There has been considerable interest from readers in the brief alternating cycle concept that I have previously discussed. Here, I give an example of an actual program that has been used successfully. The athlete who followed this particular program has completed four such six-week cycles (only two of each six weeks featured substantial steroid use), with a net muscle gain of 25 lb and a net fat loss of 5 lb. The last three of those cycles gave a net muscle gain of 14 lb and a net fat loss of 14 lb. This has been for a consecutive 24 weeks, yet there has been no loss in testicle size, despite the fact that HCG was never used, nor loss of normal functioning by any measure during off weeks (with a single exception.) Thus it seems that LH production remained sufficient to maintain normal testosterone production through four consecutive cycles.
This program has not been exactly as described for all four cycles, but has been modified slightly as time has gone on. This is the most current version. The athlete believes that this version could have been followed from the beginning with equally good or superior results. Differences really are not significant.
This information is not provided as a recommendation for anyone to follow, but for informational purposes of what some current thinking is in this area. We do not advocate illegal use of drugs, but note that many individuals successful in bodybuilding engage in such use, and consider that dissemination of such information is in the interest of an informed public.
Manner of exercise performance
All sets of an exercise are generally performed with the same weight. Rest between sets is usually four minutes, which may be extended to five minutes for deadlifts and squats (four minutes if 10 sets are being performed.) Calves usually receive 2 minutes rest. Tempo is usually 4 second negatives with powerful, somewhat explosive positives. However, on phase 5, negatives are only 2 seconds. On rowing and pulldown exercises, full contraction is held for one second. During phases three and four, on the last set of an exercise, generally the final negative is extremely slow, and if the fully lowered position gives a good stretch, the stretch is held for 15 to 20 seconds after that last rep. On all other phases the final negative is normal.
Squats are only about 2 seconds on the negative. There is nothing wrong with 4 second negatives on squats, but this athlete cannot stand them psychologically. Squats are below parallel, and are performed with a Manta Ray.
Generally, multiple sets are for the same number of reps, but not necessarily. E.g., when performing 2 sets, the first set would end probably 1 rep short of maximal, but the second set would be maximal and probably that same number of reps. Often when three sets are performed, the final set will be fewer reps than the first two. However, sets of five are generally performed with the same number of reps for each set, using previous experience as a guide.
“Failure” – attempting and straining to lift a weight that can no longer be lifted – is avoided like the plague. There is no evidence that failure itself stimulates growth at all, and it certainly appears to be likely to result in nervous overtraining, even with far fewer sets performed per week than in this program.
Instead, once a rep is so difficult to complete that the lifter, from experience, knows that it cannot be lifted again, the set is to be completed with a final negative (in exercises allowing that.) There is no attempt to lift the weight when it can no longer be lifted. That should only occur in rare cases of mis-estimation of one’s ability to do another rep.
Overall training scheme
The cycle is composed of five phases, which are quite similar to each other but which vary in the weight used. The first three phases are 8 days each, and the second two phases are 10 days each. Therefore, all five phases take 44 days, or just over 6 weeks.
Weight increases between phases are approximately equally divided: e.g., phase 4 might be 20 lb heavier than phase 3, which in turn would be 20 lb heavier than Phase 2, which in turn would be 20 lb heavier than Phase 1. Phase 5 generally has no weight increase from Phase 4, unless more reps were performed than expected in Phase 4.
Phases 1 and 2 are performed under natural conditions or with light drug use, with light weights which lead into the heavier weights used in weeks 3 and 4. Reps will be fairly high in these weeks: about 9-14 reps for upper body exercises, and as much as 20 reps for squats. Some exercises that will be performed in Phases 3 and 4 are omitted, and often fewer sets are performed.
Phases 3 and 4 are performed using the full amount of drugs listed. The weights are heavier, and reps will fall to as low as about five or six.
Phase 5 is performed with the same weights as Phase 4, or slightly heavier if reps were more than six in Phase 4. However, negatives are faster, at 2 seconds per rep, and sets will be fewer. Light drug use during this phase gave better results than use of no anabolics.
Weights given are as percentages of maximums achieved on Phase 4 of the previous cycle, or previous personal record. Generally the number is not that achieved for a single set, but for two consecutive sets. Thus, “80% 5RM” would mean, 80% of that weight for which one had previously obtained 5 reps on the second set of that exercise.
Usually, in periodization plans, percent 1RM is used as the guideline, but this athlete did not have 1RM values for most lifts. Thus, values such as 5RM and 6RM were used. The general concept was for Phases 1 and 2 to be at about 60% and 68% 1RM, for Phase 3 to be at about 76% 1RM, and for Phase 4 to be at about 84% of the previous 1RM. However, 1RM values may have been misestimated, and are not given here, though these estimates were used in planning the cycle.
For Hammer Strength machines, only the weight of the plates is counted. This does result in some inaccuracy. However the athlete has not measured the tare weight of these machines and therefore this is not accounted for.
For squats, 75% of bodyweight is assumed to be lifted along with the barbell, as recommended by Poliquin. Thus, if 5 RM is 300 lb and the lifter weights 200 lb, in calculations this would be figured as 450 lb. 67% of that (for example) would be 300 lb. That would require a 150 lb barbell in this example, since 150 lb of bodyweight is also being lifted, making a total of 300 lb. This formula is probably accurate for the legs but is inaccurate for the lower back: loads will be a smaller percentage than expected. However, training the lower back is not the purpose of squatting.
Trenbolone acetate (50 mg/day) and Dianabol (10 mg five times per day) were the chosen anabolics for all cycles, except that the last cycle also included 50 mg/day Winstrol Depot. This addition resulted in gains equal to previous cycles despite considerably reduced calorie intake compared to previous cycles. Clomid was used, generally at 100 mg/day when using 50 mg/day total of Dianabol, and 50 mg/day otherwise. Cytadren was used, 250 mg/day (125 mg on arising, and 62.5 mg six and twelve hours later), when Dianabol was used at 50 mg/day total, and only 125 mg/day, on arising, when only 20 mg.day Dianabol was being used. Primobolan Depot, 400 mg, was used at the start of week 5 in those cycles when orals were used in weeks 5 and 6. No other drugs were used.
Weeks 1 and 2: Clean, but using 50 mg/day Clomid if there was a preceding cycle. Optionally, a low dose of an oral anabolic might be used in the morning: 10 mg Dianabol on arising, and 10 mg four hours later. If this is used, then 125 mg of Cytadren is taken upon arising. 300 mg Androdiol is taken before workouts, but not after 4 PM. (I do not have proof that inhibition of LH production would occur if the Androdiol were taken later, but suspect that that might be the case.)
Weeks 3 and 4: Trenbolone acetate and Dianabol at 50 mg/day, optionally with Winstrol Depot at 50 mg/day. Cytadren at 250 mg/day, and Clomid at 100 mg/day. It is not certain that this much is required: 50 mg might suffice. A double dose of trenbolone acetate was used on the first day of week 3, and none was used on the last day of week 4.
Week 5 and 6: Light use, as described as being optional for weeks 1 and 2, but preceded with 400 mg Primobolan Depot at the start of week 5. For two of the four cycles, there was no such use. In one case (the first cycle), there were no losses, but in the second case (the third cycle) there were. In the second and fourth cycles, light use in weeks 5 and 6 resulted in no losses, and in fact gains in week 5. Therefore it is thought better, at least for this particular lifter, to have the support of the low dose usage during the “off” weeks, or at least during the first two weeks following the two heavy weeks.
The basic scheme was that for weeks 1 and 2, calories were at 12 calories per lb of lean body mass, using a cyclic ketogenic diet or an isocaloric diet. One gram protein per lb LBM was used. Weeks 3 and 4 usually featured heavy eating, with at least 55 g protein per meal and at least seven meals or protein shakes per day, usually with attendant fat gain. However, for the fourth cycle when Winstrol was used, while protein levels remained high, fat intake was kept very low, so total calories were moderate, and there was no net fat gain. Weeks 5 and 6 are isocaloric at maintenance calories, with about 55 g of protein each meal for week 5, and 35-40 g for week 6.
The only supplements used were Met-Rx, Met-Rx Protein Plus, Substrate Solutions Androdiol, ephedrine, caffeine, and a mixture of flax, borage, and hemp oils. Ephedrine and caffeine were used prior to workouts in all cases, and three times per day during weeks 1 and 2 (the dieting weeks.) In the future, DHEA supplementation at 50 mg/day, might be added, not for anabolic effect, but to compensate for low DHEA levels resulting from steroid use.
The complete program, day by day
The five entries after each exercise refer to Phases 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5, respectively. The RM used is the same for each entry, but the reference to the number of reps is given only for the first entry.
|Seated Military Press (on a bench):||2 sets, 68% 6RM||2 sets, 80%||3 sets, 92%||3 sets, 104%||2 sets, 104%|
|Seated DB Overhead Press (on a bench):||Omit.||Omit.||3 sets, 100% 5RM.||3 sets, 108%.||2 sets, 108%|
|Smith Military Press, seat leaning back a little:||2 sets, 67% 5RM.||2 sets, 80%.||3 sets, 93%.||3 sets, 107%.||2 sets, 107%.|
|Hammer Calf:||2 sets, 67% 7RM.||2 sets, 80%.||3 sets, 93%.||3 sets, 107%.||2 sets, 107%.|
|(Rest three hours.)|
|Bench Press:||2 sets, 71% 4RM.||2 sets, 82%.||5 sets not to exceed 10 reps, 66% with one minute rest, then 5 more with 4 minutes rest.||Same, but with 70%.||5 sets of 5,4,3,2,1 reps respectively, with 92% to 113%, then one set with 102%.|
|Incline DB Front Raise:||Omit.||Omit.||3 sets, 100% 8RM.||3 sets, 120%.||3 sets, 120%.|
|Hammer Calf:||Omit.||Omit.||10 sets of 10 with 76% 7RM, one minute rest.||10 sets of 10 with 80%, one minute rest.||2 sets with 100%, two minutes rest.|
|Hammer Incline Bench:||2 sets, 75% 5RM.||2 sets, 84%.||2 sets, 94%.||2 sets, 103%.||2 sets, 103%.|
|Hammer High Row (performed as one-and-a-quarter reps, with the additional ¼ being a repeat of the last, contracted part of the rep):||2 sets, 65% 4RM.||2 sets, 78%.||2 sets, 91%.||2 sets, 105%.||2 sets, 105%.|
|Hammer Low Row:||2 sets, 69% 5RM.||2 sets, 81%.||2 sets, 95%.||2 sets, 107%.||2 sets, 107%.|
|Hammer Iso Row, one arm at a time:||2 sets, 66% 5RM.||2 sets, 79%.||2 sets, 91%.||2 sets, 106%.||2 sets, 106%.|
|Med-X Pullover:||2 sets, 66% 5RM.||2 sets, 79%.||2 sets, 93%.||2 sets, 106%.||2 sets, 106%.|
|Wide Grip Pullups followed immediately by Medium Grip Chins:||Omit.||Omit.||Three sets.||Three sets.||Two sets.|
|(Rest three hours)|
|Med-X Lying Leg Curl:||2 sets, 67% 7RM.||2 sets, 81%.||2 sets, 95%.||2 sets, 108%.||2 sets, 108%.|
|Med-X Leg Extension:||2 sets, 66% 8RM.||2 sets, 78%.||2 sets, 92%.||2 sets, 105%.||2 sets, 105%.|
|Med-X Seated Leg Curl:||2 sets, 78% 8RM.||2 sets, 93%.||2 sets, 108%.||2 sets, 123%.||2 sets, 123%|
|Med-X Leg Extension:||Omit.||Omit.||2 sets, 92%.||2 sets, 105%.||Omit.|
|Deadlift:||1 set, 78% (5 sets of 5)RM.||2 sets, 88%.||5 sets, 100%.||5 sets, 107%.||Five sets of 5,4,3,2,1 respectively at 110% to 125%, then one set with 103%.|
|Seated Good Morning:||1 set, 74% 9RM.||2 sets, 87%.||2 sets optional, 100%.||2 sets optional, 112%.||2 sets optional, 112%.|
|Med-X Abdominal:||Omit.||1 set, 104% 10RM.||Two sets, 106%.||Two sets, 108%.||Two sets, 108%.|
Days 3 and 4:
rest. Note – phases 1 and 2 receive an extra day rest.
Day 5 (or 6, for phases 1 and 2)
|Bench Press:||2 sets, 76% 4RM.||2 sets, 87%.||3-5 sets, 95%.||3-5 sets, 105%.||2 sets, 105%.|
|Hammer Lying Bench Press:||2 sets, 63% 5RM.||2 sets, 76%.||3 sets, 89%.||3 sets, 105%.||2 sets, 105%.|
|Seated DB Overhead Press (on a bench, hands off center, with outer edges of hands against outside plates):||2 sets, 75% 5RM.||2 sets, 83%.||3 sets, 92%.||3 sets, 100%.||2 sets, 108%|
|Hammer Calf:||Omit.||Omit.||3 sets, 100% 7RM.||3 sets, 113% 7RM.||2 sets, 113% 7RM.|
|Hang Cleans, 8 reps:||1 set, 74% 8RM.||2 sets, 85%.||3 sets, 96%.||3 sets, 107%.||2 sets, 107%.|
|Hammer Seated Calf:||Omit.||Omit.||2 sets, 100% 14RM.||2 sets, 104%.||Omit.|
|(Rest 3 hours)|
|Seated Military Press:||2 sets, 72% 6RM.||2 sets, 84%.||3 sets, 96%.||3 sets, 108%.||2 sets, 108%.|
|Hammer Calf:||2 sets, 73% 7RM.||2 sets, 87%.||3 sets, 100%.||3 sets, 113%.||2 sets, 113%.|
|Smith Shrugs:||2 sets, 67% 5RM.||2 sets, 81%.||3 sets, 94%.||3 sets, 107%.||2 sets, 107%.|
|Hammer Row:||2 sets, 66% 6RM.||2 sets, 80%.||2 sets, 95%.||2 sets, 109%.||2 sets, 109%.|
|Hammer Behind Neck Pulldown, one arm at a time:||1 set, 66% 5RM.||2 sets, 81%.||2 sets, 95%.||2 sets, 110%.||2 sets, 110%.|
|Bent Row, Yates-style (bent over only 20 to 30 degrees, pulling to just above waistband of shorts, keeping shoulders down not shrugged) :||1 set, 64% 6RM.||2 sets, 78%. .||3 sets, 91%.||3 sets, 104%.||2 sets, 104%|
Day 6 (or 7, for phases 1 and 2)
|Med-X Lying Leg Curl:||2 sets, 74% 7RM.||2 sets, 92%.||2 sets, 102%.||2 sets, 108%.||2 sets, 108%|
|Med-X Leg Extension:||2 sets, 72% 8RM.||2 sets, 84%.||2 sets, 97%.||2 sets, 106%.||2 sets, 106%.|
|Med-X Seated Leg Curl:||2 sets, 85% 8RM.||2 sets, 100%.||2 sets, 115%.||2 sets, 129%.||2 sets, 129%.|
|Med-X Leg Extension:||Omit.||Omit.||2 sets, 97%.||2 sets, 106%.||Omit.|
|Squat:||1 set, 85% (5 sets of 5)RM.||2 sets, 92%.||5 sets of five at 100% followed by||5 sets of 10 at 77%. Same, but 106% and 83%.||5 sets at 106%.|
|Med-X Ab:||1 set, 102% 10RM.||2 sets, 104%.||2 sets, 106%.||2 sets, 108%.||2 sets, 110%.|
Days 7 and 8: rest.
(Note – phases 1 and 2 receive an extra day rest.)
Repeating the cycles
The next cycle would follow with weights approximately 5-8% heavier on average than the one just completed, but adjusted if the rep range appears to need modification.
While an 5-8% gain every 6 weeks might not seem like much to a beginning lifter, for a more advanced lifter, putting together several such cycles results in gains that are quite impressive. This is the secret to periodization – the body constantly experiences different challenges, e.g. %RM – and over time the increases in weight are significant but achievable. In contrast, for an advanced lifter, attempting to do similar workouts every week but with say 1% more weight each workout soon results in stagnation and loss of a rep (or loss of lifting form) as a result of the weight increase, and no long-term increase in strength. Neither is it possible for an advanced lifter who already is lifting with maximal effort for a given weight to achieve an additional rep each week.
Most powerlifting titles have been won by individuals following planned training cycles, which, in the core lifts, follow a pattern which repeats from cycle to cycle, but slightly heavier each time. Aside from its success with the particular athlete who followed the program described here, this general approach has been successful for many strength trainers.
It appears, however, to be somewhat novel to have a drug program which integrates with the training program in such a way as to allow full recovery of natural testosterone production over more than half of each cycle, thus allowing the cycles to be repeated back to back many times without loss of normal testosterone production.