Part 3: The Art of Transformations
Written by Mark Coles - Follow on Google+ | Facebook | Twitter
This article is part 3 of a 3 part series. Part one covered the very important area of psychology, and part two covered all things nutrition. Hopefully you should have nicely tied the first two parts together, and be ready to add the final piece to the puzzle.
When it comes to the training part of achieving your own transformation, this is the area that so many people underestimate. Too many people are of the mindset that simply lifting weights will grow all the muscle they want. Unfortunately they’re very much mistaken if they think that is all there is to it.
The first thing to think about and most important in my opinion is mindset. We come across many people who say they desperately want to be in great shape. When it comes down to watching them train, we can tell that the one thing they don’t want desperately enough, is the pain that is associated with it. Not enough people now a days embrace hard work, and serious effort.
Is this something you can learn? Yes it is, the only way you’ll ever learn is if you’re in the environment of people who really do train hard. You will learn a lot from having someone take you to the place where need to be, the place which will force growth and awesome results.
“In my opinion average results come from having an average mindset, excellence only comes from applying yourself in a way that most people won’t.”
So in order to develop this special mindset, find someone who has it and learn from them. Take yourself away from the average surroundings that you find yourself in right now. Take yourself out of your comfort zone, because this is the only place where you will learn.
The second part in the training process, is to analyse your physique. Get someone to take a photo of your from the front, side and back. Then take these photos and analyse the strengths and weaknesses of your physique. Are your arms overly developed in comparison to the rest of your physique? Is your chest very small in comparison to your shoulders? Is your upper back rounded or your lower back excessively arched?
The ideal physique is where you have a balanced posture, along with all of your muscles being developed proportionally and symmetrical. This is really the part that takes the time and dedication. Anyone who has achieved outstanding results with their physique, knows how much effort, dedication, sacrifice and planning goes into creating their own masterpiece. It doesn’t happen over night, it happens when you persist day in and day out. To appreciate your physique even better, have your photos taken in three of the bodybuilding poses. So I would have my physique/bodybuilding clients do a front double biceps shot, a back double biceps shot, and a side triceps or side chest.
Once you have carefully analysed your physique, you are ready to think about the third part, which is your programme design.
Now many people simply train one body part each week, some even only train the “big lifts” such as the bench press, squat, deadlift and pull ups / rows. What you need to think about first and fore most, is that you’re primary focus should be bodybuilding. This is key when you’re trying to alter the appearance and aesthetics of your physique. To that degree, you do need to start thinking about muscles, as well as movements. A lagging body part will not respond to a few sets of heavy bench press, once every 5 to 7 days. And let’s face it, who can say that they have a perfectly balanced physique!!
If you have weak body parts (or lagging), you will need to pay special attention to them (frequency). This is where you would apply the art of specialisation. Specialisation is where you train a muscle group multiple times per week. You would back off over developed or less priority muscles, for the duration of the specialisation phase (3 to 4 weeks). You could pick one session for strength, one for medium volume, and another for high volume. When I focus on specialisation, I like to target large compound movements, isolation movements, and I also like to target a specific part of the muscle (such as upper chest).
The next thing to consider is that muscles grow as a result of being subjected to a variety of mechanisms (1). Appreciating and understanding these factors enables you to realise that 3 sets of 8 – 10 reps week in and week out, is not ideal for developing a top quality physique
These mechanisms are:
Where force is generated and stretch placed upon a muscle (overloading a muscle with load).
Damage caused to muscle tissue as a result of training targeted muscle groups (damage generates a response which stimulates growth).
The build up of metabolites such as lactic acid, which initiates a hypertrophic response.
This is due to cells expanding, which many of you will associate with as the pump. This initiates a threat to the health of the cell, and as a result it is forced to respond and strengthen its structure.
When I design programmes for my physique/bodybuilding clients, I always take into consideration these factors. Where mechanical tension is concerned, I always have one and maybe two lifts that I’m working on getting a lot stronger. These are usually placed earlier on in the workout. This might be a squat variation, heavy press, deadlift variation, chin, or row. Often the rep ranges I work between are 5 and up to 8. I also look at over loading different parts of the strength curve to improve certain lifts, using implements such as bands, chain, and pins in the power rack.
Muscle damage will occur through applying large tension to a muscle (especially in the lowering or eccentric phase), but can also be applied through techniques such as drop sets, rest pause, overload stretching and forced reps. Sets where these techniques are applied, can start at 8 – 10 and end anywhere up to 30 plus.
Metabolic stress will happen as a result of applying constant tension on a muscle for an extended period of time, hopefully most of you will be familiar with lactic acid. However as I mentioned at the start of this article, this might be an environment that few of you have ever really been in. Building up metabolic stress can take quite a while, and often to induce this sets of up to 30 plus reps can be used.
Forcing a muscle to the stage of a pump (cell swelling), is somewhere which nearly all of your will have been to. It’s not the result of just one set, utilising the cell swelling technique goes to another level when you look at adding in techniques such as BFR (blood flow restriction). This takes the pump to another level, and really forces your cells to adapt. You can also really heighten the pump placed upon a muscle, by slowing down the reps and really focussing on squeezing each contraction hard.
When you combine many of the principles of muscle growth (hypertrophy) into your programming, you will grow at a much quicker rate than many of your friends. Smart people don’t limit themselves to one aspect of muscle growth. The art is how you combine them all together.
Apply some of the principles that I have talked about in this article, and watch how quickly your physique develops.
I hope you have enjoyed this series. If you would like to start your own body transformation, get in touch today for your FREE consultation at M10
1. J Strength Cond Res. 2010 Oct;24(10):2857-72. doi: 10.1519/JSC.0b013e3181e840f3.
The mechanisms of muscle hypertrophy and their application to resistance training.
Part one - Psychology
Part two - Nutrition