Look, we get it. You’re busy. You don’t have hours on end to spend in the gym, you have a family, a work, a dog, or maybe a hobby or two – if you’re lucky enough to afford one.
But you may still wanna get jacked, so the question is if that can be done in three workouts? Paul Carter seems to think so, let’s see what he’s onto.
About the Author – Paul Carter
Paul Carter is a hypertrophy and strength expert and has trained everyone from Olympia Level bodybuilders to Professional Powerlifters. Paul didn’t always have an affinity for training, and only really got into training at the age of 25.
Paul has a different approach than most people in the current field of fitness: be honest. Those who know Paul will know what this means, but Paul is very focused on actually getting results.
Paul is not bothered by likes or shame and has no shame in calling someone out when they are lying to make a quick buck. This makes it “hard” to like Paul sometimes, but this also means whatever you get from him is going to be the truth.
In his years of training and coaching, Paul has become incredibly scientific in his approach. You’ll often hear him talking about certain muscle incisions of muscle lengths at certain parts of the rep.
This massive amount of knowledge has led to him being published by some large sites:
- Muscle and Fitness
- Flex Magazine
Paul has used this knowledge to train some pretty impressive athletes. This is also how he built the knowledge (through trial and error) on how to get the best possible results out of just lifting a few days per week.
While that sounds relatively easy, it actually means you need to make sure there is enough volume, stimulation at the right muscle lengths, and intensity to ensure the muscle grows optimally.
Paul Carter’s Jacked in 3 Training Program Overview
As mentioned before, the Jacked in 3 Training Program has an incredibly scientific approach to lifting and progressive overload so you actually build muscle instead of just maintaining a certain fitness level like other workouts.
This means you’ll be doing some interesting reps and sets schemes to get the most out of your short time in the gym.
- Fitness Level: Intermediate
- Duration: 4 Weeks
- Workouts per week: 3 Workouts per Week
- Average workout duration: 45 – 60 Minutes
- Equipment needed: Full gym
- Goal: Build muscle
The program Paul has designed is based on efficiency and getting the most bang for your buck unlike the Get Swole Program which has workouts lasting up to 90 minutes each.
Since Paul has such a “no-BS” approach to fitness he didn’t take a traditional intermediate route like DTP by Kris Gethin. Instead, he actually designed his own style of training for this called Accumulative Volume Training.
The biggest thing about Accumulative Volume Training is pre-fatiguing. This is essentially using single-joint movements to “stimulate” and fatigue the muscles used in multiple joint movements prior to doing it. Some of the more popular pre-fatiguing movements are:
|Pre-Fatiguing Movement||Main Movement|
|Cable Chest Flyes||Incline Barbell Press|
|Dumbbell Front Raises||Dumbbell Shoulder Press|
|Leg Extension||Hack Squats|
|Seated Hamstring Curl||Stiff Leg Deadlift|
|Straight Arm Pulldown||Wide Grip Pulldown|
Not only could this potentially save you from injury, but you also avoid having the “wrong” muscle group be the limiting factor. For instance, Stiff Leg Deadlift. Your hands or lower back will buck out way faster than your hamstrings, meaning they won’t be properly stimulated.
To avoid “missing out” on some crucial reps on the target muscle, you can pre-fatigue the other “limiting muscle groups”. While this is an old-school bodybuilding trick, it can be extremely effective when applied in the correct situation.
This type of training will be incorporated in specific manners throughout all your training days. Speaking about training days, you’ll kind of be working in a set of 14 days. Over the course of two weeks, you’ll be doing 2 upper body and 2 lower body sessions. Those sessions will be focused on:
- Vertical Pressing (Overhead Presses)
- Horizontal Pressing (Bench Presses)
- Vertical Pulling (Pullup variations)
- Horizontal Pulling (Row variations)
- Quad-focused lower body (Squat variations)
- Glute and hamstring-focused lower body (Deadlift variations)
If you aren’t aware, these are the basics of training and will cover everything you need to progress. Paul is also a big advocate of staying within a specific rep range of 5 – 12 – 15 reps.
This doesn’t mean you won’t do some sets out of this scheme, but Paul frequently quotes studies showing that this rep range is optimal.
Paul Carter’s Jacked in 3 Training Program Details
Okay, so now that we have taken a look at the program from afar, let’s break down the whole program into three sections: Accumulative Volume Training, Conditioning, and Diet.
Accumulative Volume Training
As mentioned before, a large part of Accumulative Volume Training is the fact that you’ll be doing a lot of pre-fatiguing movements. Not only could this save you from injury, but will save you time by limiting warm-ups as well.
You’ll be executing this mechanism via “hops” which are quite hard to understand (thanks Paul), so let me run it down as simply as I can:
- Pick your movement (for argumentative sake, Incline Barbell Press)
- Choose a weight (let’s say 1x 45lb Plate Per Side
- Execute 6 – 8 reps
- Quickly add a plate per side of equal weight (so another 45lb plate per side)
- Execute 6 – 8 reps
- That was one “hop”. Repeat this until you can no longer do any more reps, aiming for 6 – 10 hops
- Maybe wear a loose shirt I can imagine this gives a sickening pump
You’ll then move on to other movements for the same muscle group to really finish this off. The one big drawback of failure training (training to failure) is that it certainly is not for everyone. You have to have a certain mindset for it.
The nice thing about the training that Paul has designed is that there are ample substitutions. This means there are other exercises for you to do if you are limited by equipment for past injuries. Some of the subs available are:
- Pressing Movements: bench, incline bench, close-grip bench, chest press, Smith machine press, and overhead presses
- Chest Isolation: Cable cross, dumbbell flyes, and machine fly
- Vertical Pull: Pullups, Chinups, Pulldown variations
- Rear Delts: Dumbbell rear delt fly and reverse pec-deck
- Biceps: Barbell Curl, Dumbbell Curl, and Hammer Dumbbell Curls
- Triceps: Tricep Rope Pushdown, Close-Grip Bench, and overhead extension
The training volume will seem quite low compared to other programs, but because those “hopping” sets will end in failure (and may consist of like 80+ reps), that will tax you quite a lot.
Paul has been around the block a few times and knows that conditioning isn’t only great for aesthetics, but is also quite good when it comes to health. We make use of supplements such as Pre-Workout to get a better pump, but having lower blood pressure would lead to a greater pump too, so. Go figure.
Paul has also spent time working with professional sports teams such as footballers and rugby players, both in need of strength and fitness. Thus, it won’t come as a surprise that Paul is a huge advocate of conditioning work – not cardio.
Cardio is just your simple 30 minutes on the treadmill, whilst conditioning is so much worse.
Better I mean!
Please don’t hit me with a barbell, Paul. I just hate sled work.
The program will call for you to either take rest days or do conditioning work on the days you are not training. Depending on your goals, stress levels, and nutrition you might benefit from doing 1 – 2 conditioning sessions per week. In these, you can expect the following:
- High-Intensity bike sprinting
- Sled Work
- Prowler Work
Compared to regular cardio these will be incredibly high intensity and will get your heart pumping in no time! Rather reluctantly I believe, he does mention trail running as an alternative. He does advise two conditioning sessions per week, but you might only need 1. If you’re looking to lose some weight, you might gain from 2 per week.
“Chicken breast and egg whites, bro,” says every jacked guy – ever. While protein is definitely the most important nutrient when it comes to dieting, there are of course other factors.
Paul would want you to take as much pride in your nutrition as you do in your training. Paul is also nice enough to summarize the nutrition approach for you:
- Make Protein the Star of the Plate: Studies have shown that even overfeeding on protein will not mean you gain fat, and it is still the only nutrient that can turn into muscle mass
- Cut out “most” of the junk food: Eating in a calorie deficit while eating a lot of hyper-palatable foods can make the whole diet harder, so follow a 90% Clean 10% Dirty Plan
- Have Protein before you train: Logic will tell us that without Amino Acids (building blocks of Protein) we simply cannot build muscle. A study published in 2007 shows that having around 20g of protein before training can increase muscle protein synthesis
- Supplementation: Carter keeps things rather simple with the supplementation and advises you only take Creatine Monohydrate, BCAAs, and Omega Fatty Acids. These all have evidence to show they can help with muscle gain, muscle recovery, and overall health respectively.
This is kind of where the nutrition advice ends, which does leave you asking questions like:
- How many total calories should I be eating?
- How many carbs should I eat?
- Should this nutrition part have more info?
2 Paul Carter’s Jacked in 3 Training Program Pros
- Timing: Oftentimes we will see programs that will ask for a tremendous amount of time for warmups or the high volume they want you to run. As someone who has a family or a strenuous job, this isn’t always possible. Paul caters to those individuals in this program
- Conditioning: Cardio can be incredibly boring, and there is actually some evidence showing that conditioning work could be better for health compared to “regular” cardio
2 Paul Carter’s Jacked in 3 Training Program Cons
- Nutrition: I respect Paul immensely, but some people need a bit more guidance than just “eat enough protein”. Some people could benefit from a calorie calculator or at least a list of foods that would be better for such high-intensity training
- Failure Training: When it comes to training for failure, there are two limitations. One, most people don’t know what true failure is. Two, it can be dangerous for those who haven’t experienced it and don’t know when to use a spotter. I am nitpicking, yes, but I have to be honest
Paul Carter’s Jacked in 3 Training Program – Final Thoughts
Higher frequency training (training a muscle more than once per week, or more) has begun to make a comeback thanks to programs like these. While bodybuilders are genetically gifted enough to grow from one session per week, we normies aren’t.
Paul has set this plan up perfectly for individuals who are a bit too busy to commit a lot of time but still wanna see progress. Sure, the nutrition part is extremely limiting, but we have some tools that might be able to help you in your journey.
This is overall a cracker of a program that’ll be especially enjoyable to those that like challenging workouts and crave becoming better weekly. I would like to see a longer version, but I guess you can repeat it?
Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to run away now since I did a set of abductors today – Paul hates those!
Rating: 3.5 out of 5