What’s the best way to pack on size and strength? Lift and rest right? What if there was a protocol so insanely brutal that it lead to dramatic enhancement of the human body. More muscle, greater strength, less body fat. This is the elixir of training; the holy grail. However, it comes with a catch, to see such gains, you have to under-go some of the most aggressive, intensive training of your life. Would you do it? Is it worth it? Let’s take a look.
The idea behind weight training is to elicit a response from specific stimulus. This stimulus comes in the form of load; weight lifted multiplied by the total reps completed. Given that the body has not been exposed to a certain load before, it will adapt by strengthening the muscles, ligaments and tendons as well as the central nervous system, given that it has optimal recovery. As stated by Fahey (1998) “Muscle’s must be overloaded to hypertrophy and improve strength”. Without a foreign stimulus, we don’t grow.
When we weight train, we accumulate fatigue through the number of reps and sets we perform. This is known as training “volume”. Volume has an inversely proportional relationship with “intensity”. Intensity is the term to describe (in weight/power lifting) how close a weight is to the person’s one rep max. In traditional weight training programmes, it makes sense to reduce volume as intensity increase, in order not to mask strength with fatigue.
In other words, you can’t lift as heavy because you are tired from all the work you’ve done.
Here we have established a useful principle. In order to build strength, the body must be exposed to a stressful environment that it has not experienced before. Given adequate recovery, the body re-builds itself but this time stronger to deal with the initial stressor.
The premise behind super accumulation is to hit the body with a stressor so intense that the levels of muscle and CNS break down are severe. The aim of the programme, as written by Poliquin (2007) is to lose strength and muscle, be chronically overtrained, be brutally sore and experience aching joints and eventually reach a state of mental depression.
With a description like that who wouldn’t want to do it?
What will happen is that after the gruelling training phase, your body will be in an extremely receptive state. By resting and giving it a surplus of calories through nutrient dense food, it will then over-compensate and come back much bigger and stronger than before.
So enough about the theory, what does this hedonistic programme actually look like?
Well, my coach actually prescribed me a modified version. The classic super accumulation split looks like this.
Mon, Wed, Fri – Train twice per day
Tues, Thurs, Sat – Train oncer per day
Sun – OFF
Repeat for two weeks.
As I must really get on my coach’s nerves, he gave me this tasty variation.
Train twice a day for 9 days straight. This is what it looked like
Day 1 AM
- A1) Safety Bar Squat 5 x 4-6 reps Tempo 40X0 (100)
- A2) Lying Leg Curl 5 x 4-6 reps Tempo 40X0 (100)
- B1) Standing Ultimate Bar Press 4 x 4-6 reps Tempo 40X0 (100)
- B2) Pronated Chin Ups 4 x 4-6 reps Tempo 40X0 (100)
Day 1 PM
- A1) Barbell Back Squat 4 x 6-8 reps Tempo 4010 (90)
- A2) Lying Leg Curls 4 x 6-8 reps Tempo 4010 (90)
- B1) 45* Incline Wide Swiss Bar Press 4 x 6-8 Tempo 4210 (90)
- B2) Seated Face Pull 4 x 6-8 Tempo 4011 (90)
Day 2 AM
- Snatch Grip Deadlifts 10 x 6 reps Tempo 5010 (180)
- B1) 70* Incline DB Press 4 x 4-6 reps Tempo 3210 (100)
- B2) Chip Up 4 x 4-6 reps Tempo 4010 (100)
Day 2 PM
- 16” Deadlift 5 x 6 reps Tempo 31X0 (180)
- B1) Fat Bar Flat Press 4 x 6-8 reps Tempo 3210 (90)
- B2) Supinated Rows 4 x 6-8 reps Tempo 2012 (90)
Day 3 AM
- A1) Front Squat 6 x 5,3,2,5,3,2 reps Tempo 5010 (100)
- A2) Kneeling Leg Curls 6 x 4-6 reps Tempo 3012 (100)
- B1) Seated Behind The Neck Press 4 x 4-6 reps Tempo 4010 (100)
- B2) Supinated Chin Up 4 x 4-6 reps Tempo 4010 (100)
Day 3 PM
- A1) Cyclist Squats 4 x 6-8 reps Tempo 5010 (100)
- A2) Glute Hamstring Raises 4 x 6-8 reps Tempo (100)
- B1) Dips 4 x 6-8 reps Tempo (3210) (100)
- B2) Pronated Preacher Curls 4 x 6-8 reps Tempo 3210 (100)
As you can see, all the workouts are either squat or deadlift based. This means the load on the spine is huge. When the spine is loaded the neural demand and following hormonal output is quite substantial. This means that the Growth Hormone and Testosterone response from these workouts will be vast. However, as recovery is impaired through training volume, these endocrinological effects will not take place until the end of the programme. If anything, they will actually be suppressed, leading to symptoms of fatigue, weakness and depression. That’s the beauty of the programme, you have to knock yourself down to build yourself up.
This article will have given you the what and why in to super accumulation training. To see how I got on in real life, check out the link to my vlog below.
Fahey, T.D. (1998). Adaptation to exercise: progressive resistance exercise. In: Encyclopedia of Sports Medicine and Science, T.D.Fahey (Editor). Internet Society for Sport Science: http://sportsci.org. 7 March 1998
POLIQUIN, C. T-NATION, The super accumulation programme: overtrain, rest and grow! [online] (viewed 12th April 2017) Available from: https://www.t-nation.com/training/super-accumulation-program
MCDONALD, D. STRENGTH SENSEI, Modified super accumulation training program for strength & physique gains, [online] (viewed 12th April 2017) Available from: http://www.strengthsensei.com/modified-super-accumulation-program/