Building Muscle is NOT As Complicated as the “Gurus” Say


I am fired up as I write this. After 3 weeks on crutches, I finally was able to return to my high school to coach the athletes. I am also back at The Underground Strength Gym coaching.

After training the Football team, I spoke to the guys about how I was proud of their efforts. We crushed a training session and then I left it on them to hit hill sprints. "Train as hard as you want to Win" is a phrase I often use. It puts the responsibility on them to do the work.

Being a bit limited with my crutches, I was able to get a view from one side of the gym as I watched the guys working. I see them all getting stronger. I see athletes' stretching through their once loose t shirts.

Some might think it's easy for high school athletes to build muscle and get strong. Well, the truth is, when training and nutrition are on point, we ALL can make amazing progress, regardless of age.

The adults I train inside Gladiator STRONG make amazing progress. The key is to Stay the Course. Don't program hop from one program to the next every 4 weeks. All things that are worthy take time to earn. Months and Years. Yes, I said YEARS. Remember, the days go by slow and the years go fast.

I think about one of the most popular training programs out there, Jim Wendler's 531. Jim's program requires a squat rack, a barbell, dumbbells, a trap bar and a chin / dip bar.

I love this because it's straight to the point.

Inside Gladiator STRONG we train with the following:

  • Barbells / Trap Bar
  • Dumbbells
  • Kettlebells
  • Sleds
  • Calisthenics / Bodyweight Bodybuilding
  • Bands for Shoulder Health & Triceps Work
  • Chains for adding weight to Calisthenics and Sometimes Floor Press with Chains

Here's a glimpse inside a training day at The Underground Strength Gym, video below.

Our warm ups at The Underground are thorough. There's 2 parts to the warm up. There's a prep phase with a variety of exercises from bodyweight, kettlebell carries, med ball throws, band work, etc. Then we get into the movement work where we build athleticism, power, coordination, speed and overall get the nervous system primed and ready to train.

Basics, Basics, Basics.

Technique is paramount. None of this round back deadlifts, knees caving in on squats or sumo deads. No bouncing on floor presses or box squats. TECHNIQUE.

Get in a solid warm up to prep the mind and body.

Here's a sample Gladiator STRONG Warm Up:

2 Rounds of the following:

A) Sleds forwards / backwards x 100 ft each

B) Recline Row x 10

C) Hindu Push Ups x 10

D) Bulgarian Split Squats x 10 / 10

E) 1 Arm KB Carry x 50 ft each: Overhead, Rack, Suitcase

F) Dead Bugs x 5 / 5

G) Med Ball Rotational Throw x 10 / 10

H) Band Face Pulls x 15

I) Hanging Leg Raise x 10

Then we train. The warm up changes according to the training for the day, but there is definitely some volume to it and it should take about 10-12 minutes. Skipping or short changing your warm up beats up the joints. The older you get, the smarter you must be about these warm ups. Sometimes we'll go with a light Kettlebell and band circuit for the warm up.

As I write about building muscle, I was thinking of how Robby Robinson would train. Robby and the Golden Era greats also used d-bol but let's not make excuses and think natural lifters can't get big and strong. There is still much to learn from the greats of the Golden Era.

  • Supersets to save time and get more work done in less time (Push - Pull or Contrast Training; Squats / Deads + Jumps or Short Sprints)
  • Basics: Squats, Deads, Rows, Presses from All Angles. Using dumbbells or barbells.
  • Rep Ranges for Strength can be in the 3 - 6 range, every 6-8 weeks hit some heavier weights in the 90%+ range depending on training experience, injuries, etc.
  • Use dumbbells, kettlebells and bodyweight for higher reps to build muscle and durability.
  • Stay active for some aerobic work. The Golden Era greats spent time outdoors at the beach, playing. Get outside and walk, bike, run hills, etc. The heart is your most important muscle.

Sample Upper Body Day after a thorough warm up:

1A) Pause Bench 5 x 3

1B) Bodyweight Pull / Row 5 x 10

2A) 1 Arm KB Clean & Press 3 x 6 / 6

2B) 1 Arm KB Row 3 x 12 / 12

3A) Feet Elevated Push Ups 2 x MAX

3B) ANY Curls 2 x 8 - 12

3C) Med Ball Overhead Throw 2 x 10

4) Hill Sprints 4 x 100 - 150 ft

Sample Lower Body Training after thorough Warm Up

1A) Squats 3 x 5 Heavy, 1 x 15 Light Burn Out

1B) Skater Jumps 3 x 5 / 5 (NO jumps after 15 rep set)

2A) Bulgarian Split Squat 3 x 8 / 8

2B) KB Swings 3 x 8

3A) Off Set KB Carry 2 x 100 ft

3B) Sled Drags 2 x 100 ft each of forwards / backwards

4) Hanging Leg Raise 2 x 10

The heavy lifts build strength and density in the muscle. The higher reps build muscle and muscular endurance.

On upper body days we sneak in 4 - 5 rounds of band work for shoulder health.

Basics for the WIN.

It's not so complicated. The fancy exercises with fancy machines look cool on Instagram and YouTube but if you're in need of strength and size, it's gonna take hard, consistent work on the basics that have been proven to work for 100+ years.

Live The Code 365,


7 Days FREE

Gladiator STRONG - Details HERE

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"Zach Even - Esh is the Charles Atlas of Powerlifting / Weightlifting / Athletic Training. He is a walking inspiration. A kick in the ass for all of us."
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