Part 1 of Cycle 1: (hypertrophic) Gainz Bro

Cycle 1 is all about building muscle and the aerobic energy system.

One of the foundations of good programming is that the current work you’re doing is setting the stage for even better work in the future, and that’s what this cycle focused on hypertrophy (muscle growth) and aerobic training will do.

Building muscle increases the potential for strength and power gains in Cycle 2.

Building the aerobic system improves the ability to do work for longer periods of time, as well as improves the ability to recover from sets of workouts, workouts, weeks etc., which is important as the volume of training increases as the year goes on.

Today we talk about hypertrophy. For a quick post about aerobic work, click here.


Building muscle is awesome. If you work out and there isn’t a part of you that doesn’t want to look jacked, you need to get out of my face. 

But hypertrophy goes beyond simply looking jacked, making it even more awesome.  For everyone. I’ll show you, using a traditional “bodybuilding” prescription of back squat: 4 sets of 10 reps, with 2 to 3 minutes of rest between sets.
Out-of-shape, inexperienced movers, newbies, etc.

This prescription is great for you because you walk away having done 40+ reps of the movement at load. Note that this doesn’t include warm-up reps, so assuming you are coached well and don’t jump from the bar to working weight, you are probably looking at 75+ reps of a single movement in a relatively short period of time.

For the new mover, this is great for learning. Lots of movement, with enough rest between sets your coach can give you some tips and you can implement them right away in the next set.

“I want to lose weight” 

What they actually mean is “I want to look and feel awesome” and this is done through the improvement of body composition. Build muscle, lose fat.

During my education, the class was asked, “A client comes to you and wants to lose weight. What you have them do?” I figured this was a trick question, so I didn’t answer because I didn’t want to look dumb. Most people said “Cardio”, “aerobic exercise”, etc. etc.

The real answer was “weight training”. If someone doesn’t have enough muscle to do enough work, changes in body composition will be slow. Resting caloric expenditure (the amount of calories you burn simply by being alive) is low because 25%, 30%, 40%+ of their body mass is inert tissue – fat. Fat is used for energy, yes, but if most of the body is fat it can’t work hard enough to use it. So it just sits there.

Casual but serious Fitnesser

You take your time at the gym seriously…but not too seriously. Someone said today at the gym that they wanted to “fitness but not over fitness” which I laughed at because it made so much sense.

Building muscle will help you get through workouts and help you “look like you workout”.

Competitive Fitnesser

Now is the time to build a foundation, and the benefits of spending time with some hypertrophy work have more sport-specific benefits than you think.ave you ever had to do something like this?

3 rounds for time:
5 S20H 185/125
10 Front Squats 185/125
15 Pullups
20 Burpees

I see 3 sets of 5 reps in the jerk, and 3 sets of 10 reps in the front squat here. Or said another way, 3 sets of four movements done right after each other. So, like, a superset in bodybuilding.


So, like, CrossFit is like, bodybuilding for time?

Mind blown.

The Nay-Sayers

Now there might be some people who think I’m full of crap.

“If I gain weight my gymnastics will suffer”

That is true. But this cycle is set up to build functional tissue. The rate of muscle growth in men is somewhere around 1 pound a month, and less than that for women. This is not going to affect your gymnastics as much as you think it is, especially with the amount of strict gymnastic work in this cycle.

“I don’t want to get too big”

Then you won’t. See above stat about the rate of muscle growth possible each month.

If you are a woman saying this, talk to any other woman trying to get bigger. It’s really fricking hard. You are not going to wake up after a week huge, jacked, and with hair on your chest.

“Yeah, but what about my conditioning?!?!? What about my metcons?!??!!”

Talk to me after week 3 and we’ll see if you’re still worried.


So, a cycle focused on building muscle can help improve body composition, set you up for big strength gains in the future, improve your workout scores, and help you train specifically for elements you’ll see in competition.

I’m sold.

Tommorrow, the template.


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