Example of a cycle

^e exact length of any cycle should not be predetermined unless you are locked into a deadline that cannot be extended, e.g., a competition, vacation or some travelling. Generally speaking, stretch each cycle out for as long as you can keep adding a little poundage to each of your core exercises. When you get stuck for three or at most four weeks at the same poundages and reps in most of your core movements, despite using all possible cycle-extending tactics, you are temporarily at the end of your training tether, and that is time to stop.

7.30 Do not be so stubborn that you continue battling with a body that has had enough (for now). If you continue to battle on, you may pay for it—mentally

7.29

and physically—by needing to take longer than you should need to, to get back in the flow of productive training in your next cycle.

7.31 A medium-to-long duration cycle could run in these four phases:

a. Start with three or four weeks of form and concentration consolidation. But do not ease back mentally. Still attack the weights with controlled aggression. During this phase the poundages are built back from 8590% of your previous best weights, to 95%.

b. Next are a few weeks of creeping back to your previous best weights.

c. ^en comes the start of the growth phase—the first few weeks of moving into new poundage territory. Reduce the number of sets you do, and even reduce the training frequency of some of your secondary exercises, if the total demand feels excessive.

d. Keep the growth phase going for as long as possible. If necessary cut back on your secondary work to give greater focus to the core exercises. Notch up a pound or two a week on each of your core exercises. Keep the secondary exercises progressing, too, if they are not inhibiting the core ones.

7.32 ^e net gain from an entire cycle lasting 15-26 weeks could be 10-20 pounds on your best working poundages in the core exercises. While this underestimates what a beginner or early intermediate can gain, it is terrific for anyone else.

7.33 Some people sneer at this rate of gain, thinking and advocating that almost everyone, regardless of age and lifestyle, can add lots of poundage to any exercise in a mere month or two. Had these people added just 10 pounds to their squat each 4-6 months for the last few years, they would be much bigger and stronger than they are now, even though such a rate of gain, when looked at as a per-week gain, is tiny.

7.34 How much did you add to your 6-rep bench press over the last 4-6 months? Would you have been happy with a 10-20 pound gain, and then another over the next 4-6 months, and then another over the next 4-6 months? Add up these small per-cycle gains and they become large increases. Remember, for typical people who have demanding jobs and family responsibilities, and who have little time in which to work out, successful training is about the long term.

7.35 Some people prefer long cycles, others prefer shorter ones, and some prefer a mix of the two. To each his own. A short cycle could be a five-week stretch in which you cut back 5-10% and take three weeks to get back to where you were and then in the fourth and fifth weeks go into new territory. With the gain made, cut back and start another five-week cycle. Such a short cycle is easily disturbed by the ups and downs of life, whereas the long cycle can accommodate more of the ups and downs. An 8-10 week stretch for a short cycle is a better length of time to get some gaining momentum going, and gives more leeway for accommodating the trials and tribulations of life.

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