Intermediate Level 1
Intermediate Level 1 protocol
(training method) Flex and Hold
As you learned in the earlier levels your protocol is what you will follow for each body part for every exercise each day! I am going to start you out with my Flex and Hold protocol. This is a tool that really gets the muscle, activated, isolated, and focused! It is a fairly simple protocol but highly effective. Having trouble feeling a certain muscle group? This is probably the most effective way to establish a mind muscle connection. The protocol again is fairly simple and goes like this:
Choose a weight that you can do 30 repetitions without failure. You should have a really good burn by the time you get to the end of the warm up set but not all the way to failure. Remember the concept of partial reps introduced in Beginner Level 5. I always suggest performing close to full range of motion as many of the reps as possible but a great way to push the muscle much further is utilizing partial reps on the top or bottom side of the repetition! This (warm up set) will only be done on the 1st set of each body part. Example: On bicep day let’s say you are starting your bicep workout with standing EZ bar curls. It is the 1st exercise for you on biceps that day so you do your 30-rep set and then you perform the rest of the protocol for that exercise on biceps. Now you are moving on to the 2nd exercise for biceps. The bicep is already warm so there is no need for a “warmup” set. With the 2nd exercise and the warm up set which is now not a warm up set it is set 1 of the 2nd exercise for each muscle you will now choose a weight that will get you close to failure for the 30 reps so this means going up in weight most likely. Again, remember the partial rep!
**I have always believed you should stretch right after your warm up set. This is ONLY to be done right after the warm up set of the 1st exercise only for that body part. Just a 30 second stretch is perfect. More extreme, longer, and more focused stretching should be done at the end of each body part. **
1st Working Set
Now choose a weight that you will be close to failure at 20 reps. This means pyramiding up in weight most likely. The 1st 5 reps you will flex and hold at the finish of each rep of the movement (see video for flex and hold training). Example: When you get to the top of your curling movement for biceps you flex and squeeze the muscle for about a 1-2 second count then do another rep. You will do 5 flex and hold reps then 5 regular reps (regular speed with no flex and hold) and then repeat until you get to 20 reps. You can only do flex and hold training on biceps, triceps, side laterals (if and only if this does not hurt the shoulder joint as with some people it does), leg extensions, and leg curls. When you are on a muscle that you cannot perform the flex and hold it changes to a 5 second negative. What this means is on the way down from each repetition, or the negative part of the movement you make a 5 second count to get there. Example: when bench pressing you push the weight up and then take 5 seconds on the way down each time.
If you have chosen a weight and the muscle is not really burning and fatigued by the end of the 20 reps, I would STRONGLY suggest doing as many more partial top or bottom side partial reps (see partial rep video for explanation on top and bottom side). Remember the goal for strength and muscular size gains is to push the muscle well beyond just being tired!
2nd Working Set
Set 2 is the same as Set 1 only using more weight. You are now choosing a weight that you will be failing at or around the 15th rep. All of these reps will be close to a full range of motion. When you fail now you are going to shorten up the rep range (partials) and crank out another 5-10 reps. Example: if you are doing bicep curls just do the bottom 50% of the repetition range or you can do the top 50% of the range of motion… you choose… or go back and forth. (see partial rep video for explanation on top and bottom side).
3rd Working Set
Heavy set. Choose a weight that you will be failing at or around the 10-12 rep. This is a straight and regular 10-12 reps. No flex and hold…no partial. Just old school heavy lifting set! When you are done immediately drop the weight down by 20% and do another 10-12 reps.
4th Working Set
Using the same weight as you did for the heavy set we are now shooting for 10 reps again. When you are done drop the weight down by 20% and do another 5 reps but flexing and holding, or 5 second negative if a non-flex and hold muscle. When you are done with that drop by another 10-15% and do another straight 10-12 reps.