Renegade Rule #1 for Building Muscle

Written by Jason Ferruggia Topics: Fitness

muscle building When it comes to strength training most people love to mentally masturbate about meaningless minutia all day long.

They get all stressed out about one concept followed by the next. Because so and so said this or they heard XYZ from this other guy. They can’t commit to any program because they second-guess the shit out of it.

Then, if they actually do start a program they’re constantly worried about doing everything perfectly right. Or thinking there might be a better way.

So they obsess over:

•    How many days a week should I train?
•    Should I do full body or a split?
•    Should I superset or do straight sets?
•    Should I take short or long rest periods?
•    Should I do high volume or low volume?
•    Should I get a pump or not?
•    Should I do drop sets, giant sets, complexes, clusters, thrusters, or feather dusters?

While all of those questions should be answered and deserve attention, the bottom line is that only one thing really matters if you’re a skinny guy looking to get jacked.

And I’ve been saying it since I first took my fingers to a keyboard and put my theories about training on the internet back in 2001.

Setting rep PR’s (or getting stronger in a hypertrophy rep range) is the most important thing to worry about when it comes to building muscle.

If you’re a guy who squats 185 for eight reps I can guarantee you that by the time you bring that up to 225 for eight you will be bigger. When you can squat 315 for eight you will look like a completely different person.

Now, this takes time and won’t happen overnight. But if you focus all your efforts on slowly setting new rep PRs you will build muscle.

Once you’re past the newbie gains phase where you put on thirty pounds in your first 24 months, the acclimation of new muscle will take some serious dedication and work.

And that’s why most people cave and start looking elsewhere for answers. They don’t have the dedication required. It’s much easier to start something new, to add in some new contrast sets, some isometrics or try out some wacky new exercise combos.

Get F*cking Strong- A Simple Approach to Growth

Getting stronger and having a long-term focus is fucking hard. Who wants to do that? There’s gotta be some other way. So you keep searching…

But at the end of the day your split, your rest periods, and every other factor will always pale in comparison to setting new rep (5-10 for upper body, and 8-12 or even as high as 15-20 for lower body) PR’s.

If all you did from now until eternity was strive to double your 8 -rep max on a low incline press, a squat or trap bar deadlift and a one-arm dumbbell row you’d get jacked.

If you worked up to say 225, 365 and 120+ on each of those respectively you’d probably be bigger than 90% of the guys on the planet. Not worlds strongest man contest big, but pretty big.

Of course, just doing those three exercises alone would suck and you’d get overuse injuries but hopefully you get my point.

A better approach would be to pick 3-5 per category and focus on driving them up long term.

So for a bench press variation you might choose a:

  • 15-degree incline DB or neutral grip BB press
  • 30-degree incline DB or neutral grip BB press
  • Flat DB press

For your lower body you might pick a:

  • Back squat
  • Trap bar deadlift
  • Safety squat

Your upper body pulling exercises that you track long term for new rep PR’s might be a:

  • One arm DB row
  • Neutral grip seated cable or machine row
  • Chin ups

If you just rotated through those and kept pushing the rep PR’s you’d have a pretty damn effective program.

To make it really awesome and ensure your long term health, I’d add some single leg exercises, pump/prehab work (which often tend to be one in the same) for the neck, rear delts and upper back, lower back, biceps, etc. These should be rotated frequently and don’t have to be tracked compulsively.

Focus on What Matters

In the Age of Distraction it’s easy to lose focus of what matters. But when you look at the biggest dudes in history you’ll see that they were also the ones who moved the most weight.

Keep getting stronger.

PS. To keep setting PR’s and getting jacked click HERE.