Phase Training for Big Gaining

Phase Training for Big Gaining
by Jonathan Lawson

I started training seriously back in the 1991 and did my first contest at 19-years old in late ’92.  I did pretty well, got a lot of positive feedback regarding my potential and then followed some bad advice afterwards.  I had a lot of people in the gym telling me to take advantage of the “rebound effect” and to eat everything I could.  “You’ll get huge,” they told me.  They weren’t lying…

I did my first competition at about 167- or 169-pounds.  It’s been a couple of decades, so it’s tough to remember.  What I DO remember, however, was that after the contest I ate a LOT, trained very hard and managed to get to 216-pounds.  That was within just 6 months.  Yes, I gained somewhere between 45-50 pounds in just six months.

Sounds like a bodybuilder’s dream, and at the time I thought it was great.  My strength went through the roof and my shirts were tight.  Sure, my pants were tight around the waist, too, but who cared?  Well, when it came time to diet down for my next competition I’d have to say that I cared.  I competed in my next show with very little detail and no muscle fullness.   I ended up dieting too hard and working off any muscle I actually gained, which was probably only 5 pounds or so.  The rest was all unwanted weight, and it was a big-time struggle to lose it.  I was discouraged to say the least and went on a bit of an hiatus from competing, as well as losing my motivation for training.

A couple of years later I started working at Iron Man Magazine.  When I started there I’d been training for a few years, but my results were far from acceptable to me.  I wanted actually look like a bodybuilder, but nothing I’d tried up to that point had built the muscle size I was looking for. I basically gave up and my workouts were nothing more than simply going through the motions.

As luck would have it, I convinced Steve Holman, the Iron Man editor-in-chief, to let me play the role of guinea pig.  He happened to be working on a new book combining his POF  tactics with Arthur Jones’ famous Colorado Experiment.  After just 10 weeks of hardcore training and cleaned up eating, the results were in.  I had managed to pack on a a rather astonishing 20 pounds of muscle.  Yes, muscle!  Not just “weight.” And this was all in just 10 weeks.

I had managed to add 1 1/2 inches to my arms while losing about an inch from my waist. Obviously, that meant my muscle mass went up AND my body fat had gone down. My weight went from 191 to 209.   Mind you, a good portion of that was muscle I was gaining back, but I still ended up noticeably bigger than I had ever been.

That 10-week program started with a three-days-per-week routine based around big-exercise and lasted 5 weeks with almost no stretch-overload exercises included. The second phase of that routine shifted to full-fledged 3D POF training  for maximum muscle-fiber activation.  I was training every other day on that second phase, and that’s when all the muscle-size gains seemed to happen.

It likely worked so well because of the programming to my metabolism, neuromuscular efficiency and anabolic hormone output during the first phase.  I then attacked the full arc of flexion during the second phase, which included stretch-overload for each muscle.

The addition of stretch-position exercises is one of the big reasons for the big gains in phase 2 of that program. Another reason would be the continuous tension and occlusion work that occurs during the contracted-position (isolation) exercises.  Of course, another key reason was probably the simplest of all… The phase training aspect.

Each phase of that program began with a week of medium-intensity work. I eased into it for the first week of the first phase and then went all out for four weeks training just 3 days per week during that first phase.  The second phase started with a week medium-intensity training again, which allowed the muscles to supercompensate from that first phase before going all out again.

A week of medium-intensity training every several weeks is important no matter what program you’re on and it can allow for supercomensation.  If you go all out 100% of the time your body will likely never have a chance to fully recover from the intense workouts you could very easily end up in the abyss of overtraining.

About the Author
Jonathan Lawson has been working in the health and fitness industry for over 20 years; weight training for 21 years, competed in numerous bodybuilding competitions, worked for IRON MAN Magazine for 17 years, co-owns where he has co-published over 15 e-books and writes a daily training blog.  He has appeared on the covers of, and been featured in, dozens of international magazines, books and e-books.

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