Chad Waterbury Method

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The Chad Waterbury method is a total-body weight-lifting regimen that uses a rotating set/repetition system to increase strength and maximize muscle growth while reducing muscle exhaustion. This method was developed by Chad Waterbury, a neurophysiologist, author of "Muscle Revolution" and director of strength and conditioning at the Rickson Gracie International Jiu Jitsu Center in West Los Angeles, California. The system is in opposition to exercise programs that have existed for years and failed to evolve as research discovered new information about muscle development.

10 x 3

  • The first and most significant set/repetition parameter of this program is the 10 x 3, that is 10 sets of only three repetitions of an exercise. The weight lifted during these 10 sets should be 80 percent of the maximum weight you can lift while performing the exercise. If you max out at 100 pounds, the 10 x 3 load would be 80 pounds.

    In the 10 x 3 parameter, muscle failure is not achieved and the sets are extremely short, allowing you to perform each set very quickly. Maintaining a fast speed while doing these short sets allows for greater buildup of muscle fibers. Also, at only 80 percent of your maximum load, you will not feel fatigued upon completion, leaving you invigorated and motivated to continue the program.

4 x 6

  • Waterbury prefers a set/rep range of roughly 24 to 50 for maximum muscle development and favors the lower end for a total-body program. That's where the four sets of six repetitions (4 x 6) parameter comes in. The 4 x 6 uses the same 80 percent of maximum capable load per one repetition per exercise and also allows for fast muscle actions and minimal fatigue.

Waterbury Method

  • The Waterbury method consists of a rotation of 4 x 6 and 10 x 3 training. While the 10 x 3 model is the cornerstone of his program, Waterbury acknowledges "it's too damn much!" Performing a total-body circuit of 10 x 3 would require nearly 200 sets per workout. Not only would that take an extreme amount of time, it also would take its toll on your body. So in the Waterbury method you include a 10 x 3 set for just one muscle group per workout, with the rest of your workout consisting of 4 x 6 set/reps.

    Rotate the 10 x 3 set to different muscle groups throughout the week. So on day 1, perform one upper-body pushing exercise, one upper-body pulling exercise, one lower-body push, and one lower-body pull for four exercises total, as per a fairly standard total-body routine. Of those four exercises that hit the main muscles groups of your body, perform three with the 4 x 6 parameters and one with the 10 x 3 parameters. The 10 x 3 is only used once per workout day and once per muscle group per week.

    Day 2 consists of 15 to 20 minutes of medium intensity jogging. Day 3 is lifting again, rotating the 10 x 3 set to a new muscle group. Continue this pattern through day 6. Rest on day 7, then start all over again the second week.

    With each week, the weight you use should increase. For week 2, instead of using 80 percent of your maximum load (as detailed above) use 82.5 percent of your max. Add 2.5 points to the percentage of your maximum load each week, so that by week 4 you're at 87.5 percent.

Things To Remember

  • It is important to remember to perform your reps as quickly as possible when using the Waterbury method. Utilizing the set/rep parameters outlined with the fast lifting action should dramatically increase strength and muscle growth while minimizing muscular fatigue.

    Waterbury describes the benefits of fast action: "Muscle physiologists have discovered an important law of motor unit recruitment--the faster the tempo, the greater the recruitment of motor units. This is important because the more motor units you recruit, the greater the strength and muscle gains you'll achieve."

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