Complete Contraction Method | Advanced Protocol for Hypertrophy

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Snapshot of Takeaway Points

  • Fatigue the 3 contraction types to create the ultimate growth potential
  • A power rack and a sled are pre-requisites to complete the protocol
  • What looks like a small amount of work, will surprise and truly humble you

Introduction

This method is designed to completely fatigue a muscle and shock your body to new levels of superhuman growth. On paper it doesn’t look like a huge volume of work but due to the maximal nature of each set you won’t need more than is indicated. Get in, smash yourself to pieces, crawl home.

Eccentrics increase muscle fibre length in the distal/end region and involve higher muscle fibre forces than concentric contractions. High tension is important as it is a factor required for hypertrophy. Eccentrics contribute to muscle growth as it is during this phase that the most of the microtrauma to the muscle tissue will occur. It is this tearing that needs to be rebuilt back bigger and stronger which is a signal to promote the anabolic process.

Isometrics contribute to maximal muscle fibre fatigue. Factors during the isometric part of this workout that will promote hypertrophy are muscular tension and further increases in metabolites due to stress. During an isometric contraction your joint won’t change angle, but the muscle shortens slightly as the tendon lengthens.

Concentrics are shown to increase muscle fibre diameter in the middle region of the muscle and involve more metabolic stress than the eccentric phase. This metabolic stress leads to growth factors being produced which support the anabolic process.

The Protocol

  • A1) 4-6 reps at 50X0 (Eccentric only), 10s rest
  • A2) 4-6 reps at 1016 (Isometric only at 3 x different points), 10s rest
  • A3) 12 reps at 1020 (Concentric only), 120-240s rest
  • Repeat twice more for 3 x total sets

The eccentrics will fatigue the highest threshold motor units and fibres. The isometrics the next level and the concentric only, a final lower threshold level.

During the eccentrics you want to experience tremors/shaking akin to a shitting dog. This is due to the increased build-up of tension within the targeted muscle group. It indicates you are utilising a heavy enough weight. You can use a percentage spread increase or decrease with the eccentrics. For example:

  • Set 1: 100kg for 6 reps (RPE: 8)
  • Set 2: 105kg for 5 reps (RPE: 9)
  • Set 3: 110kg for 4 reps (RPE: 10)

Or

  • Set 1: 110kg for 6 reps (RPE: 9)
  • Set 2: 105kg for 6 reps (RPE: 9)
  • Set 3: 100kg for 5 reps (RPE: 10)

The isometrics should cause a minor aneurism. We want to select three different points for this and start with the disadvantageous. So, for a squat you would start with the bottom position for set 1. Set 2 would be the mid position and set 3 the top position. The positioning change means you’ll be at a stronger position with each subsequent set, so you’ll need to add some weight each set. For each repetition don’t hold anything back. It is four to six maximal isometric efforts. Should you not be able to reach the isometric point with the weight after four reps just stop and move to the concentric only.

The concentric set should show your true ‘poo’ face! I want you creating as much tension as you possibly have left in the target muscle group. Think more like a bodybuilder here attempting to create the mind muscle connection. Another way of putting it is to imagine you are lifting through mud. Therefore, there is a two second concentric count in the tempo. Lift slower than normal and squeeze through the concentric range of motion.

Equipment

Minimum requirement: power rack & sled…if you don’t have access to this then your gym sucks and you should invest in a better one! Obviously, there’s a hint of sarcasm there but the protocol isn’t as effective, safe or easy to re-produce without access to a sled and power rack. Both power racks with safety’s and astro-turf with sleds are becoming way more mainstream these days so this protocol is not as restricted as it once was.

The Program

Weekly Overview

  • Day 1: Lower 1 (Quads, Knee Flexors & Calves)
  • Day 2: Torso (Chest, Back & Lateral Delt)
  • Day 3: Lower 2 (Hamstrings, Abs & Calves)
  • Day 4: Arms (Biceps, Triceps & Forearms)
  • First two exercises are CCM, third exercise is 3 x sets of maintenance/pump work
Example Program with or without Training Partner

Day 1: Quads, Knee Flexors & Calves

  • A1) Back Squat | Training Partner assists concentric by spotting under arm & around chest
    • Training alone: Hack Squat Machine | Use hands on knees to assist the concentric
    • Training alone: Replace eccentric hooks/releasers each repetition
  • A2) Back Squat against pins
  • A3) Sled Drag or Prowler Push Variation
  • B1) Leg Curl (Dorsiflexed, Outwards) | Training partner assists concentric by lifting foot pad with you
    • Training alone: Utilise a mechanical drop by going from dorsiflexed on the concentric to plantarflexed on the eccentric
  • B2) Glute Ham Raise with barbell on back against pins
  • B3) Sled Walking Lunge
  • C) Standing Calf Raise: 3 x 12-15, 2210, 75s rest

Day 2: Torso (Chest, Back & Lateral Delt)

  • A1) Flat Barbell Press | Training Partner assists concentric by lifting bar with you
    • Training alone: Use Dips and lean forward to recruit a higher percentage of pectoral fibres or use a mechanical drop with dumbbell flyes; at the bottom of the fly pull the dumbbells into your chest and press them back up before doing a fly on the eccentric
  • A2) Incline Barbell Press against Pins
  • A3) Prowler Press or Sled Fly
  • B1) Pull Up, Pronated Wide Grip Training Partner assists concentric with hands around waist
    • Training alone: Simply jump back up or step off a high box and control back down
  • B2) Prone Barbell Row against Pins, Supinated Shoulder Width
    • Alternative: Chin/Pull Up isometric hold at a set point
  • B3) Sled Row Variation
  • C) Prone Lateral Raise, Supinating: 3 x 12-15, 2012, 75s rest

Day 3: Lower 2 (Hip Extensors, Abs & Calves)

  • A1) Back Extension (Incline/Flat/Reverse Hyper) | Training Partner assists concentric by lifting you/pad
    • Training alone: Perform a mechanical drop on barbell Romanian deadlifts; bent knee deadlift for the concentric range and then Romanian deadlift for the eccentrics.
  • A2) Barbell Romanian or Bent Knee Deadlift against Pins
    • With training partner alternative: Manual tension on a back extension machine
  • A3) Bent Over Sled Drag/Sled Pull Through with Rounded Back
  • B1) Low Cable Pull In | Training Partner assists concentric by pushing on your feet
    • Training alone: Utilise a mechanical drop with a Garhammer or bent knee raise; straighten legs for eccentric portion to create a longer lever and therefore more overload.
  • B2) Inge Sit Up against Pins
  • B3) Sled Crunch
  • C) Seated Calf Raise: 3 x 20-25, 2110, 75s rest

Day 4: Arms (Biceps, Triceps & Forearms)

  • A1) Scott Bench EZ Bar Curl, Pronated Mid | Training Partner assists concentric by lifting bar with you
    • Training alone: Cheat/Swing curl a weight in a standing or seated curl or utilise a Zottman curl variation
  • A2) Standing Curls against Pins, Supinated, Narrow
  • A3) Sled Curl
  • B1) Decline/Flat Biacromial Press | Training Partner assists concentric by lifting bar with you
    • Training alone: Use your feet to stand up from a dip or a mechanical drop in an extension variation
  • B2) Decline/Flat/80° Biacromial Half Press against pints
  • B3) Sled Overhead Extension
  • C) Pronated Wrist Curl: 3 x 10-12, 2011, 75s rest

Conclusion

A hypertrophy or muscle mass protocol/program is only effective as the effort that is put into recovery. This means you need to nutritionally support the anabolic process whilst also ensuring recovery methods are maximised. Everyone is different and some may need increased time between sessions.

Just because its written as four sessions a week doesn’t mean you have to follow it if you aren’t recovering. You could equally apply the protocol to one or two sessions a week alongside sessions that don’t require huge recovery efforts. This way the layout can be adapted for superhuman freaks using anabolic assistance or a newer trainee.

Due to challenging nature of the protocol I refer you to three articles I’ve written on enhancing and maximising recovery:

Article written by: Tom Hibbert

Published on: 20/2/2020

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