No need for confusion: Do THIS and BUILD MUSCLE

Posted: September 8, 2015 in Intermediate Training
Tags: , , , , , , ,

You and me, we’re probably not so different. Since you’re taking the time out of your day to read this right now I’d bet a weekend getaway with Jennifer Lawrence you probably fall into one of a few categories.

You’re either fairly new to training, and you’re looking for information that will help you build muscle and get strong, or you’ve been grinding away in the gym for years and still haven’t seen the results you want.

Either way… I’ve been there.

Now, if you happen to be one of the first group, new to training and looking for what works, I’d recommend reading this post and getting started ASAP. And, be on the lookout for some new beginner training tips coming at you within the next week or so.

Follow the beginner program like the one I outline here, or something similar, and you’ll experience far better results than you will using the training programs you read about in your favorite muscle mag.

If you happen to fall into the second category, and you’re a guy (or gal) that’s been busting your ass in the gym for years but you still don’t have the body you really want, I’ve got exactly what you’ve been looking for….an approach to training that WILL help you build muscle, gain strength and make significant, noticeable changes to your body.

And, you can do it without spending 2 hours in the gym, 6 days a week and turning your life upside down. You can cut out the unnecessary bullshit, simplify things and finally build the physique you want so badly.

Stop thinking SO much

The first thing you need to do may very damn well be the most important thing you need to do. Do yourself a HUGE favor and stop overthinking!

Doing your homework, looking for answers and increasing your knowledge of training isn’t a bad thing. But, you need to spend more time actually lifting weights and eating good food than you do pounding the keyboard and reading every training site in existence.

So many people are guilty of this and, at one point, I was one of them.

If you’re always looking for a “better” way, and second guessing the shit out of your training program, you’re not going to get the results you want.

Think about it; if you’re never really convinced that what you’re doing in the gym is effective than there’s about a snow ball’s chance in hell that you’re going to pour your heart and soul into it. And, that’s exactly what it takes in order to build a physique unlike anything most people will ever achieve.

Here’s what you need to do…

Pick a program and give it hell. Do it with purpose and passion and do it consistently. Just get in the gym and train fucking hard. (But do it safely). Don’t worry about every minute detail. Don’t worry about anything because I’m going to tell you what to put your effort into and how to do it.

Stop overcomplicating things

This really goes hand in hand with overthinking but it’s worth mentioning specifically. Just because a program is super complicated that doesn’t make it effective. In fact, the opposite is usually true.

Don’t waste your time on some super-hyped bullshit that requires an advanced level of understanding in calculous before you can put it into action.

Fuck that, we’re here to build a bad ass body not do math.

While we’re at it, you do NOT need a bunch of drop sets, super sets, giant sets, forced reps and 1,000 rep to the death sets. You don’t need super accelerated compensatory thing a ma jig what tha fucks either…


Try the things I’ll list below, even if it’s just for a little while. If need be, tell yourself you’re putting this to the test to prove that I’m a dumbass who doesn’t know what the hell he’s talking about.

However, I’d bet a fistful of Applebee’s coupons you’ll end up loving a simplified approach, that cuts down on the stress and nonsense, and you’ll achieve better results than you ever have before.

  • Drop the body part split like you would drop a piece of shit if someone handed it to you.

It has been proven time and time again to be the least effective way for a natural, drug free lifter to train.

Body part splits typically incorporate too much volume per muscle group in a single session and they don’t allow you to train each muscle group with enough frequency.

Now, if a body part split is working great for you then, by all means, keep at it. If you’re getting the results you want then who am I to say that it sucks? However, since you’ve stuck with me this far, chances are, you’re not that impressed with the results you’ve been getting. Maybe it’s time to adjust your sails and head out on a different course. You’ve all heard the definition of insanity, right?

  • Split your training sessions between Upper body and Lower Body.

Beginners should stick with full body training programs for the first year or two. However, the guy (or girl) like you, more experienced than a beginner but who still has not achieved the results they want, a great plan of attack is to split your training days between Upper and Lower body.

  • Train for Strength and Size. The two go hand in hand.

Make one Upper body and one Lower body session per week a strength/power day, where you use big barbell movements for sets of around 4-6 reps. These are the days to focus on getting stronger on Presses, Deadlifts, Squats and their variations.

During your second Upper and Lower body days do higher rep sets and more traditional style bodybuilding training. This would be a great time to use dumbbells and do some bodyweight exercises, such as pushups, while wearing a weighted vest and/or done on rings/straps, for sets of 8-12 reps.
Have fun with this session and enjoy the pump. These days will help you build size while giving your joints and Central Nervous System a break. Never forget that preventing injuries and overtraining is a key to building muscle. You can’t do the work if you’re hurt.

  • Try this Training Schedule.

On Monday (or any day that works best for you), bang out a kick ass, heavy power session for your upper body. Go at it hard and work to build as much strength as you can. Pick a handful of basic lifts that will work your chest, back and shoulders. Don’t worry about your bi’s and tri’s. If you’re using compound movements and training heavy they’ll get plenty of stimulation.

Take a day off and then do the same thing for your lower body on the 3rd day. After another rest day, do your reps/size upper body day and follow that up with a rep day for lower body. Remember, this is the day to use dumbbells and bodyweight, bang out sets of 8-12 and get a nice pump. Take two days rest and start over or, if you prefer, do some direct work for your arms on Saturday alternating between exercises for the bi’s and tri’s.

photo credit: Darren Baxter via photopin (license)

photo credit: Darren Baxter via photopin (license)

  • Use Big, Basic, Compound movements, which allows you to use heavy weights, and cut out most isolation exercises.

You’ve all heard this before but how many of you are actually putting it into practice? Take a look at your training journal (you do keep one, right?) and I’ll be you find that you’ve let a lot of isolation movements creep in. With the exception of barbell or dumbbell curls and a few other exercises, until you’re a very advanced lifter who’s built a significant amount of muscle and strength, most isolation exercises are a waste of time.

These are the basic, compound exercises I’m referring to. Work hard and strive to get stronger on these movements. When you can move some big numbers on these lifts, you’ll have a lot more muscle on your frame.

  • Squat (Back, Front, Goblet, Single Leg, Pistol)
  • Deadlift (Barbell, Trap Bar, Floor, Rack, Romanian, Sumo)
  • Bench Press (Barbell, Dumbbell, Angled (Swiss) Bar, Flat, Low Incline)
  • Overhead Press (Barbell, Dumbbell, Angled (Swiss) Bar, Very High Incline)
  • Row (Barbell, Dumbbell, Inverted bodyweight)
  • Pull ups/Chin ups (Neutral Grip is highly recommended in order to keep your shoulders health, as is using a band for assistance until you can knock out at least 20 picture perfect reps)


  • A few times a week perform Olympic lifts at the beginning of your training sessions.

Barbell and Dumbbell Cleans are great moves to help build power and explosiveness. They’re also excellent for building upper back and trap thickness.

The 1 arm Dumbbell Snatch also builds power and it will pack size on your traps in a hurry. Maybe the biggest benefit of performing the Snatch is the increased shoulder stability it brings. After a few weeks of Snatches (performed correctly) your shoulders feel tighter, healthier and locked in. The dumbbell version is great for learning the movement and eventually you can transition into the barbell version.

The Snatch Grip High Pull has the potential to make a difference in your physique in only a couple of training sessions. I’m serious. If you perform this movement correctly (which means explosively but with great form) you’ll see a difference in your traps, upper back and rear delts within a few training sessions.

One of the smartest, and most jacked, strength coaches around , Jason Ferruggia, recommends performing all of these exercises from the hang position, hips pushed back, core braced and hands just above your knees, instead of pulling from the floor. I happen to agree 110%.

If Jason says it’s the way to do it, you can bet your ass it’s the way to do it.

  • Focus on getting stronger in a hypertrophy (muscle growth) rep range.

For upper body exercises that means train in a rep range of anywhere from 5-10 reps, sometimes even going as low as 4 and as high as 12. Lower body movements can be pushed as high as 15 reps at times. Think of it this way; if you can squat 225 for 10 reps today how much bigger do you think you’ll be when you can squat 315 for 10?

  • Every time you step foot in the gym make it your mission to either add 5 lbs. to the bar or to do more reps with the same weight, to a certain point.

If you put all of the other bull shit to the side, building muscle comes down to progressively and consistently overloading your muscles. You have to give them a reason to adapt, get stronger and grow.

So, let’s say you hit 225lbs for 6 reps on the Incline Bench today and that was all you could do with good form. Next time you train upper body (on your power/strength day) you wouldn’t want to use 225lb for 6 reps again. Either throw 5lbs on the bar, and try to get 230lbs for 6, or stay at 225lbs and go for 8 reps.  Either way, you’ll effectively place more demand on your muscles and cause them to adapt.

There is a caveat; you don’t want to stay at the same weight and add reps until you can knock out 20. You really need to add weight to the bar as often as you’re able to, while still using perfect form, especially on your power days where you should use lower reps (4-6) and strive to build strength.

Truthfully, building muscle and strength is not as difficult as the supplement companies, or anyone who wants to sell you something, would like to make you think. It doesn’t take a magic training plan or the latest, greatest supplement to hit the store shelves.

Like anything in life worth having, it comes down to hard work. You have to put in the time and pay your dues. Work harder than anyone else in the gym and make it your mission to get freakishly strong on the types of lifts that produce results and build real muscle.

Do that consistently, while making damn sure to feed your body high quality calories, and you will finally build the body you want so badly.  Give this simplified approach a try and the confusion, frustration and, most importantly, lack of results, will be a thing of the past.

Until Next Time,

Michael Wheeler

If you have any questions or comments I’d be stone, cold honored if you’d share down below.  And, if you like what you saw here, I wouldn’t hold it against you if you hit some of those lil share button thingy’s.  In fact, I’d think you were pretty damn cool for it.  🙂



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