(Advice from 700+ lb. bench press champion, Ken Lain, as told to Dennis B. Weis)
The Maximum Muscle Bulk and Power formula IS Genetics + Training + Intensity + Nutrition & Supplements + Recovery & Sleep = Maximum Muscle Bulk & Power. As you can see, each factor is a single entity, but when they all become a unified entity (at the same time), they become a tremendous force for influencing immense muscle bulk and power.
Genetics plays a key role in gaining maximum muscle bulk and power, but you can improve your physique no matter who you are. Desire and discipline are as important as genetics. I’ve personally seen guys in the gym with great genetics but they never follow the discipline necessary to get in contest shape. On the other hand, you’ve got guys with less than ideal genetics with awesome desire and discipline who not only diet and train for a bodybuilding contest, but come home with a trophy. The bottom line is that you can improve your maximum muscle bulk and power no matter who you are.
One of the best ways to train for maximum muscle bulk and power is to do a ten-week training cycle. I suggest dividing your workouts into a push and pull system. Push days will be on Mondays (Heavy) and Thursdays (Light) and involve the chest, shoulders, and triceps. Pull days are Tuesdays (Heavy) and Fridays (Light). On these training days you will work back and biceps. Legs will only be trained once per week, on Wednesdays.
On chest, back, and quads do 9 to 10 work sets and no more than 12. For the remaining muscle groups do about 6 work sets each. That’s not counting specific warm-up sets. Usually, if you do warm-up sets for the chest you won’t have to do any for the shoulders and triceps. Likewise, after training back you won’t have to do many warm-ups sets for the biceps. You’ll notice that I have heavy and light training days for the muscle groups. That’s because a body part can’t recuperate from two heavy training days per week for the same muscle groups. But a second lighter day will actually increase your results over once a week per bodypart training.
On the heavy and light days do basically the same exercises, sets, and reps. The difference will have to do with rest intervals and the poundage used. On the heavy days, rest 3-5 minutes between sets and use maximum poundage for the majority of your sets. On light training days rest no more than 2 minutes between sets and use no more than eighty percent of the weight that was used on the heavy day of training.
This training scheme blends bodybuilding with powerlifting for what I call a power-bodybuilder approach to training. I suggest doing 3 to 4 exercises (your choice since I don’t know what training equipment you have available) for the large muscle groups (chest, back, and legs) and 2 to 3 exercises for the remaining smaller muscle groups (shoulders, triceps, and biceps). Do 2 to 3 sets per exercise for 6 to 8 reps each. This will depend on the total number of exercises for each muscle group. Do each rep nice and controlled; say 1 second in the positive phase and 1 ½ - 2 seconds in the negative phase. While I did say that you could choose your own exercises for each muscle group, I do suggest that you include the Flat bench press, Dead Lift or Bent Row, and the Parallel squat as the very first exercises in the sequence for the particular muscle groups in question (see side bar for a suggested routine). Your sets and reps scheme for these three exercises will deviate somewhat from what I suggested above.
It’s my opinion that 90% of the bodybuilders and powerlifters train or do the same thing over and over again. This happens at the professional or world-class levels as well. They all get into the same rut, training with the same weights, the same exercises day in and day out. In order for the body to grow, you have to constantly change something. You have to change the speed of the movement (rep speed), you’ve got to vary the number of reps you’re doing, or you’ve got to change the amount of weight being used. We as human beings resist change and while we don’t like it, we have to change in order for the body to continue to improve.
10-WEEK MATRIX PROGRAM
This program makes weekly variations in the poundage and repetitions used. Basically, the Matrix program requires that you add five percent poundage increases to the 3 main sets (after the warm-up sets) while decreasing the number of reps performed by one from a base of 10, each week. By week number 10 you will be doing approximately 10% more poundage than your previous best max effort for one rep. As I mentioned previously, this program can be used on the basic exercises such as the Flat bench press, Parallel squats, Bent Rows and Deadlifts if need be.
Don’t go crazy trying to use the Matrix program on each and every exercise you do on a push or pull training day. At the most use it on two exercises. Personally, I use the Matrix program on just the Bench press on the push day and that’s it. Here’s how it works. At the beginning of a ten-week mass building cycle, let’s say your max was 295 pounds in the bench press. One of the keys to the success of this program is to use 10% more poundage at the end of the 10-week cycle for a one-rep maximum than what you could do previously. In this program it would be 325 pounds (295 lbs. x .10 = 29.5 lbs. 295 + 30 = 325 lbs.). Whenever you are computing poundage by the 10% system and you have an odd poundage (in this case 29.5 lbs.) always take your answer to the nearest five-pound interval. In this case 29.5 lbs. would be moved to 30 lbs., whereas a poundage like 22.1 lbs. would be taken to 20 lbs.
Here’s a ten-week Matrix program for increasing a 295 lb. bench press to one of 325 lbs.
10 WEEK MATRIX PROGRAM (Maximum Muscle Bulk and Power System)
Monday (Heavy Day) 55% of Projected Max. Do 2-3 light warm-up sets; then 3 sets, 10 reps, 175 lbs.
Thursday (Light Day) 80% of heavy day. 3 x 10 w/140 lbs.
Monday (Heavy Day) 60% of Projected Max. Do 2-3 light warm-up sets; then 3 sets, 9 reps, 190 lbs.
Thursday (Light Day) 80% of heavy day. 3 x 9 w/150 lbs.
Monday (Heavy Day) 65% of Projected Max. Do 2-3 light warm-up sets; then 3 sets, 8 reps, 205 lbs.
Thursday (Light Day) 80% of heavy day. 3 x 8 w/165 lbs.
Monday (Heavy Day) 70% of Projected Max. Do 2-3 light warm-up sets; then 3 sets, 7 reps, 220 lbs.
Thursday (Light Day) 80% of heavy day. 3 x 7 w/175 lbs.
Monday (Heavy Day) 75% of Projected Max. Do 2-3 light warm-up sets; then 3 sets, 6 reps, 235 lbs.
Thursday (Light Day) 80% of heavy day. 3 x 6 w/190 lbs.
Monday (Heavy Day) 80% of Projected Max. Do 2-3 light warm-up sets; then 3 sets, 5 reps, 250 lbs.
Thursday (Light Day) 80% of heavy day. 3 x 5 w/200 lbs.
Monday (Heavy Day) 85% of Projected Max. Do 2-3 light warm-up sets; then 2 sets, 4 reps, 265 lbs.
Thursday (Light Day) 80% of heavy day. 2 x 4 w/215 lbs.
Monday (Heavy Day) 90% of Projected Max. Do 2-3 light warm-up sets; then 2 sets, 3 reps, 285 lbs.
Thursday (Light Day) 80% of heavy day. 2 x 3 w/225 lbs.
Monday (Heavy Day) 95% of Projected Max. Do 2-3 light warm-up sets; then 1 set, 2 reps, 300 lbs.
Thursday (Light Day) 80% of heavy day. 1 x 2 w/240 lbs.
Wednesday (Personal Record Day) 100% of Projected Max. Do 2-3 light warm-up sets; then first attempt 88-92 ½ Max 1 set, 1 rep, 315 lbs. Second attempt 95-97 ½ Max 1 set, 1 rep, 320 lbs. And finally, a third attempt with 100-102% Max 1 set, 1 rep, 325 lbs.
The heavy weights used in the Matrix program can undeniably take a toll on your body so after the 10 week cycle go into a 4-6 week cycle of high volume training (that is, more reps are done per set). For example, when doing Flat benches on Monday, do 2 sets of 6-8 reps, then 2 sets of 12-15 reps, and finally 2 sets of 25-30 slow continuous tension reps. This is an excellent way to hit all the components of the muscle cell (Fibular, Mitochondria, and Sarcoplasm). Each part in itself contributes about 33 1/3% to the overall muscle volume size. The remaining chest exercises and those for the other muscle groups should be different than (or a variation of) what was used during the 10-week cycle, and performed in straight set style.
On the Thursday (push) and Friday (pull) training days, stay with the same exercises as on the Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday workouts. Rather than reducing the poundages used down to 80% of what was used on the heavy days, you may want to drop down to 65% with super-sets for chest and triceps and tri-sets for the delts. On the back you can do straight sets however. For biceps do one exercise in a double drop fashion, say Standing barbell curl 80 lbs. x 10 reps, 50 lbs. x 15 reps and 30 lbs. x 30 reps. On another biceps movement such as the Dumbbell curl, go down the rack in 20 lb. increases or decreases (depending which way you go) doing all reps to failure. Vigorous super-sets, tri-sets, double drops and down the rack are done basically non-stop until all the required sets for a particular muscle group are accomplished.
Initially, after 4-6 weeks of this, map out a new Matrix program and go back to the original exercises used in the previous 10-week cycle. You may not always be able to add 10% for a new projected one-rep max for the Matrix program. Pretty soon there’s going to come a time when 5% will be all that you can add. You’ll need the desire and discipline to train consistently especially when you are five to six weeks into the Matrix program and want to give up because you think you need to add more.
NUTRITION AND SUPPLEMENTS
A good muscular weight gain program is essential to achieve the maximum results from your Matrix training plan. Choose one of the plans
PRIORITIZED SUPPLEMENTS FOR THE ATHLETE WHO IS FOLLOWING THE MATRIX PROGRAM TO GAIN THE MAXIMUM AMOUNT OF STRENGTH AND MUSCLE.
- Muscle Synergy
- Creatine Select plus Phosphates
- Ultra 40
- UP-Lift (start at week 6)
RECOVERY AND SLEEP
As I mentioned early on in this article, muscle mass and power increases during the rest cycles and not during the workouts themselves. The way I structured the heavy and light push and pull training days and having Saturday, and Sunday for rest will allow your muscles and nervous system to recover completely from the workouts. You must rest completely between workouts and especially on non-training days and get a good night’s sleep each and every night of the week.
Few bodybuilders or powerlifters relax enough. In this modern life, with the tempo stepped up so high, it’s easy to fall into a pattern of fast living. I’m not talking about living in the fast lane of nightclubs, drinking, and parties every night in the week. Television, movies, and attending sports contests, etc., can keep most folks up later in the evening than is good for them. As a result, they try to sleep a little later in the mornings and from then on out it’s a race against time: rush, rush, rush all day long – nerves on edge, eating fast meals, rushing through a workout (weights feel heavy and the bodybuilder feels shaky and has to push himself to continue). These types of conditions, day after day, are more exhausting than beneficial and no profit will be shown from it. Kick back and slow down your pace. Get to bed early so that you can get up in plenty of time to take care of your morning hygiene and eat a sound breakfast such as the one I described previously. Relax several times a day, your body and mind will benefit from this greatly.
Follow the advice as I have outlined it and I am sure you all will find the “Secrets of Gaining Maximum Muscle Bulk and Power” easier than you thought.