The Soft-Hard Routine
by Mike Livingston
What is a soft-hard routine? Essentially, it is a two-part, four to six month program in which the muscles are first softened by very heavy, low rep movements, then toughened and expanded by use of high repetition movements.
Before beginning, however, two things must be assessed. First, decide what you want from this program. If it’s size and physique development then perform bodybuilding movements in phase one. If power is your aim, then concentrate on presses, squats and cleans, etc. Second, determine how much weight you need in each exercise to complete 1 set of 2 reps. Once the exercises are determined and the weights ascertained you are ready to begin.
Do between 6 and 8 sets of singles with the weight you’ve selected in each movement. Forget completely about reps and endurance work. It’s power you’re building now. Increase weight as soon as you can perform 2 reps in your first set and still complete 7 more sets of singles. For example, with a best single bench press of 300 you might work to 280 for a double and 7 singles before adding weight.
But – and this is important – don’t jump too quickly. Make sure the first 4 sets feel as if you could force out another rep. Otherwise you’ll go stale too quickly. Phase One must last at least two months to be effective.
The moment you begin to go stale, that is, when you dread each workout and your lifts begin to drop, switch to the second phase. Now, instead of doing the double and singles, force out 3 sets of 8, 10 or even 12 reps with the same movements. Put power completely out of your mind. Concentrate on expanding and pumping the muscles. At the end of the two phases you will have gained in strength and in development.
I guarantee you’ll be surprised at the effect.