A Natural Bodybuilding Four Phase Approach To Accelerating Muscle Mass Gains And Blasting Through Plateaus!
Periodization is about working with your body’s own natural cycles. You take the body to the brink of overtraining (and at times you even overtrain it on purpose) and then you cut back in order to allow the body to recover; something that will then allow it to grow bigger and stronger at an extremely accelerated rate! When you understand periodization to the letter and you know how to integrate the right diet plan along with it, then I guarantee you that you will grow regardless of what your genetics are!
In the article below, my friend Nick Nilsson covers the way that even advanced bodybuilders like myself can blast through any plateau and pack on some serious muscle in 28 days.
Nick Nilsson’s Four Phase Approach To Accelerating Muscle Mass Gains And Blasting Through Plateaus!
by Nick Nilsson, Author of the Muscle Explosion Program
Your body does not function in a straight line. It operates in cycles, constantly adapting to whatever demands are placed on it.
Perfect example, you go out in the sun, you get a sunburn, it turns into a tan. When you apply this to muscle building, it’s the same idea…you work your muscles, they get damaged, they rebuild stronger.
That’s how it should work…IN THEORY. In practice, it’s a lot more complicated than that.
Hormones, nutritional state, training loads, exercise selection, training frequency…all of these factors determine whether you build muscle or not. And if you don’t know EXACTLY what you’re doing with all of these factors, I’m sorry to say, you could end up without any muscle growth at all.
Any program that operates in a straight line and doesn’t take into account your body’s responses to training workload is, to be brutally honest, doomed to fail. You may get results for awhile, but you will absolutely hit a plateau when your body either can’t keep up with that workload or gets so used to it that it has no reason to adapt anymore.
That’s where Controlled Overtraining comes in…
Phase 1: Controlled Overtraining
Controlled Overtraining is a simple concept. First, you overload and overwork your body ON PURPOSE to force it into a state where it’s furiously trying to keep up with the demands being placed on it. You’re trying to achieve a state of acute overtraining
And here’s an important point…Chronic overtraining is the “bad” type that everybody is trying to avoid. Acute overtraining (i.e. short-term overtraining) is where the REAL results are. You MUST get to this point in whatever program you do in order to maximize results.
So this phase will give you big gains in muscle mass because of the sheer volume and ever-increasing workload being placed on your muscles. Then, just when your body is about to hit the breaking point…when it just can’t keep up anymore and you think you’re going to crash and burn, you immediately back off on the workload. Your body is still trying to recover from that massive overload while CONTINUING to operate at that high level of recovery.
It’s during this phase that you will see MASSIVE gains in strength.
Here’s what a graph of this looks like:
When your body has recovered back to baseline levels, you can ramp back up again, repeating the cycle.
This training framework will give you results every single time, keeping you in the optimal training zone longer. I like to compare Controlled Overtraining to a car going up a very steep hill. As you’re going up the hill, you have to put the pedal to the floor just to keep a decent speed. You might be pushing 8000 rpm while going just 20 miles an hour.
This is the ramping up phase of training where you are putting massive overload on your body. As you come to the top and start coming down the other side, what do you think will happen if you KEEP THAT PEDAL DOWN and keep the rpms at 8000? You’ll pick up speed FAST because while the demands being placed on your car (i.e. your body) are a lot less, the DRIVE is just as strong.
This framework will literally FORCE your body to build muscle and strength.
So now that you know how I will structure your training, it’s time to learn how I will structure your EATING for maximum muscle growth…
…and it’s NOT what you think…
Phase 2: The Slingshot Effect – My Biggest NUTRITIONAL Secret For Building Mass.
I’ll tell you right up front…building muscle is not rocket science but it IS science. And that’s exactly what this nutritional slingshot strategy is all about. You’ll be using scientifically-based eating patterns to manipulate your body’s hormones so that you set up the perfect conditions to build muscle…
…so perfect, in fact, that body practically has NO CHOICE but to build muscle.
This is truly one of THE most anabolic secrets around, yet it’s very rarely used. It has the potential to dramatically increase the results you get with ANY muscle-building program, and especially a program like Muscle Explosion that is designed specifically to take full advantage of it.
So let’s get right to it and show you what my strategy looks like…
Step 1 – Low-Carb, Low-Calorie Eating
I get it. It’s completely counterintuitive to go on a DIET when you want to build muscle. Here’s thing though…going on a strict, low-carb, low-calorie diet does several things:
A) First, after 5 to 6 days of low-calorie eating, your body will start to go into “famine mode.” It starts to become more efficient with nutrients and calories you’re putting since there isn’t very much to go around. This increase in efficiency is exactly what we’re after.
B) Second, since you’ll be primarily doing low-carb eating, your body will be become more sensitive to the effects of insulin. This part is HUGE.
Insulin is one of THE most powerful muscle-building hormones in your body (it’s secreted in response to carb/sugar intake). There’s a reason pro bodybuilders shoot themselves up with it…it’s incredibly effective for building muscle since it’s your body’s primary storage hormone. You’re going to achieve a similar result NATURALLY through your eating patterns.
C) Third, this low-carb eating pattern will deplete the glycogen from your muscles and liver (glycogen is how your body stores carbs for later use). This sets up a substantial nutritional void in your body…and your body HATES a nutritional void. It’ll do just about anything to balance things back to where it feels it should be. You’ll see the significance of this in a minute.
For now, it’s enough to know that you’ll follow this type of low-calorie, low-carb eating for a period of 6 days and your training should be targeted fully towards fat-loss.
After that time is up, we’re going to take full advantage of the massive REBOUND that we’re setting up that’s coming fast on its heels…
Step 2 – Protein Deprivation
“Ok, what?” I can hear you saying. You’ve almost starved yourself for 6 days, hardly eating any carbs and now you have to cut out protein, too? That IS insane…right?
Or is it…
After eating low-carb and low-calorie for 6 days, on the 7th day, you’ll eat nothing but fruit. Yep, just fruit. This will totally deprive your body of protein for one single day. Your body will use up it’s free amino acid pool and be hungry for a protein source.
That’s nutritional void #2…
Your body is now TOTALLY PRIMED to reload everything you’ve deprived it of…and reload it in MASSIVE quantities.
Step 3 – Massive Intake
This is the fun part. The goal here is to take in BIG quantities of carbs, protein and (some) fat and drink so much water that you’re practically sloshing when you walk.
First, we’re reloading the body with carbs to get the glycogen stores back up. When you carb deplete then reload, your body stores about 1 1/2 to 2 times the amount of glycogen that it originally had in it.
This means an instant increase in muscle size and an increase in internal water stores in the muscle, due to that increase glycogen storage.
Increased water levels in the muscle is INCREDIBLY anabolic. It pushes on the cells walls to help expand them and it provides more “soup” for the growth processes to occur. Plus, more fuel storage also means more fuel to TRAIN with (which will be key with the training you’ll be doing).
The second reason for massive intake is protein.
Remember how we set up a nutritional void of carbs then a nutritional void of protein?
It’s payback time.
Your body stores protein as MUSCLE (see where I’m going with this?) and this rebound will give your body a reason to hold onto more protein.
Coming back from this double nutritional void will set up a TREMENDOUS rebound that we’re going to take full advantage of as we go into the Massive Overload phase…
Phase 3: Massive Overload…What Doesn’t Kill You Makes You Stronger
And I’m NOT kidding when I say “what doesn’t kill you”…this program is going to come close .
The goal of this phase is to push your body to the limit, setting up an emergency response so that it has no choice but to grow in order to survive.
When done correctly, this 5-day period of training can yield results comparable to SIX MONTHS of normal training.
I’m not actually exaggerating or hyping this up. This is real! [Hugo’s Note: Trust me, HE IS NOT JOKING!]
And believe me, you will WORK for every bit of it.
So before I tell you about the training, let me first take you back to the Nutritional Slingshot…the one we used to set up the PERFECT anabolic conditions in your body for building mass.
You deprived your body of carbs and calories for 6 days, leading to an increase in insulin sensitivity and metabolic efficiency as well as set up a nutritional void for carbs/glycogen. You deprived your body of protein, setting up a desperate need in your body for protein. Then you started loading MASSIVE quantities of food.
The stage is set…now it’s time to load your body with MASSIVE training volume to take advantage of that rebound.
Enter: Compound Exercise Overload (C.E.O.) Training
For this massive overload phase, this C.E.O. method is THE single best form of volume training I’ve ever found…bar none (better than even German Volume Training or Escalating Density Training!). The reason for that is because it allows you to load your body with near-maximal weights for large numbers of sets and for longer periods of time…perfect for the conditions that the nutrition part of this plan have just set up.
Here’s how it works…You’ll do this with just ONE exercise to maximize he impact (I suggest deadlifts or squats the first time through).
First, you will take a weight you could normally do for about 6 reps, but instead you will do 3 reps with it while taking 30 seconds of rest in between. You will repeat until you can no longer get 3 reps in a set and at this point you will reduce the weight by 10 to 20 pounds depending on the exercise (A 20 lb reduction is best for bigger exercises like squats and deadlifts) and then you will begin the cycle again.
One thing that is VERY important to note here…DO NOT go to failure on ANY set. This will overwork the nervous system. The goal here is to overload the muscular system.
What this training style does is allow you to work at a relatively high “momentary” intensity. What the means is as you fatigue, your 1 RM drops naturally. This training style keeps you in that sweet spot of 80 to 85% of your CURRENT 1 RM for the ENTIRE workout…for ONE exercise.
Your nervous system gets tuned perfectly to that exercise due to the high volume, leading to extremely fast increases in strength because of the sheer amount of PRACTICE you’re getting at it. I also find it highlights then pretty much obliterates weak points in your lifts.
Your weak point in the movement will always be the limiting factor in your training. That means using
this training style, you will be pretty much training at or near the limit that your weak point allows in the lift, and doing it for MASSIVE volume. You’re essentially training your weakest point in the lift for the ENTIRE workout. This is an incredibly powerful concept that results in major strength gains, once you recover from this training.
In the Muscle Explosion program, you will do this CEO Training for FIVE days straight, focusing on just one exercise the whole time. You will also be increasing the time you’re doing it on each day AND increasing your starting weights each day.
It’s not, and this single week of training will show the meaning of “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.”
After 5 days of this massive overload training, it’s time to do something that most people don’t realize they CAN or even MUST do….give their muscles more room to grow.
Phase 4: Expansion…Give Your Muscles Room to Grow…or They WON’T…
So you’ve done the heavy lifting…you’ve done the heavy eating…now it’s time to sit back and let the muscle growth happen, right?
Now it’s time to push things even FURTHER. It’s time to give your muscles the room they NEED to grow by forcing the issue. If you skip this step, you’re missing out on one of THE most important aspects of muscle-building training and it could be what’s left your muscles out in the cold.
The problem is fascia…it’s the tough connective tissue that surrounds your individual muscles. Your body couldn’t function without it, but it can actively prevent muscle from growing simply due to lack of space.
So the goal of these last two weeks is two-fold…first, give the muscles a REASON to continue growing and second, give the muscles ROOM to grow by expanding that tight “pillowcase” of fascia.
I like to compare it to putting on a pair of tight jeans. When you pull them out of the laundry and put them on, if you want to loosen them up a little, what’s the first thing you do? You squat down…Your quads expand and push against the jeans and stretch them out a little. If you want to expand them a bit more, you squat up and down a bit more.
That’s EXACTLY what you need to do to stretch your fascia…fill the muscles up with blood then work a stretch directly against the fascia, using those filled-up muscles to push against it.
Now, I’ll be straight up with you…there is debate about whether or not you even CAN stretch the fascia with focused stretching.
Based on my experience and research, I believe you CAN stretch your fascia. I think the people who think it can’t be done simply haven’t used an effective protocol for doing it…just like people used to think flight was impossible. If you don’t know how to do it, then you might think it’s impossible to do.
I also believe the fascial expansion that happens over time with training is the driving mechanism behind muscle memory. If you’re not familiar with the concept, muscle memory is what happens when you stop training for awhile and your muscles shrink down then, when you return to training, your muscles grow back to their original size much faster than they did the first time.
I believe the reason is NOT because your muscles remember what it’s like to be that size…I believe it’s because your fascia has ALREADY expanded (it doesn’t shrink when your muscles shrink).
Your muscles are growing at the rate they are PHYSIOLOGICALLY CAPABLE of growing, when not limited by the constricting fascia.
So imagine how your muscles will grow when you take tight fascia out of the equation…
—Now back to our plan…let’s do a quick recap.
First, you dramatically reduced your eating and your training was targeted for fat loss. This set your body up for the Slingshot Effect where you then overloaded your body with calories, nutrients and training volume.
Your body has responded by grabbing and storing LARGE amounts of nutrients in the form of glycogen and protein (muscle tissue) and is also holding plenty of water within the muscles. Now we’re going to take full advantage of this incredibly anabolic state in the body and focus on USING those nutrient-and-water-swollen muscles as leverage to stretch the fascia surrounding them.
And yes, fascia is extremely tough tissue…which is why the stretch-focused training you use here must also be on the extreme side. A half-hearted static stretch at the end of your workout is not going to cut it.
Here’s the secret…
Instead of that static stretch, you’re going to focus on exercises that incorporate a strong stretch WITHIN the exercise itself, so you’re not only stretching the fascia, you’re doing it under RESISTANCE (a good example of this is the dumbbell flye exercise).
THAT is the missing link…simply filling the muscle up with blood and using a strong static stretch is good.
Filling the muscle up with blood AND stretching that muscle under resistance is MUCH better…
…and especially when it’s immediately followed by a contraction-focused exercise that puts even MORE blood into the muscle right after the stretch. And I’ll tell you right up front…this type of exercise-based stretching is not comfortable. In fact, it’s downright BRUTAL when done correctly.
The results you will get from it will speak for themselves, though.
You’ll repeat this formula for the final two weeks. Fill the muscle up with blood then stretch it HARD. Little by little, your fascia will expand and give your muscles the room they need to grow.
So That’s the Formula for FORCING Your Body to Build Muscle and Strength…
And it’s also exactly how the Muscle Explosion program works…
It literally ATTACKS your body on every front, using advanced strategies that build on each other, with each phase setting up the next for maximum results.
Your stubborn, non-growing muscles don’t stand a chance. And believe me, you can absolutely incorporate these nutritional and training principles into your own program however you like…I’m a big fan of experimentation and trying things out in your own fashion.
If, however, you’d like something completely “done for you,” with every single day of the training and eating all laid out for you (set, reps, exercises, the works) then I would definitely suggest picking up a copy of Muscle Explosion and taking it for a test drive.
Because as great as theoretical knowledge is, there’s nothing as powerful as actually experiencing this training and eating strategy for yourself and seeing what happens…
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