20 x 20 Training Principle
I came across this technique a while back when I wanted to improve my calves. I remember reading an article about how this technique worked like magic for one particular body builder who’s calves we're his worst body part. He managed to vastly improve his calf development using this simple, but intense technique. Intensity being the key word here.
We all know that if we want to build muscle, we need to consistently add higher and higher intensity levels to our training routines. That is, we need to keep forcing our bodies to work harder and harder with each passing workout. This is the only way to keep building quality muscle mass. However, there are times when our bodies stop responding to a particular routine, exercise, or method. This can be the result of a variety of factors such as diet, rest, stress, and other variables, but the fact remains that muscle stagnation happens to everyone at some point in time. The solution? It’s quite simple really, you must adapt and overcome the situation. Why keep doing something that’s not working? Adapt and use a common sense approach and you will constantly keep growing, leaving your competition in the dust.
The following method is a great way to boost intensity levels, and get your body on the road to muscle growth. I personally use this method because:
• I can’t use heavy weight due to my shoulder injury;
Until about 2 months ago, I only performed this routine for my calves but I started doing it for the rest of my body and all I can say is that it super intense!
The actual routine is pretty simple. Personally, I pick 3 or 4 exercises but you can pick as many as you like. What you want to do is pick a weight that will allow you to perform 20 unassisted, repetitions. Remember, this routine isn't about using heavy weight so use a light to moderate weight for the first few workouts. It may seem easy at first but trust me, by the third and fourth set, your muscles will be on fire! Here’s what you want to do. Perform 20 repetitions, rest 20 seconds, perform another 20 repetitions, rest 20 seconds, perform another 20 repetitions, rest 20 seconds and repeat until the exercise is complete. It’s a pretty simple technique but it is very intense.
Let’s take the bench press for example and go through a sample.
Warm up - 1 set of 30 repetitions using light weight; Rest 50 seconds. Add more weight to the bar - roughly 60% of your one repetition max.
Set 1: 1 set of 20 repetitions; Rest 20 seconds
Set 2: 1 set of 20 repetitions; Rest 20 seconds
Set 3: 1 set of 20 repetitions; Rest 20 seconds
Set 4: 1 set of 20 repetitions; Rest 20 seconds
That’s it. Looks pretty simple, right? Well it is. However, don’t let that fool you because by the third set, your muscles will be screaming. Repeat this for the next two or three exercises. I will usually perform the following exercises using this method:
• Pec deck fly; 3 sets of 20
Because this method works so great, I’m using it for all my body parts. This is a particularly tough routine for legs because performing high repetition squats is very tough. However, my legs are as hard as rock since starting this regiment. For the first couple of weeks, your body will have to get used to the new routine and this is very important, don’t let your ego get in the way.
• Don't cheat and start resting 30 or 40 seconds. Once 20 seconds have been counted, hit the next set immediately! If it hurts too much, lighten the weight.
• Keep the workout as is. Remember, the first couple of workouts will allow you to get a feel for the weight. As you start getting used to the workout, you must always strive to improve so once you notice the last sets getting easier, add more weight to the bar.
• You shouldn’t be going to failure on the sets. If you find your going to failure on the 10th repetition, you have to lighten the load.
• You have to be mentally prepared for this workout. You must complete all repetitions as they are prescribed. Stay focussed and really concentrate on working the muscle. You may be tempted to start rushing the repetitions because of the burn but don’t! Keep the movement slow and deliberate and work the muscle.
• If you find you can’t do all the exercises, cut an exercise out and workout your way up to it.
• Drink a lot of water. Have two glasses prior to your session, three or four glasses as you workout and two immediately after.
• You may also perform cardio exercise after your workout. Try doing 20 to 25 minutes of light cardio after doing each session.
• Get plenty of rest. Try and get at least 8 hours per night and if you can, a nap in the day time.
• Watch your diet! This workout will do nothing if your diet is non existent. For more information on putting together a quality nutritional plan, click here.
• Try following this routine for 8 to 10 weeks. However, if your body is responding in a positive fashion, keep following the routine.
• Use logs to keep track of your progress. You can download free logs here.
For a printable PDF version of this workout, please click here.
All the best,
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