Posts Tagged ‘bodybuilding’

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.  🙂


You’re no stranger to the gym and by no means a newbie. You’ve been at it for a while. You’ve learned good form on basic moves such as the Squat, Overhead Press, Bench Press and Deadlift. You know you need to train hard and heavy on basic, compound movements in order to gain strength and build muscle as fast as possible.

You know all of this, and you’ve been hitting the gym 4-5 times a week yet… you still look the same.

It’s frustrating, isn’t it?  I know, all too well, my friend.

So, what’s the answer?  What do you need to do to start packing on some serious muscle mass?

Well, you could flip through the bodybuilding magazines and find the latest, “greatest” supplement. You know, the ad for Super Maxx Jacked Extreme Bull Testicle Formula 9000 that claims to provide you with massive gains in only 4 weeks? It even has the token “before and after” of some dude who supposedly went from soft and flabby to big and ripped (and somehow, tan) in only a month. It shows you all these super important and impressive “scientific” results from clinical trials and how the stuff is proven to have “superacceleratedhypertrophic-rapidinsulinIGFHG2growthlikefactors”.

What the fuck?

Nah… Best to stay away from anything that makes these kinds of claims. Save your hundred bucks or, invest it wisely on things that actually work, like a quality protein powder, creatine and a good multivitamin.

Hmmm… Well, maybe you could get on the internet and read the forums to find the ultimate training program that will finally kick start muscle growth. You’d probably find a group of dudes talking about the new Max Mayhem Muscle Program where you’re supposed to do 10 sets of 9 exercises for 1 muscle group in a single training session.

But, remember, if you don’t need someone to carry you out of the gym, drive you home, wipe your ass, bathe you and spoon feed you… you didn’t do it right. Gotta work harder!

But wait… there’s another group of guys talking about Big Joe’s Epic Efficiency Program that claims you only need to do 1 set of 1 exercise every 5th day, but the set has to last until you puke. Tons of guys have tried it and it is THE way to get jacked.

Shit…. Who’s right? Which program should you follow?

Do yourself a HUGE favor. Stay off the forums or, if you are going to read them, take what’s said with a grain of salt and use common sense when you decide which training methods to put your effort into. There definitely are a lot of effective programs and ways to train. And, don’t get me wrong, there are a lot of guys, and gals, out there with extensive knowledge on effective training techniques. But, there is also a TON of “bro-science” backed by speculation, hype, misunderstanding, and straight up bullshit.

So, basically, you’re just screwed, right?  Well… maybe not…

About 4-5 months ago this very scenario happened to me. I was hitting the gym consistently and training my ass off but I just wasn’t making any progress. I had plateaued.

I for one don’t like pouring my heart and soul into something, working hard for results and not getting what I’m after. So I decided to find the problem, look for the answers and take action to make things change!

Your success or failure has nothing to do with anyone else, any outside circumstances or anything that is not YOU.”

-Chris McCombs-

The first place I started was my diet. I recommend that anyone who is struggling to gain muscle and/or lose fat start here as well. Roughly 70-80% of your results come directly from how you eat.

I don’t always do this, though I really should, but I kept a food journal for several days. I simply wrote down everything that I ate. After looking at my diet I realized that, although it needed some improvements, it was pretty sound. The biggest issue was that I wasn’t getting enough protein, which is really unusual for me.

I bumped up my protein intake, started cooking more meals in bulk to be prepared ahead of time and I started planning all of my meals for the day, the evening before, by writing exactly what I was going to eat (including protein shakes) and when, in a notebook.

Once my diet was squared away I decided to take a closer look at my training. I ALWAYS keep a detailed journal of my workouts, recording the exercises, sets, reps, weights, rest times, split… everything, and this is a perfect example of why you should too. I was able to sit down and look through my journal to see exactly how I had been training. If I would have tried to recall all of that from memory, there’s no way I would have had an accurate account.

Through reviewing my journal there were some things I noticed and I had a hunch that I found the problem. Here’s the first issue preventing me from the gains I was looking for:

I had let way too many isolation movements creep into my routine.

I was basically violating the rules of “Muscle Building 101” by putting too much effort into moves like Cable Crossovers, Preacher Curls and Lateral Raises instead of focusing on big compound movements that allow me to move a lot of weight and train multiple muscle groups at once.

So, I decided to go back to the basics with some hardcore training using the exercises that produce strength and muscle growth. I put myself on a steady diet of Bench Presses, Squats, Deadlifts, Rows, Overhead Presses, Chin-ups, Pull-ups and Shrugs… the shit that produces real results! I stuck to these basic, result producing movements, and their variations, such as Inclines Presses, Dumbbells, etc.

Once I knew my plan of attack on exercise selection I had to fix my next mistake:

• I was training in a fairly high rep range, around 10-12 reps, almost always.

I noticed that over the previous 2-3 months I hardly every switched up my rep range and never really trained at a higher intensity with heavier weights. I decided to start consistently training at around 5-6 reps, usually never going any higher than 8, and sometimes as low as 3-4. I know that a key component of getting bigger is getting stronger. So, I set out to not only put on more size but to get stronger as quickly as I could by increasing my training loads (weights) as often as possible. Even if it was only a 5 lb. jump, I wanted to use more weight every time I stepped foot in the gym.

There is no better way to fight weakness than with strength.”

-Henry Rollins-

Now that I had my rep range all sorted out I noticed another area that needed some improvement:

• I had somehow started using what closely resembled the type of body part split you’d find in the muscle magazines. This is NOT the best way for a natural, intermediate lifter to train. Basically, I was hitting one muscle group per session, two at the most, and training each body part only once about every 6-8 days.

Scientific evidence, the opinions of most intelligent strength and conditioning coaches and real world proof, from real natural bodybuilders, shows that, for an intermediate (which is about 95-99% of us), the ideal “split” is one that allows you to train each muscle group about twice a week. To put it another way, I wasn’t training each muscle group often enough to stimulate increases in size and strength at an optimal rate.

I did some research and came across a training split that would allow me to hit each muscle group with the right frequency. Specifically the split is Push/Pull/Legs. Basically it’s broken down like this:

Day 1 Push: Includes ‘pushing’ movements such as Bench Presses, Overhead Presses and Triceps work.

Day 2 Pull: Includes ‘pulling’ movements such as Deadlift, Rows, Chin-ups, Pull-ups, Shrugs, Curls

Day 3 Off

Day 4 Legs: Plain and simple, in my opinion, Legs = SQUATS! But I also include some Leg Presses, Stiff Leg Deadlifts (for hamstrings), and some type of movement for Calves.

Day 5 & 6 Off

Day 7 Push

And so on, and so forth…

I also train my abs (directly and indirectly) anywhere from 5-7 days a week, using both, bodyweight movements and exercises where resistance is added.

The last mistake I realized I had been making is actually the most crucial mistake of all. It’s one that I can’t believe I allowed myself to make and, when I realized it, I could have kicked myself right in the ass!

• Specifically I had been failing to consistently OVERLOAD my muscles. Looking at my training journal I noticed that for over a month I was using the same weight, for the same reps in almost every damn exercise!


Out of all the mistakes I had made this was most likely THE killer of my results. It was my fucking kryptonite. It is for every ‘would be’ Superman out there.

No matter what training program you decide to follow, what exercises you do, what rep range you train in or what split you use, if you do not consistently and effectively OVERLOAD your muscles you will not get any bigger or stronger, period, with a capital fucking P.E.R.I.O.D.

I’ve said it before, but it’s worth stating again right here, there are 3 ways to overload your muscles:

  1. Use more weight on any given exercise. This has to be done with good form or, at best, you won’t get the results you’re looking for and, at worst, you could end up getting hurt.
  2. Use the same weight for more reps.  However, since getting stronger is a key component of muscle growth you probably shouldn’t stay at the same weight until you can knock out 20 reps. I’d recommend going no higher than 12 reps before you increase the weight you use. I personally find it most effective to train in a rep range of anywhere from 5-8 reps. And, what’s most effective for you personally may vary depending on the muscle group you’re training. My bi’s, tri’s and shoulders seem to respond best to 10-12 reps and my legs, chest and back grow more with heavier weight and lower reps. The best thing to do is vary your rep ranges and see what works best for you.
  3. Take less rest between sets.  Personally, if I’m training hard and heavy with low reps, I like to take my time between sets. I’ll usually rest anywhere from 2-3 minutes between sets and sometimes as high 5 minutes, especially when I’m doing Squats. But, at times, cutting your rest period down to 45 seconds, and even as low as 30 seconds, is a great way to challenge the hell out of your body and it even has a nice fat burning effect. You could also occasionally perform some super sets, drop sets, and things like that, where you take no rest. Just don’t get too carried away with these and do them too often.

If you’re able to combine a few of these techniques you’ll very effectively overload your muscles. If you can use more weight for more reps, that right there is technically known as “The Shit”, my friend. You’re on your way to some serious gains. And, if you can use more weight, for more reps AND take less rest between sets… well then you are officially a bad mother fucker in my book.

So, once I had effectively pulled my head from my ass, and incorporated a training plan that didn’t violate several key muscle building principles, I set out for the gym with a vengeance.

Within a couple of weeks my strength started shooting through the damn roof. Within a couple of months the results I achieved were spectacular. I mean, it was night and day from where I was previously. In fact, I had friends and family accusing me of taking steroids, which I didn’t mind a bit.

IMO, when you’re truly natural, and you’ve got people saying you’re juicing, you’re doing something really right!

Besides, I know the muscle and strength I’ve built has been earned through blood, sweat and tears and an intelligent approach to training.

So what does all this mean for you and how can it help YOU?

I’m not conceited enough to think that everyone, or anyone, gives two shits about my training program. But, I’m telling you now, I’ve made more gains in the past 6-8 weeks than I had in the previous 4-5 months and it came from making a few simple adjustments. Keep in mind, the adjustments were simple but the work I put in (and I’m still putting in) was anything but easy. My training sessions became much more intense. But, they were a helluva lot more fun and, the best thing is, they produced RESULTS!!!

In the past two months I went from 238 lbs. to 220 lbs. while dramatically increasing my muscle size and I’ve made jumps of 30 lbs. or more on major lifts like the Bench Press, Deadlift and Squat. The sweet ass cherry on top is, it’s summertime and this boy right here as some abs to show off. 😉

I’m not saying this stuff to brag (well… maybe I am, a little) but to show you what to look for if you’re not getting the results you want out of your training. If you’ve been hitting the gym hard, and don’t seem to be making any progress, chances are you’re making one, or all, of the same mistakes I was.

Take a good look at your diet and make sure you’re getting the quality, nutritious calories and protein your body needs to fuel muscle growth. Look at your training and make sure you’re not putting too much time and effort into isolation movements. If so, start focusing on the basic compound exercises that build size and strength quickly. And, whatever you do, make sure you’re pushing yourself harder and further, by overloading your muscles, every time you step foot in the gym.

Doing the small, but very important, things right virtually guarantees you’ll get the results, and body, that you’ve been working so hard for. No Super Maxx Jacked Accelerated What the Fuck required. 😉

Until Next Time,

Michael Wheeler

P.S. If you have any muscle building tips we’d love to hear about em’ below! Are you getting the results you want? What’s been working for you?

P.S.S. I’ve included an example of one of my ‘Push’ day training sessions below. I don’t always use the exact same exercises (in fact, I switch it up pretty often) but this should give you a good idea of how I’ve trained.

20-30o Incline Dumbbell Press
Warm-up Sets
(1) 45 lbs. x 15 reps
(2) 65 lbs. x 10 reps
(3) 80 lbs. x 5-6 reps
(4) 115 lbs. x 2-3 reps (I often like to pick a weight that’s 10-15 lbs. over the weight I plan to do my work sets with and do a couple of reps with it. It prepares me mentally and physically for the hard work sets and, it makes my training weight feel a little lighter because I’ve went above it already.)

Work Sets
(1) 105 lbs. x 5-8 reps
(2) 105 lbs. x 5-8 reps
(3) 105 lbs. x 5-8 reps
(4) 95 lbs. x 8-15 reps (Heavy Pump Set)

Once I can get 8 reps on every set, I increase the weight to 110 lbs. the next training session. Same on the last set; once I can get around 12-15 reps, I increase the weight.

Overhead Press

Warm-up Sets
(1) 45 lb. bar x 10-15 reps
(2) 95 lbs. x 10 reps

Work Sets
(1) 135 lbs. x 8-10 reps
(2) 135 lbs. x 8-10 reps
(3) 135 lbs. x 8-10 reps

Again, if I hit 10 reps on all 3 sets, I’d increase the weight to 140 lbs. the next session. If not; say I did 10, 8 and 7 on my three work sets, I’d stay at 135 lbs. and push hard the next session to get more reps. The next time I’d probably hit 10, 10, 8 and even though the weight wasn’t increased, I still overloaded my muscles because I did more reps. Once I hit 10 on all 3 sets, I’d jump up in weight the following session.

Close Grip Bench Press

Warm-up Sets (Not too much warm up needed. After everything else tri’s are pretty warm. This is mostly just to get the “feel” of the movement I’m preparing to do.)
(1) 135 lbs. x 6-8 reps

Work Sets (Reverse Pyramid)
(1) 205 lbs. x 8 reps
(2) 195 lbs. x 10 reps
(3) 185 lbs. x 12 reps