Get Big& Strong
Michael RoussellA Best-of-Both-Worlds Workout
The ideal is being big and strong. Many bodybuilders catch a lot of flak for having the muscles but not the strength to back them up. Times have changed from the golden age of bodybuilding. Franco Columbu and Arnold Schwarzenegger were big and strong.
How could anyone forget the scene in “Pumping Iron” when Franco was in his hometown on Sardinia, off the coast of Italy? Not only did he look as if he could lift a car, he
did lift a car. While the big-and-strong routine won’t automatically enable you to lift a car, it will help you pack on some serious beef while making you strong as an ox—okay, enough with the bovine metaphors.
This routine has four cornerstones.
1) Constant variation of the set-and-rep schemes. By continually varying the set-and-rep scheme of your workout, you’ll prevent your muscles from adapting. By keeping them guessing, you’ll be providing the optimal environment for optimal growth. Variety in your sets and reps will also keep training fresh for you. Nothing is more boring than doing three sets of 10 week after week.
2) Movement selection. Step away from the leg extension machine. The big-and-strong program is designed to be both effective and efficient. I’m not looking to waste your time, so we leave out isolation movements.
You need high-yield exercises that maximize muscle stimulation and stress numerous muscle groups at once. What am I getting at? Compound, multijoint movements give you the biggest bang for your buck and should be the cornerstone of any routine when you’re looking to put on size and strength.
3) Training frequency. Many people get stuck in the pattern of training each bodypart once a week out of fear of overtraining. Fortunately, if you reduce your per-session bodypart training volume, you can increase your weekly bodypart volume without running the risk of overtraining. In fact, the increase in volume will stimulate more muscle growth.
4) Training through soreness. This is a great tip I learned from strength coach Chad Waterbury. Initially it seems like a bad idea and something that could again lead to overtraining; however, as long as you stimulate and don’t annihilate your muscles, training through soreness will lead to decreased soreness and increased fitness.
Let’s put it all together with the big-and-strong training program. It consists of two types of workouts—strength and hypertrophy—with two workouts of each type. The training schedule alternates the four workouts as follows:
Monday: Hypertrophy A
Wednesday: Strength B
Friday: Strength A
Monday: Hypertrophy B
Wednesday: Strength A
Friday: Cycle begins again
Here are the workouts:
Front squats 6 x 6
Seated dumbbell presses 5 x 10
cable rows 5 x 10
Deadlifts 6 x 6
Close-grip bench presses 3 x 12
Chinups 3 x 12
Narrow-stance squats 7 x 4
Push presses (overhead) 7 x 4
Dumbbell rows 7 x 4
Stiff-legged deadlifts 7 x 4
Dumbbell bench presses 7 x 4
Upright rows 7 x 4
As you progress with the big-and-strong program, you can change the loading parameters by adding sets to the 3x12 and 7x4 exercises and reducing the rest periods between sets of the 6x6 and 5x10 exercises.
On paper the workouts may not seem that tough, but wait until you finish the first week—you’ll be singing a different tune.
Editor’s note: Michael Roussell has a B.S. in biochemistry and is currently pursuing an M.D. at the University of Vermont with the intent of specializing in rehabilitation medicine. For more of his articles, visit www.Bodybuilding.com.