Jason Ferruggia: Muscle Gaining Secrets 2.0 PDF (eBook)
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By Jason Ferruggia
You must get your physician’s approval before beginning this exercise
program. These recommendations are not medical guidelines but are for
educational purposes only. You must consult your physician prior to starting this
program or if you have any medical condition or injury that contraindicates physical
activity. This program is designed for healthy individuals 18 years and older only.
The information in this report is not meant to supplement, nor replace, proper
exercise training. All forms of exercise pose some inherent risks. The editors and
publishers advise readers to take full responsibility for their safety and know their
limits. Before practicing the exercises in this book, be sure that your equipment is
well-maintained, and do not take risks beyond your level of experience, aptitude,
training and fitness. The exercises and dietary programs in this book are not
intended as a substitute for any exercise routine or treatment or dietary regimen
that may have been prescribed by your physician.
Don’t lift heavy weights if you are alone, inexperienced, injured, or fatigued. Always
ask for instruction and assistance when lifting. Don’t perform any exercise without
See your physician before starting any exercise or nutrition program. If you are
taking any medications, you must talk to your physician before starting any exercise
program, including Muscle Gaining Secrets. If you experience any lightheadedness,
dizziness, or shortness of breath while exercising, stop the movement and consult a
You must have a complete physical examination if you are sedentary, if you have
high cholesterol, high blood pressure, or diabetes, if you are overweight, or if you
are over 30 years old. Please discuss all nutritional changes with your physician or a
This publication is intended for informational use only. Jason Ferruggia and
www.MuscleGainingSecrets.com will not assume any liability or be held responsible
for any form of injury, personal loss or illness caused by the utilization of this
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Chapter 1- Introduction 7
Chapter 2- The Everlasting Bond 10
Chapter 3- The Importance of Physical Strength 12
Chapter 4- The Training Effect 15
Chapter 5- The Seven Critical Factors 18
• Exercise Selection 18
• Training Volume 20
• Number of Reps Used 24
• Rep Speed 29
• Rest Intervals 30
• Training Session Length 30
• Training Session Frequency 34
Chapter 6- Intensity 36
Chapter 7- Neck & Shoulder Training 39
Chapter 8- Back Training 43
Chapter 9- Chest Training 54
Chapter 10- Arm Training 57
Chapter 11- Leg Training 63
Chapter 12- Extreme Stretching 71
Chapter 13- Putting it All Together: The MGS Workouts 75
• The Beginner Workout Plan 76
• The Intermediate Workout Plan 78
• The Advanced Workout Plan 85
Chapter 14- Fat Burning Cardio 96
Chapter 15- Recovery Methods 110
Chapter 16- Mass Building Nutrition 116
Chapter 17- The Truth About Supplements 150
Chapter 18- Training Partners 174
Chapter 19- Training Music 178
Chapter 20- Questions & Answers 182
Chapter 21- Conclusion 192
About the Author 196
“A man can be as great as he wants to be. If you
believe in yourself and have the courage, the determination, the
dedication, the competitive drive and if you are willing to sacrifice
the little things in life and pay the price for the things that are
worthwhile, it can be done.”
When it comes to muscle building genetics I am probably at the bottom of the barrel.
Neither of my parents are over 5’7” or 140 pounds soaking wet. In fact, almost no
one on either side of our family is even close to what you would describe as “big.”
There is one exception, however, and that is my Uncle Rory from Scotland. Uncle
Rory stood six feet, three inches tall, and was one of the biggest guys I’ve ever seen.
He had traps that touched his ears and forearms so massive that Popeye would have
Uncle Rory loved to lift heavy weights and was a regular competitor in the Highland
Games which is Scotland’s traditional strongman contest. I remember going to
watch him as a kid. Sometimes while he was warming up I would try to move one of
the anvils or lift the caber, which is basically a telephone pole, slightly off the
ground. Uncle Rory would look at me and say “Whit ye doin, ya wee bugger? Ya
cannae bloody well lift that.” Then he would pick up the object like it was a feather
while roaring with laughter. “One day,” he told me. It was then and there that I
decided I wanted to be big and strong when I grew up, just like my Uncle Rory.
I started lifting weights when I was 13 years old and a few months away from my
freshman year of high school. I was officially the world’s biggest weakling at the time
and weighed less than 100 pounds. I hadn’t seen Uncle Rory in a few years, but my
cousin had started dating a professional wrestler and he became my new inspiration.
He wrote me a training program and I began my quest.
Four years later, I graduated high school at six feet tall and a whopping 147 pounds.
If I turned sideways, you’d have a hard time seeing me. I was still relying on advice
I got from the muscle magazines and from a 285-pound, steroid-using professional
Twenty years later, and after thousands of hours spent training, studying,
researching, and experimenting, I’m confident that I finally know what truly makes
for effective strength training. It took a long time, but I wouldn’t have changed a
thing. It was how I learned everything that I am about to share with you in this
training manual. This information is battle tested and has been proven thousands of
times over, and that is why you should trust every word you read here.
Many years ago I decided that I wanted to make a living training others, so I opened
up my own underground, hardcore gym in New Jersey. For years and years I have
had clients come to me with one goal in mind—“I wanna get huge,” they tell me.
Often times these are high school or college kids who only have 12 weeks in the
summer to train with me before they head back to school. Time and time again I
have granted their wishes and helped them pack 20 to 30 pounds of muscle on to
their physiques in three months or less. Now before you say, “Well, it’s easier for
kids to grow than it is for adults,” I must inform you that I have had equal success
using these types of programs with clients of all ages. A close friend of mine came to
me shortly after his 40th birthday and said the same thing, “Help me get big.” Sure
enough, after doing everything I told him, he had packed on over 20 pounds in just
three short months.
I decided to write Muscle Gaining Secrets when I finally got fed up with all the false
promises that are being promoted out there by scam artists who are only out for
your hard earned money. Every time I surf the web lately I see someone else selling
a new muscle building system. The credentials of many of these authors are very
questionable, and the fact that they have never trained a single solitary soul is even
The information you are about to discover is the culmination of 20 years of extensive
research and in-the-trenches experience. For over two decades I have studied the
work of the Iron Game pioneers and wouldn’t be where I am today if it weren’t for
them. For this reason I must dedicate Muscle Gaining Secrets to the legends of Iron;
men like: Paul Anderson, Arthur Saxon, George Hackenshmidt, Vince Gironda, Bill
Pearl, John Grimek, Arnold Shwarzenegger, David Rigert, Louie Simmons, and too
many others to name.
And respected researchers like: Robert Roman, Leonid Matveyev, Dr. Mel Siff, Dr.
Yuri Verkoshansky and Professor Vladimir Zatsiorsky.
Over the course of my training career I have taken everything that I learned from
these great pioneers and countless other world renowned strength training experts
(many of whom I now call personal friends) and combined it with thousands of hours
of real world experience to create what I believe to be the most effective muscle
building system on the planet.
I must warn you, however, that if you are looking for a bunch of scientific terms and
references you are going to be disappointed because I have included very few.
Although I have read just about every study ever conducted in regards to strength
training and nutrition, I realize that most of you would care not to. For that reason I
have taken all of the science and all my years of experimentation on thousands of
human guinea pigs, and condensed it down into one easy to read manual containing
only that which you absolutely need to know in order to get massively big, strong
The information contained in Muscle Gaining Secrets is time tested and proven to
work, without fail. I have used these methods with hundreds of high school, college
and professional athletes, armed forces members, Hollywood stars and thousands of
every day regular people. The results have been astounding and the program works
Follow the plan to the letter and you will get mind blowing results.
Now let’s get to it.
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"The Iron never lies to you. You can walk outside and listen
to all kinds of talk, get told that you're a god or a total bastard.
The Iron will always kick you in the real deal. The Iron is the
great reference point, the all-knowing perspective giver,
always there like a beacon in the pitch black. I have found the
iron to be my greatest friend. It never freaks out on me,
never runs. Friends may come and go. But two hundred
pounds is always two hundred pounds.”
I “train”, I don’t “work out”. I have never “worked out” in my entire life. There is a
huge difference between the two. I can’t work out. I don’t know how. Even if I did I
would never do it. It’s what “they” do, and I will never be one of “them.” I only know
one way and that is to go to the gym and train hard. If I can’t do that, I won’t bother
going. Mindlessly going through the motions to get a “good workout” is not
something I have ever been interested in.
I train and I constantly strive to make progress.
Training is so much more than working out. It helps you get to know yourself better.
It shows you what you’re really made of and how hard you’re willing to work and
persevere to overcome an obstacle. Training is a release. It's a time to leave all the
problems of the world behind and go to battle with yourself or your training partners.
The iron can be your best friend and your worst enemy all at once. But it will always
be there for you when you need it. When you establish this kind of relationship with
the iron you will have something so much more meaningful than those who simply
go to the gym to get a pump, pick up girls, and socialize.
Working out is what the general public does to get in a little better shape. They go to
the gym because they have to. They don’t love it, and they don’t live for it. But to
those of us who feel most at home pushing heavy weight in some hole-in-the-wall
hardcore gym, training is our passion.
I've gone to battle with the iron and come out on the losing end many times. I've
strained, pulled, and torn muscles and ligaments. I've screwed up my back and
injured my knees. I've sweat, bled, and puked…all in the same workout. But I do it
because I love it.
The quest for strength is one of man’s basic instincts. It is something that has been
pursued fervently since the beginning of time, because, as the old cliché goes, only
the strong survive.
Lifting weights can have an endless array of health benefits, but let’s be honest—
that's not why we do it. The people at the local fitness center do it for those
reasons, but not us. We do it for that feeling of going to battle, the rush of hitting a
new max, and to meet the challenge of pain and suffering that come along with it.
We do it because we love to set goals and bust our asses in pursuit of them. We do
it because it allows us to release all our pent-up anger and aggression. We do it
because we know most others don't have the balls to train like we do. We do it for
that feeling of camaraderie and competition amongst training partners. We do it for
the feeling that you can only get when you have a mind-numbingly heavy weight in
your hands, straining for all that you're worth, while your training partners are
screaming in your ear, Slayer is blasting on the radio, and you’re slowly grinding
toward that goal you've been chasing. That is why we do what we do.
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There are few things more important in life than physical strength. This may sound
outlandish to some of you given that the technology in today’s world has replaced
the need to do so much manual labor, but it’s true. This has been true since the
beginning of time when we had to fight for our survival and it will remain true no
matter how many machines they build. There is no more basic alpha-male instinct
than the quest for strength. The old saying “only the strongest shall survive” has
never lost its meaning or relevance because it is an eternal and universal truth.
Though we no longer need to capture and kill our food and we now have the comfort
of modern amenities, physical strength is no less important. Every physical task that
you engage in will be significantly easier and done with much greater proficiency if
you are strong. High levels of strength boost confidence levels and help you survive
in today’s society. Given the statistics on crime and other unforeseen problems such
as storms, natural disasters and car accidents that the average man can encounter
on a regular basis, it is almost irresponsible not to maximize your strength levels
which in turn maximize your chances of survival.
Without strength, how can you even consider yourself a real man? How can you look
in the mirror and live with yourself if you see a pathetically weak image staring back
at you? How can you protect your wife or girlfriend, command the respect of your
peers, or be a role model to your kids?
Strength is what separates the men from the boys in today’s society, and despite
what certain individuals may try to tell you, the quest for it is nothing to be ashamed
of. Those who put you down for going to a gym to lift heavy weights are ashamed of
who they are. They call us “meatheads” and make jokes when we are not around
(they rarely have the balls to say them to our faces), but it’s their own lack of
strength, and their lack of the discipline it takes to make gains that makes them feel
inferior. They have either tried to improve their bodies and failed, or they never had
the guts to try at all. They’ll try to tell you you’re wasting your time—“be normal and
come out drinking with us instead of going to the gym,” they’ll say. Forget about
them. If you were satisfied with being normal, you wouldn’t be reading this. Train,
eat, sleep, read this manual, and stay the course—you’ll make fools of those people
in no time.
Now I know that some of you may be thinking to yourselves right now, “I just want
to get big, I don’t care about getting strong.” Not only is that the wrong attitude to
take but it will cause you to fail in your attempt to build massive amounts of size.
For those that don't already know, there are a few different ways to make progress
in your workouts; you can increase the load (lift heavier weights), you can increase
the density (do more work in the same time frame), and you can even do the same
amount of work in less time.
But I can guarantee you that if you are still using the same weights today
that you were using two years ago, or even two weeks ago, you are not
making progress. You simply cannot get significantly bigger without lifting
heavier weights. You can set the stopwatch and do all your little supersets and
drop sets until you are blue in the face, but a 185-pound squat is still a 185 pound-
squat, no matter how you do it.
The fastest and easiest way to ensure continued progress in the weight room is to
constantly strive to lift more weight and get stronger. People want to make every
excuse under the sun and will try every system they can find to get around this
simple fact. One of my favorite excuses is that what I am suggesting is impossible
because no one can continue to get strong forever and continually add weight to the
bar. If that were possible, then the world would be filled with 1,000-pound bench
pressers, they say. As opposed to all of the 405-pound benchers out there, right?
Right. I mean how many times do you ever see a single human being in a public gym
bench press 405 pounds?! One guy out of 1,000 maybe? Give me a freaking break!
Yes, it’s true; no one can keep adding weight to the bar indefinitely. But who (name
me one guy you know personally) has ever maxed out their strength levels?! Not one
person! Not a single, solitary soul! Why don't you see tons of extremely strong guys
in the gym everyday? Because most people have no idea how to train properly and
To further emphasize my point about the importance of getting brutally strong, I ask
you to look at powerlifters—guys whose only purpose in training is to lift really heavy
weights— and the incredible size and thickness they possess (this holds true even
with lighter powerlifters). Tons of people lift weights on a regular basis; many of
them would even consider themselves bodybuilders. But why aren’t more of them
significantly bigger? Why do so many people who use light weights and pumping
workouts not possess anywhere near the muscularity of the average powerlifter? I’ll
tell you why; it’s because the only way to build that kind of real, lasting size is with
THE BOTTOM LINE
If you only take a few ideas from this manual, this is one of the most important
ones. You must continually strive to get stronger and constantly be adding weight to
the bar if you ever want to see significant, head turning muscle growth. If this wasn’t
the case then why is it that everyone who is incredibly strong is also usually
incredibly big? Have you ever seen someone who can bench press four hundred
pounds or squat five hundred that is small? Probably not, because not too many of
those people exist.
Remember…Only the strong survive.
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Most people spend the majority of their time in a state of homeostasis. This means
that they are not building muscle and they are not losing muscle. The only way to
disrupt this state of homeostasis is to impose great stress on the body.
Stress can come in many different forms, such as mental, emotional, and physical.
For the purpose of building muscle, we want to focus on physical stress.
Here’s a basic example of the effects of a physical stress. When a person lies out in
the sun for the first time at the beginning of summer, he is applying a form of stress
to the body. The body adapts to the stress by darkening the skin—either burning or
tanning. If you lie out for just the right amount of time, you will get tan. If you lie
out for too long, you will get burned. The body will adapt one way or the other.
Let’s assume that you didn’t overdo it and were able to get tan in the 15 minutes
you spent lying out. What would happen if you laid out again the next day for
another 15 minutes? Would you get tanner? No, you wouldn’t, because you have
already adapted to that stress and are prepared for that demand the next time you
impose it upon the body. That is your new level of homeostasis. To achieve a deeper
tan, you will need to lie out for a longer amount of time or use less sunblock. But
doing the same thing again will not elicit an adaptation response.
You need to remember this important point when you are training: doing the exact
same thing for a second time, be it lying out in the sun for the same amount
of time or lifting the same weight for the same number of sets and reps, will
not force the body to adapt in any way.
Another example of this is a person who just starts a manual labor job. The new
demands placed upon the body will leave the worker extremely fatigued at the end
of each day. The body, however, will begin to accept this level of activity as the new
homeostasis and, in time, will adapt. Eventually the worker will not be overly
fatigued from his daily regimen because the body will have successfully adapted to
You need to impose stress on the body in a way that it is not used to in order to
force adaptation. For the purposes of building size and strength that can be done by
lifting more weight, doing more reps with the same weight or increasing your
training volume. Once you impose the new demands, your body will adapt and reach
a new level of homeostasis.
After imposing a new demand on the body, the initial response is always fatigue. The
body will fight to return to its previous level of homeostasis, but will not stop there.
It wants to be prepared for that demand the next time it’s faced with it, so the body
will actually super or overcompensate and build itself up bigger and stronger. That is
the training effect.
How do you know if you have recovered and thus achieved the training effect? It’s
very simple; you will be able to exceed your previous performance in the gym (lift
heavier weights or do more reps with the same weight). If you can’t exceed your
previous performance you either did too many sets, trained for too long, didn’t take
enough time between workouts, didn’t eat or sleep properly, or didn’t use proper
recovery methods (as discussed in Chapter 16)
THE BOTTOM LINE
Remember, effective training in its simplest form is applying a new stress to the
body that it is not used to or prepared for which forces adaptation and then
recovery. This can also be called the law of progressive overload. The end result is a
bigger and stronger muscle. This is why you must always strive to beat your
previous week’s performance and constantly be adding weight to the bar or doing
more reps with the same weight. You simply can not do the same thing even once or
are you are wasting your time and will never get anywhere. Your body adapts to the
same weights and reps in just one workout. When you repeat that workout for a
second time you have absolutely no choice but to go up in weight or reps. This point
can not be overstated and must not be forgotten. Every workout is essentially a
battle between you and your training journal, and you must do all that you can to
ensure that you emerge victorious each and every time. If you don’t adhere to this
crucially important rule you will never develop the muscular physique you’re after.
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When it comes to constructing the ultimate training plan, there are seven critical
factors that need to be addressed and they are:
• Exercise selection
• Training volume
• Number of reps used
• Rep speed
• Rest intervals between sets
• Training session length
• Training session and body part frequency
FACTOR # 1: EXERCISE SELECTION
The best exercises are always multi-joint, compound, movements such as
squats, deadlifts, rows, dips, chin ups and military presses that use free
weights or bodyweight as resistance. There are no machine exercises that could
ever compare; end of story. My advice is to avoid them all like the plague.
Here’s another good rule of thumb: Any exercise that makes you look like a fruitcake
in any manner is instantly disqualified as a useful exercise.
Remember that important tip.
Another characteristic of the best exercises is that they are usually those that allow
you to use the most weight. The more weight you can handle for a particular body
part, the greater the growth stimulus. For example, a close-grip bench press is way
more effective than a triceps extension because you can use triple the amount of
weight. A Romanian deadlift is a far better hamstring exercise than a leg curl for the
same reason. Along those lines, bench presses will always blow flyes and cable
crossovers off the map because someone who can bench 315 usually can only use
40’s on a flye. That’s more than a 200-pound difference between the two exercises.
Yet another marker of a great mass building exercise is that it allows you to move
your body through space instead of simply moving your limbs. Let me explain…
Every four years, when the Summer Olympics roll around, I am, without fail, asked
the same question on an almost daily basis. “What do I have to do to look like those
Olympic gymnasts?” With gymnastics being one of the most widely covered Olympic
sports, everyone talks about the awe-inspiring physiques displayed by these amazing
athletes. What’s really interesting about gymnasts is the fact that they do not train
for size, yet they display unbelievable levels of muscularity. This is because of the
kinds of exercises they do.
Every exercise a gymnast does involves moving his body through space. He never
moves a fixed object around his body (like you do with most weight training
machines). By moving your own body weight or your own body weight plus added
resistance (such as when you do a traditional barbell squat) through space, you
increase neuromuscular activation. A higher level of neuromuscular activation means
that the nerves are sending a stronger signal to the muscles to recruit more fibers.
This is very important because the nerves control muscle maintenance and
development. If you cut a nerve to a muscle you will find that atrophy begins almost
immediately. The loss of a nerve signal will actually induce muscle loss faster than
lack of use. On the other hand, when you force the nerves to organize the action of a
lot of muscle fibers at once, you allow for a lot of growth and strength to develop.
Besides just moving your body through space, most gymnastic exercises require
balance and coordination, which further increase the nervous system activity.
Stabilizer muscles are also called upon heavily to steady the load, so you get more
complete muscular development. Finally, any exercise that has a fear factor
involved, such as a heavy squat or, in this case, the fear of falling off the rings and
severely injuring yourself, can greatly increase the activity of the nervous system,
and therefore muscle recruitment.
So any movement where you are moving your body through space is far more
effective than one where you are merely moving your limbs, even if it means you
have to use slightly less weight. An example of this would be the superiority of
squats over leg presses. You can normally use nearly double the weight on a leg
press that you can on a squat, however this does not make a leg press more
effective. In fact, leg presses, while being an extremely effective mass building
exercise, aren’t even in the same ballpark as squats; no leg exercise is. This is not
only because you are moving your entire body through space when you squat but
because you are also using every muscle in your body to stabilize the weight. A
1,000-pound leg press is still a machine exercise where you move your limbs instead
of your body.
How many different exercises should I use?
A huge mistake that a lot of people make in their training is that they use too many
exercises. Constantly switching exercises and rarely repeating the same one more
than a few times per year is a good way to guarantee yourself a complete lack of
progress. By regularly rotating through countless exercises you never have anything
to gauge your progress against and don’t know if you are actually getting stronger
because the weight you’re able to use varies so much between different exercises.
On the opposite side of the coin are those people that rarely ever switch the
exercises that they use. I have seen some people do the same few exercises for an
eternity. You have to remember that your body is constantly adapting and will
eventually grow accustomed to the exercise and you will reach a point where you
can no longer go up in weight. This will usually happen within 4-8 weeks of using the
same exercise and will signify that it is time to move onto a new one.
The best thing you can do if you want to continually get bigger and stronger is have
a list of the 4-8 most effective exercises per body part. Stick with those and rotate
through them throughout the year. More exercises than that are really not needed
and will do very little to help you make faster progress.
FACTOR # 2: TRAINING VOLUME
Training volume can basically be defined in its simplest form as the total number of
sets you do at any given workout. A more complete definition would be the total
amount of weight lifted during the workout. This can be determined by multiplying
the weight lifted by the total number of sets and reps. Therefore if you squatted 150
pounds for three sets of ten the formula would look like this: 150lbs x 3 sets x 10
How many sets should I do per exercise?
I hope you are sitting down because what I am going to tell you will probably shock
you. I know most of you are used to doing at least three sets per exercise. After all,
three sets of ten is the most popular set and rep scheme on the planet. Some of you
may even be doing more sets than that. I was right there with you several years
back. I was told by certain so called experts that I had to do at least four to six sets
per exercise if I ever wanted to get big. Unfortunately that approach led to me
remaining small and getting injured quite frequently.
The real deal, bottom line truth is this-- there is very rarely any need for you to
ever do more than two work sets at the same rep range, with the same
weight, per exercise. If you can’t accomplish your goals with those two sets you
are probably not working hard enough or smart enough.
But don’t just take my word for it; listen to what one of the most successful and
massive bodybuilders of all time, seven time Mr. Olympia Dorian Yates had to say on
“I'll do one or two sets per exercise. If you haven't done the job by then, it's not
going to happen." (Blood & Guts, 1993)
The only exception I make to this rule is with absolute newbie beginners. That is
because as a beginner you need more exposures to the same stimulus because you
have not maximized the firing efficiency or your central nervous system just yet.
Also, beginners are doing exercises for the first time so they need to do them more
often just to master perfect technique.
How many sets should I do per workout?
Some fitness experts claim that high volume training is needed to gain muscle mass.
They are even willing to fight to the death to defend their views. However, in my
experience working with thousands of trainees I have found that in most
cases, 10-12 total sets per workout are all that’s needed to achieve mind
blowing muscle gains. That, my friends, is a far cry from what you see in 99% of
the muscle building programs out there today. I would never recommend a
traditional high volume bodybuilding workout to skinny guys looking to gain size
rapidly. Less is almost always more when it comes to weight training. Most people
are over trained because they do too many sets and reps while neglecting to ever lift
heavy weights. A lot of people also have poor recovery ability because they don’t eat
properly, don’t sleep enough and are stressed out of their mind in today’s busy
society. For this reason, a lower training volume is better for most people, most of
the time than a higher training volume… especially for skinny guys and hardgainers.
If I had to take a guess I would say that most people do between 20 and 30 sets per
workout. If that describes you, then let me ask you a few questions.
What are you accomplishing by doing so many sets? Are the extra sets making you
stronger? Are they making you bigger? What exactly is all that training volume
"Well,” some people argue, “Arnold did it and so do all pro bodybuilders."
Ok, but that doesn't convince me of anything. Some people succeed in life in spite of
what they do, not because of it. And when making this argument you need to
understand that all pro bodybuilders have superior genetics for building muscle, and
most are on enormous amounts of steroids. Some spend upwards of $60,000 per
year on these drugs. But even so, not as many of them as you think are using the
30–50 sets that you read about in the bodybuilding magazines. The shady truth
behind that is that many magazines have paid these bodybuilders to write about
their training programs and grossly exaggerate what they do in the gym. This is all in
an effort to do two things: create larger than life superhero types and, most
importantly, sell supplements. If they can sucker you in to doing this 50–set
workout, you definitely won’t make progress, and you will mistakenly start looking
for some magical supplement to help you get bigger and stronger. It’s a dirty
Having said that, the fact still remains that there are large numbers of pro
bodybuilders who do use a training volume that is way too high for the average guy.
If I were to ask any of these bodybuilders why they do 20 sets per body part, I
would be anxious to get an answer that would actually make sense and persuade me
that there is something I'm missing. And please don't tell me you're hitting the
muscles from a variety of angles, blah, blah, blah. That subject has been debated to
death and I don’t believe it to be remotely true. A muscle either contracts or it
doesn’t. And when it contracts it does so from origin to insertion. You can not isolate
a certain part of a muscle. There is no such thing as training the inner or outer pecs
or the upper or lower biceps.
So, I ask of all the high volume junkies, can you honestly give me an explanation
that you believe in as to why you are doing that many sets? And if you still want to
use the "what about bodybuilders" argument, let me again refer you back to the
great Dorian Yates, who said, "I don't believe in doing the traditional 15-20 sets per
bodypart. That's too much work.”(Blood & Guts, 1993)
Traditional bodybuilding dogma tells us that we need to do a certain amount of
damage to the muscle and break it down, then let it rest and build itself up stronger
before training it again. Well, if I do 16 sets for chest today, and then five to seven
days later come back to the gym and my bench has gone from, let’s say, 300 pounds
for six reps to 300 pounds for eight reps, why would that be any different than if I
only did two to four sets for chest and still made the exact same progress? What
exactly would be the difference?
For one thing, if I did the higher-volume workout, I would have depleted my amino
acid pool and glycogen stores, which would take away from my recovery ability. The
high volume would probably cause extreme levels of soreness (Delayed Onset Muscle
Soreness, or DOMS) which has been shown to decrease insulin sensitivity— so if I
eat as many carbs as normal, they’re more likely to make me fatter than help me
recover. Furthermore, my cortisol (a fat-storing stress hormone which eats away
muscle tissue) levels will go up and my testosterone will go down. None of these are
For all of these reasons I highly recommend that you steer clear of the traditional
15-20 set per bodypart, high volume training that most bodybuilders and trainers
recommend if you ever want to build enormous amounts of size and strength.
FACTOR # 3: NUMBER OF REPS USED
From the beginning of time, it seems, the typical muscle building rep range has been
8-12. Every bodybuilding magazine and program under the sun always recommends
that you do 8-12 reps in your efforts to build bigger muscles. However, I am here to
tell you that they are way off.
The best rep range for building massive muscle is 5-8 reps.
There is rarely a need to go below five because sets consisting of 1-4 reps increase
strength by improving the nervous systems firing efficiency but do little to build
muscle. On the other hand, eight is actually the highest number of reps you should
do on a regular basis. Read that again and let it sink in before you ever consider
doing another pump up set of 15-20 reps.
Usually, when you do more than eight reps you build up too much lactic acid and
residual fatigue, thus the quality of your sets starts to suffer. Secondly, if you now
understand that the key to getting bigger is to get stronger, you will find it
increasingly difficult to add weight week after week the higher up you go on the rep
scale. It’s easy to continually add weight to your five rep sets but not quite as easy
to add weight to your twelve reps sets. This is a phenomenon I have observed not
only with myself but with hundreds of trainees over the years.
I don’t know who ever came up with the 8-12 rep range but I can tell you for a fact
that it is NOT the best rep range to be using in your quest to get bigger and
stronger. If you go to the gym simply to get a pump then by all means do 8-12 reps
per set. Hell, why not do 20-40? That will give you an even better pump. But I do
hope you realize that getting a pump doesn’t mean you are building muscle. A pump
is the incredibly tight feeling you get after doing a large number of reps. However, a
pump is nothing more than blood engorging the muscle. You increase the blood flow
to the muscle through the high rep activity and the extra blood gets trapped in there.
This leads to that skin stretching, tight feeling that we all love so much and that
Arnold famously said in Pumping Iron, was better than sex.
You can get a great pump from treading water but everyone knows for a fact that
you will not grow an ounce of muscle from such an activity. Remember, the body
does not want to build muscle and be bigger than it has to be. You have to force it
do it what it does not want to do by lifting extremely heavy weights and leaving it
with absolutely no choice but to grow.
This can not be done with high reps. Most of the times when you exceed eight reps
in a set the weights are simply too light to force any kind of adaptation effect
whatsoever. Sticking with the target range of 5-8 allows you to use brutally heavy
weights and targets the muscle fibers that have the greatest potential for growth.
Not only that, but lower rep training is actually easier to recover from and less
stressful on the body. The old timers like the great Eugene Sandow, Paul Anderson
and George Hackenshmidt rarely trained above five reps. They said that this type of
low rep training produced a “tonic” effect on the body and actually made you more
energized as opposed to being completely wiped out like you are when you train with
high reps. The Russians and Bulgarians also frowned upon the use of high reps and
kept all of their training on the low end of the scale.
Now that I have gotten your attention and hopefully made you realize how effective
the rep range of 5-8 is I am now going to tell you that there are some cases when
you can actually do more reps than that. I know, I know, I just got done imploring
you to never go above eight reps but bare with me here as I explain the instances
when you will want to train with slightly higher reps. It will all make sense when I’m
finished. I promise.
Certain muscle groups or exercises should not be trained incredibly heavy for safety
reasons. Also, some muscle groups just seem to respond better to a slightly higher
rep scheme. Below I have listed the instances in which you can and should go above
the 5-8 rep range.
Injured Areas or Prehab Exercises: 8-15 reps
If you have suffered an injury it is best not to overload that muscle or joint with
heavy weights. Instead you want to work in a higher rep range with lighter weights
until you have completely healed and rehabbed the injury. Doing this will still allow
you to regain some size and strength while you’re hurt, and will prepare you for the
heavy lifting you will be doing again when you get healthy. Also, if you know that
you are prone to shoulder injuries and include prehab (injury prevention) exercises
in your program for that area such as face pulls, band pull aparts and external
rotations, you should do these exercises in the 8-15 rep range as well. That is
because some of them put your shoulders in a precarious position and just due to
the fact that the musculature you are training with these movements respond better
to higher reps.
Neck Extension and Flexion Exercises: 12-25 reps
Neck exercises should not be done for less than 10-12 reps. The reason for that is
simply a safety issue. When you start loading the neck you have to be extremely
cautious in order to prevent possible injuries. For this reason you want to keep the
reps higher and the weights lighter. I personally prefer to stick with 12-25 reps on
neck exercises. Don’t fret, however, as you will still build muscle. The muscles of the
neck are postural muscles that are slow twitch by nature because they are designed
to hold your head up all day. For this reason they respond exceptionally well to
Parallel Bar Dips: 8-12 reps
This exercise places a lot of stress on the shoulder capsule in the bottom range. It is
for this reason that I recommend lowering yourself only to the point where your
triceps are parallel with the floor and absolutely no lower. Even doing that is not
enough, though. To ensure safety on this exercise you want to keep the reps higher
once you progress past the beginner level and are able to hang significant amounts
of weight from your waist while performing it. As long as you don’t go below eight
reps on this exercise you should be able to hit it hard and heavy without having any
Wrist Curls: 10-20 reps
Any time you do a regular or reverse wrist curl you put stress on the wrist joint and
not just the forearm muscles. This is completely fine and not dangerous at all, as
long as you keep the reps on the higher side. I personally prefer 10-20 reps on most
forms of wrist curls. The only exceptions to that rule are behind the back wrist curls
and suitcase wrist curls which place very little stress on the wrists at all and can be
done for as low as five reps. Also, the forearms have been shown time and time
again to respond more favorably to a higher rep scheme and thus will grow more
efficiently when trained in this manner.
Any Kind of Squats or Lower Body Exercises: 5-20 reps
Since the beginning of time lifters have reported great size gains in their legs from
high rep squats. It was the basis of several training books and a favorite method of
many old school bodybuilding authors such as John McCallum. The legendary
professional bodybuilder Tom Platz was known for having the biggest legs of all time
and credited much of his development to high rep squatting. One of my favorite leg
training workouts for intermediate to advanced lifters is one or two incredibly heavy
sets of 5-8 reps followed a few minutes later by one grueling death set of 20 reps. If
you can’t get bigger and stronger from doing that you need to find a new hobby.
One of the reasons high reps work so well on exercises like squats is that you can
still use a very significant load. Whereas a high rep dumbbell curl would force you to
use too light of a weight to stimulate muscle growth, high rep leg training is still
done with respectable poundages. When you load a muscle with a brutally heavy
weight for a long period of time, it has no choice but to grow. High rep squats do just
Calves: 6-20 reps
The calves also seem to respond quite well to higher reps. Standing calf raises can
be trained heavy but should also be hit with higher rep sets on a regular basis as
well. This has to do with the fact that we spend so much time on our feet and that
the calves have adapted to that imposed demand. They require a high load and long
time under tension in order to elicit a growth response. Seated calf raises should
always be done for at least 10 reps in order to ensure optimal growth. That is
because the seated version of calf raises train the soleus muscle, which is slow twitch
What about the supposed “inverse relationship between reps and
Nearly everyone who has ever written about training has emphatically stated that
beginners should use high reps on every exercise. They then go on to explain that
the longer you have trained the lower your reps should get. So beginners should use
twenty reps across the board, intermediates should supposedly use ten reps and
advanced lifters should never go above five reps.
This is complete and total nonsense!
In fact, this rule is actually one hundred percent ass backwards. Beginners need to
learn proper exercise form. This can only be done with low rep sets. They simply
don’t have the muscular strength, control or coordination to hold certain positions
safely at their level. For example, a beginner should never squat for more than five
reps because his lower back and abs will fatigue long before his legs do which could
result in a serious injury.
Also, you have to realize that as a beginner you will not be able to handle extremely
heavy weights anyway. So why would you want to lighten the load even more by
doing sets of twenty? It’s ridiculous. You want to lift as heavy as you can with proper
form and this can only be accomplished by sticking with five reps per set.
So the real deal, bottom line truth here is that beginners should always use low reps
and avoid high reps at all costs!
As far as advanced lifters using nothing but low reps goes, this is another
recommendation that doesn’t quite make sense and the truth is actually closer to the
180 degree opposite. When you have been training for more than ten years and have
built up a great deal of strength you will be able to use mind bending weights on
many exercises. If done too often, this can take a toll on your joints and leave your
body feeling beat up. For this reason, I often recommend to older, more advanced
lifters that they increase their rep range slightly.
FACTOR # 4: REP SPEED
Muscles are made for speed. Don’t ignore this fact and try to force them to do
something they are not meant to do. Any time you see a program written with a slow
concentric (the lifting portion of the exercise) speed, get up and walk away; it's
garbage. You should never lift a weight slowly if you are trying to get big and strong.
It makes no sense. When would you ever consciously lift something slowly in real
life? If you bend down to pick up a box, do you count a full four seconds on your way
up? Of course not. It’s a ridiculous and incredibly flawed concept. The fact is your
fast-twitch muscle fibers have the greatest potential for growth, and are only called
upon maximally when a load is either heavy or the attempt to move it is made with
great speed. A slow rep speed ensures that the load cannot be incredibly heavy, nor
will it be moved with great speed—so it basically limits the involvement of the fast-
twitch fibers and thus the potential for growth. Brilliant idea, huh?
What about lowering the weight slowly? You should always control the eccentric (or
lowering) portion of every exercise you do—never drop the weight, but do not
intentionally go extremely slow! I simply want you to lower the weight under control
and I want the lowering portion of the exercise to be slower than the lifting portion.
That’s it, though! Just be sure that if you had to you could stop the exercise at any
point in the range of motion; it should not be just flying down out of control. But I
don’t want you getting overly concerned about it or thinking that the negative has to
last a certain amount of time. The last thing I want you doing is counting while you
are under a heavy barbell. A controlled two second lowering phase and maybe three
seconds for taller lifters on certain exercises is the range you want to be in. As long
as you are in control of the weight and don’t just drop it, you will be fine.
The problem with using slow, heavy eccentrics on a regular basis is that doing so
takes a lot out of you and leads to much greater levels of soreness. The result is that
you are not fresh and ready to train as frequently as you should be. If you want to
get stronger faster, then you need to be able to train a muscle or lift more
frequently. The more frequently you can train the same muscle group or lift, in a
fresh and recovered state, the faster your results will come.
What about pausing? Pausing is ok, especially in exercises where an extreme stretch
can help you grow. Any kind of calf raise is a perfect example of this. You should
always pause and get a skin-ripping stretch at the bottom of a calf raise. Sometimes
when a muscle is tight, the connective tissue around it will not allow the muscle to
FACTOR # 5: REST INTERVALS BETWEEN SETS
Rest intervals are dependant on a few different variables such as the exercise being
used, the size and experience of the lifter and the desired training effect. In simple
terms, long rest periods (2-4 minutes) allow for greater recovery of the
nervous system and are linked with an increase in testosterone production.
Shorter rest intervals (45-90 seconds) target the metabolic system and are
linked with an increase in growth hormone production.
For the best of both worlds, and to get the most out of your muscle building efforts
you should incorporate both long and short rest periods in your training program.
Beginners can get away with shorter rest periods than more experienced lifters. They
do not have the capability of recruiting a large number of motor units and thus do
not tire out as easily. Beginners are also weak, in most cases, so they are not using
very heavy loads that would demand longer recovery periods.
A bigger, heavier lifter will require more rest between sets than a lighter lifter. Even
at the same body weight, a stronger lifter will require more rest as well. This is
because the stronger lifter is more neurologically efficient and is able to recruit more
muscle fibers, which is more draining and takes longer to recover from.
What this means is that as a beginner you can recruit, let’s say, 70% of your
available muscle fibers. As you get more advanced you can recruit a greater
percentage of muscle fibers, maybe upwards of 90 or even closer to 100%. This is
far more demanding and requires a longer rest period.
If someone is in great anaerobic condition, he requires less rest than his not-so-well
conditioned counterparts—all other factors being equal.
Another thing that needs to be addressed when you are picking the optimal rest
periods is that they can vary widely from one exercise to the next. You do not need
anywhere near as much rest after a set of seated calf raises as you do after a set of
deadlifts. So it is actually the exercise, how many muscles it works, how much
weight you are able to use on it, and how draining it is on the body that needs to be
considered when determining optimal rest periods.
Even though you might be able to use more weight on a standing calf raise than you
can on a dumbbell military press, the dumbbell military press will still demand a
greater rest period because more muscles are being used and it causes greater
overall fatigue throughout the entire body.
The rest periods you select are also influenced by the way in which you perform your
sets. If you use straight sets, you will need to use longer rest periods than if you use
antagonistic supersets. The two options are explained below.
This is the typical approach to training that nearly everyone uses. Straight sets
means doing one set of a particular exercise, followed by a rest period, and then
another set of the same exercise and so on. You do not mix in another exercise
between sets; you simply continue to do the same exercise you are doing until you
have completed all of the prescribed sets. This method is usually used with speed
work such as Olympic lifts and jumps and with full–body exercises like squats and
deadlifts. However, straight sets are not very time-efficient, and in a lot of cases,
using them is not the optimal way to train.
ANTAGONISTIC OR NON-COMPETING SUPERSETS
These are very time efficient and highly effective techniques that should be used as
often as possible. Antagonistic supersets are when you pair up exercises that work
opposing muscle groups, such as the pecs (chest) and lats (back). These muscles
move the arms and shoulders in opposite directions, so by training them together,
you can work a lot of muscle in a short time and see that both areas get equal
attention (helping guarantee muscle balance). You do a set for one muscle group,
rest, then a set for the other muscle group, rest again, and repeat for all the
For example, after a brutally heavy set of eight reps on the bench press, it may take
you four or five minutes to be able to repeat that effort. Rather than just sit on the
bench waiting for all that time, you could alternate your bench presses with an
antagonistic exercise like an incline dumbbell row and divide the rest period in half.
So now you would rest two minutes after your bench presses and then move on to
the rows. After the rows, you would rest another two minutes and then go back to
the bench press, and so on until you completed all of the prescribed sets.
Below is a list of antagonistic muscle groups which this technique works extremely
Chest / Back
Biceps / Triceps
Chest / Biceps
Back / Triceps
Shoulders / Lats
Calves / Tibialis Anterior
Neck Flexors / Neck Extensors
Forearm Flexors / Forearm Extensors
When you are using full body workouts there will be times when you won’t be able to
pair up antagonists effectively. This is where non-competing supersets come in. Non-
competing supersets usually pair muscles that have no apparent relation to each
other, such as the legs and back. For example, you could alternate glute-ham raises
with chin ups or, for chest and legs, incline dumbbell presses with leg presses. You
can even do this with smaller muscle groups at the end of a workout. Some
examples of this would be alternating calves with neck or forearm/grip work.
When should I rest even longer than normal between sets?
There will be a few times in your training when you will want to increase your rest
periods beyond what you normally do. These times will be when you are sick, highly
stressed out, or during extreme dieting.
If you are sick, chances are that you will be breathing harder than normal and will
have a harder time recovering with the same rest periods you always use. In a
situation like this it only makes sense to extend your rest period.
When you are extremely stressed out, your body’s recovery ability is drastically
reduced. To account for this, you need to rest a little bit longer than normal between
Finally, during times of extreme dieting, you are going to have to increase your rest
periods beyond what is normal. The reason for this is that you don’t have the
calories or the glycogen storage to train like you normally do. Utilizing short or
incomplete rest periods in a calorically-depleted state will lead to the use of very
light weights, which in turn will cause great losses in size and strength. While most
peoples’ first inclination is to decrease their rest periods when they are dieting for fat
loss, you should, in fact, do the opposite if you want to hold onto as much size and
strength as possible.
FACTOR # 6: TRAINING SESSION LENGTH
When you begin a training session, your body starts to release growth hormone and
testosterone. The release of these anabolic hormones peaks at about the 27-minute
mark and falls back to baseline at around 45 minutes. Training for any longer
than 45 minutes starts to increase the release of cortisol, which is a
catabolic hormone that eats away muscle tissue and increases the storage
of body-fat. Going beyond 45 minutes also severely decreases the production of
testosterone. This is what is known as the testosterone/cortisol ratio. When trying to
remain in an anabolic state (a condition wherein your body can build muscle), you
want to keep your testosterone levels higher and your cortisol levels lower. For this
reason I recommend that you always limit your workouts to 30-45 minutes,
This is a secret that the Eastern Bloc countries have known forever and it’s why they
have all of their Olympic athletes keep their workouts very short, and one of the
reasons why they achieve such spectacular results.
After the 45-minute mark, you will also find your performance starting to suffer. Your
mental focus will begin to fade. It is difficult for most people to give all they have,
set after set for much longer than 30-45 minutes. Limiting your workouts to this
amount of time ensures that your mental focus will be high right from the get go and
remain so throughout the duration of your workout If you enter the gym knowing
that you have two hours ahead of you, it can often be difficult to get fired up enough
to really attack the task as hand. If you know you will be in and out of the gym in
30-45 minutes, it’s a lot easier to get amped up for the hard work ahead.
Shorter training sessions also allow you to train body-parts more frequently. That is
because you recover much quicker and more efficiently from short workouts. None of
my clients are ever allowed to train for longer than 45 minutes. Even if they haven’t
completed their workouts I make them stop at the 45 minute mark (excluding warm
up time). Every workout I write always lasts 30-45 minutes. I have found this to be
the optimal time frame for producing the best results. Going longer than this only
leads to overtraining and losses in size and strength or potential injuries.
For all the reasons listed above, I highly recommend that you set a stopwatch, watch
the clock, and do whatever you have to do to keep your workouts in the 30–45
minute range and never go longer than that. This is one of the best ways to
guarantee consistent progress and to avoid overtraining.
FACTOR # 7: TRAINING FREQUENCY
I have personally worked with hundreds of clients during all my years in this industry
and several hundred more over the Internet and via phone consultations. I have
observed that in 99% of the cases, most people get their best size gains by training
no more than three to four days per week, with three usually being optimal.
Intense training places a huge demand on the body and you need to allow ample
time to recover from that if you ever want to get big and strong.
As we discussed earlier, stress comes in many different forms, and all of them are
constantly cutting into your recovery ability. Just because you don’t work a job that
includes a ton of manual labor doesn’t mean that your job doesn’t negatively affect
your recovery ability. If you have a very high stress job, this has to be accounted
for. Maybe you have a ton of stress in your personal life or are just a highly stressed-
out person in general. All of this needs to be considered because stress of any kind
will make recovering from training that much harder.
Forget what you have read about your favorite bodybuilder training six days per
week. This only works for genetic freaks that are on tons of steroids. This will never
work for you! Training more too frequently doesn’t allow your body enough time to
grow and instead you will end up getting smaller and accumulating a host of nagging
For all of the reasons mentioned above I highly recommend that you don’t train
more than three days per week.
THE BOTTOM LINE
In order to devise the optimum training plan all seven of the critical factors must be
addressed. To recap, the ultimate muscle building system will consist of:
1. One big, compound exercise per bodypart, per workout.
2. One to two sets per exercise.
3. Five to eight reps per set.
4. Always lowering the weight under control and lifting it as fast as possible.
5. Resting 60-120 seconds between sets. (or sometimes more on squats or
6. Workouts that last 45 minutes or less.
7. Three to four workouts per week.
Free Chapters of The Manual
By Jason Ferruggia
Total Body Exercises
Dead Lift- The dead lift is probably the single greatest size and strength building
exercise there is. Dead lifts work your traps, upper back, lats, lower back, biceps,
forearms, glutes, hamstrings, and quads. If you could only choose one exercise, this
would be the one to do.
A proper dead lift begins with the right bar placement and proper grip and stance
width. Set the bar about an inch away from your shins, taking a shoulder width grip
and a slightly narrower stance. Unless you are a competitive powerlifter I recommend
that you use a double overhand grip and lifting straps when needed. If you are a
competitive powerlifter then you really have no choice but to pull with a mixed grip.
With your head straight and back arched, your body should be at approximately a 45
degree angle in the starting position. Start the lift by pulling up and back towards you,
being sure to get a strong leg drive. Return to the starting position by sitting back and
then lowering the bar, trying not to squat down until the bar clears your knees. Let the
plates touch the ground and repeat.
A major mistake many people make is to allow their hips to rise up before their
shoulders and upper body. Doing this turns the exercise into more of a stiff legged
dead lift and is very stressful on the back and puts you in a weaker position. Be sure
to allow the shoulders and hips to come up at the same time and pace.
Although the dead lift is the best exercise there is, it also has its drawbacks. Dead
lifting is extremely stressful on the body and the CNS. As a beginner you might be
able to dead lift three times per week but as you get more advanced you need to
decrease the frequency at which you perform dead lifts. Intermediates can get away
with pulling once per week and more advanced lifters would be better served to only
dead lift once every ten to twenty one days.
Trap Bar Dead Lift- This is performed like a standard dead lift except for the fact
that your weight and center of gravity is distributed differently. This bar allows lifters
who can not get into a proper dead lift position because of flexibility or other issues to
dead lift with relative ease. It is easier to maintain an upright posture with the trap bar
and thus it is less stressful to the lower back. Execution is exactly the same as the
regular dead lift. If I had to pick only one lower body exercise to use with clients for
the rest of my life, this would be it.
Rack Dead Lift- This is a standard dead lift performed off pins in a power rack. The
pins can be set anywhere from an inch off the ground all the way up to lower thigh
height. The higher you set the pins, the more weight you will be able to lift. These
will do wonders for your upper, middle and lower back development and greatly aid
in helping your full range dead lift. For those who crave incredible trap development,
this is one of the greatest exercises you can do. The highest starting position you
should use for a rack dead lift is about three to four inches above the knee. Using a
higher starting position than this is a major mistake because it allows you to use too
much weight and puts your back at risk of injury.
Snatch Grip Dead Lift- This is a dead lift performed with an extremely wide grip.
Your index fingers should be in the outside rings when doing this exercise. This will
increase the range of motion and add slabs of muscle to your hamstrings. You will not
be able to use as much weight on this exercise so that should be taken into
consideration when performing it for the first time.
Dead Lift off mats, plates or boxes- Stand on a stack of rubber mats, forty five
pound plates or a three inch box to perform this exercise. This will obviously increase
the range of motion and put more stress on the lower back and hamstrings. Be sure to
start light on this exercise and keep your back arched tightly.
Sumo Dead Lift- This is a style preferred by many powerlifters because it shortens
the range of motion and, depending on your strengths and weaknesses, may allow you
to use more weight. To perform the sumo dead lift you need to take a very wide
stance and grab the bar with your hands inside of your legs. Before you drop down
into position to start the lift, be sure to fill your belly with air and push it out against
your belt on the way up. Pull the bar up and back towards you while attempting to
almost fall backwards to use your bodyweight to elicit a see-saw like effect and help
you pull more weight.
Dumbbell Dead Lift- This is done exactly like a standard dead lift except instead of
holding a barbell you hold dumbbells in each hand. Begin the same way by standing
up tall with your shoulder blades back and your chest out. Begin the descent by
breaking at the hips and sitting back and down.
Hang Clean- Begin with a shoulder width grip on the bar, your arms straight, your
back arched and the bar just above your knees. Your shoulder blades should be back,
chest out and head up. Initiate by popping your hips forward and explosively
shrugging your shoulders. As the bar passes your abdomen, pull up as high as you
can, explode onto your toes as you flip the bar and catch it by throwing your elbows
forward and underneath the bar.
DB Hang Clean- This is done exactly like the barbell hang clean except with
dumbbells. This version is best reserved for higher rep hypertrophy and conditioning
methods as it is very difficult to use and control heavy dumbbells. At the top, the rack
position will be very different as you won’t be able to throw your elbows forward but
will, instead, catch them in the bottom position of a dumbbell military press.
These should be done for ten to twenty reps at the end of a workout.
Hang High Pull- This exercise is exactly like the hang clean except that you don’t
flip the bar and catch it at the top, you simply pull it straight up like an explosive
upright row. The bar should come up to around nipple height or until your triceps are
parallel with the ground.
Hang Snatch- Grab the bar with a very wide grip (your index finger should be in the
outer power ring). Start like a hang clean, with the bar just above your knees, back
arched and knees slightly bent. From there you explode upwards by shrugging your
shoulders and extending your hips. You also want to get up on your toes and think
about jumping as high as you can. Pull the bar up as high as your elbows will allow
you to go. When you reach that position, you will finish the movement by flipping the
bar straight up overhead to lockout. The whole movement should be done as one
fluid, explosively fast movement. Lower the bar back to your chest like the eccentric
portion of a military press and then from there bring it back down to the starting
position, under full control.
Hang Clean & Push Press- This is definitely one of the best mass building exercises
on the planet. To perform this exercise you begin with a shoulder width grip, your
back arched, chest up, arms straight and the bar just above your knees. Initiate the
movement by popping your hips forward and shrugging your shoulders explosively.
As the bar passes your sternum, pull up with your arms and then flip the bar over and
catch it at chest height by throwing your elbows forward. To catch the bar you will be
in a quarter squat position; from there you will get a strong leg drive to assist you in
pressing the bar straight over head. Lower and repeat.
DB Swing –Hold a dumbbell with one hand and bend down by pushing your hips
back as far as you can. At the starting position you should be in a half squat with the
dumbbell between your legs. Begin the movement by popping your hips forward and
standing up straight. The dumbbell should swing forward and go all the way up to eye
level. At the top, your hips should be completely straightened and you should be on
your toes. Be sure to control the weight on the way down and keep your shoulder
firmly locked in the socket. Allow the weight to swing all the way through your legs
before repeating the next rep. The trick here is to think about the momentum and
power generated from your explosive hip drive to move the weight and not just turn
the movement into a Romanian dead lift plus a front raise.
DB Snatch- The starting position for this is exactly the same as the dumbbell swing.
The difference is that in the swing your arm stays straight the entire time. In the
snatch you are going to bend your arm and pull the weight straight up overhead in one
explosive movement. Be sure not to turn it into a clean and press. You want to pull
the weight straight up and keep it in close to your body the entire time. As it passes
your head, you simply flip it over and lock it out. Another difference between the
snatch and the swing is that you are actually going to jump when you perform the
snatch. As you pop your hips forward to start the movement, you are actually going to
attempt to jump straight up in the air. Your feet should land at the exact same time as
you lock out the weight over head.
Posterior Chain (Lower Back/Glutes/ Hamstrings)
Romanian Dead Lift- With an extremely tight arch in your lower back, begin by
sticking your glutes straight back and out as far as you can. Be sure to keep your chest
out and your shoulder blades squeezed together. Descend until your upper body is
parallel with the floor and then return to the starting position by explosively pushing
your hips forward and squeezing your glutes.
Dumbbell Romanian Dead Lift- This is executed in the exact manner of a barbell
Romanian Dead Lift with the only difference being that you hold dumbbells at your
side instead of holding a barbell in front of you.
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