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The 1-6 principle

Das 1-6 Prinzip

The 1-6 principle was first introduced at the National Strength and Conditioning Association Convention in San Diego in 1991 by coach Dragomir Cioroslan, bronze medalist at the 1984 Olympic Games in Los Angeles. This set/repetition scheme was used with great success by elite weightlifters in Romania and Hungary.

This training system was known under the Hungarian name of mixed neural drive/hypertrophy program.

This system is based on the so-called post-tetanic facilitation phenomenon first described in strength training circles by German physiologist Dietmar Schmidtbleicher of the University of Freiburg (to become a successful strength coach, you must have an exotic-sounding name). In a nutshell, if you move a 6RM weight (the maximum weight you can move up six times) within 3 to 10 minutes of performing a single-rep max, you can use a heavier weight than if you hadn't performed the single-rep.

For example, let's say you can normally press six reps with 110 kilos on the incline bench. However, if you do a max single repetition - where you can use say 130 kilos - four minutes before performing those 6 repetitions, then you will be able to perform six repetitions with 112.5 to 115 kilos. This is a significant increase.

In fact, many exercisers using this method will find that their weights will increase on the single reps with each wave. A typical wave for someone who can perform 6 reps with 110 kilos on the incline bench might look like this:

  • Set 1 1 repetition with 130 kilos
  • Set 2 6 repetitions with 110 kilos
  • Set 3 1 repetition with 135 kilos
  • Set 4 6 repetitions with 112.5 kilos
  • Set 5 1 repetition with 137.5 kilos
  • Set 6 6 repetitions with 130 kilos

This is not just a sleight of hand. The basic premise is that you are using maximum weights to potentiate the nervous system. Because of this increased, more efficient neural drive, you can use a heavier weight for six reps, which will result in building bigger and stronger muscles.

Finnish strength physiologist Keijo Häkkinen has shown in many of his experiments that long-term strength gains are directly related to how much you increase the intensity. For this reason, you can expect to set new records in your strength gains with this method as it fully utilizes this principle of increased intensity.

This method could also be used by wrestlers and athletes practicing certain martial arts such as Jiu-Jitsu. These individuals are often interested in moving up a weight class while maintaining their speed. Well, this system will not only allow you to build functional bodyweight - your speed strength should also increase, as this system also challenges the high threshold motor units responsible for producing explosive power.

After hearing about this effective training technique, I went back home and used it with great success with bobsledders, skiers, speed skaters preparing for the Albertville Games in 1992. Other top athletes have also used elements of this type of training with great success. Olympic gold medalists Valery Borsov and Ben Johnson perform squats with a 3 RM weight ten minutes before their record breaking sprint performances to utilize the effect of post-tetanic facilitation.

I won't keep you in suspense any longer. Here is the program. You should do this five-day cycle a total of six times. So you will need 30 days to use this program.

Note: For those who are not familiar with the following exercise description notation, many of the workouts are divided into A1 and A2 schemes. For example, in the first workout below, you perform a set of SZ Scottculrs with a medium-wide grip with your 1RM weight, pause for two minutes, and then perform a set of close bench presses with your 1RM weight. After two more minutes, go back to the A1 exercise, the SZ Scott curls with a medium-wide grip.

You may also be confused by the tempo, but don't worry, it's quite simple. For example, the first exercise below has a 40x0 tempo. This simply means that you should take 4 seconds for the eccentric or lowering part of the movement. Then move the weight explosively upwards (indicated by an "X") without pausing (0 seconds) at the lowest point of the movement, followed by no pause at the highest point of the movement. If you see a 3121 tempo, this means 3 seconds to lower the weight, followed by one second pause at the lowest point of the movement, two seconds to raise the weight, followed by one second pause at the highest point of the movement before lowering the weight again.

Day 1 - Arms

Exercise

Sets

Tempo

Pause

A1

SZ Scottcurls with medium wide grip

6

1,6,1,6,1,6

40X0

2 min.

A2

Close bench press

6

1,6,1,6,1,6

40X0

2 min.

B1

Barbell curls standing medium wide grip

4

1,6,1,6

40X0

2 min.

B2

Dips for triceps

4

1,6,1,6

40X0

2 min.

Day 2 - Legs

Exercise

Sets

Tempo

Pause

A1

Squats

6

1,6,1,6,1,6

50X0

2 min.

A2

Leg curls lying neutral foot position

6

1,6,1,6,1,6

50X0

2 min.

B1

Trap bar deadlift

4

1,6,1,6

50X0

2 min.

B2

Standing calf raise

4

1,6,1,6

22X0

2 min.

Day 3 - No training

Day 4 - Chest and back

Exercise

Sets

Tempo

Rest

A1

Pull-ups with close grip and additional weight

6

1,6,1,6,1,6

50X0

2 min.

A2

Bench press with medium wide grip

6

1,6,1,6,1,6

50X0

2 min.

B1

Rowing Sitting on cable

4

1,6,1,6

50X0

2 min.

B2

Incline bench press

4

1,6,1,6

50X0

2 min.

Day 5 - Training free

Comments

Now before you bombard me with hundreds of emails asking why the program doesn't include isolation training for the shoulder muscles, rotator cuff or forearms, you should remember that the goal of this training program is to promote large gains in strength and cross-sectional area of high threshold motor units.

For reasons of "economic use of training time", as my German colleague Schmidtbleicher would say, you should focus on multi-joint exercises such as squats and presses. Sorry Richard Simmons fans, there's no room here for one-armed side raises on the cable pulley or tricep kickbacks.

Don't worry, your shoulder muscles and forearms will not atrophy during the 30 days you dedicate to this system. If anything, you'll grow, as this is probably the first time you've given these muscles a break.

As you perform a series of exercises with your 1RM weight, it is very important that you warm up well. The warm-up should consist of performing a few repetitions of the first pair of the exercise list of the training session. If you have warmed up well, there is no need to warm up for the second pair of exercises.

Let's say for illustrative purposes that we are on day 2 (leg day) of the program and you can move a maximum weight of 150 kilos for squats and 90 kilos for leg curls. Your warm-up would then look like this (just take enough time to transition from one exercise to another, adjust the weight and finish the warm-up set):

  1. Squats - 5 reps with 65 kilos
  2. Lying leg curls with neutral foot position - 5 repetitions with 40 kilos
  3. Squats - 3 repetitions with 90 kilos
  4. Lying leg curls with neutral foot position - 3 repetitions with 50 kilos
  5. Squats - 2 repetitions with 110 kilos
  6. Lying leg curls with neutral foot position - 2 repetitions with 60 kilos
  7. Squats - 1 repetition with 130 kilos
  8. Lying leg curls with neutral foot position - 1 repetition with 70 kilos
  9. Squats - 1 repetition with 140 kilos
  10. Lying leg curls with neutral foot position - 2 repetitions with 80 kilos

Allow yourself a 2-minute break and then start the training session.

Assuming you are working with maximum weights, you should probably have a training partner for exercises such as presses and squats. Of course, if the thought of heavy single repetitions scares you and you can't find a training partner, you could modify the program by using a 2,5,2,5,2,5 set and repetition scheme.

If you feel like you won't be able to do your single reps, don't listen to your ego! It's better to underestimate your training weights on single reps than to use too much weight and force your training partner to do most of the work for you.

When you looked at the 1.6 training program, you may have noticed that the concentric range is always performed explosively (indicated by an "X"). This was done on purpose to force you to use the high threshold motor units. It may well be that you will move the weights slowly due to their height, but what Canadian strength physiologist Behm said in 1995 is important here: "it is not so much the intention, but more the actual speed that dictates the recruitment of the motor units." So as long as you try to move the weight as fast as possible, you will reap the benefits. Recent work by Slovenian strength sports researcher Gasovic (1998) confirms the need for explosive concentric contractions for gains in strength and speed.

Another important thing to remember is to keep accurate records of all sets and repetitions in order to define short-term goals for each training session. Over the course of a proper strength training program, the muscles will adapt to the stress of training by becoming stronger. To be effective, the stress your muscles are subjected to must be an overload, which means heavier weights than you have used in previous activities. Remember that the increase in load does not have to be immense.

Because this workout is so demanding on the nervous system, you may well have trouble falling asleep at night after the first few workouts. But don't worry, it should get better after six months or so. No, I'm just having fun. After two or three days, everything should be fine.

Fortunately, after 30 days you will have completed this program. At this point, you should be significantly stronger (and hopefully a few pounds heavier). After completing this cycle, I would recommend giving yourself 5 training-free days. If you continue training after this, you should start with a program that uses a higher number of repetitions per set, such as two exercises of 5 sets per muscle group with 8 repetitions and a 3210 tempo.

This program might help you so much that you might even think about giving up bodybuilding, changing your name to a Slavic-sounding name and joining the Bulgarian weightlifting team. The choice is yours.

Small steps make a big difference

One of the disadvantages of any program that requires you to increase your training weights in small increments is the lack of discs lighter than 1.25 kilos. Obviously, at a certain point in your training career, increasing your training weight by 2.5 kilos will represent a huge leap.

Fortunately, several companies make small weight plates that make this jump more controllable as you increase the weight. Eleiko Olympic, for example, produces 0.5 and 0.25 kilo weight plates.

Of course, you can always use Olympic bar closures to achieve small increases in weight.

From Charles Poliquin | 06/25/99

Source: https://www.t-nation.com/training/1-6-principle

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