2022 Winter DB Physique Cycle

Dec 22, 2021 | Program Cycles

2022 Winter DB Physique Cycle

Dec 22, 2021 | Program Cycles

DB Physique is our at-home bodybuilding and strength training program for those who want to look and feel great. It’s a dumbbell-only version of our most popular program: Physique!

New Training Cycles Begin Every 12 Weeks for DB Physique:

The Quick & Dirty About Paragon:

  • 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

Notes from Paragon Founder, LCK:

DB Physique was our solution for our members during shutdown when everyone suddenly found themselves at home without a gym space and working with minimal equipment. It was SO life changing and SO good that our members asked if we would keep it around as a permanent programming addition. As always, ask and you shall receive! All you need to complete DB Physique is access to some dumbbells (:

DB Physique is an incredible option for travel and for those working out from home. It’s also a fan favorite among our pregnant and postpartum mommas! You can still gain muscle, gain strength, and improve your body composition while working out from home. We can’t wait to show you how!

How This Program Works

Hey Paragon fam! Programming Expert and Paragon Cofounder Bryan Boorstein here! Research shows 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, hit PR’s, increase your strength, and enhance 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 volume and completing more reps (let’s say ~20-30 Reps), we can create an effective stimulus similar to what we could achieve for fewer 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 encompass a lot of “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 (;

Tips on Following DB Physique

1. Begin this program so that you’re lifting ~4-5 reps from failure the first week, and then 2-3 reps from failure going forward.
Reps from failure =  what you have “left in the tank” after you finish lifting that set. If you were building to a set of 10-12 reps (2-3 reps from failure), that would mean you could actually lift that weight for 13-15 reps if needed. 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 as everyone will have different access to different weights.
This program can be done by individuals with only 2-3 pairs of dumbbells, obviously equal parts people will have access to all the weights.

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, you’ll likely lean towards the higher end of the Rep scheme (~15-30 Reps) to try and land ~2-3 reps from failure.

Various Ways to Increase Difficulty 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 #1: Has Variety of Weights 
Rear-Foot Elevated Split Squat 6-25 Reps (goal = 2-3 reps from failure, likely 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

Example #2: Only Have Lighter Dumbbells (15/10#)
Rear-Foot Elevated Split Squat 6-25 Reps (goal = 2-3 reps from failure, likely 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

How Hard You Should Be Working

Let’s define “failure” as lifting to the point that we can no longer perform a rep with the same technique. Meaning, if you’re suddenly contorting your body, losing form and technique, etc – we have likely reached ~failure. We don’t want to max out or redlining every day. The goal is for our first rep to hopefully look pretty similar to our last rep – just maybe a slower grind and some shakes (:

You should begin each cycle so that you can increase weight/difficulty easily each week and end the cycle lifting much heavier than you started. A good rule of thumb might be to begin the first week ~3-4 reps from failure, and then work to be 2-3 reps from failure on all lifts going forward.

If you hit weeks 2-4 of the program and suddenly can’t add easily weight or increase difficulty – you came out too hot started too heavy. We’ve all been there (especially LCK, lol). If new to lifting or have mobility restrictions, it can be hard to gauge how hard you’re working or what you have “left in the tank” – especially since so much confidence and body awareness simply comes with time and experience lifting. You can always drastically increase weight towards the later weeks of the cycle. But if you come out hard and start too heavy – there’s no way to really remedy it. You’re just gonna have to drop weight and then resume increasing each week.

Workout Sample from DB Physique:

Lower Body + Core Day:
A. Foam Roller / Slider Hack Squats
(anything that rolls – rower, wall ball, basketball, towel, skateboard, etc…)
6 Sets of 6 Reps
First 3 sets INCREASE WEIGHT, then FINAL 3 SETS at same challenging work weight
Rest approx. 1-2 min between earlier sets, and 2-3 min when it gets difficult

Bodyweight x 6 Reps, 20 lbs x 6 Reps, 40 lbs x 6 Reps, 60 lbs x 6 Reps, 6 Reps, 6 Reps
B. DB RDL (if you have heavy enough weights) OR Single Leg RDL variation
One heavy challenging set for 6-12 Reps
Then 2 sets at approximately ~20% lighter for 8-15 Reps
Remember to rest equally (1-2 min) between legs if doing single-leg variation
C. Hand Supported, Rear-Foot Elevated DB Split Squat
3 total sets of 8-12 Reps per leg
1-2 lighter warm up sets and 1-2 heavy and challenging sets that are 2 reps from failure
Rest 1-2 minutes between legs
D. Rower Hamstring Curl or “At Home” Leg Curl Variation of Choice
Work up to one tough set of 10-15 Reps with no pauses
Rest a few min
Then, using same difficulty level, complete 2 sets of 6-8 Reps with 2-sec pause at contracted position of movement (the place where the heels are closest to the butt)

Day #2: Upper Body Day:
A. Head Supported DB Row
1-2 warm-up sets as needed, then 3 x 8-20 Reps
B. Flat DB Bench Press
1-2 warm-up sets as needed, then 3 x 8-20 Reps
C. “At Home” Pull-up Variation (options listed in app with videos)
Complete ONE challenging set of 10-12 Reps
Rest a few minutes
Then complete 3 sets of 8-10 Reps (using the same difficulty level as top set)
D. Alternating One-Arm DB Overhead Press
Build to a tough set of 8-16 Reps (4-8 per arm, alternating)
Then complete 1 x 12-20 (6-10/arm) at reduced weight
+ Superset this final set with:
Seated DB Lateral Raise x 8-15 Reps
E. Standing Open Palm Curls
Build to ONE TOP SET of 8-15 Reps (close to failure)
+ Rest 30s
Complete additional tough set (goal for 50-60% of the reps)
+ Rest 30s
Complete final tough set with same weight

New Training Cycles Begin Every 12 Weeks for DB Physique:

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