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53 Ways to Build Muscle, Gain Strength & Be F*ckin Awesome

Written by Jason Ferruggia Topics: Muscle

monson1. Have a clearly defined goal.
You can’t put 20 pounds on your squat, lose 20 pounds of fat and gain 20 pounds of muscle at the same time.

2. Train like an athlete.
This means you don’t just do a powerlifting or bodybuilding program. You incorporate elements of those but also blend it with gymnastics, kettlebells and various forms of movement.

3. Train for strength but realize it’s not the only thing.
The focus should be on strength gains, slowly over time. It won’t happen at every workout. If you try to force it you’ll get hurt. Have patience.

4. Train your neck.
It could save your life.

5. Use angled and neutral grip bars for pressing.
Much easier on your shoulders than a straight bar.

6. If you must static stretch, do it first.
If you are going to static stretch because you need to in order to get into certain positions, the best time to do it is after you foam roll and before you start your dynamic warm up. That way there’s no chance of it making you weaker or “dampening your CNS” since plenty of time will elapsed between the stretches and the time you get under the bar.

7. Do hurdle mobility drills.
Hip mobility is very important and goes quickly as you age. If you have good hip mobility your likelihood of having lower back problems will be reduced.

8. Be explosive on every rep.
Even your warm ups (to a point, you don’t have to explode the empty bar so excessively that you dislocate your shoulder). This fires up your CNS and fast twitch fibers.

9. Don’t cause excessive fatigue on your warm up sets.
But don’t rush them or neglect them either. Keep the reps low to moderate and find the balance.

10. Squat.
It’s an essential human movement pattern. Do it with a bar in front or back, goblet style, with kettlebells, or with weight overhead. Just do it. That’s all that matters.

11. For size gains you should feel the muscle.
Don’t just hoist weight. Lower under control and squeeze on the way up.

12. Always squeeze the bar as hard as you can.
Trying to crush it, on every lift you do. This will ensure tightness.

13. Squeeze your glutes tightly and brace your abs on every standing exercise.
This will help protect your spine and elicit more full body tension. Tension equals strength.

14. Always maintain optimal posture throughout your sets.
Never let your shoulders slouch forward or your lower back round out.


15. Do more moving and supporting on your hands.
Practice handstands against the wall, do Power Wheel hand walks, lateral hand walks, alligator pushups, partner assisted wheel barrow walks, etc. This is great for building up strength and stability in the shoulders.

16. Use thick handles or Fat Gripz.
This will strengthen the hands/grip and build up bigger forearms. It also alleviates elbow and shoulder stress.

17. An awesome workout template goes like this:
Some type of jump or throw for power development, big barbell lift for maximal strength development, bodyweight exercises for assistance work, strongman finisher. Try it.

18. Don’t use excessive levels of psyche on every set.
This fries your CNS, increases the likelihood of injury and makes it harder to recover from one workout to the next.

19. Get a sled and use it often.
Sled work is invaluable and irreplaceable. Get one HERE.

20. Incorporate more static gymnastic holds.
Front levers, handstands, planche work and l-sits are all essentials in Renegade programs. They build insane levels of strength and athleticism that can’t be duplicated with other methods.

21. Incorporate some speed work.

This could come in the form of jumps, throws or Olympic lifts. Even plyo pushups fit the bill here. Be explosive and train like an athlete.

22. Jump rope.
Doing so will improve your foot speed and conditioning.

23. Do more exercises standing than sitting or lying down.
You sit or lie down to relax; not to train.

24.  Pick heavy shit up off the ground.
This is a basic fundamental law of being strong.

25. Carry heavy shit.
Exercises like farmers walks simultaneously strengthen the traps, lower back, grip, hips, knees and ankles. They’re tough to beat.

26. Press, support or carry heavy shit overhead more often.
The more overhead work you do the more you will bulletproof your shoulders against injury. Most people do too much horizontal pressing and not even vertical.

27. Only Olympic lift if you know what you’re doing.
Otherwise you’ll get hurt. This DVD is a great learning tool.

28. Choose safer Olympic lifting variations.
Like log clean and presses, 1 arm dumbbell snatches and snatch grip high pulls.

29. Do more pushups.
Though often overlooked, pushups are still one of the greatest exercises in the world and always will be. If you are beyond the beginner level figure out creative ways to load them (weight vests, plates on back, chains, bands) or make them harder (steep incline, 1 arm, modified planche, divebomber, on rings, etc.).

For God’s sake, people, stay in shape!”
– Louie Simmons

30. Decrease your rest periods.
Heed Louie’s words. One of the ways to do so is cut your rest periods when appropriate.

31. Do something active every day.
Three or four 45 minute heavy lifting sessions will get you strong, but you won’t necessarily be well conditioned or healthy. You want to have all three covered. The body is meant to move everyday. It’s how we evolved. If you only strength train three days you should definitely be out doing something active on the other days. Even if it’s just going for a walk or doing some mobility work get moving.

32. Don’t train for more than an hour.
Your testosterone levels will drop and cortisol levels will start climbing.

33. Run, jump, climb and crawl.
It’s what your body was designed to do. Simply lifting weights is not enough. You have to MOVE!

34. Minimize loaded spinal flexion.
Your spine will thank you later.

35.  Listen to your body.
When you have nagging pains it’s almost always better to train around them than through them. Trust me.

36. Take a week off when your body needs it.
For most people a deload week is actually better than a week off. But if you’re over 35-40 you will probably benefit more from a complete week off every 12 weeks.

37. Take care of your knees.
You only get one pair. If they’re already shot try this.

38. Do reps to get swole.
Low reps are great for beginners. After that you need moderate to higher reps to build muscle.

female volleyball player239. Play.
We forget to do this as we get older.

40. Get at least 20 minutes of sunlight per day.
Vitamin D is critically important to your health and performance and natural sunlight is the best source. During the winter you need to supplement with it.

41. Perform some soft tissue work on yourself daily.
Invest in some of these to keep yourself healthy.

42. Do hill sprints.
They shred bodyfat, crank up your conditioning and toughen you up. Plus Walter Payton did them which makes them awesome.

43.  Go to bed by 10:30 every night. Eleven at the latest.
That means turn the TV and computer off and do your body some good.

44. Get 8-9 hours of sleep.
It’s very difficult to get bigger, faster, stronger or leaner on minimal amounts of sleep.

45. Get up at the same time every day.
This will help ensure optimal/consistent hormonal balance and performance levels.

46. Take naps.
It’s an awesome way to boost recovery and get a little surge of growth hormone.

47. Do yoga.
Don’t me too much of a manly tough guy to take care of yourself. Yoga makes you feel better. Follow along with THESE routines at home.

48. Get Active Release done.
This will make a world of difference in your recovery.

49. Take contrast baths or showers after training.
Hot as you can handle for 1-3 minutes. Cold as you can handle for 30-60 seconds. Repeat for 5-10 minutes.

50. Get massages.
Being dedicated to this on a regular basis over the last few years has made a tremendous difference in how I feel.

51. Find a float tank and get in one.
This has been the best thing I’ve ever done for recovery.

52. Do some mobility work every day.
This book has lots of great options.

53. Train outside from time to time.
Bring a bunch of stuff outside and get after it. Or just go to the park and do a bunch of bodyweight stuff on the monkey bars alternated with some kettlebell swings.  But do something.

Start incorporating any or all of those tips today and pretty soon it will be impossible for you to walk into a room without people stopping to note, “That dude’s fuckin awesome.”


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Thanks for being awesome.