Hypertrophy Week 1

Dan getting loaded

It’s time to get swole. Hypertrophy is the process of making your muscles larger. Note that I didn’t say stronger–just larger. A larger muscle has more potential to become strong. In fact, you will see some strength gains during this cycle from increased muscular size, even though that isn’t the primary goal. In our next cycle we’ll turn to the task of making all that new muscle strong. But for now, we focus on size.

Why? Because muscle size is a limiting factor in strength. If you expose two muscles to the exact same strength training, the larger muscle will ultimately be able to exert more force. That’s not to say that the larger muscle is always stronger between two different people–no no no. But given the same person exposed to the same training, the larger muscle will win. Every time. That is why most professional sports programs that aren’t limited by weight classes start with a hypertrophy phase. So why should our program be any different?

The hypertrophy portion of each day uses a training method developed by Dante Trudel, a bodybuilder, that has been christened “dogg crapp training” or “DC training.” Does a CrossFitter using a method developed by a bodybuilder sound crazy? As CrossFitters we seek out the best in the world at different disciplines and learn from them. We learn from world class powerlifters, olympic weightlifters, gymnasts, runners, and rowers. Well you better believe that bodybuilders are the world’s experts at hypertrophy. And don’t worry, I’ve made the program very sport specific to the needs of the CrossFitter. You won’t find any bicep curls or leg press. You will find a lot of nasty work with squats, pullups, presses, and lunges.

When you see the abbreviation (r/p) next to an exercise, that stands for “rest-pause.” The rest-pause work is the focal point of most exercises. Rest-pause means to load up a weight you can rep about 8-9 times. Perform a slow, 4-second descent on the eccentric portion, and then a fast ascent on the concentric portion. Go until failure (8-9 reps). Rest exactly 15 seconds. Do it to failure again. This time you will only get 2-4 reps. That’s OK. Rest exactly 15 seconds. Rep it to failure one more time. You will only get 1-2 reps. That’s OK.  Adjust your weight so you get 11-15 total reps across your three max effort sets. Your goal is to increase your weight or total reps every time you repeat the exercise, so keep a log. The easiest way to keep a log is to save a copy of the file below to google docs and record your work each day electronically. It’s short and brutal. Do not get stingy with your 4-second descent and do not get generous with your 15 seconds rest. It’s supposed to be tough. Adjust the weight accordingly. Rest-pause isn’t done with all exercises. It could be injury-prone with exercises that place a high demand on spinal stability, so you won’t see it with squats, deadlifts, and others.

The final piece that may look weird is “extreme stretch” and “extreme squeeze.” After your rest-pause work is over, you stretch the primary muscle you just worked. Do a light stretch for 10 seconds and then sink into a deep, tough stretch and hold it for 30 seconds. Then as soon as the stretch is over, contract the muscle as hard as you can and hold for 30 seconds. This sounds a little silly, but it becomes very painful, and has a good reason. You’re trying to physically enlarge the fascia surrounding the muscle to allow for increased growth. Stretching pulls it larger from the outside, and contracting forces blood into the muscle, pushing it larger from the inside.

The afternoon of Monday April 7th I’ll be at the gym to coach you through these new techniques.

During this cycle you’ll see the following training blocks:

  • Work capacity 3x per week
  • Oly lifting 3x per week
  • Conditioning 3x per week
  • Skill development 5x per week
  • Hypertrophy work 5x per week

You’ll also notice a difference in daily volume among our five training days (Thursday and Sunday are rest days)

  • Monday and Saturday are average volume
  • Wednesday is low volume
  • Tuesday and Friday are out to kill you

Note: Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday can be partially completed by attending any regular CFI class. Jump in a class and have some fun! 

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