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The 2021 $10,000 Summer Shred Challenge

Breaking down each phase of the new Summer Shred Challenge

The 2021 $10,000 Summer Shred Challenge

Change, in the form of periodization, has been a fundamental part of virtually every program I've ever designed. Without it, progress can stall—along with your results.

That's part of why this Summer Shred Challenge is unlike anything we've ever done before. By combining my training programs Show Time, Drop Set Countdown, and Giant Program, challenge participants will go through an even more comprehensive training regimen, and get comprehensive results to match. 

For the 2021 $10,000 Summer Shred Challenge, you won't simply be running through each of these 4-week programs. For one thing, the HIIT portion of Show Time will be continued throughout all 12 weeks. Additionally, for the first time, I'm introducing multiple sign-up phases. If you don't jump into the challenge during the Show Time portion, you can still sign up for the Drop Set Countdown and Giant Program phases.

At the end of each phase, I'll select 2 winners—one male and one female—who will earn gift cards worth $250 at the JYM Supplement Science store, as well as a spot for the ultimate grand prize of $10,000 in cold, hard cash. In addition to those contenders, I'll also be looking at other transformations from the challenge, including those who may only have jumped in for Phase 2 or 3. 

Below, you'll find key information about each phase of the challenge, as well as registration links, the first of which will be open as of midnight April 12th.

Show Time

Show Time Program Snapshot

  • Length: 4 weeks
  • Workouts per Week: 6
  • Training Split: 3-day split, repeated twice for a total of six workouts per week.
  • Equipment: Commercial gym or sufficiently-equipped home gym
  • Featured Techniques: Supersets, linear periodization, and reverse linear periodization. HIIT cardio using a 2:1 work-to-rest ratio is also used in this program. 
  • Rep Ranges: Most superset pairings consists of one "heavy" exercise with relatively low rep counts and one "light" exercise with higher reps. The rep counts for heavy exercises decrease each week, while the reps for light exercises increase, in this manner: 9-10 reps (heavy) and 12-15 reps (light) in Week 1; 7-8 reps and 16-20 reps in Week 2; 5-6 reps and 21-25 reps in Week 3; and 3-4 reps and 26-30 reps in Week 4.
  • Rest Periods: You can take 1-2 minutes between supersets; or, to move the workout along quicker, drop rest to 30-60 seconds between supersets. No rest is taken within supersets (ie, between the two exercises being supersetted). 
  • Cardio: HIIT cardio sessions are incorporated into every workout. You'll do three HIIT sessions per workout, after each muscle group. HIIT sessions increase in length each week during the program – 7 minutes in Week 1, 10 minutes in Week 2, 10.5 minutes in Week 3, 11 minutes in Week 4. 
  • Meal Plan: The Show Time program has its own accompanying nutrition plan: the Show Time Diet. However, Dieting 101 can also be used for fat loss emphasis, or Muscle Building Nutrition Rules for muscle gain.
  • Summary: Show Time is great for anyone who wants a program that puts strong emphasis on both muscle building and fat loss. And yes, you can do both simultaneously. The 3-day training split is ideal for building muscle, as are the two periodization schemes (linear and reverse linear). Fat loss is ramped up considerably with the HIIT sessions intertwined in the workouts. And finally, supersets are proven to be effective for both muscle building and fat loss. 
  • Overview: Read the complete program overview for the Show Time program here.

Show Time Reps, Week to Week

Here are the rep ranges for the vast majority of supersets (certain instances with smaller muscle groups being the exception), showing how the "heavy" and "light" exercises progress in linear and reverse linear fashion every week.

  "Heavy" Reps "Light" Reps
Week 1 9-10 12-15
Week 2 7-8 16-20
Week 3 5-6 21-25
Week 4 3-4 26-30

Show Time Rest Periods

When you're supersetting exercises, no rest is taken between the two exercises. However, after the second exercise of each superset, feel free to take 1-2 minutes rest before repeating the next superset. If you're in excellent shape and/or want to keep your workout moving along faster, limit rest periods to 30-60 seconds between supersets.

Show Time Training Split

You'll be training six days a week on this program using a three-day split, hitting each major muscle group twice weekly. Here's what your training schedule will look like on the Show Time plan:

Day Muscle Groups Pairings
1 Chest, Shoulders, Triceps
2 Legs, Calves, Abs
3 Back, Traps, Biceps, Forearms
4 Chest, Shoulders, Triceps
5 Legs, Calves, Abs
6 Back, Traps, Biceps, Forearms
7 Off

Show Time HIIT Cardio

Last but not least, in regards to training, there's one more trick I have up my sleeves to really help you shed any excess body fat: cardio, specifically HIIT (high-intensity interval training). This form of cardio involves intervals of high-intensity (such as running at 90% of you max heart rate) followed by intervals of low-intensity (walking at a moderate pace) or rest. This is in sharp contrast to the typical continuous steady-state cardio most people do at a moderate intensity, such as walking on the treadmill for 30 minutes at 60%-70% of their max heart rate.

For more on the science of why HIIT works so well, read my HIIT vs. Steady State article in my Complete Cardio article.

The real trick to the HIIT workout in the Show Time Program is the fact that it's jammed in between bodypart training. For example, on Mondays and Thursdays when you train chest, shoulders, and triceps, you'll perform short HIIT workouts (7-11 minutes) in between chest and shoulders, then again between shoulders and triceps, and yet again at the very end of the workout. This method allows you to put more into each short bout than you would if you combined all three bouts into one continuous 20-30-minute cardio session.

In fact, a 2003 study from the University of Missouri (Columbia) reported that when subjects performed either a 30-minute treadmill run or three 10-minute bouts of running at the same intensity, separated by 20-minute rest periods, the intermittent cardio was much easier for the subjects and they even burned a little more fat than in the continuous workout. Intermittent cardio has also been shown to raise EPOC higher than the same amount of cardio done continuously. Researchers from the University of Kansas (Lawrence) found that two 15-minute cardio sessions raised EPOC 40% higher than one 30-minute session. Furthermore, Northeastern Illinois University researchers reported that two 25-minute cardio sessions raised EPOC by 120% more than one 50-minute session.

The cardio workouts will be done at a 2-to-1 ratio of work to rest (high intensity to low intensity). For example, in the first week of the program you''ll do one minute of high-intensity exercise, followed by 30 seconds of low-intensity exercise (or rest), followed by 1 minute of high-intensity exercise – and cycling in this fashion until you've completed 7 minutes total. In week 2, you'll follow this same pattern until you've completed 10 minutes total.

In week 3, the intervals jump up to 90 seconds of high-intensity exercise interspersed with 45 seconds of low-intensity or rest for a total of 10½ minutes. Then, in the final week (week 4), the intervals consist of 2 minutes of high-intensity alternated with 1 minute of low intensity or rest for a total of 11 minutes.

These HIIT cardio workouts can be done on any standard piece of cardio equipment such as a treadmill, stationary cycle, stair-stepper, elliptical, Versaclimber or any other equipment you have access to. You can also do your HIIT with jumping rope, hitting/kicking a heavy bag, jumping jacks, mountain climbers, bench step-ups and any number of other intense bodyweight and calistenic exercises. For more HIIT exercise ideas, check out the list of moves at the end of my Cardioacceleration article. Even though these HIIT workouts are different than cardioacceleration, it's a very similar premise.

Show Time HIIT Workouts

Below are the HIIT cardio workouts you'll follow for the next four weeks. You'll do three HIIT bouts per workout, each done between bodyparts. For the high-intensity (work) intervals, the difficulty of the exercise should be in the 6-9 range (on a scale of 1-10) and for the low-intensity/rest intervals the difficulty should be 0-2. See the RPE scale below for a better understanding of how to rate your intensity level.

Week 1: 7-minute HIIT Workout

Time Intensity
1 min. high
30 sec. low/rest
1 min. high
30 sec. low/rest
1 min. high
30 sec. low/rest
1 min. high
30 sec. low/rest
1 min. high

Week 2: 10-minute HIIT Workout

Time Intensity
1 min. high
30 sec. low/rest
1 min. high
30 sec. low/rest
1 min. high
30 sec. low/rest
1 min. high
30 sec. low/rest
1 min. high
30 sec. low/rest
1 min. high
30 sec. low/rest
1 min. high

Week 3: 10½-minute HIIT Workout

Time Intensity
90 sec. high
45 sec. low/rest
90 sec. high
45 sec. low/rest
90 sec. high
45 sec. low/rest
90 sec. high
45 sec. low/rest
90 sec. high

Week 4: 11-minute HIIT Workout

Time Intensity
2 min high
1 min. low/rest
2 min high
1 min. low/rest
2 min high
1 min. low/rest
2 min high

Rating of Perceived Exertion (RPE) Scale

The following scale helps you better understand how to implement the HIIT program, described above. Use the following numbers with their exertion descriptions to make certain that you're working at the prescribed level of effort.

0 complete rest
1 very easy
2 easy
3 moderate
4 somewhat hard
5 hard
6  
7 very hard
8  
9  
10 maximal

Remember, these HIIT elements will continue throughout all 12 weeks of the 2021 Summer Shred Challenge. I'll be going over that in both my live tutorial videos on Facebook as well your weekly tutorial emails. You can also find them in the overviews for each of the programs included in the challenge. 

Click Here to register for Phase 1 of the challenge, starting April 12th.

Drop Set Countdown

Drop Set Countdown Program Snapshot

  • Length: 4 weeks
  • Workouts per Week: 5
  • Training Split: 5-day split, with optional 4-day split
  • Equipment: Commercial gym or sufficiently-equipped home gym
  • Featured Techniques: 10-to-1 drop set technique; reduce weight upon reaching failure and resume reps, counting down from 10 reps to 1 for more intensity, volume, and impact.
  • Rep Ranges: 10-to-1 countdown totals 55 reps per exercise.
  • Rest Periods: 2-3 minutes of rest between exercises; no rest taken except to reduce weight during 10-to-1 drop sets.
  • Cardio: Optional; HIIT cardio between muscle groups or at the end of the workout. 
  • Meal Plan: Dieting 101 for fat loss or Muscle Building Nutrition Rules for muscle gain.
  • Summary: Drop Set Countdown is an ideal program if your primary goal is to build mass in all muscle groups. Its combination of volume and intensity can also promote fat loss for leaner gains. The 5-day split means you’re training each muscle group only once per week. Workouts involve high volume training—3-5 exercises per workout for large muscle groups—followed by a full week of recovery for the trained muscle group.
  • Overview: Read the complete program overview for Drop Set Countdown here.

Defining the Drop

A standard drop set entails taking a set to muscle failure, then immediately reducing the weight by around 20%-30% and continuing to do more reps until you hit muscle failure again. For a given exercise, you’d typically do 1-3 drop sets, depending on how far you want to push yourself.

For my Drop Set Countdown workouts, I tweaked this format rather dramatically. Here’s what you’ll do for each exercise: Start with a weight that allows you to complete 10 reps. Once you reach muscle failure, immediately reduce the weight enough to allow you to complete nine reps. Once you reach failure at nine reps, immediately reduce the weight enough to allow you to complete eight reps. Continue in this manner, dropping enough weight to do seven reps on the next drop set, then six, then five, then four, then three, then two and, finally, one rep. In essence, you’ll have done 10 sets for one exercise as one grueling, non-stop drop set.

Picking the right weights might take a little bit of trial and error on your part. If you can't hit the prescribed reps on a certain drop set (meaning, you went a little too heavy), no problem – just rest-pause until you hit the reps. If you went too light, just keep going until you hit failure, regardless of how many reps you do (even if more than the prescribed number). And course, keep this all in mind on future drop sets, as you may need to lighten or increase the weight to better hit the prescribed rep counts.

Most people will find that at somewhere around five or six reps they don’t need to drop weight to hit the next lower rep count; the brief rest period you get from putting the weight down and picking it back up again is enough to complete one fewer rep on the next set. You may even find that when you get down to one or two reps, you’ll need to increase weight to make sure it’s challenging enough. If you don’t add weight for the last drop set and find that you can do more than one rep, keep going until you reach muscle failure. If you did the Drop Set Countdown properly, it won’t be more than two or three reps, tops.

Once you’ve completed all drop sets for a given exercise, you’ll move on to the next one. Most large muscle groups will involve three exercises per workout. Make sure to rest about 2-3 minutes between exercises – your muscles will need the break to be strong for the next series of drop sets!

To watch me perform the Drop Set Countdown technique, check out this video:

Click Here to register for Phase 2 of the 2021 Summer Shred Challenge 

Giant Program

Giant Program Snapshot

  • Length: 4 weeks
  • Workouts per Week: 6
  • Training Split: 3-day split, repeated twice for a total of six workouts per week.
  • Equipment: Commercial gym or sufficiently-equipped home gym
  • Featured Techniques: Giant sets for all muscle groups, where four exercises for the same bodypart are performed consecutively without rest. Linear periodization with microcycles is also utilized.
  • Rep Ranges: Within giant sets, rep ranges increase with each successive exercise. In Week 1, reps within giant sets are 12-15, 15-20, 21-25, and 26-30. In Week 2, it's 9-11, 12-15, 15-20, and 21-15. In Week 3, 6-8, 9-11, 12-15, and 15-20. In Week 4, 3-5, 6-8, 9-11, and 12-15. 
  • Rest Periods: Take 2-3 minutes of rest between giant sets (or 1-2 minutes if you're in great shape); no rest is taken within giant sets. 
  • Cardio: Optional; HIIT cardio between muscle groups or at the end of the workout. 
  • Meal Plan: Dieting 101 for fat loss or Muscle Building Nutrition Rules for muscle gain.
  • Summary: Giant sets are one of the most effective methods for building size in a muscle group. And since you're doing giant sets for all muscle groups in my Giant Program, it's a great plan for building size head to toe. That said, you can also burn considerable body fat on this program (especially when paired with a good fat loss diet like Dieting 101), due to the intensity of giant sets that ramps up the metabolism. 
  • Overview: Read the complete overview for the Giant Program here.

Giant Results with Giant Sets

Giant sets are a high-intensity training technique in which you do four or more exercises for one muscle group consecutively without taking any specified rest between exercises. Think supersets (technically compound sets), only with two more exercises tacked on before you get a break. After the last exercise, rest anywhere from 1-3 minutes (depending on how quickly you recover and how much time you have to spend in the gym) and repeat the giant set. It's just that simple, but also pretty brutal – in a good way, of course.

Here's a video I did on tri-sets and giants sets.

Giant sets are not only an intensity booster that pushes the majority of your muscle fibers for each body part to muscle failure, it also saves you time and can help boost fat loss, all due to the non-stop nature of the technique. And as you would expect from any program designed by me, this particular routine takes giant sets to a whole new level, pulling out all the stops with the help of periodization and pre-exhaust.

With the Giant Program, you'll train each muscle group twice per week. The first time around, you'll do multi-joint (aka compound) exercises first, followed by single-joint moves. This will allow you to use the heaviest weight possible on the multi-joint exercises to maximize the mechanical overload placed on the muscles. This is the conventional way to do giant sets – where you do big moves first and finish with isolation exercises – and it's certainly effective.

Conventional is great, but I like to mix things up and flip them upside down on occasion, so:

The second time during the week you train each muscle group, you'll do single-joint exercises first, then multi-joint moves. Anyone who's familiar with my programs knows this technique well: it's called pre-exhaustion, or "pre-exhaust" for short.

Exhaustion is another way to place overload on muscle fibers. Not to get too science-y, but we're talking about a chemical overload here, due to the waste products that build up inside muscle cells when they reach exhaustion.

For a more thorough explanation on the classic pre-exhaust technique, check out this pre-exhaust technique and this video explaining pre-exhaust.

Click Here to register for Phase 3 of the 2021 Summer Shred Challenge





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