Your body is a highly adaptive machine. Put it through some tough workouts week after week, and guess what? Those workouts won't be so tough anymore. To keep growing, you have to keep your body guessing. It's just one of those bodybuilding laws: If you want to see consistent gains, you have to implement the shock factor when your training stagnates.
Legendary fifties-era bodybuilder and coach Vince "the Iron Guru" Gironda believed that muscle confusion and temporary overreaching phases were the best ways to build muscle. His 8x8 method—8 sets of 8 reps—has been a go-to for bodybuilders whose muscles are in need of some shock therapy. If you've noticed that your workouts just aren't as hard as they used to be, you need to implement this plan.
This Gironda-style workout program is super effective, and it's one of the best full-body programs I've ever utilized. Fair warning: this plan isn't for the faint-hearted! Every one of the workouts includes a lot of volume in the muscle-building rep range, so you're guaranteed a good deal of work.
I have no doubt that once you finish one of these workouts, you'll be crawling out of the gym! The pain will be well worth it, though. Your body will have no choice but to adapt by growing muscle and racing through calories to keep up. Hello, aesthetics!
Shock and Awe Program
These workouts are fast-paced and intense—enough to make the Iron Guru proud, in fact.
Implement this plan by training for two days and then taking two complete rest days. Lift, rinse, and repeat. The workouts are brutal, so be sure to give your body enough time to recover so you can go hard the next time you're in the gym.
On each training day, you'll do one exercise for each body part for 8 sets of 8 reps. That's right: This is a high-frequency, full-body split. That might seem strange to many of you, but it's a great alternative if you've been training under a standard body-part-based split for a long time. The frequency and overall volume should kick-start some major adaptations!
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Keep your rest periods to 30 seconds. This is a shock program, so I don't want you sitting around between sets for minutes at a time. Your goal during this plan is to shock the hell out of your expectations, overall training capabilities, and muscle.
Perform this program for a maximum of 5-6 weeks. Try to increase the weight you lift every two weeks or so. Remember, this is a temporary phase, so you can really push yourself.
Select a weight that you're confident you can do for 8 sets of 8 reps. You only have 30 seconds of rest after each set, so you can't go too heavy.
Try not to do any rest-pause sets. Your weight should challenge you, however, so don't choose a weight so light you can get through every set and rep with ease. Choose a load that pushes you to failure on the seventh or eighth rep.
Your periods in this program are short for a reason. Don't compromise your results by fiddling around with your music or talking to your friends between sets for minutes on end. You get 30 seconds. That's it.
It's imperative to time your rest periods accurately. If you have an iPhone, I highly recommend an app called Seconds Pro.
If you've hit a wall with your standard training split, this full-body Gironda-style program should be a welcome hit to your muscles. It might take some time to get used to the frequency and style of training, but that's the point! The whole program should be a challenge. You don't grow by doing what's easy, after all. You grow by pushing—nay, shocking—yourself into new territory.
Stick to this plan for 5-6 weeks and I guarantee you'll be in awe of the results. Now go forth, build muscle, burn fat, and work your tail off.