I was lucky in my early years because I picked up some really basic principles about how I was going to grow. These principles got carved into my brain.
Pick this weight up and do reps with it. Next week, do more reps with it than you previously did. Do this with a handful of basic movements. Do this for years on end and you'll get bigger. And that's what I did. Simple.
The 8-12-8 Method
- Pick a weight you can do 8 reps with.
- Next week, try to do more than 8 reps with it.
- When you can do 12 reps with it, add weight until you're back at 8 reps.
- Repeat until big and strong.
That's all I did for 90 percent of the time during my first decade or more of training. I might have switched out a few things here or there, but for the most part that was all I did. My go-to lifts during those years were:
- Deficit Stiff-Legged Deadlift
- Supinated-Grip Pulldown
- T-Bar and Barbell Row
- Incline Dumbbell Press
- Bench Press
- Overhead Press (Dumbbell and Barbell)
I threw in the usual mix of curls, triceps work, dips, chins, etc., but I really stayed with progressive overload on those movements.
I knew that if I could go from the 80-pound dumbbells for 8 reps on the incline bench to the 100-pound dumbbells for 12 reps, I'd get bigger. I knew that if I could go from 245 x 8 on the barbell row to 315 x 8, my back would be bigger.
That was it. A decade or longer. These days, you'd be hard pressed to get a dude to adhere to a set program for two weeks.
No Magic, Just Solid Growth
If you want to grow, and I mean really grow, then you need to grok some tried and true principles about muscle growth and select a few movements you intend on pounding into the dirt for about the next decade. There's no magical routine out there that's going to suddenly transform you into a beast.