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Paragon Training Methods = the life-changing workouts, coaching, and online community you’ve been searching for to build muscle, achieve your goals, and look great in just 30-75 minutes a day, depending on your lifestyle and program needs. We have workouts for all goals, skill levels, and time/equipment constraints.

By signing up for the Paragon Full Gym Physique Bundle, you’ll get access to 4 bodybuilding and strength training programs designed to help you maximize your body composition and physique. These are the Paragon workouts to follow if looking to improve body comp, gain muscle, or lose body fat.

This blog will discuss 4-Day and 3-Day programs in depth! For more on our 45-Min Physique program, please check out this blog write-up!

Hypertrophy Deets

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! Said another way, hypertrophy cycles = the best time to diet or be in a surplus to gain muscle.

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)

Full Gym Physique Overview


  • 60-75 min workouts
  • 3-Day Full Body Option
  • 4-Day Upper/Lower Split Option

Equipment Needed

  • Barbell
  • Dumbbells
  • Squat rack
  • Bench
  • Resistance bands
  • Machines (mainly leg press, leg curl, leg extension) 
  • Cable machines

Workouts =

  • 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

Cycle Deets

Paragon Co-founder Bryan Boorstein here to discuss the Hypertrophy Cycle for Spring 2023.

This 13-week cycle is part of the larger periodization model we follow at Paragon:

Current Phase: 13 weeks of Hypertrophy
Next Phase: 6 weeks of Strength
Final Phase: 6 weeks of Hypertrophy (with a metabolic / conditioning lean)

The main focus of the training periodization is to optimize strength and hypertrophy outcomes across the year, without having to sacrifice conditioning levels.

You can think of these phases on a spectrum, with hypertrophy being in the middle (the most well-rounded stimulus). Then strength is just slightly lower reps and longer rest periods. Metabolic is going to be slightly lighter weights with shorter rest periods.

Hypertrophy is the place we should live the majority of the time in the pursuit of optimizing body compensation (building muscle and/or losing body fat).

This is how it will look for the next 13 weeks:

  • Pre-cycle Intro/Deload week (April 10th)
  • 5-week Progressive Hypertrophy Phase
  • Mid-cycle Deload week (May 22nd)
  • 6-week Progressive Hypertrophy phase

When we discuss hypertrophy training, there are a number of important factors that play into optimizing the results during this 13-week cycle. We will delve deeper into this in the sections below.   

The Full Gym / Home Gym Difference

Probably the most advantageous aspect of training in a commercial gym (with machines and cables) is the ability to utilize very targeted exercises without the hassle of setup.

Cables provide an extremely even resistance curve (meaning there is tension on the muscle through the entire range of motion). These positions can be emulated with bands, but the bands have a poor resistance curve (range-of-motion gets harder as the band gets more stretched) and also are difficult to progress from week to week.

Leg machines are one of the unique gems of the commercial gym.

This is not to say there is anything wrong with free-weight squat-style movements, but one thing that cannot be argued is that free-weight squats will always fatigue the midline (low back), and often cause that to be the limiting factor in progression (before the legs truly reach fatigue).

By using leg presses or hack squat-style machines, we can easily work the quads and/or glutes to deeper levels of fatigue without limitation.

With the new menu of program offerings at Paragon, the primary movement listed will always be the “most optimal” one for the situation.

However, we will continue to list some free weight/home gym alternatives (“swaps”) for those that may be traveling, or find themselves in a crowded gym, and unable to get the machine they want.

It’s important to understand that there is not going to be a drastic or significant difference in using the free weight or machine-based movements, and you should feel confident that your “gains” are in good hands, regardless of which option you choose!

As always, the ability to work hard and be consistent over time will move the needle more than anything related to equipment!

Exercise Selection for Hypertrophy

When training with the goal to build muscle, it’s important to consider exercise selection and execution in the pursuit of optimality.

When we look at the Sumo or Conventional Deadlift, we can see an easy example to demonstrate why exercise selection matters. 

These two movements are probably not the best choices for you to use in a hypertrophy phase. These exercises extend at three joints (ankles, knees, hips), which makes it extremely fatiguing, and also difficult to determine what muscles are actually receiving the primary stimulus. Is it the hams? The glutes? The low back? The quads? It’s kind of all of them, to varying degrees!

Instead, an RDL is a significantly better choice to target the musculature. It extends only at one joint (the hip) with a partial bend from the knees (but no ankle movement). This directs the loading much more acutely into the glutes and hamstrings.

The same idea can be extrapolated across all movements. For any hypertrophy cycle, the selection of exercises will take into account the stimulus provided by that exercise, as well as the overall fatigue cost associated with that movement.

As a general example, if our objective was to target the quads, we would select a heels-elevated Back Squat or a quad-dominant machine (such as a Hack squat or leg press) instead of a heavily loaded back squat.

This is as much about refining execution to make it more specific (like with the RDL example above), as it is about abolishing the notion of “just moving the weight from Point A to Point B.”

When we focus too much on just moving the weight (with whatever muscles can accomplish the job), we’re taking deep inroads into fatigue, while failing to provide a stimulus to the precise area where we want it to go.

This heel elevation (or more acute stimulus from the machine variation) will increase the range of motion at the knee and ankle while decreasing the movement at the hip (more quads, less systemic fatigue per unit of stimulus).

And remember that it is not “bullseye or bust” with these things. It’s a constantly evolving process of getting better at performing movements, through consistent execution of quality repetitions.

Progression Through A Training Cycle

At Paragon, we program with an “increasing effort” approach, purposefully working closer to failure each week.

There are a few great elements that this approach provides:

1. It makes progression an expectation each week. You need to add weight or do more reps to ensure that you get closer to failure than the prior week. It also has the side benefit of creating “mini wins” each week, in which you leave the gym feeling accomplished; that you did something productive!

2. It ensures you have a self-test each cycle. As you add weight or reps each week, you will inevitably butt up against failure in the final week. If you far exceeded your prior weeks’ performance in this final testing week, then you know you were sandbagging (and you adjust by increasing loads the next cycle).

A large part of this philosophy revolves around there being a different progression model for the demanding lengthened compound movements (squat, RDL, etc…), and the less demanding short overload movements (often isolation movements, but not always). For more about why this matters, check out this blog post about short versus lengthened overload movements.

As far as how this relates to progression, it mostly comes down to the fatigue cost of performing these exercises. Due to how fatiguing (and complex) the “lengthened” movements are, we will often begin cycles at around 5 reps from failure.

The lengthened movements will often progress like this:

  • Week 1 – 5-6 reps from failure
  • Week 2 – 4-5 reps from failure
  • Week 3 – 3-4 reps from failure
  • Week 4 – 2-3 reps from failure
  • Week 5 – 1-2 reps from failure
  • Week 6 – 1 rep from failure

We do not need to actually hit failure on these big movements to see maximal gains.

For the “short” movements, the fatigue cost is so low, we can often begin a cycle at ~2-3 reps from failure.

The short movements will often progress like this:

  • Week 1 – 2-3 reps from failure
  • Week 2 – 1-2 reps from failure
  • Week 3 – 1 rep from failure
  • Week 4 – 0-1 reps from failure
  • Week 5 – Failure + intensity techniques
  • Week 6 – Failure + intensity techniques

The specific intensity techniques are meant to help us “get more” from these less fatiguing movements, and the specific details of each will be explained within the body of the programming in the latter weeks of each training cycle!

Finding 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.

The model described above (increasing effort week to week; adding load or reps) is very effective at ensuring we ultimately get to “failure” at the end of each training cycle. 

This approach is 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.

In the final week of each mesocycle (before deload week), even the demanding “lengthened” movements will be taken right up to the point of technical failure. This then provides you the tools to re-assess your effort and weight selection 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.

*Note: while we want to lift as quickly as possible in a controlled manner, we recommend doing a controlled 2-3 second descent. For Example in a Back Squat you would take 2-3 seconds to get to the bottom range of motion, and then QUICKLY stand back up.

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 by confidently pressing the gas pedal, 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. You can see how the rep speed slows despite the hardest effort to move the weight.

How to Build Up to Working Sets

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) you may want to do the OPTIONAL sets. For a less demanding movement, you can probably do just 1-2 warm-up sets and then get into work sets.

Warm-up sets:

OPTIONAL 30-50% of working weight x 10-15 Reps
50% of working weight x 8-12 Reps
75% of working weight x 4-6 Reps
OPTIONAL 85-90% of working weight x 1-2 Reps

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 sets are for lower reps than the work sets (and with less weight). 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, and triceps, we usually just implement one “feel it out” set, then jump into work sets.

Rest Periods Between Sets

Rest periods are ALWAYS important.

Science is overwhelmingly in agreement that more rest is better than less rest. Every study in the last half decade has shown better hypertrophy resting 2-3 minutes between sets when compared to 60-90 second rest.

Most importantly, we just need to make sure that neither the cardiovascular system (breathing) nor local muscle fatigue will be limiters in our ability to do the best possible set each time.

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.

Testing Week at the End of A Cycle

Throughout the first 5 weeks of a training cycle, we have increased weight and/or reps week to week to meet the demand of “getting closer to failure.”

We don’t want to actually go to the point of failing something like a squat or an RDL. When you look at the failure spectrum, it can be ambiguous for a large compound movement like a squat.

  • First, you might fail to maintain the exact same position as a prior rep (regarding torso/knees/hips).
  • Second, you might sacrifice position by leaning forward more at the hips.
  • Third, you might let your knees shoot back, letting the butt/hips rise too fast.
  • Fourth, you might actually fail a rep (or round your back and let the bar roll forward over your head).

We would encourage you to look at failure as the first example.

When positioning is compromised in any way… when a rep looks different than the prior reps, that is a failure. Taking this approach to big compound movements will keep the stimulus where we want it and reduce injury risk.

If you compromise position, you are in effect asking other muscles to help! You’re saying “my quads can’t do this anymore.”

So if you then bring the hips/glutes in to help, you are working beyond failure for the muscles you are attempting to target. This is basically causing increased fatigue costs and increased risk of injury for almost no return.

One other related concern is in regards to resting at the top of the rep. Much like execution, which needs to be standardized from rep to rep, we need to do the same for resting at the top of reps.

If you are able to increase your squat reps because you stood there at the top, with your joints stacked, for an extra few seconds, that is not an identical performance to the prior week. For this reason, we encourage a “one breath” rule on any of these movements where there is a resting place.

Hopefully, this can help cement the way you should be thinking about failure as it relates to these big demanding compound movements.

Sample Workouts

*In our app, movements have links to movement videos and our Youtube channel

The Repeating Movements

Note that the specific days and orientation of the movements will look different on the 3-day program.


  • Seated Leg Curls
  • Rear Foot Elevated DB Split Squat (Glute Dominant)

In Part A, the seated leg curls are programmed as the primary, but of course, you can swap for lying leg curls, as long as it remains consistent week to week. We have become huge fans of doing some leg curls before squatting pattern movements. The increase in blood flow to the hamstring will warm up the knee and provide a noticeable cushion for you to settle into at the bottom of squat reps.

In Part B, we have the “glute dominant” split squat, which we haven’t had as a repeating move since the glute/back specialty cycle in the fall!

When biasing the glutes, there are really 2 main points of performance:

1. AVOID ankle flexion (i.e. keep the shins as vertical as possible). If the knees begin to shift forward at all, this will begin to involve the quads more.

2. Forward lean from the torso (it helps to think of this as a hybrid RDL / Split squat type movement). By leaning forward at the hip it stretches the glute.

The fact that this is a single-leg movement means that we will be using the glute max (biggest glute muscle), but also the glute medius and minimus to help us stabilize the pelvis. We will also get plenty of quads in here, too!


  • One Arm Cable Lat Row (braced behind the bench)
  • Machine Chest Press

The Part A Row is performed with a “lat focused” execution, meaning we want to use a neutral grip and keep the elbow traveling in tight to the torso during each rep.

As usual with single-limb movements, we want to make sure we split the rest. So instead of doing the Right arm, Left arm, then resting for 2-3 minutes, it would be prudent to take 1-2 minutes of rest between each arm. This ensures that neither arm is short-changed.

Because the row (and all back movements, basically) are “short overloaded,” we will start the cycle much closer to failure, and quickly progress beyond failure with partial reps, and other intensity techniques to enhance the stimulus!

The reason we are braced behind the bench for the cable row is to provide significantly more stability than you would be able to get by sitting on the bench. Make sure you see the “points of performance” in the app, as it will help you get the most out of this awesome exercise!

Part B is really meant to be any chest press that feels good for you. The intended stimulus is “mid-chest” meaning we would the hands to travel straight out (as opposed to pressing down or up, for a decline or incline respectively). So a “flat” DB/barbell press would be the alternative if you don’t have cables or a machine press you like!

As you’ve likely seen in our feed and demo videos, we encourage pressing with a semi-pronated grip (half between “palms forward” and “palms facing” each other). While certainly not a requirement for comfort and effectiveness, cables are a great choice here, as they let you manipulate hand positioning much like DB’s, but with a more even resistance profile.


  • B-stance DB RDL
  • Machine Hack Squat (complete each rep with a 2-3 second pause at the bottom of the “lengthened” position of each rep)

The B-Stance RDL in part A is another one we haven’t seen for a while, but always highly requested!

When performing your reps, it would be prudent to try and get the most out of each rep, by slowly lowering the weight under control. Pause briefly at the point of most tension (the bottom for each of these exercises), and then ascend purposefully, attempting to keep the tension on the muscle (and avoid compensating by letting other muscles contribute).

Remember that the RDL is meant to descend only as low as the hips are still moving backward. If we continue descending by dropping the torso, we are training the low back and note the glutes/hamstrings!

The RDL can be performed with DBs, trap bars, cables, or barbells, and you can also opt to do a “rear foot elevated” variation if you prefer!

Ya’ll are in for a treat in Part B!

Pick your tool, either a hack squat or a leg press (or pendulum squat If you got one!). We are going to set up in the most quad-dominant fashion possible. This means we want to drive the knees over the toes as we descend and mash the hamstrings into the calves at the bottom of each rep.

We will be pausing for 2-3 seconds at the bottom.

But be careful to ensure you don’t pause with the machine “bottomed out.” We want to make sure you are pausing at the bottom, but with all the tension still on the quads. If you’re doing it right, you should feel a massive stretch through your quads during each pause. If you opt for a heels-elevated back squat or foam roller squat, the same principles apply!


  • Neutral Grip Lat Pulldown
  • Superset Movements:
    • Cable Y-Raise
    • Dual Cable Lateral Raise

The Part A Pulldowns are performed with a neutral grip, to facilitate elbows driving straight down. The neutral grip seems to be much more joint-friendly, while also allowing for slightly more weight to be used, increasing tension on the muscle! The neutral grip will also slightly bias the lats, which is perfect in combination with the Y-Raises in part B (which will hit a lot of the upper back and rear delt musculature).

Because the pulldown (and all back movements, basically) are “short overloaded,” we will start the cycle much closer to failure, and quickly progress beyond failure with partial reps, and other intensity techniques to enhance the stimulus!

The Part B superset is one of my all-time favorite delt sequences (and also happens to appear verbatim in Bryan’s program this cycle, as well).

The Y-Raise movement starts with the arms in front and will target some lateral delts, but mostly rear delts and mid/lower traps (big muscles of the middle upper back). It also happens to overload short (hardest at the top of the rep, as you make the “Y” with your arms).

The second part of the superset will target more exclusively the lateral/side delts. The setup with the arms coming from behind the body (with cables crossed) will also accentuate the lengthened position of the movement more. You will want to set this up with the cable at wrist height to get the most difficulty at the BOTTOM of the rep (and this will allow the top of the rep to actually have tension drop off slightly).

Ready to Join the Fun?

@paragontrainingmethods = fun and effective bodybuilding and strength training workouts (you can do from home or at a gym) that will help you build muscle, achieve your goals, and look d*mn good in 45-60 minutes a day.

Whether your goal is:

  • to run AND lift
  • workout 3 days per week
  • lift from home
  • enjoy things you love (CrossFit, Olympic lifting, Peloton)
  • or just look/feel your best

We have amazing hypertrophy workouts with progressive overload that will get you there!

Click here to read more about our Paragon workouts!

LCK and Bryan from Paragon Training Methods

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