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Unread 12-03-2008, 10:28 AM
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lylemcd lylemcd is offline
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Default Specialization cycles

As promised, this is the description of my basic specialization program, as mentioned in the generic bulking thread sticky.

IMO, for fairly well trained individuals trying to add mass (or hell,
improve anything) specialization is the key. You simply can't put
enough volume and intensity into everything to adapt and make progress.

For bodybuilders, I suggest they pick 2 bodyparts (3 max and only if
the third is small, like calves). One upper and one lower would be

Specilization bodyparts get the most volume and intensity and gets
trained first in the workout. Everything else is worked at low
volume (but maintained intensity) maintenance.

My generic specialization template for each bodypart is.

heavy compound: 5X5 on something like X-1/0/2-3 with a 3-5' break.
If low reps are a problem do 4X6-8.
isolation movmeent: 2-3X8-12 (or even 12-15) on something like a
2/0/2 with 60-90 seconds rest.

Edit: I suppose if you wanted, you could add a couple of sets of something (isolation only) of 15-20 reps. Very extensive range like that periodization for bodybuilders mess I wrote. So bump it to 10 sets for specialization.

Not including warmups of course. Do multiple low rep warmup sets for
the first exercise. At most one warmup for the second exercise if
the person needs to remember the movement pattern.

Basically a heavy tension stimulus and then a heavy fatigue stimulus.
Maintenance work is 2-3 sets. Either stick with all sets in the 6-8
range or do 2 sets of 6-8 and 1 set of 10-12.

So for example say she wants to do quads and lats first up. the
exact lat specialization I put the girlfriend on when she was here was

Mon: lower body
Wed: upper body
Fri: lower body
Sat: upper body

Wed was
Hammer hi row: 5X5/3'
Hammer BTN pulldown: 2-3X8-12/90"
flat bench: 5 light sets of 5 (she was dealing with an impingement
and this was technique work). Normally this would have been less
lateral raise: 2-3 sets of 8-12
bis/tris: 1-2 sets apiece
some rotator cuff work

Sat was
Hammer BTN pulldown: 5X5/3'
Hammer hi row: 2-3X8-12/90"
flat bench: 5 light sets of 5 (she was dealing with an impingement
and this was technique work). Normally this would have been less
lateral raise: 2-3 sets of 8-12
bis/tris: 1-2 sets apiece
some rotator cuff work

I generally didn't have her work to failure. Every now and again, if
we were short on time, I"d make the second exercise 1 all out set.
In general, I'd rather the person get 3 sets of 12,10,11 and not hit
failure than grind out one set and be worthless the rest of the

For, say a quad specialization/lower body workout, I'd do something like
squat or leg press: 5X5/3'
leg extension: 2-3X8-12
leg curl: 2-3 sets
calves: 2-3 sets
core: 2-3 sets

For hamstrings
RDL: 5X5
leg curl: 2-3X8-12
leg extension (even leg press can be problematic after hams are
wiped): 2-3X8-12

shoulder specialization
barbell or machine press: 5X5
lateral raise in scapular plane: 2-3X8-12

Oh yeah, calves
straight leg calf exercise: 5X5 with a 2 second pause at he bottom of every rep
bent knee calf exercise: 2-3X8-12 with a 1 second pause at the bottom
of every rep

Obviously, if you want to use different movments on each of the two
training days that's fine.
front squat + leg extension one day
back squat + sissy squat the next

I wouldn't vary much more than that since you need to be able to
track progress (weight on bar).

Clearly if she specializes somethign like delts or triceps on upper
body day, bench press won't go anywhere. Do an isolation move for
pec instead. So flyes or crossover. Same for back, if she does
biceps first, use shrugbacks/shrugdowns for maintenance. Like the
hamstring specialization, with hams wiped out, the idea of squatting
for maintenance or even leg pressing is retarded. Leg extensions
will maintain size over the time period.

WEight shoudl be added to the specialization bodyparts as much as
humanly possible. What ended up happening with the girlfriend is
that one week she'd end up pyramiding sets of 5 to a top set. The
next week she'd generally hit that same top set for all 5 sets. Then
she'd hit a new peak, then 5 set sof 5. I didn't plan it that way, I
let her go up depending on how she looked/what she told me she was

The next step is to hit the specialization bodyparts hard for 4-6
weeks (8-12 workouts maximum). The first workout or two will
probably be somewhat submximal anyhow. Then you switch specialization
bodyparts cutting the volume on the previous specilization bodyparts
back hard but increasing the intensity. So drop from 8 sets
twice/week to 3 sets twice per week but try to put more weight on the
bar. The girlfriend cranked out 5 bodyweight chins (something she'd
never done) on her second Saturday workout after I cut the volume

Durin the first 2 weeks of volume tapering, expect to see continued
growth in the previous specialized bodyparts. Then just keep weights
at maintenance. So say after a lat upper body emphasis she wants to
do shoulders. Go from the above upper body back specialization
workout to

shoulder press: 5X5
lat raise: 2-3X8-12
hammer hi row: 2X5
hammer BTN pulldown: 1 all out set around 8-12
pec dec/x-over: 2-3X6-8
bis: 1-2 set
tris: 1-2 sets

Edit: Oh yeah, like the generic bulking program, this should be trained with a 2 week submaximal runup to 4 weeks of heavy loading, and then the volume taper (which occurs as you switch out specialization bodyparts)
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