Chase the Pain for New Levels of Muscle Growth

TAGS: occlusion sets, loaded stretches, bodybuilding split, Chase the Pain, CTP training, band tension, muscle growth, david allen, program design

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If you are not familiar with the CTP training protocol, definitely go read my introductory article on the subject. For those that have read it, here is a quick refresher course:

CTP training stands for "Chase The Pain." It is designed to maximize each stimulus responsible for muscular hypertrophy: mechanical tension, tissue damage, and metabolic stress. It does this by splitting the body into two training days and maximizing the stress from one of the different stimuli, rotating through them each workout. So, each round consists of six different workouts before returning to the original workout. This means that body parts are getting trained at a higher frequency than with most bodybuilding splits.


RELATED: How I Use CTP Training to Force Frequency and Intensity


I have made a few changes to the CTP protocol since my original article on it. In the first article, I added different “pain” techniques (loaded stretches, occlusion sets, band tension) each round to increase the specific stress and kept those techniques in on each subsequent round. This time around, you will only introduce the pain technique through one round and switch it each time. So it will go as follows:

  • Round 1: Introductory round, do as written
  • Round 2: Add loaded stretches to tension focused muscle groups
  • Round 3: Add occlusion sets to stress focused muscle groups
  • Round 4: Add bands to damage focused muscle groups (on exercises where bands aren’t practical, use a partner to overload the eccentric)

I’ve provided these at the end of the training protocol for you to use. Give it a shot, let me know what you think, and chase the pain!

A1

  • Incline Bench Press: Work up doing sets of eight till you reach a max weight. Once you reach the max weight, do two drop sets for max reps (still looking to get between six and 10 reps). Don’t touch your chest or lock out on these, just hit the mid range.
  • Neutral Dumbbell Bench Press: Work up again doing sets of eight till you get to a max weight, then take about a two-minute break and do 5x6 clusters with a 30-second break between each set.
  • Close Stance Squats: 4x12 with a four-count negative. Keep your feet no wider than hip width. Try to get down to around parallel or slightly above. We’re trying to keep the tensions on your quads the whole time .
  • Rack Slide Calf Raises: 4x20 with one-minute breaks. You will do this by using a barbell and leaning into a power rack so that the bar slides up and down the rack the whole time. Don’t stand on any plates, just work the top half of the contraction from the floor to fully extended. Flex your calves hard on every rep.

B1

  • Single-Arm Dumbbell Rows: Work up doing sets of 10 until you get to a tough weight, then rest about 30 seconds and do as many reps as possible. Repeat for one more set for a total of two rest pause sets and three total sets at that weight. Do all three sets on one arm before doing the other, pause for one count at the bottom and at the top of each rep, and flex your lats hard.
  • Wide Grip Neutral Pulldowns: Work up doing sets of eight. After reaching a heavy weight, do 3x8 clusters with a 45-second break between each set.
  • Dumbbell Hammer Curls: Using both arms at the same time, work up doing sets of eight reps. After you reach your heaviest set, do two drops sets for max weight. Flex your biceps hard on each rep; don’t swing.
  • Single Leg Lying Leg Curls: Just do one leg at a time for 3x12 with three-second negatives. Focus on flexing your hamstring hard the whole time.
  • Band Pull-Aparts: 4x20 with 30-second breaks between. Keep your arms straight and push out to the side, focusing on hitting your rear delts and not your scapula.

A2

  • Leg Press Calf Raises: Work up in weight doing sets of eight. Once you get to a heavy weight, do 4x8. After your fourth set, do two rest pause sets for max reps with a 30-second break between each. Pause for a count at the top and bottom on each rep.
  • Low Incline Dumbbell Bench Press: 4x8 with four-second negatives. Only use a slight incline and focus on keeping the tension in your pecs the whole time.
  • Seated Dumbbell Side Raises: 3x12 with five-second negatives. Focus on pushing the dumbbells to your side, never let your hand go above your elbow, and focus on keeping tension in your side delts the whole time.
  • Rope Triceps Pressdowns: 4x8 with four-second negatives. Flex for one count at the bottom of each rep.
  • Close Stance Leg Press: Do several warmups of 20 reps, then do a set of 40 reps, add weight, and do a set of 30 reps. Add weight again and do a set of 20 reps. Add weight again and do a set of 10 reps. Place your feet narrow and in the middle of the platform for these.

B2

  • Glute Ham Raises: Work up doing sets of six reps holding a dumbbell at your chest for added weight. Once you reach a max weight for six reps, do three sets for max reps at that weight with a one-minute break between each set.
  • Lying Incline Dumbbell Rear Delts: 3x10 with five-count negatives. Lie face down on a low incline bench, keep your palms facing each other the whole time, push the dumbells out to the side, and focus on flexing your rear delts.
  • Neutral Cable Rows: Work up in weight doing sets of eight reps. Once you get to a heavy weight for eight reps, do three sets at that weight, then two drop sets for max reps after your last set of eight.
  • Dumbbell Pullovers: 4x12, only take a 30-second break between, place your feet up on the bench, and focus on getting a big stretch on each rep.
  • EZ Bar Preacher Curls: Work up doing sets of 10 reps till you get to a tough weight, then do 40 reps with that weight, only taking 30-second breaks between each set, in however many sets it takes.

A3

  • Hack Squats: Work up doing sets of 10 reps till you get to a tough weight, then add weight and do a set of eight, then add weight do a set of six, then do two drop sets with the weights you did for eight and 10 reps for max reps.
  • Single-Leg Leg Press Calf Raises: Using only one leg at a time, work up to a heavy set of five reps using a 10-second negative on each rep. Do three sets at that weight.

This dictates a superset:

  • A1: Dumbbell Bench Press: 3x12, with however many warm-ups are needed. Control and get a good contraction on each rep.
  • A2: Wide Grip Pushups: 3xMax reps, control and flex your pecs hard on each rep.
  • B1: Seated Dumbbell Neutral Shoulder Press: 4x8, with however many warm-ups are needed. Flex your front delts hard.
  • B2: Seated Dumbbell Side Raises: 4x20, control the weight on these and flex your side delts hard.
  • EZ Bar Skullies: Work up to a tough set of 12 reps. Do three total sets with that weight, then do two drop sets for max reps

B3

Dumbbell Shrugs: Work up to a heavy set of eight reps, then do 4x8 with that weight. Use a three-count hold at the top.

Stretchers: 4x10 with five-second negatives. Click here to see an example of how to perform stretchers.

Rack Slide Bent Rows: Place a bar in a power rack so that the bar slides up and down the rack as you do the movement. Focus on pulling the bar into the rack to get a great contraction. Work up in weight doing sets of eight reps, when you get to a good weight do 3x8 with a four-count negative.

Standing Dumbbell Curls: Work up in weight doing sets of eight with a five-count negative. When you get to a difficult weight, do three sets of eight, keeping your palms up the whole time

  • A1: Stiff Leg Deadlifts: 4x10. Get a hard glute contraction on each rep.
  • A2: Seated Band Curls: 4x20. Place a band around the bottom of a power rack, sit on a bench away from the rack, and place the band around your ankles. Flex hard on each rep.

 stretch david allen

Loaded Stretches to Add 

A1 — After Chest, Shoulder, Triceps Movements

Loaded Stretch: Dumbbell Pec Fly-Loaded Stretch: Hold in a neutral position with elbows bent for max time, between one and two minutes. 

B1 — After Back Movements

Loaded Stretch: Pull-Up Hang (Using Straps): Hang from a pull-up bar with weight hanging from a dip belt (25-90 pounds) and hold for max time, between one and two minutes.

A2 — After Calf Movements

Loaded Stretch: Standing Calf Machine Stretch: Hold for max time between one and two minutes.

B2 — After Hamstring Movements

Loaded Stretch: Banded Hamstring Stretch: Lie on your back with one leg up in the air and the other on the ground straight. Place a band around your foot and pull back on your leg, keeping it straight, and hold for one to two minutes.

A3 — After Quad Movements

Loaded Stretch: Narrow Stance Leg Press: In a leg press, place your feet low and a narrow stance with toes pointed out. Bring down into the bottom position and hold for a max time between one and two minutes. You will need assistance getting the weight back up so make sure you have spotters.

B3 — After Rear Delt/Trap Movements

Loaded Stretch: Cross-Body Straight Arm Stretch: Grab the side of a power rack and lean away so that your arm is stretched across your body. Hold for one to two minutes.

Occlusion Sets to Add

A1 — After Calf Movements

Wrapped Occlusion Set: Bodyweight Calf Raises: Take a knee wrap and wrap around the top of your calf at about 70% tightness. Do the following: 30 reps, 30-second stretch, 15 reps, 30-second stretch, 15 reps, 30-second stretch .

B1 — After Rear Delt Exercises

Occlusion Set: Lying Incline Dumbbell Rear Raises: Grab a pair of dumbbells and face down on an incline bench, doing dumbbell rear raises. Do 30 full range of motion reps, then hold at the bottom with light contraction for 30 seconds. Then do 15 full range of motion reps, hold again for 30 seconds. Then one more set of 15 full range of motion reps, and one more 30-second hold.

A2 — After Quad Exercises

Wrapped Occlusion Set: Leg Extensions: Take a pair of knee wraps and wrap around your quad as high as possible at about 70% tightness. With regular leg extensions, do 30 reps, break for 30 seconds, do 15 reps, break for 30 seconds, do 15 reps, and break for 30 seconds.

B2 — After Back Movements

Occlusion Set: Rope Cable Straight-Arm Pulldowns: Do 30 reps, 30-second light contraction in the stretched position, 15 reps, 30-second light contraction, 15 reps, 30-second contraction.

After Biceps Movements

Occlusion Set: Wrapped Concentration Curls: Do 30 reps, 30-second light contraction in the stretched position, 15 reps, 30-second light contraction, 15 reps, 30-second contraction.

A3 — After Chest Movements

Occlusion Set: Dumbbell Fly/Press Hybrid: Do 30 reps, 30-second light contraction in the stretched position, 15 reps, 30-second light contraction, 15 reps, 30-second contraction.

After Shoulder Movements

Occlusion Set: Seated Dumbbell Side Raise: Do 30 reps, 30-second light contraction in the stretched position, 15 reps, 30-second light contraction, 15 reps, 30-second contraction.

After Triceps Movements

Occlusions Set: Standing EZ Bar Behind-the-Head Triceps Extensions: Do 30 reps, 30-second light contraction in the stretched position, 15 reps, 30-second light contraction, 15 reps, 30-second contraction.

B3 — After Hamstring Movements

Occlusion Set: Seated Single-Leg Cable Hamstring Curl: On a cable machine, use the ankle attachment to do seated leg curls. Do 30 reps, 30-second light contraction in the stretched position, 15 reps, 30-second light contraction, 15 reps, 30-second contraction.


partner assist david allen

Exercises to Add Bands (or Partner-Assisted Negatives) 

On the partner-assisted negative, your partner will actively give more resistance to the movement during the negative portion. They don’t need to try to crush you on every rep; about 10%-20% extra is all that is needed.

A1

Close Stance Squats: 4x12 with a four-count negative. Keep your feet no wider than hip width. Try to get down to around parallel or slightly above. We’re trying to keep the tensions on your quads the whole time (add bands).

B1

Single Leg Lying Leg Curls: Just do one leg at a time for 3x12 with three-second negatives. Focus on flexing your hamstring hard the whole time (add partner-assisted negative).

A2

  • Low Incline Dumbbell Bench Press: 4x8 with a four-second negative. Only use a slight incline and focus on keeping the tension in your pecs the whole time (add bands).
  • Seated Dumbbell Side Raises: 3x12 with five-second negatives. Focus on pushing the dumbbells to your side. Never let your hand go above your elbow. Focus on keeping tension on your side delts the whole time (add partner-assisted negatives).
  • Rope Triceps Pressdowns: 4x8 with four-second negatives. Flex for one count at the bottom of each rep (add bands).

B2

Laying Incline DB Rear Delts: 3x10 with a five-count negative. Lay face down on a low incline bench, keep your palms facing each other the whole time. Push the dumbells out to the side and focus on flex your rear delts (add partner assisted negatives).

A3

Single-Leg Leg Press Calf Raises: Using only one leg at a time, work up to a heavy set of five reps using a 10-second negative on each rep. Do three sets at that weight (add bands).

B3

  • Rack Slide Bent Rows: Place a bar in a power rack so that the bar slides up and down the rack as you do the movement. Focus on pulling the bar into the rack to get a great contraction. Work up in weight doing sets of eight reps. When you get to a good weight, do 3x8 with a four-count negative (add bands).
  • Standing Dumbbell Curls: Work up in weight doing sets of eight with a five-count negative. When you get to a difficult weight, do three sets of eight, keeping your palms up the whole time (add partner-assisted negatives).

band-packs-home2

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