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


monson1. Have a clearly defined goal.
You can’t put 50 pounds on your squat, lose 50 pounds of fat and gain 50 pounds of muscle at the same time, while simultaneously training for a bodybuilding contest and a world record in the hammer throw.

2. Train for performance, first and foremost.
It’s very hard to see size gains or even fat loss gains from day to day but you can see performance improvements on a regular basis, if you train properly.

3. Set new PR’s regularly.
It could be on a big lift, a gymnastics hold or how many double unders you can do with the jump rope. You can’t do the same thing over and over and expect to see any significant changes. Setting PR’s (personal records) ensures results and fun.

4. But know when to back off.
There will be workouts when you can’t improve on anything. That’s perfectly normal. Don’t freak out about it. Deload weeks should also be taken after 6-8 weeks of intense training.

5. Don’t be a program hopper.
ADD is a very bad thing. These days it’s why most people fail. Pick the most productive exercises and methods and get good at them. It’s the best way to make long term progress. You can’t change things randomly every week and expect to get anywhere.

6. Foam roll before training.
Hit the hams, IT bands, glutes, inner thighs, calves, and back. Even better than the foam roller is the Rumble Roller.

7. Static stretch 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.

8. Use a lacrosse ball on your piriformis, pecs and upper back.
You’ll hate me at the time but will thank me later.

9. Do some type of dynamic warm up for 5-15 minutes before you start lifting heavy.
This should include stuff like jumping jacks, leg swings, hurdle drills, mobility work, isometric bridging exercises, activation drills, etc.

10. 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.

11. Jump or throw something after your warm up and before you start your main lift.
It fires up your CNS and better prepares you to move some heavy shit. Explosiveness is another quality that disappears with age. Don’t lose it.

12. 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.

13. 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.

14. Make smaller jumps en route to your top end set.
When working up to a heavy triple, double or single it’s best to use smaller jumps and take about 6-12 sets to get to your max. You will find that your top end sets feel lighter when you do this versus if you just jumped right into them after only a few warm up sets.

15. 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.

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

17. 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.

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

bodybuilder

19. 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.

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

21. 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.

22. Don’t train to failure.
This fries your CNS, increases the likelihood of injury and makes it harder to recover from one workout tot he next. Leave a rep in the tank.

23. 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.

24. Don’t use less than 60% of your max on any exercise (unless you’re training for speed).

The resistance won’t be enough to stimulate any size or strength gains and will serve very little purpose. (There are some exceptions but this is a pretty good rule to follow)

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

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

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

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

29. 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.

30. 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

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

32. Do something active 5 days per week.
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 another two or three days. Even if it’s just going for a walk or doing some mobility work get moving.

33. Take one day completely off.
The body needs a break once in a while.

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

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

36. Minimize loaded spinal flexion.
Your spine will thank you later. That’s not to say you can’t do some, like if you’re lifting stones. But if you’re injury prone I’d heed the overwhelming body of evidence telling us that this can be dangerous.

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

38. 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 12-16 weeks.

39. Reps get you swole ONLY IF…
You’re not a beginner anymore and have built up a good foundation of strength. If you’re relying on pump work as someone who is tiny and weak you will probably remain that way. Get strong first then hit the rep work.

female volleyball player240. Play.
We forget to do this as we get older.

41. 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.

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

48. 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 10 minutes.

49. Get massages.
Being dedicated to this on a regular basis over the last few years has made a tremendous difference in how I feel. The key is to find a really good masseuse who really knows what’s up.

50. 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.

51.  Meditate.
It’s a great stress reducer. Excess stress makes us fatter. Then it kills us. I use and highly recommend Holosync.

SHAMELESS PLUG ALERT

52. Pick up a copy of Muscle Gaining Secrets.
It’s an awesome program that I’ve used with a lot of so called “hardgainers” to achieve very impressive results.

53. Or, if you really wanna get down Renegade style, join The Inner Circle.
That’s where all the cool people hang.

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

  1. Chris July 1, 2010 at 9:58 am #

    Great post. Pretty much everything you’ll ever need right there…

    But don’t forget to include some good snatches from time to time. Haha.

  2. steeven July 1, 2010 at 10:02 am #

    have sex with hot womens on your day off !!

  3. joe July 1, 2010 at 10:04 am #

    when you say no grinding death reps, does that mean no more heavy lifts where the fastest you can go is slow?

  4. Travis July 1, 2010 at 10:05 am #

    Great list Jason.

    I do most of these and picked up a few new ones as well.

    Lack of sleep is the hardest one for me. I never can seem to fall asleep early enough, but never seem to have trouble waking up early.

    I might add something about nutrition and eating, and something about tracking size gains, and weight increases. Tracking always helps me stay motivated and build more size.

  5. Ryan Magin July 1, 2010 at 10:20 am #

    Awesome post J, that’s a product in itself…

    Should be called get jacked for dummies :)…

  6. nisch July 1, 2010 at 11:39 am #

    Great article with a lot of info just to remind me what I have to do to be fckin awesome ! :)
    Copied and on my desk. I’ll read it once a day.

  7. Matt July 1, 2010 at 12:21 pm #

    Kick ass list Jay.
    You covered a lot and stuff that many people overlook or simply don’t do (including me)!
    Eating clean…more fruits and veggies could be added, but that can also be a post on it’s own.
    Like Travis mentioned, keeping a log book will help track your progress so that you are besting your previous workouts/weights.
    I would also put DEADLIFTS in there…right up there with squats! Always feel beastly after doing those.
    Not much else I can think to add, but…
    You’re F*ckin awesome! haha.

  8. Bret Contreras July 1, 2010 at 12:36 pm #

    Good stuff as usual Jason!!!

  9. Eric Moss July 1, 2010 at 12:42 pm #

    I might be wrong on this but I think you forgot to mention deadlifting. Deadlift more often, curl and crunch less often.

  10. Tyler July 1, 2010 at 2:14 pm #

    Listen to Pearl Jam!

  11. mike July 1, 2010 at 2:35 pm #

    I would say that “pick heavy shit off of the ground” would be your answer to the deadlift as not being on that list ;-)

  12. LaRue July 1, 2010 at 2:38 pm #

    I believe deadlifting was covered under, “Pick heavy shit up from the ground”.

    Unless of course, Jay was being literal with that one.

  13. Heather aka Tank July 1, 2010 at 2:58 pm #

    Great post Jay…as usual. A comprehensive list. Thanks for emphasizing the importance of spending some time on a foam roller and lacrosse ball…my clients loathe it…but its the appropriate means to proper movement. And thanks to it…I’ve got a breath-taking squat…and the ass to match. If I had a child…I’d read this post to him every night before bed…just sayin.

  14. Vman July 1, 2010 at 3:48 pm #

    Jay, “your F@ckin Awesome” ha ha ha great post as usual, love the no BS tell it how it is approach and great, simple to follow and implement advice!!

  15. Grant July 1, 2010 at 4:00 pm #

    you done it again Jay, thanks buddy

  16. Andrew July 1, 2010 at 5:09 pm #

    Guys he did mention deadlifting. #27 “lift heavy shit off the ground” is a reference to that, among other things. Nice post!

  17. Kirpal July 1, 2010 at 5:31 pm #

    Thanks for this blog Jason. I’m printing this off and posting it in my room. I always appreciate all the tips you give. Thanks again.

  18. Chris July 1, 2010 at 5:49 pm #

    Great stuff Jay!

  19. Alan Garza July 1, 2010 at 7:52 pm #

    niiice

  20. Nick July 1, 2010 at 8:27 pm #

    Jason, it’s funny you mentioned this, because just last night I realised that the main thing missing from my training was jumps and (med ball) throws.

    A couple of questions: what kind of med balls do should one get and how heavy? And with regards to box jumps, do you coach the tucked leg jump ala Joe DeFranco or the non-tucked jump ala Mike Boyle?

    Thanks for the great post.

    • Jason Ferruggia June 6, 2013 at 10:17 am #

      @Nick- 10-20lbs. Non tucked. You should never land lower than 135 degrees of knee flexion.

  21. Ross July 2, 2010 at 9:58 am #

    Awesome post Jason! Quick question: What exactly goes on in the body to help recovery by doing a contrast shower after training?

    • Matt July 7, 2010 at 11:29 pm #

      @Ross: Ross. Contrast Temperature therapy is an effective method of removing waste products from your muscles. the hot shower brings your blood to the surface of the skin, then the cold shower shunts the blood quickly away from the skin toward your torso. Its a lot more complicated than this, but basically doing that a few times flushes new oxygenated blood into the muscle and flushes out the used up remnants from your trg session. For more info look up CWI or Contrast Water Immersion on google!!

  22. Robbie July 2, 2010 at 2:41 pm #

    Great stuff Jason.

    When you say no more then one hour of training does this include your rolling stretching and your warm up?

  23. burkedogg July 2, 2010 at 9:31 pm #

    sick post… more and more ppl need to incorporate this into their workouts!!!

  24. Adam July 3, 2010 at 4:57 am #

    Great stuff! The best thing about coming here Jason is that the advice is you give is so damn simple and so damn straight forward!

    Just a quick question (which anyone can answer). How many warmup sets should you do when working up to a heavy set (whether it be 8,6,4,2 etc) if you wanted to build muscle?

    Any advice would be greatly appreciated!

    • Jason Ferruggia June 6, 2013 at 10:15 am #

      @Adam- Thanks. It depends how strong you are. It will take a lot more sets to work up to 405 than 95.

  25. Peter Fabian July 4, 2010 at 8:38 pm #

    Great post
    Consider also–Paying attention no wandering minds, keep your focus/concentration/intensity (related to goals, etc) and breathe

  26. Kelly M July 6, 2010 at 7:41 am #

    @ # 52. Well, I plan on picking this up at some point, but I’m in Canada and doubt I will ever get a chance to see your gym equipment. Lists like these could replace tons of magazines and ‘workin out’ books.

  27. Sick Gnar July 7, 2010 at 10:24 am #

    Great tips. Although I find that lists over 25 are easily forgotten or ignored. What would be the top 10 of the 53 tips?

  28. Jason July 7, 2010 at 9:03 pm #

    Great post

    love 5 and 3

  29. Dave July 9, 2010 at 5:28 am #

    Excellent tips. Pretty much sums up everything you need in a strength training and muscle building routine.

  30. jasonferruggia July 9, 2010 at 6:41 am #

    Chris- I could never forget about snatches.

    Steeven- Good call

    Joe- No it doesn’t. It means no slow, sloppy, form breaking down, blood vessel popping, grinding death reps. When you go 1-3 reps they will always be slow but they shouldn’t be sloppy or overly slow.

    Travis- I left nutrition out because I am going to do a separate post on that.

    Matt and Eric- The other guys pointed it out already but I’ll reiterate- deadlifts were covered in “pick up heavy shit off the ground.”

    Heather- “The ass to match,” huh? Sounds good to me.

    Nick- I like both styles of boxed jumps. For med balls I like the slam balls from MuscleDriverUSA. 10 & 15 lbs will be good.

    Robbie- I get it all done in an hour. I like the weight training portion to be limited to 45 minutes most of the time.

    Ross- Matt covered it below your question.

    Adam- It depends how strong you are, how heavy you are going, how beat up you are etc. At least three warm up sets in most cases. And if you are strong and working up to a single or triple it could be 8-12.

    Thanks for all the comments, guys. Keep ‘em coming.

  31. Thomas Gerstler July 9, 2010 at 8:50 am #

    best post i have seen 4 a long time all the best !!!

  32. jasonferruggia July 12, 2010 at 9:31 am #

    Thanks a lot, Thomas. Glad you liked it.

  33. Lucky July 18, 2010 at 10:24 am #

    Holy poop, this was an awesome post. This list should be like on a wall on every gym :)

    • Kyle April 18, 2013 at 5:16 pm #

      Yup, someone should print out the list and make it into a banner or poster.

      • Jason Ferruggia June 6, 2013 at 10:10 am #

        @Kyle- Thanks man, glad you liked it.

  34. Eric July 19, 2010 at 7:17 am #

    I love how straight up your writing is. Thanks!

  35. jasonferruggia July 20, 2010 at 6:09 am #

    Thanks, Lucky and Eric.

  36. Ross July 22, 2010 at 3:27 pm #

    @Matt – Thanks a ton, dude!

  37. Jamie August 2, 2010 at 5:18 pm #

    Awesome list Jason. That should be printed as rules to live by!

  38. james August 19, 2010 at 1:38 am #

    what does ADD stand for?

    • Matty C May 31, 2012 at 6:15 pm #

      ADD = Attention Deficit Disorder. The reduced ability to concentrate for lengthy periods. Basically, trust your program and stick to it. Quit chopping and changing because you want to do something new every week. The sure fire way to killing your potential gains in strength and muscle!

  39. wrestler strength October 29, 2010 at 4:53 am #

    Great tips. Every one I read down the list I thought “man this is the best one” …until I would get to the next one and say the same thing! #1-5 are definitely my 5 biggest.

  40. Kasey Brown December 26, 2010 at 8:26 pm #

    I like this

    1
    2
    3
    4
    5

    format. I’m going to steal it and start using it on my blog!

  41. Jeremy May 24, 2012 at 10:16 am #

    Jason I have been reading your blogs for sometime now. I am always impressed with how true and helpful your information is. Thanks as always!

  42. Lifter May 24, 2012 at 11:02 am #

    Nice, everything in a single list ! I am wondering about 12. Do I have to perform every single lift very fast, because I have hard time being explosive, not that I am lifting super slowly, but it’s not fast. Is this a problem ?

    • Jason Ferruggia June 6, 2013 at 10:14 am #

      @Lifter- Always try to accelerate the load.

  43. YEAH June 13, 2012 at 10:07 pm #

    there are alot of great trainers out there(your#1) but you put it out there so simple
    love it

  44. Ryan July 6, 2012 at 10:37 am #

    You can do all of the above perfectly to the T, but if you won’t build muscle without a proper diet.

  45. Mike Wilson July 6, 2012 at 10:54 am #

    Thanks, Jason! This is an outstanding list and a great overall post. Can you elaborate a little on loaded spinal flexion? What exercises cause this?

    One suggestion for the list — Aim to do 100 burpees in a row in 5 minutes or less. Another get shredded and toughening up activity. And — you can do it anywhere.

    • Jason Ferruggia June 6, 2013 at 10:13 am #

      @Mike Wilson- Squats and deadlifts with improper form. Sit Ups.

  46. deb July 6, 2012 at 1:15 pm #

    ssshhhh, don’t tell.. we’re not all dudes even if we are fucking awesome.
    Great post.

  47. Mr. C July 6, 2012 at 2:58 pm #

    Great post J. Whereabouts in the template in 21 would you include the static gymnastic holds?

    • Jason Ferruggia June 6, 2013 at 10:12 am #

      @MR. C – We usually put them first. Planche work before pressing, front levers to activate the lats before pulling. Though you could also do them at the very end. As long as they get done and you improve on them.

  48. Moe February 14, 2013 at 9:32 am #

    Jason you never cease to amaze me; i grabbed muscle gaining secrets and I’ve been loving it; do you have any tips for patella tendinitis and day two advanced?

  49. jack chen October 20, 2013 at 8:20 pm #

    Great post for muscle building. I will follow these ideas. Thank you!

  50. Ian Kelly October 24, 2013 at 2:35 pm #

    Got some great information with this site, i am starting my own one that is similar to this one! Check it out, thanks!

  51. J. R. Clark January 22, 2014 at 5:24 am #

    Wow, cool muscles…keep posting pictures like this. Your post is great to follow. As a saying goes no pain to gain… Will just keep going to achieve a muscles like these pictures here.

    Thanks…Josh