True Muscle Trainer: Program Overview

The True Muscle trainer is the cure for the common workout. Add muscle, strength, and conditioning with instruction from a world-class coach and a top pro athlete. Discover elite fitness in just 9 weeks with True Muscle!

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You want more muscle. At the end of the day, that's what most of us are in the gym for. Over the next nine weeks, I'm going to give you muscle—and far more.

For the True Muscle training plan, I've teamed up with New York Giants punter Steve Weatherford, who is also known as the NFL's fittest man. But don't worry, this isn't a sports-performance program. Steve likes to say, "I'm not a football guy who loves fitness; I'm a fitness guy who plays football." He was drawn into serious training by his love of moving big weights, and just as importantly, looking the part. If you want the best of both worlds, plus through-the-roof athleticism, you want True Muscle.

Over the next nine weeks, you'll get the muscle and the hustle. You'll get the coaching you need to improve at classic movements, but also learn some game-changing new ones. You'll love every workout and get plenty of great pumps along the way, but you'll also learn a lot that will make you perform better in the weight room for years down the road.

This is the type of training that built the physiques we all used to admire on posters of our favorite athletes. They didn't just build muscle; they developed grit by testing themselves, getting systematic, and constantly improving. Now it's your turn.

There's a lot that's unique about this trainer, but we're not just going to cut you loose to figure it out on your own. Steve and I are going to take you step-by-step through three tough video workouts, so you can see how to get the most out of every minute in the gym, from your dynamic warm-up through the lung-busting finishers. You're going to get the sets and reps, but you're also going to get a lot of cool, unique form cues to help you get better results.

If you're tired of just doing more, then let's focus on doing better. Here's what you need to know.

True Muscle Trainer Program Overview
Watch the video - 14:20

Who is the True Muscle Trainer for?

You don't need to be a world-class athlete like Steve to get results from this program—far from it! But you'll definitely get the most out of the True Muscle trainer if you have a foundation of training to build from. A beginner will probably find the intensity of this program overwhelming, so only tackle it if you have some solid experience with free-weight strength training and are comfortable performing fundamental movements like front squats, deadlifts, chin-ups, and dumbbell presses.

In terms of time demands, this isn't one of those over-the-top, 12-hours-a-week-or-more training plans. Each workout is designed to be an hour or less, depending on your fitness level and familiarity with the equipment. You'll work out four times a week for the first three weeks and then three times a week after that, so you can have the flexibility to customize the program around your schedule.

And in the gym, you won't be hogging tons of equipment to perform bizarre giant sets or anything like that. You can easily knock out these workouts in most commercial gyms, not just a hardcore training facility like we filmed the workouts in. Everything that is asked of you will be reasonable—but definitely challenging.

"You don't need to be a world-class athlete like Steve to get results from this program—far from it!"

True Muscle: The Training Plan

The program consists of three phases of three weeks apiece, or nine weeks in total:

  • Phase 1: Hypertrophy
  • Phase 2: Strength and power
  • Phase 3: Hybrid conditioning

If it helps, think of the three phases in computing terms. In Phase 1, you're building up your muscular hardware: the muscle size, movement quality, and connective-tissue strength. In Phase 2, you'll boost the software, teaching your nervous system to recruit more muscle and generate more tension. In Phase 3, you'll add battery life, so you can do more work—and better work—every time you're in the gym.

Phase 1 will probably be the most familiar to you in terms of its bodybuilding exercises and programming. You'll follow a classic four-day split with a push day, a pull day, a shoulder day, and a lower-body day. In Phase 2, you'll dial back the reps, boost the number of sets, and focus on ripping the weight off the ground to maximize muscle-fiber recruitment. And in Phase 3, you'll do some of both types of training, along with some circuits to skyrocket your conditioning and test your grit.

You'll use the best tool for every job during the True Muscle trainer.

I'm a trainer who believes in using the best tool for the job, and you'll use a range of implements over the nine weeks. You'll use barbells, dumbbells, machines, body weight, and even some old-school classics like medicine balls and jump ropes. You'll do a little crawling for both warm-ups and conditioning, plus some explosive work like ball slams and broad jumps. This is how athletes used to train—and they loved every brutal minute of it.

Those phase titles refer to the main focus of each phase, but overall, this is what I would call a mixed-training approach. That means you'll get some conditioning and performance work in the hypertrophy phase, and some bodybuilding-style work in all three phases. Hey, we know you're not preparing for the Super Bowl. You just want to look good, feel good, and perform like a beast.

True Muscle Nutrition

Like I said earlier, this program isn't just about doing more; it's about doing better. This applies to both training and nutrition. It's important that you don't overcomplicate your nutrition program, just like you don't overcomplicate your training program. So just as we'll take you step-by-step through the workouts, the nutrition program takes you step by step through fueling up for maximum performance and recovery.

While you're on the True Muscle program, there's no need to worry about getting 2.65 grams of leucine or consuming 3.45 grams of carbohydrates per kilogram within five minutes of finishing your training session—unless that's the sort of thing you really love spending your time doing. Rather, this program is designed to help you make the most of techniques that have stood the test of time and have always produced insane results.

If you want to keep it really simple, here's your two-step approach:

  • Step 1: Become confident about building solid meals.
  • Step 2: Figure out how many meals you want to eat.

Wondering what a solid meal looks like? You don't even need macronutrient guidelines to guide you. Just fill up your plate like this:

For those of you who aren't visually inclined, here's the breakdown:

  • Include at least a palm-sized portion of protein in order to maximally stimulate both muscle building and recovery. Focus on lean proteins from animal sources whenever possible.
  • Include a fistful of high-fiber carbohydrates at each meal (depending on your goals) in order to maximize energy levels throughout the day.
  • Fill the rest of your plate with vegetables at each meal to promote health, satiety, hydration, and recovery.

While veggies should take precedence, aim for an assortment of different-colored fruits and vegetables throughout the day to ensure your body is receiving a variety of vitamins and minerals. A palm, a fist, and some fruits and veggies—that's it!

If you feel you need numbers to feel like you're in control of your nutrition, here's how that breaks down per meal, more or less:

  • Protein: Approximately 30 g
  • Carbs: Approximately 50 g

As for fats, well, just get enough. Put some oil on your veggies, or cook them in oil or butter. Have a handful of nuts as a snack or along with your meal. Get at least 12-16 g of fats per meal, if you're a counter.

As I wrote above, this program is best for someone who has a foundation of strength training. As such, we expect that you probably have some long-standing preferences about nutrition and supplementation as well. If, say, eating fast-digesting carbs around your workout has worked for you in the past, by all means stick with it. If you feel you benefit from a food list to guide you, this one will give you all you need.


Eat a full range, but follow the guideline of "the fewer legs the better."

No legs: Salmon and other fish, eggs, dairy products, protein powders (especially whey and casein)
Two legs: Chicken, turkey, duck
Four legs: Beef, pork, lamb, and other dark meats


Vegetables (get plenty!), fruit (no sugar added), oatmeal, oat bran, whole-grain cereals, whole-grain breads/wraps/pasta (whole wheat, oat, bran, rye, barley, corn), fiber-rich tortillas, quinoa, brown rice, sweet potatoes, popcorn

Healthy fats

Olive oil, canola oil, coconut oil, natural peanut butter and other nut butters, avocados, almonds, walnuts, cashews, pecans, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, flax seed (ground), chia seeds, fatty fish such as salmon, mackerel, and tuna, whole eggs, egg yolks

The question of how many meals to eat is when things often get complicated, but they don't have to. This isn't a contest-prep program; it's an elite fitness program. That means your first priority is getting enough calories to power high-quality workouts. And your second priority is what I said earlier, in Step 2: Figure out how many meals you want to eat.

More than anything, results are really about adherence. That means you need to develop eating habits that fit your lifestyle, the times that you can eat, and the size of meals you like. If that takes some time for you to figure out, don't worry. It's important to understand that you're not going to blow the entire program if you don't get every meal perfect. Use these guidelines, but don't treat them as steadfast laws and rules. The rest is up to you and your training.

If you're someone who really benefits from a meal plan, feel free to use one of these two provided by One is for someone looking to gain lean weight on the program, and the other is for someone looking to lose fat. Both are based on a hypothetical 185-pound male lifter and should be dialed up or down for your body and goals, but they'll give you a solid place to start.

True Muscle Supplementation

I like to keep things simple when it comes to supplementation, so that it's easy for you to stay consistent. In a high-performance training plan like this one, supplements are important because they're offering you some elements of nutrition you may not be getting from your diet. They allow for quick, easy, and cheap ways to ensure that your diet is fully comprehensive. Just as importantly, supplements can help ensure that you're maximizing your performance.

If I had to strip away everything else, there are two main supplements that I highly recommend anybody on this program utilize: creatine monohydrate and protein. You should also consider caffeine, like you find in a pre-workout. This is less crucial if you're a regular coffee or tea drinker. But the benefits of caffeine are very well established, and include everything from helping you combat pain and increasing endurance to increasing mental focus.

The other supplement I'd like you to consider is beta-alanine, which you'll also find alongside caffeine in most pre-workouts like True Grit's Pre. Research has shown that beta-alanine can essentially help you get one more rep, and that's a great benefit to have in all phases of this program. I'm also a fan of branched-chain amino acids as a fail-safe way to help you maximize recovery, particularly if it's hard for you to get enough protein in your diet.

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True Muscle, True Performance, True Results

We've set this program up so you don't have to be caught off guard by anything you'll encounter over the next nine weeks. So take the time necessary to prepare yourself to succeed.

First, watch the Phase 1 overview, so you know everything you'll be encountering in the first three weeks of the True Muscle trainer. There, you can also watch Steve and I perform the entire first workout of the program. Then, add this program to your Body Calendar so you always know what you're going to do and you never miss a workout. And lastly, make sure to bookmark the True Muscle trainer to make it easy to come back daily for your training, nutrition, and supplementation guidance.

It's time to step up, surprise yourself, and redefine the way you train!

Main | Program Overview | Phase 1 Overview | Phase 2 Overview
| Phase 3 Overview | Get Started