The last half of the program involves working up to your 5RM and then staying with those weights for a final two weeks, or using heavy eccentrics. Not having access to a reliable spotter(s), I’ve always just repeated the 5’s for the last two weeks when using this program in the past.
Week 5 + 6
Moving into the 5 rep range this week, my goal was to turn some of my previous 2-3RM maxes into 5RM by the end of the two week cycle.
The first week I kept the sets at 4 per bodypart for each workout, so I was doing 8 sets per body part everyday. I did 3×5 with the same weight and then a backoff set of 15-20 reps with a different exercise. I have found that these high reps “pump” sets are not invaluable for hypertrophy, but they also make some of the accumulated CNS fatigue I experience at higher intensity ranges more manageable.
I kept the sets at 8 reps for laterals and bent over laterals. No sense going heavy on these. It’s asking for injury and I think it’s better to go lighter, isolate and pump the muscle full of blood. I think heavy weights do work extremely well for high rep (25+) partials on these exercises however.
Reps for legs were kept at 10 for lunges, 30 on leg extensions and 5’s for squats.
2nd week I noticed a drop off in strength bench press, so I switched to decline. My hip flexor pain started to flare up on squats as well. By week 2 I was noticing fatigues starting to set in so I switched the morning workout reps back to 15 reps for all exercises.
For these two weeks I also changed up my eating using the same 7 meal per day diet Dwayne Johnson used to get ready for that new Hercules movie. Why? Because I read an article on some journalist that tried it and couldn’t make it past a single day on such a plan and I got it into my head that I’d like to try it. I’ll blog about it in my next post, but suffice to say, I think it negatively affected my strength, body weight and energy levels.
Weeks 7 + 8
For the final two weeks of the HST program, I had the option of working with heavy negatives or repeating the 5’s for two weeks. Listening to my body, I knew that I had to ease up on the daily heavy lifts and allow for some more recovery time. After this 8 week hypertrophy block I’ll be moving into an 8 week powerlifting phase again, so for the final two weeks of the program I scaled back to bare basics.
I did 3 sets of Bench, 2 sets of Squats and 1 set of Deadlifts all for sets of 5-6 every Monday, Wednesday and Friday in the PM.
For the morning workouts I switched to an EDT (Escalating Density Training) setup to keep the hypertrophy going and preserve my joints for the upcoming heavy lifting. I trained 6 mornings a week using this approach.
I selected two antagonistic muscle groups each day and set the clock for 15 minutes performing back to back sets for as many sets as possible within the time period. The pump was fucking outrageous and best of all, I started feeling alive and energetic again.
I ran this setup in the mornings (15 mins, alternating back and forth for as many reps as possible within the time limit)
Monday: Dips and Chins
Tuesday: Curls and Pushdowns
Wednesday: Leg Curls and Leg Extensions
Combined with the extra added rest days, some supercompensation and switching back to an I.F setup, the final week the weights started flying up again.
Some gains by the final week
Lat Pulldown – 60kg increase on previous 5RM
Squat – 150kg – 5 reps
Bench Press – remained the same
Bent Over Rows + 10kg on 5RM
I think HST is one of the best programs for those with the primary goal of increasing muscular size. It not only takes into account all of the research supported variables supporting the optimisation of hypertrophy, but also allows for customisation within the program to suit the individual. Using a program doesn’t involve blind adherence to prescribed exercise choices, sets and reps; it also involves listening to your body (as much as I hate that phrase) and autoregulating the volume and Rate of Perceived Exhaustion when required.
For me, when I use this high volume, high frequency approach, I feel pumped in the muscles literally all day long. The above pics were taken first thing in the morning, bleary eyed and devoid of any pre-pump. I also find that by using this kind of approach, I can eat my face off and still maintain a level of “off-season” leanness that keeps within striking distance of my competitive weight. For guys wasting their time on cardio, I’d suggest doing something like timed, EDT sessions or training in the mornings at a fast pace and watch how effortlessly you can maintain a decent body fat percentage.
The morning workouts when used with high reps and short rest periods set me up for the evening sessions by keeping my energy levels high. Although strength gains were secondary, I found that on the majority of exercises, I experienced nice gains. After scoring some high rep PR’s on my bench, I experienced a sharp decline in the weight I was using for a week straight, but when I adjusted my volume this self corrected.