This should scare the HELL out of you in a good way. You’re going to get everything that you’ve ever wanted to accomplish in one training block. We’re going to change it up now, and go a little more unilateral. We can take a break off of axial loading with the barbell, whether it’s in the front squat or the back squat. This will allow our nervous system to recover. We’re going to be training a little bit more asymmetrically so we can get everything lined up again. Also, when you train one leg, you’re getting twice the metabolic demand as you would with training two legs at one time so your conditioning improves.
What does accumulation mean and what is the goal of an accumulation training block?
Accumulation is just getting as much volume as we can. The difference from intensification is we’re deliberately trying to work body composition, such as improving our fat-mass to muscle-mass ratio, to get more muscle. It’s okay to say that we want to look better, as well as perform better. This accumulation block will build muscle mass and set a foundation for the heavier lifts to come.
This accumulation phase will transition nicely into our later intensification phase where we’re going to be in better condition to handle higher weights more frequently. We will also have greater tensile strength of our joints and ligaments to handle these higher intensities and these heavier loads. We’re going to push through a threshold that we potentially didn’t have before, especially when we’re doing multiple sets of intensities above 80% when your legs are feeling a little tired. You can always backtrack and remember that, “Okay I did 10 sets of something in January and February. I’ll be fine. I can make it.” We’re just trying to push the dial up every single training block.
WE ARE GOING TO BURN A SHITLOAD OF FAT.
The theme of this accumulation block is the 6-12-25 protocol.
From a program design standpoint, we’re using a higher rep scheme designed to burn fat for the energy we use during the session. We specifically start the workout with 6 reps of fast twitch muscle fiber movements like front squat, bench, and bent over row. Beginning the session with these movements first fatigues fast twitch muscle fibers and leaves the more fatigue-resistant muscle fibers to finish the task. This design burns more glycogen at the top of a session and sets us up to burn more fat throughout the session.
Let’s dive in a bit deeper on what an Accumulation Block actually means.
There are a couple of central themes behind Accumulation Blocks: Functional Hypertrophy, Hypertrophy, and Muscular Endurance.
This block’s focus is Muscular Endurance. We’re looking to tax some of the fatigue resistance muscle fibers. Also known as type 1 muscle fibers.
Another key concept to understand for this block is Size Principle.
“This Size Principle is a naturally occurring process to prevent overexertion. Essentially, we utilize slower twitch muscle fibers at the start of an activity to defer the use of faster twitch muscle fibers later. The sequence is important because it impacts our response to training.”
In this block, we’re reversing the Size Principle by utilizing higher threshold motor units at the top of the session in our compound lift of 6 in our 6/12/25 rep scheme. When we transition to 12 and 25 reps, we’ll utilize lower threshold motor units and intermediate/slow twitch muscle fibers.
And what’s the goal of taxing all muscle fibers to the extent of their capabilities?
The goal is to maximize our response to training; making our bodies respond to what we’re going through. Which brings us to our next point: Hypertrophy.
There are essentially two different types of hypertrophy: Sarcoplasmic and Myofibril Hypertrophy.
The “pump” sensation is what comes from sarcoplasmic. When you do higher-rep, lower intensity work it causes increased blood flow to an area. This increased blood to the area helps with long-term recovery by removing waste post exercise and inflating of mTOR pathways that repair broken down tissues.
“When you do higher-rep, lower intensity work it causes increased blood flow to an area. This increased blood to the area helps with long-term recovery by removing waste post exercise and inflating of mTOR pathways that repair broken down tissues.”
A second key component of hypertrophy is using all energy stores in the muscle.
In this case, specifically glycogen. When glycogen is burned for energy during training, it’s called glycolysis. Glycolysis usually occurs during anaerobic exercise where we need immediate energy for work but we don't have a lot of oxygen present.
So in hypertrophy, we first use available glucose and then glycogen stores. When we continue the duration of training, we exhaust glycogen stores and look for different types of fuel to burn. In our case, we are hoping for fatty acids.
In our training program, by structuring a combination of higher threshold motor units in our set of 6 and lower threshold motor units in our sets of 12 and 24 we can hopefully burn glycogen faster and subsequently utilize more fatty acids for fuel during the session.
In conclusion, the goal of this block to use higher rep schemes that tap into burning fat for energy.
We’re starting with high-threshold, motor-units and fast twitch muscle fibers to get more out of our higher rep schemes than if we would if we just went into higher reps. This structure will burn more glycogen and lead to better utilization of other fuel sources.