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How to Find Your Ideal Personal Training Clients

How to Find Your Ideal Personal Training Clients

By Eric Bach, CSCS is a personal trainer, author, and fitness business coach in Denver, Colorado. Eric’s passion is on simplifying the process of building an online fitness business and helping trainers overcome information overload to a build a successful fitness brand.

Discover How To Make More Money & Work Fewer Hours With A Hybrid Fitness Business. Grab the Six Figure Fitness Business Guide below.

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Whether you train online or in-person, do you want to get beyond just surviving as a personal trainer to build a thriving fitness business?

You first need to find your ideal personal training client. And then you need to find more clients just like them.

But that’s easier said than done. So please read what follows. It can help you avoid the mistakes I made. You’ll jump start (or supercharge) your career.

The Story

Let’s begin with how I looked at things in my early years as a personal trainer. Every gym member was a prospective client. It didn’t matter who they were. Young, old, male, female, athletes, obese, or otherwise…I’d slam another grande Americano and train anyone, anywhere, anytime.

After all, I was just another broke trainer living paycheck to paycheck. I couldn’t be choosy. I worked split shifts and hustled every way I could.

And while it was a great learning experience, some clients drove me insane. I’d dread their upcoming 5:00 am session.

As a trainer, I’m sure you’ve been there: Hustling, grinding and scraping by with everything you have. You take on anyone, even the time wasters. And to an extent, you need to hustle and see dozens of clients with different body types, goals, and training histories.

But after you’ve improved your ability as a trainer,  it’s far better to have clients who:

  • Share your interests
  • Value your expertise
  • Know that you can solve their problems
  • Will become raving fans who refer others to you

The only problem? It’s hard to find that ideal client. And in the meantime, you have bills to pay.

So you end working with clients who are far from ideal. That makes it more difficult to get great results. But your business is built upon getting and replicating results for your clients.

The result? A bad business model that leaves you just grinding and surviving, not thriving and satisfied.

How to Identify Your Ideal Client

For a while, I thought l wanted to work only with athletes. That was until I found my true passion: helping busy guys (often ex-athletes, ironically) look better naked, simplify training, and maintain pain-free performance. I want to make having a strong, lean, and athletic body practical for busy dudes. Now, I wouldn’t have understood who I liked working with most…unless I took every client I could in the beginning. But that’s a short-term solution to a long-term problem.

Take five minutes to brainstorm your ideal client using the format that follows from my own business.

Client Name: Will

Age/Sex: 35 year-old male

Job/Income: Corporate attorney

Training History: Former high school athlete, played intramurals in college. Still plays pickup basketball and is well versed in the weight room.

Favorite Sport: Football, Virginia Tech Hokies (his alma mater).

Wants: To look better naked.

Biggest Struggle: Nutrition, namely fitting healthy habits into his schedule that often is full of business meetings, late nights, and entertaining clients.

Other interests: Travel, entrepreneurship (he wants to start a Vodka company, actually) Comedy (he listens to Louis CK on his way to work), Tesla (he drives one.) Coffee.

The more you know about your clients, the better you can target everything from marketing to coaching cues and writing an article.

Remember: people don’t buy personal training; they buy trainers. The more you can understand their fears, frustrations, desires, goals, and paint a picture on how to solve them, the more likely you are to be successful.

What You Need to Know

Originally used for writing sales copy, The Ultimate Sales Letter by Dan Kennedy recommends you answer the following questions about your clients.

What keeps your clients up at night?
Find this and solve it.

What are they afraid of?
Is it a lack of confidence? Not getting laid? Long-term health issues preventing them from being active with their kids?

What are their top frustrations?
It could be staying on a diet without counting calories. Or drinking socially still staying in shape. Or exercising and staying active without pain.

What changes are occurring in their personal or professional lives?
It could be major purchasing decisions, the start of Football season (this is a big deal) added job responsibilities, life events.

Who do they secretly, ardently desire most?
Do they want to look like a Football player or more of a Hollywood physique? Don’t laugh at the cliches, these are often the comparisons clients use.

Consider how your clients think. Are they analytical or intuitive? Do they have their own lingo? If so, try to adopt it. It is also helpful to know their income level, hobbies, political affiliations, and favorite TV shows.

What else interests them? Think beyond just the fitness industry to what their other interests may be. Political affiliations, hobbies, TV shows, music, and books are all great “depth” builders and conversation points with potential clients.

Here’s the takeaway.

(1) The most important thing is what’s important to your client (and NOT to you.)

(2) Meet clients where they are, not where you wish them to be.

(3) Grab our FREE Six Figure Fitness Business Guide for more tips, here.

But How Do You Actually Find The Ideal Personal Training Client?

Want to train athletes? Then why are you working at Planet Fitness? Looking to charge a premium for high-end clients? Look at gyms in major metropolitan areas near financial districts.

Consider where your prospective clients hang out. Is it in coffee shops? Then spend time in coffee shops and get to know the baristas. (Hat tip to Jon Goodman of The Personal Trainer Development Center for this tip.) Ask if you can put a flyer up for your services, buy the occasional coffee for someone else, and start making connections.

If you’re looking for online clients, ask your ideal clients where they get their fitness information. If you don’t have access to your ideal clients yet, search mainstream sites to see if your marketing messages are on target.

Athletes/Hardcore lifters: T-Nation

Powerlifting: EliteFTS, JTStrength

Fat Loss, looking better naked, activities outside the gym: Men’s Health, AskMen, Men’s Fitness

Facebook and Social Media
One of the best tools to finding your ideal client is this little-known website called Facebook. Somehow, Facebook convinced everyone it was a great idea to put their relationship status, age, address, favorite movies, books, video games, politicians, sports teams, job status, income, language, and about 1,000 other characteristics within a profile for the world to see.

So use Facebook wisely and don’t be a sleaze. It’s a bit creepy but Facebook has a wealth of demographic information about your ideal clients. Without going too far into the Facebook magic that we teach in Bach Performance Business Coaching you can create targeted ads that yield great results. Dani Singer of Fit2 Go called our expertise “a rare gem” after he spent $1,286 and brought in $35,256 in new clients, all in the span of a month and a half.

Determining Your Unique Selling Proposition

Your USP sets you apart. It is the benefits your clients reap from working with you or buying your product.

How can you stand out from thousands of other trainers?

1. Be unique: As Scott Stratten once tweeted, “If you are your authentic self in your business, you have no competition.” I’d say 90% of trainers operate with the same few principles. The only way to stand out and be extraordinary is with passion, personality and excellent ability to relate to your clients on a personal level.

2. Focus on benefits, not features: No-one cares that you have an exercise library, a spiffy training app that integrates with myFitnessPal, and a plethora of experience as a coach. They care that you have an exercise library of exercises to help them train safely and make progress. Your training app is great, but the real benefit is it allows you to track, tweak, and optimize their program so they stay safe, pain-free, and healthy.

3. Expertise over experience. You have experience? Cool. I know a dude at my gym who’s been training for 25 years. The real benefit of your experience is your ability to navigate the tricky fitness world, helping your clients avoid the most common problems and get better results faster.

Your clients don’t care much about your certs, experience or tools. Those are all in the past. Personal training is a “what have you done for me lately” industry. Your clients want results, now. It’s your job to deliver the results.

Find your Ideal  Personal Training Clients

Remember, people hang out with people who have similar interests. If you’re able to attract your ideal clients, they likely have five or more friends with similar goals and an interest in your services.
Build a personal relationship with your clients beyond the gym. Do a great job helping them achieve their goals. You’ll be rewarded with an endless supply of similar clients.

P.S. Need help?

Hundreds of trainers have grabbed their Free Six Figure Fitness Business Guide and started making more money online.

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Lifting Rep Range Rules for Building Muscle

If you struggle with building muscle and strength, this post is for you.

Let me tell you about a recent conversation between my buddy, Alex and I, after his workout.

We met for coffee when Alex walked in and said, “Man, this pump is insane. I think my muscles are already growing from that last set.”

Once a bro, always a bro.

As a backstory, Alex was new (again) to the gym.

He played sports in high school and lifted with his football team, but that’s about it. In college, he’d start training, mix in some yoga or a group exercise class, then stop.

He’d see progress, then get more interested in beer and chasing tail. Fair enough.

These days, Alex is 27, a few years into his career, and still primarily interested in beer and chasing tail. Again, I can’t blame the guy.

But now, he’s developed a bit of a gut. Long days at work and short nights have taken their toll and it’s starting to show. Alex has been lifting consistently now for six months, has lost a little fat and built muscle, but has since hit a plateau.

He’s losing motivation because he’s not seeing results and doesn’t know where to go for a new workout. So, he asked for a few pointers and knew how to get my help: by offering copious amounts of caffeine.

Alex’s workout (printed on the internet read)…
1. Barbell Bench Press 4×10 

2. Dumbbell Incline Bench Press 4×12

3. Dumbbell Decline Bench Press 3×12
4. Cable Chest Flyes 3×15
5a. Triceps Push-down 3×10
5b. Assisted Dips 3×10

I took a drink of my coffee and dove in. 
Most muscle building advice for the average guy is flat out wrong. This was okay…but it could be much better.

Since Alex told me he wanted to be lean, but more muscular, kind of like an NFL linebacker I knew the look he was going for. 

I asked Alex, “is this what you’ve been doing for the last few months?”


“Have you been able to get stronger on your bench press, or are your numbers staying the same?”

I made progress in the beginning, but not for a while. I haven’t been tracking them.

Alex was making two of the biggest problems in the book.

First, he wasn’t tracking his lifts. You must track your progress to lift heavier weights for more reps over time. Without pushing your body past what it’s currently able to do how can it grow bigger and stronger?

It can’t.

Second, Alex was only lifting in one rep range, the hypertrophy rep range. Now, it’s true the “best” rep range to build muscle is lifting moderately heavy weights for multiple sets of 8-12 reps. Still, this isn’t the whole picture. You need a variety of rep ranges to maximize lean muscular gains.

Save for advanced lifters who’ve been training consistently for years, building muscle a byproduct of getting stronger. This means you need to get stronger first and lift a bit heavier to maximize your progress.

The reason you’re not building size and strength isn’t due to a lack of effort. The reason is a lack of strength, not tracking workouts, and too little variety in rep ranges. Here’s what to do to fix it and get back to growing.


How To Train For Maximum Muscle Growth


Strength First:
Mechanical tension, lifting a heavy load with a full range of motion, is a key component to muscle growth. In the example above, Alex wasn’t creating enough tension. If Alex were to add 50 pounds to his bench press, don’t you think he would be stronger with more muscle? Of course. Strength and size are correlated, as you’ll learn with the Minimalist Muscle Blitz workout.

If you’re like Alex, here’s how you fix it: Train heavier with low reps as the first exercise in your training. You don’t need to stomp around like a powerlifter; rather, pick one exercise each day and lift increasingly heavier weights for 3-8 reps.
Track your workouts in a notebook and add weight from week to week.

workout, muscle building rep range

Monday: Upper Body
Bench Press 5×5, rest 90 seconds

Increase the weight on each set. Aim to add 5 pounds to sets next week. 

Tuesday: Lower Body
Squat 5×5, rest 90 seconds
Increase the weight on each set. Aim to add 5 pounds to sets next week. 

Lifting heavy will help you recruit more muscle fibers, meaning you can fatigue them later on to grow. Equally as important, getting stronger allows you to lift heavier weights in the exercises coming up next. 

I can’t make it more clear: For most guys, the fastest way to get bigger is to get stronger. It’s as simple as picking a major movement like those listed above and getting stronger from week to week and month to month. 


Use The Bodybuilding Rep Range

The bodybuilding rep range, 8-15 reps with a moderate weight, is still an essential component of training to build muscle and should make up at least 50% of your training. These reps should be heavy, with 1-2 reps of failure, but not grinding reps.

This creates mechanical tension as well as keeps your muscles contracting for a longer time. This leads to another important muscle building component, metabolic stress.

Metabolic stress, also known as the “pump” occurs when muscles contract, yet blood can’t escape. This stressful environment triggers a number of muscle building factors. 

Here’s what you need to do you should do. Pick two or three compound exercises training your target muscles and lift 3-4 sets of 8-15 reps. 

Monday: Upper Body
1.Bench Press 5×5, rest 90 seconds                                                                                                                                                           
Increase the weight on each set. Aim to add 5 pounds to sets next week.                                                                                   2a.Dumbbell Incline Bench Press 4×8, rest 60 seconds                                                                                                                    2b.Dumbbell One Arm Row 4×8, rest 60 seconds                                                                                                                                                3. Dip 3×10-12, rest 60 seconds

Tuesday: Lower Body
1.Squat 5×5, rest 90 seconds
Increase the weight on each set. Aim to add 5 pounds to sets next week.                                                                                                       2. Dumbbell Romanian Deadlift 4×10, rest 60 seconds                                                                                                                        3.Dumbbell Step Back Lunge 3×8/leg, rest 45 b/t legs                                                                                                                          4.Machine Leg Press 3×15, rest 60 seconds       


Mix In Higher Rep Training

To cap off your training, sprinkle in higher rep training. Do one exercise with 2-3 sets of 10-15 reps with short rest periods to maximize metabolic stress.


Additionally, you can use one exercise to failure. This exercise must be an isolation exercise, like a biceps curl or leg extension instead of a squat.  A recent study found when it comes to muscle growth, the same growth came from using 3 sets to failure with 30% max as 3 sets of 80%.

This means regardless of how heavy the weight is, training to failure maximizes muscle fiber recruitment and stimulates growth, even with lighter weight. This both saves your joints and preserves your nervous system while maximizing gains.

Applied to your training, you can train to failure but use isolation exercises. Keep the weight light and focus on technique. When your technique breaks down you’ve reached failure. Rest and repeat for 2-3 sets and call it a day.


Monday: Upper Body
1.Bench Press 5×5, rest 90 seconds                                                                                                                                                            Increase the weight on each set. Aim to add 5 pounds to sets next week.                                                                                  
2a.Dumbbell Incline Bench Press 4×8, rest 60 seconds                                                                                                                     2b.Dumbbell One Arm Row 4×8, rest 60 seconds                                                                                                                                               3. Dip 3×10-12, rest 60 seconds                                                                                                                                                                 4.Triceps Pushdown 3×15, rest 30 seconds                                                                                                                                                         5. Cable Biceps Curl, 3xfailure, rest 30-60 seconds       

Tuesday: Lower Body
1.Squat 5×5, rest 90 seconds
Increase the weight on each set. Aim to add 5 pounds to sets next week.   
2. Dumbbell Romanian Deadlift 4×10, rest 60 seconds
3.Dumbbell Step Back Lunge 3×8/leg, rest 45 b/t legs
4.Machine Leg Press 3×15, rest 60 seconds
5. Leg Extension 2xfailure, rest 30-60

Keep in mind, this works best only once you’ve gotten strong. Make strength your focus first. Spend the middle of your workout with moderate weight and reps. Then,  sprinkle in the high rep stuff at the end as the icing on the cake.

Wrap Up
If you’re like Alex and want to build a strong, muscular, and powerful body, you need to focus on a few keys to your training.

1. Build strength. Strength means tension, and greater tension in your muscles forces them to grow.  

2.Incorporate moderate rep, moderate load training as the “meat” of your workouts. This creates both tension and metabolic stress (the pump) to accelerate your gains.

3. Sprinkle in high-rep sets and failure work. This is the icing on the cake and can help you cap off your physique. 

4. Write down your workouts. It takes months to build muscle, not weeks with an occasional ” I’m taking time off” sprinkled in every month. Keep pushing to make consistent gains, track your workouts, and add weight to the bar. Do this and you’ll force your stubborn body to grown.

5. Having a plan expertly designed for you is one piece of the puzzle. Having simple, easy to make meals and the help of a coach is the other half of the puzzle. That’s why the Minimalist Muscle Blitz is the perfect plan for you to add lean muscle, lose fat, and build your best body without living in the gym. Grab your copy today.

Why You Must Sprint

lose fat fast

Quite the statement, but consider this:

  • Sprints will keep you lean during a bulking phase.
  • Sprints will shred fat when dieting down due to their impact on insulin sensitivity.
  • Sprinting before lifting will potentiate the CNS for greater gains in strength.
  • Sprinting helps you build powerful hamstrings and glutes and may be the key to conquering your muscle building plateau.

While sprinting is typically been associated with athletic development, lacing up the Nikes and hitting the track improves your conditioning, athleticism, and shreds ridiculous amounts of body fat, all while preserving your hard-earned muscle.

Yes, even when you’re looking to gain muscle.

The fact is that even skinny dudes need conditioning work. Hoisting weights isn’t enough, especially when the end goal is a body that’s shredded and athletic.

In all honestly, what’s the point being strong and jacked when you’re gassed walking up the stairs or can’t sustain your beastly skills a simple pick-up game?

Don’t be like most people who slug away on the treadmill or scan Facebook with a half-assed elliptical workout for 30 minutes, four days per week. Most of all, don’t skip conditioning altogether.

Drop the “conditioning keeps me small and weak ” sob story.

It’s time to maximize your training by unleashing the power of sprints. You’ll stay shredded, uncork new power and athleticism, and when combined with a muscle building diet, add muscle onto your glutes, hamstrings, and quads.

Here’s Why You Must Sprint

Speed Work Potentiates the CNS for Gains in Strength

Place your sprint training directly after a dynamic warm-up and movement prep to supercharge the nervous system for more strength. From sprinting, your central nervous system (CNS) is fired up to speed up your rate of force development via two potential mechanisms:

  • According to Hamada et. el (2000), there is an increased phosphorylation of myosin regulatory light chains during a maximum voluntary contraction (MVC). This allows the actin and myosin binding (for muscle contraction) to react to the increased calcium release. This reaction triggers a cascade of events leading to enhanced force muscle production at the structural level of muscle (Horwath & Kravitz ). Thus, increased muscle activation yields a greater duration of calcium ions in the muscle cell environment, yielding a greater phosphorylation of the myosin light chain protein (Rixon et al. 2007).
  • The second theory is based on the H-reflex, an excitation of a spinal reflex elicited by afferent muscle nerves. It is theorized that the PAP intervention enhances the H-reflex, thus increasing the efficiency and rate of the nerve impulses to the muscle (Hodgson, Docherty, Robbins, 2005).

Sprinting before lifting is ideal for improving performance in athletes and potentiating the nervous system for heavy lifts and explosive training. Start your training by doing sprints to hack your nervous system and improve strength performance. 

Improved Anaerobic Conditioning Levels

Ahh, the good ole’ C-word. No, not Crossfit. Kidding aside,  cardio really is regarded strangely in the fitness industry; some people love it for overall health and fat loss, and some people are hell bent on making cardio-bashing memes and slamming running like it’s worse than ISIS.

Smart people and good coaches know the answer is always “It depends with cardio.” You probably also know that—if used correctly, like sprints—cardio has a place.

To cut through the basis, our body has three main energy systems that work in concert to provide us with the energy (i.e. ATP) necessary for our daily activities, including exercise.

  • ATP-PCr: Provides energy for very high intensity, short duration activities (6 – 10 seconds) without the use of oxygen (1 ATP per reaction)
  • Anaerobic Glycolysis: Provides energy for high intensity, short-to-moderate duration activities (10-90 seconds) without the use of oxygen (2 ATP per anaerobic cycle)
  • Oxidative Phosphorylation (Aerobic): Provides energy for low-to-moderate intensity activities lasting more than 2 minutes (36-38 ATP’s per cycle)

To keep this short and concise, it’s important to note energy systems are not mutually exclusive. They all work together and are recruited based on the demands of an activity.

For example, a two-mile race is primarily oxidative, a power clean is primarily ATP-PCr dominant, and a 200-meter sprint is primarily anaerobic glycolytic dominant.

Back to my point: Sprinting is a high-intensity method that emphasizes the ATP-PCr and anaerobic glycolysis systems, the same energy systems used during most high-intensity lifting sessions.


By sprinting and improving your anaerobic glycolytic capabilities you’re allowed to work at higher relative intensities, which elicit peripheral adaptations associated with aerobic AND anaerobic metabolism (i.e. improves function of ALL three energy pathways). This means you’ll improve work capacity in your muscle-building workouts, allowing for harder training and building more muscle.

Sprints Build your Glutes and Hamstrings

Sprinting is a total body exercise with the primary driving force being powerful hip extension and flexion in acceleration, then rapid stride turnover as you reach top speed. The muscles primarily responsible for explosive hip extension/flexion are some of the biggest muscles in your body: the glutes, hamstrings, hip flexors, and quads.

Rather than solely using deadlifts, squats, cleans, and other weight-room exercise to build your backside —  use sprints. My assumption is you haven’t sprinted in ages. The training variety should be what the doctor ordered to jump-start rapid growth.


Sprinting Shreds Body Fat

Besides improving the look of your booty, improving athleticism, and stimulating muscle growth, sprinting will, of course, shred body fat.

I’d take it as to say that sprinting during the summer is the best training method accelerate fat loss and improve your athleticism. And do your best Rocky and Apollo reenactment before the most famous bro-hug of all time.


As an added bonus, sprinting works as a check-and-balance system during bulking phases. Oftentimes, overzealous lifters crush every calorie source available and follow the “See-Food” diet. Sprinting provides a similar reaction for the body to resistance by improving insulin sensitivity, increasing anabolic hormone levels, while burning more calories through high-intensity exercise.

Sprinting effectively builds a safeguard against this all too common bulking pitfall to keep bodyfat low, even when you’re bulking up.

Sprinting Options:

Tweet: Check out these awesome sprint workouts to shred fat and preserve #muscle. @Eric_BachCheck out these awesome sprint workouts to shred fat and preserve #muscle. @Eric_Bach

 Low Volume Sprints Before lifting

Sprinting before lifting is ideal for improving performance in athletes and potentiating the nervous system for heavy lifts and explosive training. As a result, your strength performance will increase, conditioning will improve, and athleticism will be preserved.

But wait…Sprinting is a technical movement that needs practice. The most demanding and explosive exercises require maximum focus and energy to preserve technique and thus, should be done first in a workout, which means sprints.

The neural demands of sprints need full focus for maximum performance and low injury risk, at least if you’re moving at top speed. Remember peeps, we need risk versus reward: enough sprinting to spark the nervous system, yet low enough in volume to prevent excess fatigue, especially in hard-gainers.

Perform low volume, short distance sprints before training rather than long-duration sprints when you’re already gassed and fatigued. Two days per week perform five sets of 10-20 yards with walk-back recovery and adding one sprint per week.

This way, you’ll improve athleticism and power without excess stress and training volume to interfere with your gains.

Sprints at the End of Your Workout

Option BEEE (B, duh), is sprinting at the end of your workout, ideally on a hill. Using a hill keep sprints sub-maximal in speed, but not effort to prevent overstraining and hamstring pulls, yet still shred fat and scorch your legs.

sprinting for skinny guys, why you must sprint
Photo Credit: http://rpmftns.com/hill-sprints-a-fat-burning-hell/

When sprinting for conditioning start with running two days per week on a treadmill or slight hill. After a warm-up and speed drills, sprint for 10 minutes with 8-second sprints and 50 second rests, increasing sprint time by one second and decreasing sprint rest by one second each week up to 15-second sprints.

Week One: Sprint 10 seconds, rest 50

Week Two: Sprint 11 seconds, rest 49

Week Three: Sprint 12 seconds, rest 48

Week Four: Sprint 13 seconds, rest 47

Week Five: Sprint 14 seconds, rest 46

Week Six: Sprint 15 seconds, rest 45

Tweet This workout

As always, a micro-progression to condition the body and tissues to the demands of sprinting without exceeding your recovery capabilities.

Wrap Up

Listen, I know cardio sucks. That’s why we all skip it, even more-so when there are too many options. Unfortunately, neither is a good option, So I’ll make it simple:

Get up and sprint.

Yea, it might be scary, but you must sprint to maximally improve athleticism and preserve muscle. Just as important, sprinting torches unwanted body fat that’s been hanging over your jeans from the Holiday season.

You have nothing to lose—only athleticism, a shredded body, and powerful legs to gain. Alright, I gotta go hit the gym to use the recumbent bike. Just kidding, hill sprints it is.



Horwath, R., & Kravitz , L. (n.d.). postactivation potentiation: A brief review. Informally published manuscript, Exercise Science , Retrieved from http://www.unm.edu/~lkravitz/Article folder/postactivationUNM.html

Rixon KP, Lamont HS, Bemben M. Influence of type of muscle contraction, gender, and lifting experience on post activation potentiation performance. J Strength Cond Res. 2007; 21: 500–505.


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Three Problems with Your Bent Over Row

underhand row

There is no question: the barbell bent over row is one of the best exercises you can do to build thick slabs of muscle to support every strength movement and build a powerful, head turning body.

In fact, from a pure benefit driven perspective, I’d argue the barbell bent over row should be a staple in nearly every program whether you’re trying to build muscle, lose fat, and look good naked or hoist a huge deadlift.

Taking this a step further, the barbell bent over row requires you to perform a hip hinge and isometrically hold position. This builds incredible strength and resiliency through your core stabilizers to build an injury resistant midsection and of course, brutal strength on hip hinge patterns like deadlifts.

As you can see, the starting position for a barbell bent over row matches the body position required to perform deadlifts with optimal form. 

More directly, barbell bent over rows build incredible strength and muscle through your posterior chain. Barbell rows specifically hammer your lats, those funny-lookin’ wings under your arms that give you the vaunted v-tapered physique.

When it comes to training your lats, they’re a different animal. Rather than a completely horizontal or completely vertical muscle fiber orientation, these goofy lil muscle fibers are oriented diagonally, making both vertical (think chin ups) and horizontal pulling (rows) exercises necessary for you to maximize the thickness and size of your back. Thus, if you want a back that’s big and strong enough to block out the sun, you gotta row if you want to grow. 


Secondarily, barbell bent over rows will hammer your rear delts, traps, rhomboids, and to a lesser extent, your forearms and biceps.

Surely with all these benefits there’s no doubt you should row, right?

Well, similiar to an akward rehearsal dinner there’s always an elehpant in the room when it comes to exercise selection. For barbell rows, it’s how to do them properly to maximize gains while simultanously preventing you from rowing like a hunchback and jacking up your spine.

But when it comes to bent over rows there is an elephant in the room: how to do them properly to maxmize your gains while minimizing your chance of injury. 

While many coaches haphazardly throw exercises into a routine because they’re painstakingly difficult it’s imperative that all exercises have a clear point and purpose.

After all, in training…

is to create a physiological response to lose fat, build muscle, and improve performance…not make yourself miserable. 

In the case of the barbell bent over rows, a premium is placed on holding body position to get strong through the trunk while challenging your hamstrings, glutes, spinal errectors, and core to hold position and build brutal strength in the hip hinge position.  lats, rhomboids, spinal errectorshammering your lats, rhomboids, traps, erectors, biceps, glutes, and hamstrings into hypertrophy.

Barbell bent-over rows are a great exercise to address common technique weaknesses and flaws, such as trunk stability and strength in the hinge position.

Problem is, they’re butchered all the time leading to dysfunction and injury instead of high-performance gains. Well, it’s time to whip your row into shape and fix three problems with your bent over row to help you minimize your risk of injury and maximize your gains.

Potential Issues with the Row

Rounding Your Lower Back:


Lifters with flexion based back injuries may struggle to hold a flat-back position with a loaded barbell in front of the body. 
It’s essential to pull the body tight to the body, brace the abs to ensure neutral spine, and eliminate body english, to minimize problems due to shear stress.

Furthermore, be conservative programming heavy rows in conjunction with squats and deadlifts in the same workout.
Rows are great to get jacked and strong, but that’s no good if you have a mangled spine.

Program bent over rows conservatively if you have a history of flexion based back injuries.

Pulling the Body to the Bar:

Let your muscles lift the weight, not your ego. Most lifters have a tendency to excessively load the bar and end up using way too much momentum to move weight. While the intentions are good, losing position, raising the chest, flexing the spine, and doing total body convulsions to complete the lift do more harm than good.

Hold solid joint position, drop the weight a bit, and train what you mean to train!

Pulling the Elbows Too far Back:

When rowing, some lifters pull the bar too far past mid-line. While you might feel a better “squeeze” in the muscles, the humerus may migrate forward into the anterior socket of the shoulder, potentially causing impingement and dysfunction.

Rather than driving the elbows as far as possible aim to break the plane of the body, but no further if the shoulder caves forward. This way, you’ll optimize muscular recruitment for gains in strength and size without compromising the integrity of the shoulder joint.

Basically, you’ll still get jacked without harming your shoulders.

bent over row

(Photo credit: Brett Contreras)

Wrap Up:

No doubt, the supinated bent over row provides some massive benefits in terms of pulling strength and hypertrophy. But, every exercise is a tool, and any tool is only as good as its use. Troubleshoot your row and ensure you’re not making errors to the detriment of your health and function.


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The Best Cardio for Skinny guys

What you Need to Know:

  • Neglecting conditioning might help you you grow a smidge bigger, but at the cost of poor athleticism, and gaining enough marbeling around your abs to make a T-Bone steak cringe.
  • Sprinting before lifting is ideal for improving performance in athletes and potentiating the nervous system for heavy lifts and explosive training.
  • Complexes use major movement patterns in succession to challenge the cardiovascular system and muscles under fatigue in ten short minutes.
  • Jumping rope is a low impact exercise to preserve muscle mass while improving footwork and conditioning.
  • Sleds provide additional training volume without undue eccentric stress, preserving your recoverability.

All you need to do is eat, hoist huge weights, and eat some more and you’ll build muscle and become a jacked and diesel beast, right?


As simple as it sounds escaping from hardgainer hell isn’t easy, especially if you want a body that’s athletic and shredded at the end.

Steady state cardio, endless exercises classes, and skipping cardio altogether aren’t options—they’ll just lead to skinnier with less muscle, and in the case of skipping cardio altogether, skinny fat and un-athletic and getting crossed over by 50 year old men at the local YMCA.

cardio for skinny guys

Contrary to popular media, your muscles won’t rot off at the mere sight of a treadmill. Your strength won’t erode and leave you crumbling under a barbell. Don’t be like most scraggly hardgainers who avoid conditioning like it’s an Ebola-laced napkin.

Conditioning is still vital to optimize athleticism, workout efficiency, and overall health.

In my latest article on T-Nation I cover the Best Cardio for Skinny guys to improve your conditioning, athleticism, and preserve your precious muscle.

 Continue Reading Here

P.S. Are you a Skinny Guy Looking to Gain Muscle? Here are Five Ways to for Skinny Guys to add Muscle

P.P.S. And here’s exactly How to Eat to Build Muscle: Escape From Hardgainer Hell Nutrition Guide



Discover the Power of Complex Training

[A variation of this article was originally published on EliteFTS.com]

Here’s what you need to know:

1.Post-Activation Potentiation is the driving force behind the benefits of complex training.

2. Complex-pair training, when scheduled in appropriate training blocks, can improve power and rate of force development (RFD).

3.Complex training works best in trained, advanced level athletes. Unless you can move a decent amount of weight this isn’t for you. If this is you, stop watching Miley Cyrus twerkin’ it, go pick up heavy stuff, and raid the fridge.

Adding 5 pounds to the bar each workout might work when you’re a rookie, but not once you’ve earned your keep in the power rack.

Long term gains aren’t achieved solely by linear workouts. Soon, your linear periodization and s-medium T-shirts no longer get the job done.

You’ve hit the dreaded plateau.

Plateaus will occur in the weight room. Luckily, one strategy reigns supreme in helping you bust through your current levels of strength, power, and muscular development. The time has come to add strategically designed complex training to stimulate explosive growth and strength.

Enter complex-pair training, an advanced training strategy to add some spring to your static strength, new slabs of muscle, and develop a powerful physique.

This advanced strategy has an athlete perform a high-intensity strength training exercise followed by an explosive exercise that mimics the biomechanics of the strength training exercise, such as a deadlift and a broad jump.

The driving force behind complex training is a phenomena known as post-activation potentiation.

What Is Post-Activation Potentiation?

Post-activation potentiation, commonly abbreviated as “PAP” is a physiological adaption describing the immediately enhanced muscle force output of explosive movements after a heavy resistance exercise is performed (Robbins 2005). It is believed that the contractile history of a muscle influences the mechanical performance of subsequent muscle contractions.

Essentially, the nervous system becomes excited due to the heavy load from the previous exercise, causing in increased response in the subsequent explosive exercise (Rixon et al. 2007).

How PAP Works

Post-activation potentiation primarily occurs in type 2 fast twitch muscle fibers, so the advanced technique is best used to maximize performance of explosive based activities such as weightlifting, sprinting, jumping and throwing activities (2,6).

Luckily, type 2 muscle fibers are also the muscle fibers with the most potential for muscle growth.

*Note: This is awesome.

There are two proposed mechanisms for PAP. (Stay with me on this one, as the science gets a little heavy.)

1.) According to Hamada et. el (2000), there is an increased phosphorylation of myosin regulatory light chains during a maximum voluntary contraction (MVC). This allows the actin and myosin binding (for muscle contraction) to react to the increased calcium release. This reaction triggers a cascade of events leading to enhanced force muscle production at the structural level of muscle (Horwath & Kravitz ).

Thus, increased muscle activation yields a greater duration of calcium ions in the muscle cell environment, yielding a greater phosphorylation of the myosin light chain protein (Rixon et al. 2007).

Basically, the chemicals in your body that make your muscles contract get hyper sensitive and contract harder. 

2.) The second theory is based on the H-reflex, an excitation of a spinal reflex elicited by afferent muscle nerves. It is theorized that the PAP intervention enhances the H-reflex, thus increasing the efficiency and rate of the nerve impulses to the muscle (Hodgson, Docherty, Robbins, 2005).

In other words, your nervous system get’s jacked up full go from a heavier exercise that matches the movement pattern of the unweighted movement, such as a power clean. When an explosive exercise such as a vertical jump is performance, the body is primed and ready to fire on all cylinders.  As a result, the fully engaged nervous system powers up your jump to new heights.

The complex pair is then repeated for a number of sets. Over time, this improved neuromuscular efficiency improves the muscles ability to generate power.

It’s fun to be jacked, but the real bad-asses are jacked and explosive. You should have a little pop to go with your physique, not be as soft as melted butter.

Here are some common sample exercise pairings

Main Exercise:                        Explosive Movement:

Bench Press                               Clap Push Up, medicine ball chest pass

Shoulder Press                           Overhead medicine ball slam/ throw

Squat                                          Jump squat, vertical jump, box jump

Deadlift                                      Broad jump, kettlebell swing

Explosive Exercises For Complex Pairs




Rest Periods

There is a balancing act between fatigue and PAP following a heavy strength movement. The key is finding a balance between the two, and I’ve found everyone to be different.

If the potentiation of the nervous system exceeds the level of fatigue, the explosive movement will be performed with more force and a higher rate of force development.

Bingo! Then we have both acute and long-term benefits of PAP.

But how long do we rest?

As it stands there is no uniform agreement about the optimal recovery required between the pre- load stimulus and subsequent muscle performance to gain optimal performance benefits (Macintosh et. al).

A comprehensive meta-analysis (Wilson et al) of Post Activation examined multiple variables, including rest periods and found both rest periods between 3-7 minutes and 7-10 minutes to yield significant power increases due to PAP, whereas longer time periods did not.

It’s important to note that the explosive exercise tested in many trials happened to be competitive sprint testing, rather than solely potentiating to bust through lifting plateaus.

As a Coach I must work within the time constraints of a typical session. For this reason, I   keep rest periods anywhere from 1-3 minutes between high intensity resistance exercises and explosive exercises, with active rest and mobility exercises performed between. A 1-3 minute rest period allows for PAP training stimuli while promoting a higher workout density and sufficient training volume, both important variables.

complex training

(Contreras, Post-Activation Potentiation: Theory and Application)


To develop power, training intensity must be high enough to produce a potentiation effect. Workloads between 70-95% have shown the greatest positive effects on subsequent explosive exercises, although loads above 80% 1-RM have appear to have the greatest potentiating effect(4,12). In explosive exercises that use resistance (if at all) stay light, under 10 lbs. This places focus on moving fast and speed development.


Volume is a tricky when it comes to PAP. Too much and you risk fatigue and limited PAP response. Too little and there isn’t a large enough training response for your ambitious goals.

“So what do I do?”

Volume can be achieved in a few ways, by increasing the number of sets total, the reps in each set, or both. Gilbert and Lees (2005) found performing as few as one set, and up to five sets, of an exercise has been successful in eliciting potentiation.

Gullich and Schmidtbleicher (1996) found sets consisting of greater than five total repetitions or 5 seconds of total contraction time are not advisable because of the fatigue induced.

In most cases, I use 3-5 sets of 3 repetitions. Do 3 Sets if you’re shooting more for strength/power gains and 5 sets if you’re aiming for hypertrophy and more power endurance.

Complex Training Workout Program:

Complexes maximize workout efficiency by combining a strength movement with an explosive movement. By maximizing the rate of force development (RFD) you will blast past stubborn plateaus and reach uncharted levels of muscular development, power, and strength.

A Sample 6 Week Progression may look something like this:

Week Load Sets/Reps(Strength Movement) Sets/Reps(explosive) Rest Between strength/ explosive movement
1 80% 5X4 5×4 60 s
2 85% 5X3 5×5 90s
3 90% 4X3 4×6 120s
4 (back off) 85% 3X3 3×3 60s
5 90% 5X2 5×5 90-120s
6 95% 5X2 5×4 120-150s


Monday: Movement Focus Squat Pattern

1a. Strength: Squat

1b. Mobility: Ankle/ Hip Mobilization

  1. Explosive: Countermovement Vertical Jump

Accessory Work: Vertical pulling, pressing, sled work


Tuesday: Movement Focus Horizontal Press

1a. Strength: Close Grip Bench Press

1b. Mobility: T-Spine Mobilization

1c. Explosive: Supine Medicine Ball Chest Pass

Accessory Work: Single leg, hinge pattern, weighted carries/ offset loading


Wednesday: Active Recovery/Off


Thursday: Movement Focus Hinge Pattern

1a. Strength:Deadlift

1b. Mobility: T-Spine/ Hip Mobilization

1c. Explosive: Broad Jump

Accessory Work: Horizontal Pulling, horizontal pressing, sled work


Friday:Movement Focus Overhead Press Pattern/ Olympic Lift

1a. Strength: Split Jerk

1b. Mobility: T-Spine/ Hip Mobilization

  1. Explosive: Overhead Medicine Ball Press-Throw

Accessory Work: Squat Pattern, Single Leg, weighted carries/offset loading

Wrap Up:

Unleash the power of complex training to shatter your strength training plateaus. As Yuri Verkhoshansky described PAP “ Imagine lifting a half-full can of water that you thought was full.” In other words, your jumps will feel like jumping on a trampoline after an extra scoop of pre-workout powder in your shaker cup.

The combinations included are by no means an end-all, but it’s important to match the movement patterns of the strength exercise and the explosive exercise. I wouldn’t advise training this way for long bouts of time, but strategically planned complex cycles will add plates to the bar, new found power, and pack on new slabs of muscle.


1.)Contreras, B. (Designer). (2010, 05 4). Post-Activation Potentiation: Theory and Application [Web Drawing]. Retrieved from http://bretcontreras.files.wordpress.com/2010/04/capture.jpg

2.)French DN, Kraemer WJ, Cooke CB. Changes in dynamic exercise performance following a sequence of preconditioning isometric muscle actions. J Strength Cond Res. 2003 Nov;17(4):678-85.

3.)Gilbert, G, and Lees, A. Changes in the force development characteristics of muscle following repeated maximum force and power exercise. Ergonomics 48: 1576–1584, 2005.

4.)Gullich AC and Schmidtbleicher D. MVC-induced short-term potentiation of explosive force. N Stud Athlete 11: 67-81, 1996.

5.)Hamada T, Sale DG, MacDougall JD, Tarnopolsky MA. Postactivation potentiation, fiber type, and twitch contraction time in human knee extensor muscles. J Appl Physiol. 2000 Jun;88(6):2131-7.

6.)Hilfiker R, Hübner K, Lorenz T, Marti B. Effects of drop jumps added to the warm-up of elite sport athletes with a high capacity for explosive force development. J Strength Cond Res. 2007 May;21(2):550-5.

7.)Horwath, R., & Kravitz , L. (n.d.). postactivation potentiation: A brief review. Informally published manuscript, Exercise Science , Retrieved from http://www.unm.edu/~lkravitz/Article folder/postactivationUNM.html

8.)Macintosh BR and Rassier DE. What is fatigue? Can J Appl Physiol 27: 42-55, 2002.

9.)McCann, MR and Flanagan, SP. McCann, MR and Flanagan, SP. The effects of exercise selection and rest interval on postactivation potentiation of vertical jump performance. J Strength Cond Res 24(5): 1285-1291, 2010

10. Rixon KP, Lamont HS, Bemben M. Influence of type of muscle contraction, gender, and lifting experience on postactivation potentiation performance. J Strength Cond Res. 2007; 21: 500–505.

11.)Robbins, D.W. Postactivation potentiation and its practical applicability: a brief review. J Strength Cond Res. 2005, 19(2): 453-458.

12.)Saez de Villarreal, E.S., Gonzalez-Badillo, J.J. & Izquierdo, M. (2007). Optimal warm-up stimuli of muscle activation to enhance short and long-term acute jumping performance. Eur J Appl Physiol, 100 (4), 393-401.

How To Look Good Naked With Daily Undulating Periodization (DUP)

daily undulating periodization.

Guest Post by: Marc Lewis M.S.(c), CSCS, ACSM-CPT

You’ve hit the wall.

Your strength has plateaued, energy plummeted, and your motivation has slowed to a trickle.  

Hell, you’d rather watch Gilmore Girls and eat gelato than pull weight. It’s obvious what you’re doing isn’t working. You need to make a change.

When my clients plateau on basic linear periodization it’s time for a new strategy: Daily Undulating Periodization (DUP).
daily undulating periodization.

What is? Daily Undulating Periodization (DUP) 

DUP, or daily undulating periodization, is the systematic variation of training volume and intensity into shorter periods of time (1, 2). This method of periodization is non-linear, which is in contrast with the traditional linear periodization (LP) model. 

Daily Undulating Periodization (DUP) Vs. Linear Periodization

The traditional LP model focuses on the variation of training volume and intensity throughout the year, which is facilitated by a systematic decrease of volume and increase of intensity to allow a peak performance at a planned time (1).

In other words, you train for a specific block of time with one goal that builds up to the next training block. This could be a muscle building phase followed by a pure strength phase and finished with a power phase for competition.

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✔️Five Mistakes STOPPING Muscle Growth @Bachperformance✔️ . Building muscle is simple, but it’s not easy. And if you’re training hard but not seeing the results you want, you’re probably making one of these mistakes. – 1️⃣Not Eating Enough Calories. If you’re not giving your body enough fuel to grow, you won’t. A solid estimation on how many calories you need is taking your bodyweight (in pounds) x 16. If you’re 180 pounds this is 2,880 calories, more minimum. – 2️⃣You’re not strong enough. Yet. Your muscles require tension to grow. In the gym, this means heavy strength work with compound exercises like bench presses, chin-ups, and squats. When you make these the primary focus, you’ll increase the number of muscle fibers you can train. This allows you to fatigue more muscle mass, creating the ultimate anabolic trigger to grow sleeve stretching arms and a powerful chest. – 3️⃣You’re Joints Are Gettin’ Demolished. To make long-term progress in the gym you need to train both hard and smart. Vary your grip, or stance on lifts. Use a variety of tools from dumbbells to barbells and kettlebells. – 4️⃣Not. Enough. Sleep. To grow, aim for 6-8 hours of quality sleep. Without sleep, you’ll reduce testosterone, growth hormone, insulin sensitivity, and strength levels. Translation? Every key factor to building muscle is impaired. You’d be better off saving your money on supplements and focusing on sleep. – 5️⃣Training too long. As Bodybuilder Lee Haney said, “stimulate, don’t annihilate.” To grow, you need the right amount of stress with heavy, high tension exercises like squats AND some pump work like curls to maximize muscle growth. 👉But you don’t need to train 6 days per week for 60-90 minutes. . Which do you find the most difficult?Id say number 4️⃣. . . #transformation #musclebuildingplan #musclebuildingprogram #gainstrain #bkstrength #tnation #strongerthanyesterday #deadlifting #deadliftform #transformationtuesday

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Conversely, if your goal is to look better naked, you may do a strength phase, followed by a muscle-building phase and finished with an aggressive fat loss cut. Daily undulating periodization can be designed to accomplish any goal. [And if you want to build muscle specifically, head here].

Why DUP is Better Than Linear Periodization

What’s so great about it when compared to a more traditional method of periodization? 

DUP allows you to focus on four elements:

1) Establishing a more efficient recovery pattern (i.e. stress to recovery ratio)

2) Adding more volume per week (added volume = hypertrophy)

3) Increasing training frequency = increasing skill acquisition/adaptation of neural movement patterns

4) Eliminate motivation zapping plateaus.

First, DUP allows for a more efficient recovery pattern, while still allowing you to maintain the adequate intensity and volume needed to increase strength and stimulate/maintain hypertrophic development (3). During a traditional LP training block, the intensity steadily increases while the volume steadily decreases.

This results in cumulative fatigue and staleness. In addition, you run the risk of losing a portion of the muscle mass gained during the higher volume blocks (3).

Second, the DUP method improves recovery while simultaneously allowing you to add total volume per week. This is critical since total volume (i.e. mechanical overload) is directly related to stimulating the necessary cellular signaling for the development of muscular hypertrophy. 

Third, DUP allows for an increased training frequency through the alternation of stimulus during a shorter period of time.  As a result, you create a greater neuromuscular adaptation compared to the linear model (1, 2, 3). Increased training frequency is a powerful tool for increasing overall training volume while also allowing you to do shorter, more time sensitive workouts.

Eric’s Note: In essence, you train heavy during one workout, like a heavy deadlifting session.

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✔️Why Natural Guys Need More Heavy Strength Work✔️ . Want to look great naked without living in the gym? Apply for your spt in the @bachperformance Physiwur transformation program via the LINK IN BIO. . Your goal when you walk into the gym is simple: get stronger. If getting stronger isn't your goal, you'll miss out on muscle gains as well as the obvious strength gains. Every muscle building and fat-burning technique is limited if you don't start with a great strength base. Think of it like this: The person who trains to "build muscle" will do okay for himself and make modest gains for a while. But the person who trains to "get stronger first, then build muscle second" will make better gains and KEEP making them. . Once you build your base of strength then other conditions, like improving your mind-muscle connection, become increasingly important. But with all other factors being equal, the stronger guy is going to be bigger. So increase the weight on the bar, even if it means lowering the amount of reps you do. . Now, if you're going to build the most strength and size, you need to put an emphasis on the movements that initiate the greatest anabolic response. These include: the squat, deadlift, lunge, carry, bench press, bent-over row, weighted pull-up, weighted dip, and overhead press. . Without these exercises in the mix, you simply won't make the most progress in the shortest amount of time, or the most sustainable progress over a long period of time. If you want gains, you need to use compound movements. . Now, compound movements won't have their fullest effect on your physique unless you put an amount of weight on the bar that has you hovering around the 4 to 8 rep range (or even 1 to 8 rep range if you've got a spotter with you). . For example, deadlifting 225 pounds for 5 reps will only carry your physique so far. If you don't gradually progress to 245 pounds and then 275 pounds and so on, your strength and physique will a plateau. . ➡️Bottom line: Challenge yourself with heavier loads often go build size and strength. . Know someone who would benefit from this❓Send them here. • • #strength #squat #trainhard #flex #powerlifting #dedication #deadlift

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The next workout can be more extensive, with higher volume and less neurological demand.

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✔️Want to build muscle❓Get strong first✔️ . With the @bachperformance physique transformation coaching program we focus on helping you look great naked without living in the gym (LINK IN BIO) . One of the keys❓ . Pure strength work. In newbies, training primarily for strength gains leads to increased muscle because the body isn't used to the high stress environment. . ➡️This is why a base program like 5×5 works so well with beginners – consistent overload with big lifts is plenty to make big gains and outgrow your Baby Gap T-shirts. But… This method won't work forever. . I'd you only lift heavy your joints and nervous system will crack before your mind gives up. As a result, the way you build muscle changes as you get older and better at lifting. Once you've built a base of strength, you eventually adopt a two-fold approach: . ➡️You maximize muscle fiber recruitment to get the most out of training. ➡️You train with enough volume to create progressive overload and to build more muscle. Once you build your strength base, improved motor unit recruitment and work capacity allow you to stimulate more muscle fibers and handle relatively heavier training loads. This means you're able to achieve greater levels of metabolic stress, mechanical tension, and muscular damage, which are the three primary methods of muscular hypertrophy. . Therefore, you can't simply rely on heavy lifting to maximize muscle gains. Instead, you need a mix of high training loads to build work capacity and improve muscle unit recruitment, while mixing in lighter loads to increase total workload. . Ronnie Coleman said it best: "Everyone wants to be a bodybuilder but nobody wants to lift heavy-ass weight.” . 🔥Bottom line❓🔥 Get good at lifting heavy weight with basic exercised before getting too fancy. • • • • • #powerbuilding #powerliftingmotivation #uspa #powerlifter #powerlifting #deadlift #romaniandeadlift #tnation

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This can be applied on a bigger scale to one or two-week microcycles of training. 

Charles Poliquin on Daily Undulating Periodization (DUP)

The late Charles Poliquin (1988) originally proposed the systematic alternation of volume/intensity in shorter periods of time in 1988 (3).

Poliquin (1988) theorized that strength-training programs lose their efficiency after two weeks, as he supported two-week cycles of a training block while alternating between volume and strength blocks (3).

Furthermore, Poliquin pointed out that alternating volume/strength block eliminates the physiological and psychological causes of progress stagnation caused by an overemphasized specialization on volume or intensity (3).

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✔️Poliquins DUP MODEL by @Bachperformance✔️ ⠀ What is DUP? ⠀ DUP, or daily undulating periodization, is the systematic variation of training volume and intensity into shorter periods of time. In other words, you plan fluctuations in the weight and sets/reps schemes, like alternating heavy and light workouts. ⠀ Here are 3 potential benefits to using a DUP model: First, DUP allows for better recovery while still allowing you to maintain the adequate intensity and volume needed to increase strength and size. ⠀ Second, the DUP method improves recovery while simultaneously allowing you to add total volume per week. This is critical since total volume (i.e. mechanical overload) is directly related to stimulating the necessary signalling for muscle growth. ⠀ Third, DUP allows for an increased training frequency through the alternation of stimulus during a shorter period of time, potentially leading to increased skill/technique improvements. ⠀ Have you used DUP in your workouts? . Resource:https://bachperformance.com/daily-undulating-periodization/ . #DUP #dailyundulatingperiodization #poliquin #strengthandconditioning #strengthandconditioningresearch #musclebuildingscience #hypertrophytraining

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As you see, Poliquin’s model allows for a new stimulus every two weeks and provides you with the required intensity needed for strength gains, while facilitating the necessary mechanical overload required for muscular hypertrophy. As a bonus, we’ve found these changes make keep training novel and fun without completely changing a program. 

 Mirandas DUP Model

Miranda et al (2011) compared LP versus DUP in a model that was adopted by Rhea et al (2002), as daily undulating periodization, or what we refer to as DUP (1, 2). Miranda and his colleagues found that DUP elicited similar improvements in maximum strength when compared to LP (1).

However, since the DUP treatment group had a significantly higher baseline 1RM it can be suggested that the DUP treatment group did elicit a greater change in maximum strength, by noting the magnitude of change (i.e. effect size) (1).

In other words, Miranda et al suggested a DUP model with varying volume and intensity is better at getting you jacked than basic linear periodization.

Day 1 Day 2 Day 3
3 X 8-10RM 3 X 6-8RM 3 X 4-6RM

Miranda’s treatment model portrays the alternation of volume and intensity throughout each specific week, which allows for adequate recovery as well as a new stimulus each training day. Rhea et al (2002) pointed out that the superior strength gains seen with DUP could be attributed to a multitude of mechanisms including muscle fiber transformation, bioenergetic adaptations, and neuromuscular alterations (2).

Okay, Enough with Daily Undulating Periodization (DUP) research. How will this help you look better naked?

DUP is be prescribed many different ways and varies according to the individual, purpose of training, and period of a lifting cycle (i.e. off-season, in-season, etc.). That means whether you’re looking to get explosive athleticism, strength, or get jacked DUP is adaptable to your goals. However, a four-week DUP program with a 2:2:1 weekly ratio of hypertrophy, strength, and power training would look like this:

Week 1

Day 1 2 3 4 5
Reps 10-12 6-8 3-5 10-12 6-8
Sets 4 4 6 4 4
Intensity 65-70% 70-75% 55-60% 65-70% 70-75%
Volume 40-48 24-32 18-30 40-48 24-32

Week 2

Day 1 2 3 4 5
Reps 8-10 4-6 2-4 4-6 8-10
Sets 4 5 6 5 4
Intensity 70-75% 82-88% 58-63% 82-88% 70-75%
Volume 32-40 20-30 12-24 20-30 32-40

Week 3

Day 1 2 3 4 5
Reps 6-8 2-4 2-4 6-8 2-4
Sets 3 4 5 3 4
Intensity 75-80% 88-92% 60-63% 75-80% 88-92%
Volume 18-24 8-16 10-20 18-24 8-16

Week 4

Day 1 2 3 4 5
Reps 10-12 6-8 3-5 10-12 6-8
Sets 4 5 6 4 5
Intensity 68-73% 73-78% 55-60% 68-73% 73-78%
Volume 40-48 30-40 12-24 40-48 30-40

In this four-week sample program, the training days would be split as follows:

Day 1: Upper Body/Hypertrophy

Day 2: Lower Body/Strength

Day 3: Full Body/Power (pause sets w/focus on slow eccentric control and explosive concentric movement)

Day 4: Upper Body/Strength

Day 5: Lower Body/Hypertrophy

When programming a training schedule using the DUP method, it’s imperative to remember that DUP is programmed based on each individual goal. Training must be specific to your goals—a one size fits all approach is a first-class ticket to mediocrity, not excellence. Although DUP looks complicated, the basics are still best. Pick compound exercises you know well and hammer home strength and performance.

Upper Bench Press Push Press*
Lower Back Squat Deadlift
* The weight is based on an estimated 1RM from a 5RM test

As you can see, the exercise selection is basic and focused on push, press, pull, and squat. Include accessory movements after the main exercises to balance training between anterior/posterior sides of the body and prevent injury.

                                               Wrapping Up DUP

When your training hits a plateau you must make a change.
Your periodization model is a good place to start.

Adapt daily undulating periodization to your training for improved recovery, greater training volume, and increased training frequency for massive gains in strength and muscle mass. Keep your exercises simple and train with purpose;  you’ll be blasting through your plateau and setting PR’s in no time.

But, That’s Not All

Looking to Implement the DUP method into your training to build bone-crushing strength and look great naked without living in the gym?
daily undulating periodization

We have the perfect resource for you.

The Chiseled Muscle Cheatsheet is a No B.S. approach to helping you build a lean, muscular physique.

Whether you’re an average dude just trying to look better naked or looking at add strength and explosive power, we’ll help you optimize your training without spending every waking minute in the gym. 

About the Author:

Marc Lewis M.S.(c), CSCS, ACSM-CPT is the Director of Sports Performance at Winston Salem Personal Training in Winston Salem, NC, as well as a graduate assistant at the University of South Carolina in the Department of Exercise Science.


  1. Miranda F, Simao R, Rhea M, Bunker D, Prestes J, Diego Leite R, Miranda H, De Salles F & Novaes J. Effects of linear versus daily undulatory periodized resistance training on maximal and submaximal strength gains. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research. 25(7). 2011.
  2. Rhea M, Ball S, Phillips W & Burkett L. A comparison of linear versus daily undulating periodized programs with equated volume and intensity for strength. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research. 16(2). 2002.
  3. Poliquin C. Five steps to increasing the effectiveness of your strength training program. National Strength and Conditioning Association. 10(3). 1988.

photo credit: legdog via photopin cc

Escape from Hardgainer Hell: Nutrition for Hardgainers

For some dudes building muscle is easy. Add protein and creatine to their diet mixed with any  training and voila: 10 pounds of muscle in a month.

I’m not that guy.

In fact, I could pull off skinny jeans and small t-shirts no matter how much I thought I ate or how hard I trained.

It sucked.

That all changed one hot, muggy afternoon.

I just got done peeling myself off the turf at Football practice after I was absolutely trucked by a teammate. My teammate wasn’t a prick; I just provided less resistance than a blade of grass.

It was embarrassing, humiliating, and a huge wake up call to change. I read everything on nutrition and training I could, trying to implement it all at once.

Still, I failed miserably. My desire desire to change was so great that I changed everything whenever I read a fancy supplement label with giant promises or a new training routine.

When it comes to building muscle, information overload is a surefire way to fail.

Much like a Hail Mary pass your efforts will probably end up with a turnover and failure. It’s much better to dink and dunk your way down the field, taking what you can and creating small wins on a daily basis until you spark a big play.

Much like training, you wouldn’t jump into heavy singles without first building up and practicing technique with heavy loads.
Nutrition for hardgainers is no different.

It’s time to stop being the object of ridicule despite busting your ass. By implementing these hardgainer nutrition laws one at a time you’ll see the light and earn your pass out of hard gainer hell.

 1)Drink Liquid Meals Before, During, and/or After your Training

Ironically, when I’m working with clients looking to lose weight one of the first things we look to clean up is the intake of liquid calories. As it stands, my number one strategy to gain the first few pounds of hard-gainer muscle is to incorporate liquid calories before, during, and/or after training. The benefits are huge. Since you’re already guzzling fluids to rehydrate during workouts it’s easy to sneak in 500+ calories for improved exercise recovery, protein synthesis, and tissue repair.

Nutrition for hardgainers

What you need:

-Blender because well, you need to blend the damn thing

Fruit for flavor, high quality nutrients, and carbohydrates for energy

-Spinach or Greens, you wont even taste it and the added veggies are vital to balance a high-protein diet

Protein to support muscle growth and tissue repair

Topper/Texture adder for additional nutrients and to bring the whole recipe together

Optional: Creatine monohydrate to support high performance training, or a greens supplement to fill nutritional gaps.

Raspberry Chocolate Goodness:

This shake is an awesome post-workout shake, quick breakfast, or a healthy sweet treat option. If you are looking for fat loss keep this decadent treat for a post-workout treat due to the carbohydrate count.


-1 Cup Raspberries (frozen)

-2 Scoops Chocolate Whey Protein

-1.5 Cups Raw Spinach

-1 Cup Coconut Milk

– ½ cup water, ½ cup ice

Bottom Line: In all seriousness supplements make things much easier. If you’re busy then $2 for two scoops of protein per day is a no-brainer compared to cooking up an extra ½ pound of chicken for a similar protein equivalent. Both from a financial and time perspective protein supplements like Biotrust or Onnit are a godsend. Make a batch of Supershakes like the shake listed above.

 2) Track Your Calories for Self-Awareness

Tracking calories is a pain in the ass.

Tracking Calories is an in-exact science at best.

Still, if you’re not gaining weight the reason is simple—you’re not getting enough calories. Simple and straightforward, multiply your bodyweight by 18 to find the minimum number of calories you need.

Therefore, if you weigh 160 pounds… 160×18= 2880 calories

Thermogenics are simple–if you’re in a caloric surplus you will begin adding weight to your hard gainer frame. When it comes to “energy out,” the body’s energy needs include the amount of energy required for maintenance at rest, physical activity and movement, plus food digestion, absorption, and transport. “Energy in” is simpler: how many calories you’re putting into your body. Altogether, you need to put in 300-500 more calories than you’re burning for a positive energy balance.

How to Create a Positive Energy Balance:

Seriously—EAT MORE

If you’re not gaining weight the hard truth is you need to eat more. All the training in the world won’t do anything for you if you’re not putting enough fuel into your body. You need tons of fuel to support your hard training and even more to build muscle. You can’t build a brick wall without bricks—get your calories in.

Bottom Line: The science is in-exact, but self-awareness is priceless. The biggest most jacked guys in the world count their calories because it instills self-awareness and discipline on exactly what it takes to accomplish your goal. Count calories using Myfitnesspal for the next two weeks and monitor your weight every other day. This way you’ll see the amount of food needed to reach your goals and develop eating habits that match your goals.

3) Don’t Fast if you want to Gain Muscle

I understand the draw of intermittent fasting for fat loss, overall health, and working around a hectic schedule, but a restricted eating schedule is the last thing under-eating hard gainers need to gain muscle. Hardgainers simply can’t eat 4 cups of rice and 16oz of steak at dinner- they think a chicken breast and one sweet potato is eating big.
While you don’t need to eat every two or three hours or drag a cooler to work you must make time to get your calories in. If you’re dead-set on intermittent fasting for muscle gain don’t go over twelve hours without eating, you wont get enough calories in to support muscle growth.

Bottom Line: It doesn’t matter how many bricklayers you have; if there aren’t enough bricks you won’t build a foundation. The same logical applies to building muscle—all the training is for naught unless you eat enough calories to support muscle growth.

4.) Balance Acids and Bases:

Look bones: You’re crushing your diet, training hard, and making headway in your escape from hard gainer hell. Problem is, you reek like a toxic dump, your stomach is in fits, and your digestion is garbage.

What gives?

Digestive health is huge indicator of what’s going on side your body while you’re preoccupied with pumping your pecs and squatting a house. When muscle building is the goal, hard gainers opt for high-protein foods like tasty dead animal flesh to support their hard training. The tradeoff is on imbalance between having too many highly acidic foods (meats) and not enough bases (leafy greens) that results in symptoms from increased inflammation, acid reflux, diarrhea, and constipation. Any way you look at it health suffers unless the body is in balance between acidic foods and base foods.

Nutrition for Hardgainers
Get your greens while knowing at bambi’s femur

Without a balanced approach to eating training, recovery, and overall health suffer due to an acidic environment. Basically, you should be eating a handful of veggies while you’re gnawing away at your next sirloin.

Tips to Balance Your Diet:

– Have 2 “handfuls” or two cups with of veggies with each meat based meal. Eat one before diving into your protein source to jump-start the digestive process.

– Incorporate fermented foods like raw sauerkraut to improve digestion. Not only is it great on Brats (I’m from Wisconsin, dontcha know), raw sauerkraut and other fermented foods are rich in digestive enzymes and bacteria to aim in digestion.

  • Kudos on the Scrawny to Brawny program, blending spinach into protein shakes is an easy way to balance acids and bases in your diet. From here on out, blend spinach into your shakes. Trust me, you won’t even taste it.
  • Take a greens supplement like ONNIT Superfood. Not only can these replace a multi-vitamin, but they’ll also improve your digestion, immune function, and counteract a high protein diet. Plus, most of us struggle to get our veggies. Pick up ONNIT Superfood and have it you’re your creatine first thing in the morning.

Bottom line: Health is the first wealth and an unhealthy body is unlikely to be optimal for training. Without our health in line, we won’t ever build lean muscle and improve performance anyways so it is always best to focus on health first.

5.) Don’t Fear Fat

If you haven’t caught onto the theme yet calories are the supreme ruler for your hardgainer nutrition. Without enough calories your muscle building workouts are all for naught. One of the easiest ways to increase your calorie intake is to increase your intake of higher fat foods because fat contains 9 calories per gram of fat.

Avoid fat phobia—an increase intake of fatty foods like grass-fed meats, raw nuts, and cooking with virgin unrefined coconut oil or extra virgin olive oil has been shown to increase anabolic hormone levels like testosterone to support healthy energy, libido, and muscle building.


hardgainer nutrition
Behold the power of grassfed beef
  • For example, by using 2 tbsp. of olive oil to prepare our meals 2x per day, we can “sneak in” over 60g of fat and 540 calories into our diets.
  • Further, if we eat 3 handfuls (1/4 cup) of mixed nuts per day, which may be an extra 300-400 calories, depending on the size of your hands.
  • If we go with 4 whole eggs for breakfast instead of 3 egg whites and 1 whole egg, that’s an extra 18g of fat and 162 calories.


Bottom Line: Fatty foods are the most calorically dense and will drastic bump in calories for building muscle. Furthermore, fats in your diet will support anabolic hormone levels, libido, and energy for better workouts, more muscle, and 2000% more awesome manliness.

6.) Hyper Hydrate

Body water in humans varies with age and sex, but the body is composed of 40-60% water. Than means for a 160lb dude 80+ pounds of your water are composed of water.

80 pounds.

Needless to say, proper hydration is key for tons of bodily functions:

  • Water acts as a solvent to dissolve chemicals
  • Water transports nutrients to and from cells
  • Waste management
  • Water plays a role in the synthesis of proteins, glycogen, and other molecules
  • Water acts as a catalyst for metabolic reactions in the body
  • Water lubricates joints and tissues
  • Water helps regulate temperature

Our demands for water obviously increase with hard training. The enhanced metabolic rate of muscle contraction requires a larger delivery of nutrients and oxygen along with faster waste and heat removal from the body to continue training. Even the most experienced athletes struggle with water intake despite the fact that 1-2 % reduction in bodyweight from water loss leads drops in performance through muscle cramping, decreased endurance, loss of motor skill, and a loss of muscular strength.

Bottom Line: As much as 60% of your body and 75% of muscle tissue is water. If you’re dehydrated you’re not performing up to your maximum potential and limiting growth. After training, muscle repair requires fluid for nutrient absorption to maximize recovery. Get dat water bruh.


Implementing the Goodies

All the information is the world is great, but it takes a thorough plan to implement change.

All the information is the world is great, but it takes a thorough plan to implement change. (yes, it bears repeating)

Start for the first two weeks by adding a super shake like the recipe listed above after every workout and off day for breakfast.

Next, start tracking your calories for the following two weeks.

By one month from now you’ll be consuming an extra 500 calories/day in shakes with a huge bump in awareness of what’s going into your body.

At the end of one month that’s at least a bump in 15,000 total calories, or an extra 7.5 days worth of food to help you build muscle. Slowly add fats, additional water, and keep your health a priority while you bulk.


Ending your hard gainer hardships isn’t about the perfect plan; rather, it’s about consistent behaviors that manifest into long-term change. If you’re a scrawny dude who sticks to a routine and diet for three days and then flips out when his abs lose a vein, only to switch to a fat loss diet this is for you.

The road is tough, but you must stay the course and persevere through the tough times. Muscle growth and getting jacked only take place in the presence of excess calories and amino acids for muscle fiber repair. If you’re gaining too much body fat look back at your food log and clean things up—health is still important.

Keep your goal, persevere, and crush your nutrition. If your goal truly matters I’m challenging you to step to the plate and see things through.
You’ve got this—now win the day.


[Stuck as a Hardgainer? I’ve been there and I’m here to help. This week I’m taking 20% off all Bach Performance Online Training until 11:59 pm Friday Only. That means four months of World-Class workout programs, Nutrition, Weekly and Monthly Skype Calls with a fifth month 100% Free. Apply NOW before spots are gone.]


Now, let’s hear it from YOU – what are your TOP SOURCES for muscle gaining information? Drop your comments below!

photo credit: cranrob via photopin cc

photo credit: ratterrell via photopin cc

Escape from Hardgainer Hell: 5 Training tips for Skinny Guys

“Hey, bones!”

Yea, you.

In the skinny jeans and skin-tight compression shirt.

If you’re a skinny hard gainer struggling to gain a mere pound on the scale and build some muscle before beach season you best listen up to someone who’s been there.

I high school I once peeled my 103lb carcass off of the football field after being plastered on my back. The sad part isn’t that I got lit up—it’s that the other player could have ran anywhere. The field was wide open.

I just provided less resistance than the open field and a few blades of grass.

Embarrassing. Enraging really. 

It’s time to stop being the object of ridicule despite busting your ass in the gym and seeing zero results.

The journey to appreciable muscle is an arduous one, but if you’re willing to re-evaluate your training, eat more than a small army, and persevere through the tough training then you’ll build muscle.

Trust me—I spent years spinning my wheels with pointless exercises, training methods, and routines. While I’ll never be huge, I’m consistently 185lbs at 5’8″ and fairly lean–a worthy goal for any hard-gainer. Now, I’m here to help you avoid the same fate and align your training with your muscle building goals.

training tips for skinny guys
Photo Credit: Ryan Dial

Genetics be damned, these five training laws coupled with a firm nutrition plan (coming Tuesday) will help any hard gainer finally build high-performance muscle.

Continue Reading Here on T-Nation for the Full article. Using these tips, I escaped the Hardgainer Mindset and body.

It’s time you do the same.



Escape from Hardgainer Hell: 5 Training tips for Skinny Guys

Eight Training Splits for Strength and Mass

How many times have you started the perfect new training split only to realize it doesn’t fit your goals or your busy schedule, leaving you banging your head against a wall wondering “where to go now” with your training.

training splits for strength and mass Keep Reading

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