Psyching up -
In my experience, the more times a week you have to "get up" for a set, the more time you need to spend recovering. Generally we get up for our hardest or heaviest sets, whether this be a single or set of 20.
One thing I have grasped about this, is that when you have to do that over and over again it begins to wear on your mind and body. The fact is, you're just not going to be able to do this week in and week out, without hitting a mental wall.
Training with a new routine is a lot like dating a new girl. The first few weeks are awesome, and you love the newness. Shit is phresh, and everything is perfect.
Then after a few weeks, things bog down, and you're shown a side of things that you didn't know about a few weeks before. Things get harder and you aren't as excited about shit as you once were.
So the cycle goes.
When you are caught in that "haven't made gains in forever" zone, forcing your body to make changes requires a fucking sledge hammer effort. I spent years training like this in order to create my base, my foundation. So there is a time and a place for it. However you will get spent eventually, and need a break. If you are training in a way where you have to get psyched up for set after set, eventually that shit will take a toll on you and you will hit a wall. This isn't even up for debate. It will happen.
I managed to train DC style for two years, and made great gains, but I eventually couldn't do that any longer. I started to dread training that way. I was forced to get up for set after set after set, movement after movement.
Eventually I said fuck that. I generally find that guys can only do that kind of training for so long until they can't stomach it anymore. Either the mental stress gets to be too much, or the body breaks down. It doesn't take long to think about guys that train that way, that also tend to have a shit ton of injuries year in and year out.
Now let me say, that if you are an intermediate guy, or early advanced guy, and you still have a decent amount of room in terms of reaching your genetic potential then training balls the-fuck out, will probably pay a lot of dividends. Especially if you're shoveling the food down at a solid clip. But I know for me, as I got closer to my genetic ceiling, training balls out every single session for every moment made recovering far more difficult. Not to mention, I'm older now with a lot of fucking training miles and injuries on me. It's not an excuse to not train hard, just to train smarter based on my current environment. I still have plenty of sessions where I go balls fucking out. I'm just smarter about how many times that happens, and am in tune more with my recovery needs after these kinds of sessions.
Reducing big movements -
For the most part, I have settled on doing a maximum of three big movements per session. This made sense to me. Three movements weren't so much that, even if I had to get "ready" for a set, it was only going to happen maybe 3 times in that whole workout. And might not happen at all. Since I was leaving a few reps in the tank as well, I didn't find my eagerness for training start to wane. And I almost never needed time off. If I did, it was a few days. I also didn't count shit like calf raises and ab work as part of the movements either. Just the big stuff.
This helped me immensely in terms of mentally always feeling good about training.
But eventually I found that there was something missing.......
Small workouts -
Over the last few years I have done more and more "small sessions" or "small workouts" that was made up of things like curls, triceps, rear delts, calves, abs, etc. Stuff that I honestly hated making times for on the big days, because, after squatting or pulling heavy as fuck for an hour, I generally just wanted to go home and eat some food. But I knew these other small movements were important for things like filling in muscular gaps, and injury prevention.
So over time I started doing more and more shit like my curls and cuff work and such, on "off" days.
Over this time I have grown muscularly larger, been injured less, and hit tons of PR's in the big lifts. I can't honestly say it's directly attributed to moving all that piddly shit to other days, but I do know that my training has been going really well for an incredibly long period now. Outside of the quad issues I have had, my deadlift and all my various pressing movements have never been stronger.
More benefits to small workouts -
Other great benefits to doing small sessions is......
- More calories burned. You get leaner over time.
- Appetite stimulation. You WILL get hungrier from doing these little sessions on "off" days.
- You can target "weak" bodyparts that need to be brought up. This is what I call "fill in muscular gaps".
- It increases your workload capacity. I hate the term GPP with a fucking passion. So I won't call it that. I'll just call it workload capacity.
Small sessions should not NOT tax you. You should work fast, light, and get a solid pump (yes, a pump mother fucker), and feel better upon finishing than when you started. Small sessions should not cut into recovery enough that a big session suffers. I'm not saying you may not have some localized muscle soreness, but systematic recovery shouldn't be an issue.
The other great thing with small sessions is that you can just vary them week to week, and based on how you feel. For example, night before last I got almost no sleep. So I just cancelled the small workout for that day. No big deal, and I don't sweat over it. If you are feeling good, you can throw in a small workout on almost every day, and if you are really fucking bananas you could even do a big workout in the a.m. and a small one in the p.m. But I don't suggest this.
Small workout selection -
I basically split my small sessions into training traps, rear and side delts, biceps, triceps, calves, and abs.
I don't really care if they are always split up proportionately. Sometimes I do upright rows 2 or 3 times in a week, and other times I get on a face pull kick. I generally use the same rule I use with my big sessions, and I limit it to 3 movements. So upright rows, curls, triceps is common, as is face pulls, bent laterals, and calves.
It also doesn't mean I won't throw in a set or two on a big day for these guys, either. It all depends on how I feel and what I'm trying to accomplish.
Think of your big sessions as the brick and mortal of everything. That's the most important parts of building your foundation. Think of your small sessions as the marble tile and ceramic bathtubs. You can have a nice framework with the big stuff, but you still need the small stuff eventually to have the complete package.