New Hypertrophy/Metabolic Cycles Begin Feb 27
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Paragon Training Methods = the life-changing workouts, coaching, & online community you’ve been searching for to build muscle, achieve your goals, and look great in just 30-90 min. We have workouts for all goals, skill levels, and time/equipment constraints.
By signing up for Paragon Bodybuilding Physique Bundle, you’ll get access to 4 bodybuilding + strength training programs designed to help you maximize your body comp + physique. These are the Paragon workouts to follow if looking to improve body comp, gain muscle, or lose body fat.
Hypertrophy = “muscle building.”
Is your goal to maximize your body composition and look your best? Hypertrophy is how you should likely be training the majority of the time each year!
Hypertrophy training typically encompasses moderate weights for high reps, sets, and volume. We’re often lifting ~6-15 reps and rep schemes often look like 10-12 reps, 12-15 reps, etc.
Hypertrophy cycles are super versatile and a perfect complement to a variety of goals. You just need to adjust your nutrition accordingly!
- Goal = fat loss (be in a calorie deficit below maintenance needs)
- Goal = muscle gain (be in a calorie surplus beyond maintenance needs)
- Goal = maximize health and look/feel your best (eat at maintenance)
The 6-week Hypertrophy/Metabolic cycle starting 2/27 will ALSO encompass Zone 2 (2x/week) and Zone 5 (1x/week) conditioning.
Metabolic Conditioning = improving your work capacity, endurance, and conditioning levels. Aka helping ya suck less wind when you lift and live life (:
After a strength cycle, your conditioning levels (aka “engine”) are lower, due to not training it, less time under tension, and intentionally lifting in lower rep schemes (1 to 6 reps).
^ you’ve likely experienced this if you’ve ever tried to go for a run or hop in a class WOD when you haven’t been doing much cardio.
Your heart rate likely went from 0-100 and you quickly found yourself huffing, puffing, and breathing heavy. Conditioning can be a real “witch,” cuz it’s a use-it-or-lose-it.
But your engine will come back quickly as you train it again regularly.
During the strength cycle, we sacrificed conditioning levels to get stronger and focus on lifting. As a result, you can now lift heavier than before – which was the goal!
Now your body is extra sensitive to changes in stimulus & programming, so we switch up our training cycle focus again.
^ This is why following good periodized programming (like Paragon) is so powerful.
Random workouts may be fun, but they can provide random and unpredictable results. We’d MUCH rather help you get from A to B more quickly and effectively (:
Want to Follow 4-Day Physique Hypertrophy?
- Not a member yet? You’ll need a Paragon Bodybuilding or All-Access Membership – Click Here to Join Paragon!
- Existing Paragon member? You’ll need to manually add this program to your calendar. Peep your email or the Paragon FB Group for the Train Heroic Access Codes.
4-Day Physique Overview
- 60-75 min workouts
- 4 days per week
- Optional 5th conditioning day
- Squat rack
- Resistance bands
- Option to use machines and cable machines (if you want to)
- Progressive Overload
- Bodybuilding + strength training
- Training cycles alternate between Hypertrophy, Strength, Metabolic
Physique Workouts Are For You If:
- you want to improve your physique and body composition
- you want to gain muscle, increase your strength, and see lift PRs
- you are working to improve your health and hormones
- currently pregnant or PP (we’d suggest our DB Physique program)
- currently dieting and chasing fat loss or eating in a surplus to gain muscle*
* Hypertrophy cycles = best time to diet or be in a surplus to gain muscle
Hypertrophy + Metabolic Cycle
Hey Team! Paragon Co-Founder Bryan Boorstein is here to discuss our next programming phase!
Following the 6-week strength cycle, we move directly into a 6-week “Metabolic” phase, starting with the typical Introduction/Deload week.
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 cardiovascular system. In a strength cycle, you don’t really get a great pump from training. This is 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.
Since the body is de-trained to the metabolic stimulus, and you should find your muscles are extremely sensitive to this very different training style. Pumps will happen more rapidly and stay for longer. You may even notice some muscle volume increases during days off training. This is due to all the nutrients being shuttled into the cells.
In this cycle, there will use the same “split” that we used for the Summer 2022 Metabolic cycle. However, beyond the split used, the cycle will look VERY different than the prior one.
The training split:
- Day 1 = Pull Muscles (hamstrings, back, biceps)
- Day 2 = Pushing Muscles (quads, chest, triceps, shoulders)
Two Types of Metabolic Adaptations
This is all about work capacity; increasing your ability to recover “systemically” between sets. 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, same weights and reps performed, but with 2 minutes of rest between sets, instead of 3 minutes. This would mean you could do more volume in less time! Hence, you are better conditioned for the task.
This can be extrapolated across an entire day of training… Furthermore, being systemically conditioned can help you recover faster from session to session, as well!
In prior cycles, we’ve used “antagonist supersets” with large compound movements as a way to facilitate this “systemic” adaptation. An example from the prior cycle would be super-setting Lunges with Bench Press OR super-setting Squats with Rows.
In this current cycle, we are completely changing the way we will be pursuing systemic conditioning. Instead of using antagonist superset and giant set sequences, we will be using “cardio” in its more traditional forms. There will be a large section below that will provide in-depth details of the cardio protocols.
This is all about clearing metabolites quickly and efficiently within a specific muscle group. The most commonly known is “lactic acid.”
As you work your way through a set, it begins to burn in the latter reps. This is the result of metabolites building up within the muscle. It prevents our body from 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. In many ways, we would much rather see you “lean in” to the accumulation of metabolites. This forces 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 limit the recovery time needed to flush them between sets.
There are two main ways we will implement training to enhance this effect.
- Same Muscle Group Supersets. This just means quickly moving between two movements that work in the same area of the body. In this training cycle, we will have 4 instances of this setup (one each for Hamstrings, Quads, Back, and Shoulders).
- Incomplete Rest Method. This means that we will select one exercise and implement multiple sets in succession with brief rest between each set. For this implementation, we will take a weight that we *COULD* do 12-15 reps, and instead of doing 12-15, we will perform 6-8 sets of 8 reps with only 30-45 seconds rest between sets. This 12-15 rep weight referenced will be established on the pre-cycle introduction/Deload week). We will have 4 instances of this setup (one each for Hamstrings, Quads, Back, and Chest).
The Cardio Programming
Cardio is essentially just a tool to train an energy system within our body. There are many many energy systems, but for simplicity’s sake, we will break them down into two main systems:
This is a “steady” state and “sustainable” effort level; often called Zone 2 cardio.
This type of cardio has the largest impact on “mitochondrial function,” which essentially controls everything in the way our body processes Glucose and Lipids (providing the biggest help in fighting Metabolic disease over time).
Zone 2 is defined by the ability to keep the same pace (without deviation up or down) for at least 60 minutes. This doesn’t mean you have to do 60+ minutes to get the benefits. It’s more a proxy for the pace/effort you will implement.
This type of cardio is best performed on a bike or elliptical. It can be done with rowing or running, however, most people are inefficient rowers and runners. Therefore, they will often find it difficult to stay within the tight heart rate area required for Zone 2.
How do we find this magic heart rate zone?
The “Gold Standard” for determining Zone 2, is to measure lactate. We would want to be between 1.7-2.0 mmol/L.
Since this is not widely accessible, there are 3 Proxies you can use to determine your Zone 2:
- The starting point is to use a crude Heart Rate measurement of 180 minus age. If you are in poor cardio shape, you can subtract 5-10 BPM from that. If you are in great cardio shape, add 5-10 BPM to that.
- For those that do not have a Heart Rate Monitor (via smartwatch or chest strap), then you can use the proxy of a “stressed” conversational level of exertion. This would mean you could be on a call with someone the entire time, but they would know you were exercising.
- Regardless of your proxy, remember that this should be a pace you could hold sustainably for 60 Minutes without decreasing output due to fatigue.
Most Optimal Options to Maintain Heartrate at a Static Pace:
– Incline treadmill walking (or incline walking if you have hills you can use)
– Air/Assault/Fan Bike
– slow step mill (or stairs maintaining a low/slow pace)
– Rucking/weighted carry – don’t have hills you can walk up? Put on a weighted vest or a loaded backpack and walk outside
Suboptimal Options that Make the Static Pace More Challenging:
– running/jogging – note in order to maintain Z2 this will likely need to be a slow slow pace (depending on your fitness level this could be a 12:00+ minute mile pace)
– rowing – most people are fairly inefficient rowers and maintaining Z2 Heart Rate can be difficult
This is a hard effort output level that would be considered “unsustainable” over time. This is often called Zone 5 Cardio and has the largest contribution to increasing VO2 max (the most correlated variable with longevity).
This can be done on any equipment of choice where you can push hard, repeatedly. A bike or rower is probably the safest, with an air bike (one with arms) being the potential top choice.
Whether you decide to use running as your choice here is very much an individual decision. Simply because most of us are inefficient runners, it makes for a good choice. Running also presents some safety issues that increase in risk as the intensity rises. Furthermore, the harder you push, the more impact is created. In the last year, I’ve had 2 injuries, and both were from running at “sprint” level output.
There is a multitude of ways we can get into Zone 5 and build the engine to contribute to the development of increased VO2 Max.
Some of these protocols incorporate 20-second all-out sprints (with longer rest/recovery), while other protocols are less impactful (such as a 1:1 work-to-rest approach, like 2 min on, 2 min off repeats). Ultimately, the objective is to get the heart rate into the ZONE 5 region (approx. 90% or higher of the equation: 220 minus age).
Without a heart rate monitor, you can be assured you are there if you are gasping for air at the end of each interval, and in desperate need of the rest/recovery period that follows each burst of effort.
For any of the Zone 5 cardio approaches, you want to make sure that you warm up prior! Not just a quick dynamic warm-up, but to get the heart rate elevated gradually. I like a slow 4-minute “jog level” of effort on whatever machine I am using, prior to embarking on the protocol for the day. Over the course of the cycle, we will use various approaches to getting into this awfully painful zone of cardio output.
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.
Most Optimal Options to Achieve that “All-Out” Pace:
– Air/Assault/Fan Bike
– Hill Sprints
– Flat ground Sprints – (optimal for those who have been doing sprints / high-intensity running)
– Shuttle runs (if you need to do these indoors)
Workouts are always super detailed within our app. Each movement or lift will be accompanied by a video and movement tips so you know exactly how to perform the movement and the options for scaling and modification.
Click here to read more about our new app.
Please note that there are alternative movement swaps for most of these exercises that will be available within our training app. For the sake of this blog, the prescribed movement has been left more general
Note, if you’re following our 3-Day Programs, the movement layout across the week will look different, but general notes and principles apply.
- Superset Movements:
- Leg Curls
- DB RDL without full extension
- Chest Supported Row
The Part A superset sequence primarily targets the Hamstrings. One of the key components of these “same muscle group supersets” is going from a short overload movement to a lengthened movement. Any type of leg curl can work for this, but a lying leg curl machine will more accurately target the short position, whereas the seated leg curl will be slightly more lengthened. In either case, you can make it even more shortened by pausing at the position where your heels are closest to your butt.
You will want to bring DBs over to the leg curl area so that you can move immediately from the Leg curl to the RDL.
Given that the RDL has no resistance at the top of the rep, we will be performing the “without hip extension” variation, as a way to keep tension on the hams/glutes, and dig deeper into the lengthened portion of the movement (the part where your hamstrings are stretched).
In Part B, the Row will use the “incomplete rest method” described in the above section about the “Local” metabolic stimuli. Deload week will establish a weight that we will then use in the first work week to complete the incomplete rest sequence.
As with any rowing movement, the angle of the elbows in relation to the torso will have an impact on what part of the back receives the majority of the stimulus. For this row, keep the elbows at approx. 30-45 degrees from the torso, as to ensure the target area is an even and thorough stimulus. You can also pull all the way back into full “scap retraction” (where in prior cycles, we’ve tried to focus exclusively on the lats by stopping the ROM when the elbows are in line with the torso).
- Superset Movements:
- Sissy Squats
- Walking DB Lunges
- Chest Press
The Part A Superset sequence for the quads does not go “short to lengthened” like the Hamstring version from Monday. Instead, both movements are lengthened, which makes this an extremely daunting superset that is likely to leave you quite sore. Therefore, the starting “reps from failure” for this sequence will be approx. 5 reps for each movement. Even with this lower effort, it’s like you will get some soreness in the subsequent days.
You can modify the Sissy squat in a number of ways with the swaps provided in the programming. These include banded, wall-assisted, or with a “Bodyweight Leg Extension” movement. These can also be banded or assisted as needed).
The Sissy Squat is meant to target the “Rectus Femoris.” This is the largest quad muscle that runs up the middle of the thigh. To properly target this muscle, we must make sure that the hips remain completely open the entire time. If we break the angle of the hips/torso, it will incorporate the other quad muscles. This allows the movement to begin to resemble a more standard squat-style movement.
When you move into the Lunges, understand that the total loading will be way less than you probably think. Many of you may not even need additional load, since the quads will be quite fatigued from the first movement.
The Part B Chest Press will use the “incomplete rest method” described in the above section about the “Local” metabolic stimuli. Deload week will establish a weight that we will then use in the first work week to complete the incomplete rest sequence.
Any type of chest press will be fine here (machine, DB, barbell, or cables).
Remember to keep the elbows traveling approx. 45 degrees to the torso while pressing (like an arrow) during both ascent and descent as opposed to elbows being out like a “T” throughout the rep.
- Superset Movements:
- Straight-Arm Pulldowns
- Wide Grip Pulldowns / Rack Pull-ups
- Weighted Hip Extensions
The Part A superset will target the musculature of the back, with a slight bias to the lats. You can performn Straight-Arm pulldowns with the cable machine or with bands. For those in the commercial gym, you will want to use the same bar attachment and workout station for this superset. This will make it super easy inside a crowded gym setting.
For those in a home gym, the second movement should be a rack pull-up variation, instead of a banded pulldown. So you will go from banded straight-arm pulldowns directly to Rack Pull-ups. This will just create a much better stimulus than trying to switch out to a thicker band for the Wide Pulldowns.
The Part B Hip Extension will use the “incomplete rest method” described in the above section about the “Local” metabolic stimuli. Deload week will establish a weight that we will then use in the first work week to complete the incomplete rest sequence.
Remember that you can Hip Extension on a 45-degree, GHD, or either of the home gym hacks (hips over the barbell, or feet under the barbell with hips across a box/bench).
- Superset Movements:
- DB Lateral Raise – No loss of tension
- Steep Incline Anterior Delt Press
- Leg Extensions
The Part A superset sequence targets the shoulders (delts), with specific focus on the side delts with the lateral raise, and the front delts with the steep incline press. This superset (much like Monday’s hamstring sequence) goes from short overload movement to a Lengthened movement.
The “no loss of tension” piece of the lateral raise will further amplify the stimulus to the short position by avoiding the bottom of the lateral raise (the place where there is no tension on the muscles at all). So when executing this movement, it’s important to stop the descent where the arms are still ~30 degrees away from the torso. Very important to avoid using momentum from the torso to initiate the ascent.
The steep incline press is meant to be a “front delt” movement, but as discussed above, but we should expect some upper chest in there, too. You’ll want to find a level of incline such that the DB’s are touching the front delts at the bottom, and finish above the face (hence the “line of press” is the proper path to bias the front delts over the chest).
The Part B Leg Extensions will use the “incomplete rest method” described in the above section about the “Local” metabolic stimuli. Deload week will establish a weight that we will then use in the first work week to complete the incomplete rest sequence.
One important note about the Leg Extensions: it would be ideal for this to be short overloaded (meaning hardest when the leg is extended fully). A Leg Extension machine, a DB Leg Extension or a Banded Leg Extension can accomplish this. It would be a poor idea to try and do this incomplete rest sequence with a Sissy Squat or Bodyweight Leg Extension, as these are “lengthened” movements (meaning it will be difficult to recover with incomplete rest).
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