Maximize your strength training routine by cutting out these time wasters.Read article
My program, Y3T (Yoda 3 Training)—which I use to train elite-level bodybuilders like William Bonac and six-time 212 Olympia winner Flex Lewis—has gained a reputation among even the most hardcore trainees as being, well, absolutely painstakingly savage. More specifically, the third week of the program, aka “Hell Week,” has gained an infamous reputation because of the high-rep brutality deployed for total muscle annihilation. This is not just for effect, though—high-rep training within the Y3T cycle is an immensely potent hypertrophy tool that can transform a stubborn muscle group into one that turns heads. Below, I dig deep into the fundamentals of Week 3 of Y3T and how it can help you achieve the best results of your life, along with a leg routine for you to try. But be warned: Shit is about to get serious.
Both mechanical and systematic stresses take place when your body endures high-rep training. Muscle fibers are exposed to new rep ranges that carry a bias toward sarcoplasmic hypertrophy, predominately targeting type I slow-twitch muscle fibers. As a result, there is an uplift in “cell swelling,” which correlates with an increase in sarcoplasmic fluid within the muscle cell.
This equals a bigger muscle. Another noticeable hypertrophy-supporting by-product of high-rep training is a significant increase in blood flow into the muscle. The sheath that envelops the muscle, known as the fascia, becomes more elastic over time, equating to more room for growth within the area. With increased blood flow also comes better nutrient transportation and assimilation, both of which can support recovery and growth. Many muscle groups don’t expand to their fullest potential until they’re exposed to high-rep training. This is often due to the fact that the slow-twitch fibers have not been stimulated adequately.
High-rep training is something very few people ever experience, let alone apply correctly for an optimized hypertrophic response. Doing some dropsets at the end of a workout is not my idea of high-rep training. For the best results with high-rep training, your program needs to be periodized. For instance, in Week 1 of Y3T, the rep ranges are low, but you do more sets. This is less taxing on the central nervous system (CNS). In Week 2, the rep ranges increase to a moderate load, while the working-set number decreases slightly. Finally, in Week 3, the number of working sets is reduced further, yet the overall intensity goes up significantly for each working set due to the high rep ranges. This formation means that the CNS—the control center of your body that facilitates the connection of your brain to your muscles—is afforded the time needed to recover and adapt. If there is no periodization in place, the CNS will quickly become over-fatigued, leading to reduced muscle performance and plateaus.
It’s fundamental that when applying the high rep ranges in Week 3 that you train with acute intensity! This compensates for the reduction in overall training volume during this week. As such, the muscle fibers and CNS are stimulated to their maximal capacity without falling into a negative environment in which a potential state of “overtraining” can set in. With this level of intensity comes high-threshold motor unit recruitment, leading to global muscle fiber stimulation.
Spread across these pages are the three leg workouts I suggest you try. The first thing you’ll notice is that quads, hamstrings, and calves are broken up into three different days. This is for two reasons. The first being that more three training sessions instead of one will grant you the opportunity to release more muscle-building hormones over time. The second reason is that high-volume training is so taxing that, by the time you’re done training quads, you’ll be too fried to hit your hamstrings and calves with the intensity required for this type of training work.
Possibly the biggest mistake people make when applying high-rep training is picking the wrong weight and going too light. As a result, they get to around 80% of the target rep range and start to feel the burn. That’s not Y3T high-intensity, high-rep training. About halfway through the set you should have to use rest-pause to finish. For instance, if the rep range on the leg press is between 20 and 30 reps, at around 10 reps you’ll need to pause for a few seconds to recover. From here you might be doing a handful of reps at a time, breaking the set down like this until you’re reduced to singles. This accurately describes how each set should feel, a vast difference to what most people perceive to be intense high-rep training. Please make sure you remember this when using Y3T, because it will make the difference between your experiencing the benefits and not. OK, enough talk—get to work!