Powerbuilding is the blending of strength training with the aesthetic size of bodybuilding. Powerlifting by tradition tends to focus on very low repetition ranges with the combination of weights that are between 80-90% of a lifters one repetition max weight. On the opposite end of the spectrum, bodybuilding tends to focus on the volume of the muscles for maximum size. This is traditionally accomplished with the utilization of isolation exercises and higher repetitions and lower weight ranges.
Many bodybuilders have benefited from the use of lower repetition ranges in combination with higher repetition ranges in order to maximize strength and combination of fast/slow twitch muscles. (Fast twitch muscle fibers dictate explosive short term power. Slow twitch fibers are endurance based). Which can be described as the “middle ground” and can be attributed to the success of bodybuilders from Arnold Schwarzenegger to Ronnie Coleman.
This article will dictate a very useful organization of repetition ranges take the middle road approach, and thus in turn can help maximize functional strength and size. The workout regimen focuses on increasing the weight with the appropriate repetition ranges.
The Base Work Out
The work out regimen is as follows-
12 repetitions- Half of starting weight and is a warm up. This is very important for initial stretching of the muscle and warming up the joints to avoid injury. Stop at 12 repetitions and do not any further as you do not want to exhaust your self this early.
8 repetitions- First set. Should be a solid 8 repetitions= unspotted or assisted but with proper form. A common mistake is the go too light and too close the 12 repetition warm up. This should be generally be double the warm up weight.
6 repetitions- Second Set. This weight should be 5-10 pounds higher than the previous set on isolation exercises and 10-20 on compound exercises (example-deadlifts).
4 repetitions- Third Set. This weight should be 5-10 pounds higher than the previous set on isolation exercises and 10-20 on compound exercises. This set should always be spotted and should be around 90% of a user’s one repetition maximum. Example if you can bench press 300 pounds this set should be around 270-275. This is the last set of increasing the weight if you are doing an isolation exercise such as a machine.
2 repetitions- The last set on compound exercises. This set is extremely important for increasing overall strength gains. This should be as close to the point repetition maximum as possible in order to achieve two full repetitions. The goal of this set is to increase the one repetition maximum of the user over time by pushing the limits of muscle growth.
It is essential that on at least one exercises per day on the subject body part being worked out (such as bench press, deadlift, squat, barbell curls, sitting tricep extensions, etc) that the user conduct a “pyramid”. A pyramid is when the following workout is follow and then done in reverse, lowering the weight and raising the repetitions each time. Example- 12-8-6-4-2-4-6-8-failure. Failure is the last set on the reverse and is done when the warm up weight is done until no repetitions can be done due to fatigue. Repetition ranges of 20-30 are not uncommon depending on the condition of the user, but is essential to helping to shock the muscle into hypertrophy.
As with any work out, the body will adapt and this work out will have to be changed. After a few months, the gains and progress will begin to plateau. It is then essential that the user shock their muscles by doing the workout in reverse but the warm up still in the beginning. Example-
12-repetition warm up
The reasoning behind this is that the fast twitch power muscle fibers that allow for the heaviest set to be used FIRST and while fresh, thus allowing the user to get stronger faster by doing his heaviest sets first and volume sets later. This workout focuses more on strength gain and is a personal favorite of various members of the swolescience.com community.
Feel free to experiment with the repetition ranges and weight but adhere to the raw concept of the structural organization of the workout.
“This is my body, and I can do whatever I want to it. I can push it; Study it; Tweak it; Listen to it. Everybody wants to know what I am on. What am I on? I am on my bike busting my ass six hours a day; What are YOU on?”- Lance Armstrong
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