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Sav's Formula! Train Smarter For Better Results

Advice From A Bodybuilding Legend

By Sav Kyriacou on 19.02.2020 10:55 am


I have a passion about the whole industry and I love teaching people how to train so they don’t waste time and effort. I had nobody to teach me and I wasted a lot of years and caused damage to myself in the process.

I want to create a dogma of training that’s logical and significantly correct and not a hit and miss like most training programs. My argument is that the way most people are training these days is wrong. The question that I am asked is that, if it’s wrong, why are so many people doing it? Well I will give you an analogy that in a way answers this question. Which newspaper is better for reporting domestic and global news? The Sun or The Times? We all know the answer unless we have just come out of some underground hole. Did you know The Sun sells 20:1 to The Times? Does this mean that people who buy The Sun are stupid? Maybe some are but the majority just don’t really care about the news that much. They are more interested about reading who is having an affair with whom and what is happening in their favourite soap on TV.

The same applies to training. Some people cannot be bothered to change or question their training method because that’s what they have been told or shown to do when they started training. The expression “the blind leading the blind” comes to mind. The person who gave the advice probably has an incredible physique and that’s why you will listen, but that person will never tell you that even before they started training, they already had a physique that probably took most people 5 years of training to achieve, or how long it took to achieve that size and strength. They most probably won’t even mention how many mg of testosterone and other steroids they have taken for years on end to achieve that physique.

Genetics are a very important ingredient in the whole formula to achieving an incredible physique or even becoming a champion in the industry. I would say apart from genetics, training correctly is the other most important factor in creating a brilliant physique and to become a champion. One needs the other! Of course, nutrition is important but not as important as genetics and training correctly.

As you can see, I avoid using the expression “training very hard” because that factor does not mean anything because most people are training very hard but wrong. Correct training includes the level of intensity at which you should be aiming for. Stop following the methods and styles of training that are so unproductive. We’ve ended up with a situation where half the people that are training seriously are using some type of muscle enhancers so that they can grow a little because their gains have stopped due to unproductive training methods.

It’s so simple. The first thing you should learn to do is to start listening to your muscles while you are training them. Allow the best computer on the planet (your brain) to analyse the messages that are being sent from your muscles. You will teach yourself in a very short space of time how to distinguish good and bad messages. Basically, what you need to think about is, if the exercise, movement, speed, positioning and volume is creating sufficient stimulation of the muscle to create hypertrophy (muscle building)? When you master this, which you will because it’s not that hard to do, it will become second nature to you while you are training and you will become so in tune with your muscle and brain connectivity that your training will become more productive.

I’m going to use two expressions that will seem a little confusing but trust me, they won’t be after I have explained them. They are MUSCULAR FAILURE and STRENGTH FAILURE.

MUSCULAR FAILURE is basically when your muscles cannot do anymore because they have been stimulated to the maximum. STRENGTH FAILURE is when you cannot do anymore because your strength has been utilised. The difference here is that if you have achieved strength failure before muscular failure, the hypertrophy would not have taken place, which means you would have wasted your time unless you are training for strength only. I have just watched a video on YouTube of someone doing a 735lb bench press with hardly any exceptional chest development, which in simple terms proves the point that if lifting heavy weights develop big muscles, then everybody in the gym would have big muscles. Bigger muscles will give you increased strength also but please stop confusing the two types of training and what they could achieve.

For muscular failure to work for hypertrophy, it must be achieved with the lowest amount of reps you could do for that particular set. Meaning if you could achieve that by doing 10 reps and not 15, that set will be more productive. The best way to achieve this is by making sure you achieve the burn, which is a sign that you are creating hypertrophy in the muscle. You must not get the burn by doing excessive amount of reps to achieve this. Burn with high reps will only achieve stamina in the muscle fibres and not hypertrophy.

If I were to say to someone, achieve a perfect muscle building set, it will be the set with lower amount of reps, but with the burn coming in quite early, say 5th or 6th rep and by the 7th and 8th its all done, meaning you are not able to do any more. Not only because the burn is severe but because your strength is done, meaning you have also reached strength failure but only after you have achieved muscular failure.

The 3 essential parts to my formula for developing and growing muscle, are frequency, volume and execution. Out of these 3 I would say EXECUTION of each movement is the most important and also the most difficult to achieve. Volume means how much workload you actually need to do for each body part, which will up to a point be dictated how good your execution is with each exercise.

Basically, the better you can master the execution of the movement the less volume will be needed.

The next part of my formula is VOLUME, and that would be the hardest part to master, as you will need to learn to get used to doing less than before and obviously I’m assuming that you were doing volume like most people, you must start by doing the exercises with more precision and not using all your energy and nervous system reserves just to accomplish each movement for the sake of doing them but with no end result. Yes, doing volume will probably stimulate the muscle but it is not the only ingredient that will create hypertrophy. Recovery will be what helps create hypertrophy, but this will probably never happen as you would have utilised all your recovery ability just to do your marathon workout. A very small percentage of people will be able to do that, and some will start resorting to other means to help them recover (if you know what I mean) and the rest stagnate to a level of development with no progress. Most will just carry on doing the same workouts with no apparent changes and will start to look for some miracle supplement or change their diets and start eating more. This so called “bulking up” phase otherwise known as getting fat, does not exist. I will talk about these stupid, middle-aged, ignorant phrases and descriptions we and our predecessors gave to the bodybuilding industry in another article.

More food will never give you more muscles unless you are not eating enough in the first place, which is very unlikely. People blame their diet instead of their training methods. Every conversation I have had about this leads to people firstly telling me how hard they are training. Training hard is not the only thing they should be doing, it’s training correctly and this will dictate your progress.

The next part is frequency. How often you train each individual body part and how many days before you train that muscle group again. The majority of serious trainers will train each body part once per week. Well wake up everyone and smell the coffee, seven days is a long time apart. There has to come a time where if you have stimulated growth and recovered, the gains you have made will start going back from where they came from if you don’t create stimulation again. Clinical studies have shown that after 4-5 days the reversal will start taking place. Obviously if you’re indulging in some other “special” supplementation that will not take place as quick, so 7-8 days might be ok, hence the special workouts certain individuals do and seem to be working.

Part of the reason why most people cannot train each muscle more frequently is because of the volume. If someone is doing 25-30 sets for a certain body part, there is no way that they will be able to do more than just one body part each training session, due to the energy and time limitation. Therefore, if you are training with more precision then less volume is needed and you will be able to train more body parts each session and of course be able to train each body part more frequently.

That’s all for today! More information on muscle growth next time!

Train smart!

By Sav Kyriacou

Bodybuilding Expert and owner & founder of the legendary Muscleworks Gyms

Sav Kyriacou

Sav Kyriacou

Bodybuilding Expert

Sav Kyriacou is the owner and founder of the legendary Muscleworks gyms in London. He has a lifetime of knowledge on fitness and nutrition and is a well-known and highly respected person in the bodybuilding community. Sav has also been a presenter on the Active Channel on Sky TV for several years and is a fountain of knowledge for all aspiring and professional bodybuilders alike.



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