Embarking upon a successful powerbuilding journey is contingent upon several pragmatic factors. A strategy for attack needs to be fully mapped out before the mass and strength assault can commence. The “who, what, when, where” of your program must be addressed before the real work can begin in earnest. The “why” of it all, well… I’ll leave that for you and your therapist to ponder.
This pursuit, while built upon a foundation of back breaking labor, is nonetheless a cerebral process. Where the mind will go, the body will most assuredly follow. In that sense, the progress you will make with your physique is fully dependent on the homework and mental preparation to which you are willing to devote the other 23 hours of the day. With the idea in mind of setting yourself up for success ahead of time, here are some important factors worth contemplating.
Brothers in the Struggle
The refinement phase of a powerbuilding routine can be navigated solo; the supersetting, high-repped, little-resting nature of the training lends itself to shoving your headphones deep into your ears, setting your Ipod to crunk and going to work in your own world. However, handling the maximum poundages set after set and consistently flirting with muscular failure, as you must deep in a mass phase, is a practical impossibility from a safety standpoint sans spotter.
Finding the right training partner ain’t easy. Let’s cut the shit, there are very few people in the world that take this whole game quite as seriously as we do. As such, we can’t possibly expect everybody that we know who frequents the gym to match our level of commitment or intensity. Such an assumption wouldn’t be fair to us or to them.
That said, we all come from different walks of life and bring certain interests and skill sets to the table. Training with a dyed in the wool powerlifter could have huge benefits to you in terms of size and strength. Training with a precontest bodybuilder could drastically improve your physique and stamina. Training with a thirty year veteran of the sport could be amazingly educational and edifying. Training with a young lion new to the game could remind you of what it means to be hungry and light a fire under your ass.
I’ve ripped through several half-ass training partners over the years who didn’t have the balls to hang. Nonetheless, I’ve also had the pleasure to bang heads with a few select warriors over the years that helped me raise my game and made me better… To them I remain loyal and will always owe a debt of gratitude.
Regardless of pedigree, the partner who will embark upon this powerbuilding journey by your side, must have similar goals in mind. He, like you, must be bent on transcending his limits and gaining an uncommon amount of mass and strength. He doesn’t have to be on your level, he just has to match your desire. I’ll gladly strip some plates off of the leg press any day of the week, if it means I’ll be mixing it up with someone who wants it as bad, or maybe even more, than I do.
There must be mutual trust in your partnership as so often you’ll find yourself with many hundreds of gravity loving steel lbs hoisted precariously above your head. In these circumstances, your training partner quite literally holds your life in his hands.
Split the Difference
My training philosophy has always erred on the side of doing a little bit too much as opposed to coming up short and not doing enough. If there are seven days in a week, and I’m to call myself a bodybuilder, then I need to spend the majority of my time bodybuilding. As such, the three day split has never done if for me. I feel good when I train, I feel alive in the gym. That is where I belong. I’ve always used a 4 or 5 day split, depending on how hectic my schedule is at a given time. My preference is to hit the gym 5 days a week, allowing each session to be thorough and targeted, while still enabling me to get in a full 2 days rest, thus ensuring adequate rest and recovery. What follows are training splits that I’ve employed over past few years, all of which with steady, noteworthy progress…
The Original 5-Day Split
Here I worked shitty hours on weekends and kept late night writer’s hours all week. I slept late, got plenty of rest and I trained at night. I ate relatively clean with an exceptionally high protein intake. 5 on, 2 off was the stringent status quo…
Monday: Off, Tuesdsay: Back, Wednesday: Arms, Thursday: Legs, Friday: Chest, Saturday: Delts, Sunday: Off.
The Altered 4-Day Split
With this split, I worked a traditional desk job with a rigorous commute. I got less sleep, but took in dramatically more calories. Under this 1 on, 1 off, 3 on, 2 off split, I was as flexible as my schedule required, as long as I got all of my bodyparts in over the course of the standard week.
Monday: Off, Tuesday: Back, Wednesday: Off, Thursday: Legs, Friday: Chest and Bis, Saturday: Delts and Tris, Sunday: Off.
The Current 5-Day Split
With this split, I have slightly more schedule freedom training anywhere from early in the morning to late afternoons. My diet all summer had been largely clean, but I have recently transitioned back into a more calorie dense way of eating in the pursuit of the accumulation of fresh mass. This split is a more standard 3 on, 1 off, 2 on, 1 off regimen.
Monday: Delts, Tuesday: Back, Wednesday: Arms, Thursday: Off, Friday: Chest, Saturday: Legs, Sunday: Off.
Timing Is Everything
The time of day you train is also an important factor in your progress. For example, I love morning training, but know that it has limitations. I am far stronger when I have a full day’s worth of meals and supplements in my system before I train. I feel that first thing in the morning training, on a somewhat empty stomach is best implemented during a refinement phase when workouts are brief, intense and move at a rapid pace and the need for extremely heavy weights is greatly reduced.
The caveat to all of this idealism, however, is that the most important element in your success is consistently getting your fucking training in, whether that means you’re training at midnight, dinner time or if it is 4:27 am and you’re wondering, “why am I here?” We live in the real world, not an idealized utopia. Somedays we simply have to make it work, we have to squeeze shit to make it fit.
Location, Location, Location...
If I had it my way, there would only be one kind of gym in the world. Hardcore, no nonsense, mom and pop facilities designed for serious people who placed a premium on personal development. Not every gym is a perfect hole in the wall like Skiba’s in Carteret or a bodybuilder’s wet dream like Strong and Shapely in East Rutherford, but every gym does have some redeeming qualities.
While the gym where I grew up training was perfect for me and my crew, I no longer have the privilege of training there regularly. As such, I have to make the best of my surroundings and extract from them all that I can. If that means I need to train at Globo Gym, then bet your ass my focus is always on turning it into what I need it to be. I walk in with blinders on and focus on the job at hand, the rest of the world be damned. I came to the gym today to make myself better, if they can’t wrap their tiny minds around that concept, then with all due respect, fuck ‘em.
There you have it… The “who, what, when and where” of powerbuilding. The “why” is the reason you came to Animalpak.com today, it is the same reason I wrote this article in the first place. As I have figuratively set the table for your powerbuilding program here in Volume 2, in the next volume, I will literally set the table, laying the groundwork for the diet and supplementation protocol you’ll need to fuel your journey.