Destroy & Flood III
You should be bigger by now – MUCH bigger. You train hard, you drink your protein, you go to bed early (who wants to watch Game of Thrones anyway?), and while you’re happy with your results so far…you could still do better, and you know it.
My guess is that you either fall into the power camp – pounding away at heavy weights that never seem to go anywhere; or the pump camp – spending hours a day performing countless reps with nothing to show for it once the blood leaves your biceps. I’ve got some good news for you guys…you don’t have to choose one over the other ever again! In fact you’re halfway there already whichever side of the fence you’re on. All you need to do is quite literally put those two things together and watch your gains sky-rocket! The routine I’m about to show you will pack on slabs of strong usable muscle that lasts (no more transient pump-ups!). There’s only one catch…you have to survive it first.
Before you rush out and start buying “Size XXXL” t-shirts we need to hit some science. Not a lot, but it’ll help things make sense later. Basically, muscle growth (or “hypertrophy”) requires a couple of things before it can happen – a stimulus, protein, and energy.
The stimulus exhausts your muscles and to avoid this stressful situation in the future your body will force them to grow in strength and/or size to better deal with whatever caused the stress – be that intense weight lifting, being chased by a sabre-toothed tiger, or helping a friend move a fridge/sofa/dead prostitute. The protein in this equation is moved into place by excess dietary energy to repair muscular damage and accommodate new growth.
A key part of this process is progression – after your first session doing 3×10 with 60kg your body has already started to prepare itself to handle this situation next time, and after the fifth or fiftieth workout with the same weight and set/rep scheme your muscles will be able to throw 60kg around with impunity. No stress, no growth.
Now what a lot of people don’t realise is that there are two types of hypertrophy, and this is where our power/pump split comes into it. Myofibrillar hypertrophy (say that five times fast) is an increase in the number of contractile proteins in a muscle fibre (these are what produce force and movement, and this type of hypertrophy is sometimes referred to as “muscle density”). Sarcoplasmic hypertrophy on the other hand is an increase in fluid within the muscle cell (a handy store of water and fuel) which generally gives you that bulging pumped up look that bodybuilders have, but not necessarily extra strength.
Power training causes mostly myofibrillar hypertrophy, and is generally done with lower reps (1-5) and heavy weight. The good thing about this style of training is that to contract under a maximal load your body has to stimulate all the muscle fibres required to do so – the bigger the weight, the greater the number of fibres called into play. Unfortunately, gains in size are slow since it’s difficult to do enough volume with heavy weights to stimulate enough of the more dramatic sarcoplasmic hypertrophy.
Pump training is nearly always done in the moderate-high rep range (10-20) with lighter weights. This is great for stimulating a lot of sarcoplasmic hypertrophy and is one of the reasons bodybuilders stick to this style almost exclusively. In comparison to power training, however, it’s a lot harder to stimulate enough muscle in a workout to maintain the same rate of gains over time. Since you’re not increasing your strength directly there’ll come a point when the sheer volume of work required to make progress will hold you back.
So where does that leave us? To build the maximum amount of muscle in the least amount of time we need a way to stimulate both types of hypertrophy and keep progressing our workouts to maintain that level of growth for as long as possible. This is what Destroy & Flood training is all about! Every workout you’ll combine a heavy compound exercise (“Destroy”) in a superset with two alternating isolation exercises for high reps (“Flood”), and you’ll do two of these supersets every time you’re in the gym.
For your Destroy exercises perform sets of 3-5 reps (no more, no less) using the heaviest weight you can handle for that particular set. Start off with something roughly 10% below your maximum weight for five reps and alter it as-and-when you need to during the workout. The goal of the Destroy phase is to recruit as many muscle fibres as possible using a weight that feels consistently heavy and requires near maximal effort to lift.
Immediately after the Destroy exercise perform a set of at least 20 reps on one of two isolation exercises that target different muscles used in the heavy compound. This is the Flood portion and will literally flood your muscles with blood, nutrients, and fuel for maximum growth potential! If you’re doing the Destroy phase heavy and hard enough every single fibre will be primed for growth, rather than just a fraction of them as with pump training alone. You’ll alternate the two Flood exercises throughout the superset.
Push yourself as hard as possible every workout, ideally trying to increase your overall weights or reps slightly each time. This isn’t easy and the potential for injury is high if you don’t warm up, so do 3-5 light sets of your first compound exercise before you start. Control the weight through a full range of motion to get the muscles warm and your blood pumping.
Even though you’ll be taking each workout to the limit don’t try to set personal records every time and avoid going to failure or it’ll make the rest of the workout feel like hell. Leave a rep in the tank and adjust the weight accordingly for the next set to make sure you stay within that 3-5 rep range for your Destroy sets. This’ll take a bit of practice so don’t sweat it if you don’t get it right first time. The same goes for the Flood exercises, too – even if you end up doing lateral raises with just your hands I want you to get at least 20 reps each set!
Since you’ll be doing two supersets per workout for similar body-parts try not to pick exercises that are too similar. For example if you choose Bench Press / Flat Flys / Skullcrushers for your first superset it’s better to do Military Press than Incline Bench in your second superset because your chest will be as primed for growth as it ever will be. No point flogging a dead horse. If you want to work a muscle from different angles be smart with your Flood exercises – in this example you could replace Flat Flys with Incline Flys and get the same effect.
Training this way can be brutal on your body so make sure you get enough quality food, enough calories, and plenty of sleep. Rest days are just that – for rest! Eat at least between three and four thousand calories a day and get 30-35% from protein sources, slightly more from carbohydrates, and the rest from fat. For an 80kg man you’re looking at something in the ballpark of 3500 calories, 305g protein, 395g carbohydrates, and 77g fat each day. If you aren’t gaining or aren’t recovering fast enough keep the same ratio of protein/carbs/fat but increase everything across the board (bigger portions equals a bigger you!).
Even if you do everything right you’ll eventually end up needing a week off. This is a completely personal thing and usually comes along after a few weeks of especially good workouts. You know the ones – everything feels light, you’re throwing 20kg discs like frisbees, setting personal records left right and centre, and generally tearing the gym up and feeling like a bad-ass. If you have a trio of workouts where you have to drag yourself to the gym and even the bar feels heavy it might be time for a rest week.
The program will have you training three days a week which for most people means Monday, Wednesday and Friday but any three days are fine so long as you leave at least one full rest day between workouts. Each session should take around 45-60 minutes so you’ll need to train at a pretty fast clip. It sounds obvious, but under no circumstances should you attempt this hungover! You’ll sweat out the booze alright, closely followed by your liver and all your happy memories.
Every workout you’ll perform two Destroy & Flood supersets for that day’s target muscle groups: the first superset eight times, and the second superset four times. The following week switch which superset comes first, and repeat this two week cycle until you sweat your liver out regardless of alcohol intake.
Wherever possible try to improve your performance on the first superset compared to the last cycle. Whether you do this by adding slightly more weight to all your sets, performing more sets at a particular weight before having to reduce it, or managing an extra rep here and there, these little steps will gradually add up to big improvements so keep chipping away!
Here are some example workouts in a standard Destroy & Flood program for the first week of the two week cycle. In week two of this template on Monday Bent Over Rows would come first (with a warmup) for eight sets; and Deadlifts second (without a warmup) for four sets. Keep this alternating pattern for the whole week before switching back again. Repeat for roughly 3-4 cycles (6-8 weeks total) and get ready for the gains of your life!