Fall 2020 Physique Cycle

New cycle always means a lot of new questions, so let’s get into it. ⁣

Normally, you start lighter and build up to a heavy working set. In a reverse pyramid, you still do exactly that: you warm up to your heaviest weight, BUT then your working sets continue to get LIGHTER as you continue working.⁣

Let’s take Day 1 of the cycle as an example:⁣
Stiff-Legged Deadlifts @ 31X1:⁣
1 x 4-7 Reps (heaviest)⁣
1 x 7-10 Reps (reduce weight)⁣
1 x 10-15 Reps (reduce weight even more)⁣

Reminder that you are not just hitting 3 sets. ⁣
You should always have 2-3 warm-up sets to get to your working weight.⁣

I typically choose the bottom of the rep range because I have full gym access to all weights I want + I’m trying to go as heavy as possible/get strong.

If your weight selection is limited and you can’t go heavy, go more reps.⁣

For my warm-up, I went:⁣
5 reps empty bar⁣
5 reps @ 95⁣
4 reps @ 135⁣
3 reps @ 165⁣

And then I was about ready to be on my working sets.165 wasn’t quite heavy enough, so I threw 10’s on each side. ⁣

My working deadlift sets were:⁣
1 x 4 @ 185 (tough, but room to add more weight each week)⁣
1 x 7 @ 155 (-30 lbs)⁣
1 x 10 @ 135 (-20 lbs)⁣

Don’t overcomplicate it. Get a few warm-up sets to something hard but doable. Then drop a lil weight. Then drop even more weight. ⁣

 


This will be a 15-week cycle. 

 

Program Details:

  • This will be a 4-day training program with an optional 5th conditioning day. 2 upper, 2 lower, 1 optional conditioning
  • Physique subscribers will get access to two program versions: Physique (full gym access), and DB Physique (DB-only)

 

Equipment Required: 

  • Physique: Dumbbells, barbell + plates, bench, squat rack, a way to do pull-ups.
  • DB Physique: Dumbbells + bench

*Physique and DB Physique are now synced on cycle timelines (previously, DB was a few weeks behind – hooray!)

 


Sample Days from Physique/DB Physique:

*In our app, movements will have links to movement video

 

Sample Physique Lower Body Day-

Part A and B Repeat week to week. Track these metrics.

A. Stiff-Legged Deadlifts (@31X1)
31X1 tempo = 3-second descent, 1-sec pause bar on ground, EXPLODE up, 1-sec pause at top)
(elevate barbell on a “riser” if you struggle to maintain a flat back at bottom)

1 x 4-7 Reps
1 x 7-10 Reps
1 x 10-15 Reps
———————–
B. Back Rack Split Squats (no elevation) OR Smith Machine Split Squat (no elevation)
(choose movement; stay consistent week to week)

1 x 5-8 Reps (per leg)
1 x 8-12 Reps (per leg)
1 x 12-18 Reps (per leg)
———————–
C. Heels Elevated Goblet Squat OR Leg Extensions
1 tough set of 12-18 Reps
Rest a few minutes
Heels-Elevated DB Front Squat x 12-18 Reps (two DB’s)
+ Immediately upon finishing, drop one DB and do Goblet squats to accumulate another tough set
———————–
D. Alternate Movements x 2 sets each:
Barbell Ab Rollouts x 6-12 Reps
Rest 1 min
STOP Lying Leg Curls OR Towel/Slider Leg Curls x 10-15 Reps
Rest 1 min
———————–
E. 2 Rounds:
Single-Leg Calf Raise (DB in hand of working leg) x 10-12 Reps (Weak leg)
Weighted Sit-ups (DB on/above chest) x 10-15 Reps
Single-Leg Calf Raise (DB in hand of working leg) x 10-12 Reps (Strong leg)
Rest 2 min between rounds


DB Physique Sample Lower Body Day-

Part A and B Repeat week to week. Track these metrics.

A. Rear Foot Elevated DB RDL
3 x 8-20 Reps per leg
Rest as needed BETWEEN LEGS to ensure optimal performance

***Note you can also use just ONE DB and progress to two DB’s as you get stronger.
For example a heavier single DB, then progress to two lighter/moderate weight DB’s
———————–
B. Foam Roller DB Hack Squats
3 x 6-15 Reps
———————–
C. Heels Elevated Goblet Squat
1 tough set of 10-20 Reps
Rest a few minutes
Heels-Elevated DB Front Squat x 8-20 Reps (two DB’s)
+ Immediately upon finishing, drop one DB and do Goblet squats to accumulate another tough set
———————–
D. Alternate Movements x 2 sets each:

DB Rollouts x 6-12 Reps
(put DB’s on towels if they aren’t going to roll)
Rest 1 min
Towel/Slider Leg Curls x 8-20 Reps
Rest 1 min
———————–
E. 2 Rounds:

Single-Leg Calf Raise (DB in hand of working leg) x 10-12 Reps (Weak leg)
Weighted Sit-ups (DB on/above chest) x 10-15 Reps
Single-Leg Calf Raise (DB in hand of working leg) x 10-12 Reps (Strong leg)
Rest 2 min between rounds



15-Week Reverse Pyramid Physique/DB Physique Details:

As our 2020 Summer Physique Strength cycle comes to a close, there should also be a general sense of confidence with the heavier weight in the lower rep ranges. The body should also be “resensitized” to the hypertrophy stimulus (i.e. volume in the moderate rep ranges). The Strength cycle had the lowest target reps for “repeating” movements of any Physique cycle thus far.

The new Physique cycle begins 9/14 and will be a 15-week training cycle.

The Strength cycle was preceded by the METABOLITE cycle, where most of the training took place on the opposite side of the rep spectrum with high-rep sets; often working upwards of 15-20 Reps on smaller movements.

The new “Reverse Pyramid” cycle will work mostly through the middle rep range. With increased strength and power, combined with the ability to do “more work” from training the higher reps, the body is primed to take advantage of some serious hypertrophy in these middle rep ranges.

In a Reverse Pyramid, the idea is to begin with the heaviest set, and then decrease weight each set thereafter. This is in direct contrast to the typical “Descending Rep Pyramid” style where someone might perform sets of 12-10-8-6 reps or 15-12-9 reps, and weights increase set to set.

I am actually a huge fan of this standard pyramid for accessory exercises. However, it is extremely impractical when used to train the primary movements.

Here’s the problem with the typical “descending pyramid” approach…

By the time you get to the heavy weight, you are so fatigued that you can’t lift even close to what you could fresh. This is a massive issue for fast-twitch muscle fiber recruitment.

If you start with the lightest sets, the body will recruit mostly the slow-twitch muscle fibers. These are the ones that turn on when all your explosiveness is gone. They are “enduring” and are associated with long efforts of training; aerobic in nature. They don’t grow, nor do they get super strong. They just help you train for a long time.

In this cycle, we will be starting with the heaviest set (when you are fresh) which allows you to create significantly more power on each rep, and the fast-twitch muscle fibers will contract super hard to get the job done.

However, you would never *START* with the heaviest weight without performing low-effort preparatory sets first. These sets are called “Ramp-up” sets and they are vital to maximizing output of the top set. There is a specific way in which you should implement them so that you stimulate the Central Nervous System without causing fatigue that will sacrifice performance. See #5 below for details.

Other Things to Know About This Cycle

1. There are 5 days of programming:
Lower/Upper/Lower/Upper/Conditioning

As usual, the conditioning day should be considered “optional.”

2. Each set in the “Reverse Pyramid” will progress in its own rep range.

For Example:
1 x 5-8 (increase weight next week when you hit 7-8 Reps)
1 x 8-12 (increase weight next week when you hit 11-12 Reps)
1 x 12-18 (increase weight next week when you hit 16-18 Reps)

3. The first set is really the one driving the progression.

If you are able to improve on the top set in some way, but still remain the same on the following two sets, that is progress (the top set created more fatigue than it did the prior week which then impacted subsequent sets).

4. The final set of the sequence (highest reps) is meant to be almost entirely a “mind-muscle connection” focus set.

The weight really doesn’t need to be high, or even challenge you close to failure. You just need to make sure that every rep is performed deliberately with the purpose of connecting to the target muscle and make it stretch/contract through the full range-of-motion. This set should not create anxiety/stress over whether rep performance improves, as much as that it is engaging and productive muscularly.

5. Here is how to properly RAMP-UP weight to the TOP SET:
Remember that the purpose is to keep fatigue low, but stimulate a CNS response

In this example, let’s assume the top set of 5-8 Reps is with 200 lbs.
50 lbs x 10-12 Reps (super easy, no real effort, just moving through ROM)
100 lbs x 6-8 Reps (begin focusing on movement execution)
140 lbs x 3-4 Reps (focus required, bracing and explosiveness)
170 lbs x 1-2 Reps (feel something heavy, mentally prepare, avoiding fatigue)
200 lbs x 5-8 Reps WORK SET

Then decrease weights as needed for target rep ranges that follow in subsequent work sets

This style of training with TOP SET + Backoff sets is one of my favorite ways to train! I think you all will find this cycle both productive and enjoyable! As always, glad to discuss further and answer any questions in the Facebook Group.


As always, email us if you want to change your existing membership to hop in the new 15-week Physique cycle.

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