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Set Alterations for Mass Production

October 20, 2004 02:21 PM

Hey, Comrades, seems we get a lot of questions about how to use the 'Bear' protocol of Power to the People! to get bigger. The question seems to go like this:

"Hello all. I would like to use the Bear training method but am not sure how many sets I should do or the amount of weight I should use. Can anyone help me?" Being the good natured bunch that we are, and even though we have answered the question about a million times, we give them the standard response (well two really, if you call telling someone to buy Power to the People! a standard response LOL ) :

"It's easy, Comrade! Just use 80% of you first working sets' weight, and do as many sets as you can before your form breaks down."

Guess what? The above advice works wonders! Guess what else? After about 3 weeks the gains stop coming. Why? The trainee keeps doing the same number of sets and using the same weights, expecting to keep get bigger.

Wrong, wrong, wrong.

The body, in its infinite wisdom, is an adaptation machine. Keep doing something long enough, and your body will learn how to habituate (or, as a nasty alternative, it will break down on you if you give it too much work.) Soon, the body adapts to the amount of work it was given or it can't seem to catch up to the demand placed up it. So what do you do? You could do more sets, sure, but your body will only let you add so many sets per workout before it decides to show you that it can break down just as easily as it can build up. Your only alternative, is thankfully, the most effective: cut down on the number of sets you are doing by half.

Just like magic, you start to grow again. Wow! Why is that? Your body finally had a chance to catch up and grow. Something else is happening: you are doing what Pavel calls "softening up" and giving your body a period of de-conditioning, making it that much more liable to grow the next time you ramp you sets back up.

My calves have always grown well, they just seem to get bigger all the time, while other body parts just seemed to stagnate. I just learned recently why they have always gotten bigger: I never used the same set prescription for more than one workout in a row.

Here's something even niftier: I never change the movement I use: the donkey calf raise. I have always just trained them by what I call the "whim principle" when it came to sets: one week 6 sets of 5, the next week I would do 10. The week after that, 3 sets working with really heavy sets of 5. The next week, 15 sets!

My point: non-linear set changes are the ticket when it comes to getting consistent gains. Beat it up for a week or two, then cut back big time. Simplicity, Comrades!