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Back to basics

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Some time ago Chase Karnes of Elite FTS posted an article about gettng back to the basics.

While I really enjoyed reading the article I also felt like he didn’t acknowledge a lot of very sound training advice like tempo manipulation, drop-sets and so on. Because of that I have decided to decipher his article and give my on view on some of his points.

They [the lifters of the 70’s, red.] didn’t give a shit about a 3/2/3 tempo or any of that bullshit. Trust me—if you’re able to count any tempo on a lift, you aren’t using enough weight and you aren’t strong.

I beg to differ. One of my friends is front squatting +140 kilos in a 4010 tempo which is – by my standards – pretty strong. I’m not saying that you should focus solely on lifting tempo but ruling it out – especially if you’re training to get bigger – would be a mistake as it has it right in a hypertrophy oriented program.

Take away: Don’t focus entirely on lifting tempo but use it wisely.

At the end of the day, all that matters is that you’re moving more weight than you were last week, last month, or last year. That’s how you get bigger and stronger—doing more weight for the same amount of reps or more reps with the same amount of weight. I think some newer lifters think that basic progressive overload is too simple and won’t work for them. Bullshit.

Agreed. Progressive overloading applies to everyone.

Accessory work is important, but it isn’t nearly as important as deadlifting, squatting, overhead pressing, and benching. Too many guys get bent out of shape over their accessory work. That’s majoring in the minors, so to speak. Everyone wants to know the best accessory movement for this or that. The best one is the one that you do after you’ve worked hard on your main lifts and focused on getting stronger.[…] Put your focus there and keep it there.

Good advice.

People need to stop trying to trick themselves into thinking that they just may be getting bigger or stronger with all these fancy training protocols—tri-sets, drop-sets, muscle confusion, tempo training, short rest periods.

While this is true I still believe that some of these ‘fancy’ protocols can be used with good results. Again: Don’t put all your eggs in the same basket = use them wisely.

Stop rotating your movements so damn often. You need to learn how to squat with the barbell on your back first. You need to do this for weeks on end before you think about rotating bars or, even worse, switching to the fucking leg press to keep your body guessing. Give me a damn break. If you do the leg press over squats, you’re probably weak and will never be strong.

Agreed to some degree. Don’t change your exercises repeatedly but rotating your movements wisely when hitting a plateau or as a way to hit target muscles differently is a good way to go about it. Even then you should still focus on the big lifts. They should always be a part of your program.

Not everyone has what it takes to get big and strong. It’s just the reality of it. This shit requires hard work, dedication, discipline, and time. There isn’t any magic pill or supplement that will allow you to bypass all the hard work. If it was easy, we’d all be walking around jacked and strong. The ones who don’t have what it takes are the ones who will always be hopping around from program to program, always looking for the next new secret supplement, magic program, or top-secret exercise.


Stop jumping on every new nutrition trend. I just want to slam my head into a wall when someone is trying to put on maximum size and strength yet talks about using intermittent fasting or ketogenic diets. Those diets aren’t designed to make you big and strong.

Again great advice even though I’ve seen people get big and strong eating paleo or intermittent fasting. Don’t jump on every trend but choose good foods and keep alcohol and sugar to a minimum – that’s the short version.

Stop worrying about your precious abs. If you lose them for a little bit, that’s fine. Eating to keep abs and wanting to be jacked and strong are two conflicting goals. I’m not saying that you should get fat or lose all regard for your physique in this process, but if your abs fade, so be it. If you’re worried that hot chicks won’t want to date you because you’ve lost your abs, two things—you’re wrong and if a girl only wants to date you because you have abs, she’s pretty shallow and not worth dating to begin with.

Even though I’m not happy to admit it he’s right: It is almost impossible to keep your abs and getting big as f***. If you want to look huge next summer, eat like it and then go on a diet to shed the excess fat. It is hard work but it is the truth. And regarding females he’s also right. Although they dig abs (and they do) they will also dig you without them.

With that out in the open I still wouldn’t recommend you to get fat. Lean bulking may be too difficult but there is no reason for you to become a fat f***. Keep that in mind.

Stop eating like a bodybuilder who’s four weeks out from his next contest or, better yet, eating strict Paleo. There isn’t anything wrong with either of those things in general, but they don’t match your goals. As Dan John says, “Look at your behaviors. Look at your goals. Do your behaviors match your goals?” You’re going to have to eat a lot of food to get big and strong. I’m not saying that your health isn’t important because it is, but there will be a time when you have to eat food that maybe isn’t considered healthy to help get in some calories. It’s the reality of it. It isn’t like you’ll be eating like this for the rest of your life.

Pretty much the same as the paragraph before this one.

  • Main movements—squat, deadlift, overhead press, bench press

  • Accessory movements—chin-ups, pull-ups, dips, front squats, lunges, incline bench, close grip bench, triceps extensions, curls, sit-ups, rollouts, hanging leg raises, planks

  • Reps—3–10 on most main movements, 10–20 reps on squats after working up to a heavy set, 8–15 reps on accessory movements

Good advice and I agree on almost everything. The set-rep range can and must be changed every now and then but all in all good advice.

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