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. 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.
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.
*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.
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.
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. Intermittent fasting has endless health and body composition benefits.
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.
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.
These were all valid questions over a decade ago when kettle bells were first introduced, but get with the times my friends. The Double Floor Press combines a shoulder and chest workout along with your core.
An excellent upper-body pulling movement; the double bent over row will build strength in the back and biceps muscles. Pulling exercises are a necessity to ensure balance for the upper body.
The Double Front Squat is one of the best core and leg strengtheners out there. You not only get the benefit of stronger legs, but your shoulders will be given a fantastic workout as well.
Simply holding the kettle bells in place is taxing on your shoulders, upper back, arms, and core. The double kettle bell swing will hit your lower back, glutes, and hamstrings, strengthening the entire posterior chain.
Double swings are great progression that can be used to increase your strength and power. The Turkish Get Up is great core exercise that also had tremendous benefits to your pressing ability.
Since you go through a wide range of positions, your flexibility and mobility are challenged giving you a far greater exercise. When you can start completing the lifts for 8-10 reps, increase weight.