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MUSCLE GAIN: ADVANCED PROGRAMMING


An advanced program, best suited for those with a good training background, 4+ days per week for training and no injuries who want to prioritize muscle gain.

Not suited for people who would struggle to recover from multiple intense, high volume workouts each week, those with movement quality issues or limited time to train.


Phases 1-2:

Traditional low-volume set and repetition format (typically around 3-4 sets of 5-8 reps) focused on balancing movement patterns and building movement quality. Four strength sessions per week with one upper-body session, one lower-body session and two full-body sessions.


Phase 3:

A continued emphasis on strength with a slight increase in total repetitions per workout. Each workout includes AMRAP (As Many Repetitions As Possible) sets to allow you to test yourself. Frequency drops to 3 full-body sessions per week to allow for more volume per session with more time for recovery between workouts.


Phase 4:

A large increase in total volume (total sets and reps), building on the foundation of strength and movement quality built in prior phases. Includes a day of aerobic recovery work on the weekend to enhance recovery.


Phases 5-6:

Intense strength-oriented ladders done in circuits that increase in total volume from week to week throughout phase 5 and then shift towards lower total repetitions and heavier weights throughout phase 6. Exercises shift from dumbbells to barbells, and many people see big increases in strength by the end of phase 6. Energy systems work remains focused on aerobic recovery.


Phase 7:

The maximal strength developed in phase 6 is transferred into high-volume barbell work using straight sets of 5 reps done in circuits. Ample rest between sets allows for good recovery so that weights can stay heavy. Energy systems workouts from here forward alternate each month between anaerobic 30:30 intervals (which are in this phase) and alactic High Resistance Interval (HRI) sessions focused on alactic power and capacity. Each weekend continues to include an aerobic recovery session.


Phase 8:

Focuses on self-paced Escalating Density Training (EDT) workouts that are primarily anaerobic and allow you to push yourself and test your limits using the strength, movement quality and work capacity built in prior phases.


Phase 9 and onward:

Movements focus on heavy compound barbell lifts such as deadlifts, bench presses, squats and rows. Strength sessions stay at three days per week with one energy systems workout per week and active/aerobic recovery sessions on other days. Each phase builds on the last and moves through a variety of protocols that allow you to train on the edge of your ability in workouts that are primarily below anaerobic threshold with an emphasis on strength and high­volume training sessions.

 

Phase by Phase

Note:

These summaries are for the gym-based variants. At-home versions follow a similar conceptual theme but often use slightly different methods to account for equipment restrictions. Keep in mind that every exercise is modifiable, so these are all just a starting point.


Phase 1:

Begins with one week of bodyweight-only workouts so that people who plan to train at home have time to acquire the basic equipment needed to do so. From there, the program focuses on fundamental movements such as single-arm dumbbell rows and goblet squats done for sets of 3 repetitions.



Phase 2:

Format stays the same, with four workouts per week. Workouts are primarily basic compound movements focused on strength development, such as band-assisted pullup variants and dumbbell bench presses. Slight increases in complexity and intensity over phase 1.




Phase 3:

Frequency shifts to 3 strength sessions per week, with a continued focus on strength and movement quality. Emphasis stays on dumbbells over barbells. Primary movements such as lunges, dumbbell presses, pullup variations and goblet squats are done in circuits punctuated by breathing drills (to enhance recovery) for 4-6 sets of 4-8 reps depending on the week. Each workout includes AMRAP (As Many Reps As Possible) sets in the final set. Final week is a deload, which drops to 3 sets of 5 repetitions of primary movements.




Phase 4:

Three days per week of high-volume strength work, focused on building work capacity and the resilience to withstand higher-intensity future sessions. Total sets change each week, up to a peak of 10 sets of 5 reps in the 3rd week, with a deload week at the end of 5 sets of 5. Includes a day of dedicated aerobic recovery work.


Phase 5:

A continuation of high-volume training from the previous phase, with different protocols that increase the emphasis on maximal strength via fewer reps per set. Strength work is focused on well-practiced movements that can be loaded heavily for ladders (2 reps, short rest, 3 reps, short rest, 4 reps) done in circuits. Ladders go as high as 3,4,5 (3 reps, short rest, 4 reps, short rest, 5 reps). Volume drops back down for a deload during week four. Energy system work remains focused on aerobic recovery.


Phase 6:

Continues with the strength ladders from phase 5, but drops volume very low and increases intensity so that the focus is on maximal strength and higher weight per repetition. Movements shift from dumbbells to barbell-based exercises, such as barbell deadlifts and bench presses. Ladders go as low as 1,1 (one heavy rep, short rest, one heavy rep). Energy systems work remains focused on aerobic recovery. As long as recovery is well-managed, many people see big increases in strength during this phase.


Phase 7:

Focused on heavily taxing local musculature in straight sets, in which all sets of one movement are completed before moving on to the next exercise. A week to week buildup of high volume (up to 8 sets of 5 repetitions) with a deload week in the 4th week (5 total sets). Strength movements are heavy compound lifts like bench presses, pullups, lunges and deadlift variations. Includes one anaerobic 30:30 interval session per week.



Phase 8:

Energy systems training is either aerobic recovery oriented or a High Resistance Interval (HRI) session designed to train alactic power and capacity. Strength work is open-ended escalating density training (EDT) sessions designed to keep you on the edge of their anaerobic threshold and allow you to push yourself as hard as you’re comfortable with. EDT sessions in this phase entail as many sets of 6-8 repetitions as you can do in 6-12 minutes (depending on week), using well-trained compound lifts like rows, deadlift variations, squats and presses. Each EDT block is done with two alternating exercises, such as deadlifts and rows to allow for greater local musculature recovery between sets with a continuously high systemic demand.


Phase 9:

Energy systems training includes one day of 30:30 intervals. Strength sessions are high­volume ladders done with three compound movements at a time, such as back squat, bench press and rows. You’ll do 3 repetitions of each, then 4 reps, then 5, then 6 and then back down to 5, 4 and then 3 repetitions. You’ll adjust weight with each set so that the weight stays challenging, at the edge of your ability and rest intervals are short to emphasize fat loss. These repetition numbers increase each week to a peak of 5/6/7/8/6/5/4 in week three, and then drop down to a deload week of 2/3/4/5/4/3/2. Also includes short EDT sessions of isolated arm work at the end of each workout.


Phase 10:

Strength-oriented straight sets of 5 repetitions, done for anywhere from 5 total sets per movement to 10 total sets, depending on week. These straight sets are done in circuits or supersets of three different lifts, such as deadlifts, bench presses and rows. Workouts end with HICT blocks designed to build aerobic/alactic work capacity. The third workout of each week includes AMRAP (As Many Reps As Possible) sets designed to allow you to test yourself in an open-ended format. Energy systems work includes one HRI sprint workout.


Phase 11:

Sessions revolve around HICT (High Intensity Continuous Training) sessions designed to develop endurance of fast-twitch fibers and submax aerobic capacity, by doing as many sets of 2-3 repetitions as possible within blocks of 8-15 minutes while keeping your heart rate below 150 bpm. Includes one 30:30 interval session per week.


Phase 12:

A continued emphasis on aerobic/alactic energy systems during strength training, along with a high-resistance interval (HRI) sprint day. Strength work focuses on descending 5/3/2 ladders (5 repetitions, short rest, 3 reps, short rest, 2 reps) done for 3-7 total rounds depending on week.



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About

My name is Steven Goldstein

With over 10 years of experience in the fitness industry, I have worked with clients of all ages and fitness levels. From professional athletes to individuals aiming to lose weight, I have helped countless people achieve their goals and improve their overall health through customized training and nutrition plans.

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Hundreds of clients of all ages, backgrounds, and abilities have put their health in our hands over the years and achieved truly remarkable results. 

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