The ultimate combination is being big and strong. Bodybuilders can catch a lot of flack for having the muscles but not the strength to back it up. Times have changed from the golden ages of bodybuilding. Franco Columbo and Arnold Schwarzenegger were both big AND strong.
How could anyone forget the scene in Pumping Iron when Franco was in his home town of Sardinia, Italy? Not only did Franco look like he could lift a car he actually could lift a car! While the Big and Strong routine won't automatically make you strong enough to lift a car it will help you pack on some serious beef while making your strong as an ox (okay, okay... enough of the cow metaphors).
The Big & Strong Routine
There are four cornerstones of the Big and Strong routine.
1. Constantly Varying The Set Rep Scheme:
By continually varying the set/rep scheme of your workout you will prevent your muscles from adapting.
By keeping your muscles guessing you will be providing the optimal environment for optimal growth. Variety in your sets/reps will also keep training fresh for you. Nothing is more boring than 3x10 reps week after week.
2. Movement Selection:
Step away from the leg extension machine. The Big and Strong program is designed to be both effective and efficient. I'm not looking to waste your time with this program so we are going to leave out the isolation movement.
We need high yield exercises that will maximize muscle stimulation and stress for numerous muscle groups at once. What am I getting at? Compound multi-joint movements give you the biggest bang for you buck and thus should be the cornerstone of any routine when looking to put on both size and strength.
3. Training Frequency:
Many people get stuck in the pattern of training each body part once a week out of fear of overtraining.
Overtraining Forum Threads:
Fortunately if you reduce your per session body part training volume, you can increase your weekly body part volume without running the risk of overtraining. In fact this increase in volume will stimulate more muscle growth!
4. Training Through Soreness:
This is a great tip that I learned from strength coach Chad Waterbury. Initially it seems like a bad idea and something that could again lead to overtraining. However as long as you stimulate and not annihilate your muscles training through soreness will lead to decreased soreness and increased fitness.
Let's put this all together with the Big & Strong training program. The program consists of 2 types of workouts: strength and hypertrophy. Each of these types consists of two workout variation. The training schedule will alternate between A and B workouts like the following:
- Monday: Hypertrophy A
- Wednesday: Strength B
- Friday: Strength A
- Monday: Hypertrophy B
- Wednesday: Strength A
- Friday: Repeat Cycle
Here is each of the workouts.
- Front Squat - 6 sets of 6 reps
- Seated DB Press - 5 sets of 10 reps
- Seated Close Grip Row - 5 sets of 10 reps
- Deadlifts - 6 sets of 6 reps
- Close Grip Bench Press - 3 sets of 12 reps
- Chin Ups - 3 sets of 12 reps
- Narrow Stance Squats - 7 sets of 4 reps
- Push Press - 7 sets of 4 reps
- DB Row - 7 sets of 4 reps
- Stiff Legged Deadlifts - 7 sets of 4 reps
- DB Bench Press - 7 sets of 4 reps
- Upright Row - 7 sets of 4 reps
As you progress with the Big & Strong program you can change the loading parameters by adding additional sets to the 3x12 and 7x4 exercises and reduce the rest period between 6x6 and 5x10 exercises (from 120 seconds to 90 seconds).
On paper these workouts may not seem that tough but wait until you finish the first week - you'll be singing a different tune. The other key component to getting Big & Strong is nutrition. See my previous articles Beyond Beginner Nutrition Parts 1 and 2.