Me trying a spinal decompression

RP Hypertrophy Review and Training Update

I’ve just finished the fourth week of my hypertrophy block, the first of three mesocycles coming in to the regional champs in early April, so I figured it would be a good time for a training update and to review the program I’ve been running.

RP Hypertrophy

The program I’ve been running for the last four weeks is the Renaissance Periodization Hypertrophy program, which is a five week program (four training weeks, plus a one week deload) designed for either gaining muscle mass while gaining weight, or maintaining muscle mass while cutting. This is usually your first step in a macrocycle – building the base, so to speak. I decided to run it while on a caloric deficit because I started over my weight class limit!

I have run the four day version of the program, which has me doing essentially an upper/lower split, twice a week. The gist of it is that each week the sets become more intense, heavier, and there are more of them. The program is well put together, with a very nifty spreadsheet that makes it easy to keep track of what you’re doing week to week.


The training volume increases pretty quickly on RP Hypertrophy – from the first week which is essentially a joke, it accelerates to week three where you hit your Max Recoverable Volume (MRV) and then in week four you exceed it. (If you want to know more about this, read Scientific Principles of Strength Training or hit me up; I’m always keen to talk about programming and sports physiology!)

I like graphs, so here’s a visual representation of what I mean.


The volume increase is pretty drastic – especially notable in the squat. (The deadlift volume drops from week three to week four; I couldn’t maintain the volume that week. Long story short, trap bar deadlifts suck.)

True to plan, in week three I was flirting with my MRV (read as: I started feeling not-fresh at the beginning of each training) and by week four I was feeling downright shitty (sore all the time, my appetite disappeared). I’d like to apologise to anyone I snubbed or was grumpy to in that time.

In the beginning of week four I was feeling pretty beaten up, so I convinced these guys to do some banded spinal compressions with me. I (left, @rawrylynch) went first and couldn’t get enough band tension, though I still got what I wanted out of it. @yuliquay (middle) got into a way better position than I did, I think she had fun. @angusblair tried too, but he’s heavier than me and basically ended up on the floor, even though we put the band higher up. I felt better afterwards, even though we look ridiculous!

Anyway, along the way I set a bunch of rep and volume PRs – I high bar squatted 130 kg for 75 reps in a session, close-grip benched 110 kg for 10 reps, and comp-grip benched 120 kg for 8 reps (touch and go).

I could not be happier with the results I’ve had from this program. I’ve been tracking some measurements through these past four weeks, and on all counts it’s gone extremely well.  I’ll do a full write up on this in about two weeks after finishing this phase of my diet, but basically I’ve gone from 93.0 kg @ 17% body fat to 90.6 kg @ 13% body fat (4 kg fat lost, 1.6 kg muscle gained.) Due to some apparent resolution problems with my scales (more on that in the diet post), inherent inaccuracies in the Navy Body Fat Calculator, and human measurement errors, I don’t actually believe I’ve gained that much muscle while on a deficit, but its a good indicator that I didn’t lose any muscle, while dropping 2.4 kg (0.6 kg per week, ~1.5 lbs per week).

That’s a damn good start to the year. Now its time for me to spend a week playing video games and deloading (and some lifting) before spending a few weeks getting really strong!

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