Sucker Punch by Alwyn Cosgrove

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Sucker Punch by Alwyn Cosgrove

Postby health4ni on Sun Aug 09, 2009 12:34 pm

http://www.tmuscle.com/free_online_arti ... n_cosgrove

I really enjoyed this T-Nation article.

I also found his answer about Body Part Splits interesting:
T-Nation wrote:You hate split routines, and have said repeatedly that you prefer full body or upper-lower body workouts. Bodybuilders, natural or otherwise, have the greatest muscle development of any athletic group; and virtually every bodybuilder follows a bodypart split routine and performs steady state cardio. So if your systems actually worked better than there's, don't you think competitive bodybuilders would be doing them?

Alwyn wrote:Look, it's not that I "hate" bodypart splits. Hell, there are times that I use them with my own clients. It's just that for the majority of cases, there are better, more efficient ways to get results fast. And that's the reason why clients hire me in the first place.

I design training programs on physiological basis. Part of the word 'physiological' is the word 'logical' and I argue that there is very little logic to bodypart splits. Bodypart splits are geography, not physiology!

You say every successful bodybuilder uses a bodypart split? I challenge that every successful bodybuilder is the exception, not the rule.

You say every champion bodybuilder, natural or otherwise, follows some kind of bodypart split. Well I say fuck you, and that every failed bodybuilder in the gym also follows that kind of split. The bodypart split has the most failure associated with it than any other methodology. So it's not that that I dislike it, it's just shown time and time again to be the absolute least successful training program for the masses.

The way I design a training program is like building a house. I start with an evaluation of your current fitness level and your long-term goals, which are like what you want your house to look like and what materials we have to work with (your current fitness level, time commitment, etc.).

Using that info, I break the end goal down into monthly, weekly, and finally, daily workouts representing what I need to accomplish along the way. Like, I want the foundation dug by this week, the drywall hung by this day, etc. In other words, I'm taking my plan to build a house and breaking it all the way down into what I need to do each week and each day.

The smallest, most insignificant part of that huge plan is the exercise selection and the day of the week things fall on. It's minutiae! But with most bodypart splits, that's the biggest part. It's like showing up at an empty lot with a truck full of bricks and a photo of your dream home and saying, "Let's build ourselves a fucking house!"

Here's another argument. Do you ever notice that every bodybuilder who wishes to bring up a lagging bodypart usually increases the frequency that they train that bodypart? So, if the elite guys are saying the solution to slow growth is increased frequency; what if I have someone who is less advanced than that?

If it's frequency that's making the good things happen, should my solution not be increased frequency from the start? And this isn't just my observation, either. Every scientific study using real people shows two to three times a week as the ideal exposure for strength and hypertrophy.

Look at sprinters. Most of them have lower body development better than 99% of the average guys out there. And these guys run every damn day! What does that tell us? Frequency is king.

Besides, look at most bodypart splits from a physiological basis. Chest/Back, Shoulders/Arms, Legs? What about Chest/Biceps, Back/Triceps, Legs, Shoulders? Due to the overlap, a lot of muscles are getting hit twice, even three times a week anyway. Again, it's physiology.

Finally, as for these comparisons to the professional bodybuilders who trash each bodypart once a week; have you ever actually seen one of these guys train? The kind of weight and volume and intensity they use? The average guy is just not physically capable of causing that kind of damage. Therefore, they need to make up for it with frequency.
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Re: Sucker Punch by Alwyn Cosgrove

Postby Alex on Sun Aug 09, 2009 12:44 pm

I like and agree with alot of what is said but, and it's a huge but, this kind of approach is only really feasible to those that have the time to make it work which on the whole is a professional athlete. For the rest of us that have a day job this is by far a harder objective to achieve.
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Re: Sucker Punch by Alwyn Cosgrove

Postby Bison on Sun Aug 09, 2009 1:17 pm

Funny post considering I'm going back to a traditional split routine as of today, partly due to what Alex just said.

It's years since I've done one but the Upper/Lower split ideally needs 4 days a week, it's just proved impossible for me to be able to manage it due to work.

Full body workouts are great but once you really start pushing it can become too draining and niggly little injuries nearly always surface and wreck it all at the business end. When you're working long hours aswell as being busy and not that much gym time, then a body part split is arguably the most flexible and less stressfull?? I know my lower back usually struggles as I'm doing heavy compounds every session, it takes it's toll after a while.
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Re: Sucker Punch by Alwyn Cosgrove

Postby health4ni on Sun Aug 09, 2009 2:30 pm

^^ but that's where you need to be clever with programming. For most people there's no point doing high volume with big compounds twice a week. I've made great progress over the past 6 weeks with an Upper/Lower split doing just 2 working sets (1-3 warmup sets precede). Heavy Squats and Deadlifts done twice a week.

Also, you could still have 4 sessions that you go through. You just work through them. And forget about weeks. Who said training sessions had to be based around a week?
So:
Mon: upper 1
Wed: lower 1
Fri: upper 2
Mon: lower 2
Wed: upper 1
Fri: lower 1
etc

So long as you really work your butt off then this will work.

I just liked his way of explaining how splits, in his opinion, don't work as well for nearly everyone when compared to upper & lower (or maybe fullbody) splits.

I've trained far more years with body splits and based on recent training and teachings etc plus my own training of clients I too think upper/lower &/or fullbody training works better for most people.

A while ago I would not have ever said that.
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Re: Sucker Punch by Alwyn Cosgrove

Postby Alex on Sun Aug 09, 2009 3:01 pm

Thats pretty much how I used to train although not Upper/Lower but with the volume.
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Re: Sucker Punch by Alwyn Cosgrove

Postby Rilla on Sun Aug 09, 2009 3:07 pm

I'm a big fan of full body. Particularly if you don't have much time to train. I can only train 2-3 times a week (maybe 4 right now, since school is out and I'm on summer hols), and it just makes more sense to hit some big compounds, and season it with a bit of assistance. Works great for me. :)
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Re: Sucker Punch by Alwyn Cosgrove

Postby Bison on Sun Aug 09, 2009 4:04 pm

health4ni wrote:^^ but that's where you need to be clever with programming. For most people there's no point doing high volume with big compounds twice a week. I've made great progress over the past 6 weeks with an Upper/Lower split doing just 2 working sets (1-3 warmup sets precede). Heavy Squats and Deadlifts done twice a week.

Also, you could still have 4 sessions that you go through. You just work through them. And forget about weeks. Who said training sessions had to be based around a week?
So:
Mon: upper 1
Wed: lower 1
Fri: upper 2
Mon: lower 2
Wed: upper 1
Fri: lower 1
etc

So long as you really work your butt off then this will work.


That's what I've been doing. It's just sometimes I've only been able to hit the gym twice a week, so with an alternating upper/lower split A&B, when I've looked back over the previous 2 months training, there's been times for example when I've only done Squats or Deadlifts once in almost 3 weeks!

There's no right and wrong here, it's down to personal circumstances and free time to train.
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Re: Sucker Punch by Alwyn Cosgrove

Postby Dtlv74 on Sun Aug 09, 2009 4:49 pm

Over the years have not been totally thick and have learned a few things about what works for me and what doesn't. In general, the best routines for me involve training a bodypart directly two-three times per week. Because of this i love fullbody splits.

However, fullbody routines i find totally shite for upper arms, forearms and delts. For me the smaller muscles respond better when not totally pre exhausted from involvement in work from other bodyparts. I find push-pull-legs even worse for arms and delts.

For me the best compromise is a split where i train my whole body twice over three sessions, something like this;

day 1 - chest, back, bi's, tri's, calves, hams/glutes

day 2 - quads, hams/glutes, delts, traps, bi's, tri's

day 3 - quads, calves, chest, back, delts, traps

Will pick just one exercise per session for most bodyparts (no more than eight exercises per session). Is also good to incorperate a heavy/light aspect to it too, training in the 10-15 rep range on one day and in the 4-6 range the other day.
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Re: Sucker Punch by Alwyn Cosgrove

Postby Bison on Sun Aug 09, 2009 5:07 pm

Looks good. The trick to full body routines, in my experience at least, is respecting your lower back and appreciating the extra stress placed on it from this style of training. Neglect the core and you're doomed to failure.

One reason I've gone beck to splits is if time allows it I can train 2, even 3 days in a row... then if I'm busy it's no big deal when I can't train for 5 days in a row. I used this to good effect when working in London all week and coming home some weekends. So I'd do

Fri night - Back, Biceps
Sat - Chest, Delts, Triceps
Sun - Legs
Mon -> Thurs - Off

Ok Sundays were killers but it did work suprisingly well and I build some decent size and keep in good shape.
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Re: Sucker Punch by Alwyn Cosgrove

Postby Flash Sketcha on Sun Aug 09, 2009 8:12 pm

I've been doing 3 full body workouts a week since I've stopped powerlifting. It's great, to make it work though, you need to be careful not to do too many exercises on each session and you need to have sort sort of strategy with way you choose reps and intensity. E.g Not doing hard 3 rep sets on everyexercise every session of week.
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Re: Sucker Punch by Alwyn Cosgrove

Postby health4ni on Tue Aug 18, 2009 3:30 pm

Alwyn Cosgrove's blog wrote: August Q&A
Q: I read your last tmuscle interview, and the blog post on training frequency. I am still caught up in the fact that a lot of people tell me to train each body part once per week. Why don't you recommend that? It seems to contradict what the bodybuilding magazines say... convince me otherwise...

A: My job as a coach is to deliver the best possible results to our members. My job as a writer is to deliver the best possible authentic information, based upon what we actually do in my gym.

It's not up to me to convince you of anything -- I am just being authentic and telling you what I truly believe based on what I have learned over the years.

If you were a member - I'd deliver the best programs that we can based upon what we see working over and over again. As a writer - I only write about or recommend what I've seen to work with real people in our facility. Unlike most personal trainers and gyms we actually keep a record of everything we do and track results over time.

Consider the fact that our gym currently sees the results of 400-600 workouts per week every week and has done for close to a decade. Now, if you're a typical trainer or trainee - you likely don't have client numbers even approximating that to teach you what works. So you have to look at gyms like ours, and beyond that - the actual scientific research - to help give you an overall picture.

From a recent article :

In multiple studies, researchers at the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston have reported that muscle-protein synthesis is elevated for up to 48 hours after a resistance-training session. So if you work out on Monday at 7 p.m., your body is in muscle-growth mode until Wednesday at 7 p.m. After 48 hours, though, the biological stimulus for your body to build new muscle returns to normal.

In other words - training a muscle for optimal growth means we're looking at every 48 hours or so, not every 168 hours (once per week). This isn't opinion - it's science.

As practitioners we have to look at two things - our own experience, and what scientifically controlled studies show.

Another study:

McLester et al
Comparison of 1 Day and 3 Days Per Week of Equal-Volume Resistance Training in Experienced Subjects
Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, 2000, 14(3), 273–281

Showed that when subjects performed the same total amount of work per week (e.g. one set, three times per week vs, three sets once per week), that the three-times-per-week group gained more muscle and strength than the once per week group. These findings suggest that a higher frequency of resistance training, even when volume is held constant, produces superior gains in 1RM and muscle.

And finally:

Wernbom et al
The influence of frequency, intensity, volume and mode of strength training on whole muscle cross-sectional area in humans.
Sports Med. 2007;37(3):225-64.

Which was a review paper - basically looking at all the hypertrophy studies to date - and concluded that two times a week, with a strong tendency towards three times per week was optimal for hypertrophy.

Basically we start with how many days the client can commit to training - then we want to get the whole body exposed to a training stimulus ideally every 48 hours.

Again - I'm not interested in convincing people of anything.

But you have myself and my staff at Results Fitness (recently voted one of America's top ten gyms by Mens Health magazine Sept 2009), Jason Ferruggia's work, and an absolute abundance of scientific literature telling you one thing, and muscle magazines telling you something else...

So it's up to you. Which do you believe?
Having trained a number of clients using body part splits and full body / upper/lower (as well as myself) I also believe that body part splits are less effective for the vast majority of people.

They work. Of course they do. But I don't think they work as well.
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Re: Sucker Punch by Alwyn Cosgrove

Postby Craig on Tue Aug 18, 2009 4:51 pm

I use all types, splits for bring up a big body part, fulls for strength and bringing up small body parts and upper / lower for putting on mass. Though its shades of grey really.
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Re: Sucker Punch by Alwyn Cosgrove

Postby Max on Tue Aug 18, 2009 5:53 pm

Craig wrote:I use all types, splits for bring up a big body part, fulls for strength and bringing up small body parts and upper / lower for putting on mass. Though its shades of grey really.


Best approach imo.
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Re: Sucker Punch by Alwyn Cosgrove

Postby ollie on Thu Aug 20, 2009 5:43 pm

Max wrote:
Craig wrote:I use all types, splits for bring up a big body part, fulls for strength and bringing up small body parts and upper / lower for putting on mass. Though its shades of grey really.


Best approach imo.


I agree. I really like full body stuff but like Det found that those sorts of routines were hopeless for arms and delts.

I like upper/lower splits a lot, especially for helping with conditioning, as they lend themselves well to antagonistic supersets or alternating sets.

I like to train body parts twice a week but with almost as primary part and a secondary part, so design my split around this.

E.g I'll do chins for back when training bis, and dips for chest when training tris. My other exercises in my arms session will be purely to hit the bis and tris. I do think that a strict once a week split has its limitations, and that frequency is more important than a lot of people think.
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