prep sets; but the principles all still apply!

You also will not need nearly as many ramp-up sets for smaller muscle groups. For curls, shoulders, triceps and the such, I usually just implement one “feel it out” set, then jump into work sets. This means I may use 25# DB’s for 8-10 Reps before my work set with 40# DB’s for 10-15 Reps.

How Long Should I Be Resting Between Lifts?

Rest periods are ALWAYS important. Rest will typically always be indicated in programming, so follow whatever is written. Below are the General Guidelines for Rest Guidelines between work being completed (ramp-up // warm-up sets don’t need as much rest, but work sets definitely do!)

Compound Lower Body Movements = 2-3+ minutes

Compound Upper Body Movements = 2+ minutes

Isolation Work (arms, lateral raises etc..) = 60-90 seconds

There is no rule here. It’s just important to match the intended effort level and let that dictate how much weight and/or reps you achieve. This is the best way to manage the accumulation of fatigue and provide yourself with the best opportunity to exceed performance in the assessment weeks

Things to Know (Proximity to Failure and Progression). Aka “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” (aka 2-3 reps from 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.”

Remember that progression is the result of what happened in PRIOR SESSIONS, not what you do in this session. It takes time for the body to “catch up” and adapt sometimes. So it’s important to avoid getting discouraged if progress doesn’t occur weekly. I constantly work for “execution” PR’s for a few weeks before I even worry about whether weights/reps are increasing.

We will maintain these general effort levels for the first few weeks of the 5-week mesocycle. In the week or two prior to deload week, we will work slightly closer to failure and push ourselves to ensure we have been working to our true capabilities in the prior weeks.

We *know* through research that you get the same hypertrophy with 2-3 reps shy of failure as you do going to failure (and potentially better strength gains). As a result, we find it prudent to enjoy these earlier weeks, shy of failure, as we prepare for the progressively harder training ahead.

The Second Mesocycle (5-week accumulation period)

The overriding objective is to match the same level of effort as the training week dictates (2-3 reps shy of failure after a deload week, and working close to failure before the next deload week, as described above).

If adaptations have taken place as we expect (i.e. you got stronger), then you can use the below “general” guidelines to add some direction to your training. 

The amount that you can progress from one Mesocycle to the next will depend on a few variables:

  1. How hard (close to failure) you pushed in prior meso
  2. Your training age (novice, intermediate, advanced)
  3. Your familiarity with the repeating movements

A good guideline for an advanced trainee is to try to MATCH the “week 2” performance, but do it in week 1 of the new mesocycle. Then they would progress forward from there with the objective to exceed week 5 performance during the “week 5” of the new meso.

This is called “Wave Progression”:

Weeks 1-5:

Weeks 7-11:

However, an early intermediate may be able try to match the week 3 performance from the prior meso, and still be able to progress forward from there for the entire 5-week progression. There is no rule here. It’s just important to match the intended effort level and let that dictate how much weight and/or reps you achieve. This is the best way to manage the accumulation of fatigue and provide yourself with the best opportunity to exceed performance in the assessment weeks. 

Sample Days from 5D Glutes & Shoulders:
(All movements are linked to video demo in app)

Sample Day #1: Glutes, Shoulders and Abs
Part A, B and C repeat week to week. Track metrics

A. Barbell Hip Thrust
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)

B. DB Split Squat (no elevation)
Glute Dominant execution (vertical shin at bottom, drive through heel)

After warm-up sets as needed, complete:
3 sets of 10-12 Reps per leg with the weight established on DELOAD WEEK (something you *could* complete for a failure set of 15 Reps)
Rest 1-2 minutes between legs

C. Shoulders GIANT SET x 3 Rounds:
Using the information/practice from DELOAD WEEK, now complete THREE GIANT SETS of this sequence, with only 15 seconds between sets

The weights will get lighter and lighter each movement

Seated DB Overhead Press x 6-10 Reps
Rest 1 minute
DB Upright Row x 8-15 Reps
Rest 1 minute
Seated DB Lateral Raise x 8-15 Reps
Rest 2-3+ minutes between rounds

D. 1 and 1/2 DB RDL
3 sets of 8-12 Reps
3 sets comprised of:
1-2 progressively heavier sets, then 1-2 top sets at the same challenging weight

+ Superset the FINAL SET ONLY with:
Weighted Hip Extensions  x 8-15 Reps

E. 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 – watch the video here

The second half of the video demo sequence is on the second swipe
Rest 2-3 min between Rounds

F. Hanging Oblique Knee Raise
2 x 10-20 Reps (5-10/side)

Sample Day #2: Upper Body (No shoulders)
Part A and B repeat week to week. Track metrics

A. Flat DB Bench Press
After warm-up sets as needed, complete:
3 Sets of 10-12 Reps with the weight established on DELOAD WEEK (something you *could* complete for a failure set of 15 Reps)

B. One Arm DB Row OR One Arm Machine Row (of choice)
After warm-up sets as needed, complete:
3 Sets of 10-12 Reps per arm with the weight established on DELOAD WEEK (something you *could* complete for a failure set of 15 Reps)
Rest 1-2 minutes between arms

C. Incline DB Squeeze Press
After 1-2 warm-up sets, complete a challenging set of 15 Reps
Rest a few minutes
Then complete 4 sets of 10 Reps unbroken
Rest as minimally as needed to ensure all sets of 10 unbroken
Probably 60-90s rest between sets will ensure the final 1-2 sets are close to failure!

D. Single Arm Pulldowns (Cable machine OR Banded)
Over the course of 2-3 warm-up sets, complete a TOUGH set of 15 Reps per arm
Rest a few minutes
Then complete 4 sets of 8-10 Reps per arm, where you rest only while the opposite arm is working

E. For Both Movements Below:
Quickly build to a TOP working set of 12 Reps
Incline EZ or Barbell Tricep Extensions
Standing Barbell Curls

Rest a few minutes

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!