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X-frame gaining phase

Updated: Sep 19, 2022

I bloody love September. That new semester buzz, of learning, of change. As you may know, equinoxes and solstices are calendar events I hang my hat on, and 2022's autumnal equinox is no different. Enjoying my capacity to learn and to change and leaning into the gains I've made this year alone – in the gym and outside of it – I've written a new workout routine intended to stimulate muscular hypertrophy and build (further) grit.

What is the X-frame gaining phase?

The x-frame gaining phase is a 10-week weightlifting programme that follows a five day push/pull/full-body synchronous split over seven days. Through progressive overload (incremental intensity increases most weeks) its aim is to build muscular thickness through the shoulders, lats and upper legs, which, together, will help to make one's waist look smaller.

While this is a gaining phase, however, it's worth noting that whomever follows the programme will likely need to be in a calorie surplus for an extended period of time, so that their waistline will likely also become thicker.

In the new year, I aim to follow an X-frame cutting phase that will focus on maintaining this accrued muscle tissue while reducing calories to incrementally chip away at body fat. This phase will also utilise stomach vacuum training, working on diaphragmatic and deep core muscle strength, to help further pull my waist in and get as close as possible to that fabled X shape.

The draft inside cover of the X-frame gaining phase booklet

What does the X-frame gaining phase look like?

It doesn’t matter how well written a training programme might be, if you can’t make every session, and this repeats, it’s not a good routine for you. As such, the X-frame training week is built around my work schedule and typical social commitments, where I go to the gym in the morning (before work/play) and have rest days when I’m expecting to travel.

To this end, the programme can be started on whichever day works best for you but, to help with recovery, I’d encourage a similar days on and day off pattern as below:

Monday – push one

Tuesday – pull one

Wednesday – rest day (in the office)

Thursday – push two

Friday – pull two

Saturday – full-body

Sunday – rest day.

Aesthetics and pragmatism

During my brief stint in Berlin, my flatmate at the time, James, told me there were two things in life that aroused him: first, whenever he saw an attractive woman smoking, he'd need to smoke, and, second – elucidating what made a woman attractive to him, he put into words what I'd only hitherto subconsciously appreciated – a dramatic "hip to waist ratio".

Fast-forward to 2019 and, influenced by my enjoyment of weightlifting and a nascent attraction to bodybuilding, I realised that, for me, the upper body was just as important in both male and female figures. And, to make this fascination stick, I met a woman whose incredible flow of broad/er shoulders, narrow/er waist and thick/er legs was something that they said they liked about me. Well, I was hooked.

Until I started learning about concepts like minimum effective volume and maximum recoverable volume – discussed in more detail in the training programme – and actually invested time into learning how many calories I needed to maintain my weight, put muscle on and get leaner, I spent far too much time working out.

I always knew I'd be Zürich, in 2019

Now, don’t get me wrong, at my peak of training this way in September 2019, I was lean and strong and socially active and my body confidence was through the roof (as above with one of my best mates). But I was knackered, hyper-caffeinated and in the gym for upwards of 10 hours a week and was eating nowhere near enough to sustain it.

If you pick up a copy of the programme or you've followed @coachjackmann, you’ll notice that each of the five workouts in the training week features six to seven exercises, which can be done in 60-90 minutes including warm-up work – at least in the first couple of weeks – as I encourage getting in, getting out and getting on with the rest of your day.

The gym is a massive part of my life and a major stimulus for hypertrophy and my general health and wellbeing; now, through trial and error and years of reading and experience, I spend less time than ever in it while making gains I couldn’t have dreamt of three years ago.

My physique towards the end of my mini-cut in June 2022; I know (how) I can get bigger/broader and leaner!

How can I follow the X-frame gaining phase?

You can email me or DM me your email address @coachjackmann and I'll send you an order email. When you're happy with all of the details and you've sent payment to my account, I'll send you the workouts in a Google Sheet and a PDF booklet explaining how to get the most from the programme as well as more detail on my thinking behind it.

To celebrate the new semester and the imminent equinox, for the rest of September, the programme costs £15, equating to £1.50 a week or, in a Sheffield pub, slightly less than half a pint of craft beer. After this, the programme will cost £20. Cheers!

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