2022 Winter Physique Strength & Hypertrophy Cycle

Say hello to our newest Physique cycle! The party begins Monday January 3rd


Physique 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: 

  • 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 Strength Phase
  • Mid-cycle Deload Recovery Week
  • 5-Week Metabolic Phase

Note’s from Paragon Founder, LCK: 

  • Bryan will get into this in more detail below, but this is an incredible cycle for a variety of goals.
  • Wanting to gain muscle and go into a caloric surplus to gain muscle?
  • Reversely, wanting to go into a caloric deficit and intentionally aim for fat loss?
  • Want to see strength gain and hit new PR’s?
  • This 12-week Physique cycle is the program for you (:

Sample Days from Winter Strength & Hypertrophy Physique Cycle:
Sample Day #1: Lower Body + Core (Quad Dominant Leg Day)

Monday – Lower Body + Core 

Part A and B repeat week to week. Track metrics

A. Back Squat (Low Bar or High Bar; stay consistent week-to-week)

6 sets of 6 Reps INCREASING WEIGHT to ONE heavy and challenging set of 6 Reps

First set of 6 should be approximately 50% of what you intend to use for your heaviest set

Rest approx. 1-2 min between earlier sets, and 2-3 min when it gets challenging

—–

B. Sumo, Conventional, or Trap Bar Deadlifts (pick one to complete entire cycle)

Warm-up sets as needed to build to your working weight

Then complete 4 sets of 3 Reps

Rest 2-3+ min between sets

—–

C. Hand Supported (Rear Foot Elevated) DB Split Squat

3 total sets of 6-10 Reps per leg

1-2 lighter warm-up sets and 1-2 heavy and challenging sets where you’re ~2 Reps from failure 

Rest EQUALLY between legs (1-2 minutes)

—–

D. Weighted Hip Extensions 

One tough set of 8-10 Reps with no pause

Rest a few min

Two sets of 5-8 Reps with 2-sec pause at top of movement (same weight as top set)

—–

E. Giant Set x 2 Rounds:

Weighted Sit-ups x 10-15 Reps

Lying Leg Raise x 12-20 Reps

Weighted Plank x 30 seconds (decrease weight each round)

Lying Leg Raise (same as prior set) x Max Reps unbroken

Rest 3+ min


Sample Day #2: Upper Body 

Part A and B repeat week to week. Track metrics

A. Strict Pendlay Row

6 sets of 6 Reps INCREASING WEIGHT to ONE challenging & heavy set of 6

First set of 6 should be approximately 50% of what you intend to use for the challenging set

Rest approx. 1-2 min between earlier sets, and 2-3 min when it gets challenging

—–

B. Flat Barbell Bench Press

6 sets of 6 Reps INCREASING WEIGHT to ONE challenging & heavy set of 6

First set of 6 should be approximately 50% of what you intend to use for the challenging set

Rest approx. 1-2 min between earlier sets, and 2-3 min when it gets challenging

—–

C. Wide Grip Pulldowns OR Rack Pull-ups variation (videos and options in app)

Complete ONE heavy and challenging set of 8-10 Reps

Rest a few minutes

Then complete 3 sets of 6-8 Reps (using the same weight as before)

—–

D. Alternating One-Arm DB Overhead Press

Build to a tough set of 8-12 Reps (4-6 per arm, alternating)

Then complete 1 x 12-16 (6-8/arm) at reduced weight

+ Superset this final set with: 

Seated DB Lateral Raise x 8-15 Reps

—–

E. Standing Barbell Curls

Build to ONE heavy and challenging set of 8-10 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


How This Training Cycle Works

Paragon Co-Founder & Programming Expert Bryan Boorstein here to discuss the Winter Physique Cycle…

This 12-week cycle is a fun one, because it is composed of two completely different blocks of training.

These two pursuits are on opposite sides of the training spectrum. Strength work is generally slow and plodding. Low reps, heavy weights, longer rest periods. Metabolic training is the opposite. Faster paced, lighter weights, shorter rest periods.

In the content below, I’ll discuss the benefits of each phase, and why there is some magic in the order.


Three Reasons for Strength Phases:

1. Strength phases provide you an opportunity to assess and see your progress at a much more tangible level.

Yes, we can get stronger and set a “PR” in the 10-15 rep range, but being able to say “I set a PR in a 1, 2 or 3-rep max” is something we can hold with us as an emblem of our hard work and dedication. Not to mention, lifting heavy has a certain grit and determination associated that isn’t quite the same with higher rep ranges. Ok, now onto some science 🙂

2. Re-sensitization to the “hypertrophy” (muscle building) stimulus.

The research behind this idea is building momentum as time continues to go on, though I wouldn’t say it’s fact at this point. I look forward to seeing more research and studies on this topic! The idea is that our bodies are extremely resilient, and that if we always workout the same exact way over time — that our body might adapt to it, making it more difficult to continue to make progress (whether that’s muscle gain, strength gain, better body composition, etc) without altering the stimulus temporarily.

A good analogy here would be what happens with continuous exposure to the sun. When the stimulus is new, we adapt quickly, and we can see our skin changing to a darker color. As we spend more time outside, we have to stay out in the sun longer to elicit an adaptation and to continue seeing changes in our skin tone.

The sun exposure is much like training volume during a hypertrophy (muscle building) phase. Instead of having to do more and more, we can change the stimulus temporarily from time-to-time and allow the body to “de-train” that stimulus slightly (avoid sun exposure), and then come back with a renewed ability to manifest these adaptations.

3. Potential HYPERTROPHY (muscle building) benefit of preceding a hypertrophy phase with a strength phase.

There is a recent study by Carvalho and colleagues (https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33241958, 2020) which demonstrates exactly this idea.

One group did an 8-week hypertrophy phase while the other group did a 3-week strength phase, then a 5-week hypertrophy phase. The group that did the strength phase first, ended up with more hypertrophy. The reasoning for this is still ambiguous, in my opinion, and I may still argue that this is a result of “re-sensitization” more than “priming,” but it was proven effective either way and members always see awesome progress and results whenever re run this type of strength + metabolite cycle (:


Details of the Strength Phase

The rep schemes this cycle will be a somewhat novel approach, not yet used in the Paragon programs.

There are TWO primary rep schemes for the REPEATING MOVEMENTS:

1. Many of the movements in this cycle will use an approach in which we complete 6 sets, where the weight increases each set, such that there is ONE heavy and challenging set.

To properly select loading for these sets, it would be prudent to begin with about ~50% of the weight you intend to use for the final set:

 

Example (if goal is 100 lbs x 6 Reps):

Set 1 – 50 x 6 Reps

Set 2 – 60 x 6 Reps

Set 3 – 70 x 6 Reps

Set 4 – 80 x 6 Reps

Set 5 – 90 x 6 Reps

Set 6 – 100 x 6 Reps

While this may appear like a ton of volume, it should actually be less time consuming than doing 2-3 “warm up sets” followed by 3 working sets at a challenging weight.

In this current structure, you can rest briefly between the earlier “warm-up sets” and save some longer rest periods for the final 2 sets, when things get tough!

It is also important to note that the sets and reps will decrease over the course of the cycle, as we build toward testing 1, 2 or 3 rep maxes at the end.  

2. The second rep scheme for REPEATING MOVEMENTS will use a different approach that ascribes multiple sets of work with a very sub-maximal load.

An example would be 4-7 sets of 3 Reps with an 8-10-Rep max

(for these movements, the sets will increase week to week)

Once again, this may seem like a high number of sets, and be quite time consuming… but because the weight is light, in comparison to our capability, we can take relatively shorter rests between sets.

Many studies are now showing that STRENGTH is increased faster staying further from failure.

The rationale is based around the idea that strength development is a result of total force production.

Force = Mass x Acceleration, so we want to keep the concentric speed faster (avoiding the grinding reps that slow); increasing the force applied.

In a recent study by Karsten and colleagues (https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31365457/),  one group trained 4 sets of 10 Reps to failure, while the other group used the same weight (approx. 10-rep max), but completed 8 sets of 5 Reps (leaving 5 reps from failure each set).

The group that left 5 reps from failure had better strength gains! This has been confirmed in practice, among a wealth of top-level coaches, too!


Like our prior strength cycle from Summer 2021, we will be implementing Back Squats as a repeating movement TWICE each week. The first session utilizes the “6 sets” approach described above, while the second session will be lighter “technical and speed” sets with reduced weight/reps.

This second session is meant to enhance execution and refine movement patterns with intention that this will carry over to the heavy sets the following week (also the potential benefits of staying further from failure for strength goals, as described above).

Ultimately, this cycle is about building Neural Efficiency across the musculature, while re-sensitizing to some of the hypertrophy stimulus.

The cycle will be followed by a short “metabolic” phase. This is composed of supersets, giant sets, extended sets, and other techniques to help the body to become more efficient at clearing lactic acid (and other metabolites).


Details of the Metabolic Phase

Following the 5-week strength cycle, we take a deload recovery week to let our bodies rest, recover, and recharge, then move directly into a 5-week “Metabolic” phase.

After a strength cycle, work capacity is lower. This is a result of the lower reps and less time under tension, meaning less impact on our CNS. In a strength cycle, you don’t really get a great pump from training because you don’t have a lot of metabolite build-up in the muscles.

The weight feels heavy, and the muscles fatigue, but not with the same burning feeling they get from higher rep and superset sequences. Simply because the body is de-trained to the metabolic stimulus, you should find your muscles are extremely sensitive to this very different training style.

Pumps (aka looking and feelin’ swole) will happen more rapidly and stay for longer. You may even notice some muscle volume increases during days off training, as all the nutrients are shuttled into the cells.


Two Types of Metabolite Hypertrophy Training

 

1. Systemic

This is all about work capacity; increasing your ability to recover “systemically” between sets.

An applicable example here of how this can help your training, would be to think about doing multiple sets of back squats. This can be extremely fatiguing, not just for the working musculature, but for the system as a whole.  Now, let’s say you could achieve the same effort level with 2 minutes of rest between sets, instead of 3 minutes, this would mean you could do more volume in less time!

This can be extrapolated out across an entire day of training…

Furthermore, being systemically conditioned can help you recover faster session to session, as well!

In this cycle, the Systemic work will appear in the form of mini circuits, using all compound movements. While this may feel like a monumental task at first, the body adapts extremely quickly to this type of demand, and you should notice significant improvement week to week.

2. Local

This is all about clearing metabolites (such as lactic acid) quickly and efficiently within a specific muscle group.

As you work your way through a set, it begins to burn in the latter reps. This is the result of lactic acid and other metabolites building up within the muscle, and being unable to “flush” these metabolites fast enough.

Think about a Squat movement. You can sort of cheat the “pain” by resting at the top to temporarily flush this lactic acid. But in many ways, we would much rather see you “lean in” to the accumulation of metabolites, and force the body to adapt and get better at flushing it, versus looking for a way out of the pain cave.

Through this local metabolic training, we can get better at flushing these within individual sets, as well as to limit the recovery time needed to flush them between sets.

In this cycle, the local metabolic work will appear in the form of 6-8 sets of 8 reps for the SAME MOVEMENT, with only 30-45 seconds rest between sets. These will be performed with approx. a 15-RM weight (which will be established on the pre-cycle introduction week).

Overall, the metabolite portion of the periodized training year is almost always the shortest. This is because the body really does create these adaptations super quickly. We can get in there, see tangible improvements in recovery in a few weeks, and then get right back into some productive hypertrophy training (as we’ll see in the Spring 2022 cycle!)


New training cycle party starts Monday January 3rd!

If you are an existing member, you already have access. Simply Select “Physique” within our app.

If new to Paragon, you’ll need a subscription to our programs. Click here to Join!