In this final installment of Tri-Phase Progressive Training™, I will discuss how (and why) one can optimize the Basic Plan, as set forth in installments One and Two of this series. And, because I have been getting a ton of questions on this, I will also discuss how to incorporate my Carb Cycling diet (Part I, Part II) while using this plan to bulk, cut, or even undergo a “body recomposition.”
Customizing the Basic TP-PT Program
Why should I bother?
While management of the three principles of volume, intensity, and frequency is the foundation of this program, it would be foolish to believe that everyone responds equally to all three. In line with this, personal experimentation generally, and with this program specifically, teaches that to optimize this program, one must learn how he or she responds to each of the three basic principles of frequency, volume, and intensity. Likewise, how far one can successfully push the outer boundaries of each of these variables will vary.
There are many variables that affect how one will respond. Our bodies, and muscle groups, all recover at different rates. We respond differently to various training stimuli, we have different environmental and outside influences such as work, family and stress. We require, and get, differing amounts of sleep. We eat differently, have different body-types and have widely differing supplement (and drug) habits. Our CNS responds differently, etc. The list continues.
And because of these differences, there is no “perfect” resistance training program for hypertrophy. Thus, some respond best to HIT training, others to HST, yet others to a higher volume approach. However, what each of these programs (and others like them) fail to achieve is an integrated approach to resistance training. In other words, the HIT trainee does not get frequent muscle training, nor does he or she (ever) train with high volume. While it may be that he or she responds best to a low-volume, infrequent, high intensity program, he or she would be more successful—long-term—using an integrated approach that cycles the various types of training. This is what TP-PT seeks to accomplish.
Indeed, the most common statement from the dozens of beta-testers of this program was, simply: “I can’t believe how much I learned about how my body response to various training stimuli.” This is quite telling actually. First, it shows how different types of training will have various and differing effects on the body. Second, it also shows how few people truly know how well they respond to one form of training versus another.
How Can I Construct an Optimal Plan?
As I have noted, everyone will respond to all three phases. Because not everyone will respond as favorably and equally to all three, each phase should not (necessarily) take up equal time and energy in your program. Nor should each be taken to the same extreme. While a few of you will respond best to the Basic Plan, most should tailor the program to suit your own body.
For this reason, however, I suggest that everyone who is new to this program do a full 12-week cycle before manipulating the plan. This way you will learn how your body responds to the three different mini-cycles. In order to fully take advantage of this, and truly optimize your routine the next time around, you will need to take detailed notes through the course of your first full cycle.
There are innumerable permutations of this training program—I will not lay out detailed plans here. Rather, I will provide suggestions and general guidelines on how one may construct an optimal plan.
First things first; discover what type of training works best for you. That phase should comprise, time-wise, the largest percentage of your whole cycle. So, if you grow the most during the intensity phase, that phase should be the longest. You can increase it by a week or two, or decrease the others by a week, or both; how you do this depends on how dramatically you respond to this phase versus the other phases. Thus, if you respond much better to intensity then either volume or frequency you may want your intensity phase to comprise 50% of your overall program. You could, for example, increase this phase to 6 weeks, and reduce the other phases to 3 weeks.
Second, you should determine how well you handle the stages of each phase. In other words, you may find that the volume phase is too hard at the end, or that the frequency phase is too frequent; refer to the emotional and physiological standards or goals as listed in my first installment of TP-PT for how you should feel each week. In such cases, you will want to make each week a little bit easier than what is scheduled (remember this is a progressive program, and regardless of how you change things, it must get more difficult each week). Likewise, some of you may find a particular phase too easy, and feel like you are not really pushing overtraining. In such cases you will want to either lengthen the phase, or simply make each week a bit harder. Such adjustments will ensure that you are getting optimal results from each phase.
Incorporating Diet and Training for an Integrated and Complete Approach to Physique Alteration
Obviously, there are many good diets you can use in conjunction with this program (and dozens, if not hundreds, of crappy ones) to achieve your goals. Here, however, I will discuss how to incorporate Carbohydrate Cycling, as I have laid out in my diet articles. This section will only make sense if you are already familiar with my Carb Cycling articles, so if not, I suggest you read them first.
In general, based on the way this training plan is set up, I think you would do well to eat more calories and more protein, each week of each phase. In other words, as the weeks get harder, eat more. This general rule can be applied during each phase, however I would continue eating in excess for a few days after each phase (i.e. the beginning of the next phase when calories would drop).
To do this, you can determine your weekly calorie needs to achieve your goals. Then make sure that your calories increase each week, but that your weekly average during each phase is equal to your weekly calorie needs. A hypothetical 200 pound endomorphic bodybuilder who is looking to bulk may need 15 kcalories per pound of bodyweight each day. Or, he will want to consume 3000 kcals a day.
For each of the three phases, this hypothetical bodybuilder may decide to have a daily calorie intake as follows:
To make it easier for you if you are Carb Cycling, I have created two additional charts that show how to combine Carb Cycling and TP-PT to reach your goal, regardless of body type. The first chart outlines several different “eating plans.” Each is a four week plan (that can be lengthened or shorted as necessary) to match any of the standard four week TP-PT phases. Each plan has a different purpose, depending on your phenotype. The numbers for each week represent how many High Carb, Low Carb, and No Carb days you will have during each week. You should schedule the various days in relation to your workouts as I recommend Here.
Now, you are likely thinking, “Say what?” Yeah, that was a bit obtuse. Essentially, it is just a series of plans that will work for a certain goal and a certain body type. For example, a mesomorph who is cutting might use Plan B. Or, that same plan can be used by an endomorph for a recomposition. Here is another handy-dandy (and colorful) chart that will outline who should use what, and for what purpose.
Plan B or C
Plan C or D
Since few people are a true form of one of these phenotypes, and most of us are blends, you may feel free to adjust accordingly – these are merely guidelines.
And there you have it – guidelines to optimize Tri-Phase Progressive Training for an integrated approach to physique alteration.