Tearing my Achilles followed by six weeks of scant movement (very little training) has not been kind to my calves.

Believe it or not, the current pic (the bottom) is actually flattering!

The good news is after 6 weeks I’m now allowed to leave the couch to train — but upper body only.

Bad news? It’s still gonna be a while ’til I’m allowed to work lower body, especially my now anemic calf, except for rehab drills and a bit of cycling.

But I’m happy about it. Because it’s the “gun to the head” I need to do a specialization phase right.

Ask most anyone to describe a bodypart specialization phase and they’ll respond with variations of, “Do lots for one or two muscle groups.”

The more enlightened will say, “Do lots for one or two muscle groups that work a variety of angles, rep ranges, and ranges of motion.”

And finally, the true Yodas will include “…while doing a lot LESS for everything else.”

That last point escapes many, at one time including yours truly.

So they create these complicated, high-volume blasts for their arms (for example), but they’ll still hit the rest of their body with basically their usual volume & intensity.

I suppose you can spin it as a virtue: their work ethic is too damn high and they just can’t mail it in, even if the result defeats the very purpose of the specialization phase.

With these folks you’d probably have to follow them around with a taser and zap them whenever they tried to break protocol and go for a squat PR during a chest or back specialization phase.

Or, at the very least, give them a medical diagnosis forbidding them from doing it. (Here’s hoping that works for me!)

So now it’s on. I’m putting together a plan that hits large upper body muscle groups (chest, back) twice a day, twice a week, with smaller muscles upwards of five to six a week, given the indirect exposure smaller muscles receive in compound movements.

Key principles will be:

  • No lower body as per my dumb-ass injury
  • ALL workouts under 40 mins
  • Start lower in total volume and add more sets, more exercises (or even more workouts) gradually
  • Use a variety of rep ranges, angles, and ranges of motion.
  • Use a variety of hypertrophy protocols like eccentrics, partial reps, isometric holds, and tri-sets, BUT NOT ALL AT ONCE and NOT EVERY SET.
  • Do plenty of band & mobility & self myofasical release work and blast away with the massage gun at night.
  • BEWARE MY TENNIS ELBOW! I’ve learned that the second it flares up I need to change the exercise, meaning NEVER work “through” pain.

This whole experiment might get canned if the elbow gets too rough right out of the gate. I hope to prevent that by starting low, building slow, and staying smart.

So looking at something like (NOT IN STONE!)

  • Mon AM: Pin Presses & Top Range Chins, 6 x 2-4 reps, Landmine Press & Row 5×5
  • Mon PM: Upper Body Muscle Rounds (6 x 4 with 10RM, 10 sec rest)
  • Tue: Arms — higher reps, partial reps
  • Wed: Shoulders — giant sets of various DB shoulder raises, shoulder rehab
  • Thurs AM: Dips & Chins, 8-sec eccentrics, super set 1 -1/4 rep extensions & curls
  • Thurs PM: Presses & Rows, 4-6 reps
  • Fri: Shoulders — cable shoulder raises (drop sets), shoulder rehab
  • Sat: Upper Body Trisets (6-12-25 reps)
  • Sun: Sit and eat.

The goal is to gain 15-20 pounds (yeah, including some rebound weight).

Diet will obviously be a big part. While I won’t be overeating, I’ll certainly be in a surplus — at least 3K a day.

Oh no! Wait — I’m over 40!

The gurus say I’m not allowed to try to aggressively gain size anymore.

Gotta ride out the next 40 years maintaining.

Mmm… Nah.