From The Desk of Maverick Brenton.
Subject: Getting Jacked.
If you read Part One in this series you now know that the program does not matter – only the mindset matters.
Without the right mindset, no program will work.
With the right mindset, any program will work.
Therefore I do not have a magic program giving you every step required in becoming jacked.
The magic program you are looking for does not exist and that mentality is holding you back.
So stop thinking that way.
There are strategies you can use that will help you, but there is still no magic program because every person has different training needs.
When it comes to lifting weights, I know a few things.
I don’t have a degree or certification – I just have years of experience writing and experimenting with hundreds of programs.
I have dealt with countless injuries, rehabbed them and come back stronger many times.
I know a thing or two about lifting.
It was my obsession for a long time.
I would write hundreds of programs just because I loved writing them.
Not because anyone needed them, but because I found pleasure in writing workouts and then experimenting with them.
I developed a fingertip feel for structuring workouts.
I discovered what got me results and what did not get me results.
From where to place certain exercises in the workout, to how long you should rest for different exercises – I could sense what to do and what not to do.
I learnt what to focus on and what not to focus on.
I learnt the best way to do things for ME and what suited my body type.
I learnt that your body changes as you age so you must adapt your training as you age.
You might have to stop doing some exercises and find new ones to replace them.
After ten years I came to the conclusion that the basics were what got me jacked.
Before I speak a word on structuring training and what workouts you should be doing – you need to understand something:
YOU must discover by trial and error how you need to train to get the best results.
This is your responsibility.
Your trainer cannot tell you and you will not find the answers on the fucking internet.
You and your body are completely unique.
What works for other people may not work for you.
This is why you should stop searching for the greatest program of all time.
Listen instead to your body.
Pay attention to how things feel.
What feels good? What do you like? What gets you results?
The beginning of the journey to getting jacked is all about getting in touch with your body.
You must know what works for you and what does not work for you.
There are principles and strategies that you must apply if you want to get jacked, but you must apply these in the right way with a type of training that WORKS FOR YOU.
I once did an internship with a very good strength coach.
This guy knew his stuff.
He was good.
But it was working with him that I got insight into the reality of the fitness industry.
Everybody just wants to argue over the best way to do things.
Nobody wants to shut the fuck up and do the work.
Instead they are all debating what the best way to do this or that is.
None of it matters.
Everyone is different and you can’t design a program that will be great for everyone because EVERYONE IS DIFFERENT.
Now with that out of the way, let’s get down to business.
Training to get jacked.
Get Strong at The Basics
Yes, it’s that simple.
Get strong at the basics and you will get jacked.
Strength is the most important thing when it comes to getting jacked.
You have to get really damn strong in the basics if you want to get big.
The basics in the gym are the fundamental exercises: Squats, Bench Presses, Overhead Presses, Dead lifts etc.
These exercises are total body movements where you can lift a lot of weight.
You can put your muscles under massive strain using these movements because you can load these movements up with lots of weight.
Strength should be your only priority as natural lifter trying to get jacked.
If you want a big chest – build a 3-plate bench press.
If you want a big back – do weighted pull ups with 3 plates between your legs.
If you want big legs – squat or dead lift 5 plates.
If you can lift big numbers, you will get bigger.
I am not a scientist and I do not know the science behind it – but if you want to get jacked then get fucking strong because it works.
This is the number one lesson I can offer you.
A lesson I learnt from my training.
For years I wasted time doing fancy programs with a million different isolation exercises – never adding any weight to them, just training for a pump.
I went nowhere.
Then I changed my strategy.
I went back to the basics and I got strong at the basics.
When I could do 7 plate t bar rows and 4 plate snatch grip dead lifts – my back got big.
When I could bench 3 plates and do dips with 2 plates – my chest got big.
When I could strict overhead press 2 plates – my shoulders got big.
When I could dead lift and squat 5 plates – my legs got big.
I got strong at the basics and because of that I got jacked.
The basics come first.
You complement the basics with isolation work to balance out your body and bring up weaker areas.
You do not focus on the isolation work because the isolation work is not the basics.
The basics are what matter.
Nobody is going to ask you how much you can do on leg extensions or how much you can curl.
They are going to ask you what you dead lift or bench.
Because that stuff is what matters.
Here is an example of how I would structure a training session:
Strict Overhead Press – 3 sets x 3rm and 1 x 10 rep back-down set
Standing DB Shoulder Press – 5 sets x 10-12 reps
EZ Bar Skull-crushers – 5 sets x 15-20 reps
Reverse DB Flyes – 3 sets x 20 reps
Deficit Snatch Grip Dead lift – 3 sets x 3rm and 1 x 10 rep back-down set
Deficit Snatch Grip Barbell Row – 3 sets x 3rm and 1 x 10 rep back-down set
Snatch Grip Stiff Leg Dead lift – 3 sets x 8-10 reps
Wide Grip Lat Pull-downs – 3 sets x 12-15 reps
Ab Wheel Roll-outs – 3 sets x 8-10 reps
DB Side Bends – 3 sets x 12-15 reps
Do you notice how this is structured?
The basics come first – particularly the pressing.
The pressing goes first because you need all your energy for that.
The heavy dead lifts will take a lot out of you so they come after the pressing.
After you have worked the main movement, you then isolate the muscles used in that main movement.
For the overhead press you would target your shoulders, upper back and triceps, as seen in the program.
The exercises are grouped together in a way that allows the workout to flow smoothly, without one exercise ruining the next.
Can you guess the goal of this workout?
The goal is to build a bigger overhead press and a bigger dead lift.
Those two main movements are the core of this program – all the other exercises are there to help build up these movements.
It takes time to reach the point where you can understand workouts in depth like this, you just need to be patient and experiment.
You may have also noticed that this is not a typical bodybuilding split where we are training specific body parts for the entire workout.
This is because if you want to get jacked as a natural lifter, full body workouts focusing on big compound movements are hands down the best way to train.
I never had any great gains until I embraced full body workouts.
Once I did that, I never went back.
How Do You Get Strong in The Basics?
Because nobody has common sense anymore, I will tell you.
You add more weight to the bar or you do more reps every single time you train.
You apply the Principle of Progressive Overload.
ADD MORE WEIGHT OR DO MORE REPS EVERY TIME YOU TRAIN!
Continually increasing the load on the muscles is what you must do in order to grow stronger.
If you use the same weight, do the same reps and rest the same amount of time, every single time you train – you cannot expect to get better.
You will stay where you are because you are not following the Principle of Progressive Overload.
To get stronger you must simply do more every time you train.
You must simply push yourself a little further every time you train.
You must get better every single time you train if you want to get jacked.
You can do more reps, add more weight to the bar or reduce your rest periods.
It does not matter.
Just increase the load on your muscles.
Make it harder.
This is how you get stronger.
You do not get stronger chasing after the pump.
The pump is great and this is what the isolation work is really good for – but the pump is not the goal if you want to get stronger.
The goal is putting more weight on that bar and getting stronger.
If you make this your sole aim and focus for years, you will become jacked.
You will be focusing on what matters and what actually gets results.
Building strength will not only make you bigger – it will change the way you see yourself.
It is a very fulfilling and satisfying process.
When you go from being weak to being strong you feel damn good about yourself and you deserve to give yourself a pat on the back.
You have pushed through the pain and reached something great through discipline and hard work.
This is a great achievement and it is one of the many fantastic benefits that come with getting jacked.
So keep it simple and remember Progressive Overload is all you need to apply.
Just aim higher every time you lift and don’t get comfortable unless you want to stay where you are.
Overcoming Plateaus and Stalling Out
So now you know the key to getting jacked is focusing on the basics and getting strong in the basics.
But what happens when you get stuck?
When you stall out?
Because you eventually will.
It is not just a smooth ride up the mountain of jackedness – it’s a journey with many twists, turns and unexpected obstacles.
One of these obstacles and often the biggest one is hitting a plateau with your strength.
As a beginner you will make fantastic gains regardless of how you train.
This new stress you are placing on your body makes it grow and it grows fast.
This is what gets people addicted to the gym.
They see their body changing rapidly, the weight is piling on the bar and everything is going great.
Until they hit their first plateau.
This usually happens once you transition from a beginner to an intermediate lifter.
There are no numbers or set standards to measure what a beginner lifter is or what an intermediate lifter is.
Everyone is different.
Some people can dead lift 4 plates the first time they do a dead lift.
Some people can barely do 1 plate.
It all depends on the person.
But generally, you will stall out after you have been lifting for a while and made your beginner gains.
Things will just slow down and suddenly stop – you will be stuck at a certain size and weight.
This is normal. Do not freak out.
It’s actually a good sign because it means you are ready to go to the next level.
When you reach this point, you must simply experiment and be creative.
You are no longer a beginner and you are moving into the intermediate stages of getting jacked.
Again, there will be no magic program to get you through your plateau but there will be specific strategies in programs that might help you break through the plateau.
So you will need to experiment with different training styles.
Try everything, but always approach it with the Warrior Mentality.
If you lack the Warrior Mentality as covered in Part One of this series, nothing you do will work.
The Warrior Mentality is most important when you are no longer a beginner lifter because now you need to train harder and smarter to get better.
Stalling out is often a result of losing the Warrior Mentality.
Sometimes breaking through your plateau can be as simple as getting more intense with your lifts.
Drinking more coffee and psyching yourself up to a new level.
But this may not be the case.
It all depends on YOU.
There are many things you can do to overcome the plateau.
Take some time off and when you come back, drop the weight and slowly build back up.
Start using bands and chains.
Bands are unbelievably effective for breaking through plateaus on your big pressing exercises such as the Bench Press and Overhead Press.
I would experiment with high-volume training and concurrent style training as these worked well for me.
Overall just be creative, be patient and find what works for you.
If you do this not only will you expand your knowledge of training but you will become familiar with a massive variety of training styles and methods.
You will start to become a master of training.
This is part of the journey towards becoming jacked.
You start out at the bottom and you work your way up the mountain and around all the obstacles that emerge.
This is the attitude you must approach your training with – the Mastery Mentality.
See it as a climb up a mountain – a climb that never ends.
Because once you get jacked, you will still want more and you should still want more.
The journey never ends and that is the beauty of bodybuilding.
It is a constant pursuit of physical perfection.
Until next time.