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Stack-10 Training

Stack-10 Training

Here's what you need to know...

  1. Stack-10 is a progressive 6 week plan designed to greatly accelerate your gains on a stubborn exercise.
  2. Stack-10 involves performing consecutive sets of 10 reps, starting with the bar empty and adding 10% more weight on each set until you can no longer perform 10 reps with the weight.

The strategy is simple - no tricks, no gimmicks and no subtle ways to trick you into thinking you're making progress when you're really not.

This training cycle will not only reward you with gains in strength and muscle mass, but will also increase your work capacity and mental toughness.

I call this program Stack-10, and I'll start by outlining its unique benefits and then give you some tips to help you get the most out of this brutal 6 week cycle.

The Stack-10 training cycle

First, choose a basic exercise or muscle group that you want to maximize gains in over the course of 6 workouts.

Although this progression strategy works best with barbell multi-joint exercises such as squats, bench presses and overhead presses, it can also be used with dumbbell, kettlebell or machine exercises.

Basically, we are using a "column" instead of a pyramid. Instead of reducing the reps on each subsequent set, apart from the heaviest set which will be too heavy for 10 reps, you will use 10 reps on each set you perform.

In the example below, I will apply this principle to squats for an exerciser whose current 1RM weight is 405 pounds. (1 kilo equals 2.2 American pounds).

Here's how it works: Start with the empty bar and perform 10 repetitions. Then perform 10 repetitions with 95 pounds. Then 10 repetitions with 135 pounds, 10 repetitions with 185 pounds, 10 repetitions with 225 pounds, etc. until you finally reach a weight with which 10 repetitions are no longer possible. For an athlete with a maximum squat weight of 405 pounds, it might look like this:

  • Set 1: 45 x 10
  • Set 2: 95 x 10
  • Set 3: 135 x 10
  • Set 4: 185 x 10
  • Set 5: 225 x 10
  • Set 6: 275 x 10
  • Set 7: 315 x 6

Seven days later, your only goal is to perform these 7 sets again and achieve more reps at 315 pounds on the last set than you did the previous week - for example, 8 reps at 315 pounds.

Once you have reached 10 reps at 315 pounds, your next training session will include a set at 365 pounds. After the initial increase in weight, don't expect to do more than a few reps.

Here is an example:

Set

Week 1

Week 2

Week 3

Week 4

Week 5

Week 6

1

45 x 10

45 x 10

45 x 10

45 x 10

45 x 10

45 x 10

2

95 x 10

95 x 10

95 x 10

95 x 10

95 x 10

95 x 10

3

135 x 10

135 x 10

135 x 10

135 x 10

135 x 10

135 x 10

4

185 x 10

185 x 10

185 x 10

185 x 10

185 x 10

185 x 10

5

225 x 10

225 x 10

225 x 10

225 x 10

225 x 10

225 x 10

6

275 x 10

275 x 10

275 x 10

275 x 10

275 x 10

275 x 10

7

315 x 6

315 x 8

315 x 10

315 x 10

315 x 10

315 x 10

8

365 x 3

365 x 5

365 x 6

In this example, the trainee achieved 10 repetitions with 315 pounds in week 3. He therefore added an eighth set to his next training session a week later. His goal was then to increase the number of repetitions on this eighth set over the following weeks.

Note: Use the rest pause method on the last set to be able to perform more repetitions. For squats, you would pause after one repetition, keeping the weight on your shoulders, and then force another repetition. Then pause again for a few breaths, perform another repetition, and so on.

Unique benefits

Stack-10 does everything an effective training cycle should do - it makes you more muscular and stronger. However, it includes some additional benefits:

It ensures an adequate warm-up.

The importance of warming up is usually underestimated, with the result that many exercisers warm up inadequately. However, a proper warm-up is not only necessary for safety reasons, but also for optimal performance. While I usually roll my eyes at extensive cardio/stretching/activation sessions before the actual workout, I think most exercisers would be better off performing more total repetitions in their specific warm-up, as this allows for a better motor pattern and preparation for the movements.

It promotes specific work capacity.

Work capacity is simply another word for the ability to tolerate more work without a significant drop in the quality of exercise execution.

It increases mental toughness.

Mental toughness is not a genetic trait, but something that can be developed. Performing progressively heavier sets of 10 repetitions with the goal of performing better and better over the course of six weeks is an excellent way to develop this important quality.

It increases the training volume.

Intensity is important, but so is volume. The fact is that both play an important role in the development of maximum strength and hypertrophy. If you're the type of strength athlete who tends to neglect volume when trying to perform heavy single repetitions, then this training cycle will do a lot for your muscle cross-sectional area, which of course also contributes to your strength development.

It promotes stability and consistency.

No matter what weight you achieve on your heaviest set (let's say that's 3 reps of 365 pounds from the example above), this is a weight you can achieve on your worst days, not just your best days. Ultimately, you didn't save up your strength for this set, you earned that strength after performing several progressively heavier sets of 10 reps! Knowing this makes the result of each heaviest set especially relevant and meaningful.

Problem solving

Read through the following recommendations before starting Stack-10. These recommendations can make the difference between success and failure.

  • If your 1RM weight is much lower (or much higher) than the example above, then you should use smaller (or larger) jumps in weight. As a rule of thumb, each weight jump should be about 10% of your current 1RM weight (maximum weight for one repetition) for the exercise in question. The weight jumps I used in the example above were based on 25 and 45 pound weight plates for simplicity.
  • You should ideally perform a second training session 3 to 4 days later in the week using maximal strength parameters (3 to 6 sets of 1 to 3 repetitions per set with adequate rest intervals between sets). This ensures a regular stimulus for both hypertrophy and maximum strength. These two qualities are synergistic and should be trained regularly regardless of the goal.
  • You will eventually reach a plateau with this program or any other aggressive progression strategy program. This is the reason a cycle of this program lasts 6 weeks. If you reach a plateau before the end of the 6 weeks - if you don't manage to improve on your last set compared to the previous week - then you should take this as a sign that you haven't fully recovered from the previous training session. It therefore makes sense to be conservative in your first training session if in doubt. It is not necessary to be aggressive right from the start.
  • Only use this cycle for one exercise - at least at the beginning. Use this plan to break through plateaus on your most stubborn exercises. When the 6 weeks are up, you can use it for another exercise, and so on.
  • Resist the urge to go on and on with this cycle, because I can assure you that you will eventually reach a point where this will take its toll. Instead, when the 6 weeks are up, switch to a more intensity-focused approach to the exercise in question.

Get going

If you have a stubborn exercise that seems to be resisting your best efforts to improve your performance, then you should use the Stack 10 method. If you work hard, this plan will work.

By Charles Staley | 10/02/13

Source: https://www.t-nation.com/workouts/stack-10-training

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