Zach Even-Esh

The 6 Most Effective Strength & Muscle Building Methods


I’ve been doing a LOT of thinking about the various ways I have trained since starting back in 1989, well over 20 years of experience.

I thought about the methods that wasted my time and didn’t produce anything but all show and NO go muscles. Those days bother me BIG time because they have scarred me for a lifetime and unfortunately didn’t help my success in athletics.

I also thought about my days of squatting 455 lbs for reps. My days of breaking away from what the other guys in the gym were doing that helped me pack on maximum muscle mass and strength.

It’s been 6 simple methods, NONE of them easy.

Hate to burst your bubble, these methods require serious work, and, they also go along with living a strong lifestyle, eating lots and lots of quality foods. LOTS.

I always have this mission driving me to help others avoid my pain, in training, sports, business and life. I can’t stop and won’t stop.

Let’s Dig In and I’ll help you kick ass without wasting your time, effort, energy or money.

My 6 Most Effective & Favorite Strength & Muscle Building Methods

1) Old School Bodybuilding – Brandon Lilly hit home with me a lot as he uses an entire bodybuilding day during his Cube Method. When I started moving towards the methods of Bodybuilding that guys like Franco, Arnold and Dave Draper used I experienced my best gains in muscle building and strength.

Those men lifted heavy AND also lifted moderate weights with moderate reps. Still, strength was their foundation. Not sure how or why, but in the 90s, the muscle magazines didn’t encourage the heavy lifting. They encouraged you to squeeze and feel the muscle bull shyt.


All the photos were posed with light weights and cables and screaming faces. Nothing RAW. Until I came across Diamond Gym in Maplewood, NJ, I didn’t truly understand that bodybuilders should be strong and should lift heavy.

My start at Diamond Gym began as my 18th birthday present with a 3 month membership. I saw LOTS of Bodybuilders incline benching 315 for reps, deadlift 495 for reps, barbell curls with 185 – 225 lbs. The inspirational stories go on and on.

So, when I tell you to perform bodybuilding style sets and reps, look at the BadAsses from the Golden Era of Bodybuilding. Plain and simple.

2) Powerlifting – Powerlifting methods hit home with me when I came across the methods of Louie Simmons. Lifting heavy for extended periods of time or a high volume of sets, moving weights explosively vs. super slow reps, these methods transformed me and they certainly transformed the countless athletes that we’ve trained at The Underground Strength gym.

If you want to get stronger and pack on muscle, there is no way around heavy barbell lifts with the Big 3.


But for those of you not in the know, Louie has mentioned this if you’ve studied him carefully, he was influenced greatly by Bill “Peanuts” West, who was a Powerlifter and ran training mostly from his garage gym, aka “Westside Barbell”.

I actually snagged ALL of the articles from Bill Peanuts West that were featured in the muscle magazines from the 60s and 70s. Those guys were STRONG as hell and built like brick shyt houses!

3) Olympic Weightlifting – I wish I learned weightlifting earlier, I always say this. The argument was always if athletes should learn the weightlifting movements or not.

Well, as an independent strength coach, the consistency of athletes is out of my control. But, for your own training, you CAN control your practice of weightlifting and you will ONLY get stronger and more jacked because of your practice of weightlifting.

Squat low, improve your mobility, get stronger, get more explosive and rip big weights off the ground. Sounds awesome doesn’t it? Correct you are. Learn weightlifting and reap the rewards.


I’ll be back soon enough with methods 4, 5 & 6 so you can enjoy your journey of packing on some serious strength and size.

Until then, keep kicking ass and taking names. Less reading, MORE training.

Live The Code,


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Category: muscle building, old school strength, Olympic Lifting, Powerlifting, Strength Building, Zach's Workouts Tags: , , , , , , , , , .

10 Responses to The 6 Most Effective Strength & Muscle Building Methods

  1. rajiv says:

    Hi Zach,
    Great stuff! I have found these methods to hold true through observation and personal experience. How would you recommend combining olympic lifting with the big 3? Separate cycles every few months? Also what is a good resource to use to learn the best snatch and c&j technique?(as I am teaching myself).

    • Dustin W says:

      USA Weightlifting has some really good videos and instructional information. You can also check out their club listing to find a club near you. Otherwise check out the coaching site and go after the knowledge. If you are out of the country check with your local federation or Olympic teams to see what they offer. Taking the time to learn is very important to success. I often find that people that don’t like the Olympic lifts don’t know how to do them right. Once you catch a snatch deep in squat you won’t want to stop. Find a coach to help you. I am an USA Weightlifting Level 1 coach and go every week to work with a guy that has been doing it for over 40 years. Coaches need Coaches too!

  2. Dennis says:


    Just like you, I started lifting over 20 years agi in the early 90’s and primarily followed whatever I read in the bodybuilding mags for 4 years or so, until I met a powerlifter who showed me how to really lift. This powerlifter gave me a stack of Powerlifting USA mags, and an old tattered copy of Arnolds BB Encyclopedia. Training with him and reading those mags and that book completely changed my direction in training. The one thing I really like about alot of your programs is the combination of the methods. The mixing it up. I do the same in my training. In more recent years (since 2005) I have applied alot of what I have learned from you, Wendler, Dan John, Mahler, Pavel, Strossen and many others. I have a ton of books,e-books and courses that I bought and have adopted many things that really work well. For Olympic lifting, where would you reccomend one go to learn correctly? Do you think one can learn the Oly lifts correctly w/o a coach? I see the crossfit boxes near to me offering olympic instruction from time to time, but I’m not so sure they’d be the best to learn from. I do oly lifts in my training, but I know my technique is horrendous. Please keep blasting out the truth. When is your new book coming out?

    • admin says:

      dennis it’s tough to learn o lifting from the dvds or youtube

      I had travis mash do a seminar at the underground and it changed things for me BIG time

      check out glenn pendlay info, he has a lot of dialed in videos to learn from

  3. Tom says:

    Remember man that you are dust, and to dust you will return. Zack you stress the basics and that’s awesome. Being elite is doing the basics better and faster than everyone else. At 43, I struggle with finding my intensity level, because I can’t go it the same as 35, but I can still go hard. And what do I find myself doing mostly? The basics – just like when I started. Only better now and more fulfilling. Cheers.

  4. Jay Arms says:

    Keep ’em comin’!! I know bodyweight has to be on this list (my personal favorite, along with heavy DL, squat, and strict shoulder press). Arnold was a great lifter way before his steroid abuse. He was already a big guy with great results ’cause he knew what he was doing.(Trial and Error, all the Greats have done this, thats why they know so much plus listening to other Greats before them as well) I’ve loved his ways for years (no homo) and they’ll always be true. I have got GREAT results from pulls, chins, push-ups, and the 3 I listed above. Listen to your body, and listen to Zac. Give yourself plenty of rest and you’ll see results. (You have to be in this mentally and not just go through the motions.) There’s no better way then reiterating(to be consistent) your advice, Zac. It helps being reminded constantly.

  5. Dustin W says:

    Arnold is always the go to when discussing bodybuilding, but if you look at pictures of John Grimek you will be blown away. He is my personal favorite because he was not only a great lifter he was a bodybuilder.
    Favorite scene from Pumping Iron is when Franco moves the car. Have a bodybuilder do that today.
    The past couple months I have been going to a coach to train the Olympic lifts. I trained with him when I was 13yo. When I walked in it was all the same as when I left. Racks, plateforms, bars and plates. That is it! No music! Just get in and lift!
    I love the Olympic lifts because of how they make me feel. I tossed them around here and there over the years, but never stuck with them long enough. I realized it was due to poor form. I didn’t do them right so I wasn’t enjoying them, but now I hit them right (1 out of 3 lifts) and they feel great.
    Good Stuff!

  6. Daniel Aipa says:

    I keep telling myself the same with Olympic Lifting. I know the great benefits behind it and also the time it takes to learn the lifts. Training those lifts have come by in waves due to the constant moving and finding gyms that actually allow olympic lifting. These days it’s hard enough to find a gym that has a platform. That was a fun read to that made me think back on my experiences with different methods of training. Looking forward to numbers 4 and 5. Aloha!

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Zach Even-Esh is an Author, Founder of The Underground Strength Gym & Creator of The Underground Strength Coach Certification.

Zach's inspiration in training comes from the Golden Era of Bodybuilding & Days of Old School Strength. His mission is to help You kick ass & take names in Life AND Lifting without the hype, fancy fads or gimmicks. Zach's Commitment To Your Success Is Unmatched. He Knows What It's Like To Go From A Weakling To An Unstoppable BEAST In Charge Of His Life, Business & Destiny. Zach Made It Happen Through The Iron and Now it's Your Turn!

Zach Even-Esh