Over Training Protocols for Serious Strength & Mass

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Snapshot of Takeaway Points

  • These protocols are brutal but deliver in terms of results
  • You will reach new heights of strength and mass
  • Most aren’t willing to push themselves to this new level of growth

Introduction

Hormesis is defined by a dose-response relationship. A process or substance provided at high doses may produce harmful effects but at low doses it may be beneficial. This is what an over training protocol can do for you. For the majority, training in the fashion I am going to provide you with, is only beneficial in short bursts.

I say for the majority as if you review how, for example, the Bulgarian weightlifters trained and the results they produced when training in this fashion year round then a different argument can be made. These athletes though were the peak of the pyramid and those at the base succumbed to the enormous stresses put on their bodies. The head of this team, Ivan Abadjiev, even earned the nickname of ‘The Butcher’.

Why use over training protocols?

The unseen benefit many forget regarding these protocols is to do with your mind set. You can tell whether someone is going to fulfil their potential and even surpass it, or if they prefer to tell stories on how great they could have been. I remember my mentor, Charles Poliquin, talking about it and using the protocol to select the athlete’s that needed to be cut. Now I’ve seen it in action I’d fully agree with this. I believe champions need a work ethic to match and this will help you identify their work ethic, mental capacity and will to win in just 1-2 weeks.

Also consider the ‘Central Governor’ theory. It states that the brain controls your effort to ensure it won’t overexert and injure the body. So, when pushing yourself to the limit, the brain will shut things down to avoid serious or permanent damage. The theory denotes that it is not though a physiological reality and that you can learn to ignore this false message and push through it. The key factor being learning to tolerate physical discomfort and ignoring negative messages when in this state.

John Broz, a renown Olympic Weightlifting coach, is known for saying, ‘Your body is lying to you.’ We’ll revisit John and his methods later on but what he says is true and I’ve experienced it first hand and seen it with clients. You wake up not wanting to train, barely able to move, completely de-motivated but go in and train anyway and end up hitting a new personal best!

Hans Selye’s general adaptation syndrome is well known. Provided you can recover out of the exhaustion phase, the lower the dip in this phase, the higher the rebound and resulting peak/super-compensation you will receive. Pierre Roy, another Olympic Weightlifting coach, used to promote, ‘Train to the point of tendonitis, then back off and recover.’ In essence, what doesn’t kill makes you stronger.

Due to the low to mid repetition nature of the protocols, they are excellent drivers of functional hypertrophy. This is contractile or myofibrillar hypertrophy as opposed to sarcoplasmic. It sticks around for longer and is a huge driver of strength gains. Further, your tendons and ligaments will thicken due to the stress and volume they are put under. They will have no choice but to adapt and this is another great driver of strength.

If you consider that a pyramid can only be as tall as its base, the extreme workload will also give your work capacity a much needed boost. By improving your work capacity, you once again improve your potential to add slabs of muscle mass to your frame and increase your strength levels.

The Protocols

Original Super Accumulation

This protocol is aimed at increasing total muscle mass levels. This is also conducive to improving strength levels regardless of ability level. A more experienced athlete would improve strength as a by product of increasing muscle cross section. What I’ve seen in relatively young trainees in training age is that they increase both concurrently.

When I first did this protocol some 10 years ago I weighed 84kg at the beginning of the two weeks. 5 days after completion I weighed 88kg! Similarly I had a deadlift of 220kg at the beginning of the two weeks and managed a 240kg deadlift 5 days after completion.

You will train 9 times a week for two weeks including three days where you need to train twice a day. Charles’ original layout can be found online quite easily. Here is the overview so you can utilise exercises best suited to you and your gym.

Overview

Monday/Wednesday/Friday AM

  • A1) Back Squat Variation: 5 x 4-6, 40X0, 100s
  • A2) Leg Curl Variation: 5 x 4-6, 40X0, 100s
  • B1) Flat Press Variation: 5 x 4-6, 40X0, 100s
  • B2) Chin Up Variation: 5 x 4-6, 40X0, 100s

Monday/Wednesday/Friday PM

  • A) Deadlift Variation: 10 x 6, 51X0, 180s
  • B1) Overhead Press Variation: 5 x 6-8, 40X0, 100s
  • B2) Row Variation: 5 x 6-8, 40X0, 100s

Tuesday/Thursday/Saturday

  • A1) Front Squat Variation: 5 x 4-6, 40X0, 100s
  • A2) Leg Curl Variation: 5 x 4-6, 40X0, 100s
  • B1) Decline Press Variation: 5 x 4-6, 40X0, 100s
  • B2) Pull Up Variation: 5 x 4-6, 40X0, 100s

Execution tips

  • Every set must be to concentric failure for the repetition range provided. To further ensure this happens I recommend you always finish with an eccentric. The goal is overall fatigue and the extra eccentrics will add up and further improve hypertrophy and strength gains. The only pain is if you are training by yourself it means you’ll need to strip the bar and re-rack it every set.
  • Going to failure means you will need to reduce the weight set to set but by no more than 5%.
  • You will get weaker as you go through the session and body weight will even decrease. When you refuel after you will super-compensate to new levels of muscle mass and strength.
  • Don’t bother with pre-workout, it won’t have any affect after the Wednesday due to the overall fatigue.
  • Select compound movements only.
  • You could select exercises based on structural balance scores. For example, if your overhead is far weaker than your flat press then you could opt for two overhead movements.
Modified Broz Method for Squats

John Broz owns Average Broz gym in Las Vegas, and he is known for utilising a Bulgarian approach with his Olympic weightlifters. This method comes from what I learnt about his methodology. I recommend using this protocol for 2 weeks before de-loading and testing your maxes. You will need to train twice a day from Monday to Saturday.

AM Session

  • A) Front Squat: 5 x 1 (30% ↑)
  • B) Front Squat: 5 x 2 (30% ↑)
  • C) Front Squat: 5 x 3 (30% ↑)

PM Session

  • A) Back Squat: 5 x 1 (30% ↑)
  • B) Back Squat: 5 x 3 (30% ↑)
  • C) Back Squat: 5 x 5 (30% ↑)

The A series is where you are going to find your maximum for the day. Don’t be surprised though if on the odd day your preceding B series attempts, or even C series, end up above the maximum single you already laid down. After finding the max single for the day the goal is then to find the maximum double/triple. You reduce the weight and then ramp back up. For 5 x sets to count they need to be within a 30% spread of each other.

You might well wake up and go to stand upon getting out of bed and crumble to the floor. Good. It means you’re executing it well but don’t skip the session. As John says, ‘You can always squat the bar.’ These are the sessions we want you to now control your central governor. These are the sessions where you just might hit a new 1RM because ‘your body is lying to you.’

Modified Broz Method for Strongman

Due to my history with training and competing in Strongman it’s only appropriate I present to you an option to help with static strength in this sport. Once again you will train Monday to Saturday for two weeks with this protocol.

AM Session

  • A) Log Clean & Push Press: 5 x 1 (30% ↑)
  • B) Front Squat: 5 x 1 (30% ↑)
  • C) Front Squat: 5 x 2-3 (30% ↑)

PM Session

  • A) Axle Push Jerk (From Rack): 5 x 1 (30% ↑)
  • B) Back Squat: 5 x 1 (30% ↑)
  • C) Back Squat: 5 x 3-5 (30% ↑)

If you can drop the log from overhead to the floor or crash mats, then this will help performance throughout and minimise eccentric loading through your upper body. The same goes for the axle. The axle can also be substituted for the monster/circus dumbbell push jerk.

One Day Cures

You can read all about them through the above link. They’re great to use to increase muscle mass and/or strength depending on the protocol you choose. They’re over quicker than the above protocols but they can be just as rewarding.

Maximising Results

To further improve your results here are some pro tips:

  • Prioritise sleep, naps and food during the two week period.
  • Explain to loved ones before your mood worsens. I remember one participant having a go at a Granny they were so tired and hungry!
  • Always use an intra workout drink: EAAs and glutamine mixed with a juice is the base essential
  • Maximise your post workout shake by taking a glucose disposal supplement with it
  • 5-7 days following is where extra recovery methods like sauna, dry needling, hyperbaric oxygen therapy should be placed
  • Boost testosterone in the recovery days by taking plant sterols

Conclusion

You will be surprised to find out what the body can adapt to. What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger and this will certainly be the case when you undertake any of these protocols! Most aren’t willing to push themselves this hard. I remember when presenting it on a seminar having someone counter argue that you could just train patiently and putting yourself through pain is pointless. I understand his point, but I prefer to aim for the top, whereas they still haven’t achieved anything of note. Sometimes you need to be willing to do what others aren’t.

Article written by: Tom Hibbert

Published on: 5/2/2020

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