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Back and Fourth Training

Pump up the volume to build more muscle mass!

Back and Fourth Training

Back And Fourth Training is a six-week mass-gaining program where you basically go "back and forth" among exercises. The program also involves using four different rep ranges, not to mention four main types of exercises, for each major muscle group. Hence, the name "Back and Fourth." In other words, yes, not spelling it "Forth" is on purpose.

As with most of my programs, the main goal of Back and Fourth Training is to build muscle mass and strength, and it does this phenomenally well. But you can also use Back and Fourth to maximize fat loss while still getting bigger and stronger. To tweak the program for better fat-burning results, see the notes below in the "Rest Periods" section.

The Back and Fourth of It

The back and forth nature of Back and Fourth refers to the exercises used and the order in which they're performed. Most of the major muscle groups (chest, back, shoulders and legs) involve eight exercises per workout, where the first four exercises and the last four mirror one another. Using chest as an example, you start the workout with bench press, then you move to incline dumbbell presses. Next up is the dumbbell fly, and then comes low-pulley cable crossovers. At this point the workout is only half over.

The last four exercises go in the exact opposite order as the first four. So the fifth exercise is the high cable crossover, the sixth is incline dumbbell fly, the seventh dumbbell bench press and the eighth exercise is the reverse-grip bench press. Instead of doing the exact same versions as the first four moves, these last four exercises are modified versions. This increases the number of muscle fibers used during the workout to maximize muscle growth.

Another point to mention regarding exercise order is that the first four progress from multijoint to single-joint (often called "isolation") moves. This allows you to focus on using the most weight when you're at your freshest (and strongest) to enhance strength as well as size by overloading the muscle fibers.

The last four exercises, however, move in the opposite direction, with single-joint exercises done first and multijoint moves finishing things off. This technique, called pre-exhaust, helps boost muscle growth by making the target muscle the weak link on multijoint exercises to more thoroughly exhaust it and help instigate better muscle growth.

For more details on pre-exhaust, as well as how research has gotten it wrong, check out these links: Pre-Exhaust Primer Pre-Exhaust Update

The Fourth of It

The "four" in Back And Fourth refers to the fact that the program uses four main types of exercises for larger major muscle groups (chest, back, shoulders, and legs), as I outlined above for chest. But "four" also signifies that you start the program in week one using four different rep ranges for these muscle groups.

The first exercise is done for 8-10 reps per set, the second exercise 10-12, the third 12-15 and the last set 15-20. The last four exercises follow the same pattern but in the reverse direction (15-20, 12-15, 10-12, 8-10) so that the similar exercises use the same rep range.

Smaller muscle groups (biceps, triceps, abs, calves, traps, forearms) are the exception. Because they involve fewer exercises per workout, the rep ranges are condensed on either side. For biceps, triceps, abs and calves, you'll do six exercises each. The first and sixth exercises will use 10-12 reps per set, the second and fifth exercises will involve 12-15 per set and the third and fourth exercises are done for 15-20 reps per set.

Forearms only involve four exercises total, where exercises one and four use 12-15 reps per set and exercises two and three involve 15-20. For traps, you'll also do just four exercises per workout, but they're condensed in the opposite manner as forearms, with sets one and four getting 8-10 reps per set and sets two and three using 10-12.

Using a variety of rep ranges for the same muscle group in each workout allows you to attack the muscle with a variety of loads (heavy, moderate and light weight) and rep ranges (low, moderate and high). This way you maximize overload on the muscle fibers in the form of weight as well as maximize the fatigue the muscle cells undergo. All of this can lead to greater gains in muscle mass and strength, not to mention endurance.

This approach is a bit novel from many of my other programs, which use the same rep range for all exercises in a single workout. That makes this technique ideal to...

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