If ever there was a ‘proof of the pudding is in the eating’ training system out there, then Y3T would be a classic example of this. Why? I hear you ask, well it is the training methodology practiced by world famous, BSN sponsored athlete, the 2 time and reigning 212lb Mr Olympia and inaugural Arnold Classic 212lb winner James ‘Flex’ Lewis. This training program was developed by Flex’s long term mentor, who has guided Flex from the junior ranks through to dominate the biggest bodybuilding stages in the world. That man is Neil ‘Yoda’ Hill, a former bodybuilder and chief torturer at the ‘Dungeon’ gym in Tenby, South West Wales. The nickname ‘Yoda’ was given to him for his bodybuilding wisdom and mentoring skills and it is the Y in the Y3T systems name. The 3 relates to the 3, week long, training cycles employed in the system to target muscle growth, each phase specifically targeting different muscle fibre types and initiating the two distinct types of muscle hypertrophy (which we will get on to shortly), and the T, well that stands for training…. So there we have it ‘Yoda 3 Training’. We can stimulate muscle growth in two ways, firstly by targeting the contractile tissue in the muscle fibre, known as myofibrils, these are long chains of proteins that when activated cause the muscles to contract, making these myofibrils grow is referred to as myofibrillar hypertrophy. The second way a muscle can increase in volume is by increasing the size of the energy and nutrient storing systems in the muscles, the sarcoplasm. Growth of the sarcoplasm is unsurprisingly called sarcoplasmic hypertrophy. There are also two types of muscle fibre type 1 and type 2 (which are also subdivided into many other fibre types), type 1 fibres are good for endurance and are resistant to fatigue due to their increased blood flow and are activated using slow ‘twitch’ movements, that are controlled, lower in weight, have higher repetition ranges, anywhere from 20-100 are used in this system and movements are not ‘explosive’ in nature. It is these slower controlled, higher rep range movements with which the storage capacity of the sarcoplasm can be increased, by causing an adaptation by depleting muscle glycogen stores, the cells adapt to store more glycogen and this initiates an increase in muscle size. This is achieved using high volume sets including drop sets, super sets and time under tension style training and all these are included in the Y3T system. It is of note that the sarcoplasmic size is associated with the size of the myofibril, therefore the bigger the myofibril the bigger the potential the sarcoplasm. This is why targeting myofibrillar growth in week 1 and to a large extent in week 2 is the primary focus of this training system. For more explosive, power and strength type movements it is type 2 fibres that play the key part, they fatigue easily but increase in size rapidly causing both myofibrillar and associated sarcoplasmic hypertrophy, and is as for the reasons stated earlier they key target for muscle growth in this program in weeks 1 and 2. Week 3 targets the type 1 fibres for the reasons discussed above and as the nature of these movements are less taxing on the joints due to their lighter loads allows the body chance to recover and make positive muscle growth adaptations and preparing yourself for re-entering the cycle at week 1. So what is week 1? Week 1 is concerned with hitting type 2b muscle fibres these are the really strong contractile fibres that are cited to be best stimulated in the 6-12 rep range using explosive repetitions encompassing maximum accelerations, these repetition ranges influence both myofibrillar and sarcoplasmic hypertrophy positively but the nature of these movement, forcing the contractile tissue to strengthen focuses primarily on myofibrillar hypertrophy. During week 2 of Y3T the type 2a fast twitch fibres are targeted for development, these are activated in a slightly higher repetition range at 12-20, with more focus being placed on the eccentric, negative portion of the movement. This stimulates both myofibrillar hypertrophy but is more focussed on increasing your nutrient rich, energy storing, sarcoplasmic volume. These repetition ranges in week 2 also stimulate maximal muscle breakdown, which with adequate nutrition, can cause the greatest adaptation in muscle fibres forcing them to grow back bigger and stronger than before. It is during phase 1 and 2 of Y3T where the main bulk of muscle building will take place.
The rep ranges included in these phases are supported by research as being in the key determinant zone for stimulating anabolic hormone release and metabolic pathways that encourage optimal muscle protein synthesis, with loads in these first 2 weeks of the training system expected to be between 60-80% of your 1 repetition max. Throughout all 3 phases of Y3T the weekly session’s breakdown is in the form of the tried and tested body part split, used for decades by many of the world’s top bodybuilders to great effect. The training split would look similar each week, just the repetition range and tempo of movements would change, with a week’s training following a routine something like this.. Monday=Quads and hamstrings, Tuesday=Chest and triceps, Thursday=back and biceps and Friday=Shoulders and calves. Each training session uses 3 to 4 working sets of each exercise with 4-7 exercises per session. This would typically include 4 exercise for the bigger body part in the session, for example, chest, shoulders, quads and back, with at least two of the four movements where possible being compound in nature. The remainder of the session would focus on 2-3 exercises for the smaller body part, such as the hamstrings, biceps, triceps and calves and typically be isolation movements these body parts demand. Well hope you enjoyed the low down on the Yoda 3 Training system, so as the original master might say, ‘try it you must’ ‘disappointed not you will be’. Thanks for reading, may the force be with you. Peace, weights and protein shakes. Paul Rimmer (BSc, MSc).