Following the 6-week strength cycle, we move directly into a 4-week “Metabolite” phase.
After a strength cycle, work capacity is lower. This is a result of the lower reps and longer rest periods between sets.
In a strength cycle, you don’t really get a great pump from training because you don’t have a lot of metabolite build-up in the muscles.
The weight feels heavy, and the muscles fatigue, but not with the same burning feeling they get from higher rep and superset sequences.
Simply because the body is de-trained to the metabolite stimulus, you should find your muscles are extremely sensitive to this very different training style.
Pumps will happen more rapidly and stay for longer. You may even notice some muscle volume increases during days off training, as all the nutrients are shuttled into the cells.
Two Types of Metabolite Training
This is all about work capacity; increasing your ability to recover “systemically” between sets.
An applicable example here of how this can help your training, would be doing multiple sets of back squats. This can be extremely fatiguing, not just for the working musculature, but for the system as a whole. If you could achieve the same effort level with only 2 minutes of rest between sets, instead of 3 minutes, this would mean you could do more volume!
This can be extrapolated out across an entire day of training…
Furthermore, being systemically conditioned can help you recover faster session to session, as well!
In this cycle, the Systemic work will appear in the form of mini circuits, using all compound movements. While this may feel like a monumental task at first, the body adapts extremely quickly to this type of demand, and you should notice significant improvement week to week.
This is all about clearing metabolites quickly and efficiently within a specific muscle group (“lactic acid” being the most commonly known).
As you work your way through a set, it begins to burn in the latter reps. This is the result of metabolites building up within the muscle, and being unable to “flush” these metabolites fast enough.
Think about a bench press. You can rest at the top to temporarily flush these. But in many ways, we would much rather see you “lean in” to the accumulation of metabolites, and force the body to adapt and get better at flushing it, versus looking for a way out of the pain cave.
Through this local metabolite training, we can get better at flushing these within individual sets, as well as to limit the recovery time needed to flush them between sets.
In this cycle, the local metabolite work will appear in the form of 6-8 sets of 8 reps for the SAME MOVEMENT, with only 30-45 seconds rest between sets. These will be performed with approx. a 15-RM weight (which will be established on the pre-cycle introduction week).
Overall, the metabolite portion of the periodized training year, is almost always the shortest. This is because the body really does create these adaptations super quickly. We can get in there, see tangible improvements in recovery in a few weeks, and then get right back into some productive hypertrophy training!