8x8 Workout: Shock Your Muscles Into Growth!

Want to shock your muscles into growth? Implement this overreaching phase into your training program for 5-6 weeks and enjoy the muscle-building, fat-burning benefits!

Your body is a highly adaptive machine. Put it through some tough workouts week after week, and guess what? Those workouts won't be so tough anymore. To keep growing, you have to keep your body guessing. It's just one of those bodybuilding laws: If you want to see consistent gains, you have to implement the shock factor when your training stagnates.

Legendary fifties-era bodybuilder and coach Vince "the Iron Guru" Gironda believed that muscle confusion and temporary overreaching phases were the best ways to build muscle. His 8x8 method—8 sets of 8 reps—has been a go-to for bodybuilders whose muscles are in need of some shock therapy. If you've noticed that your workouts just aren't as hard as they used to be, you need to implement this plan.

If you want to see consistent gains, you have to implement the shock factor when your training stagnates.

This Gironda-style workout program is super effective, and it's one of the best full-body programs I've ever utilized. Fair warning: this plan isn't for the faint-hearted! Every one of the workouts includes a lot of volume in the muscle-building rep range, so you're guaranteed a good deal of work.

I have no doubt that once you finish one of these workouts, you'll be crawling out of the gym! The pain will be well worth it, though. Your body will have no choice but to adapt by growing muscle and racing through calories to keep up. Hello, aesthetics!

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Shock and Awe Program

These workouts are fast-paced and intense—enough to make the Iron Guru proud, in fact.

Implement this plan by training for two days and then taking two complete rest days. Lift, rinse, and repeat. The workouts are brutal, so be sure to give your body enough time to recover so you can go hard the next time you're in the gym.

On each training day, you'll do one exercise for each body part for 8 sets of 8 reps. That's right: This is a high-frequency, full-body split. That might seem strange to many of you, but it's a great alternative if you've been training under a standard body-part-based split for a long time. The frequency and overall volume should kick-start some major adaptations!




Keep your rest periods to 30 seconds. This is a shock program, so I don't want you sitting around between sets for minutes at a time. Your goal during this plan is to shock the hell out of your expectations, overall training capabilities, and muscle.

Perform this program for a maximum of 5-6 weeks. Try to increase the weight you lift every two weeks or so. Remember, this is a temporary phase, so you can really push yourself.

Day 1: Full-body workout
Warm-up
1

Cardio

10 min.
Cardio Cardio

2

Barbell bench press

8 sets of 8 reps
Barbell Bench Press - Medium Grip Barbell Bench Press - Medium Grip

3

Push press

8 sets of 8 reps
Push Press Push Press

4

Barbell squat

8 sets of 8 reps
Barbell Squat Barbell Squat

5

Triceps dip

8 sets of 8 reps
8 sets of 8 reps 8 sets of 8 reps

6

EZ-bar biceps curl

8 sets of 8 reps
8 sets of 8 reps 8 sets of 8 reps

7

Rack pull

8 sets of 8 reps
Rack Pulls Rack Pulls

8

Dumbbell shrug

8 sets of 8 reps
Dumbbell Shrug Dumbbell Shrug

9

Seated leg curl

8 sets of 8 reps
Seated Leg Curl Seated Leg Curl

Day 2: Full-body workout
Warm-up
1

Cardio

10 min.
Cardio Cardio

2

Cable fly

8 sets of 8 reps
cable fly cable fly

3

Lateral raise

8 sets of 8 reps
Lateral raise Lateral raise

4

Jump squat

8 sets of 8 reps
Freehand Jump Squat Freehand Jump Squat

5

Triceps rope push-down

8 sets of 8 reps
Triceps rope push-down Triceps rope push-down

6

Lying cable biceps curl

8 sets of 8 reps
Lying cable biceps curl Lying cable biceps curl

7

Lat pull-down

8 sets of 8 reps
Lat pull-down Lat pull-down

8

Upright cable row

8 sets of 8 reps
Upright Cable Row Upright Cable Row

9

Barbell lunge

8 sets of 8 reps
Barbell Lunge Barbell Lunge

Days 3 & 4: Rest
Day 5: Full-body workout
Warm-up
1

Cardio

10 min.
Cardio Cardio

2

Dumbbell bench press

8 sets of 8 reps
Dumbbell Bench Press Dumbbell Bench Press

3
Seated dumbbell shoulder press Seated dumbbell shoulder press

4

Leg press

8 sets of 8 reps
Leg Press Leg Press

5

Close-grip bench press

8 sets of 8 reps
Close-grip bench press Close-grip bench press

6

Barbell biceps curl

8 sets of 8 reps
Barbell biceps curl Barbell biceps curl

7

Bent-over row

8 sets of 8 reps
Bent-over row Bent-over row

8

Barbell shrug

8 sets of 8 reps
Barbell Shrug Barbell Shrug

9

Stiff-legged deadlift

8 sets of 8 reps
Stiff-legged deadlift Stiff-legged deadlift

Day 6: Full-body workout
Warm-up
1

Cardio

10 min.
Cardio Cardio

2

Dumbbell fly

8 sets of 8 reps
Dumbbell Flyes Dumbbell Flyes

3
Alternating dumbbell front raise Alternating dumbbell front raise

4

Leg extension

8 sets of 8 reps
Leg Extensions Leg Extensions

5

Overhead triceps extension

8 sets of 8 reps
Overhead triceps extension Overhead triceps extension

6

Alternating hammer curl

8 sets of 8 reps
Alternate Hammer Curl Alternate Hammer Curl

7

Pull-up

8 sets of 8 reps
Pull-up Pull-up

8

Lying leg curl

8 sets of 8 reps
Lying Leg Curls Lying Leg Curls

9

Shrug

8 sets of 8 reps
Shrug Shrug

Days 7 & 8: Rest

Program Tips

Select a weight that you're confident you can do for 8 sets of 8 reps. You only have 30 seconds of rest after each set, so you can't go too heavy.

Try not to do any rest-pause sets. Your weight should challenge you, however, so don't choose a weight so light you can get through every set and rep with ease. Choose a load that pushes you to failure on the seventh or eighth rep.

Your periods in this program are short for a reason. Don't compromise your results by fiddling around with your music or talking to your friends between sets for minutes on end. You get 30 seconds. That's it.

Your weight should challenge you, so don't choose a weight so light you can get through every set and rep with ease.

It's imperative to time your rest periods accurately. If you have an iPhone, I highly recommend an app called Seconds Pro.

If you've hit a wall with your standard training split, this full-body Gironda-style program should be a welcome hit to your muscles. It might take some time to get used to the frequency and style of training, but that's the point! The whole program should be a challenge. You don't grow by doing what's easy, after all. You grow by pushing—nay, shocking—yourself into new territory.

Stick to this plan for 5-6 weeks and I guarantee you'll be in awe of the results. Now go forth, build muscle, burn fat, and work your tail off.

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