Iron Intelligence: Program Overview
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Strength and size aren’t something that you acquire because you pick up a magazine and you follow a training article, or you employ some type of new training technique. Strength and size are the byproducts of mental fortitude and of pushing yourself consistently. They’re the result of subjecting your body to stress that it hasn’t encountered before. They’re about creating the necessary adaptive response that it takes for your body to get bigger and stronger.
I’ve put together a program with the purpose of getting stronger, bigger, and better conditioned—in that order. These three things are what every lifter should strive for. It’s a 12-week program split into three phases, each with a separate goal: strength, then size, then conditioning.
I invite you to embrace the pain and find out what you’re made of. This is going to be heavy. This is going to be hard. You’re going to have to routinely place your body under a load it’s not accustomed to and figure out how to move it for reps.
But 12 weeks from now, I can promise it will all be worth it. Here’s what you’ll be doing.
Iron Intelligence, Phase 1: Strength
Before you do anything else, you’re going to focus on building strength. This is crucial, even if you’re not someone with the goal of being a powerlifter. Even if your goals are purely aesthetic, you’ll have the best results toward that goal by being able to push heavy weights.
Why? Simply put, the stronger you are, the more weight you can push over a greater rep range. This results in more muscle growth and more fat burning. Here’s what your split will look like:
- Monday: Legs
- Wednesday: Chest
- Friday: Back
That’s right; during Phase 1, you’re only going to be in the gym three days a week. That’s by design. I want you to be rested. I want you to give everything you can to your workouts.
I’ve cut out a lot of accessory work, too. You’re not going to be training your arms or shoulders. You’re not going to be training your calves or abs, either. Your leg day is just four moves. Your chest and back days are just two moves apiece.
I want you to focus. With just a few moves a day, there’s no excuse not to give them everything you’ve got.
Iron Intelligence, Phase 2: Size
When people pose the question of whether higher reps or higher weight is more important for muscle growth, my answer is both. You need heavy weight and higher reps if you’re going to build the maximum amount of muscle possible.
The strength you gained in the first phase is now going to be used to gain muscle in the second phase. While strength is critical, working in a lower rep range won’t necessarily allow for the greatest amount of muscle gain on its own. But when you apply the strength acquired in the first leg of the program in a higher rep range, you’ll probably notice an appreciable amount of muscle gain.
You’ll also follow a more traditional four-day bodybuilding split:
- Monday: Legs
- Wednesday: Back and biceps
- Friday: Chest and triceps
- Saturday: Shoulders and abs
To maximize the muscle gain during this phase of the program, I recommend grabbing a reliable training partner. Having someone there to push you beyond what you could normally do by yourself, or what you believe you’re capable of, will really maximize the muscle gained during this phase.
Iron Intelligence, Phase 3: Conditioning
By the time you finish this phase of the program, you’ll be ready to enter into the final leg, and to expose yourself to new intensity techniques like supersets and dropsets. The goal here is to not only continue to add muscle, but to improve your conditioning as well.
You’ll follow a five-day split, and that first workout will be a burner. You’ll have just performed shoulders two days before!
- Monday: Shoulders and triceps
- Tuesday: Quads
- Thursday: Back
- Friday: Chest, biceps, and abs
- Saturday: Hamstrings and calves
This is going to be intense, but that’s the point. People often rely way too much on diet and cardio to bring out definition. Are these tools valuable when it comes to getting in shape? Of course they are. But it’s your training that’s going to drive it all home.
When you’re busting your ass in the gym, pushing the weight and the reps, that’s what brings out definition. That’s the difference between looking lean and looking like you’re made of fucking granite.
What about cardio?
There are two ways you can get cardio wrong: Doing too much, or doing none at all. Plenty of people over-rely on cardio, even when they’re supposedly trying to gain weight. That’s silly. But so is being so unconditioned that your cardiovascular system gives out in your workout before your muscles do. You need to be able to last through intense training, and cardio definitely plays a part in this.
Here’s how I recommend you approach cardio during Iron Intelligence:
- During phase 1 (weeks 1-4) and phase 2 (weeks 5-9), perform 30 minutes of moderate-intensity cardio three times a week. I recommend either a treadmill set to maximum incline, or the stepmill. Do it whenever works for you, as long as that’s not right before training, or on three consecutive days.
- During phase three (weeks 9-12), perform 30 minutes of moderate-intensity cardio daily. But once again, don’t do it right before training. You can do it in the morning and lift later in the day, or bust out your cardio after lifting. Whatever works for you.
Become a Different Breed of Lifter
People forget that hard-and-heavy training is the number-one tool you have to get in shape. By the time you complete this trainer, if you do what you’re supposed to do and bust your ass, you’ll not only be stronger and bigger, you’ll also be better conditioned and able to function at a higher level. You’ll be able to train at a level that most other people can’t hack. Your standard is going to be higher.
The end result is you being a better-performing and better-looking lifter, period. Now, go read how to eat like an animal, and be sure to get the free Animal muscle-building app so you know exactly what you’re training every day in this program.