Achieving Hypertrophy: 12 Month Training Overview

Dec 22, 2022

Hey Team, my name's Jack Hallows - one of the coaches here at Team ATLAS - and I'm about to share with you something I've never done before...

An entire 12 month overview of my own training, nutrition and progress with the aim of hypertrophy.

Now, I'm not going to go into absolutely everything - I couldn't tell you my exact average steps this year, my exact average hours slept or my exact amount of days at each calorie amount etc; but I did want to give you a rough idea of what a full 12 months of focusing on building muscle could possibly do for you.

It's important to caveat this by saying - you are not me. 

You do not have my genetics. You do not live my lifestyle.

You likely are not the exact same height as me, weight as me, body fat % as me... and so forth.

Yes, all these things matter to the exact progress you will make over the course of a year... and that's what's so cool!

You never truly know where you're going to end up on this fitness journey and that's part of the fun.

Okay let's dive into what I can only foresee as being a multi-part series...

We're going to start with training!

I love training. I always have. I would lift seven days a week, 365 days a year if I could.

I didn't do that this year however.

Now, my year of training can be split into two sections.

The first spans from about January through until August.

My coach Mark (a lot of you may know him) prescribed me a new 6-day rotating split of:

Chest & Triceps
Back & Biceps
Shoulders, Biceps & Triceps

After wrapping up my 14-week fat loss phase at the end of last year, Mark had decided that upper back and arms were to be a real focus for myself this year. Additionally while being a male, chest is never going to not be a focal point of training as well.

So, this split allowed us to work the upper back twice in a cycle - working rear delts on the "Delts/Arms" day allowed for  a lot of cross-over with the traps, rhomboids and other upper back muscles - while my arms would get direct work three days a week.

The training cycle also meant that I was resting at least two days, sometimes even three, in a traditional seven day week, which is vital when you're training for hypertrophy and actually pushing yourself during your sessions.

If you feel fine training six days a week for example, you just aren't pushing yourself enough in your sessions.

Now, do you have to follow this split? Probably not!

Especially if you're a female lifter. I don't want to generalise but I'd wager a lot of you are more focused on your lower body than your upper body and from experience it's more so going to be glutes, quads and delts that may be a focus point.

So here's an example split I personally use to bring those up. 

Glutes & Delts
Hams & Quads
Full Upper Body (More back focus)

Full Lower Body

A bit more of a traditional training week here with a seven day rotation but the reason I wanted to share my own six day rotation with you is to show you that training splits can be whatever the heck you want them to be! They don't have to be a rigid seven day rotation!

They should simply be based off the lifter and their preference.

Most do fit a seven day rotation but that's because the average lifter doesn't want to train on Sundays.

They don't want to have weeks where their training doesn't kick off on a Monday.

And there's nothing wrong with that BUT just know if you're someone like myself who doesn't mind what day of the week you train, you don't have to be bound by the typical "Monday is chest day brah" or "Monday is ONLY for legs." mentality.

So, for about 8 months I followed this split on what's known as an "undulating periodisation" model, which is where each four week training phase would rotate between programs focused more on accumulating more volume and programs focused more on working at a higher relative intensity.

Without giving away the whole game plan, here's an example of my first two phases: 

Phase 1 : 3 x 15.12.10 A-Series rep scheme

I was coming back from having COVID, so Mark decided that more machine based work with higher rep ranges was the way to go. So this phase was focused on building my volume back up after a 2.5 week lay off of training.

Phase 2: 4 x A-Series rep scheme

For the second phase, we now had a higher intensity of work with the rep dropping into the 6 - 8 rep range for my A-series and while it may look in a traditional sense to be more volume (4 sets instead of 3) - note the rep total.

Phase 1: 15 + 12 + 10 = 37 Reps

Phase 2: 8 + 8 + 6 + 6 = 28 Reps 

This is why volume can be a murky topic to discuss and is often equated in slightly different ways by different coaches.

If you want to look at volume in 'sets,' make sure to look at your volume over the course of a session and then again over the course of a week, rather than solely your A-series movements.

Why did we take this approach? It allows for more of a 'functional hypertrophy' outlay, not functional like TRXs and kettlebells, functional like building muscle with a focus on increasing strength too and still being able to integrate bigger movements like the bench press, squat and chin up.

Oh my god but Jack, those aren't "optimal" hypertrophy movements

So what? I like them and I enjoy them. There have been plenty of movements in the programming that would fit the "optimal" bracket in that sense but it's also always worth considering that idealistic programming and realistic programming aren't always the same thing.

You need to still enjoy your training and believe me, if you only ever program movements because "the research said so" that's not always going to be the case. 

This split carried on with these 'undulating' rep schemes over the course of that January to August period before Mark and I decided on an end date for the build phase. We were going to push a 'mini cut' of sorts into Christmas and set a timeline of about 8 weeks. I was still relatively lean despite having added roughly 8kg at this point and I wasn't looking to get shoot or stage lean, so we knew we wouldn't be needing to dig too deep for this particular fat loss phase.

The final 8 weeks of training we switched to a more traditional Push/Pull/Legs split however, to allow for more rest, this wasn't a strict 7-day rotation and instead a 4-day rotation.


The "Heavy/Light method" (click through to watch ATLAS head coach Glen Carroll talk through this) was used in our final phase with calories up to make the most of having a lot of carbohydrates available and milk out whatever left we could of the build before we pivoted to the diet mode.

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That brings us to now - I'm currently in my early weeks of the deficit and in my first program phase which again, we're continuing with the Push/Pull/Legs/Rest split and guess what?

Reps haven't suddenly jumped up high to "tone the muscle" or "burn more fat" and we're not utilising ridiculously short inefficient rest periods "to blast away the kilos."

No, we're still operating in the standard hypertrophy rep ranges between 5 - 10 reps and focusing on continuing to build strength in our main movements, progress each week and manage recovery/fatigue around sessions to ensure strength doesn't slip.

When looking to alter your phases of chasing body composition - namely, building, maintaining and dieting - your training doesn't need to drastically change... at all.

Allow your nutrition and your day to day movement levels to dictate energy balance and use your training as a way to continue pushing up your strength and maintain your hard earned muscle mass - "the tools you use in the gym to build muscle are also the best served to help you maintain it!"

That's all for training - he says having written about 2000 words - check back in the next week or so for what I know most of you will be more interested in...

My nutrition over the last 12 months!

Until next time,
Jack Hallows