Oct 17, 2013

Be Bold in the Cold

Learn more about Eric Broser & even ask him your questions

One of the main reasons I left my native N.Y. and moved to South Florida was to avoid the dreaded winter months. No, I am not a big fan of the cold, the snow or that wind that literally goes through you no matter how bundled up you are. In fact, I hate the need to bundle up at all! My extremely limited wardrobe of tee shirts, shorts, tanks and sandals is just fine for me, thank you, and if I never have to don a ski cap, gloves, scarf or bulky winter jacket again it will still be too soon! The only “wind chill factor” I ever want to worry about occurs when the air-conditioning kicks on at the same moment I stick my head in the freezer to get at my frozen veggies!

When it comes to training, the winter can be a double-edged sword. For competitive bodybuilders this is the time to start packing away more calories, push heavier iron in the gym, and force the bathroom scale to withstand greater and greater loads. Since it is so cold outside tank tops and shorts are out and baggy shirts and sweats are in. Thus, few worry about body fat percentage, and focus purely on trying to take up more space on this planet. That’s right, winter is “mass-season!”

However, while those who train to pose are passionately driven to improve 24/7/365, the average lifter often finds that when the temperature begins to drop, so does their motivation to get to the gym. In my experience it seems that most people tend to workout in the early morning before work, or in the evening right after. It’s not easy to get oneself out of bed a couple of hours early when it’s just so darn warm and cozy under the covers. Nor is it easy to hit the gym after a hard day at work, especially when it gets dark at 5:00 pm and traffic is moving extra slow because of the snow or slush that might be covering the pavement. In the years that I owned my personal training studio in New York, I had at least three times the amount of cancelled appointments during the winter than at any other time of year. Let’s face it, when it starts to really get cold out side many people choose hibernation over muscle stimulation!

The problem is, this type of attitude is not very productive, and will certainly not allow for progress to occur year to year. In this scenario, the pattern is basically to take one step forward and one step back. If you train hard from spring to fall, but then fail to stay on track during the winter months you will all but lose everything you gained. When you begin lifting again, you will be back to square one.

I think a better solution would be to compromise with yourself and your muscles. Perhaps instead of completely slacking during the winter months, you could work with an abbreviated program that will allow you to at least maintain your gains (or even add to them), so that when you are ready to hit it hard again you have not lost any ground.

What I have put together for you are three different routines using various types of styles, splits and protocols so that you can decide what will best fit your needs. You can choose one program and utilize it through the entire winter, use each for several weeks at a time before switching to the next, or even change it up week to week. Basically, the goal is simply to keep your butt in the gym, so mix and match as you see fit!

Program 1: The 2-Day Barrage of Basics

Ok, this program is for those that REALLY have trouble getting to the gym in the wintertime. You are required to make an appearance before the iron just two days per week, but you will work very hard while there. This is a no nonsense approach using only the most basic of lifts in order to attack both the target muscles and all synergists and stabilizers. Fancy machines and cable exercises will remain on the sidelines, while heavy barbells and dumbbells will be the star players. The goal is to cover as many muscles as possible during each session through compound lifts, while also fully stimulating the CNS and endocrine systems. Each muscle group will be hit only once per week, so plan to give it your all every time you train. Pick any two days per week that suit you, but allow at least two days in between each session.

Day 1(Chest/Lats/Delts/Abs)

exercise sets reps
BB Incline Press3 6-8
Flat DB Press3 6-8
Weighted Wide Grip Pullup3 6-8
Underhand Grip BB Bent Row3 6-8
Seated DB Press3 6-8
BB Upright Row2 6-8
Weighted Incline Sit-Up3 12-15

Day 2 (Quads/Hams/Calves/Bis/Tris)

exercise sets reps
BB Squats4 8-10
Leg Press3 8-10
Stiff Leg Deadlift3 8-10
Lying Leg Curl2 8-10
Standing Calf Raise3 10-12
Standing BB Curl3 6-8
Weighted Dips (Torso Upright)3 6-8

Program 2: The 3-Day POF/Rep Range Rampage

Here we will combine Steve Holeman’s brilliant (you owe me Steve) Positions of Flexion training strategy along with the Rep Range portion of my P/RR/S protocol. The entire body will be split into thirds, and each muscle will get one solid hit per week. Since we want to keep overall volume low (to keep the motivation to get to the gym high) we need to be efficient in how we attack each muscle group. Thus, the combination of POF (slightly modified) and Rep Range training is the perfect one-two punch, as it will allow you to work each muscle group through it’s entire range of motion, while concurrently stimulating all of your muscle fibers. If possible, pick three non-consecutive days per week in which to train for optimum results.

Day 1 (Chest/Lats/Abs)

exercise sets reps
BB Bench Press3 7-9
Incline DB Flye2 10-12
Pec Deck2 13-15
WG BB Bent Rows2 7-9
CG Pulldown2 10-12
DB Pullover2 13-15
Stiff Arm Pulldown1 16-20
Weighted Incline Knee-ups1 10-12
Swiss Ball Crunch1 13-15
Cable Crunch1 16-20

Day 2 (Quads/Hams/Calves)

exercise sets reps
BB Squats3 7-9
Sissy Squats3 10-12
Leg Extensions113-15, 1 x 16-20
Leg Press (feet at top of platform)2 7-9
Stiff Leg Deadlift2 10-12
Lying Leg Curl2 13-15
Calf Press1 10-12
Standing Calf1 13-15, 1 x 16-20

Day 3 (Delts/Bis/Tris)

exercise sets reps
Seated Military Press2 7-9
WG BB Upright Row1 10-12
Incline One Arm Laterals2 13-15
Machine Bent Arm Side Lateral2 16-20
Standing BB Curl2 7-9
Incline DB Curl1 10-12
DB Concentration Curl1 13-15
Smith CG Bench Press2 7-9
Seated Two Arm Overhead DB Extension2 10-12
DB Kickback1 13-15

Program 3: The 4-Day Fiber Damage/Fiber Saturation Annihilation

In the November 2007 issue of Iron Man I introduced a new training protocol called Fiber Damage/Fiber Saturation Training, or FDFS for short (can you tell I like acronyms?). While I cannot explain the entire concept here (perhaps you can get a back issue with the whole article if interested), suffice to say, it is a very intense and effective method of training. The core of the program is to utilize techniques that are best for causing muscle trauma, such as heavy weight, negative emphasis and stretch pause, followed by high repetition work for a maximum pump effect. When a muscle is damaged (with micro tears...we are not talking about injury) it sets in motion a cascade of physiological events that lead to adaptation through both strengthening and hypertrophy of muscle tissue. In fact, without damage there is little reason for your body to build bigger and stronger muscles. Once you have caused trauma it is then vitally important to allow for your body to repair it. By saturating the muscles with blood through high rep training you can literally bathe them with nutrients, oxygen, hormones, amino acids, antioxidants and more. This will help facilitate the recovery process before you even leave the gym. What I am going to present is a “mini” version of FDFS, using less volume than normal. Since you will be committing to the gym four days per week in the dreaded winter, the idea is to get you in and out as quickly as possible (so you can get home and curl up with your new copy of Iron Man by the fireplace). Think of this as a boxer throwing a jab, jab, and uppercut, then dancing away as his opponent drops to the mat!

Day 1 (Chest/Bis/Abs)

exercise sets reps
Smith Incline Press with Negative Emphasis (4/1/X tempo)2 6
Flat DB Flye with Stretch Pause (2/3/1 tempo)1 8
Dip Machine (1/0/1 tempo)1 25
BB Preacher Curl with Negative Emphasis (4/1/1 tempo)1 6
Incline DB Curl with Stretch Pause (2/3/1 tempo)1 8
Low Cable Curl (1/0/1 tempo)1 25
Hanging Straight Leg Raise3 12-15

Day 2 (Quads/Hams/Calves)

exercise sets reps
Smith Squat with Negative Emphasis (4/1/X tempo)26
Sissy Squat with Stretch Pause (2/3/1 tempo)18
Leg Extension (1/0/1 tempo)125
Lying Leg Curl with Negative Emphasis (4/1/1 tempo)16
DB Stiff Leg Deadlift with Stretch Pause (2/3/1 tempo)18
Seated Leg Curl (1/0/1 tempo)125
Standing Calf Raise with Negative Emphasis (4/1/X tempo)16
Calf Press with Stretch Pause (2/3/X tempo)18
Seated Calf Raise (1/0/1 tempo)125

Day 3 (Lats/Traps/Abs)

exercise sets reps
WG Pullup with Negative Emphasis (5/1/1 tempo)16
CG Seated Cable Row with Stretch Pause (2/3/X tempo)18
One Arm DB Row with Stretch Pause (1/3/X tempo)18
Underhand Grip BB Bent Row (1/0/1 tempo)125
BB Shrug with Negative Emphasis (4/1/X/1 tempo)16
DB Shrug with Stretch Pause (1/4/X/1 tempo)18
CG Cable Upright Row (1/0/1 tempo)125
Cable Crunch312-15

Day 4 (Delts/Tris/Calves)

exercise sets reps
Seated Military Press with Negative Emphasis (4/1/X tempo)16
Behind the Back Cable Side Lateral with Stretch Pause (1/4/1 tempo)18
Single Arm Cable Bent Lateral with Stretch Pause (1/3/1 tempo)18
Seated DB Press (1/0/1 tempo)125
Smith CG Bench Press with Negative Emphasis (4/1/X tempo)16
Incline Overhead EZ Bar Extension with Stretch Pause (2/3/1 tempo)18
V Bar Pushdown (1/0/1 tempo)125
Calf Press with Negative Emphasis (4/1/X tempo)16
Standing Calf with Stretch Pause (2/3/X tempo)18
Seated Calf Raise (1/0/1 tempo)125

And there you have it my geographically challenged friends...a guide to being bold and training when it’s cold! Trust me, I’ve been there, and know how hard it can be to get to the gym when your car door is frozen shut and your driveway could double for an ice-skating rink. However, the effort is well worth it, as when the weather turns, your body will still be turning heads!

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