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Double Your Chin Ups in 30 Days

Double Your Chin Ups in 30 Days

Double Your Chin Ups in 30 Days
This article is a bonus feature for the Minimalist Muscle Course. Build muscle and look better naked without living in the gym. Enroll now. Thank you for reading.


Here’s how to add muscle in all the right places — your forearms, lats and biceps — by doing chin-ups. I’ll explain the exact process I’ve used to help clients double their chin-ups in 30 days.

But begs the question…Why do chin-ups matter?
For most lifters, grabbing a bar and pulling their body to the top more than three or four times is tough.
But doing 6-10+ chin-ups without kipping and wiggling like an angry honey badger? Less than 10% of folks are capable (C’mon, use your imagination. Honey Badger wouldn’t care.)
Which leads me to say chin-ups are bad-ass. Beyond standing out in the gym and carrying bragging rights, chin-ups are one of the best exercises for adding muscle to your traps, lats, forearms, and lats.

Even better, you can do them in nearly any training environment, making them an ideal exercise for training on the road (free guide).


From a performance perspective?
Chin-ups are a wicked display of relative strength–or how strong you are for your size. Relative strength begets greater control and movement of your own body. And while the skills don’t transfer directly, being a badass with your chin-ups is a good indication you’re strong, fast, explosive, and close to becoming one of the ninjas from Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon.

Okay, that was a stretch. But in the context of being strong, jacked, and athletic chins-up matter. A lot.

Real men do chin-ups. And so do badass women. Chin up prowess is a key indicator of:

* Relative strength: how strong you are for your size.
* Balanced training: whether you’re spending too much time posing between bench presses and biceps curls.
* Dedication: Wanna become a high-performance machine? Prove it by committing to chip-up improvement and getting strong for your size.

It won’t be easy. After the initial training stages, improving chin-ups is harder than staying composed during your first trip to the Boobie Bungalo. But, with this tested plan, focused recovery, and determination you can build size to your lats and arms, and brutal strength, and chin-ups to your repertoire.

Do Chin-Ups First in Training

A basic law of training is to do whatever is most important first in your workouts, especially technical and difficult exercises.This narrows your focus to the essential tasks to achieving your goal and helps base your training on neurological demands.

A lot of lifters mess this part up. They consider only squats, deadlifts bench presses, or Olympic lifts to be neurologically demanding.

Not so.

Any exercise where you’re unable to perform more six perfect reps IS a pure strength exercise, especially if it’s a multi-joint lift like chin-ups.

If you were a 400-pound squatter training for maximum strength you wouldn’t wait three or four exercises before attempting to squat 370 x 5 reps, right?

The same logic of intensity applies to chin-ups. If you’re looking to make rapid improvements or are unable to do more than six perfect chin-ups, move them up to the beginning of your routine–this is a strength building exercise and you need to do them while fresh to continue boosting strength and performance.

Use Multiple Rep Schemes

The chin-up is a great test of relative strength and indication of whether you need to cut body fat and or improve strength.

There are two ways to improve relative strength: improve absolute strength or drop a few pounds. We’ll focus on the former.

Heavy strength work builds the foundation for everything you do. And like constructing a building, you need a huge foundation to build layers of muscle, endurance, and athleticism.

Pure Strength rep schemes

Make building strength your primary goal, improving your ability to move your body and/or extra weight with two to six reps set.

Avoid failure on heavy rep sets, whether it’s 5×2, 6×3, or 4×4 with two to three minutes of rest in between. Each rep should be explosive on the concentric and controlled on the eccentric.

You’ll be chinin’ on the regular, so don’t blow your….energy in week one and fry your nervous system. Stay calm, stay cool, and avoid grinding on too many reps to build strength.

Play around with rep schemes, but the sweet spot here is between 10 and 20 heavy reps per week. Progressively add resistance and get strong.

Moderate Reps

For years, coaches like Chad Waterbury have talked about twenty-five reps as a key trigger for size and strength. And when looking at most rep schemes, that seems about right.

Twice per week 5×5, 4×6,3×8, and even 2×12-15 hit the perfect blend of high-tension and total time under tension to help you build strength and mass. Rest one to two minutes between sets while focusing on perfect form.

Perform one or two workouts per week with moderate, hypertrophy driven rep schemes.

High Reps

I’m giving you two options here.
First, attempt Rep schemes like 3×10-15, 2×12-20 once per week work wonders in stimulating size and endurance. Pick one pull weekly, keep the tempo slow, and maximize the time under tension.

BUT, since most people struggle doing more than 6 chin-ups, high rep work sets are out of the question.

Instead, employ a plethora of other lifts like inverted rows, high-rep dumbbell rows, band-assisted chin-ups, pull-downs, and my personal favorite, 2:1 lat pull-down to build in volume for both endurance and muscle growth.
You won’t be able to do a ton of reps on these, but what’s lacking in reps in made up in overloading the eccentric and time under tension.

Alternatively, here’s a chin-up with demonstrating 3-4 second eccentrics on my youtube channel. Here, the total time under tension for the set is 30-40 seconds, plenty to build endurance.

At the end of the day, your body doesn’t know reps. All it knows are it needs to recruit as many muscle fibers as possible (heavy, tension based work), and battle metabolic stress (moderate-high rep work) to complete a muscular action.

By subbing chin-ups and attacking local muscular endurance we can still provide tons of time under tension to boost endurance and gains.

Optimize Your Form:

You’re either getting better or getting worse with every rep, every set, and every workout.

Most lifters agree. They understand letting form collapse on exercises like deadlifts is not only risky but grooves faulty movement patterns likely to spark plateaus and injuries down the road.

Still, that logic isn’t applied to chin-ups. Why?
The answer eludes me.

Most lifters think it’s fine to keep, squirm, and wiggle your way up the bar. Like any lift, you’re opening the door for injury and poor habits. Don’t. Make every rep as perfect as possible.

Focus on the technique. This article from Lee Boyce is the best one I’ve seen.

All exercises, even if they’re bodyweight, need careful attention to form. Rest, recover and maximize rep quality before piling on weight.

You’re either doing an exercise right and building good habits, or you’re cheating and opening the door for injury.

Train Chin Ups Often

My clients improve fastest when we increase training frequency to three, four, or even five times per week.

Mastering any skill requires practice, whether it’s learning a new language or a new exercise.

Or to get geeky about it: consistent stimuli to any movement pattern leads to faster skill acquisition.

Now, you don’t need to chin up every time you walk under a bar, but the increased training frequency will speed up your progress.

First, you’ll improve technique via better intermuscular and intramuscular coordination. Then, more muscular contractions up-regulate protein synthesis for growth. With a ramp up in training volume, you’ll set the body up for a huge super-compensation effect when frequency goes back to once or twice per week.

To focus in on higher frequency training you’ll focus on pure strength once per week. This improves overall work capacity and muscle fiber recruitment.
Moderate rep training (6-12 reps) once or twice per week provides the volume to add strength and size concurrently.

Then, once per week hit high-rep, near failure sets. This provides the local muscular endurance to boost your chin-up prowess, test your progress, and add additional metabolic stress to boost muscle growth.

Vary Your Chin-ups

When training chin ups with high volume it’s important to provide slight tweaks to technique to prevent stagnation and overuse injuries.

It’s best to tweak grip position from supinated to pronated (overhand) and neutral (palms facing) once or twice per week. Also, move your hands narrower and wider by a few inches every few training sessions.

These small changes, even if it’s an inch difference in grip width, stress joints and muscles differently. This changes the recruitment patterns to prevent overuse injury and fire up new muscle growth and well-balanced strength.

Don’t overcomplicate this. Make small changes by moving your hands in or out an inch and add in a change of grip once per week, ideally on your moderate rep work.

Wrap Up: The Official Guidelines

Avoid failure and ugly reps. Remember, you’re either getting better or getting worse with every set and every rep.

Concurrently lift heavy, moderate, and lighter loads throughout the week. This obliterates weaknesses and sets your body up for a huge rebound after ramping up your training.

Train frequently. Do chin-ups four times per week for the next month. Then back off to once or twice per week. You’ll get stronger and bigger in a hurry.

Make small tweaks to your grip style and width weekly.

Step up to the plate. Balance push/pull strength to drive performance. A more powerful body will be your reward. And your new found muscle will stretch your shirtsleeves.

30 Days to Double your Chins Workout Plan

I kicked the tires on throwing this in the blog post as it’s directly from the Minimalist Muscle course. But, you’re worth it. Enroll now and use the code “GAINS” for a readers’ only discount. 

For the next month, arrange a push, pull, lower, total body split like this:

Monday: Upper Body Push

Warm Up +

1a.Band Dislocations 2×10, rest 0 seconds

1b.Scapular Wall Slides 2×10, rest 0 seconds

1c.Band Pull Apart 2×20 rest 0 seconds

  1. Chin-Up 2×5-6. Rest 60-90 seconds


  • Consider this an additional warm-up. We’re simply looking to boost volume here.


  1. Bench Press 5×5, rest 2-3 minutes
  2. Chin Up 3×6-8, rest 90-120 seconds


  • If necessary, add weight. This is your moderate rep hypertrophy work.


5a. Dumbbell Incline Bench 3×8-12, rest 45 seconds

5b. Plank 3×60 seconds, rest 45 seconds

  1. Dumbbell Military Press 3×10, rest 60-90 seconds

7a. DB rear delt fly 2×12, rest 0 seconds

7b. Push Up 2x Fail, rest 90-120 seconds

*Heavy Strength work followed by 3×8 (moderate rep) chin-up and auxiliary work

Tuesday: Lower Body (Volume)

Warm Up

1.Box Jump 3×5, rest 45-60 seconds     

2.45-degree back extension 3×10 rest 30 seconds

  1. Front Squat 6×4, rest 120 seconds

4.Dumbbell RDL 5×8 rest 60 seconds

5a. Bulgarian split squat 3×10/leg rest 60 seconds

5b. Ab rollout 3×10 rest 60 seconds

Wednesday: Upper Body Pull

1a.Band Dislocations 2×10, rest 0 seconds

1b.Scapular Wall Slides 2×10, rest 0 seconds

1c.Band Pull Apart 2×20 rest 0 seconds

2.Chin-Up Strength Focus 6×4, rest 2-3 minutes


  • Add weight and push strength work to the max.


  1. Dumbbell Row 4×8, rest 60 seconds

4a. Chest supported row 3×12, rest 45 seconds

4b. Face Pull 3×20, rest 45 seconds

  1.  2:1 Lat Pulldown 3×6/arm, rest 60-90 seconds

This serves as an eccentric overload to boost local muscular endurance AND attack high threshold muscle fibers.

  1. Dumbbell Hammer Curl 3×12/arm rest 45

Thursday: Off

Friday: Total Body

1a.Band Dislocations 2×10, rest 0 seconds

1b.Scapular Wall Slides 2×10, rest 0 seconds

1c.Band Pull Apart 2×20 rest 0 seconds

  1. Neutral grip Chin Up Moderate Rep Focus, 4×5-8,(4111 tempo) rest 120 seconds


  • This tempo means you’ll take 4 seconds on the eccentric, pause at the bottom, pull-up in one second, and pause one second at the top. These are brutal for building size, strength, and endurance.


  1.   Trap Bar Deadlift 5×5, rest 90 seconds
  2. Single arm dumbbell press, 3×6-8, rest 90 seconds

5a. Inverted Row 3×10, rest 30 seconds

5b. Goblet walking lunge 3×10/leg, rest 30 seconds

5c. Dumbbell Biceps curl 3×10, rest 30 seconds

Saturday/Sunday Rest or Conditioning

The basics of progressive overload apply on these workouts. Don’t go insane on week one and miss reps. Perfect technique, add weight over time and grow.


Once per week perform a ladder either on an off-day or 8+ hours separated from your pre-planned workout.
Here’s the deal.

If you can perform 1-6 chin-ups….
You start with one rep on a chin-up, take a brief rest, then add a rep until you hit five reps.
We’ll set a total goal of 50 reps, which is plenty to add size and an extremely dense, arm-pumping workout.

1-2-3-4-5-4-3-2-1-2-3-4-5-4-3-2-1+1= 50 chin ups

If you can do 6+ chin-ups….

Start with six reps and perform 2,4,6,4,2,4,6,2,4,6,4,2,4,6 for 50 chin ups.

This should take 4-6 minutes, tops and build incredible strength, size, and endurance.

Want to Build 8-15 pounds of muscle without living in the gym?

Join the Minimalist Muscle Course today.

Build muscle and look better naked without living in the gym. Enroll now and use the code “GAINS” for a special discount.

Chin Ups

The Power Primer: How an Embarrassing Story lead me to focus on Athleticism


As a kid athleticism was never an issue.  I played a ton of sports, ran around the neighborhood making forts and playing pick-up games.

But, I was small and weak. Puny even. Especially compared to my classmates.

As a result, I was timed. I lacked confidence in how I looked, and how I performed playing sports.

This built up until at all once, it came to head.  It was high school gym class in late October. In Wisconsin, the frigid temperatures meant the ground was rock solid. Every time you hit the ground, it felt like falling on a pile of rocks.

We were playing flag Football…where the idea is to pull a flag rather than tackle each other into oblivion. Well, that’s the idea.

Being a smaller, fast dude I was playing safety. My job was to run anyone down who might score.

The other team lined up and through the ball to Jason. Jason was the token overdeveloped, terminator-like dude who dominated every sport and got the hottest chicks in school. He caught it and sprinted in my direction.
Soon, I was in the last place a puny unconfident dude wanted to be: between Jason and the end zone.

Jason had two options; race past me, or run through me.

Naturally, Jason decided I provided less resistance than a blade of grass. So he lowered his shoulder and sent my helpless corpse tumbling to the turf as he gliding to the end zone.

I looked up at the overcast sky. I heard the jeers. And then I lay there, motionless for a moment.

Physically, I was a mess.

My body lost cabin pressure, with my wind being ripped out of my lungs. I’d taken a punch to the gut before, but this felt like a body shot from Connor McGregor and I crumbled to the turf like a ragdoll.

 I felt weak.
I felt pathetic.
I felt worthless.

I peeled my carcass off the grass, stumbled to a knee, and caught my breath.

As I stumbled to the sidelines, chin down and arm cradled at my side, the jeers and taunts grew louder.

I walked away from everyone: friends, teachers, and classmates.

I stood there, staring blankly into nowhere. I just wanted to be alone.

The skin on my cheeks tightened and my eyes got big. I held back tears of embarrassment. But my cheeks blushed, illustrating exactly how I felt inside.

Fuck it.  

Why was I even bothering with working out?

Then, I snapped out of it. Instead of moping around and feeling sorry for myself, I got pissed.

Pride, passion, perseverance.

I heard the voice of an old coach saying these words. Whenever a game got tough, that was his credo.

That did it. It was a turning point.  Why let some asshole like Jason ruin me?

From there on, I dedicated myself to training.

To building strength, muscle, and confidence. To forge a body and will harder than iron. To build a body that improved my life, rather than consumed it. 

Fast forward eight years, eighty pounds and a ton of enhanced confidence later, I was a coach.

Helping busy men and athletes alike get strong, lean, and powerful became my obsession.

And then it happened.

I was at a seminar, working with other trainers and a handful of coaches on sprint technique.

Problem was, I hadn’t done much in the way of sprinting, jumping, or sports in a few years.

Competitive and intramurals sports were over. Now, I relegated my fitness to lifting heavy shit and the bi-monthly “cardio.” 

We all stood in a line, facing the instructor, and began a skipping drill.

I tried my best to mimic the drill he covered but to no avail. I skipped awkwardly, like a drunk baby giraffe.

Bewildered by my lack of coordination, I lost focused and stumbled over my own feet.

What the heck was I doing?

Rather than the athleticism I’d had my whole life, I looked like a convulsing teenager who had just seen his first side boob.

The same crushing embarrassment took hold. My skin flushed. This time, I cracked a joke. It was my new coping mechanism. But I wasn’t really fooling anyone, least of all myself.

Despite a fake smile and a few jokes, my gut wrench the same way it does after Montezuma’s revenge, without the aftermath. I stood there, embarrassed and dumbfounded.

Sure, I was strong, lean, and pretty built. But where had all l my athleticism gone?

Further, I asked what’s the point in all this heavy lifting, counting macros, and dedication if we ignore the basic idea of being strong, healthy, and athletic?

That’s the problem I’d set out to fix.

First for myself, and then for hundreds of clients who wanted to be the total package: strong, lean, athletic and most of all, have a body that improves their life.

Today, more than ever, many of us are weak. Many kids drop out of sports by age 12.

Overprotective parents don’t help and participation trophies don’t help.

Neither do sedentary desk jobs.

And despite the increasing popularity of fitness, actual sports and athleticism are quickly going down the shitter, as is our health and worst of all, our confidence.

The result?
We’re fatty, weaker, and in worse health than ever before. According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), 36% of the U.S. population is obese, and 70% are overweight, increasing the risk for everything from cancer and heart disease to diabetes.

Physically, men today are 17% weaker than their fathers one generation earlier when looking at grip strength.

Physiologically speaking, research has shown an average drop in testosterone levels of 22%  since 1987; meaning the hormone that determines the male gender is a fraction of what it used to be.

A fair number of strong and lean bodies, but piss-poor athleticism and power.

To steal from Nate Green’s masterful rant titled “For the Guys who Don’t Workout.

“But you gotta understand the gym doesn’t define me. I am not my broad shoulders. I am not my six-pack. I am not my freakin’ biceps.”

Sure, your broad shoulders, six-pack, and biceps are great. But you deserve more.

You deserve a capable body and the unconquerable will that comes with building athleticism and powerful performance. Most of all, you deserve the confidence to stand in front of the mirror, at the beach, in front of your friends and colleagues and be proud of your body. 

And that means changing your training to incorporate values of athleticism, namely, explosive power.

After working with hundreds of clients, I’ve found that adding in explosive power to be the best method for getting what we all want: a strong, lean, and athletic body.

I’ve handcrafted the perfect workout to take your physique to the next level without beating up your joints or forcing you to do soul-sucking cardio.

You can check it out here.

Here’s a sneak-peek of the top five exercises to build strength, explosive power, and the ultimate athletic physique.

5 Power Primer Exercises to Build Athleticism

Jump Rope

Jump ropes aren’t a stupid tool you force-fed in Elementary school. They’re a badass old-school tool that boosts athleticism and shreds bodyfat.

Let’s dive into boosting athleticism first.

Jumping rope develops speed, agility, and coordination for sports. Sprinting is great too ( and I’ll cover it later), but for dudes who haven’t run around the block in five years, jumping into full-speed sprints is asking for injuries.

You wouldn’t jump into near-maximal lifting after a long layoff, would you?

Nah. You’re smarter than that.

The same philosophy applies to sprints. You must first condition your joints and ligaments, especially the Achilles tendon, for high-speed impact.

Even better, the jump rope is a one of the safest conditioning tools for two reasons:

First, jumping rope is a self-limiting exercise, meaning that when your form breaks down the exercise ends.

To be successful skippin’ the ole’ rope, you’re forced to stay in an aligned, joint stacked position, stabilizing your core under the load of movement.

bach performance jump rope, athleticism, power primer, the power primer
This teaches your core to hold position under movement while preventing the chances of overuse.

Second, jumping rope is low-impact despite a high number of foot strikes. This keeps the joint stress low and conditions the Achilles tendon for explosive movement. Achilles tendon injuries are alarmingly common in weekend warriors.

The jump rope provides one of the best prevention tools around. It is exceptionally effective both as a low impact athleticism and conditioning tool. For most, jumping rope two or three times per week for 10-15 minutes provides a huge boost.

Squat Jump

The squat jump is one of the best exercises to improve your power and get more athletic, especially if your gym doesn’t allow Olympic lifts. Squat jumps mimic the squat and a vertical jump, bridging the gap between jumping in sport and squatting in the gym.

In the short term, these explosive exercises improve your workouts by activating high-threshold motor units to fire and recruit more muscle during training. This means you’ll be able to lift more weight and stimulate more muscle growth and strength during workouts. 


In the long-term, you’ll recruit more muscle fibers with less effort.

This makes it easier to call all more muscle to action and smash heavy weights, thus helping you build a strong, lean, and explosive body.

How to do it: There are three phases: loading, exploding, and landing.

Loading: Set up with feet about shoulder-width apart in an athletic stance with arms up at chest height. The loading phase uses downward arm swing with flexing at the hips and knees to load your legs.

Exploding: Swing your arms up while extending your hips and knees, taking off on the balls of your feet. Extend the arms overhead and aim to extend the body with the ankle, knee, hip, trunk, shoulder, and ear all aligned.

Landing: Bend your knees into a squat position and absorb force evenly through the foot. Keep your chest and head up, looking straight ahead.

How many: Three sets of five reps with 60-90 seconds rest. Perform on a lower-body training day, before a squat or deadlift.

Hill Sprints

Sprinters have some of the world’s best bodies. And while correlation does not equal causation, sprinting is a basic skill in sports and gets you shredded.

So what’s the key?

Sprints create a physiological response like high-intensity weight lifting.
In sprinting, your glutes, hamstrings, quads, calves, and hips generate insane amounts of force while your spine stabilizes and transfers power.
This builds stronger legs and youthful athleticism while triggering a massive hormonal shift in your body.

Three hormones that help you look better naked are affected by sprints:

Testosterone – The major masculinizing hormone in your body. Greater testosterone levels improve your energy, improve sex drive (wee!), build stacks of lean mass, and cut body fat.

Growth Hormone (GH) – GH is released in response to large muscle contractions and is further stimulated by training without full recovery.

Triggered by metabolic stress, the stressful environment when you’re gasping for air and muscles are on fire, GH is referred to as the fountain of youth. GH slows the aging process, aid in fatty acid metabolism, and boost protein synthesis.

Improved Insulin Sensitivity – Huge muscular contractions stimulate improved insulin sensitivity, which improves markers of cardiovascular health, builds lean muscle, and carves body fat off your body.

Further, improved insulin sensitivity improves nutrient partitioning. That means your body improves at breaking down nutrients for energy and muscular recovery rather than fat storage.

What to Do: Hill or incline sprints are best as they reduce injury risk. The hill makes it mechanically impossible to over stride, decreasing the risk of the dreaded hamstring pull.

Further, running up a hill shrinks the distance your foot covers to the ground, decreasing joint stress.Sprint twice per week, as an individual workout or after a lift.
After a warm-up, sprint all out for eight – twelve rounds of sprints.

Here’s a sample six-week progression:

Weeks One and Two: Sprint 15 seconds, rest 45 seconds
Weeks Three and Four: Sprint 20 seconds, rest 40 seconds
Weeks Five and Six: Sprint 25 seconds, rest 35 seconds

High Pull

I love cleans, but for a lot of lifters, years of heavy loading and poor thoracic mobility make it impossible to catch the bar with the elbows up. Enter the high pull.

The high pull uses explosive hip extension, teaching the glutes, quads, and hamstrings to generate insane amounts of force while your core stabilizes your spine and elbows drive the bar up.

As a result, the high pull helps you develop explosive athletic power and builds a jacked and athletic body. After a few weeks of high pulls, you’ll notice thicker glutes and hamstrings to pair with thick traps and cables for forearms.

High pulls are great on both upper and lower body days. Since they’re explosive in nature, make high-pulls the first exercise you do in training to get more athletic with sets and reps like 3-4 sets of 3-6 reps.If you want to add a bit more size, add them after your main lift for 4-5 sets of 6-8 reps.

Clean Grip Reverse Lunge

Most lifters have tight hips, achy knees, a weak upper back, underactive abs and tons of asymmetries between their legs. If I told you I had an exercise that takes care of all these ailments and makes you more athletic and resistance to injury, you’d say I was full of shit, right?

Well, I’m not. The clean grip reverse lunge is that exercise.


Stronger thoracic extensors: Are you hunched over your smartphone reading this?

Tsk, Tsk!

Bad posture is an epidemic and we’re all guilty. To improve posture and shoulder health we need to train the traps, serratus, levator scapulae, rhomboids, and lats to hold position and prevent you from flexing forward. Holding the bar in the clean grip does exactly that.

Less Knee Stress: Holding the barbell on the front of your body limits the weight you can use. That means less joint compression on the knee and spine.
Further, stepping backward keepings your shin vertical, limiting shear stress on the knee. By reducing shear and compressive stress, you’ll keep happier, healthier knees.

Better Abs: Holding the bar on the front of your body forces your entire core to engage, keeping your vertical so you don’t fold like an accordion.

Fix asymmetries: The clean grip reverse lunge requires dynamic stabilization and single leg strength. This works the major muscles in your leg and what’s termed the lateral subsystem, a group of neglected muscles (quadratus lumborum, adductors, and glutes) to stabilize each leg and generate strength.

Medicine Ball back Toss

The medicine ball back toss is one of the best exercises to get more athletic for two reasons:
1. You get to throw stuff.
After a long day, or just for the hell of it, it’s fun to throw heavy stuff around.
2. Explosive Hip Extension.
Explosive hip extension is the driving force behind taking off in a sprint, maximizing your clean, squat, or deadlift, and jumping. Adding a medicine ball is just another way to add explosiveness to the same movement pattern while having a bit more fun.

Instead of squats or deadlifts, add medicine ball back tosses in the beginning of your workout for 3-4 sets of 5-8 reps.

Most lifters fall into the trap of endlessly pursuing one goal at the expense of all other training parameters.

That’s fine for elite athletes. But for the rest of us, we’re after the total package.

There’s no better tool to bridge the gap between the body you want and the athleticism you deserve than my latest program The Power Primer, 2.0.

I’ve created eight months worth of programming to get you Strong, Shredded, and Athletic. This isn’t a program for athletes.

It’s for those of us that refuse to accept pathetic athleticism a the cost of building your best-looking body.

It’s time to bridge the gap between athleticism and aesthetics.

It’s time to unleash the Power Primer and build your leanest, strongest, and most athletic body to date.

For less than you spend on protein powder each month, you’ll have all your workouts expertly planned, organized, and guided by a custom video guide from now until 2017.

Get the Power Primer Today

Athlete Strong in 12 Weeks, Power Primer

1. Gould D, Petlichkoff L. Participation motivation and attrition in young athletes. In: Smoll FL, Magill RA, Ash MJ, eds. Children in Sport. 3rd ed. Champaign IL: Human Kinetics; 1988:161-178.

Four Training Splits to Build an Athletic Body

The Power Primer

Spoiler alert: There is no perfect training split when it comes to building an athletic body, or any body for that matter. It’s best to find a program you’ll do consistently even when life gets in the way. That said, knowing which “knobs” to turn is essential in developing a body that performs as good as it looks.

When your training takes a sharp dive off the deep end and your progress stalls it’s time to change.

Not just your grip, your stance, or another micro progression. Nor a change from front squats to back squats.

No, I’m talking a monumental shift.

A new training split.

Yes, your long-term training principles should remain constant, but you need new methods.

As long as you’re adding weight to the bar, moving like an athlete, eating well, and sleeping enough then a new training split is what you need to build transform your body and get a strong, jacked, and athletic body.

The Power Primer, athletic body

That said, let’s review the best splits to help you build a stronger, shredded, and athletic body.  I’ll explain the good and the bad of each, giving you the knowledge to pick your next training split so you can build the lean, athletic look you’re after.

Either way, a new program is exciting—renewed motivation will have you attacking each workout and getting in the best shape of your life. The Power Primer is such a program.

Training Your Core

Upper Lower Training Split

Upper-lower training splits are an excellent training split to help you build strength and muscle with four workouts per week.

Pros: Upper-Lower training splits are a great progression from total body training and work well if you want to gain muscle and strength.

Upper-Lower splits allow greater training frequency for quicker learning and mastering your lifts while still lifting heavy to build strength. Together, this helps you get better at your big lifts, train with enough volume to build muscle, and lift heavy enough to get strong. 

Cons: Upper body workouts can take much longer than lower body workouts. Sure, this is great for your biceps, but if you crave consistency and have troubles working out when life get’s crazy, the inconsistency between workout times might drive you crazy.

Plus, if you’ve been following bodybuilding style body part splits (chest on Monday, back on Tuesday etc), then you might notice you’re not recovering as quickly. Of course, you can fix this by spending time with recovery methods like foam rolling, getting 7-8 hours per sleep, and when all else fails, eating more steak

bach performance, athletic body

Here’s a sample outline:

Monday: Upper Body (Push Strength Emphasis)

Tuesday: Lower Body (Squat Pattern Strength Emphasis)

Wednesday: Off/active recovery

Thursday: Upper Body (Pull Strength Emphasis)

Friday: Lower Body (Hinge pattern strength Focus)

Saturday/Sunday: Off

Total Body Training Split
When you train your upper and lower body in the same workout, you’re doing a total body workout. Another way to think of it is rather than training each muscle individually, you’re training your body as an integrated machine.

Pros: If you only have three days to workout per week or have issues skipping workouts, then look no further. Since you’re training your entire body you’ll minimize the fluff. There’s no need for 13 variations of lateral raises when your training pressing, pulling, squatting, lunging, and deadlifting movements multiple times per week.  

Since you’re training muscles as much as 2-3 times per week, you’ll trigger more frequent protein synthesis in your muscles being trained, potentially helping you build muscle faster.

And if you’re looking to drop a few pounds?

Total body workouts can cause a massive disruption to your body as it tries to catch up with multiple muscle groups working in a short period of time to help you lose fat.

Cons: One of the downsides of total body workouts is you may get bored, especially if you crave variety and the novelty of a well-timed biceps pump. Plus, if you’re looking to maximize muscular size, then the low volume of workouts will limit some of your gains. A key component of muscle growth is metabolic stress, so unless you add a high-rep finisher like biceps curls to failure, you won’t get as big as a house with total body training.

Moreover, stronger and more experienced lifters struggle recovering from three hard leg training workouts per week. You’ll need to vary how often you go heavy, possibly adopting an undulated periodization model.

Still, among all training splits total body workouts are your best bet if you tend to program hop, skip workouts, and get “too busy” to train….especially if you’re skipping leg day. 

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✔️TOTAL BODY TRAINING SPLITS by @Bachperformance✔️ ⠀ Your workouts should improve, not consume your life. ⠀ During the holidays, total body training splits are often your best choice because they hit every major muscle group each time you train. ⠀ Even if you miss a workout per week, you’re still creating a solid training response to build muscle, lose fat, and boost performance. ⠀ Here are two different muscle building workouts for busy people who need go hit the gym and get on eoth their lives. You can alternate these in an A-B-A-B schedule. ⠀ Monday: Day A
Wednesday: Day B
Friday: Day A
Sunday: Day B ⠀ 👉Caveat: Once you get STRONG LIKE BULL it will get tougher to recover from total body workouts, especially if you’re lifting heavy. ⠀
But if you’re 🤯stressed, slammed, and want to look good naked 😎without living in the gym? ⠀
Look no further than today body workouts. ⠀
Let us know your current training split below👇 . . . . . #fullbody #fullbodyworkout #buildmuscle #gainmuscle #musclescience #musclegrowth #musclescientist #getstrong #muscleman #muscled

A post shared by Eric Bach (@bachperformance) on


Day One:

1.Power Clean 5×3

2.Bench Press 3×6

3.Lunge 3×8-12

4a.Farmer Walks 3×30 seconds

4b. Dips 3x 30 seconds timed set

Day Two:

1.Push Press 5×3

2.Deadlift 4×6

3.Chin Up 3×8-12

4a.Plank 3×30 seconds

4b. Biceps Curl 3x 30 seconds timed set

P.S. Want to build a body that looks as good as it performs? Grab your copy of the Power Primer below.


Push-Pull Training Split

If you’re like most people, you have a tendency to train what you see in the mirror while conveniently forgetting about the back side of your body.

Tsk. Tsk.

As much as we all like to push it like Salt-N-Pepa, building a strong, athletic, and shredded body requires more balance. 

Enter the push/pull training split, arguably the most balanced training split for total body strength, size, and athleticism.

On “pull” days, you’ll hammer the backside of your body, hitting muscles like your lats, traps, glutes, and hamstrings.

On push-days, you’ll hit the movements to train your chest, shoulders, triceps, quads, and abs.

You can work the entire front side of your body or the back side of your body all in one workout. Alternatively, you can break these days down further by breaking these workouts into upper body and lower body days each.

For example…

-Upper Body Push (chest, triceps, shoulders)
-Upper Body Pull (Lats, biceps, rear delts, traps)
-Lower Body Push (squats, leg extensions, lunges)
-Lower Body Pull (deadlifts, good mornings, hip thrusts)

Pros: Push-Pull routines are a great option for experienced lifters as they’re both efficient and flexible. You’ll be able to train with enough volume to trigger muscle growth without living in the gym. 

Cons: There are very few issues with these workouts. The biggest hiccup will come if you miss workouts and start skipping “pull” or “lower body” workouts. Push-pull workouts are okay, but not great for beginners in the gym.


Day One: Pull (legs/hamstrings, back, biceps, lower back)

Day Two: Push (chest, shoulders, triceps, legs/quads, abs)

Day Three: OFF

Day Four: Pull (legs/hamstrings, back, biceps, lower back)

Day Five: Push (chest, shoulders, triceps, legs/quads, abs)

Day Six: OFF

Day Seven: OFF

Intensive/Extensive Training Split


These are my favorite.

The intensive/extensive split bases training splits on the neural demands of a workout.

For example, a heavy/explosive day is often followed by a metabolic/higher volume bodybuilding style day.

This also corresponds with conditioning.

For example, a workout with squat jumps followed by heavy squats, and sprints workout is intensive, as it is very demanding on your nervous system and joints. If you pair too many neurally intensive workouts in a row, you’ll end up beat up, beaten down, and overtraining.

Hard pass, right?

Instead, it’s best to follow an intensive training split with an extensive workout. An example here would be doing an upper body workout focused on higher reps sets of 10-15 reps, shorter rest, and lighter weight. You lift as heavy, but you’ll  create tons of metabolic stress to build muscle, lose fat, and improve your endurance. 

Pros: Intensive/Extensive training splits are lifting strategy ideal for people looking to get stronger, more muscular, and more athletic at the same time.
If you want to train like an athlete, it’s easy to add high technical sprint work on the intensive days.
If you want to build muscle, you’ll train heavy enough to trigger increases in anabolic hormones and the tension needed to build muscle. Still, extensive days allow you to train light enough to get an incredible pump.

And for fat loss? 
They work here too. The variety of training stimulus isn’t too much to recover from, yet it’s enough to help you lose fat.

Cons: They’re difficult to program. If your primary goal is to look hot naked (hey, I can’t blame you), you’ll want to eliminate some of the intensive work and focus on some more higher rep work. If your goals are performance-based, the opposite is true.

If you train too many factors too close together, you risk the chance of becoming the “jack of all trades and the master of none,” wallowing in mediocrity and not really getting good at any one thing.

Plus, intensive workouts are longer as you’ll need to pay more attention to your rest if you want to maximize performance.

Sample Workout

This is focused on keeping you athletic, but a bit more on body composition so you look great naked. We call it the Athletic-Aesthetic Program, which we developed for our friends over at T-Nation.

Monday: Deadlift/Hinge Focus

1a.Explosive exercise: Broad Jump 3×3, rest 30 seconds

1b. Barbell Cleans 3×3, rest 90 seconds

2.Pure Strength Exercise: Deadlift 5×3, rest 2 minutes

3a. Hypertrophy focus: Barbell Romanian Deadlift 4×5, Rest 0

Notes: Use a 3-4 second eccentric on each rep.

3b. Pigeon stretch 3×30 seconds/side rest 0

4a. Trx/Chain Inverted Row 4×10, rest 30s

4b. Stability Ball lockout 4×45-60 seconds, rest 30s

Tuesday: Overhead Press Focus

1.Explosive exercise: Medicine Ball Overhead Slam 3×3, rest 30 seconds

2.Pure strength exercise: Overhead Press (any barbell variation) 5×3,  rest 2 minutes

3.Hypertrophy focus: Chin Up 4×8 rest 90 seconds

4a. One arm dumbbell shoulder press 3×12,10,8/side, rest 0-30s

4b. Dumbbell lean away lateral raise 3×12/side, rest 0-30s

4b. Dumbbell lateral raise 3×12, rest 0-30s

5a. Dumbbell chest supported row 3×10-12, rest 30s https://vimeo.com/298841607 

5b. Dumbbell Shrug with 3-second pause 3×10-12, rest 60s


Thursday: Squat Focus

1a.Explosive exercise: Dumbbell Squat Jump 3×3, rest 60 seconds

1b. Barbell High Pull 3×3, rest 60 seconds

2. High Bar Back Squat 5×3, rest 2 minutes

3.Hypertrophy focus: Dumbbell Walking Lunge 5×10/leg

4a. Stability Ball hamstring curl 3×12, rest 0

4b. Calf Raise 3×12

Notes: In smith machine, squat machine, or leg press. Five second eccentric, three-second pause at peak contraction of each rep.

5a. Sicilian Crunch 3×10, rest 0s

Notes: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NKOmsHx8bXI 

5b. Cable Crunch 3×10, rest 0s https://vimeo.com/manage/212917077/general 

5c. Elbow Tap 3×5/side, rest 0-30s https://vimeo.com/manage/156272761/general 

Saturday: Bench Focus

1.Explosive exercise: Incline Plyo Push-Up 3×5,  rest 30 seconds

2.Pure strength exercise: Close-Grip Barbell Bench Press 5×5,  rest 2 minutes

 3a. Hypertrophy focus: Supinating Cable Chest Press 5×12

 3b. Half Kneeling One Arm Cable Row 4×12/arm

 4a. Close Grip Lat Pull Down 3×10, rest 0s

 4b. Incline Dumbbell Biceps Curl 3×10, rest 60s

 5a. Pinwheel curl 3×8/side, rest 30s https://vimeo.com/manage/169868784/general 

 5b.Dumbbell Overhead Triceps Extension 3×15, rest 30s

 So, which workout is best for building an athletic body?

Your training must be specific to your goal. 

If your goal is to look great naked above all else, then by all means trade in your power cleans for biceps curls. 

On the flip side, if you need to build muscle from head to toe and get stronger, don’t start your workouts by curling in the squat rack. 

How much time will you dedicate to training?

Regardless of how “busy” you are you still have 24 hours like the rest of us. I don’t say this to be a dick, but it’s true.
You have the time to prioritize training if you want your dream body. Regardless, weigh how committed you are and pick a training split you know you’ll do consistently.

How experienced are you in the gym?

For most guys, they’re best off crushing total body or upper lower training splits to get strong, explosive and athletic. Still, make sure you’re varying training as you gain strength and experience to prevent plateaus and minimize joint stress.

Do you focus on recovery…or only training?

The body is an integrated system. Rather than looking at recovery based on how your muscles feel you must take into account everyday stress, the nervous system, sleep quality, and nutrition.

For example, for a few years I crushed training in a high-end performance facility. That meant tons of sprints, jumps, throws, coffee, and explosive demonstrations. All these short, high-intensity bouts added up quickly as my energy fluctuated. I had to dial back heavy lifting, sprints, and jumps.
Now that I train fewer clients, write more, and demo less, I’m more recovered and can train harder more often.

Stress is systemic, everything counts and should be factored into your training.

Your Training Split to Build an Athletic Body

If your current training isn’t helping your build an athletic body, then you need to make a change. 

Don’t fall into the trap of endlessly pursuing one goal at the expense of all others

That’s fine for elite athletes.

But for the rest of us, we’re after the total package.

You probably want to be…

Strong in the gym, yet athletic enough to kick ass on the weekends.

 Strong, lean, and athletic. 

Happy and confident with your shirt off. 

There’s no better tool to bridge the gap between the body you want and the athleticism you deserve than my latest program The Power Primer, 2.0.

 I’ve created a Full Eight Months worth of programming to get you Strong, Shredded, and Athletic.

This isn’t a program for athletes.

It’s for those of us that refuse to accept pathetic athleticism a the cost of building your best-looking body.

It’s time to bridge the gap between looking your best and performing like an athlete. 

It’s time for the Power Primer. And it can be yours for less than $.17 (yes, 17 cents) per workout. 


thePowerprimer athlete strong

>> Get The Power Primer here <<

For less than you spend on protein powder each month, you’ll have all your workouts expertly planned, organized, and guided by a custom video guide from now until the Spring of 2019.


1. Gould D, Petlichkoff L. Participation motivation and attrition in young athletes. In: Smoll FL, Magill RA, Ash MJ, eds. Children in Sport. 3rd ed. Champaign IL: Human Kinetics; 1988:161-178.

Fitness Guide to Parkinson’s Law: How to Lose Fat Faster

Flashback to 2014.

My days all started the same: Up at 4:00 a.m., a cup of black coffee, and heading to the gym.

Then, in a caffeine infused blitzkrieg, the day was on. Clients from 5 am to 6 or 7 pm, with a few one-hour breaks.

These one-hour breaks were a godsend. Besides getting off my feet, they were long enough to do meaningful work but short enough to create a sense of urgency.

Bach Performance was a baby at the time, a spot for me to explore my brain and write about fitness to help my clients, friends, and family. But, despite a lack of time, I made big moves.

Fast forward to today: Bach Performance is my full-time job. Rather than five or six days and 50 clients, I hold a limited clientele with three to four days and 25-30 sessions per week.

My schedule is self-determined, and more or less, I do what I want every day.

But that also leaves me more time than I’m used too. There are no extraneous demands on my time, so common sense would say I would get exponentially more work done, right?



Logically that makes sense, but we live in an illogical world.

If everything worked as it seemed, we’d lose stubborn belly fat on the Twinkie diet….as long as calories were in check. By following progressive overload and adding 5 lbs on the bench press, we’d go from a Zero pound bench to 520 lb bench in two years.

That isn’t always the case.

Until six months ago, I had all the time in the world. I didn’t have as many client deadlines and let time slip through my fingers.

Instead of spending my time writing programs, I was geeking out to BroScience videos.

Or reading every Packers’ article on Bleacher report.

Or, #ing my face off on Instagram.

Then, the question hit me like a cold slap in the face: Why wasn’t I hitting my goals?

It wasn’t having too much time, it was a lack of urgency with the limited time I did have.

I’d fallen prey to Parkinsons Law. Coined by famous Brit Cyril Northcote Parkinson, Parkinson’s Law sits at the forefront of productivity hacking and is the focus on Parkinson’s book, Parkinsons Law: The Pursuit of Progress(1).

P.S. Get your free eBook 25 Expert Tips to Master Muscle Growth here. Offer expires 10/31/16.

Parkinson’s Law: ‘Work expands to fill the time available for its completion.”

Parkinson’s law means that if you give yourself six weeks to tackle a project that you can handle in one week, procrastination seeps in, the task get’s complex, and you’ll freak out until it’s done.

The same meaningless, productivity-zapping stress happens with fitness.

In particular, fat loss around the New Year.

Tell me if these proclamations sound familiar:

This year, I’m going to lose 20 pounds and look awesome in my swimsuit.

Reality: You can do this in two or three months.

This year, I’m going to workout consistently.

Reality: This year is a long time. Focus on working out consistently this week, then each of the following.

By assigning the right amount of time and focus to a goal, you’ll decrease stress and the complexity of said goal, increasing your chance of success.

I’ve seen Parkinson’s law crush the fitness goals of hundreds of people, all under the pretense that there’s always tomorrow.

There’s not. We’re guaranteed nothing and time in a finite resource.

It’s time to have a sense of urgency, working smarter and faster, rather than longer and harder. Here are the action steps you need to accomplish your fitness goals in less time.

P.S. Get your free eBook 25 Expert Tips to Master Muscle Growth here. Offer expires 10/31/16.

Set Tight Deadlines

Deadline set by teachers, clients, or bosses have an immediate sense of urgency. Still, it’s a new ballgame when deadlines are self-imposed. We struggle to attach the same focus and intensity on self-imposed deadlines.

This is what cripples most people from the start—they aren’t aggressive enough on their gameplan.

Try This: Designate time to your goal:

Three months to lose 10 lbs. of body fat.

Then cut it in half.

Six weeks to lose 10 lbs. of body fat.

“Goals are often something to aim for, rather than always achieve.” Bruce Lee

An aggressive deadline forces aggressive action, which this is precisely what you need. Channel your competitive streak and apply it to fitness.

believe, lose Fat Faster

If you’re a gamer, pretend you’re on a time sensitive mission.

If you’re an athlete, pretend it’s six weeks until the season starts, and your roster spot and workout bonus (there’s a reason for these) depend on it.

By attaching a sense of urgency and competition to your goal you’re setting the table for high-quality action and rapid progress.

Define your M.I.T.’s for the Following Day:

Pick the 1-3 Most important tasks (M.I.T.’s) you will complete towards your goal.

You have six weeks to lose 10 lbs, so we’ll start there.

Number One: Track your food and hit your macros (Mike Vacanti has an epic post here). Diet is king for fat loss, after all.

Number Two: Perform your Fat Loss workout, such as Blended Training for Fat Loss.

Number Three: Walk 10,000 steps.

Of these three steps, hitting your diet is the most important task for losing ten pounds, followed by your workout and extra activity.

Base hits lead to runs the same as homers do, and over time, many more runs. Focus on consistent wins on MIT’s and you’ll achieve your longer-term fat loss goals.

Own the A.M.: Be proactive, not REACTIVE.

Willpower is highest in the morning and the best time to take care of your M.I.T.’s.

This is the time to be proactive and take massive action towards your goals, rather than react to the demands of others.

Personally, my writing is 200% better at 5:00 A.M. than 5:00 P.M., when I’ve answered emails and had meetings. Later in the day, I’m much more concerned with what I’m going to eat for dinner and Snapping pictures of Rocky on SnapChat (bachreric, btw ;).

Yes. This is a real unicorn mask.
Yes. This is a real unicorn mask.

If I don’t own the morning, my days aren’t productive.

In Fitness, the same principles apply. My 5:00-8:00 am clients have historically been my most consistent clients by a mile, and it’s due to more than caffeine.

They’re proactively working out before the chaos of the day gives them a reason to skip.

The same applies to your diet.

If you wait until the end of the day to track your macros, you’ll skip it or way overshoot your numbers.

I can’t stress this enough, but for 90% of people getting up and nailing your workout early is a game changer.

There’s a reason Mike Vacanti trains Gary Vaynerchuck at 6:00 A.M., or that Phil Knight crushes his workouts at 5:00 A.M., and Richard Branson all workout early in the day (3).

As the day goes on more important work crisis come up and give you an easy (albeit lame) excuse to skip your training.

Eliminate the issue and start training early in the morning. These tips here will help.

Eliminate Distractions

“It’s hip to focus on getting things done, but this can only happen when we remove static and distraction. “ – Tim Ferriss

In today’s fast-paced world, having internal focus is a rarity.

It’s sad, but true.

Rather than falling prey to internal A.D.D., take action and eliminate the noise.

To get anything meaningful accomplished discipline alone won’t cut it. Instead, take action to end distractions. To get work done, use websites like Self-Control and throw your phone in another room.

When you’re working out, leave your iPhone in your bag pick up a don’t skip more than two songs and leave your phone in your gym bag.

For fitness information, pick out two websites and eliminate the rest. Program hopping and yo-yo dieting are huge reason people never see results. Don’t even risk falling in love with the next big fad diet.

Most programs from good coaches work well, follow them to their completion and eliminate distractions.

We’re an ADD-ridden bunch and we’ll get lost for hours on LOLCatz if allowed. Eliminate distractions and focus on the essential.

P.S. Get your free eBook 25 Expert Tips to Master Muscle Growth here. Offer expires 10/31/16.

Attach a Reward

All goals are reward driven.

There’s an emotional key behind every goal whether it’s more confidence, better health, finding love or being more attractive.

There are also external rewards. As psychologist B.F. Skinner puts it, positive reinforcement strengths a behavior by providing a reward for completing a task.

In school, this could have been a pizza party for turning all your homework in on time.


pizza, lose Fat Faster, Parkinsons law

Or, getting A and a star sticker on each assignment.

“The way positive reinforcement is carried out is more important than the amount.“ BF Skinner

As external rewards apply to fitness, I won’t advocate pizza for reach workout, but you can attach external rewards.

Small rewards like a compliment from a coworker or social reinforcement on Facebook are important.

Bigger rewards, like winning cash in a transformation content, buying new clothes at the end of a diet, or going to the beach for a long weekend and kickin’ back a few cocktails in your new bikini, are also important.

Whatever your goal, understand what emotionally drives your decision. Then, apply extrinsic rewards that reinforce and motivate you to take massive action. With an aggressive timeline, social support and rewards push you to achieve more in less time.

Take Action and Lose Fat Faster

Parkinson’s law is more than a productivity theory for entrepreneurs, it’s a thought process that forces you to take positive action in all areas of life.

Set a tight deadline, focus on the essential, take action, and set-up rewards to make it happen.


Are you struggling to set lose fat and build your best body?

Sick of spinning your wheel and not seeing results despite your hard work?

Join Bach Performance Elite Online Training for the expert coaching, accountability, and motivation to build your best body. Only two spots left this month, apply here: Elite Online Coaching 



Links and Helpful Resources:

  1. Parkinsons Law: Read the Full book here.
  1. Bruce Lee: My daily reading is Striking Thoughts. Be like water my friends.
  2. Seriously, check out this list of Successful people who workout early.
  3. Tim Ferriss: Four Hour WorkWeek
  1. We all need a basic understanding of Human Psychology. This article and this book are good places to start


The 11 Laws of Athletic Muscle

athletic muscle

I almost quit.


I failed as an athlete trying to build athletic muscle and as a college meathead trying to re-establish some semblance of athleticism.

From those days forward, I’ve been on a mission to build a body that both looks good, and is able to perform outside the gym.

Truth was, I wasn’t’ happy with my porous results and I wouldn’t be happy unless I had the best of both worlds—being athletic and muscular. Not one, not the other, but both. I battled with the question, what’s the point in being just strong, just athletic, or just jacked?

athletic muscle

I found I wasn’t alone. There were hundreds of others who felt the same way, you’re probably one of them.

There’s more to building athletic muscle than deadlifts and lifting weights. There’s no perfect recipe, and that’s a big part of what Bach Performance is about.

That’s why I’m excited for my brand new post with T-Nation.

I’ve expanded my Seven Laws of Athletic Muscle to 11 laws to help you build a high performance body. What’s needed are sound principles to make real change and get things done.

Your body should exude confidence in your abilities and perform in the world, not just the platform. These 11 tips will take your training to the next level.

Read it here: 11 Laws of Athletic Muscle

Quick Guide to Minimalist High Performance Lifting


-Total body training improves workout efficiency by minimizing the fluff to get you strong and muscular in a hurry

– You’ll hit major movement patterns multiple times per week in a variety of intensities and rep ranges to stimulate the most number of muscle fibers

– When in a time-crunch, total body training is best for making huge strength gains despite a lack of training time

Life is hectic—I get it.

That doesn’t mean you pack it in, make excuses, and abandon high-performance lifting.

We don’t neglect our jobs, education, or family for more time under the bar; instead, we must maximize training through proper planning and precise execution to build strength and muscle.

Busy Man Workout

The cool thing about strength training is there are a endless number of exercises, variations, and programs that get great results.

Unfortunately, this causes problems like program hopping and doing “fluffy” exercises instead of the big lifts that create the most physiological change.

Seven lateral raise variations? Gone.

A whole day of biceps? Sorry, not happenin’.

Bosu Ball Circuit? No. Just, no.

It’s hard to stick with a training program long enough to get results when you’re constantly bombarded by the next great workout or the ultimate program.

You can’t blow-up your program every few weeks because something new, shiny, and sexy was posted on your favorite training site.

Without consistent overload basic movement patterns you will never build a body that is strong, shredded, and athletic.
Its time to train with maximum efficiency, hammering proven methods, principles, and exercises to supercharge your training.

How to Maximize Training Efficiency

You want a body that is both show and go, I get that. You want to be strong, shredded, and athletic enough to conquer what life throws at you and look like an athlete doing it.

Instead of inefficient isolation exercises you will now emphasize total body movements.

One day is focused on training heavy to build strength.

Another day is focused on a high training volume to build slabs muscle.

The third day is focused on total body, high-speed movements to improve athleticism and shred fat.

Altogeher, the workout is centered on the best bang-for-your-buck exercises to build athletic muscle with the flexibility to select exercises that fit your goals.

The Workout for High Performance Lifting

Major Movement Patterns 

The major movement patterns programmed to eliminate gaps in training and mimic movements in life and sport so you’re prepared to take on whatever life throws at you.

These six patterns are: pushes, pulls, hinge, squats, carries and lunges, with each pattern performed weekly. Accordingly, you’ll build a balanced blend of strength and muscle stay healthier, stronger, and more athletic.

busy man workout


Training each movement with fluctuating intensities prevents gaps in strength development by training multiple qualities on the force velocity curve and attacks multiple muscle fibers for maximum development. That means you’ll improve strength faster and build muscle more readily than simply always training with the same speed, rep range, and intensity.

Push: Horizontal focus, vertical if tolerated. Floor press, BB bench, overhead press, DB bench, push up variations, push press, lever press

Pull: db row, chest-supported row, bent over row, chins up, and high pull

Hinge: Conventional deadlift, sumo deadlift, RDL, snatch grip deadlift, swings

Squat: Front squat, back squat, box squat, zercher squat, goblet squat

Lunge: Bulgarian split squat, step-up, reverse lunge, forward lunge, lateral lunge

Carry: waiter walks, overhead carries, farmer walks, single arm carries

Optional Olympic Lifts:

If you know how to perform Olympic lifts, they’re the best bang-for-your buck exercises. If you’re technically sound they will vastly improve the efficiency of your workouts. This way, you’ll build strength and athleticism in less time. 


The Olympic movements require movement over the entire body: wrist, elbow, shoulder, ankle, knee, and hip joints and in excess of 200 muscles to generate a coordinated, powerful movement. No other lifts builds high-performance bodies and require tension, coordination, and power like the Olympic lifts—make them a priority or get left in the dust.

Here’s a step-by-step progression to learning the hang clean.

Olympic: Hackey pull, hang clean, power clean, hang snatch, full snatch

Build a bulletproof trunk

A strong core maintains position and makes precise adjustments to the movement of limbs, resists forces, and maximizes movement efficiency. This helps you maximize performance and prevent injury whether you’re lifting heavy, picking up your kid from the ground, or playing beach volleyball on vacation.

Train common weak points like trunk stabilization, anti-rotation, anti-flexion exercises as highlighted in this gem of an article “Building a Superhero Core” by Tony Gentilcore.

In addition, incorporate glute activation, hip mobility, T-spine mobility and upper back pulling between movements as non-competing active recovery exercises. Just because you’re training efficiently doesn’t mean you need to neglect common problem areas.

Add the following exercises for better trunk and glute activation:

Quadruped Scorpion

Supine Hip Thrust

Quadruped Fire Hydrant

Squats and deadlifts help with total body development, but they aren’t to fill in all the gaps—get these done.

Rules, Progression and planning:

Work sets are balls to the wall. This doesn’t mean jumping over prescribed reps or intensities, it means having precise focus and applying maximal force to the bar every on rep. If you have minimal time to train the effort you put forth becomes more vital to your success.

The workout takes the following order

1.Dynamic Warm-Up: A dynamic warm-up is a no-brainer—prepare your mind and body for activity. Limber eleven or agile 8 by Joe Defranco are a great starting point.

2.Movement skills: If you’re an athlete, you need to move—lifting is supplementary to movement you’ll use on the field. Sprint and change of direction work is extremely neurologically intensive and is done before you lift and after the warm-up. This will potentiate the nervous system to improve strength performance and help you recruit more muscle to build more mass.

3.Throws/Jumps: Throws and jumps are max-effort to increase explosiveness and “rev” the nervous system for greater lifting performance.

4.Resistance Training: It’s go time. Put your money on your “focus” exercise and push it.

5. Conditioning: Time permitting, conditioning work is done after resistance training at the end of the workout. 10-15 minutes of high-intensity exercise like submaximal sprint work and prowler pushes is plenty. If strapped for time push the tempo during your lift with short rest periods. This way, you’ll conditioning the body and shred fat during the lift.

Here’s a Sample 3-Day Program

Day 1: Heavy: 85-90% 4×2-3

Dynamic Warm-Up

1a. Power Clean Or Front Squat 4×2-3 (Heavy)

2a. Lateral Band walk 3×10/leg

2a.Floor Press 4×2-3 @85% (Heavy)

2b. Band pull-apart 4×15

3a.Supinated Bent over row 4×8

3b.Goblet Split Squat 2-3×12/leg

Conditioning: Hill Sprints 10 minutes

Day 2: Volume: 4×8 @70-75%

Dynamic Warm-Up

1a. DB Jump Squat 3×5

1b. Palloff Press 3×15/side

2a. Front Squat 5×5 @75% (Volume)

2b. Fire Hydrant 3×10/leg

3a. Chin Up 4×6

3b. DB Shoulder Press 4×8-12

4a. Farmer Walk 3×30-60 seconds

4b. Hammer Curl 3×12-15

Day 3: Speed: 5×3 @60-65%

Dynamic Warm-Up

Sprint 5×10 yards

1a. Broad Jump 3×5

1b. Birddog ISO Hold 3x30s/side

2a. Trap Bar Deadlift 5×3 @60% (Speed)

2b. Plank 3×30 seconds

3a. DB Bench Press 4×8

3b. DB Row 4×8-12

4a. DB Walking Lunge 3×8/leg

Progression and planning:

Pick the same focus exercises for a six-week cycle before changing movements.

Follow the program for six weeks followed by a weeklong de-load where you back down your intensity and volume, working at 65% or so for 3×5 to recovery and reap the rewards of your training. Without recovery, there is no growth!

Week Day 1 Day 2 Day 3
1 Heavy: 85-90% 4×2-3 Volume: 4×8 @70-75% Speed: 5×3 @60-65%
2 Volume: 4×8 @70-75% Speed: 5×3 @60-65% Heavy: 85-90% 4×3
3 Speed: 5×3 @60-65% Heavy: 85-90% 4×2-3 Volume: 4×8 @70-75%
4 Heavy: 90-100% +4×2 Volume: 5×6 75-80% Speed: 5×3 65-70%
5 Volume: 5×6 75-80% Speed: 5×3 65-70% Heavy: 90-100% +4×2
6 Speed: 5×3 65-70% Heavy: 90-100% 4×2 Volume: 5×6 75-80%



How long between workouts?

One rest day between workouts best. This program does well on a Monday, Wednesday, Friday or Monday, Wednesday, Saturday split.

Why the range in work percentages?

The range in percentages during each day provides flexibility if you come in without your A-Game. If you don’t know percentage that’s fine, you’re not a powerlifter. Aim for heavy work-sets within the rep range specified and continue adding weight to progress.

How long do I rest between sets?

Exercises like planks are implemented between your sets and count as active recovery during sets. With those included, keep rests 2-4 minutes on heavy exercises and 60-90 seconds on all other exercises.

Do I need to include the movement skills?

If you want to be athletic, you need to move—simply lifting won’t cut it. If you’re performing high velocity speed work perform it after thorough warm-up in a non-fatigued state. If you just want to get swole and don’t care if you become a walking ball of fail on the field, then ignore it completely.

Will I build Muscle on this program?

That depends.

If you complain of hard gainer syndrome and eat 2,000 calories per day then you’re in the wrong place. If you’re consuming ample calories and consistently getting stronger, muscle gains will come.

How about additional workouts?

If you fit in a fourth day, great.

Keep it at the end of the week so it doesn’t compete with strength gains.

Use this fourth day to focus on your weak-points: conditioning, biceps, shoulders, your pencil neck, or whatever floats your boat.

Sneak in push-ups, bodyweight squats, band-pull aparts, and pull-ups during the week—the additional volume adds up.

Conditioning—what do I do?

Jump rope, High rep kettlebell swings, prowler pushes/pulls, hill sprints, and high intensity finishers for 10-15 minutes work best to improve cardio and increase fat loss.

Fat Loss Complexes

What do you recommend for recovery:

After your workout is a perfect time to soft-tissue work and flexibility. Perform your dynamic warm-up as a cool down, grab a foam roller, and take a few minutes to get better at the things you’re neglecting.

Ending Thoughtz

If you’re busy with family obligations or a fast-paced career you have minimal time to train.
I get it, most of my clients are extremely busy with a limited schedule too.

Instead of trying to perfect everything its best to pick the most effective exercises to build strength, athletic muscle, and stay lean—this is the program to do it.

Eliminate the fluff and start training the things that really matter—progressive overload, compound multi-joint exercises, and moving like an athlete instead of endless isolation and variation.

Keep it simple, get stronger, and do it on your schedule.

“It’s not the daily increase but daily decrease. Hack away at the unessential.”-Bruce Lee


Image source: http://www.nhs.uk/Tools/Pages/Workplacestress.aspx

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[Brand New]Beyond busy and unable to make the progress you want in the gym?This will help:

Posted by Bach Performance on Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Part 1: Training Essentialism: What Every Workout Needs

Doing less but better is what every workout needs for more efficient training and faster gains. As a trainer, I have the privilege to meet and get to know many successful clients.

Most of them hold high status jobs, make great money, and live the “American dream.” Unfortunately, most are consumed and overwhelmed by all pressures around them. They’re eager for success in all walks of life, willing to take on more and more opportunities. Every opportunity is a “yes” and performed with enthusiasm. Determination and passion are enviable traits, but always saying “yes” leaves you focusing on the trivial many, rather than the vital few.

Plain and simple, saying “yes” is akin to reading every fitness blog and magazine around and getting information overload. Having too much information clouds our vision of what important.  Applying every training style to your workouts over-complicates training and leaves you confused on how to train.Tweet: You can anything, but not everything. You must selective.

In this first of three posts I’m going to dive into what your exercise program needs. By eliminating the trivial bull-shit in your workout we’ll maximize your training. Every decision is either a hell yes, or an absolute no.

Defining Training Essentialism:

Before deciding what is essential to your training you must be clear on your goal. Focus on one thing at a time to accomplish your goal.  I want to “lose 10 lbs and add 50 pounds to my deadlift,” doesn’t work, you need just one. Look for the minimum effective dose, the 20% in your 80/20, or the few variables that lead to the most success.

Drop the bicep curls, get good at pull-ups.

Drop the hamstring curls and do deadlifts.

Train the body with total body workouts three times per week instead of missing 1-2 workouts per week with a 5-day body part split.

Understand the Fear of Missing Out

Flashback ten years ago I read every fitness magazine, book, and blog I could get my scrawny little fingers on. I ate every tip up—every tip, suggestion, and exercise was something I had to add immediately to my workouts. I gained a ton of knowledge, but not results. A common misconception is that if you can fit something in, you need to. Busyness is rewarded as more valuable over productivity or less. This concept is known as the fear of missing out and is relevant across all areas of life.

“To attain knowledge, add things everyday. To attain wisdom, remove things every day.”- Lao Tzu

It wasn’t until I simplified training that I started seeing great results. Pointing your focus in one direction at a time yields superior results to focusing on 10 factors.

training essentialism, what every workout needs
Photocredit: picture: http://glennstovall.com/blog/2014/06/02/learning-to-say-no/

Focus on One Goal:

What is your through and true number one goal? This should be clear. In the examples below I have included the most common goals and vital components to reaching them.

Building Muscle: Progressive overload in big, multi-joint movements. Train with enough volume to build muscle and eat enough calories to support muscle growth.

Unleashing the Inner Athlete: Incorporating movement skills like acceleration, top-end speed, and agility mechanics. Build strength and power to express strength on the field. Relative strength is key.

Building Strength: Progressive overload in the major movement patterns. Minimize weak points in training to prevent injury and improve strength.

Lose Fat and Look Great Naked: Be in a caloric deficit to lose fat while training to maintain strength to preserve muscle mass.

What all Training programs need:

Every good training program has essential qualities that improve training, regardless of goal. Occlusion training, slide boards, tempo training and the hottest eastern European squat program are all great, but the human body hasn’t changed significantly over the last hundred years. The exercises, methods, and progressions that worked best years ago still work best today. Your training doesn’t need complicated methods, your training needs to create a stress above baseline for physiological adaptation. Focus on the quality ver quality in your workouts. Save for specific injury considerations all training routines should have the following:

 Progressive overload:

You must overload the systems current level of fitness to receive a training effect. Serious work must done. You should sweat, strain, and let out the occasional uncontrolled grunt.  Tweet: “ no strain, no gain.” Volume, intensity, increased range of motion, and shorter rest periods are all potential variables.

Improve your health and wellbeing:

If you’re getting hurt physically or mentally hurt from your training you’re training wrong. You need a baseline of conditioning and exercises that are pain free. Discomfort and strain is necessary with pain and injury kept minimal.

Workout Movement Patterns:

Compound basic movement patterns always have and always will be the driver of success in your workout program. The body moves as an integrated unit in sport and life; you’re training should reflect that.Instead of curls, leg extensions, and biceps curls do deadlifts, presses, sprints, and pulls.

The basic movements are the squat, carry, hinge, lunge, sprint, push, and pull. These movements require the body to stabilize, transfer, and product force acrossed many joints like movements in life. I include core work and conditioning work is essential in every routine. You have no reason to be out of shape or set yourself up for injury due to pathetic cores strength.

These are my favorite exercises from each movement pattern:

Squat: Front squat

Hinge: deadlift/ any Olympic lift

Lunge: Bulgarian split squat

Carry: Single arm farmers walk

Press: (vertical) push press

(horizontal) Floor Press

Pull: (vertical) narrow grip chin-up

(horizontal) Dumbbell one-arm row

Core: paloff press

Conditioning: hill sprints

In all actuality you don’t need more than 2-5 exercises to get a great workout. Cover your bases with the basic movement patterns, improve with progressive overload, and reap huge rewards.

Workout Quality Over Quantity:

A stunning what happens when technique takes precedent over weights. Injuries fade, performance increases, and confidence sky-rockets.

Overload is still important and necessary for gains, but piling weights and volume on a faulty base of movement sets you up for injury.

Stay tight on your deadlift rather than losing lumbar position and snapping in half. Learn how to land on a jump without knee valgus (diving in) before performing dumbbell jump squats. Learn how to sprint efficiently before blowing a hamstring.

“It is quality rather than quantity that matters.” – Seneca

Workouts must fit your schedule:

A workout program that doesn’t fit your schedule is a program that won’t be done consistently. This, above all other factors is necessary to see results. Check out this post on a friend of mine who made a huge transformation. If you’re slammed with work this month and your schedule doesn’t allow for five workouts get one that has three workouts. Hitting workouts 75% of workouts while missing 25% is a huge problem. All well-designed workouts play off of one another– missing a piece throws off the balance of the program.

Be Enjoyable Most of the time:

You have enough obligations in life. Working out with a routine you hate isn’t one of them. Take time to enjoy yourself while you’re getting better. Save for the occasion set of high rep squats, training should be fun. If weights aren’t your thing that’s fine—incorporate bodyweight movements, get out and go hiking, and enjoy yourself. Being in shape isn’t about your one-rep max, it’s about being able to do what you enjoy and maintaining good health.

Wrap Up:

Do less, but do it better.

This isn’t a quick tip or strategy; rather, a mind-set to apply to all facets of life. In the gym you don’t need to “isolate” every muscle group and choose one-body part for every day of the week. You don’t need a thousand different tempos, a complex eastern European squat program, and forty exercises to make progress.Worry about every minute detail approach leads to over-analyzing, and sub-par results.


You need progressive overload on a few exercises.

You need to train consistently.

You need to train with focus and intensity.

The rest is fine and wonderful, but when all else fails, simplify.


Recommended Reading:


Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less

Photo credit:

McKeown, Greg. “The Essentialist.” Essentialism. New York: Crown Business, 2014. 6. Print.



Minimalist Muscle Building: Simple Training For Athletic Muscle

  • Doing Less is key to maximizing your efficiency and accomplishing more.
  • Focusing on too many exercises and methods prevents you from progressing.
  • The exercises that worked best decades ago still work best today. Stop making everything so damn complicated.


Life is busy, I get it. There are times when clients get busy, they can’t train as often , and training gets scaled back. The same happens with my training too. I glance at my program, look at the clock, and hack away at the unessential parts of the workout when strapped for time.

You should do the same.

To get your best results you need focus. The “fluff” in workouts clouds the view of what’s important and what gets great results.

“So now what? “

You need to cut the clutter and focus on the essentials. This is especially true with training. You don’t need to “isolate” every muscle group and designate one-body part for every day of the week. This cluttered approach leads to over-analyzing, and sub-par results for most everyone.

You have enough to worry about in your day-to-day life, why add training to the list?

You don’t need a thousand different tempos, a complex Eastern European Squat program, and forty exercises to make progress. You need simplicity. You need progressive overload on a few exercises?

Focus on the basic movement patterns, get stronger, and move better. Progressive overload is the key to developing your body, it can’t happen if you’re changing the stimulus every workout.

Quit majoring in the minors, it’s time to get to work.

Tweet: Progressive Overload is the key to building muscle. It won’t happen if you’re changing the stimulus every workout.


 Principles of Minimalist Muscle Building

Quality Over All:

It’s stunning what happens when reps and weight take a backseat to quality of movement. Injuries fade, performance increases, and confidence sky-rockets.

I see it all the time with new athletes: They come from workouts where all the coach focuses on is how hard everything is with no rhyme or reason.

Yes, overload is still important and necessary for gains. But it does little good piling a ton of weight or conditioning on a faulty system. This sets your body up for injury, not high performance.

“It is quality rather than quantity that matters.” – Seneca

This means staying tight on your deadlifts—busting blood vessels in your left eye and lumbar flexion under 400lbs sucks donkey nuts. Get your chest to the ground on push-ups, sticking your landing on your jumps, and keeping your knees out of valgus (diving in) on your squats.

minimalist muscle building, build athletic muscle, Minimalist Muscle Building
Photo Credit: http://davidlasnier.com/tag/performance-test

Pushing yourself to the limit is great. Pushing yourself to the limit with faulty mechanics sucks. Emphasis how well you’re executing the movement instead of how “much”. You’ll get better gains in less time, fewer injuries, and a longer training career—That’s more important than setting a PR every workout.

Basic Exercises are Best:

The body moves as an integrated unit in sport and life; you’re training should reflect that.

Not shiny one-exercise machines, they’re pieces of garbage in nearly all instances. Why? Machines lock the body into place during movement patterns, which removes real-world carry over and negates the role of stabilizing muscles. Although you use more resistance on machines the arms and legs are writing checks the body can’t cash.

Free Weights and movement require your body to work together in a coordinative pattern to perform a task– like real life.

The Only Equipment You Need:

You don’t need a shiny new weight room with every machine imaginable. You don’t need all of these, but a combination definitely won’t hurt.

  • Bodyweight

I found this “playground” on my way home from work a few weeks ago.

  • Barbells
  • Dumbbells
  • Suspension Trainer (TRX, Cross Core 180)
  • Space to Move
  • Bands

The basic movements are the squat, hinge, lunge, sprint, push, and pull because they work muscles at multiple joints simultaneously like movements in life and sport. Also, I core work and conditioning work is essential in every routine. You have no reason to be out of shape or set yourself up for injury with a weak core.

Squat: Front squat, goblet squat, zercher squat, back squat, pistol squat

Hinge: deadlift (all variations), good morning, kettlebell swings

Lunge: walking lunge, split squat, step back lunge, Bulgarian split squat

Sprint: Run fast on a hill, treadmill, and open surface. If you’re an athlete add in change of direction work

Carry: Farmers walks, single arm farmers walk, overhead carry

Press: bench press, push-up, overhead press, jerk, one arm presses

Pull: pull-up, bent-over row, seated row, one arm row

Core: planks, side planks, paloff presses, fire hydrants, glute bridges

Conditioning: Bodyweight circuits, sprints, swimming, intervals, complexes. Get out, get your heart rate up, and have a little fun. Anything recreational like hiking is extra.

Exercise Order for Building Athletic Muscle

To maximize your training with minimalist muscle building you must emphasize strength and performance. That means exercises that are neurologically demanding like cleans, sprints, and heavy lifts go first. Chasing the “pump” when you get to the gym is a surefire route to the town of Smallsville in ugly state of Imstillpissedatmypoorresults.

Use the following Exercise order:


Activity-specific warm-ups are designed to properly prepare the body for physical activity and sharpen mental focus for the activity at hand. Addressing common issues such as tissue density, tissue length, flexibility and mobility at the beginning of a training session reinforces the fact that movement quality and injury prevention are essential to achieving athletic and wellness goals. By concluding the warm-up with dynamic stretching and neuromuscular activation drills, clients gain the advantage of a routine that can help reduce injury risk, improve muscular tissue density and flexibility, activate proprioceptors and deep stabilizers, enhance movement quality, and improve performance through the creation of more efficient and powerful movement patterns (Shellock and Prentice, 1985). If you have time to sit on Twitter while training then you have time to warm-up properly.

2.) Movement Training

If you’re trying to improve performance with jumps and sprints then these take precedent—even over your heavy lifts. Sprint work is technical; grooving the wrong pattern under fatigued leads to injury and poor performance.

As a bonus, these will ramp your nervous system and prep your body for strength gains.

2) Explosive/Power Lifts: Olympic Lifts

Olympic lifts like cleans and snatches are technical. They need full focus without excessive fatigue to perform them safely and effectively. Olympic lifts are great for gains in power, strength, and muscle—if you know how to do them they’re the most efficient lifts available.

3) Compound Strength: Squats, deadlifts, presses, pulls

If you don’t do the Olympic lifts then bump these movements right after your movement session or warm-up. Pick a couple major movement patterns and perform three to six sets of one to six reps. These should be heavy and difficult, but not past failure. If you’re form breaks down then you’re too heavy.

4) Compound Moderate Rep Work

Pick one or two movements and perform two to four sets of eight to fifteen reps. These should be moderately difficult, not to failure.

5) Free Time

Training should still be fun and a form of stress relief—not a job and complicated manor. For that reason once or twice per week I recommend setting a timer for 10 minutes and have fun. During this time I’ll do some direct arm work, farmer walks, isometrics, extra ab work, or whatever else I want. Pick exercises you like, keep the tempo up, and work hard.

6) Conditioning

Regardless of your goal you should perform some conditioning. Twice per week perform sub-maximal sprints, boxing, bodyweight circuits, push sleds, or complexes. High intensity intervals a few times per week will improve your work capacity and keep body fat low. Take other times to go for a walk, hike, swim, or something recreational and low intensity. There’s no excuse for not being in shape.

Training Frequency for Building Athletic Muscle

 If you crave maximal results in minimal time total body workouts are best. You’ll stimulate muscles more often. As a result your body learn movement patterns, stimulate more muscle growth, and make gains faster. Not only that, you’ll train the body as it’s meant to function—as a coordinated machine.

Three total body-training sessions with two conditioning sessions per week is plenty.

As a bonus I’ll add random 5-10 minute workouts of push-ups, pull-ups, squats, band pull-aparts, and core work. This is more for sanity-sake when I’m writing a long post, but it adds up.

Training Considerations:

Athletes: If you’re a competitive athlete this isn’t a program for you. You’ll need more specialization and movement included early in the session with a coach, like me.

Injured, Limited Individuals: If you’re limited due to illness, training injury, or other ailments then you need specialization to treat the issue at hand.

Minimalist Muscle Building Routine

Throughout the week every “movement” should be accounted for. This program uses a 3x/week training split with every movement variation covered. Monday, Wednesday, and Friday are your big days with miscellaneous and mini-workouts taking place on other days as desired.


Warm Up

Sprints 6×10, 30 second rest

1a.(Hinge/lower body) Clean Or Deadlift 5×3

1b. (core)Plank 5×30 seconds Rest 30 seconds then repeat

2a.(Vertical Push) Push Press 4×4

2b. (Vertical Pull) Chin Up 4×4

Fun Time: Farmers walks, biceps curls, dips etc. <10 minutes


Run stairs 15 mins


Warm Up

Jump Squat 2×5

Medicine Ball Back Toss 2×5

1a.(Push, horizontal) Barbell Floor Press 4×6

1b. (core)side Plank 4×30 seconds Rest 30 seconds then repeat

2a. lunge/lower body) DB Split Squat 3×8-10

2b. (Horizontal Pull) Db Single Arm Row 3×8-10

2c. (Lower) Bench supported Hip Thrust 3×4-5/leg

Fun Time: Farmers walks, biceps curls, dips etc. <10 minutes


Bodyweight Work, 5-10 minutes and a walk


Warm Up

Broad Jump 2×3

1a.(Squat/Lower) Back Squat 4×8-10

1b. Farmer 4×30 seconds Rest 60 seconds then repeat

2a.(horizontal pull) Incline single arm Bench Press 3×12

2b. (Horizontal Pull) TRX inverted Row 3×8-10

2c. (lower) single leg squat to bench 3x/5side

Fun Time: Farmers walks, biceps curls, dips etc. <10 minutes

Saturday/Sunday: One day conditioning/sprint work 15-20 minutes and one day completely off.

Or, create your own with this total body template:

1a. Lower Body (lunge, hinge, squat, clean, or snatch)

1b. Upper Body Push (horizontal or Vertical)

1b. Upper Body Pull (Horizontal or vertical)

Include core work during active rest and a weighted carry at least once per week.

That’s it—minimalist muscle building is simple yet effective.


Wrap Up

The Bottom line is your training must align with your goals and abilities. If won’t hit the gym fives times per week why do a workout that requires it?

Simplify, get stronger, and make huge gains. 

There are times of greater training intensity and greater focus, but they don’t need to be all the time. You’ll reap huge benefits from a simpler approach to training, and mastering the essential.


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Seven Laws of Building Athletic Muscle

I almost quit.


I failed as an athlete trying to build athletic muscle and as a college meathead trying to re-establish some semblance of athleticism. I wasn’t’ happy with my porous results and I wouldn’t be happy unless I had the best of both worlds—being athletic and muscular. Not one, not the other, but both. What’s the point in being a muscle bound sluggish Ogre or lacking confidence?

There’s more to building athletic muscle than deadlifts and lifting weights. Instead of being ripe with dysfunction and scrawny you must ditch the old school “body-part splits,” “insanity workouts,” and “ the Westside or Die” mentality. There’s no perfect recipe.

Forget these tools, they’re only a method of training. What’s needed are sound principles to make real change and get things done. Your body should exude confidence in your abilities and perform in the world, not just the platform. These seven things will build explosiveness, lean muscle, shred body fat, and boost your confidence.

sprints, building athletic muscle
Photo credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/rethwill/8752384617/

1.)  Movement is a Must

The most common tip to become a better athlete is “get stronger.” This is important, but sports are more about movement than being strong. An over-emphasis on building strength is as dangerous as minimizing it. Without a base of movement it doesn’t matter how strong you are, inefficiencies in movement will hold back your high performance training. Sports occur with jumps, throws, sprints, cuts, hops, and reactive movement, not barbells and dumbbells.

Besides, sprints keep your fast twitch muscles firing on all cylinders and maintain explosiveness as you age. Perform jumps and throws before workouts. Sprint and do change of direction drills two or three times per week to keep you athletic and lean.

2.) Build a base of strength

There are multiple types of strength, but we’re focusing on absolute and relative strength.

Relative Strength is the amount of strength relative to body size. This reflects a person’s ability to control or move their body through space. All else being equal, smaller individuals have higher relative strength.

Absolute Strength is the maximum amount of force exerted regardless of muscle or body size. Greater amounts of absolute strength favor those with higher bodyweight and in general, larger individuals.

Building a base of strength improves relative strength (when size is in check) and improves your ability to generate force.

building athletic muscle
Building Athletic muscle require heavy lifting

Why this matters:

You want a body that performs as well as it looks. Both absolute strength and relative strength are needed for high-performance gains. Greater relative strength can be driven up by greater absolute strength and tested through activities that require moving the body through space—jumps, chin-ups, sprints, and bodyweight movements in sport.

Plus, you’ll increase nervous system activation, leading too:

1.  Increases muscle fiber recruitment: the number of muscle fibers being recruited.

2.  Increases speed of rate coding: the speed at which the body sends electrical signals to the muscles.

These both lead to greater adaptation and improvements in workout performance and help you build lean muscle. Build your strength base, it improves your ability to build lean muscle, strength, boosts your endurance, and shreds body fat.

3.) Progressive overload

I hate to break it to you, but squats, cleans, presses, pulls and lunges are still the best for building lean muscle and strength. Too maximize these exercises you must progressively overload the body. That means add weight, decrease rest, and increase training volume. Push your body beyond its abilities or you won’t grow. Get comfortable being uncomfortable or get left behind.

4.) Keep Isolation Isolated

By isolation exercises I’m referring to the typical bodybuilder exercises: lateral raises, biceps curls, and the like. Except for a few exercises at the end of your workouts these isolation exercises are inefficient and a waste of time. They’re a piece of the puzzle for building muscle, but everything has its place. With a limited amount of time to train you’re better off building strength and explosiveness. Get strong, and then worry about isolation, as it’s needed. For others use isolation as it’s needed to prevent injury and improve movement. Here I’m referring to your rotator cuff exercises, activation exercises in your hips and trunk and the like. Make them a piece of the puzzle, but not the main focus of your workouts.

5.) Pride, Passion, and Perseverance.

“Pride, passion, and perseverance.”

“Pride, passion, and perseverance.”

I remember my High-School Football coach preaching these terms over, and over, and over again. I used to think he was full of shit, but he’s right. These three terms are vital to your success on and off the field.

Pride to put your best foot forward and pursue your goals no matter the circumstances. Passion to be relentless and put in the time when no-one is working. Perseverance to push through plateaus and struggles that will occur. Attacking training with pride, passion, and perseverance is imperative to building athletic muscle.

“Knowing” what to do is great, but it won’t get you results. Put in the work!

6.) Exercise Risk/Reward

Everything is a tool and requires a risk-reward analysis.

building athletic muscle
Sorry, this won’t help you unless you’re training for the circus

The behind-the-neck overhead press is a great muscle builder, but creates shoulder impingement and dysfunction in lots of individuals. Is the trade-off worth it?

No. Each exercise is a tool, not the end-all-be-all. There are dozens of exercises to train the same muscles, pick a better option.

7.) De-loading Exercise

Train all you want, but without an emphasis on recovery you’ll end up beat up, weak, and un-athletic.

Training hard is rarely the missing piece for progress. That title goes to recovery, the vital component that most athletes neglect. Intense exercise causes tons of stress: joint & ligament stress, muscular damage, neural fatigue, and hormone disruption are all factors that must be taken into account and is highly individualized to each athlete. Beginners may be able to go for months without backing down; however, advancing athletes require individually specialized programs to maximize training gains. De-load, do recovery workouts, use soft-tissue therapies and contrast showers for better recovery.

Building Athletic Muscle Wrap Up

There’s more to building muscle and being athletic than your strength numbers. Get off the platform and into the world. You have to move, move well, and move often in a variety of ways. You have a finite amount of resources for training; pick exercises wisely, train hard, and be persistent. There you have it. These principles are key for building athletic muscle without turning you into a bloated ball of fail.


About:Eric Bach, CSCS, PN1 is a strength coach at Steadman Hawkins Sports Performance in Denver, Colorado. As an author Eric has been featured in publications such as T-Nation, eliteFTS, and the PTDC. He is the owner of Bach Performance where he coaches clients to take control of their lives, helping them become stronger, shredded, and more athletic. Get your Free Ebook 101 Tips to Jacked and Shredded Here.Athletic Muscle Building

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Five Exercises For Athletic Muscle Building

I get it—You want to build muscle, be shredded, and be athletic. You crave a body that’s both Show AND Go (sorry Eric Cressey: I love the term), with the body and tools of a finely tuned athlete. With that in mind your typical “body-builder” splits, isolation exercises, and high-pump workouts won’t cut it. High volume body-part splits aren’t best for gains– there’s too much focus on individual muscles rather than the body moving as a unified machine.

Instead, you need exercises that require strength, stability, power, speed, and coordination  to build slabs of athletic muscle to your body.

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1.) Sprint:

What sport isn’t better by improved sprint speed?

The truth is very few — speed reigns king in athletics.

Luckily, sprinting has benefits far beyond cross-extensor coordination, power, speed, and strength–it’s great all-around tool and will help you improve shred body fat, improve your condition, and even build muscle.

Here’s Why:Sprinting requires high-velocity muscle contractions to rapidly generate force and propel the body forward. No jogging here, sprints are an all-out, intensive exercise.

Sprints are intense enough to stimulate the release of major anabolic hormones like HgH and testosterone, create muscle-building damage to muscle fibers, and even aid in transitioning slow-twitch fibers to type 2 fast twitch fibers.

Start conservatively with all sprint work consider hiring a coach—sprinting is a skill that must to be taught to optimize performance and decrease injury risk. You wouldn’t try a max-lift your first time in the gym would you?

Sprinting is extremely neurologically demanding—sprinting while fatigued is idiotic and  increases injury risk exponentially.
Like anything else that’s been neglected it’s best to hold back the reigns, do them first in your workout, and start conservative–no-one benefits from a bum hamstring.

As a conditioning tool sprint work trains specific energy support systems (alactic and lactic) that fuel performance in high-intensity, short duration exercise. When beginning proceed with caution– re-introduce speed training with full-recovery and slight hills to prevent injuries.

[Try This: Beginners start with  6 sprints for 30 yards on the first few workouts with a full 90 second recover between reps. recovery, 1-3 minutes should suffice.  ]

2.)Power Clean:

The clean is my favorite exercise for improving power performance due to its explosive triple extension of the hip, knee, and ankle in a coordinated, explosive pattern—a movement that simulates the triple extension in jumps and sprints.

There is no sport that isn’t improved through powerful triple extension, coordination, Or  absorbing and transferring. Olympic lifts are a vital training tool for athletic performance.

If you struggle with technique start with the Hackey Pull. This exercise is a powerful expression of full hip extension, the primary driver of cleans and hip extension in sport.


As a muscle builder the clean works the following muscles: calves, quads, hamstrings, glutes, spinal erectors, traps, deltoids, and forearms, as well as the core muscles that come into play to stabilize your spine and transfer power throughout the movement. This makes the clean a better bang for your buck deal than 3:1 Chipotle Burritos and arguably better than any other exercise.

Plus, they look pretty bad-ass.

3.) Bench Press:

Most athletes absolutely love the bench press and for good reason– It’s the ultimate “macho, how much you bench bro’?” exercise . It doesn’t matter if you have a 8-year-old in the gym for the first time or a high school senior Football player; they love the bench and will go all-out in effort.

“Functional” pundits will hate the bench press because of a lack of scapular movement and the fact that lifters are laying down, but few exercises build heaping slabs of muscle on the chest, shoulders, and triceps coupled with explosive strength like the bench press.

Use a shoulder-width grip, rigid wrists, and tuck the elbows at 45 degrees to create a stable environment for the shoulder. Similarly avoid going too narrow, an over ally narrow-grip causes the scapulae to slide into anterior tilt (that’s bad news folks) and potentially aggravate the shoulder. if you’re concerned with shoulders then floor presses  and weighted push-ups are fantastic alternatives. 

A motivated person will work hard; sometimes the trade-off is worth the intensity and work ethic despite its short-comings.

4.) Rotational Medicine Ball Throws:

Sports aren’t played only in the sagittal plane–movement in sport is chaotic and occurs in multiple planes, athletes need to be strong and resilient in all these planes.  Athletes benefit from direct rotational power work because power is vector specific–it must  be developed in a similar movement to transfer to sport.

Medicine ball rotational throws explosively transfer forces between the upper and lower body, developing explosive rotational power with loaded hips. Rotational med ball throws are ideal for throwing a solid 1-2 punch combo at your local tavern athletes that need to punch, swing, throw, and pass to develop explosive rotational power.

Perform throws first in a strength training session for maximal training effect. You’ll improve rotation power and potentiate the nervous system activation for better strength training performance for the rest of the workout.  Do 2-3 Sets of 3-5 reps with 45- 60 seconds between sets.

5.) Bulgarian Split Squat:

You’re probably like me. We hate doing things that expose our weaknesses. We don’t like to struggle, but relish the opportunity to improve.

Bulgarian split squats expose your weaknesses and engage the lateral sub-system- a key region composed of the gluteus medius, adductors, and quadrates lumborum. These killers push your “pain” threshold while limiting spinal compression and shear stress compared to back squats and front squats, making them a viable alternative for athletes with limitations in bilateral squats. For mobility and stability purposes Bulgarian split squats provide a massive stretch to the hip flexors while reinforcing the greater mobility with resistance to develop stability.

Get out of your comfort zone, your limiting factors will expose you in the gym and on the playing field.  Doing the “hard stuff” is the stuff we need to do more of, and few exercises expose weaknesses like Bulgarian Split Squats.

(BONUS) 6.) Planks

“Woah, planks? Isn’t that remedial?”

They are, but that doesn’t mean they’re not important. Anterior core stability is vital for both performance and injury prevention. Many athletes (and desk-jockeys) spend countless hours in a flexed position with poor abdominal engagement.  This leads to frequent back pain and a lack of trunk integrity during movement activities. Master your planks to improve performance by keeping healthy athletes and improving the transfer of forces between the upper and lower body. Athletes will never express maximum strength, speed, power, and performance without great trunk integrity.

Wrap Up

There’s no point to creating an impressive physique that becomes a walking ball of fail when competition rises. Building muscle is a great thing and will improve your performance as long as mobility,stability,  multi-directional ability, strength (relative and absolute), and speed are maintained or improve. Ditch the bogus gimmicky exercises and master these exercises to build an athletic, muscular body.

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