A hailstorm of stress formed as training volume saps our body this week. It’s the feared, and revered, Week 4. Guess what? Get ready to be happy because we’re about to give you the tools to walk through Week 4 like a dude on bandage removal day after a grandiose penis enlargement.
It’s likely that you’ll start the week, and make it to mid-week feeling alright. But you’re like Apollo Creed in Rocky 4—your confidence masks the dark reality encroaching upon you. By the end of the week you’ll not be so chipper. You’ll exist in the realm between, “I’m ok, I’m not great, but I’m ok,” and “someone light me on fire with gasoline and extinguished me with a pitchfork. And, how the fuck did my toes get sore?”
Having a fair understanding of where you’ll be is the first step in taking the appropriate week 4 approach.
Here’s the bitch of it all: we need the obnoxious training stress to drive adaptation. We also need to mitigate the stress as much as possible with appropriate recovery means. Let’s outline a few strategies.
In an earlier lesson we outlined when to choose neural charge recovery workouts in contrast with cardiac output. Through most training weeks you’ll make a choice based on the outlined criteria. This week we’re dealing with a different beast—you’re going to be over-stimulated for most of the week.
Cardiac output is a great recovery choice during Week 4 because the low level nervous system stimulation boosts regeneration and the extended, increased blood flow increases nutrient supply to recovering tissues. The strength training tells the body that it needs to adapt, cardiac output helps the adaptation process.
There’s a psychological benefit beyond the physiological one. Walking out of the gym feeling good after a C.O. session does wonders for the psyche as it contrasts the gut punches given during the heavy strength training sessions.
Earlier this phase we discussed how to choose which nutrients to increase for your mass gain efforts and how to increase them. (There’s a new planning lesson coming tomorrow.) This is the week to make the most of those strategies. Think about how we’re stressed during Week 4—neurologically and metabolically.
Fat will help with neurological recovery.
Carbs help us more metabolically.
During the first half of the week you’ll be under the most neurological stress—you’ll still be able to get more out of your nervous system because it’s not as fatigued. This is a great time to bump up fat calories. As the week wears on, metabolic stress increases as the body works harder to recovery from stress put on tissues. From mid week on, switch flip flop fats and carbs.
Overall, however, look to increase calories during this week. If you choose not to utilize a particular strategy, at least increase calories this week.
Except without the banging. Find some movies you’d like to watch, or some books you’d like to read, and plop down on the couch. You need to rest, you intense son of a bitch.
Caffeine rules. It might be the best drug in the world. It’s a productivity and mood booster, but we’re often haphazard with our ingestion. This week we must be calculated.
Our nervous system is accumulating stress like a nerd snagging action figures at Comic Con—dumping extraneous caffeine down the gullet only compounds the stress.
We’re not saying cut caffeine out completely this week, but we’re saying be judicious. Consider reducing your overall intake and time it up with your training. Staying under 200mg a day is a good idea.
The goal is to use Week 3’s weight for Week 4’s volume. That might not happen. If you have the gas to rise to that challenge, crush your enemies and hear the lamentation of their women. If you don’t, stringently follow the RPE—staying toward the lower end of the prescribed spectrum.
Keep your expectations in line with reality, plan for adaptation by using the recovery strategies and make decisions based on RPE. You’ll thrive through Week 4.
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