The Solution To Functional Muscle Mass

One of the best programs I’ve ever used for packing on muscle was back in 2004/2005. And for muscle, I mean “go” not “show.” It was stuff you could really use.

At that point I was using a “Westside Template” – two “speed” days and two “strength” days. There were 2 snatch dominant days and 2 C+J dominant days each week. On the strength days, I worked up to a training max -5RM, 3RM, or 2RM and then I applied a twist to an idea that the OTC used to use with their lifters about 15 or so years ago when Dragomir Ciroslan was the Head Coach of the US Team. They would hit a training max for the day, and then back down to 80% and get as many sets as they could. At least that was the way I remembered it.

So, my weightlifting partner and I would pick a lift, like Snatch Grip Deadlift from the Knee, hit a 5RM with it, and then back down and do as many sets of 5 with it as we could with somewhere between 60-90s rest. We’d do this three times per week – once with a snatch assistance exercise, once with a clean assistance exercise, and once with a jerk assistance exercise.

Several things happened.

  1. We got really strong. If I remember correctly, I pulled 594 for a 3RM on a SnDL from just below the knee.
  2. We got really muscular. I packed on close to 15lbs of muscle in my back, shoulders, and posterior chain in about 3 months.
  3. Our lifts went up significantly. After this specific cycle, I Power Cleaned 140kg for 16 singles in 15 minutes. That was a PR.

I honestly don’t know why I ever stopped using this method. It is one of my top two or three methods for gaining strength and size.

The cool thing is that you can pack in the volume, work your groove, and obey the necessary laws to make progress:

  • As often as possible
  • As heavy as possible
  • As fresh as possbile

Now, arguably, this looks very, very similar to Pavel’s, Power to the People Bear variation. It is. Except there is no deload to 90%. And it’s based on a training max, not the whatever weight you used that particular day (70%, etc.).

How could you apply this to kettlebell training?

Exactly the same way. Work up to a max, and back down. If you don’t have enough bells, work on getting as many back down sets as you can. Then compress the rest periods and work to getting the same number of sets.

If you’re looking to put on a few usable pounds, give this template a whirl.

8 comments… add one
  • Jassi Feb 17, 2010 @ 17:53

    I want to learn more about this technique any ideas

    • GEOFFN Feb 17, 2010 @ 21:18

      Jassi – Yeah – just get going and play with it for a month or three and see what your results are. Just make sure you eat!

  • Mike T Nelson Feb 17, 2010 @ 20:59

    Very wise words here from Zatsiorsky

    * As often as possible
    * As heavy as possible
    * As fresh as possible

    That is the “secret” to progress!

    Rock on
    Mike T Nelson PhD(c)

    • GEOFFN Feb 17, 2010 @ 21:18

      Mike – Yup, if there’s one *real* secret, that’d be it!

  • Jassi Feb 20, 2010 @ 17:11

    Can you give an example of the lifts you used plus all the plan details.

  • gym.hodgson Mar 5, 2010 @ 16:18

    ‘…as fresh as possible…’ a keystone of a good routine!


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