The most transformative training program I ever did was a full-body program. I put on approximately 8kg of lean mass in just 14 weeks, drug-free, going from 78kg to 88kg (with 2kg of fat) and building my deadlift from 190kg to 240kg.
Training was 2-3 days per week, 1 exercise per body part, 1-2 sets per exercise. The 3 different workouts started with either squat, bench or deadlift, where I built up to a 1-rep-max every workout. The remaining exercises were 1-2 sets to failure with generally 5-12 reps.
Everything was focused on beating the previous week’s performances on every workout. I rested as long as necessary between sets to get the performance. As a result, the workouts went from taking about an hour to eventually taking up to 2 hours or more.
I kept reading academics say beginners don’t grow muscle, strength has no relevance to muscle and periodisation was the way to go; so I knew a non-periodised, beginner-style, full-body strength program was going to be very successful.
I didn’t ever get much of a pump. I didn’t ever get sore. I didn’t concentrate on my muscles contracting (because I didnt have neuromuscular disease and I wasnt so stupid that I thought I could move weight without my muscles contracting). I didnt take any supplements (other than a protein powder). I didn’t time my carbohydrates. I absolutely avoided all other physical activity. And I grew more muscle, more quickly than from any other program. So too did most natural bodybuilders I gave the program to. Interesting?
I created the program because nothing the “experts” or academics said seemed to work or even make sense.
So I considered how most trainers (back then) start with a basic full-body workout and typically make rapid muscle and strength gains. That progress generally ends as soon as they “upgrade” to a more “advanced” split program. Could it be that the basic full-body program was just a really good structure? Could 1940’s bodybuilder and movie star Steve Reeves have been onto something? I kept reading academics say beginners don’t grow muscle, strength has no relevance to muscle and periodisation was the way to go; so I knew a non-periodised, beginner-style, full-body strength program was going to be very successful. And it surpassed all of my expectations.