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John Robert Cardillo

John Robert Cardillo

John traveled the world to learn the best training and nutrition principles and trained alongside top pro bodybuilders at Gold's Gym California. He was a student of Arthur Jones, inventor of Nautilus and Medx Fitness machines, and the pioneer of hi-intensity training. John developed the HIT3 Training System, which transformed his physique to win countless bodybuilding competitions at just 18 years of age! He was also the first bodybuilder to utilize Faradic Electric Muscle Stimulation in his training and intermittent fasting during his competition prep. John’s SHREDDED Nutrition Diet helped him build one of the most shredded physiques of all time. His diet program incorporates fasting and nutrient timing to help athletes build lean muscle while losing body fat.

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The Rotation For Recuperation System

The biggest mistake I made when I started bodybuilding was training 6 days a week. Even Sundays were hard for me to take off, I couldn’t miss a day. Everything I read in bodybuilding mags featured champions who trained 6 days a week and some even trained twice a day! My rationale was, “If they trained this way to become champions, I would also”. At 16 years of age, I ate, thought and slept bodybuilding, 24 hours a day. I was obsessed! I had a greater passion for bodybuilding than anyone I knew and wanted to become as great as my then idol Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Do More Workouts Build More Muscle?

Since six workouts a week wasn’t getting me the gains I wanted, I increased it to nine. I hit the YMCA every Monday, Wednesday and Friday mornings at 6:00 am to train and again after school. On Tuesday, Thursday and Saturdays, I only trained once but it worked out to a total of 15 hours a week of lifting. This sounds crazy now but I was simply following the exact workouts that were published in the muscle magazines. If training more often was the key to bodybuilding success then I was all in. By the end of the second month training like this, I was dead tired. After each workout I felt weaker and just couldn’t recover fully. It seemed like I hit a wall as I felt exhausted and had actually lost weight, not gained muscle. In bodybuilding, more is NOT better. 

The Two Events That Changed my Perspective on Bodybuilding; 

The first was learning about Arthur Jones (the inventor of Nautilus and Medx Exercise Machines) hi-intensity workout system, I discovered a whole new world of working out, based on the exercise science of muscle hypertrophy. To this day I believe that Arthur Jones was one of the smartest men in the field of exercise. His scientific methods of training changed my whole approach to weight training. 

The second was at the University of Western Ontario, learning the role of our body’s central nervous (CNS ) in muscle contraction (ability to perform hard work) and muscle recovery. I learned that the central nervous system (CNS) was the conduit that controlled how a muscle worked. If a person is fatigued, the CNS is also fatigued and the communicator of this fact. To feel fresh, recuperated and perform at an optimum level, the CNS was detrimental.

Less Training Frequency & Volume For Better Gains 

Over the years I've watched countless bodybuilders train, and with very few exceptions most of them overtrain, thinking as I erroneously did “that more is better.” Training 4 or 5 or 6 days straight does not allow the body’s CNS to recuperate between workouts. It's the CNS that controls muscle contraction which controls the neuromuscular system. An exhausted CNS cannot efficiently send signals to muscle cells to contract properly. We've all heard people say that in spite of being tired they nonetheless pushed through a workout. What in fact they did was make the situation worse by doing further damage to the already overworked recuperative system. On the advice of my first trainer who followed Arthur Jones workout system, I reduced my training to 3 days per week. Each workout lasted less than one hour. Within a few short weeks I started making strength and muscular gains again. Each workout was a challenge because the rest day between workouts gave my body enough recuperation time to allow me to perform better. No longer did I dread my workouts. I slept better at night and my body started growing again.

I would follow the hi-intensity method of training throughout my bodybuilding career and teach it to many others in my business career as a gym owner. I gained over 100 pounds of muscle over 7 years training and went on to win many bodybuilding championships in Canada and United States! 

Rotation For Recuperation Method 

My method of “Rotation for Recuperation” is based on the physiological process of hi-intensity anaerobic exercise stimulation and recuperation for maximum muscular hypertrophy. In simple terms what I mean by this is that once you have properly stimulated interconnected body parts with hi-intensity anaerobic exercise, that area of the body MUST be rested to allow the growth process to take place. The stress and cell damage caused by the hi-intensity workout on the body part must be repaired in order for the muscle cells to grow larger and stronger. Training them again before they are recuperated is sabotaging your results.

After many years of experimenting with different workout sequences, the best workout split system that I found to be most result producing is what I call the “Rotation For Recuperation” system. 

It is performed as follows:

Monday:
Chest , front and side deltoids, triceps, forearms and neck 
Starting the week, training chest, deltoids and triceps, will not exhaust the spinal column, where the CNS (nerve trunk) branch off. By not starting the week with a back workout (latissimus dorsi) will also save the CNS for the upcoming lower body workout on Wednesday. 
The rationale for working front and side deltoids after chest is because all chest exercises involve directly and indirectly the front and side deltoid muscles. After completing chest, the deltoids are warmed up and ready to also be worked. This also applies to triceps. I have found that working a smaller body part (like triceps) always felt better when they were thoroughly warmed up from the chest and deltoid pressing exercises. 
 
Tuesday: Day Off
This day off will allow the body to recover from Monday’s workout.The high carbohydrate ratio evening meal (as per my SHREDDED Nutrition Program) will fuel Wednesday’s lower body workout. 
 
Wednesday:
Low back, hamstrings, quadriceps, inner thighs, outer thighs, glutes, calves 
With the CNS spinal column rested and strong, a lower body workout can be performed with full intensity to stimulate muscle growth. Leg workouts require heavy resistance to be used. Muscular growth will only be stimulated through hi-intensity workouts, using progressive resistance.
The rationale for starting the workout with lower lumbar is to warmup and stretch the low back, hips, hamstrings and quadriceps. 
Training hamstrings before quadriceps always made more sense to me because hamstrings are a more difficult body part to develop compared to quadriceps. Therefore training hamstrings first when I was fresh with more energy is the best sequence to insure that the hamstrings grow in proportion to the quadriceps. 
Working glutes after quadriceps completes the main lower body workout. The glutes have been peripherally used when the lower lumbar, hamstrings and quadriceps were worked. Therefore they are warmed up and can easily be stimulated with intense contractions. 
Calves have also been used in the performance of the leg work. Finishing off the workout with calf work feels really good because they have been stretched, warmed up, with blood flow in the area and are ready for hard contractions. 
 
Thursday: Day Off
This is a very important day of rest, after Wednesday’s hard leg workout. I always recommend no exercise of any kind the day after a leg workout, and a massage if possible. 
 
Friday:
Lats, trapezius, rear deltoids, biceps, abdominals 
With the spinal column CNS still not overly tired, a trainee can now finish the week with the second hardest workout of the week- back work. To build a great physique, the latissimus dorsi muscles are key. They are capable of performing heavy work and must be trained as heavy as possible for maximum muscular growth. Training the large back muscles in a hi-intensity fashion will leave the spinal column CNS totally exhausted. Growth can only take place as part of the central nervous system recuperation. An example of this can be seen when an athlete pinches a back nerve, ( as Ronnie Coleman did). The body part that the nerve connects to (feeds) totally atrophies within a few months. 
I look at the whole back area as a “back panel” consisting of latissimus dorsi, low trapezius, rhomboids, upper trapezius and rear deltoids. I organize the sequence of exercises to hit each specific area for complete back development. After completing this workout, the trainee should feel as if their whole back is a “back panel” standing proudly on its own! 
Training biceps after back is advantageous because the biceps were used throughout the pulling movements of each back exercise. Therefore they are totally warmed up and are ready to perform hard contractions. 
 
Saturday, Sunday: “Growth Days” Off
These two days of rest are as important to making progress as the workouts were. No exercise of any kind should be performed, in order to fully benefit from the workouts performed. I consider these “growth days” and should be enjoyed as such if a trainee has truly trained hard as possible with HI-INTENSITY!!! 

Training all out with hi-intensity as I advocate in HIT3 workout system will stimulate the greatest level of muscular growth. This will only occur with rest and adequate nutrition. The secret to muscular growth is a two part answer: HIT3 workouts followed by rest (growth days). My Rotation for Recuperation system of 3 days a week training may not seem “enough” to some people who do not understand hi-intensity training. Once a trainee experiences this type of training, (and overtraining ceases) growth will be instant! The routine I have described ensures that no body part is ever overtrained and will always be recuperated and ready for the next growth workout! 

This three day a week program is to be performed for 8 weeks. After 8 weeks, a rest period of one week should be taken to give the body a recuperative break from this hi-intensity workouts. Training is to be resumed again using the 3 days a week routine. Some of the exercises in the workout may be changed, however the order sequence of working the body parts should be kept the same. The goal of each 8 week training cycle is to get progressively stronger on each exercise. That will increase the workout intensity and will result in muscle hypertrophy. 

JOHN CARDILLO TIPS: 

  1. All workouts are to be performed in the morning when energy will be at its peak. As per my SHREDDED Nutrition program protocol.
  2. If body fat loss is required, as part of competition prep I would only recommend very low intensity cardio to be performed in the morning in a fasted state on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. It is important not to cut into your workout energy required for Monday, Wednesday, Friday workouts.

For more info on John Cardillo, check out his website at johnrobertcardillo.com or right here at Muscle Insider at John Cardillo.

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