Body Comp Training: A New Twist on a Familiar Concept
By George Stavrou

It's a New Year and time to lose that Holiday Flab. Have you tried Body Composition training before but have reached a plateau? If the answer is "YES!" then I've got a program unlike anything you have tried before.

If you are familiar with the work of Charles Poliquin you may have read about his approach to Body Composition Training in his book "Manly Weight Loss". In it he suggests alternating between an upper body and a lower body exercise throughout the circuits. While Charles, and many others, likes to group the exercises into an even amount of exercises per superset (or Giant Set if that's the case) I like to experiment with an odd number of exercise groupings. In this case you are still alternating between upper and lower body exercises but with a new twist on the idea. See below for an example of this:

Day
Body Part
Exercises
1
Quads Lunges, front squats, single leg squat off of bench
Back 1 Arm DB row, chins, pullovers
2
Hams 1 leg semi-stiff deadlift, deadlift, single leg curls
Chest Incline DB bench press, Dips, push-ups

Workout: 2 day split - 2 workouts/week/body part

Day
Body Part
Circuit
1
Quads & Back (Day 1A) Circuit 1: lunges, 1 Arm DB Row, front squats Circuit 2: chins, single leg squat off of bench, pullovers
2
Hams & Chest (Day 2A) Circuit 1: 1 leg semi-stiff deadlift, Incline DB bench press, deadlift, Circuit 2: dips, single leg curls, push-ups
3
OFF
4
Back & Quads (Day 1B)
Circuit 1: pullovers, single leg squat off of bench, chins Circuit 2: front squats, 1 Arm DB row, lunges
5
Chest & Hams (Day 2B) Circuit 1: push-ups, single leg curls, dips Circuit 2: deadlift, Incline DB bench press, 1 leg semi-stiff deadlift
6
OFF
7
OFF
8
Repeat Programme

*Notes: there are two changes that I have made to the program that add a little spice to your workouts: 1) On the second Day 1 (Day 1B) I started off with the second body part in the progression instead of the first. i.e. Day 1A began with Quads and ended with Back; Day 1B began with Back and ended with Quads. & 2) I have reversed the order of the exercises within each circuit.

This was done for two reasons:
1) by beginning with the second exercise you are able to prioritize that particular body part on that training day & 2) reversing the order of the exercises allows you to put more effort into movements that normally don't get you when your energy is highest.
I have also given you guidelines on the exercise scheme and the reasoning behind it. See the table below.

Workout Scheme Reasoning
# of exercises per session: 6 More exercises - greater variety in overloading various movement
# of sets/exercise: 4 More sets - greater skill development/exercise
Total Sets: 24 Higher # of sets = Higher Lactic Acid = Greater Calories burned during the session
Reps/set: 8-12 Moderate Reps to near failure - moderate intensity/set
Rest period: 60 Incomplete recovery
*Tempo: 3030 General Fitness and Hypertrophy
^TUT: 48-72s Focus on Hypertrophy and Muscle Endurance

*For those of you unfamiliar with tempo the numbers represent the time in seconds for each part of the movement.
3 - lowering (eccentric portion of movement)
0 - no rest at bottom of movement
3 - lifting the weights (concentric portion of movement)
0 - no rest at top of movement

^If you are unfamiliar with TUT (Time Under Tension) - it can be loosely defined as the total time of a set from start to finish. In this case our TUT is about 48 - 72 seconds. This is determined by adding up each component from the tempo and multiplying by the number of reps in the set: (3+0+3+0)*(8 - 12) = 48 - 72 seconds.

Before you begin this program I have a few guidelines that you should be aware of:

1) Warm-up: do a warm-up of light cardio and dynamic stretching prior to your workout. Dynamic stretching will prepare the nervous system (NS) for the workout ahead.

2) Warm-up sets: The loads in this program are moderate so I recommend doing 1-2 warm-up sets. 1 (set) X 5 (reps) X 50% (of 1RM) & 1 X 5 X 60% should be sufficient.

3) 10 minute cool-down (static stretching). Static stretching will help your NS to return to pre-workout status. You can also use this time to reflect on your workout and decide what changes need to be made for your next session.

4) If you can't raise yourself for 3 seconds in some of the movements e.g. Chins and Dips, then I suggest performing the concentric as slowly as possible and lowering yourself for the remainder of the time. For example, if you can only raise yourself for a 1 second count instead of 3 then I suggest lowering for 5 seconds to make up the difference. Each rep will still take 6 seconds. While it won't give you the exact same metabolic effect it will prolong the set giving you a time under tension (TUT) of 48-72 seconds.

5) Begin by doing sets of 8 reps in each exercise and strive to add 1 rep/workout until you hit 12 reps. (Use 70% of your 1RM as a starting point for the 8 reps).

6) Progression - Once you can do all the sets for 12 reps you have two options to work with:
Option 1 - add about 5% more weight and drop the reps down to 8 again - repeat as above

OR

Option 2 - keep the reps at 12 but decrease your rest between sets. I suggest reducing your rest by 5 seconds in the early stages. Depending on your current condition you may be able to reduce the rest by 5 seconds every workout. If you are unable to continue with 5-second decrements then a smaller reduction (2 - 3 seconds) would be more appropriate.

7) Keep track of all the exercise variables in a training log. A sample log is shown below.

Exercise Weight Sets Reps Tempo Rest
Lunges 50 lbs 4 8 3030
1 Arm DB Row 40 lbs 4 8 3030
Front Squat 150 lbs 4 8 3030 60 sec.
*Repeat C1 for desired sets before moving to C2
Chins BW (220 lbs) 4 8 3030
Single Leg Squat off Bench BW 4 8 3030
Pullovers 40 lbs 4 8 3030 60 sec.

By grouping the exercises in the following manner I can see at a glance that it is a circuit routine and I am resting for 60 seconds at the end of the third exercise. "*Repeat C1 for desired number of sets before moving to C2" tells me that I do all 4 sets for Circuit 1 before I begin Circuit 2.

Try this routine for 6 weeks then experiment with different exercises and/or body part groupings. With your next routine you may want to group quads with chest (front of the body) & hams with back (back of the body). Use your imagination and keep your options open. The greater the variety in your programs - the less likely that you will stagnate.

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