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The Death of Muscle Building?

Written by Jason Ferruggia Topics: Fitness

When someone started lifting weights for the first time back in the 70’s, 80’s or 90’s the only goal was to get bigger and stronger. It was unquestionable and undeniable.

Why else would you lift weights? There was no other thought that would even possibly enter your mind.

No one had ever heard the ball shriveling term “metcon,” or would consider interspersing laps around the building in between sets of jerks and fifty rep snatches.

Back in those days you knew about training from seeing Arnold and Franco in Pumping Iron or watching Kaz compete in the Worlds Strongest Man on ESPN.

Weight training was invented for the sole purpose of getting bigger and stronger. That’s it.

But not many people, outside of a select few, seem to get that anymore. 

And a lot of people who train don’t even have the desire to get big these days. Or at least they won’t admit it.

Trying to build muscle is looked down upon in many circles. Being “fit and functional” it’s all the rage.

And, of course, everyone just wants to do “cool stuff.”

A Question to Ask Yourself

This is for every one of you who reads this site regularly…

Is your main goal still to get bigger and stronger? (This is not rhetorical; I’m expecting an answer)

Because if it’s not this probably isn’t the place to be.

That’s what I started training for back in the mid 80’s and what I started my company to help people do in the mid 90’s.

Yes, it’s awesome to be a master of the rings and gymnastics exercises. I’d love to be able to perform a perfect triple back flip, walk up the stairs of the Capitol Building on my hands and be the greatest US Olympic lifter of all time who could easily smoke NFL wide receivers in a race.

But unfortunately I am not the offspring of Bo Jackson and Flo-Jo. And I didn’t start putting my superhuman genetics to good use in gymnastics and Olympic lifting at age five (in between my parkour classes, of course).

When you try to master countless disciplines simultaneously you end up as a jack-of-all-trades, master-of-none type of guy. There are some who can do it, but they are the elite among us.

I’d be willing to bet that most of you started training to get bigger and stronger. But along the way A LOT of you lost focus of the goal.

If you are truly trying to gain high performance muscle mass you have to keep your eyes on the prize and not get caught up in trying to do everything at once.

My Approach to Training

I look at like this…

I take the best tools from each discipline and combine them in a way that will help you guys make the fastest gains in size and strength. It doesn’t matter if you’re a football player or a 36-year-old stockbroker. The training will be similar and the end result will be a body that looks great and can perform, when and if needed.

I’m not trying to create competitive Olympic lifters. But I use the power snatch and high pull, both performed from the hang, because they develop explosive power and massive traps. I see zero reason to do a full Olympic lift from the floor unless you plan on competing.

I’m not trying to create Olympic gymnasts. But I use the modified front lever because I think it’s an incredible lat activation exercise. I use the skin-the-cat drill on rings because it’s awesome for shoulder mobility. I use the L-sit because it’s great for core strength. I don’t, however, see any point in trying to get to a full Maltese or Iron Cross. It’s never going to happen for most of us, and injuries will occur before it does. That’s something you had to start as young kid. Even a muscle up is going to be out of the question for a lot of people.

I’m not trying to create Olympic sprinters. But I know that sprinting is great for staying lean and athletic so I recommend you do it up a hill or with a sled, simply because it’s safer and doesn’t require as much skill. If you’re a field athlete you’ll obviously have to run on flat ground.

I’m not trying to create powerlifters. For this reason I don’t rely on the bench, squat and deadlift but rather variations of the three that I find more effective for the goals of those I’m trying to help. In most cases I like a neutral grip bar, safety squat bar and trap bar more than the straight bar for those movements. But I borrow concepts from powerlifting and put them into my programs to help you guys gain size and strength faster.

Aint no shame in pumping up the guns.

I’m not training most of my clients to step on a bodybuilding stage, but my goal is certainly to make you look like you could do that if you so desired. Therefore I consider the importance of constant (unless you’re beginner) tension, getting a pump , stretching, target range of motion, etc. (ya know, all the stuff that the cool kids avoid these days) and incorporate these methods into the workouts I write.

I take the best from each of those of those disciplines (along with strongman), and use them as a tool to get a specific job done: to develop high performance muscle mass. That is my field of expertise and my passion.

Take what is useful, reject what is not.
-Bruce Lee

If you just want to work on your posing routine or become a master of Olympic lifts at the exclusion of all else, or learn a bunch of party tricks I can honestly say that I am not the best guy for that. I build strong, jacked, athletic dudes.

When you train with the programs I post in The Renegade Inner Circle you get big and you get strong. You also improve your athleticism.

But when you start getting obsessed with mastering every different skill under the sun your size and strength remain stagnant and gains are nonexistent.

I’ve been guilty of that myself; getting caught up in trying something cool and new. And I know that many of you probably have as well.  Only to realize a few months later that you’re getting nowhere and it was a waste of time. 

So ask yourself what you got into this for in the first place and why you lost focus of that goal along the way.

Then go watching Pumping Iron and embrace your nearest meathead brother, like Arnold would Franco.

Skill training is cool but there’s nothing wrong with doing some curls, getting a pump and actually admitting that you want to build muscle and look better. No matter how in vogue it may be to do otherwise.