Arguably, the reason why many needed to see me in the first place was due to poor training habits (coupled with too much time spent in a chair). They’ll also use external apparatus to stabilize movements for the sake of muscle isolation and “extra focus on the muscle fibers.” These training habits eventually rewire the nervous system to forget how to activate the stabilizers it was born with and effectively make the everyday bodybuilder prone to injury and, in the long run, substantially less capable at life.
Training for functional mass involves protocols that build nice big Hollywood muscles while also making the body more useful at real life tasks and less prone to back, shoulder and knee injuries. Their muscles are rock hard when activated, but unlike powerlifters and bodybuilders, they have the ability to switch off when not in use and are not short and chronically tight.
If the goal is functional mass, arguably the best training modality would be Olympic lifting with a mix of calisthenics. O-lifting is a long and highly rewarding path, for those who possess the movement ability.
I encourage anyone to start their O-lifting journey if they can pass my simple litmus test: being able to hold a naked (20 kg) Olympic bar overhead while sitting in the deep squat for two minutes. Golden Rules and Essential Considerations for Designing Functional Mass Programs
Stand, kneel, lunge, hang, loco mote or sit or lay on the floor Never use a bench, chair, pad, fixed resistance machine or anything to help stabilize movement or isolate target muscle groups.
Smashing the muscle fibers to destruction, so they’ll grow back bigger and stronger is absolutely achievable using the stabilizers you were born with. I think that avoiding the use of external apparatus for help with stability is the most important rule that should be applied to all training, no matter the goal.
Replace it with squat ‘n’ pull, hinge ‘n’ push, loco mote ‘n’ resist rotation, say. Don’t go the gym and further train yourself to flex into the shape of a cashew nut (biceps, chest and superficial abs).
It promotes feelings of depression and weakness and arguably brings you closer to the grave. Be more superhero and train extension, with dead lifts, pull-ups, push-ups×, squats, cleans, military press* and loaded carries.
*A skilled practitioner presses from their lats while radiating tension throughout the midsection with their glutes. For mass training, two kettle bells always beats one because this increases the work volume.
When I’m programming for my remote clients, any given functional mass session only lasts 40-55 minutes. Given that the first 15-20 minutes of that is spent on joint mobility, this leaves a short window for the main workout component.
Grinds involve kettle bells being lifted and down (presses, squats, windmills, get-ups, etc.). Ballistics involve kettebells being swung through two-planes of motion (swings, cleans and snatches).
For goals such as losing weight or improving conditioning, ballistics should outweigh grinds. Since the golden years of bodybuilding in the ‘70s, it’s been known that the more time the muscles spend under tension, the better for hypertrophy.
I served in the Royal Marines Commandos with a dude who had a better body than Captain America. He only ever did thousands of really light reps and isometric holds with resistance bands and baby dumbbells.
We may have admired his physical appearance, but we relished in the fact that he was weak and sub-par as an operational Commando. His dead lift was pathetic, he couldn’t outrun a hedgehog, let alone run a heavy backpack over a mountain, he often had lower back pain, and he couldn’t reach his magazine pouches because his big, useless muscles were in the way.
Through my years of training I know that loaded jump squats are a very reliable ingredient for developing legs like tree trunks. But crippling injuries also usually come as a complimentary extra for those who can’t deep squat slowly without load.
If someone can sit in a deep squat position for over 4 minutes, they qualify for adding load. Then after some months, adding explosive speed will induce miracle muscle growth.
This is an age-old ingredient for muscle mass because it optimizes hormone release and facilitates the highest possible volume. Strength is tension… How much full body tension you’re able to produce reflects your ability to apply force.
More relaxed, loose muscles = better blood flow, faster recovery, less chronic tension and related injuries. But if the goal is looking like a Marvel superhero in the shorter term, without breaking the first two (and most important) of these golden rules, training to failure in some lifts for 2-3 months won’t do any harm.
But if you want to put on some muscle mass in a short space of time without cocking up your hormone balance by taking vitamin-S (anabolic steroids), train to failure and grow some sarcoplasmic muscle mass. A great way to deplete the glycogen stores within the muscles and leave your arms or legs feeling like they might drop off.
Many uneducated or inexperienced trainers think it’s their mission to create delayed onset muscle soreness (Does) for their paying clients after every session. Regular, weekly Does creates excessive muscle toxicity, which has a plethora of negative side effects and cripples good movement.
Soles Does in unavoidable for people who’ve been wearing foot coffins (shoes) all their lives and want to learn to run properly. Does in all major muscle groups is expected for the first couple of weeks of any good hypertrophy program.
A fire needs three components to exist: fuel, oxygen and heat. Do you wake up naturally and feel like moving first thing in the morning most days of the week?
If all the muscle chasers I know put half the energy and discipline into planning and executing their rest as they do their workouts, they would be bigger. Muscles grow when your metabolism isn’t busy digesting food
Eat a large portion of complex carbs (yams, quinoa, rice, buckwheat) with most meals, particularly after training Leafy and colorful veggies should take up most of your plate for most meals—you need the nutrients for growth.
Avoid processed crap, cook for yourself, prep meals, plan shopping Every session should begin with 20 minutes of joint mobility and muscle activation, relative to your individual movement needs and injury history.
Then take a week off and try another functional mass program to change the stimulus. All programs should contain all human movement patterns and should obviously be suitable for the person it’s written for.
If you disqualify, there are literally thousands of other effective functional mass programs that are suitable for you. Ability to walk for 30 seconds holding two snatch-weight kettle bells overhead (the amount you want to snatch with)
2-4 conventional barbell dead lifts, 2-4 offset kettle bell military press, shake it off 8-10 offset kettle bell military press, 3-5 explosive chin-ups (ruminated grip), shake it off
1st bleep: Heavy KB, non-dominant arm military press to failure 2nd bleep: Heavy KB, dominant arm military press, match reps
4th bleep: Medium KB, dominant arm military press, match reps 6th bleep: Light KB, dominant arm military press, match reps
Using barbells or kettle bells to create the stimulus is an afterthought to most other factors in the equation like food, sleep, execution of the movements and intensity. Now that the obvious question is out of the way I hope you enjoy the details which lead to this statement.
When it comes to exercise I always like to pose this question and dig a bit deeper than the first answer. If you put the question “Can kettle bells build mass to me I like to know “Why do you want to build muscle.
That was when I was put on a mass building program lifting weights and getting creatine. If you had cancer like my mother, you might have been lying in bed for several months and lost a lot of muscle mass.
This inhibits you from living a healthy life so you have to get back your strength to feel whole again. Before choosing your tool for building mass in the gym take a look at the big picture and whether you have ticked all of these boxes first.
Contrary to common belief you can stuff yourself with crappy food to build muscle and even to look like a bodybuilder or get strong as hell. Fletcher, one of the more illustrious powerlifters on YouTube with his hardcore style of personal training, took pride in his best days as a powerlifting world champion to have camera crews follow him around and record how many McDonald's meals he can eat a day.
This and other factors lead to him being forced to have bypass surgery, which was the low point of his life. However, do not expect to look like Sylvester Stallone or Jean Claude Van Dame with this regime.
If you go out of the gym and there was no sweat, not a bit of excitement or fear in the session you might as well have stayed home. The intensity part is important as it is often not taught by gyms as they are afraid of liability cases when you get hurt.
Good programs work with 50% to 95% of your one repetition maximum and apply the principle of linear progression to make you stronger and build mass. Before we come to the tool the last thing to consider is what kind of rep scheme you follow.
It depends on whom you ask in which part of the year and whether the full moon is shining or not, but that is the consensus. Technically the kettle bell is a tool to trigger the body to build mass, but of the many levers you can pull, it is one of the smallest ones.
If you follow all the outlined basic principles for building mass, you will get bigger using kettle bells. The only caveat is here that kettle bells might be a better tool for advanced lifters to build mass rather than for beginners.
If you try certain exercises like cleans, overhead presses and dead lifts you will generally find that it is a lot easier to do the same weight with a barbell than with a kettle bell. If you load a barbell front squat with 2.5 kg on each side client's usually perform if they have the mobility to execute the movement.
If you then proceed to give them two 12 kg kettle bells, which is technically less weight and ask them to repeat they will struggle to get it done. If you scan the internet for templates that use kettle bells to build mass you will find the following mentioned often
There are also variations on the 5×5 template for more advanced lifters like mad cow 5×5 or the Texas method. There have been studies and observations across the board which report that while you gain mass on GVT you might decline in strength.
I personally think that GVT is to be recommended to fit individuals who have training experience under their belt and not to beginners. The main point is fatigue management and knowing when to quit before getting injured which makes this a no-go for beginners.
A habit which you should strive to eliminate as a beginner especially rather than magnify the effect actively. I can not overstate master the swing and get up first at least, maybe even a 100 kg barbell squat for good measure, before attempting this.
You can progress to the next kettle bell when you do negative splits (meaning you need less time to recover than doing the exercises). Barbells have the advantage of added stability which lets you move bigger weights than kettle bells.
Also, once you progress you will have it easier with barbell training as heavyweights are more readily available than heavy kettle bells. Whether kettle bells or barbells are the better option for mass building I would be hesitant to say myself and is a different question from the one we started out with.
I lack the experience of mass building training templates as my main focus is strength. I find strength training to be the ultimate tool for that as it is very objective, demands discipline, grit and consistency.
The general strength community will not hesitate to point to the barbell as the superior tool for building mass. An additional locker room undercurrent of kettle bells being “pussy” does not help.
On this, I think there is not enough empirical evidence out there with heavy kettle bells and there is also not a lot of structured studies to be expected in the future due to the perceived higher risk of injury and availability of the tools and knowledge to conduct proper mass building with kettle bells. Kettle bells can build mass in the sense of the question posed by a layman if the basic principles of mass building are being stuck to in the first place.
There are fewer examples of success for this to work as for training with barbells as the base of use cases to pick from is smaller. To find good instructions and equipment if you travel down this path will be harder as it is less readily available as for barbell training.
If you can state that you build your 120 kg Herculean statue only with the help of kettle bells it will turn more heads than achieving the same goal utilizing barbells and dumbbells. Since I have been using kettle bells my body feels more balanced, agile and resilient in all walks of life than when I did barbell training only