On Cycle Success Tips
I see so many competitors and non-competitors taking a well-planned cycle with all of their compounds, dosages, and goals in order, but still don’t earn the kind of results they’re capable of. I’m going to cover exactly how you can get the most out of your cycle.
Getting fucking stronger is your number 1 goal. If your cycle is dialed in, you should be able to get a significant amount of strength gain (and in turn muscle gain) out of it. How do you do that? Easy. Lift more weight.
To accurately and effectively do that:
Use the same compound exercises that are most effective for you week in and week out.
Increase the weight once you can complete your prescribed sets and reps and not be dead at the end of your routine. (This should be weekly or biweekly)
This also means minimizing isolation exercises. There’s no reason at all for you to be doing 5 sets of 10 of one armed, supinated, seated row with slow negatives for time under tension with bands unless you already have 280lbs of lean mass on you. Use a barbell or heavy dumbbells and smash some bent rows with solid form with as much weight as you can control. Do that repeatedly and increase the weight nearly every session. Obviously you should still be doing lateral raises and some isolation work for your arms because that’s the only way to effectively hit the lateral delt, biceps, and triceps respectively, but for big muscles like chest, back, quads, and hams, stick to compound movements.
Minimize rest between sets (1-2 min). As soon as you can breathe comfortably again, do another set. Always take sets to near failure, but do not fail. Stop 1-2 full reps before complete failure. This will ensure your CNS does not burnout and you most likely will never need a deload during your cycle.
The biggest issue I see is fear of getting fat on growth phases or fear of getting too small on cutting phases. This can be mitigated by starting your cycle already pretty lean (<15% body fat) and increasing/decreasing calories appropriately.
Put simply, for a growth phase, start at 300 cals from carbs above maintenance each day. For a cutting phase, start at 300 cals from carbs below maintenance each day. When the scale stalls for 3-4 days, do it again. It’s that simple. This will loosely translate to increasing/decreasing cals every 2-3 weeks with nearly no increase in fat for growth, and no decrease in muscle for cutting as long as you’re pushing your training as I outlined above. Do not be afraid to keep it going. For a 20 week intermediate level growth cycle, that could result in increasing your cals by 3000 per day by the end and staying lean, which will inevitably lead to a huge increase in muscle mass.
3. Outside the gym
I touched on this in the first cycle blog and it remains extremely important for success. If you’re sleeping 8-10 hours per night, your muscles will be fully recovered, your natural GH release will be very high, your fat will be melting away due to increased metabolism, and the benefits are innumerous. With 1+ gallon of water intake per day, your lymphatic system and kidneys will be able to effectively clean out your body of all the junk that gets built up from lifting and injecting like scar tissue and lactic acid. Water also helps in the utilization of nutrients from your diet like cholesterol to build hormones, protein to build muscle, carbs to build ATP (energy), and essential fatty acids for your brain. Minimizing stress cannot be overstated. Increased stress over time will destroy your muscles. Cortisol, the stress hormone, is the most catabolic hormone there is and will literally eat your muscles if you don’t get your stress level under control.