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Troubleshooting August 2013

on Thursday, 15 August 2013.

Ingrid I am looking for a program to utilise as a de-loading part of my periodization plan. What would your thoughts be on using the Matrix system and if you think it would be beneficial, could you perhaps include a possible 4 day program? Thank you.

The Matrix Training System
The Matrix Training System is a training programme that focuses on a variety of full and partial rep movements within sets to stimulate a different response to lifting weights. It was created by Dr Ron Laura, who has continued to develop even more advanced adaptations of the Matrix Principle that are published in his books.

The most basic form of the Matrix Training Principles looks something like this:
• A quick warm up process of ascending weights to reach workout weight
• 3-4 exercises per muscle group
• 4 sets
• 5 full reps, 5 half reps from the stretch or bottom position, 5 half reps from the squeeze or top position, then finishing with 5 full reps again – that's 20 total reps!
• 30 seconds rest between sets

There are a multitude of reasons and advantages to this form of training.
• Working on partial movements can emphasize movements over what are traditionally sticking points in many trainees movements – it can be utilised to overcome these plateaus
• The higher rep number and lower rest count will challenge a different energy system, most weight training systems challenge the ATP/PC system, whereas the Matrix utilises primarily the Glycolytic or Lactate system.
• The lower weight also stimulates muscle fibre types not stimulated by the higher thresholds of heavy weight training – The Matrix will tend to stimulate Type 2A and 1A muscle fibre types, with less stimulus of the Type 2X fibres we traditionally try to stimulate
• The lower weight used in this programme will take the pressure off your joints and connective tissue, while still stimulating muscle growth and energy system stimulus. I find this is especially great for clients that have been injured with heavy weights, or are getting a little older and have joint problems such as shoulders, knees or elbows. The Matrix Training Principles can even be utilised as a specific deloading cycle between 2 heavy macrocycles within a periodised plan, as per your question.
• Due to the high intensity motor that is required for performing this programme – especially with the low rest times, enzymatic activity, vascularity, mitochondrial density and cardiovascular will also improve
• Less time in the gym – most workouts should be done in about 30 minutes!
• It can be fun to try something radically different and challenging, to keep your mojo up in the gym!

To maximise your muscle growth and improving the balance of your health and fitness, it is always good to incorporate a multitude of programmes throughout the year that have varied rep ranges, rest times and movements.

I am not going to lie here boy's, if you haven't done a programme like this before, prepare for a lot of burning muscles, and perhaps a lot of sitting in the car for a good 10-15 minutes post workout due to the shaky feeling you have induced. Just make sure you don't cry in the gym – there is no crying in gyms! 

Day 1 – Chest & Shoulders
EXERCISE SETS/REPS
Bench Press 4 sets (5, 5, 5, 5)
Machine Press 4 sets (5, 5, 5, 5)
Cable Cross-over 4 sets (5, 5, 5, 5)
Decline D/B Press 4 sets (5, 5, 5, 5)
Military Press 4 sets (5, 5, 5, 5)
C/G Upright Row 4 sets (5, 5, 5, 5)

Day 2 – Legs
EXERCISE SETS/REPS
B/B Squats 4 sets (5, 5, 5, 5)
Travel Lunges 3 sets (1&1/2's x 20m)
Hack Squats 4 sets (5, 5, 5, 5)
Leg Curls 4 sets (5, 5, 5, 5)
S/B Roll-Ins 4 sets (5, 5, 5, 5)
Standing Calf Raise 4 sets (5, 5, 5, 5)

Day 3 – Back
EXERCISE SETS/REPS
W/G B/B Row 4 sets (5, 5, 5, 5)
Seated Cable Row 4 sets (5, 5, 5, 5)
Lat Pull down 4 sets (5, 5, 5, 5)
1 Arm D/B Row 4 sets (5, 5, 5, 5)

Day 4 – Arms
EXERCISE SETS/REPS
O/H Rope Press 4 sets (5, 5, 5, 5)
Tri-bar press down 4 sets (5, 5, 5, 5)
Rev Bar press down 4 sets (5, 5, 5, 5)
B/B Curls 4 sets (5, 5, 5, 5)
Preacher curls (D/B together) 4 sets (5, 5, 5, 5)

Ingrid I know that you do a lot of contest preparation with both men and women. There is a lot of talk about metabolic adaptation and 'good' and 'bad' ways to prepare to compete. Care to share any of your approaches and/or thoughts on this matter?

Over the course of quite a few months now there has been so much said about metabolic adaptation and metabolic resilience. Accompanying that is a lot of fingers pointed at coaches (usually unnamed) for being reckless, in for the dollar, offering extremely unhealthy advise, the same diets for completely different people and goals and the list goes on. Clearly this is a distressing trend that gradually trainees are wising up too. Personally I have probably only seen maybe 15 odd different coaches methods, of which not one have I thought 'WOW', this is terrific- this coach/trainer is clearly "onto it". My usual reaction is oh boy this is going to cause big issues post comp.

2 recent examples: (this one was for a female)

Meal 1: 4 egg whites 1 floret of broccoli

Meal 2: 30 macadamia nuts, 1 cup of spinach

Meal 3: WPI shake

Meal 4: 120 grams of chicken and iceberg lettuce

Meal 5: 40 grams of nuts

Meal 6 100 grams of chicken and 1 cup of rocket

4 weights sessions of 60-70 minutes, 2 hours cardio a day

Example Nu 2 was a diet provided by a 'coach' for a male competing in his first novice division contest (weighing 74 kg's).

Meal 1 6 whole eggs, 40 grams of almonds and 180 grams of steak

Meal 2 200 grams of steak with half a bowl of oats

Meal 3 1 glass of full cream milk, 180 grams of steak and 1 packet of steamed vegetables

Meal 4 1 chicken breast and 1 packet of steamed vegetables.

Meal 5 WPI shake with 40 grams of almonds and 2 cups of broccoli

Meal 6 1 chicken breast, 1 cup of broccoli and 1 cup of cauliflower

5 weights sessions of 60 minutes and 1 hour of cardio immediately after his weights session plus two hours over the weekend.
Sorry but to my mind they are two terrible examples of how to prepare for a contest.

People are talking about 'good coaches' and 'bad coaches'. Since I have only seen 15 odd 'diets' written by 'coaches' or 'personal trainers', I really cannot comment on who I think is wise and smart and who I think only know one thing....slash calories and expend more energy. What I have learnt from Dr Paul Cribb is that this is NOT the way to go. In fact quite the opposite. To get lean, eat up slowly off the right foods at the right time.

Not too many coaches are prepared to put it out there and be transparent with the types of eating plans they may offer clients (of course according to all client variables such as food sensitivities, pharmaceutical enhancement (I don't go there), contraindications, goals, contest class i.e. figure, bikini model, fitness model, physique, male athletic or male bodybuilding).

I don't see this as giving away secrets....as what will work for some will clearly not work for others. But I think that as our sport of bodybuilding grows, the newbies in particular need some extra help and advice on balance. Of course we want to hit the stage in peak condition and some want to be super lean. What I am prepared to say is that I have now clearly understood with the last four competitions competitors have consumed *hold your breath*, red meat, nuts of discerning types, a range of fruits, every coloured vegetable on the supermarket shelf, god forbid, mild amounts of low fat feta, quinoa, banana's, oats, sweet potato, rice, olives, tofu, seitan, mixed beans, pumpkin and much, much more. And they have managed to get into single body fat digits. And what's better......they have verbalised feeling absolutely amazing! As little as 1 week out from the contest day. Looking great is a trophy maybe, but feeling energised and excited is quite another and you can still get the trophy!

Last comp in May I rang around my 13 competitors (both males and females) and asked a few general questions. Then I asked "how are you feeling?". About 5 said 'bouncing off the walls'. The rest bar one said 'great to fantastic'. The only one who was struggling a little was our vegan. Well she had a lot less food choices so no doubt it was a little harder for her!

I don't believe in holding back 'secrets', I believe in sharing them, as then I get to learn more too. I think I will use Kirsten Engels as a prime example. First comp season under a different coach 16 hours of cardio a week. Fish and greens. Under me this year, 1.5 hours a week of cardio. That was it! There is no reason and no excuse for lack of a broad range of lean proteins for a range of amino acids, beautifully coloured vegies, a broad spectrum of antioxidants from all your fibres, a litte bit of fruit for sanity, nuts in moderation, especially of the omega 3 variety, complex carbohydrates and no excuse for pounding the cardio equipment hour after hour.

In my opinion a lot of methods utilised by both men and women really needs revision of some pertinent metabolic knowledge. Lots of coaches and trainers need to cling to archaic and outdated traditions of contest preparation such as severely restricted calories and excessive cardio activity. It serves them to do so. Make sure that your contest preparation serves you well in the future, not just short term or you will live long term with the ramifications that almost certainly include fat gain. If you insist on going down the traditional bodybuilding path you may win the trophy. You will 'win the battle, but you will lose the fat loss war'.

This paves the way to perhaps a closer look and discussion next month on 'metabolic damage'.