BY PARTH SHAH
Are you afraid of change? Change is such an interesting word. Change, variety, and "switch it up" are often popular buzz words thrown at people in the fitness industry. Many people talk about changing up their workouts, but few people do it. The perfect example is....me.
I mean, on one hand I do a lot of crazy intense things with my workouts. But, at the end of the day it's all just high intensity bodyweight and free weights workouts thrown together in complex circuits. True change for me would be to go into my gym tomorrow and train like a power lifter.
...or a gymnast.
...or a bodybuilder.
...or a swimmer.
But, I'm not going to do that. Because, I like my workout and I'm going to stick to it.
You can call me a hypocrite all you want, but if you're going to point a finger at me, I'm going to point one right back at you. You're the same way. You don't like change. You've been doing the same thing over and over again, day in and day out. Even though you pick up a brand new training program, you'll eventually make some modification or rationalize your way right back to your old methods.
Take, for example...me.
I tried doing a strength-focused cycle about a year ago. I did it for around 3 weeks, but I got bored. I've even tried bodybuilding...but that was boring. You can sense a theme here. Traditional fitness programs simply bore me to a point where I just need to go back to my old ways of training.
There's nothing wrong with that. We all have a distinct personality that determines how we perform certain tasks in our daily life. Here's another example in a completely different context: My father own a convenience store. That's HIS store. Everything is perfect in HIS store.
When I run that store. Things are a lot more "chill." I don't put up all the signs the way they're supposed to. I don't really joke around with the customers the way he does. Because I'm not him. I'm me. If my father were to run Shah Training for a day, I can only imagine what kind of mess he'd make of it
It's just the way it is. I can't perform your workouts the way YOU do them. And YOU can't do my workouts the way I do them.
So then...why even share workouts? Why even sell workouts? Why even create free pdf manuals and give them away in exchange for email addresses? Why purchase workouts?
It's because if my father wants to improve his business, he can go out and buy a book, buy a magazine, go to a seminar, or talk to some other business owners. He's not going to run his business the same way as the other business owners, but he may be able to pick up a few tips that he can implement in his own business to make it better.
And so...back to me...
I have changed. My workouts are different than they were a year ago, 2 years ago, and 5 years ago. The change is gradual, but it's there. I stick to the same principles, but if I were to perform the same workouts I did a year ago, 2 years ago, or 5 years ago, I'd be bored. I wouldn't be challenged. And not being challenged is not fun.
Keeping this concept of change in mind, I'm going to show you two tricks you can start using today to build some lean muscle mass. Most people have skinny legs, so we're going to focus on lower body growth (which will also help pack on mass on your upper body) using the bodyweight squat.
I built my huge legs by doing up to 500 squats a day (well not every day, but around 2-3 times a week). 500 squats is really excessive, and I don't expect...no, I don't ADVISE anyone to do so many squats in one day. But, per week...that's a different story. I used something known as Density Training to work up to a point where I was doing 5 sets of 100 repetitions with around 1-2 minute rest in between each set.
You can use a very similar approach by steadily decreasing the number of sets it takes to perform all 500 repetitions. So lets say you decide to break the reps into 20 sets of 25. You can do all 20 sets of 25 in one day or perform a few sets each day until you perform 20 sets of 25 throughout the entire week.
What matters is your total work, not how or when you performed it (this concept, I found out much later).
Each week, you are to perform less sets to complete at least 500 total repetitions. Here is a sample progression:
As you can see, the majority of the time, you will be performing a little bit more than 500 total repetitions. Try this program and see if it helps you pack on any muscle mass.
When I got up to a point where I could perform 100 squats in one go, it took me a LONG time to recover. In the beginning I didn't even count how long I was resting between each set. All I know is that a 500 repetition squat workout would take me around 45 minutes.
So, I decided to cap my rest periods at 5 minutes. I was eventually able to reduce my rest periods to under 2 minutes. Sometimes I would be able to rest and recover in just one minute (but these were some really hard workouts, and I wasn't able to walk for at least a week after wards).
Here's what I want you to do: start each workout with around 2 minutes of rest between each set. If your fitness level is good, then you can start out with a 1 minute rest period. Lets assume you're at the first level - 20 sets of 25 repetitions. You decide to perform 5 sets per day for 4 days a week.
Assuming you are doing 5 sets of 25 repetitions with 2 minute rest periods, your goal is to drop those rest periods down to 1 minute. Don't move onto to 30 rep sets until you cut your rest period in half. Once you cut your rest period in half, move onto the next level and start again at a 2 minute rest period (or whichever rest period suits your fitness level).
Bodyweight squats are great, but you need a full-body muscle building plan to maximize your bodyweight training. The best one is Mike Thiga's Muscle Experiment. Get months worth of training for just a fraction of the cost: