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100's by Jeff Felicianno

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  • 100's by Jeff Felicianno

    By Jeff Felicianno
    With James E.
    Wright, PhD

    Let your training take you where few have gone before!

    The 100s has to be the most challenging training system ever devised. Unfortunately, however, its potential for physique training has never been achieved. One reason is that athletes, except for some Southern California, don’t know about it. Another reason is that those athletes who do know about the system generally don’t know how to use it. A third reason is that it’s so different - physically and mentally - from what bodybuilders and other athletes are used to. Fourth, it’s such an incredible intense experience. As the original developer of the system back in the 70s, I’d like to add to what James Wright (who contributed greatly to this article), said about the 100s system in the March issue of MUSCLE & FITNESS.
    The 100s, as explained previously, involves doing one set of 100 reps each exercise. This system, a mind boggling experience that changes the athlete’s perception of his pain threshold, was originally designed for combative sport athletes - football players and wrestlers. The overall changes in muscle density, increases in speed and quickness and rehabilitation from injury, coupled with the psychological benefits, were ideal for the first part of off-season training.
    The original 100s system was and still is particularly well suited for combative sport athletes who must be as concerned with their attitude and aggressiveness as with their strength and flexibility. But for bodybuilders and other no combative athletes, the extreme weights (yes, if you really try, you can eventually use some amazing weights for your 100s, especially if you use enough that you can get only 70 without a pause) and semi ballistic movements are not in keeping with fundamental physique training philosophy. Also, the psychological trauma that accompanies combative 100s training often seems unsuitable for physique training and can be counterproductive because it may cause severe and lasting bouts of “ gym phobia”.

    Exactly how 100s work remains a mystery, but they do work! The gains made with 100s have shocked even the worst sceptics.

    PHYSIQUE 100s

    The 100s regimen as adopted for physique training reflects the work and effort of several bodybuilders. Well-known champs Diana Dennis, Rory Leidelmeyer and Tom Touchstone, along with James Yasenchok ( Teenage Mr. America 1977 ), Lori Domhoff (Ms LA 1987), and Frank Patoja (1987 Mr. Iron man), have all made contributions to the mechanics of physique 100s.
    Dennis, Leidelmeyer and Touchstone are credited with making several significant changes to the original 100s system. These changes, are specifically designed for bodybuilding, vastly increased the 100s’ specificity and effectiveness for physique training.


    Initially it’s difficult to complete training a body part with one exercise after another without getting totally exhausted. To avoid this you can alternate between different body parts as you go down the list. After about five weeks, use a sequence in which you train a body part completely without interruption. Regardless of which sequence you choose, select exercises and place them in order so you isolate the larger muscle or muscle groups of a particular body part first, progressing to the smaller muscles. Exceptions, such as weak or undeveloped muscles or body parts, will be treated as separate cases later.
    Another consideration in constructing an exercise list is the concept of limiting muscles. Limiting muscles are those muscles that, when fatigued, limit another body part from being worked efficiently. Triceps are limiting muscles for pressing movements such as the shoulder press, incline and bench press. Low back is limiting for squats and some rowing movements. Limiting muscles should be worked - in isolation - last.
    Listed below are examples of an alternating and an orthodox exercise list. Note that the Smith machine incline press is listed first. This is one of those exceptions mentioned earlier. Weak (as in small in size or strength) muscle groups within a body part should be worked first while your energy and concentration is highest.
    Also note the low row is last in both lists. Because low back is limiting, we want to prefatigue the upper back so that we are not using weights on the low row that may injure the low back.

    (Day 1)

    1)Smith machine incline bench press
    2)Back lat pull (wide grip)
    3)Dumbbell bench press
    4)Front lat pull (medium width, supinated grip)
    5)Decline barbell (machine) press
    6)Close-grip lat pull (front pull downs, small/V handle, palms facing grip)
    7)Pec deck
    8)Low row (seated, small/V handle, palms facing grip)


    1)Smith machine incline bench press
    2)Incline dumbbell press
    3)Flat dumbbell press
    4)Pec deck
    5)Back lat pull (wide grip)
    6)Front lat pull (medium grip)
    7)Close-grip lat pull (front pull downs, small handle, palms-facing grip)
    8)Low row (seated, small handle, palms facing grip)

    The actual workout format, or what body parts are worked on what days, also reflects the need to maximize recovery. The ideal format allows collateral muscles worked on one day to recover before they themselves are isolated on another day. The three on, one off format (single rotation) listed below is an example of a format that maximizes recovery:

    Day 1: Chest, Back
    Day 2: Biceps, Legs
    Day 3: Shoulders (including mid-back), triceps
    Alternate: Shoulders, biceps, triceps (if you choose this, do only legs on Day 2)
    Day 4: Rest

    The above format allows for collateral muscles worked on Day 1 to rest before being worked again either collaterally or isolation. The anterior deltoids are a good example. Mainly worked collaterally (except for the incline press) on Day 1, they are then isolated using the shoulder press on Day 3. Limiting muscles are separated so as not to negatively affect primary movements. Biceps are worked the day after back, and triceps following shoulders on Day 3. Listed below are examples of Day 2 and Day 3, flip-flopping where possible.

    Day 2
    1) Standing curl
    2) Preacher curl
    3) Smith squat (or leg press)
    4) Lying leg curl
    5) Leg extensions
    6) Standing leg curl
    7) Straight-legged dead lift

    Day 3
    1) Smith front or reverse military press
    2) Standing side lateral
    3) Rear delts
    4) Wide row (as in the Cybex seated wide row for midback)
    5) Upright rowing
    6) Lying triceps extensions
    7) Pushdowns

    The above lists are offered merely to give you a general idea about arranging the exercises. There are many ways to order an exercise list. You should select exercises with which you are familiar and that you enjoy, and order them in a way that is comfortable for you. Don’t forget, the whole idea of the system is to do 100 consecutive repetitions for each exercise in your list, ideally covering all the body parts through a single rotation (in our example, three-on, one-off = a single rotation). The actual order and exercise selection are not carved in stone.


    Various changes have been incorporated in 100s training since its inception. Some have been to make it safer; others to make it more effective; others to make it more user- friendly. Set mechanics is one of the areas in which major changes have increased specificity for physique training. In the combative 100s program, the standard increment for each group of body parts was fairly high: 50 pounds on leg presses, 20 on squats, 10 on lying leg curls, 5 on standing leg curls, 10 on barbell presses, 10 on rowing and pull down movements, 10 on barbell curling and extension movements, and 5 on dumbbell movements.
    Tom Touchstone was one of the first to lower the standard increment on every exercise. The rule for incrementation for physique 100s is simpler and much more effective for bodybuilding. After you have reached 100 consecutive repetitions, you increase the weight the smallest amount possible. That means 2 ½ pounds on exercises like curls, triceps pushdowns and any dumbbell movement; 5 pounds on incline, bench, lat pulls, leg curls and leg extensions; 10 pounds on Smith squats; and 20 pounds on leg presses and hack squats.
    Don’t panic if the normal weight increments on the various machines are too large. You simply may have to rig something by hanging a plate off a stack. Premature or excessive incrementation will not only decrease your performance, it will limit the muscles’ ability to adapt and burn you out mentally. Always remember, reaching 100 using good form and range is more important than increasing the weight.
    As for form, Rory Leidelmeyer is credited with increasing the range of motion of every exercise and eliminating all ballistic movement, thereby limiting the resistance to the belly of the muscle being worked and not its tendons.


    The biggest difference between physique 100s and combative 100s is in the number of reps per set. Although we use the term 100s to decide the exercise concept, in fact, the reps that you attempt to get without pausing are different for the two approaches.
    In combative 100s, after a break-in period of using weights light enough to guarantee that you get 100 reps without a pause, you use a weight that causes you to reach absolute failure at 70 reps. Of course it should be understood here that when we say failure and not to stopping because of pain.
    You pause briefly (about one second for every rep less than 100, according to Rory Leidelmeyer’s system), and then again do as many reps as you can until you reach 100. This process is repeated until you reach that magic number even if it requires four or five rest pauses.
    In physique 100s, the goal throughout the program is to do 100 reps without a pause for every set. This is obviously not always possible. In fact, it’s usually not possible when you first increase the weight. However, 100 reps without a pause is the primary goal. And although this might seem to be a rather minor difference, it’s enormous in its psychological as well as physical and physiological implications. Whichever type of 100s you’re doing, the level of effort and intensity should be the same - all out!

    Incidentally, if you come into the gym not feeling up to a full workout, then either reduce yours weights on every exercise so that you can get an easy 100 reps, or blow off the entire workout and pick things up the next day. It’s important that you don’t push too hard if you’re really not into it. You must be able to handle doing 100s over a period of about eight weeks in order to get the most out of the system, so don’t burn yourself out by being overzealous. Rome wasn’t built in a day!


    You should be aware of certain nutritional consideration during 100s training.
    Preworkout: Don’t consume a lot of protein shortly before training; your last heavy protein meal should be 3-4 hours before your workout. One to two hours before training you should have about 40 -60 grams of complex carbohydrates along with minerals but be careful about taking vitamins as they have a tendency to upset some peoples’ stomachs.
    Postworkout: Right after you train, the liver and muscles are particularly “sensitive” and receptive to nutrients. In fact, this is the period we refer to as the metabolic “golden hour.” So 30 - 60 minutes after you train, you should be consuming some easily digested carbohydrate-containing foods or supplements. You could have some carbs, such as a banana or a carb drink (like Joe Weider’s Breakthrough), even before you leave the gym.
    The protein contents is not as important as the carbs at the time, but it’s a good idea to get some aminos or protein then as well. The carbs you take in then prompt a release of insulin, which is extra effective in promoting uptake of glucose and amino acid and increased protein synthesis. The extra effectiveness is due to the increased sensitivity of the “trashed” muscle cells immediately post workout. This is the prime time for nutritionally induced anabolism. That’s why you want to provide some aminos or protein at that time. Just don’t overdo it. The most important time for protein is another hour or two later.
    At that time you should have a nutrient-dense meal that covers all the bases, including plenty of protein, vitamins, minerals and a supplement. In addition to what has been mentioned, you should maintain a healthy low- fat diet that is about 25% higher in protein that your normal training diet.
    Don’t restrict your calories too much during the 100s, even if you’re trying to lean out. You’re going to need good consistent nutrition. If your goal is to diet, go through the 100s without dieting, then begin your diet during the heavy weight cycle that follows the 100s. You will be more adapted to utilizing body fat for fuel. Your rate of fat mobilization and metabolism will probably be higher after the 100s, improving the overall dieting process.
    Supplements (available from Weider Foods) that may be beneficial include branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs), carnitine, ferulic acid and 90-plus protein. L-carnitine, ferulic acid and BCAAs may be taken to nutritionally support the small carb meal two hours before training described above. Then, again in late evening, minus the BCAAs but with the 90-plus protein.

    Be careful if you use caffeine. Caffeine dehydrates you and runs the potassium out of your system. This can be dangerous and certainly is not good for muscle contraction or growth. Drugs like ephedrine hydrochloride (cold medicine and bronchial dilators) also dehydrate your system and can cause cramping and muscle injuries as well as electrolyte imbalances. Make sure you ask your pharmacist or physician about any medication you take before you train!
    Don’t trust gym talk! If you need a boost, try using MCTs (medium-chain triglycerides). Weider Foods is working on a new MCT product and I, Jeff Feliciano, have been using it myself. I think it is ideal for the 100s.
    Finally, as with any training regimen, but especially the 100s, drink plenty of water. Before, during, and especially after training. No exceptions!


    After about eight weeks of the 100s, you’ll be ready for a change. However, before you dive into the heavyweight cycle, you’ll need to readapt your joints, tendons, etc., to using heavy weight. This process, which takes 3-4 weeks, consists of using weights you can handle for sets of 12 - 15 reps. As you adapt to heavy weights and begin to feel more comfortable, increase the weight and decrease the reps. Don’t overload too soon; give yourself a full three weeks before you really push it. If you’re like the vast majority of people who have used the 100s system, your joints will feel good and your strength will increase at a steady pace.


    Generally, periodization involves approximately 24 weeks: eight weeks of 100s followed by four weeks of transition followed by 12 weeks of heavy weight. You can do two of these cycles in a year.


    Walkman cassette players, hand counters, training partners and journals are all commonly used by lifters doing the 100s but are not entirely necessary, with the exception of a journal. When we do the 100s, we only occasionally have someone count for us. Instead we usually use a 35 - 35 - 30 format. This way we don’t have to worry about a training partner’s punctually or moods, or about keeping a predetermined schedule.
    Even if you don’t like to train with a partner, many people find doing the 100s-with a well-matched training partner much easier than doing them alone - if for no other reason just to count. Hand counters are usually available at, or below $10 at a sporting good store.

  • #2
    I'm not following any program written by a blind guy best known for singing "Felice Navidad"


    • #3
      The first (and one of the few times) I met Feliciano, he had already been busted and had resurfaced at a small gym in OC. He was an underground legend similar to Kaiser Sousse. So I go into the gym and there he is, baggy levis, a tee shirt with a stain on it, and a gas station baseball hat canted sideways (not on purpose). Looked like he had never lifted a day in his life. But the dude was a genius. That is a good read. I need to get me one of those Walkman cassette players!
      Family Guy but also; Old School SoCal, punk rock loving, powerlifting, hardcore gym rat.


      • #4
        I have a cassette tape with " Best mix tape ever" on it and no player. I will not do the program even if I find a player.
        "Be gentle in what you do, firm in how you do it."
        Buck Brannaman.

        "It is the certainty of punishment that deters crime, not the severity of it."
        'Hanging' Judge PARKER

        "Nothing is so powerful as an insight into human nature... what compulsions drive a man, what instincts dominate his action... if you know these things about a man you can touch him at the core of his being."
        ~William Bernbach