February 19, 2012

Doublé - How To Divide The Workload And Maximize Results

Get Rid Of The Garbage

When it comes to building size or strength, most people spread themselves too thin by performing too many garbage sets/exercises. ‘Garbage’ in this case being time and energy spent doing anything that does not maximally contribute to the end result. More often than not, time is best spent focusing on fewer movements, those which provide the greatest return on investment, instead of wasting time and energy performing more sets/exercises that provide a lesser return. In fact, performing too many sets/exercises can be counterproductive if the nervous system is engraining motor patterns for movements that aren’t major factors in producing results, or the body cannot recover from the excessive workload.

But doing the same thing over and over, regardless of whether or not it provides the most return on investment, can get boring, which is why people veer off and tack on other exercises during a workout in the first place. There is a way however, in which more time can be put towards the ‘money’ movements, which also happens to be a very effective way to boost results, and this is with the ‘doublé’ method.

One And Done, Or Twice Is Nice?

Doublé – to do something twice, in this context means performing the same movement at two different periods during a training session: for example, starting and ending with the same movement. Aside from investing more time and effort into the movements which provide the most return, as well as limiting the amount of boredom that comes from performing a high volume of work for the same movement during the same period of the workout, doublé’s offer a very distinct benefit in regards to increasing strength via motor pattern development.

Divide And Conquer

Possibly the greatest benefit to diving up the volume for the main lift is the effect it can have on motor learning and neural efficiency. When all the scheduled sets are performed in the same period of time, the nervous system has fewer opportunities to learn, because it gets into a groove relatively quickly, and therefore doesn’t need to work as hard as it would in a fatigued state.

Having to get into the groove twice makes the nervous system work harder to maximize intra-/inter-muscular coordination, and the more opportunities the nervous system has to learn, the better it will become at maximizing motor unit recruitment, thus enhancing the ability to generate maximal force.

Replacing the final exercise with the first exercise re-exposes the neuromuscular system to the movement to which improvement is sought, and reiterates that fact because it always remember what was done last, and it will hold onto that motor pattern at the expense of what was done at the beginning of the workout (which can be as long as 45 minutes ago, or more, in some cases). By starting and finishing with the same exercise the nervous system is reminded of all the hard work that was done at the beginning, and teaches it to hold onto that pattern.

Not Just A One-Trick Pony

The concept of using the same exercise twice can also be used to pack on muscle as well. Since some exercises simply provide more return on investment, and it’s a better use of time to rely on those as opposed to movements that provided lesser of a return, another way to implement the doublé method would be as part of a tri-set, or giant set – doing so ensures that the targeted muscle is fully fatigued, which isn’t always the case when performing compound movements, as the more muscles involved, the more limiting factors there may be. Further exhausting the targeted musculature after performing the main movement ensures that the targeted muscle is the cause of failure when finishing a tri-set, or giant set with the main movement.

Practical Example – Strength Emphasis

Primary lift: SQUAT

A)   Squats 4-5 sets, 4-6 reps

B)   Split Squats 3-4 sets, 6-8 reps

C)   Squats 3-4 sets, 8-10 reps

Practical Example – Size Emphasis

Primary muscle: TRICEPS

Example #1: Isolation, Primary, Isolation

A1) Lying Triceps Extension 3 sets, 10-12 reps

A2) Dips (weighted or bodyweight) 3 sets, 8-10 reps

A3) Lying Triceps Extension 3 sets, 12-15 reps

Example #2: Primary, Isolation, Primary

A1) Dips (weighted) 3 sets, 6-8 reps

A2) Lying Triceps Extension 3 sets, 8-10 reps

A3) Dips (bodyweight) 10-12 reps

If you have any questions about the doublé method, and how to effectively implement it into your training, feel free to contact me at ben@paramounttraining.ca. I'm available for online consulting and personalized program design, as well as one on one training if you are located in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA).

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