Training

The "Ultra Set" Method

Shock your muscles back into growth.

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The "Ultra Set" Method

 QUESTION 

I’ve been training for five years. I’ve made good gains, but for the past six months my progress has plateaued. Can you suggest something for a change of pace to renew my enthusiasm and shock my muscles into growth?

 ANSWER 

If you were a beginner, I would suggest high-volume programs such as German Volume Training or the German Body Comp workout. However, because you’ve been training for five years, it’s time to experiment with more-extreme methods.

As you advance, you need to get more creative with your training to make gains. In the strength-training community, one axiom is that the method that got you to bench 330 pounds is not the method that will get you to bench 396 pounds.

When an athlete reaches a training slump, it’s tempting to go back to the workouts that enabled them to make the best gains early on, but they are forgetting that those methods worked so well largely because they were at a much lower level of conditioning. Consider that an absolute beginner could make progress doing just one set of eight exercises twice a week, but that volume of training is too low for an advanced athlete. In fact, such a workout may not be enough to even maintain one’s current level of muscle mass.

Instead, you can jump-start your muscles into greater gains with the Ultra Set Method.

As with German Volume Training, the primary stimulus is with a high volume of training; however, one of the main differences is that low reps are used.

I like to pair agonist/antagonist muscles, such as alternating between biceps and triceps. Because of the high number of sets in this workout, two supersets are plenty.

After you have selected your exercises, determine how much you can lift in each of them for a 15-repetition max (15RM. For your first workout, do 15 sets of each exercise for three reps, resting 15 seconds between sets (keeping in mind this rest period is influenced by your conditioning level). The tempo of the exercises should be 40X0 or 30X0, which means you have a three- or four-second eccentric contraction and an explosive concentric contraction.

Now it gets interesting. Every workout, perform three sets of each exercise, so by the sixth workout you will be performing 30 sets for each exercise! After this workout retest your 15RM, and, depending upon the nature of the exercise, you will find that you have increased it by 5 1/2  to as much as 22 pounds. At this point you have achieved the maximum results from this program and you need to move on to another training method.

Here is an example for chest, biceps, triceps, and forearms:

  • A1. Reverse EZ-bar Curl, 15–30 x 3, 40X0, rest 15 seconds
  • A2. Decline Close-grip Bench Press, 15–30 x 3, 40X0, rest 15 seconds
  • B1. Incline Dumbbell Curl, 15–30 x 3, 40X0, rest 15 seconds
  • B2. Seated EZ-bar French Press, 15–30 x 3, 40X0, rest 15 seconds

Again, this is not a workout for a beginner. But if you’re ready for a challenge, give the Ultra Set Method a try and you’ll shock your muscles back into growth! – FLEX

 

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