How I Use CTP Training to Force Frequency and Intensity

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Last year, I tore my labrum and rotator cuff getting ready for a powerlifting meet. Instead of choosing surgery, I chose to switch over to bodybuilding so that I could still train with the intensity I wanted without doing extra damage to my crappy shoulder. I had already competed in bodybuilding several years back and didn’t like the idea of training without something to compete in. So I hired Shelby Starnes and got to work.

Along with this, I've focused a lot of my own education toward this avenue. Over this time, I’ve learned a lot and tried to force myself to think outside the box of the typical 3 X 10 body part splits that I did back in high school after reading Flex magazine in math class. CTP Training is the result of that forced thinking.

Let me acknowledge several of the people who have influenced this thinking. Working with Shelby has helped me in many ways, but specifically, he has helped me think outside of the typical weekly split, vary typical exercise order and utilize different intensity techniques. You can get a glance of how a non-typical split works in his 3-Way Hypertrophy Split article.

Scott Stevenson’s book Fortitude Training does a great job of going into the science behind what stimulates hypertrophy. It opened my mind to using full body training for muscle growth along with new training techniques like occlusion sets. John Meadows does a great job in all his videos of showing the intensity needed to train in order to stimulate muscle growth. Finally, Dante Trudel, famous for his DC Training methods, helped me think outside the box in regards to frequency, the necessary amounts of stimulus for growth and loaded stretches. I wanted to make sure that these men were given credit for their contributions, known or unknown, to my development and the theories behind CTP Training.

Photo courtesy of Jeffrey Sygo at www.symiphotography.com

First, here are a few principles involved in CTP Training:

  • There is a minimal amount of stimulus needed to cause muscle growth. For example, if you can normally do 315 pounds for 4 X 6 on the bench press, doing 225 pounds for 2 X 4 won't likely cause any amount of muscle growth. Likewise, there is a maximal amount of growth adaptation that can occur over a certain period of time. You aren't likely to put on two pounds of muscle to just your pectoralis muscles after a single training session. The goal is to get the maximal amount of growth out of the smallest necessary amount of stimulus. Exceeding this amount of stimulus would just tax the body’s ability to recover without necessarily adding to any greater amounts of growth.
  • The more frequently a body part can be trained and recovered over a given period, the greater the amount of muscle growth will occur. For example, if you trained a body part once a week for a year, you would stimulate it to grow a total of 52 times a year. If you stimulated it to grow three times every two weeks, you would stimulate it to grow 78 times in a year.
  • The body responds best to concentrated stimuli. Understanding that the adaptations that occur between a one-rep max squat, a 10-rep max squat and a two-minute squat will be slightly different, training and recovery must target that singular adaptation in order to maximize one particular adaptation.

In order to train a body part more frequently, we must train more body parts per training session. To do so, the body is split into two groups*:

  1. Chest, shoulders (front and side debts), triceps, quads, calves
  2. Back, biceps, rear delts, hamstrings

*The abdominals are trained throughout the week but not on any particular day.

This allows you to hit each muscle group over just two training sessions. The muscle groups were paired by common muscle groups that get hit on common movements (i.e. the bench press will work the chest, shoulders and triceps). Also, training the opposing muscle groups in the following session seems to help with recovery because they're being stimulated and contracted and get increased blood flow.

MORE Applying Bodybuilding Science to Create a Genetic Freak

Going with the idea that the body responds best to concentrated stimuli and that there are three main stimuli for hypertrophy (mechanical tension, muscle protein breakdown and metabolic stress), each muscle group is targeted with a focus on one of those particular stresses. Of course, different stresses have a crossover effect between them, but the idea is to focus as much as possible toward one particular stimulus for hypertrophy.

The methods are as follows:

  • Tension: Rest pause, cluster sets, chains, loaded stretches
  • Damage: Controlled negatives, overload eccentrics, bands
  • Stress: Drop sets, super sets, partials, pre-exhaust, occlusion sets

Photo courtesy of Jeffrey Sygo at www.symiphotography.com

On each training day, you will rotate which muscle groups get targeted with each stimuli. The setup is as follows:

One round

A1

  • Chest: Tension exercise
  • Shoulders: Tension exercise
  • Triceps: Tension exercise
  • Quads: Damage exercise
  • Calves: Stress exercise

B1

  • Lats: Tension exercise
  • Upper back: Tension exercise
  • Lower back: Tension exercise
  • Biceps: Tension exercise
  • Hamstrings: Damage exercise
  • Rear delts: Stress exercise

A2

  • Calves: Tension exercise
  • Chest: Damage exercise
  • Shoulders: Damage exercise
  • Triceps: Damage exercise
  • Quads: Stress exercise

B2

  • Hamstrings: Tension exercise
  • Rear delts: Damage exercise
  • Lats: Stress exercise
  • Upper back: Stress exercise
  • Lower back: Stress exercise
  • Biceps: Stress exercise

A3

  • Quads: Tension exercise
  • Calves: Damage exercise
  • Chest: Stress exercise
  • Shoulders: Stress exercise
  • Triceps: Stress exercise

B3

  • Rear delts: Tension exercise
  • Lats: Damage exercise
  • Upper back: Damage exercise
  • Lower back: Damage exercise
  • Biceps: Damage exercise
  • Hamstrings: Stress exercise

The frequency of training can be manipulated using the following outline:

Screenshot 2015-06-26 11.10.13

The idea is to go through four rounds of each workout and then switch up the training. Each week the goal is to beat your previous week’s numbers either by weight or total reps. Also, each week a new stimulus is added in the form of loaded stretches, occlusion sets or band weight.

Here is the setup:

  • Round 1: Introductory cycle
  • Round 2: Introduce loaded stretches to tension-based movements
  • Round 3: Introduce occlusion sets to stress-based movements
  • Round 4: Introduce bands to damage-based movements (overloaded eccentrics can be used instead of bands if a partner is available)
  • Round 5: Recovery cycle (during this cycle, you can take anywhere from 3–10 days off or do 3–5 sessions at a lightened load and volume amount; it seems three days off is sufficient for most lifters, however, a more advanced lifter may need a bit more time off)

Photo courtesy of Jeffrey Sygo at www.symiphotography.com

Here is an example of a training cycle:

Cycle A, Round A1

A1

  • Close grip bench press: Work up to a 6RM and then do 4 cluster sets of 4 reps with a 30-second break in between each set
  • Standing Swiss bar shoulder press: Work up to a 8RM max, rest 30 seconds, do a set of max reps, rest 30 seconds and do a set of max reps
  • Close stance hack squats: Do 3 X 10 with a 5-count negative, only come down to parallel
  • Standing calf raises: Work up in weight doing sets of 20 rep; after reaching a max weight, drop weight and complete 15 reps; drop weight again and do 10 reps

B1

  • Deadlifts off 2- to 3-inch mats: Work up to a heavy 6, do a 4 X 4 cluster with the same weight and take a 30-second break between clusters
  • Bent rows: Work up to a max set of 8, rest 30 seconds max reps, rest 30 seconds max reps, do a good stretch and pause for the flex at the top
  • EZ bar curls: Work up to a heavy set of 8 and then do a drop set 3 X 6 cluster with a 30-second break
  • Laying leg curls: Do 3 X 10 with a 5-second negative
  • Bent rear raises: Do 3 X 20 reps, drop 15 reps and drop 10 reps

A2

  • Seated calf raises: Use a 3-second pause at the bottom and a 1-count flex at the top; work up to a heavy set of 6; do 5 sets with a 30-second break
  • Hammer decline press: Do 3 X 10 with a 5-second negative
  • Seated neutral dumbbell front raises: Do with a 3-count negative for 3 X 12
  • Behind the head EZ bar cable triceps extensions: Lean forward and get a good stretch; do 3 X 10 with a 5-second negative
  • Leg extensions: Do 4 X 20, drop max, drop max, 25 partials

B2

  • Barbell Romanian deadlifts: Work up to a heavy set of 8, rest 30 seconds max reps, rest 30 seconds max reps
  • Single arm cable rear delts: Do 3 X 12 with a 5-second negative
  • A1: Wide grip pull-downs, 4 X 15, 12, 10, 8, pause at bottom, get a good stretch at the top
  • A2: Seated wide grip cable rows, 4 X 15, 12, 10, 8, pause at chest, get a good stretch
  • Single arm cross body hammer curls: Do 4 X 12, drop max reps, drop max reps, do all one arm before switching

A3

  • Squats: Work up to a heavy set of 6 and then do a 4 X 4 cluster set with 30 seconds rest
  • Standing calf raises: Do 3 X 15 with a 4-second negative
  • A1: Pec deck, 4 X 12
  • A2: Incline dumbbell press, 4 X 8
  • Dumbbell side raises: Do 4 X 15, 25 partials on last set
  • B1: Rope press-downs, 4 X 12, 1-count pause at bottom
  • B2: Close grip push-ups, 4 X max reps

B3

  • Wide grip elbows out chest supported rows: Work up to a heavy set of 8, rest 30 max reps, rest 30 max reps, pause at the top
  • Single arm pull-downs: Do 4 X 12 with a 5-second negative
  • 45-degree round back hypers: Do 3 X max with 5-second negative
  • EZ bar cable curls: Do 3 X 10 with a 7-second negative
  • Laying leg curls: Do 4 X 12, drop max, drop max, 20 partials

Abdominal training:

A1: Hanging leg raises, 4 X max reps
A2: Swiss ball crunches, 4 X max reps

Photo courtesy of Jeffrey Sygo at www.symiphotography.com

To do loaded stretches, pick an exercise that stretches the target muscle group and hold in the stretched position under a load for max time. Pick a load that you can hold for 1–2 minutes.

To do occlusions sets, pick an exercise that hits the target muscle group. Do 30 repetitions, focusing on getting a hard contraction and pumping as much blood into the muscle as possible. Then hold in the stretched position for 30 seconds to a minute, do another 15 reps, hold for 30 seconds to a minute, do another 15 reps and hold one more time for 30 seconds to a minute. During the stretch, make sure that you contract the muscle and focus the tension in the muscle belly, not in the tendons or ligaments surrounding the joint. Another option is to take a knee or wrist wrap, wrap it around the origin of the muscle at around 70 percent tension and follow the same protocol.

If you choose to do overloaded eccentrics with a partner, have your partner push on the barbell, dumbbell or machine enough to make you have to exert greater force on the eccentric but not so much that you lose good form or can’t complete the total reps. Bands can be attached to overload the eccentric as well.

I’ve implemented this training program with about 15 clients so far and have received some pretty awesome results. Combined with smart nutrition and supplementation, the average client has put 1–1.5 inches on his arms, 1–2 inches on his legs and 1–3 inches on his chest while maintaining the waist. So why does CTP Training work? Well, it forces frequency and intensity, which are two things missing out of most people’s training programs. Give it a shot and let me know what you think.

Photos courtesy of Jeffrey Sygo at www.symiphotography.com

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