After the release of the 2007 movie 300, many men made gaining lean muscle tissue their primary goal at the gym. Unfortunately, the addition of lean muscle mass does not always come easily, especially if you aren't new to weightlifting. Because of this, sometimes you need to resort to using more advanced training protocols in order to kick-start your body again and start seeing new gains. The depletion workout type of training that the cast of 300 used will do just that. If that body type is your goal, you will definitely want to give these techniques some thought.
What are Depletion Workouts?
Depletion workouts are weightlifting sessions that are geared toward exhausting the body's muscle glycogen supply. Muscle glycogen is the storage form of carbohydrates in the body, and this is what powers you throughout your workouts. When it becomes depleted, you will not physically be able to continue, as the body will be exhausted.
Depletion of muscle glycogen is a good thing for those looking to gain lean muscle mass; however, it's important to note that if you take correct measures as far as your diet is concerned, the muscles will overcompensate with their ability to uptake the nutrients, leaving you with fuller muscles that are able to store more glycogen.
Along with this, a very large intake of food immediately after the workout will send your body into an anabolic state, which is required in order to gain lean muscle tissue. As long as your food intake is planned properly, you should not see much in the way of fat gains, and most of the calories you take in will be directed toward repairing and growing your muscles.
How to do Depletion Workouts
To do a depletion workout, you want to adopt a circuit-style training protocol. Basically, you will be moving from one exercise to the next with little or no rest in between. You are also going to aim to perform 15-20 reps per set, so take note that the weight you are lifting should be on the lighter side.
Generally, the less carbohydrates you have in your diet, the less work you will need to do in order to deplete the muscles of their glycogen (since less will be replaced on a continual basis from dietary carbohydrates). Therefore, if you are already eating a low carb diet, you may only perform one to two rounds of the circuit, whereas if you regularly consume a larger portion of carbohydrates, you will need more reps to burn through the carbs.
Most individuals will want to perform the complete workout circuit 4-5 times. If you find you get to the third one and are feeling extremely fatigued, however, then you should stop there, as pushing yourself too far will inhibit certain enzymes in the muscle that aid in glycogen supercompensation, thereby defeating the whole purpose for doing the depletion work in the first place.
A few examples of exercises you could include in your circuit are:
- Leg Press
- Leg Curl
- Calf Raise
- Leg Extension
- Seated Leg Curl
- Seated Calf Raise
- Standing Leg Curl
- Donkey Calf Raise
- Dumbbell Bench Press
- Cable Row
- Shoulder Press
- Reverse Crunch
- Incline DB Bench Press
- Narrow Grip Row
- Lateral Raise
- Close Grip Bench Press
- Alternate DB Curl
- Twisting Crunch
- Incline Fly
- Upright Row
- Overhead Tricep Extension
- Hammer Curl
- Exercise Ball Crunch
Because you are exhausting your body's supply of energy during this workout, it is essential that you refill it as soon as possible after you are finished the circuit training.
A good recommendation would be to consume about 5-7 grams of carbohydrates per pound of body weight. Therefore, if you weigh 175 pounds, you should be shooting for 3,500-4,900 calories from carbohydrates alone, both immediately following the workout and also the day after.
When doing a carb load, you want to try to keep fat to a minimum as any additional fats will only encourage excess gain. Some fats along with your carbohydrate choices are alright, but definitely make an effort to avoid foods that are high in fat.
When making your carbohydrate choices, stick with starch sources rather than fruits or others that are high in fructose corn syrup -- sugars that turn to a bad fat. Starch will help to fill muscle glycogen stores much better and will be readily absorbed by the body in your depleted state. Furthermore, since you will need to take in such a large volume, you likely will want to avoid bulky sources of carbohydrates such as oatmeal, popcorn, rice cakes, or vegetables. Good options are sugary cereals, bagels, bread, pasta, rice, muffins, and some forms of candy (ensure sucrose is the main ingredient). Also note that your protein intake during this time should stay at about one gram per pound of body weight and should come from lean sources only.
After the carb load-up period, be warned that you may experience a slight weight gain due to increased water storage, however this should subside in a day or two. You will likely feel very energetic and strong from your workout the following week, since your muscles will be fully stocked with energy.
How often you choose to do these depletion workouts is up to you. Some will do them on a weekly basis, while others may limit the routine to once or twice per month. This workout can be used on both a fat loss diet and a muscle gain diet; however, be aware that it will work better for muscle gain diets that tend to use a carbohydrate cycling approach. Otherwise, you may be eating so many carbohydrates on a daily basis that you will have a very hard time depleting yourself.