Saturday, August 5, 2017

Weightlifting: Hypertrophy Macrocycle Conclusion

I've been working with block periodization for four months now and have just concluded my hypertrophy macrocycle, during which I focused on multiple sets of eight reps with variations of the competition lifts. Working with lighter loads and higher reps has been more of a challenge than I predicted, but I'm confident that all this work will pay off in the coming months as I transition to a strength macrocycle and then finally to a peaking block. Let's go over how my training progressed, reviewing how I succeeded and what I could have done differently.

For my two squat days, I started off (as I did with all of my lifts) with 60 percent of my 1 rep max for 4 sets of 8. My first squat day was low bar squats, and my second was high bar. I probably should have started with front squats and high bar squats, which was the change I made after two months. The loads for the back squat variations are too similar, which made recovery difficult. I didn't do any assistance for my squat in the end, though I started off doing weighted step ups and pistol squats. I train in a basement, and I don't have access to a leg press or any other machines, so other than lunges or hack squats, my assistance options were limited, and honestly I didn't feel that I need them. 5 sets of 8 reps on the back squat pretty much drains me for the rest of the day. I went from doing 245 for 5 sets of 8 to doing 265 for 5 sets of 8 in the high bar squat--62 percent of my high bar max (390) to 68 percent. Looking at my record log, 275 is my 8 rep max in the high bar squat. Approaching your 8 rep max for 5 sets is good progression.

On deadlift day, I started with just 3 sets of 8 reps, using 295 lbs. Four months later, I was using 330 lbs for 4 sets of 8. So I went from 58 percent of my 1 rep max (510) to 65 percent. You can probably get away with using lower percentages with the deadlift because it is such a taxing lift. I plan on starting out with 70 percent in my strength block, just like everything else. We'll see how I progress. Had I more time and a less physical job, I would've added straight leg deadlifts as an assistance exercise.

The bench press had the most variation of all of my lifts. I cycled through incline benches, dumbbell presses, military presses, and paused bench presses. The close grip bench press was my only constant. I went from doing 185 lbs for 4 sets of 8 (70 percent of my best close grip, 260) to doing 4 sets of 8 with 210 lbs (80 percent). I felt like my bench form improved a lot and that I gain muscle in my pectorals from doing close grips. Looking at the percentage I ended up with, it's obvious that my max close grip bench press is greater than 260 lbs, otherwise I wouldn't have been able to do 4 sets of 8 with 80 percent. My best wide grip bench is 290, so hopefully that has went up.

I'm pretty content with my progression during my hypertrophy macrocycle. I added weight, volume, and improved my work capacity. Although my weight didn't seem to increase (hovering somewhere around 195, 196 lbs), my body composition changed for the better. The next three months will be devoted to a strength macrocycle, with the fourth month changing to a peaking block, after which I will start the whole thing again, provided I see some decent results. I'll post my strength program some time next week.

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