Priming and Short High Intensity Cycles (SHIC)

The following information was taken from an article on SHIC written by Marcu300 and an article on priming written by Warrior

Disclaimer

How you run your cycles and what kind of dosages you use is entirely up to you. Not everybody will appreciate the SHIC method but this article will give you some insight as to why some people prefer it and the benefits it can have over standard length cycles. There will be no specific advice given on what dosages to run or how many calories to consume – it is assumed that you have already experimented with different diets and drug protocols prior to running a SHIC and have a general idea of what works well for you.

Short burst cycling explained

One of the best approaches I’ve ever used to build muscle tissue is short burst cycling/short high intensity cycles (SHIC). Before I go any further I want to state that SHIC are not necessarily only for advanced bodybuilders, they can be used at any level – the amount of gear used is simply adjusted/tailored to suit the individual.

Muscle tissue doesn’t grow continuously over long periods of time, weight gain and muscular growth doesn’t happen that way. Not in infants, toddlers, teenagers, or even weight trainers. Instead, weight gain seems to come in spurts or surges. It’s amazing how you can train hard and eat very well year round yet only seem to make progress in quick, infrequent bursts even while using multiple compounds – the body gets used to what is being taken and builds up tolerance and adapts. If you look back over your cycle history you will notice the growth spurts within the cycles, we don’t keep on growing at a steady rate, if we did we would all be 500lbs. This method is designed to build a huge amount of tissue in that short growth window provided everything is in place.

Priming

First you must open the growth window and create a very anabolic environment for muscle tissue to grow. Priming is a preparatory method used before starting a cycle. The goal of priming is to make the system very sensitive to a flood of androgens, food and intense training. Most advanced bodybuilders (especially those who compete) know how responsive the body can be right after getting lean as demonstrated by the growth spurts that are frequently experienced after a competition.

If done correctly, priming will surprise you with very quick, dramatic results. In my opinion, priming should be done before every cycle, regardless of the athlete’s previous cycle experience. Because the results are achieved at a quicker rate the cycle duration can also be cut back which can make coming off and restoring proper HPTA function easier. The basic principle here is to create an environment where you body is very responsive to increased calories.

How should you prime?

Priming involves using the appropriate dietary and training techniques that will allow you to lose body fat while retaining all of your muscle mass. You should diet down gradually at a rate which allows you to lose fat but maintain a good level of strength, little to no actual muscle mass should be lost – although you may lose some fullness due to glycogen depletion. The training should not be so intense that you risk over-training; in fact, a general maintenance routine would be best in most cases. The diet should allow your body to become sensitive to carbohydrates and other macro-nutrients. Generally, a Cyclic Ketogenic Diet (CKD) works wonders – staying low carb for 3-4 days maximum, then carbing up. Again, the goal is to lean up but preserve lean body mass.

Here is an example of a split that I have used for successful priming:

  • Day 1: Moderate Carb/Cardio
  • Day 2: Low Carb/Upperbody Supersets
  • Day 3: Low Carb/Lowerbody Supersets
  • Day 4: Low Carb/Cardio
  • Day 5: Low Carb/Full Body Workout (begin carb load after evening training)
  • Day 6: Carb Load/No training
  • Day 7: Moderate Carb/Power Training (Squat/Deads/Bench)
    Repeat

How much cardio you do and how low you take your calories is determined by your LBM and what you have learned about your metabolism and personal limitations based on previous dieting phases.

The last 4-5 days before the cycle starts should be low carb. On the day you carb up you should begin the cycle. Testosterone and most of it’s popular derivatives will make this carb load very effective – and glycogen super-compensation should occur very quickly, especially if you use short esters or front load longer esters to get blood levels up quickly. After this point your body will remain very responsive to the cycle and you should begin training hard – drop sets, rest-pause, train with intensity. You should feel ready for it mentally. As always, keep a training log to track your lifts and maximize the growth window.

How long should the priming period last?

A proper priming should last about 6-8 weeks pre-cycle. If done correctly and for long enough, your body will be very responsive – you should feel physically pent up and ‘ready’ after the priming period and prepared to move some heavy weights and put in 100% effort in during your workouts.

Carb loading

If you haven’t ran a CKD before, remember that you need to deplete glycogen during the week so you can get the most out of the carb loads. Be careful of total calorie intake – if you go low carb, but eat too much – this will effect the depletion phase. During the carb load, stick to solid protein and carb food sources, if you have a craving to curb that is also high in fat, the best time to indulge is within the first several hours of the carb load. Studies show fat gain during this time is very low, the body is more interested in replenishing itself than it is in storing fat. As you advance through the carb load – high fat foods are more likely to be stored.

Ancillary drugs for priming

I have found both Proviron and Bromocriptine to be helpful during priming periods. Proviron helps to support natural Testosterone levels during a calorie-restricted diet, Bromocriptine helps to support proper metabolism and hormone levels to prevent your body from trying to put a stopper on fat loss. An important word on Bromocriptine – Taper up the dosage gradually and only take it in the mornings to avoid uncomfortable side-effects. Exogenous insulin can help carb loads – I feel filled out noticeably quicker and was stronger the day after.

By Marcus300: “Growth Hormone is of great benefit, it should be run at a low-dose during priming, and when the cycle starts and the intense training the dose of GH should be high for that individual, all these growth factors all work together in producing new muscle tissue gains, ive done my own personal studies with GH and priming and different ways of cycling and the GH is of great benefit in pushing new boundaries of growth while the growth spurt is open.

GH is a wonderful and remarkable hormone, its basically a lipolytic it burns fat while supporting the immune system and prevents bone loss and supports the retention of lean body mass, it other words in time it makes you big and ripped and transforms your physic,when you start GH therapy it causes a shift in the metabolism where the body tries to burn alot more fatty acids than glucose, this benefit is sometimes mild but over time strips the fat away from the muscle, now for the other effect GH as on the body it increases amino acid uptake by muscles and can build lean muscle tissue, so what happens especially if your a bodybuilder and training and eating like one is you start to increase in lean body mass even more so if AAS are implement aswell so an increase in LBM which in turn changes the rate of body fat is burnt due to the LBM increasing, so in time major changes in the bodys compostion are notice even with no alteration on the diet, so just think if the right cycle and diet was done with GH the body changes put all this with the priming and designed cycle and you have everything you need to achieve your goals

Now the dose what is need to transform the body is something ive discovered over the years, this is were i went wrong for years using too little of amount of GH, all i used to recieve was fat loss and slight condition, A former Mr O’s camp at the time said i was doing it all wrong and they showed me and made me understand what i needed to do to change my body totally, nowadays ive found what works 100% for me, its a good solid prime and create the anabolic window for muscle then i start a short cycle weather heavy/light or modertae put this together with a very intense training program and diet and incorporate GH at a muscle building dose and the body changes very quickly,

Sides with GH are bad if your a sufferer, carpel tunnel syndrome is murder but at least you know the GH you are taking is real, what i found is to run a maintenance dose of gh during the prime and slowly build the dose up and when you stop the prime and start the cycle and hit the food,training and AAS increase the GH its not as bad if you run it for a few wks before and steadily up the dose for the start of cycle.”

Non-pharmaceutical drugs for priming

A multi-vitamin and multi-mineral is always good practice while on a macro-restrictive diet to help fill nutritional holes. Extra Vitamin C can also help deter flu symptoms and keep you from falling ill during an important training cycle. I will usually take somewhere between 4-8 grams of vitamin C per day to support a healthy immune system during any important training cycle. Getting sick can put a big dent in your plans.

Taking a healthy dose of the essential BCAA’s can be beneficial to prevent you from losing muscle during your dietary phase. Studies show that it is harder to over-train while taking in over 10 grams of the essential BCAA’s daily. I find that 10 grams pre-workout has a substantial effect on strength retention, gains and mental focus while priming.

When you stay low carb your body starts to produce less of the digestive enzymes responsible for carbohydrate metabolism – this can cause bad gas when carb loading. In particular, a low carb phase results in less production of the enzyme Amylase. To help this, you could take digestive enzymes to aid with proper digestion.

The great Charles Poliquin has been quoted supporting the idea of high-dose glutamine as a post workout sugar replacement for those needing to drop some bodyfat. The idea of mega-dosing glutamine is debatable but I have used it with success. During the depletion week, my post workout shake contains one banana and about 30-40 grams of glutamine.

Stimulants and thermogenic drugs are extremely useful when CKD priming. They give a noticeable boost in energy and help to suppress hunger. Check out the links below for my ‘Complete Guides’ to a number of stimulant/thermogenic drugs:

Once the priming phase is complete you are ready to proceed with your SHIC.

Duration

Short burst cycling usually last for around 30 days, there is no set rule on the length of a cycle and it is fairly common for the cycle to be simply be run until growth slows or stops. One of the most important things is to listen to your body and adjust the cycle accordingly. SHIC should not be run for extended periods of time, longer cycles do not necessarily mean more or better gains. Keep it short, take advantage of the growth window, build some quality tissue, stop, recover and maintain.

Dosages

The dosage used for a SHIC will be a lot more than you would use for a standard length cycle. As I mentioned earlier, the priming period places the body is in a very anabolic environment, you should be prepared to overload with androgens and really push the body to grow. It takes time for the body to adjust to the high level of hormones in relation to the side effects so in most cases your cycle will be over and done with before you start to experience any major sides. Dosages are individual and will be tailored to suit you. There is no ‘set dose’ or ‘one size fits all’, it all depends on how experienced you are and how well you tolerate the drugs. Someone who usually uses 500 mg per week will plan their SHIC completely differently to somebody who usually uses 1,500 mg per week, but both will be able to take advantage of using high dosages which they would not normally use.

Side effects

If you are looking for a way to run hormones without too much negative feedback staying on for long periods of time probably isn’t the best option to take. Ive had far better blood work back from high burst cycles than when I’ve ran longer cycles at smaller dosages. There is minimal impact on the HPTA and recovery is far easier with short burst cycles. There is some elevated aggression because of the high amount of androgens but overall this can be channeled in to your workouts. PCT should be painless. Blood pressure can be a problem for some so should be monitored regulary, drugs can be used to combat the problem if needed. Cialis, aspirin, beetroot juice or powder and celery extract are all effective for bringing blood pressure down. Water retention is generally low but can become an issue if the cycles are extended. AI can be used to help this issue as well as over the counter herbal diuretics such as dandelion root and high doses of vitamin C. Tren users get bad blood work results due to the harshness of the compound but the gains are second to none. You have to be prepared to have a harder recovery and more side effects if you use Tren. It kind of defeats the object but again, it is down to the individual.

Compounds

Because it is a short period of time the normal way would be to run short esters, but you can use long esters within a short cycle. I know what some of you are thinking but it can be done with great results, because of the androgen overload you are simply front-loading long esters to an extent where it is effective right from the beginning, the only problem is you have to drop them out 14 days before the end of the SHIC and swap them with short esters so everything is clear for PCT. Some bodybuilders prefer long esters and respond better to them – remember, the SHIC is designed based on your cycle history, so if you are better with long esters, go with them until 14 days remain and then swap to short esters. Which compounds are used depends on what you are trying to achieve. Usually the cycle will be Test based and 2 or 3 compounds are used at a time. There is no need to run 4 or more compounds, keep them limited – less is better. I’ve even known guys to use 1 compound with stunning results. HGH is generally increased to a high amount when cycle starts. I did a study once with some bodybuilders and the dosages and protocols varied a lot with HGH.

Maintenance

Due to the HPTA being shut down or suppressed for a short period of time it is far easier to recover once the cycle is over. Remember, being shut down for weeks on end causes serious issues with recovery and maintenance. Shorter shutdowns make for easier recovery, regardless of how much you have pushed in the body during that period. This in turn results in better maintenance which results in keeping more of your gains. Once you have shut down your HPTA it is down and it is the length of the shutdown that causes damage. Would you rather shut down your HPTA for 14 weeks or 30 days? Continually shutting down and recovering isn’t the best approach either but it depends on the person’s goals and what he wants to achieve. Some of my friends who are at a high level use short burst cycling coupled with bridges or cruising because of what they have to compete with on stage.

Diet

After the prime has been implemented correctly, the cycle should be started and this day should line up with the first high carb day. Calories from then on should be increased to over maintenance. There is a load of conflicting opinions regarding how big the surplus of calories should be. Again, this is all about knowing your body and how it responds. Many who increase their calorie intake too quickly will create a massive amount of water retention due to the increase in carbs. Some don’t and an over-load can be implemented. It is all about feeding your body and taking full advtantage of the dramatic growth that can occur. If you have followed the procedure correctly and primed as you should have you will be able to eat, eat, eat and over-load on carbs from the off and should see some incredible growth with minimal fat gain. I hope everybody understands that around-the-clock dedication must be shown to your diet while running your SHIC.

Training

Train in what ever way has worked the best for you previously. I think the best advice here is to complete heavy, intense workouts and go until total failure. HIT style or what ever works for you. Intensity is the key, stimulation of the whole body in order to grow. Don’t waste this period. Remember, to train how I am recommending right now would not be possible for 10 consecutive weeks. It’s too hard and you wouldn’t last 10 weeks at that intensity, nowhere near. Keep in mind, this is only 30 days long, mentally focus and make every session count. I’ve experimented and tried tons of different methods but the best for me was pre-exhausting, heavy drop and then forced reps until failure. The workouts are short but seriously intense and you have the food, chemicals and energy to support this for this short period so don’t waste it. I’ve seen huge amounts of tissue built from this, I gained 10 lbs of quality tissue in a very short period of time after PCT and maintenance. Everybody is different in how much they will build and a lot of it comes down to whether you have primed properly, designed right stack for you, used the right amount of drugs and how well you train.

Conclusion

When I first discovered and used this method my whole body changed noticeably, I never went back to the normal way of cycling as this suited me so much and the growth was amazing. Look at Dorian and what he did straight after a show, he was back in the gym the day after while the other guys were on vacation, he was using the growth window to build new tissue and that’s why he was able to pack on serious amounts of mass in a short amount of time.

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