I have to admit that when I'm out in public I think of myself as looking powerful, like a bodybuilder. But on the other hand, I don't feel like a bodybuilder. At my core, I am and always will be 100-percent athlete.

You might be thinking, "Since bodybuilders train like bodybuilders and athletes train like athletes — each with very different methods and goals — you must be extremely mixed up and frustrated."

To some, that might be true. But from my perspective, increasing a muscle's size and increasing its strength and explosive power is the same thing. In fact, I'll even go further and say that training for size and performance, together — as a single strategy — produces the absolute best gains, period!

So I don't train specifically for strength, or for performance, or for size, or even for fat loss, I train for it all. With nutrition and supplement plans dialed in, the more strength you gain, the more muscle you'll put on, the better you'll perform, and the leaner you'll get. There's no doubt about it.

Unlike other forms of training, the type of training that's most effective at building size and performance also increases insulin sensitivity in muscle, which is huge!

In addition to stimulating maximum growth, you're also causing muscles to absorb nutrients like giant dry sponges. And with the right workout nutrition, these muscle-sponges will fill up with huge doses of growth fertilizer every time you train.

There is one side effect. Over time, excess body fat simply disappears. In other words, if you build high-performance muscle mass, expect automatic changes in body composition, the magnitude of which is controlled by diet.

No Longer Holding Back

Before I go any further, I need to clear the air and let you know that I've been holding back. The fact is, the information I've presented over the years has been modified versions of what I know works the very best, and not the exact kind of training I use.

Don't get me wrong. What I've given you is still very effective, but it's not my authentic program. The reason I've been holding back is, I really wasn't sure people were ready for it. But that's no longer the case.

My methods are amazingly effective and powerful, and my goal is to teach these powerful tools to as many people as possible. And now I'm ready to give you the purist form of how I build high-performance mass — the authentic way I train.

It's All About Pressing

Pressing is performance. It's the body's primary movement pattern, and the core of all of my training. Building muscle mass and increasing performance, it's all about pressing.

I split the body into two pressing parts, and I base every workout on these two performance areas:

  1. Upper-Body Pressing
  2. Lower-Body Pressing

Typically I work both areas every day I train, but between the two, upper-body pressing gets by far the most work and attention. Other areas of the body, primarily lats, abs, and biceps, are added in as assistance work, as needed, and mainly for structural balance.

If you think about it, that's how most powerlifters and all Olympic lifters train. Powerlifters, for example, focus on the bench press, squat, and deadlift. They generally plan the training for these lifts carefully, normally including two bench-press days per week and two squat/deadlift days per week.

Powerlifters add in assistance work whenever it's needed. For the most part, the actual assistance work is not even planned in advance, but rather determined during the workout itself, which is exactly the way I include assistance work.

Upper-Body Pressing

Like I said, I train upper-body pressing more than anything else, which means I do some form of this movement pattern five or six days a week. It's not always a lot of volume, but it's always included.

Most often, I include three upper-body pressing days per week, and two or three additional days (5 or 6 total) where I "practice" upper-body pressing by training one movement at the end of my workouts. I know by most standards, that's a lot of pressing. But in my book, it's the key to making huge differences in your muscle-mass size and performance.

I believe that upper-body pressing muscles thrive on high-performance training methods. These methods are centered on high frequency, low reps, and many sets of few exercises.

Since the chest, anterior/mid delts, and triceps are involved in most pressing movements, I've found it's not beneficial to include isolation work for them. In fact, if your goal is to build a lot of mass, power, and strength, not only are isolation exercises not needed, they can actually diminish your overall mass gains.

How much of your training reserves do you want to spend on isolation exercises knowing that it's cutting into the big exercises that build the most mass?

It's all about where you want to spend your training budget, because you can't do it all.

Assistance Work for Upper Body

Traps, Rhomboids and Rear Delts

The support muscles for upper-body pressing are the traps, rhomboids, and rear delts. There are others, of course, but if you focus only on the traps, rhomboids, and rear delts, you'll automatically include all the other assistance muscles for upper-body pressing.

I don't have a specific plan for assistance work. I add it by feel, according to what I think needs to be improved. So, staggered between sets of the upper-body pressing exercises, I'll work in sets of assistance exercises for the supporting muscles.

This doesn't mean the assistance workload is low volume. The fact is, I do a lot of work for the rhomboids, rear delts, and traps. For example, I often throw in a set of a trap, rhomboid, or rear-delt exercise after most sets of a pressing exercise. On the other hand, if I'm going for a heavier lift, I'll skip the assistance exercise.

Lats and Biceps

Lats and biceps are prone to tears. They're designed to grab-and-hold, which is totally opposite in function to the muscles designed for explosive performance. As such, they respond best to increased frequency of low to moderate volume, using constant-tension techniques.

Now keep in mind that I train competitive bodybuilders. And since lats and bi's are two extremely important areas for a competitive bodybuilder, I have to deliver big-time results in both areas. I say this because what I'm about to say, on the surface, is going to sound like I'm downplaying these two muscles — but I'm not!

I've found that overworking lats causes a lot more injuries than doing "too much" pressing work. In fact, I can literally press heavy every day and not cause a single shoulder problem. On the other hand, at the point my lat work verges on becoming excessive, my shoulders start hurting when I press.

Nothing drains a lifter more than doing too much lat work. It just kills the nervous system and really kills your drive to train.

Excessive biceps work contributes to shoulder pain by causing inflammation in the bicipital tendon that tracks down the bicipital groove, which is located right at the humeral head. A lot of biceps training also causes inflammation and tightness in the coracobrachialis, which further contributes to shoulder pain.

So, how do you train lats and biceps without causing these problems? There are actually several options, but the one I prefer makes successful training of these two muscles almost foolproof. I use Neural Charge Training to avoid the drain from lat work. So, at the end of every Neural Charge Workout, train the lats and bi's, using moderate volume and relatively high reps.

Neural Charge Workouts last about 20 minutes. Afterward, move right into training lats and biceps. Performing sets of 6-10 reps, using constant-tension techniques, works best. I also recommend stopping each set when you can no longer maintain rep speed.

I will sometimes throw in a "pure" lat/biceps workout, maybe once per training cycle, which equates to once every six to eight weeks. Basically, I see this workout as a blitz that helps me blast through a plateau, but it always come at a price — my performance for the next two workouts generally suffers. So take that in consideration.

Blitz Cycles Work Best for Abs

Believe it or not, my abs are among my best body parts. They're so thick that even with a pretty high body-fat level (for me), you can still clearly see a 6-pack.

What I've found that really improves abs is working them infrequently and in concentrated short cycles. And when you do that they improve rapidly. To be specific, I've gotten the best results when training abs every six to eight weeks and only in two-week cycles. After about two weeks, however, abs abruptly stop responding to training.

It makes no sense to go beyond that point, especially since abs receive plenty of indirect stimulation from heavy compound movements such as standing military presses, deadlifts, and squats. During the two-week blitz, I'll normally hit abs every day, usually performing 4-5 sets of a superset that consists of one weighted and one un-weighted exercise.

Lower-Body Pressing

Whenever I talk about lower-body pressing, I'm literally referring to every single movement where your feet push against something. Whether it's the floor or a leg-press platform, it doesn't matter, it's all pressing. This includes the deadlift, which is the same basic movement as a leg press, except you're using your hands and arms to hold the bar. So the deadlift is a press, not a pull.

Also, regardless of whether or not your feet are pressing against an object that's movable or immovable, I want you to think as if you're pushing "it" away from you. So again, if you're doing squats, even though the floor doesn't move, pretend you're pushing the floor away from you.

Thinking in terms of always pushing away from the body, where the body remains stationary, focuses the mind more on the legs. And by doing that, it helps keep the upper body rock hard and locked tight into position, and therefore provides a much a more stable base for leg pressing.

Less Variety Is Best for Legs

Legs typically make best progress when using little variety. Said another way, a lot of variety can really hinder leg development. Basically, regarding exercise selection for legs, whatever you find works best tends to be what always works best — and the fewer the better.

Assistance Work for Lower Body

Hamstrings

If you want to pile on as much muscle mass as humanly possible — like I do — 80 percent of your workouts should NOT include direct hamstrings work. Not only is it unnecessary, it will often hinder overall leg development.

I feel that if you do a lot of sets of the money movements for the lower body — like squat, deadlift, and power snatch — you'll actually need very little direct hamstring work. For example, in my own personal leg training, I go ass-to-the-grass when performing squats, which increases hamstrings involvement. I do pull-throughs and plenty of sled work, which heavily involves the hamstrings, especially when utilizing the constant-tension-slide technique.

Calves

I don't train calves at all. I mean, never, as in never in my life. I've actually never done a single set of any calf raises and my calves are not lacking. I train several clients who have monstrous calves and they never trains them, either.

Again, my point is, if you do a lot of heavy squats, deadlifts, and the right kind of sled work, your calves will receive all the stimulation required to blow up. That being said, if you still insist on working calves, here's how I would do it:

I would work the calves directly only once per week at the very most. I would also use constant-tension techniques and long, time under combined tension. This means choosing one lifting exercise, like standing calf raise, and superset that with sled backward tiptoe-walking for 20-30 yards per set. For calf raise, I recommend performing 10-12 reps, pausing two seconds at the bottom (to remove the stretch reflex) and holding two seconds at the top (to increase time under tension).

Neural Ramping Method

All athletic endeavors have their critical elements that make everything work. The same goes for weightlifting, except its critical elements, for whatever reason, aren't so obvious — at least not to most lifters.

It's really unfortunate, too, because without a thorough understanding of weightlifting's two critical elements, you might be "lifting weights," but you're not practicing weightlifting. In other words, if you think weightlifting is as simple as pushing reps and doing sets, you're either uninformed or a total idiot!

The two critical elements I'm referring to are, rep performance style and set loading method. How you perform a rep and how you load each set — knowing the why's behind it all, and then knowing how to successfully put it all together — is weightlifting. There's simply no other way to look at it.

If I sound ticked off it's because I am! People are totally, royally, cluster-mucking up my particular rep performance style and set loading method! The combination I call neural ramping. And odds are, you do NOT understand neural ramping!

When I'm not directly supervising athletes, most will get off track and end up piling weight on the bar and grrrrrrrinding up reps. THAT is exactly what I DO NOT WANT. And unless you totally understand what I'm about to explain, you will absolutely never experience anything close to the incredible results I see every day in the gym.

Okay, so let's get positive and learn neural ramping!

Rep Performance Style

As far as I'm concerned, there is only one type of rep that's performed during any pressing movement: a maximum-force accelerating rep.

A maximum-force accelerating rep occurs when you, under control, PUSH the weight as hard as humanly possible and the movement accelerates (gains speed) throughout the entire range of motion.

Obviously you're slowing down at the extended position in preparation for the turnaround and descent. Other than that, each and every rep should be a maximum-force rocket launch!

This concept isn't difficult to understand or difficult to continue using. It feels incredible to move heavy weight like this. The effect ramps up and preserves the CNS. It sensitizes nutrient receptors in the muscle cell — no other rep style does that — and it prepares the body for the next heavier set like nothing else.

If done correctly, somewhere around the third or fourth set, the weight will actually feel lighter. When you experience this "feels lighter" effect, you'll know you're in the groove, and you're ready for growth.

By the way, I use the word "feel" a lot, because the feel of each rep of a set is your only perfect gauge for whether or not you were successful with the set. Here's the point, which is the point no one seems to get:

If any rep of any set doesn't have the feel — like a max-force rocket launch — then TERMINATE the set right then and there. Do not even attempt another rep. And if you want to try another set, cut a rep or two and only do rocket launches.

Trust me, if you honestly want to build muscle mass and explosive strength and power as fast as humanly possible, stop grinding up slow-moving reps. They serve no purpose other than to boost egos and totally rob you of your potential gains.

Find Your Maximum Training Weight (MTW)

My universal preferred training rep target for all pressing movements is 3 reps. As such, I'm going to give you a formula for finding your 3-rep maximum training weight (MTW) for all pressing movements. In this example, I'll use bench press, even though this rep progression applies to all pressing movements.

  1. Pick a bench press weight that you normally use to warm up with (or do feeler sets). As long as you can bench 200 or more, I recommend you start with a bar and two 45's (135 lb), so I'll use that number for the example.
  2. With 135, begin doing sets of three reps, performing each rep using my rocket-launch rep style. Between sets, rest only the amount of time that's required to ensure maximum performance on the next set. And depending upon your 1RM, either add 10 or 20 pounds to the bar each set until you get close to your 1RM. As a guideline, if your max bench weight is below 200 pounds, begin by adding 10 pounds per set; above 200, add 20 pounds.
  3. Continue performing sets until you can no longer get three reps. This is the one time when it's okay to grind up the weight. So, during this test, you might actually be grinding up reps on the last several sets. Again, in the case of the test, that's okay, but only during the test.

    Important: The last couple of sets you may only want to add 5 or 10 (instead of 10 or 20) pounds to the bar to make sure you hit your max weight. For example, you might be at 300, knowing you could get 310 but not 320. Go ahead and put 10 more pounds on the bar.
  4. At some point — usually somewhere between set 8 and 12 — you'll hit the wall and not get that third rep of a set. Some lifters might nail three reps on set 8, add 10 pounds for set 9, and barely get the first rep. Whether you get no reps or 2.9 reps, the set you fail to get 3 full reps is your last set. You'll then want to use the weight of the previous set (your last "good" set) to plug into the formula.

3-Rep Max Test

So, let's say on set 8 it was a real struggle and you barely got three reps with 300 pounds. On set 9, you almost blew an artery locking out the first rep with 310. If that were the case, the number to use in the formula would be 300 pounds. Here's how that would look:

Set Weight x Reps   Set Weight x Reps
1 135 x 3   6 260 x 3
2 180 x 3   7 280 x 3
3 200 x 3   8 300 x 3 (3RM)
4 220 x 3   9 310 x 1
5 240 x 3      

Max Training Weight Formula

300 lb 3-rep maximum weight from test
X 87.5%* Percentage of 3RM to determine max training weight
260 lb** Max training weight

*Use 80% instead of 87.5% when calculating max training weight for lower body.

**Round the weight to the nearest 10 pounds.

Making Continuous Progress

I use a performance progression model. Even though strength is a part of overall performance, it's not the whole picture. Performance is a lot more about how you lift the weight than how much weight you lift. So, instead of constantly thinking about lifting heavier and heavier weights each week, focus solely on the two elements of lifting performance quality:

  1. Explosive Force — Increasing explosive force (how hard you push the weight) with your maximum training weight
  2. Max Training Zone Volume — Increasing the amount of explosive work performed within the max training zone (the volume of work sets you do with your max training weight)

So, when attempting to build serious muscle size and strength, strive to improve the quality of your lifting performance for each pressing workout. And remember, you don't have to lift heavier weight each workout. Strive to become more powerful and explosive within your max training zone, while at the same time, increasing the muscle's capacity to work in the max training zone.

4-Week Training Program

I could write another 100,000 words on my training method and still not cover everything. A much more practical approach is for me to simply show you how to put a program together and then give you just the important principles that govern all my training.

Here's a 4-week training program where you test your MTW on week five:

Day Workout Intensity Load
Monday Upper Body Zone 2 – Moderate MTW - 20 lb
Tuesday Lower Body Zone 2 – Moderate MTW - 20 lb
Wednesday Upper Body Zone 3 – Heavier MTW
Thursday Lower Body Zone 1 – Lighter MTW - 30 lb
Friday Upper Body Zone 1 – Lighter MTW - 30 lb
Thursday Lower Body Zone 3 – Heavier MTW
Sunday Neural Charge Workout    

Pressing Workouts

Upper Body Lower Body
Standing Strict Press (1) Snatch-Grip High Pull from Hang
Push Press (1) Muscle Snatch from Hang
Bench Press Snatch-Grip Deadlift
Back Squat (2)  

(1) If you're comfortable with the power clean, you can clean the weight on the first rep of these two exercises.

(2) Train back squat light, focusing on speed and technique.

Training Zones

There are three intensity zones — lighter, moderate, heavier — each of which is performed on separate days for both upper-body and lower-body workouts. Each lift uses a straight-set pattern, which means the weight for that exercise remains the same for all work sets..

Keeping the weight the same for all work makes it easy to notice whether or not you're maintaining explosiveness. If you find yourself losing that violent snap, decrease the weight slightly for the remaining sets. Keep in mind that explosiveness rules above all else.

Each zone is calculated off of your 3-rep MTW for each lift:

Intensity Load Sets x Reps
Zone 1 MTW - 30 lb
Back Squat: MTW - 40 lb
8 x 3
Back Squat: 6 x 3
Zone 2 MTW - 20 lb
Back Squat: MTW - 30 lb
6 x 3
Back Squat: 4 x 3
Zone 3 MTW
Squat: MTW - 20 lb
5 x 3
Squat: 3 x 3

The Intensifier

On weeks 2-4 an intensifier (added weight) is included on the next to the last set of a selected zone. Here's a chart that outlines how that works:

Week Zone Set No. Intensifier
Week 1 None    
Week 2 Zone 1 Only Set 7 + 10-20 lb
Week 3 Zone 2 Only Set 5 + 10-20 lb
Week 4 Zone 3 Only Set 4 + 10-20 lb

Workouts

Monday through Saturday, alternate between upper-body and lower-body workouts. Sunday, perform a Neural Charge workout. Continue with this weekly workout pattern for four weeks. Week 5 is test week, when you test your new max training weights, which you can use on another 4-week phase with the same workouts.

Week 1-4

Day Lifts Intensity Sets x Reps
Monday Upper Body
Standing Strict Press
Push Press
Bench Press
Back Squat
Zone 2
Zone 2
6 x 3
4 x 3
Tuesday Lower Body
Snatch-Grip High Pull
Muscle Snatch
Snatch-Grip Deadlift
Zone 2 6 x 3
Wednesday Upper Body
Standing Strict Press
Push Press
Bench Press
Back Squat
Zone 3
Zone 3
5 x 3
3 x 3
Thursday Lower Body
Snatch-Grip High Pull
Muscle Snatch
Snatch-Grip Deadlift
Zone 1 8 x 3
Friday Upper Body
Standing Strict Press
Push Press
Bench Press
Back Squat
Zone 1
Zone 1
8 x 3
6 x 3
Saturday Lower Body
Snatch-Grip High Pull
Muscle Snatch
Snatch-Grip Deadlift
Zone 3 5 x 3
Sunday Neural Charge Workout

Week 5 – Test Week

Day Lifts Intensity Sets x Reps
Monday Standing Strict Press
Push Press
Bench Press
TEST
Zone 1
Zone 1
3RM
4 x 3
4 x 3
Tuesday Snatch-Grip High Pull
Muscle Snatch
Snatch-Grip Deadlift
TEST
Zone 1
Zone 1
3RM
4 x 3
4 x 3
Wednesday Push Press
Standing Strict Press
Bench Press
TEST
Zone 1
Zone 1
3RM
4 x 3
4 x 3
Thursday Muscle Snatch
Snatch-Grip High Pull
Snatch-Grip Deadlift
TEST
Zone 1
Zone 1
3RM
4 x 3
4 x 3
Friday Bench Press
Back Squat
Standing Strict Press
Push Press
TEST
TEST
Zone 1
Zone 1
3RM
3RM
4 x 3
4 x 3
Saturday Snatch-Grip Deadlift
Snatch-Grip High Pull
Muscle Snatch
TEST
Zone 1
Zone 1
3RM
4 x 3
4 x 3
Sunday Neural Charge Workout

Don't Take Days Off

At least not on purpose. As you can see from the weekly workout plan, I don't schedule days off. I might miss a training day, here and there, if I have a social obligation or something like that. But without those unplanned detours, I always get my butt in the gym — no matter what.

I firmly believe that taking a day completely "off" is worse for recovery and hinders performance. In fact, I'm always weaker, and actually sorer, after taking 2-3 days off from training. It's the same even if I feel physically rested at the end of the layoff.

Inactivity leads to nervous system "down-regulation" (low activation), which always leads to detraining and bad performances. Inactivity also impedes the inflammation-response signals, which leads to increased soreness and much longer recovery periods.

If you feel like you need a break, there's always a training solution that's far better than time off. For example, if I lack motivation or drive to train, it indicates CNS fatigue and accordingly, I'll do a Neural Charge Workout. The point is, there is always some form of training that you can do (and should do) on an "off" day — Neural Charge Training promote nervous system.

All of this, of course, is dependent upon also taking in high-level peri-workout nutrition — like Plazma™ — to support anabolic physiology as well as recovery.

In fact, I'd never work out without Plazma. Plazma is just as much a part of my training protocol as the training method itself. The overall effect makes a night and day difference with recovery. It really does make you feel like you have superhuman recovery ability.

Rely on Few Exercises

A lot of lifters are obsessed with doing every single exercise under the sun, thinking they have to "hit every angle" or some other such nonsense. I've found that too much variety, regarding the use of different exercises, produces very poor results and is actually a psychological downer.

On the other hand, I use almost an infinite variety of exercise techniques. I have a huge arsenal of these exercise cool tricks that are simply amazing and make a night-and-day difference in training effect. I'll be sure to reveal many of them as the months pass.

Bottom line, keep it simple and highly effective by doing more sets of fewer exercises.

It works!

High Pull — The King of All Lifts

The high pull is an amazing lift that should be in everybody’s training program. Outside of the actual Olympic lifts (which are more technical) the high pull is the only true explosive barbell lift.

You can perform other movements with speed, such as bench, but only when using a light weight (40% - 60% 1RM). With the high pull you simply cannot perform the movement any other way than explosively, even with your 1RM. It's simply in the nature of the lift.

So for a program based on acceleration and performance, the high pull shines. It not only programs you to be more explosive, it also makes you better at accelerating the other lifts.

Everybody can learn the high pull quickly and reap all of its many benefits. The high pull will jack up your traps and back while improving your legs, especially the hamstrings, glutes and vastus medialis. It's also one of the few exercise that I’ve ever seen cause visual changes within 1-2 sessions.

If an Exercise Doesn't Work, Drop It!

A lot of people see their training program as a list of chores to do. And one by one, they must complete every "chore" on the list.

Viewing the workout as a chore is a serious mistake. If, during a workout, something seems off with a lift — either the mind-muscle connection isn't there or you don't feel the load in the muscle — then drop the exercise for that day.

And just because a lift felt great last week doesn't mean that it will feel great all the time. So don't override your body when it's telling you, "Don't do that!" You have to be in-tune with your body to avoid wasting your resources. On the other hand, don't use this as an excuse to drop hard or uncomfortable movements from your training.

You have to be honest with yourself. There's a big difference between feeling that a movement isn't working for you and simply not wanting to do the exercise.

If an exercise feels off during a workout, most of the time I'll just replace it with an equivalent movement. But sometimes I'll simply drop an exercise altogether, which usually occurs at the end of a workout to prevent excessive fatigue.

To reiterate the point, never look for an excuse to do less in the gym, but don't be afraid to drop an ineffective exercise, either. It's all about the finances of training: sometimes dropping an exercise might mean getting better gains and a better workout tomorrow.

Don't Emphasize the Eccentric

Not only do I not emphasize the eccentric portion of a lift, I often rely on eccentric-less exercises. I'm not saying that the eccentric phase of a lift isn't important, it is. But on the other hand, moving slower or adding resistance during the negative phase can do more harm to your progress than good.

Emphasizing eccentric work devastates the nervous system and thereby increases your recovery needs drastically. At the very minimum, this means that you won't be able to train often enough, or with enough volume, for maximal gains. And to me, volume and frequency are the keys to stimulating maximum growth.

Furthermore, accentuated eccentric loading has been shown to decrease glycogen replenishment after training (because of decreased insulin sensitivity). In other words, not only do you have more to recover from when accentuating the eccentric, the recovery process is actually slower!

In fact, the negative effect of accentuated eccentrics on glycogen replenishment lasts for as much as 3 days — that's 3 days with impaired recovery capacities!

Keep Rest Intervals Short

Between sets, take only the amount of time you need to give a full effort on the next set and not a second more. And whatever you do, never time rest periods.

I firmly believe that the pace of the workout is very important for the quality of the session. A fast pace keeps you in the zone; you have a better focus and probably produce more adrenalin — all of which leads to a better workout.

On the other hand, you don't want to turn the process into a race against time and end up decreasing set performance.

I'll say it again, rest as little as possible without having a drop in performance. Keep it simple, non-ritualistic, and improve over time.

Look Like a Bodybuilder, Perform Like an Athlete

Now you have the plan I use to build record-breaking slabs of high-performance mass on bodybuilders and athletes of all calibers. These principles work amazingly fast — far better than anything you've ever experienced — and keep on working. In fact, that's my promise.

If you really dive in and learn how to train with this method, you'll experience the types of gains you never thought were possible. You're going to get totally addicted to it. It may seem complicated at first, but it really isn't, especially since I'm going to be online coaching you through it all, making good on my guarantee.