Here's what you need to know...

  1. Bodybuilders often concentrate on hypertrophy at the expense of strength. The program allows you to make enormous strides in both size and strength.
  2. The 8-week program employs two compound strength movements at the beginning of each workout, followed by multiple giant sets designed to deliver a huge, mind and muscle-numbing pump.

If you know anything about me, you know that I'm not satisfied with just being big. Instead, I want to be every bit as strong and powerful as I look, which isn't always the case with bodybuilders who often concentrate on hypertrophy at the expense of strength.

As such, I'm always experimenting with new ideas, new exercises, new protocols, and new programs in an effort to have the best of both worlds - size and strength. This is my latest and greatest effort. It's an 8-week program to be done on a 2-on, 1-off split and it will allow you to make enormous strides in both strength and size. I've been using it myself, as well as sharing it with my more committed clients.

Every workout begins with two periodized compound movements and the sets and reps change every week. The compound strength movements are followed by 1-2 giant sets (the hypertrophy movements) with different intensity techniques woven into each set. For instance, the first exercise in the giant set might employ tempo manipulation; the second might use a technique like 8+8+8 with forced reps or partials; the third might use a pump technique; and the fourth might concentrate on the stretch portion of an exercise.

Before I share the program with you, I need to explain a few things. As I mentioned, the sets and reps of the strength portion of the workout change every week. This is the set/rep scheme for the first strength movement of each workout:

  • Week 1: 8 sets of 8 reps
  • Week 1: 7 sets of 6 reps
  • Week 3: 10 sets of 4 reps
  • Week 4: 3 sets of 10 reps

Furthermore, the last set of every strength movement is meant to be an all-out set: you should ignore the rep designation and do as many reps as you can. For instance, if you're working bench press and you're on your last set of 8 x 8 (week 1), you can blow by the designated 8 reps (if you're able to!).

Additionally, the second strength movement plays off the first strength movement as far as reps. If you're on your first week and your first strength movement had you doing 8 sets of 8 reps, you'd do 2 more reps on each set of your second strength movement, i.e., 10 reps, like this:

  • Week 1: 3 sets of 10 reps
  • Week 1: 3 sets of 8 reps
  • Week 3: 3 sets of 6 reps
  • Week 4: 3 sets of 12 reps

Don't worry if you don't exactly get it right now; it'll become clear when you look at the program. As far as the load/resistance, the key is to pick a weight where the last rep of the set is hard, but not so hard that you reach complete failure. In other words, pick a weight that leaves you with at least one more rep in the tank for each of the designated rep ranges.

Use this routine as written for 4 weeks and then repeat it for another 4 weeks. As far as the compound strength movements, you'll only touch on the same rep ranges twice in the entire 8-week program. You won't need to change reps with the giant sets because there's already a lot of variety in them (multiple exercises, different tempos, range of motion, contractions, etc.).

Let me show you what this thing looks like in its entirety.

Day 1 – Legs

Compound Strength Movements

A Back Squat
   Week 1: 8 x 8
   Week 2: 7 x 6
   Week 3: 10 x 4
   Week 4: 3 x 10
B Front Squat
   Week 1: 3 x 10
   Week 2: 3 x 8
   Week 3: 3 x 6
   Week 4: 3 x 12

Rest as long as you need to between sets.

Giant Set #1

C1 Lying Hamstring Curl
  10 reps with 2-second stop at peak contraction (top of the movement)
  10 reps explosive on the positive and controlled on the negative
  10 partial reps from the bottom part of the movement
C2 Hack Squat/Sissy Squat
  10 reps with a 5-second negative
C3 Leg Extension
  10 reps with 2 second stop at peak contraction
  10 full-range reps
C4 Leg Press
  8 reps with feet close together
  8 reps with feet wide
  8 reps with the feet in middle stance, toes pointed out

Repeat giant set 2-3 times (rest 2-3 min between sets, and don't worry about the weight here you've already lifted heavy during the first two exercises).

Giant Set #2

D1 Dumbbell Stiff-Leg Deadlift
  8 reps with 5-second negative
  8 reps partial movements without a lock out
  8 reps normal full-range
D2 Seated Hamstring Curl
  8 reps with 2-second stop at peak contraction
  8 partial reps
D3 Bodyweight Lunge
  10 reps with 5-second negative
  10 full-range reps
D4 Hyperextension (body weight or banded)
  10-12 reps

Repeat giant set 2-3 times.

Day 2 – Chest

Compound Strength Movements

A Incline Barbell Bench Press
   Week 1: 8 x 8
   Week 2: 7 x 6
   Week 3: 10 x 4
   Week 4: 3 x 10
B Decline Barbell Bench Press
   Week 1: 3 x 10
   Week 2: 3 x 8
   Week 3: 3 x 6
   Week 4: 3 x 12

Giant Set #1

C1 Flat Dumbbell Fly
  8 reps with 2-second stop at peak contraction
  8 reps with a 5-second negative (drop the bench to a decline angle for these)
  8 partial rep-dumbbell presses at that same decline angle
C2 Pec Deck Machine Fly (adjust seat to hit upper pec)
  10 reps, drop the weight and do another 10 reps
C3 Wide-Stance Push-Up
  Go to failure

Repeat 2-3 times.

Giant Set #2

D1 Banded Incline Dumbbell Press
  8 reps with neutral grip
  8 reps with pronated grip (same weight)
D2 Wide-Grip Dip
  8 reps with 5-second negative
  8 reps using a normal tempo
D3 Cable Fly
  8 reps with 2-second stop at peak contraction
  8 reps FAST pace (to get a pump)

Repeat giant set 2-3 times.

Curl

Day 3 – Back and Biceps

Compound Strength Movements

A Deadlift
   Week 1: 8 x 8
   Week 2: 7 x 6
   Week 3: 10 x 4
   Week 4: 3 x 10
B Weighted Pull-Up (neutral grip)
   Week 1: 3 x 10
   Week 2: 3 x 8
   Week 3: 3 x 6
   Week 4: 3 x 12

Giant Set #1

C1 Wide-Grip Pull Down
  8 reps with 5-second negative
  8 reps with 2-second stop at the bottom
  8 reps with added stretch (let the weight stack pull you up for 2 seconds at the top)
C2 Cable Row
  8 reps with 2-second stop at peak contraction
  8 reps with 5-second negative
  8 reps fast pace for extra blood flow
C3 Rope Pullover
  10 reps, then drop weight and do 10 more reps
C4 Bodyweight Pull-Up/or Assisted Pull-Up (Supinated Grip)
  Go to failure

Repeat 2-3 times.

Giant Set #2

D1 Rack Deadlift
  12 reps
D2 One-Arm Dumbbell Row
  8 reps with 2-second stop at peak contraction
  8 reps with a dead stop on the floor
  8 reps normal pace
D3 Machine Row
  8 reps, then drop the weight and do 8 more reps
D4 One-Arm Hammer Pulldown
  10 reps with added stretch at top (2 seconds)

Repeat 2-3 times.

Giant Set #3

E1 Standing EZ Bar Curl
  8 full reps
  8 half reps
  8 partial reps from the bottom position of the curl
E2 Dumbbell Concentration Curl
  10 reps with 5-second negatives on each
E3 Standing Hammer Curl
  8 reps, drop weight and do 8 more reps
E4 Seated Preacher Machine Curl
  12 reps
  6 reps with a 5-second hold at peak contraction
  6 partials done to failure

Repeat 2-3 times.

Day 4 – Shoulders and Triceps

Compound Strength Movements

A Push Press
   Week 1: 8 x 8
   Week 2: 7 x 6
   Week 3: 10 x 4
   Week 4: 3 x 10
B Behind-the-Neck Barbell Press
   Week 1: 3 x 10
   Week 2: 3 x 8
   Week 3: 3 x 6
   Week 4: 3 x 12

Giant Set #1

C1 Standing Dumbbell Lateral
  8 full reps
  8 partial reps
C2 Rear Dumbbell Raise on an Incline Bench
  10 reps neutral grip
  10 reps pronated grip
C3 Front Raise With a Rope
  8 reps with 5-second negative
  8 reps fast pace
C4 Dumbbell Press
  8 full reps
  8 partial reps

Repeat 2-3 times.

D Close-Grip Bench Press
   Week 1: 8 x 8
   Week 2: 7 x 6
   Week 3: 10 x 4
   Week 4: 3 x 10
E EZ-Bar Skull Crusher
   Week 1: 3 x 10
   Week 2: 3 x 8
   Week 3: 3 x 6
   Week 4: 3 x 12

Giant Set #2

F1 Rope Push-Down
  8 reps with 2-second stop at peak contraction
  8 reps fast pace
F2 Overhead Rope Triceps Extension
  8 reps with 2-second stop at peak contraction
  8 reps fast pace
F3 Decline Dumbbell Skull Crusher
  8 normal reps8 reps with 5-second negative
F4 Close-Grip Push-Up on a Bench or Dip Machine
  Reps to failure. Use a good, fast pace to get a good pump.

Use this routine as written for 4 weeks and then repeat it for another 4 weeks. Also, remember that committing whole-heartedly to a routine is only half the battle; you also need to fuel your body properly, especially during the peri-workout period. This routine is especially grueling and it relies heavily on the pump, so you need to be just as dedicated to your nutrition as you are to the workout!