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Muscle Gain: Size, Symmetry and proportion.

Muscle Building Guide for Beginners. Part 4.

Check out the Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | & Part 5

Finally, we’re at the point where your mind is primed to appreciate the ingenuity & sheer brilliance of this Beginner’s muscle gain program, provided you’ve read the part 1, part 2, & part 3 . I could have just made a table with sets and reps scheme without explaining the intricate details and impeccable reasoning being applied behind it; but, that would be me playing God! I don't want that, we've got enough Gods already.

I will get to the program shortly, let me clarify on the intensity and rep-count-coefficient thing a little bit more. As it is clear enough that any training program targeting muscle growth should be set up to provide the optimal training volume for every muscle fiber in a muscle group. “every” being the operative word here. When you pick a weight too light to complete the “recommended” number of reps; not all of your muscle fibers are getting worked out.

For example, Our Biceps have 250000 muscle fibers! Lifting only a few lbs require the input of, say 10000 or so fibers. As the reps are increased and fibers start fatiguing, more and more of them join in the collective effort. Even if after 25+ consecutive reps all of the 250000 fibers start working at their maximum, you over damaged some of them and didn’t provide enough stimulus for those late at the party.
As established in the 3rd part largest muscle growth in natural untrained fellas happen in 30-50 rep range. So a 2 x 25 ( sets x reps) scheme would leave you with a feeble and unpredictable training stimulus.

Also worth mentioning is the fact that such light training provides zero adaptation for joints, ligaments, and tendons hence setting you up for grave injuries later in the intermediate training phase when going heavy in the 4-6RM range is the only way to grow.

Now let’s consider training only “super-heavy” in the 3-5 rep range.I trained only like that for years In this case, you do apply almost all of your muscle fibers from the first rep but completing 40-ish reps with such load will:
1) Take you hours. A 10 x 4 (sets x reps) program, considering that recovering from neural fatigue and ATP regeneration between strength sets require 3-5 minutes; 10 sets will put you at 40 minutes for one muscle group. Forget training full body that way, think along the lines of 5-6 hour with heavy weights.

2) It will annihilate your joints, tendons and sockets in the long run. Chances of premature injury will skyrocket and just so you know, once impinged/injured any joint will never return to the pristine state. It will get better and will get injured again once you get careless. Chronic pain and frequent surgery is the “reality” for many strength athletes. Joints, tendons, and ligaments take longer to adapt than muscles. So as a beginner you are not going anywhere near your 1-3RM initially.

3) Your workouts won’t create extensive muscular microtrauma, which is ever so important for satellite cell dissemination and hypertrophic growth. I’ve elucidated satellite cells’ importance for beginners in the 1st part of this series. The value of rep-count-coefficient method lies in the fact that it lets you train all of your muscle fibers from the first few reps by choosing the just right intensity/load for you.

Your workouts will be shorter, more effective and safer. I was surprised how accurate and effective it can be. After years of training only in the 3-5 RM range for the overhead press with little volume of 20-25 reps ( just like on any classic 5x5 strength regimen), my shoulders were clearly lacking in growth. I pride myself on the 90 kg (198 lbs) for 4 reps strength level. But my shoulders didn’t look like they move such serious iron.

To change things up and induce growth I had to train in the 40-50 rep range. So how I selected the right intensity for it? yes, this is my “story” and serves as an example to establish the efficacy and procedure of RCC method. The first step is always calculating the 1 RM. Intensity x rep-count-coefficient = 1 RM, so 90 x 1.10 (RCC for 4 reps) = 99 kg (218lbs ).
Then we select the set and rep scheme. For 40 reps ( 5 x 8 ) 5 sets of 8 reps looks promising.

Now the right intensity for 8 reps will be calculated by: Intensity = [1 RM / RCC] [99 kg / 1.30]= 76 kgs (167 lbs). check out the 3rd part for more on RCC and 1 RM . Next day I performed overhead presses with 76 kgs and experienced for the first time in my life true muscular fatigue rather than neural failure. That was the best shoulder workout I’ve ever had. My shoulders got full after the first set and I lifted more vigorously the whole workout. It got even better when in the third set I could only manage 7 reps, then 6 reps in the 4th set and 6 again in the last. Finally, I’m done with all that there is to say about training a beginner and here comes the “Program/Regimen/Routine/Schedule/Scheme”.

For the first 4 weeks:
EOD or 3 days a week on alternate days, as explained in the 2nd part

Bench Press : 4 sets of 8 reps at your 8 RM. Rest 1-2 minutes between sets. This will cover your total volume requirements for Pectorals and half of the volume for the triceps and front deltoids
anatomy chart showing muscle groups being targeted with bench press

Deadlift : 3 sets of 8 reps at your 8 RM. Rest 1-2 minutes between sets. Deadlift after bench to give your shoulder girdle some rest. Will cover most of the volume for legs, lower back, traps, and abdominals.
anatomy chart showing muscles worked with deadlifts

Overhead press : 3 sets of 10 RM : will cover all the volume for your lateral(middle) & rear delts and the remaining half of triceps & front delts. It will cover some of the abdominals and traps as well.
anatomy chart showing muscle worked in overhead press

Barbell curls : 3 sets of 10 RM : will cover all the volume requirements for Biceps and forearms and work some of the lower back as well.
anatomy chart
showing muscles worked while performing barbell curls

You’re done.

All the major muscle groups are taken care of except lats and legs may need more. We will include them in the next phase of 4 weeks.

This is not an easy workout, it’s simple, though. If you can recover from this easily or feel that it’s not very taxing on you then do one more set of each of them except the deadlift. 24 reps of Deadlifts is more than enough for a beginner.

Remember how I managed only 7 reps in the third and 6 reps in the last two sets at my 8RM? That will happen to you too while training with the RCC method. That is a good thing, why? It will help track your progress. Say, if you managed to do all the 4 sets with 8 RM at bench press in your third workout add 2 kg (4.5 lbs) on the Bar next time. You’re stronger now, you’ve progressed. When you manage to complete all the sets with recommended reps in any workout add weight the next workout. In the first phase of 4 weeks, you’re going to do 12 full body workouts and there is a lot of growing and progressing is in the pipeline. Brace Yourself.

Oh wait, all of that will only happen if you eat like a champ as well. Next part will cover the subsequent 4-week phases and Nutrition, of course.

Check out the Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | & Part 5


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