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20-Minute Muscle Builder Questions

Hi Coach Thibaudeau. I’m about to start running your “20-Minute Muscle Builder” program https://www.t-nation.com/workouts/20-minute-muscle-builder - my schedule is getting pretty full, so this seems like the answer to my prayers for mass! Just had a few questions:

  1. You wrote in the article that it is possible to “perform the A workout in the AM as your first training session and the B workout in the PM as your second session.” If you use this approach, do you still train every day, doing both A and B every day in this way, or do you take a day off in between?

  2. Is it permissible, or recommended, to add any light additional work afterwards? E.g a set or two of arms, a set of pullovers just to stretch out a little? Or would you recommend to leave it and simply do the program as written?

  3. For the final set, you prescribe an AMRAP set of 15-20 reps at 60% of 1RM. When I tried the workouts, I could not for the life of me hit 15 reps at that weight. It’s something that I’ve noticed on other occasions too, so it’s definitely a problem with me.
    Why am I struggling so much with this, and what would you recommend? I assume I should just drop the weight to a level that allows me to get 15 reps and go from there?

  4. On this post Deadlifts in 20-Minute Muscle Builder you mentioned one can use “a cluster 3-3-3-3-3-3 with 20 sec between “sets” of 3 on the deadlift.”
    Do you recommend this over the straight 20-rep sets originally written in the program, or is this only applicable in some cases?


Update: I’ve been doing the program for the last few days and also found myself wondering about rest periods. I assume that the standard advice of simply resting until recovered applies (~2 mins), or is a specific rest scheme recommended?

My recommendation is normally to use the rest period that allows you to perform at your best, so there is an individual component. But it normally falls between 2 and 3 minutes.

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You’d train one day on one day off.

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Absolutely. This programs was originally designed for people who don’t have much time to train, as such the volume is minimal. I never designed this plan to be “optimal”, the amount of work is insufficient to be optimal; it was designed to still be able to get good results when you don’t have much time to invest in training.

As such, adding volume of minor stuff will not hurt your recovery on this plan like it would for some of my other programs.

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The number of reps one can get is an individual thing which can vary depending on many factors like muscle fibers makeup, training experience, conditioning, etc.

I prefer that you stick to the recommended load and simply get as many reps as you can, even if you don’t reach 15.

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PERSONALLY I would prefer the cluster sets. I would shoot myself in the head if I had to do 20 reps on anything. The cluster makes it feel like low reps work, which better fit my psychological profile. The gains will be similar so it’s up to your personal preferences.

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Definitely can relate to this hahaha, clusters it is then.

Thanks a lot Coach! Really appreciate the help.