My offseason training, the mini cycles

My offseason training, the mini cycles

Jun 8, 2013

My off season training differs considerably then my contest season.  One thing about training you must be commited to your regimen and yet at the same time be willing to abandon it . Notice I said abandon not forget. Why is that? Why remember something that doesn’t work ? So I can teach someone else it? No because something that doesn’t work for you may work for someone else.  So the next time I am in a rut I remember jumping ship isn’t so bad? Maybe. Then what is the reason?  The reason is because you will go back to it because at some point because all workouts will stop working due to adaptation. If you start with workout one and ride it out for say a year where you are making gains for the first 9 months in different areas of the course then nothing progresses in the following  two to three months then it is time to switch it up.(This applies more to the beginner or novice). Over the course of a few years maybe you changed it up 6-7 times. Then you look back because you exhausted different training methods that may accommodate your sport or body type. At this point going back to a previous cycle or training routine could a good idea. You may have tapped out on gains a year or two earlier but that doesn’t mean it may not be the boost or the focus your body needs now.

I am not the greatest bencher nor powerlifter but there could be some ideologies that can work for the novice or someone even better. You can never have too much of a perspective even when it is not yours.

I have been keeping a log of my training since 1988. There are times I go back and look at my thinking from that time period. Sometimes it is to refresh my memory of maybe a movement I had forgotten. Maybe just to make me feel good how I have gotten stronger over the years. ( I bypass looking at my deadlift numbers because it will have the adverse effect.) I am an avid believer of a log. When years go by you will forget something or learn about your training. It could be from the positives or from the negatives.

I call my offseason training a “ Sponge  Training” this is my philosophy on the offseason where reps, sets, and days are factored. Another article will explain further.   After years of training I found I get stagnant at times. I find my best training is when doing something new or changing it up. PRs motivate me even rep prs.  With my off season training I don’t get bored. I do movements for 4 week max and last workout is a pr workout. I get fired up when I train for a meet anxious to see what I have built for an end result on the platform and the same thinking goes here on a mini cycle. It is a different type of intensity where reps and different movements are concerned.

I have an press overtraining rule which is:  When I do chest ,tris, or shoulders ONLY 2 of those parts will be pressing heavy. The chest is always one of them so that means I flip flop the tris and shoulders. Maybe when you feel your tie ins are fried or your bench is stuck it could be because you are doing TOO MUCH pressing. This way I feel they get some rest but the shoulders or tris are still getting worked out still being heavy(i.e, heavy headbangers , laterals, pushdowns.)

My offseason training is usually 4 workouts for each movement/body part before I change it up. This is my breakdown of the 4 workouts:

  1. This workout breaks me into the movement. I want to create a rhythm for the cycle, get familiar with the movement if it is something I haven’t tried before. This would not have a limit of sets because I would be going light in case I was unsure of the mechanics of the movement or I was trying to find a weight that would be my starting point for the next workout. (Depending on the movement  rep range is usually 4-8)
  2. This is where I start with the weight I felt  comfortable with or ended with the last workout. If I missing the first set of 8 reps then I am starting way too high. I need to make sure I can do the first set with a 5-6 effort.Last set should be higher if it is a 8 rep movement, if you miss it should be on the 7- 8th rep if you miss before those reps dumb down the weight for next workout! Your goal is 8 REPS!!!! NOT  5 OR 6!! ( this applies to my pyramid of 8 reps ,otherwise if your last set is a 5 rep or 4 rep then NEVER do a weight you fall 2 reps short!!!)
  3. This workout you should be in a good groove and going strong . All sets should be a 7-9 effort.
  4. This workout I try to hit a pr if I haven’t in other previous workouts. That’s my goal a rep  with weight pr. Just like you have a 1 rep max pr I try to have a 8 rep pr or a 4 rep pr if that is the rep workout I am doing.

When the 4th week is over I will be already looking forward to my next mini cycle.

The Mini Cycle and the movements

This is my offseason schedule.


1 legs

2  bench

3 off

4 shoulders and back

5 off

6 arms

7 off

These are the movements I cycle in each 4 week workout. On the competition movements they are a staple of every cycle(at least some variation) the supplemental  exercises will change. Everything I do is RAW offseason (except for knee wraps).

Legs-     squats    (speed ,box ,reverse bands, kneeling, regular )

then either leg press or leg extensions

Pick two : deadlifts (speed deads ,sets of 4-8s, hip ups, stiff leg deads)

Pull a sled every week heavy light weeks.

Chest-  bench  (speed, band, reps pyramid or fixed weight)

Then floor press, RAM , or incline.

Shoulders- I pick 2 of the following.( Remember when doing a mini then pressing overtraining rule from above). Overhead press, standing military, behind the necks (absolutely love), dumbbell press,or seated rack press from right above the head. The other movement is either bar raises, laterals or upright rows.

I do shrugs with pin pulls this day too.

Back- Pulldowns, rows, pull overs, cables. Then I do one of these good mornings or hypers.

Biceps- preachers bar primary then sometimes replace with dumbbells (excellent movement for developing a cushion at the bottom for the bench). Standing bar, cable curls, dumbbell curls or hammers.

Triceps- Pick one close grip bench ,close grip with RAM, or dips. Then the other headbangers or tricep extensions. (Remember the press overtraining rule).


Here is an example of a mini cycle

Legs – Squat movement 4-6 sets (every other workout do second)

Leg press 4 sets

Deadlift movement

Hip ups


******** Sometimes I also do the deadlift movement first then the squat movement as 3rd group.

Chest– Bench movement 4 sets

Floor press 3-4 sets

Incline      3 sets

Shoulders- Laterals then upright rows or bar raises.

Remember this is what works for me it may not work for you. Regardless, change is good either by changing your workout, pointing your toes out  or changing your shoes for squatting sometimes the most miniscule thing can have massive effect.

Ever have questions email me or post it. Be happy to help or explain.

Until then train hard and FOCUS FIRST.


Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Please follow and like us:

© 2012-2018 IronAuthority All Rights Reserved

Enjoy this blog? Please spread the word :)

Follow by Email