Mesocycle Three is all about strength and is divided into the following three muscle groupings with four workouts per muscle grouping:
Chest, Shoulders and Biceps Back and Triceps Legs
You will lift weights that are 80–90% of your 1RM during these four weeks. Your rep range will be around six to eight reps for most exercises and because of the increased intensity you will need a longer rest break between sets of the same muscle group than you did in the previous mesocycles. To reduce the amount of downtime, the upper body muscle groups are arranged in this series so that you're alternating between push and pull muscle groups. This method will allow your different muscle groups to always have at least two to three minutes of rest, which research shows is the minimum necessary time to replenish the body's various energy cycles needed for a high intensity workout.
This strength cycle will feature a method of training called the 5% method. To take full advantage of this technique you will want to select the heaviest weight you can lift for about nine reps. The first week you are going to do four sets of eight reps for every exercise, resting two to three minutes between each set of the same muscle group. Do the same for weeks two and three, but increase your weight by 5% for each workout and decrease your reps by one. On your fourth and final workout for this mesocycle, you will do eight reps again, just as in week one, but you'll use the weight you used in your second workout. If everything goes as planned you should be 5% stronger at the end of this mesocycle.
You're probably wondering how you're going to be able to lift weights for the lower body in this rep range and intensity level. You need at least a squat rack to safely train the lower body at this intensity level, and that is why we have included two different leg workout program options for each week of this mesocycle. The Plyo–Workout is for those who don't own a squat rack and will focus on explosive strength utilizing plyometric moves mixed with traditional leg strength training exercises. It will not follow the 5% method for strength.
If you wish to follow a true strength program and want to follow the same 5% method used in the upper body workouts in this cycle, then select the Squat Rack workout option. There are two ways to do the workouts when selecting this option. The first and best way is to use a squat rack with safety catches and a spotter. Two members of the cast are shown doing this in all four squat rack workouts. The other way to do these routines are to wear a weighted vest (usually available at most stores from 10–40 pounds) and use a short and lighter barbell like we normally use in the other segments of STS. This still may not be enough weight for some people to exactly follow the 5% method, but nevertheless it will give you an outstanding and challenging workout. The purpose of the weighted vest is to lessen the amount of weight you need on your barbell. This is beneficial because in an exercise like a squat (without a rack) you are limited by the weight you can safely lift overhead, not by the amount you can squat.
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