Pop quiz: Size or strength? For raw elite powerlifter and natural bodybuilder Layne Norton, the answer is both. Try this innovative workout to build oak-strong legs and massive arms!
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I’m a powerlifter and bodybuilder. When I go to the gym, I want to make my big lifts bigger and add size with some hypertrophy work. If you’re interested in being strong and looking strong, I’ll show you how to accomplish both goals in a single workout—without spending hours in the gym.
For this workout, you’ll start with one of the “big three” lifts—the squat—and then progress into muscle-building accessory work for arms and calves using cluster sets and blood-flow-restriction (BFR) training. These are advanced techniques, and they may sound intimidating, but don’t be scared away without giving them a shot. I’ll even show you how to do them on video and explain more in this article.
This workout is tough, yes, but it’s effective. If you have multiple goals—like getting as big and strong as possible, as fast as possible—it’s going to help you reach them. The template is also extremely versatile and can be used with any of the “big three” lifts. If you want to repeat the session for other body parts, you can simply implement the deadlift or bench instead of the squat, and then incorporate accessory work of your choice for other body parts like your back, delts, or chest.
Even if you’re not a powerlifter, the barbell squat is one of the best movements for building overall strength and size. It’ll challenge your entire lower body and help make your core iron-strong. Because you’re following a low-rep scheme, you should be moving some pretty heavy weight on this exercise.
There’s nothing magical about doing 4 sets of 6 on squats; I like this rep range because it allows you to use heavy weights and still get quite a bit of volume in. I encourage using a variety of rep ranges as part of a properly periodized training program.
Don’t just get into the rack and start squatting. Think about what you’re going to do. Think about how you’re going to do it. If you have a squat ritual, follow it. Each set should be a concentrated effort.
I like to take 5-10 minutes of rest between each set. A lot of people believe that increasing your rest period cuts down on muscle stimulation, but that’s not really the case. The time your muscles spend under tension is cumulative, so even though I take a fair amount of rest, my muscles get plenty of time under tension (TUT) to grow. Moreover, by taking longer rest periods, I can give max effort to each set and lift near-max weight.
There are definitely benefits to using less rest, but if you decide to do that, you’ll have to use lighter weight. If you’re simply a little afraid to lift heavy and want more coaching on the best ways to perform the squat for your body type, check out my squat tutorial article.