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Posted by Barry on Sep 30, 2010

Round 2 – Maximum Mass

Gaining Mass with P90X

Guys have a thing for mass. It’s hard to explain, really, but boys seem to grow up wanting nothing more than to be big. Guys want speedboats and trucks, and they want to look like the Terminator. If this sounds like you, here’s the article you’ve been looking for: customizing P90X for mass.

What is mass?

Mass simply means size. As part of the word massive, we assume it means above average in size. It doesn’t, but that’s beside the point. A program targeting mass is concerned with one thing: muscle growth (from here on in referred to as hypertrophy), and a lot of it.

In a training cycle for mass, we should target hypertrophy even at the expense of other fitness goals. P90X is not a system designed for mass. It’s designed for overall fitness, which means that ultimate gains in targeted areas, like speed, strength, flexibility, and muscle growth, are compromised to provide a program that improves all of your body’s physical energy systems during one 90-day effort. But if your desire is quite literally being bigger, then you’ll need to read on.

Foundation

First you need to do a round of P90X as it’s designed before embarking on a mass-specific program. It’s healthier, sure, but it’s more than that. Training all of your body’s energy systems until they’re running efficiently increases your body’s ability to do, well, anything. Part of anything includes getting big. Once you’ve done a round of the X and aced your fit test, the foundation has been laid. You’re ready to start getting big.

Resistance

With mass as your goal, you’d better acquire specific resistance equipment. The simplest form is weights; however, mass can also be created by using other forms of tension, like resistance bands. The bottom line is that if mass is your goal, you’ll need to have more weight available than you’ve been using for P90X Classic. Body weight and plyometric movements can be used effectively for strength training, but strength and hypertrophy are not synonymous. To make hypertrophic gains, you’re going to need to find ways to make your body fail at a given number of repetitions. You’ll want an array of weights and bands, and some extra devices like ankle and wrist weights, or a weight vest, to add resistance to all the movements you’re doing.

The difference between size and strength

Hypertrophy training simply increases the size of the muscle. Strength training increases the efficiency of the muscle. Large muscles have a greater capacity for strength. Absolute strength is the ability of the muscle to use all of its muscle cells for movement. People in sports dependent on strength-to-weight ratios target high muscular efficiency in their training, whereas those in sheer size-dependent sports will focus more on hypertrophy. Most sports are somewhat dependent on both size and strength, which are ideally improved during different cycles of training.

Periodization

Remember that a standard schedule would look similar to this:

Foundation phase (Power 90® or what you did pre-X) + block 1 + transition/recovery + block 2 + transition/recovery + block 3 + recovery = peak (final fit test)

The difference here is that we’re going to structure an entire training cycle based only on hypertrophy. This means we won’t be setting up a peak phase. Over a long period of time, you would want to teach your muscles how to function more efficiently. We’ll get to this at the end.

For now, we’ll just say that there is still a periodizational approach to consider. You will still adapt, gain, and plateau over time, so we’ll need a structure to keep this happening. But the structure will be dependent simply on rep schemes (the number of repetitions that you target to bring you to failure) and progressive overload. The blocks of our 90-day schedule will each target a different number of repetitions, which you’ll want to aim for to induce failure. But because we’re not changing the schedule much, and thus creating less Muscle Confusion™, we won’t need such frequent recovery phases.

Progressive overload

http://teambeachbody.com/about/newsletters/-/nli/189#72897391 Hypertrophy is all about creating progressive overload. To create muscle growth, you must keep stimulating the muscles during each workout. This requires that you add weight as necessary to create failure at the desired number of reps.

Recovery

The more we can focus on hypertrophy, the more muscle we’ll gain. Since we only have so much energy to expend, this means we should spend less time working on other areas. This is where you’ll see the biggest differences from the traditional P90X schedules. When you’re not training for hypertrophy, your entire focus should be on preparing your body to create more hypertrophy. Therefore, the P90X mass schedule will have a lot of active recovery and flexibility work and very little intense cardio. This means we’ll spend more time recovering during each training block and taking fewer periods focused solely on recovery.

Putting it all together

Before we get to the schedule, here are some general things to consider. The first is pacing. Instead of following the kids in the videos, target your rep scheme (and push pause when necessary). Do each set to failure (if you can add enough resistance; if not, get as close as you can), and don’t exceed your targeted number of reps. Do not, however, use the pause button simply to increase the time between exercises.

A good way to choose the resistance for each movement is to use enough so that you can only do the lower number of your targeted rep scheme. Once you can do the higher number, it’s time to increase the resistance.

Do your repetitions slowly and with control. Speed is for power, not size. Focus on perfect form and only add weight when you can do each rep with great form.

When you’re done, you’re done. You don’t need to finish an entire workout if you’re struggling. Once you lose the ability to move the weight or do the move in strict form, stop the workout. Any further training would only create more breakdown than you could recover from and increase your risk of injury.

Your diet

You won’t be burning as many calories as you would during the classic schedule of the X. If you eat the same amount, you may gain more mass, but you’ll also gain more body fat. This might or might not be acceptable, so pay attention and adjust your diet as necessary. If you want mass, then you need to eat enough for your body to put on weight.

Block 1, phase 1
Weeks 1 through 3

  • Day 1: Chest, Shoulders, & Triceps
  • Day 2: Cardio X, Ab Ripper X
  • Day 3: Legs & Back
  • Day 4: X Stretch; Ab Ripper X or Abs/Core Plus (from P90X Plus)
  • Day 5: Back & Biceps
  • Day 6: Yoga X
  • Day 7: Off

Targeted number of reps: 8 to 12 (focus on 10 to 12)

Block 1, phase 2
Weeks 4 through 6

  • Day 1: Chest & Back
  • Day 2: Cardio X, Ab Ripper X
  • Day 3: Shoulders & Arms
  • Day 4: X Stretch; Ab Ripper X or Abs/Core Plus
  • Day 5: Legs & Back
  • Day 6: Yoga X
  • Day 7: Off

Targeted number of reps: 8 to 12 (focus on 8 to 10)

Recovery Block
Week 7

  • Day 1: X Stretch
  • Day 2: Yoga X
  • Day 3: Core Synergistics
  • Day 4: Kenpo X
  • Day 5: Yoga X
  • Day 6: X Stretch
  • Day 7: Off

Block 2, phase 1
Weeks 8 and 9

  • Day 1: Chest, Shoulders, & Triceps
  • Day 2: Cardio X, Ab Ripper X
  • Day 3: Legs & Back
  • Day 4: X Stretch; Ab Ripper X or Abs/Core Plus
  • Day 5: Back & Biceps
  • Day 6: Yoga X
  • Day 7: Off
  • Day 8: Chest & Back
  • Day 9: Cardio X, Ab Riper X
  • Day 10: Shoulders & Arms
  • Day 11: X Stretch; Ab Ripper X or Abs/Core Plus
  • Day 12: Legs & Back
  • Day 13: Yoga X
  • Day 14: Off

Targeted number of reps: 6 to 10

Block 2, phase 2
Weeks 10 and 11

Same schedule as weeks 8 and 9
Targeted number of reps: 4 to 8

Block 2, phase 3
Week 12

Same schedule as weeks 8 and 9
Targeted number of reps: 4 to 6

Final note: This is an entire cycle of training based only on hypertrophy. To have an athletically efficient physique, you should do other training cycles that target different goals. Even if your only goal is hypertrophy, training these other systems properly will improve your body’s physical systems and increase your capacity for muscle growth, as well as the speed at which you can add or shed muscle and fat. So while you can tweak and reuse this basic structure over and over, it will also benefit you to get back to basics and do P90X classic from time to time.

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