2022 Spring Physique Hypertrophy Cycle

Mar 17, 2022 | Program Cycles

2022 Spring Physique Hypertrophy Cycle

Mar 17, 2022 | Program Cycles

Physique is our bodybuilding and strength training program for those who want to look and feel damn good. It’s also our most popular program!


New Training Cycles Begin Every 12 Weeks for Physique:


The Quick & Dirty About Physique:

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

Equipment Required: 

  • Barbell, Dumbbells, Squat Rack, Bench, Machines, Cable Machines Optional

Physique is for Those:

  • who want to maximize their physique / body composition
  • who want to gain strength, progress their lifts, and hit lift PR’s
  • who love lifting and “chasing the pump”
  • who want to workout in a way that’s supportive of improving their health/hormones/etc (that won’t leave them feeling beat down and burnt out)
  • Our preferred choice for our pregnant/PP mommas (many hop to DB Physique during later trimesters as belly size increases)
  • Our preferred program if you’re dieting to lose body fat or eating in a surplus to gain muscle

This will be a 12-week cycle:

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

Sample Days from Physique:

Sample Day #1: Lower Body + Core 
Part A and B repeat week to week. Track metrics

A. Romanian Deadlift (RDL)
2-4 warm-up sets increasing in weight
1 set x 5-8 Reps (heavier)
2 sets x 8-12 Reps (lighter)

B. DB Split Squat
2-3 warm-up sets increasing in weight
1 set x 6-10 Reps (heavy/challenging)
1 set x 10-15 Reps (lighter)
Rest equally between legs

C. Leg Extensions
1-2 warm-up sets increasing in weight
1 challenging set of 15 Reps
Rest 2-3 min
Then complete 30 Reps in as few sets as possible.
Use same weight; rest only 15-20s between

D. Leg Curls
1-2 warm-up sets increasing in weight
1 challenging set of 15 Reps
Rest 2-3 min
Then complete 30 Reps in as few sets as possible.
Use same weight; rest only 15-20s between

E. Superset x 2-3 Sets Each:
Ab Rollouts x 6-15 Reps
GHD/Decline Sit-ups x 6-15 Reps
Rest 2 min


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

A. Incline Barbell Bench Press
2-3 Warm-up sets
1 set x 5-8 Reps (heavier)
2 sets x 8-12 Reps (lighter)
+ Superset the FINAL SET:
Flat DB Flies x 10-15 Reps

B. Alternate Movements:
1-2 warm-up sets of each

B1. Pulldowns OR Pullups (see videos)
1 set x 6-10 Reps (heavier)
2 sets x 10-15 Reps (lighter)
Rest 1-2 min to B2

B2. DB Lateral Raise (no loss of tension at bottom)
3 sets x 10-15 Reps
Rest 1-2 min back to B1

C. Row (Cable or Incline DB)
1-2 warm-up sets
1 tough set of 10-15 Reps

D. Superset x 2 sets each:
Use ~70% of part C top set
Straight Arm Pulldowns x 10-15 Reps
Row (cable or Inc DB) x 10-15 Reps
Rest 2-3 min

E. Reps 20-15-10 of each:
Use difficulty for ~20 reps unbroken, Keep same difficulty all sets
Push-ups
Rest 30-60s
DB Hammer Curls
Rest 30-60s

F. 3 Rounds:
Minimal rest between movements
Tricep Pushdowns x 12-20 Reps
Face Pulls x 12-20 Reps


How This Training Cycle Works

Paragon Founder Bryan Boorstein here to discuss the Spring Physique Cycle…

The body is PRIMED for hypertrophy (building muscle) right now! The prior 12 weeks consisted of strength for 6 weeks. During a strength cycle, work capacity decreases. The 6-week Metabolic cycle followed strength. This allowed us to regain the prior work capacity capabilities, and hopefully add on to them slightly. Now we will have a higher level of strength base, and the ability to recover quickly between sets.

Why does this matter?

We now embark on this 12-week hypertrophy cycle. The ability to use heavier loads (even slightly) will have a cumulative impact over the cycle, generating more mechanical tension (stimulus to the muscles). The increased conditioning from the metabolic cycle will allow you to complete training with a lower stress response and potentially slightly shorter rests between sets. If you are less stressed during training, you will get back to being parasympathetic quicker after the workout, and possibly create better nutrient partitioning (ability to use nutrients for muscle building instead of fat storage).

All of this to say that this hypertrophy cycle is gonna smash, and here are a few things you need to know to get the most out of the programming.  


Quick reminder:  

We want to increase effort (proximity to technical failure) week to week. This usually means beginning a 5-week block with around 2-3 reps from failure, and ending the block at 0-1 reps from failure (just prior to deload week).

When you begin the SECOND block, the goal is to begin again at 2-3 reps from failure. This means you probably won’t be able to begin from where you left off before deload week. Instead, you will want to backtrack a few weeks so that you can then FINISH the second block slightly ahead of where you finished the first block. 


But what if I don’t know how far I am from failure?

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 (lifting) portion of the rep.

I understand the sentiments of those that don’t necessarily feel comfortable with projecting their “reps from failure” very accurately and worry that you might short-change yourself.

This model of increasing effort (adding load or reps) week to week allows you a “fail-safe” of sorts. As you add weight or reps, you will get closer and closer to failure, and ultimately you will feel what “tough reps” feel like towards the end of the mesocycle. Then you can re-assess your starting weights as you head into the subsequent mesocycle.

To provide a little general context around “failure,” I want to introduce the term “Maximal Concentric Intent.”

This means you are trying to lift every rep as fast as possible (control the descent… explode the ascent). This is performed without LAUNCHING from the bottom, but to assertively try to move the weight quickly.

Think about the difference between flooring the gas pedal on your car versus pressing it confidently to pick up speed quickly.

If you lift every rep in this manner, you will eventually feel the concentric speed slow, even though you are exerting maximum effort. This first “slower” rep is usually 3-4 reps from failure (a great place to begin week 1 of the cycle).

This video by Jeff Nippard is extremely well done, and he demonstrates what failure looks like on a number of different common movements.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=deDlhPmT2SY


Exercise Selection for Hypertrophy

When training with the goal to build muscle, it’s important to consider exercise selection.

As an easy example, a conventional or sumo deadlift is probably not the BEST movement for you to use in a hypertrophy phase. It extends at three joints, which makes it extremely fatiguing, and also difficult to determine what muscles are actually receiving the primary stimulus. Instead, an RDL is a significantly better choice to target the hamstrings and glutes.

The same idea can be extrapolated across all movements. For this cycle, the selection of exercises will take into account the overall fatigue cost of that movement.

Instead of a heavily loaded back squat, we will use a heels-elevated squat, or a quad-dominant machine option (leg press, hack squat, pendulum squat etc…). This heel elevation is meant to INCREASE the range of motion at the knee and ankle, while decreasing the movement at the hip (more quads, less systemic fatigue).


Some Cool Repeating Movements!

There are two repeating sequences in this cycle that I’d like to discuss a bit further!

First, a quick discussion about the overhead press for shoulder development. I consider this movement to be in a similar category to the deadlift, in that it works a lot of muscle, but doesn’t exactly train what we covet very well.

It is primarily a front delt exercise (which gets trained with all pressing movements) but more importantly, it doesn’t train the lateral delts at all. The side delts are the primary shoulder muscles we want when it comes to optimizing the physique “aesthetics.”

So for this cycle, we will be including lateral delts in REPEATING sequences on BOTH upper body days.

On the first day, the lateral raise is alternated with a pulldown/pullup and performed for straight sets (with rest between). The execution is biased to the “short” position on this day (meaning the TOP of the movement is the hardest).

On the second day, the execution style is meant to target the “lengthened overload” (heavier weight, focusing on the BOTTOM of the range of motion). On this day, it is the first movement in a superset with a front raise.

The other cool repeating sequence is a Kas Glute Bridge immediately into a Barbell Hip Thrust. This is what’s called a “mechanical dropset.”

The Kas glute bridge primarily works the top of the movement and ISOLATES the glutes. Once you fatigue out on the glute bridge, you can continue to accrue reps via the hip thrust (which recruits much more muscle than just the glutes), and allows you to stimulate the GLUTES significantly more!


HOW TO BUILD TO WORKING SETS + Rest Periods

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

RDL or Back Squat (or any large compound movement). The Programming says:

2-4 Warm-up sets
1 set x 5-8 Reps (heavier)
2 sets x 8-12 Reps (lighter)

Warm-up sets:
Empty Bar x 10-12 Reps
85 lbs x 8-10 Reps
115 lbs x 5 Reps
145 lbs x 3-4 Reps

Work sets:
175 lbs x 5-8 Reps
145 lbs x 8-12 Reps (2 sets)

It’s important to understand that the “warm-up” sets are low-fatiguing. The 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 warm-up set of 145 lbs is only 3-4 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 warm-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.


Rest periods are ALWAYS important. Below are the GENERAL GUIDELINES

(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.


New Training Cycles Begin Every 12 Weeks for Physique: