ABBH Post Mortem

I just finished Chad Waterbury?s ABBH. I thought I?d post my experiences with it for anyone who might be considering it. Most of us have read the program, so I?m not going to recap it. If something doesn?t make sense, read the original article.

First, I want to thank Chad Waterbury for unselfishly posting this program online.

I didn?t change my diet going into the program. I eat 6 times a day, plus a post-workout shake on days I train. Mostly P/C meals around workout time and mostly P/F meals the rest of the day. I wasn?t counting calories, but I get 1.5 grams of protein per pound of bodyweight per day.

The main improvements I noticed were to my back. And by that, I mean traps, mid back, lower back and hips. In retrospect, that makes sense. The program hits the back directly on the deadlifting day, horizontal pulling day and vertical pulling day. And the fourth day includes squats, which put some stress the glutes and lower back. So you?re hitting your back every day that you train. In fact, I?d go so far as to label ABBH a back specialization plan. Unfortunately, those were really the only improvements I noticed. My arms shrank an eighth of an inch or so. My thighs and chest stayed the same.

One thing that was difficult to plan around was how much the workout time varied. For instance, the high-rep upper body included 5 sets for pulling and 5 sets pushing. That?s only 10 total sets. I was in and out of the gym in 25 minutes. But the lower body low-rep day included 10 sets of deadlifts for thighs, 10 sets for calves and 10 sets for abs, with rest in between each set. Plus I did a couple warmup sets and I also spent 5 minutes on the stationary bike or treadmill before I started lifting. It took me nearly two hours to do all that.

The low rep days were mentally grueling, but I never felt in danger of missing a rep. By contrast, I couldn?t complete all 5 sets of 10 on any of my exercises except squats when the weights went to 70% of max. I don?t know if this means that 80% was too low a percentage to use on my low rep days or if 70% was to high a percentage to use on my final high rep days.

I had been lifting 3 of every 5 days before starting the program. So lifting every other day was a nice change. But I didn?t cut my calories to compensate for the increased rest time. I got a little soft around the middle. Not much. Just a bit. That?s my fault, not the program?s, but you might want to watch out for that.

So would I do the whole thing over again? Yeah, especially if I was one of those guys who had neglected his ?go? muscles and concentrated on his ?show? muscles in the past. (You know who you are.) I will probably do a cycle of EDT, a cycle of Olympic lifts, and then maybe do ABBH again.

Again, thanks to Chad Waterbury. This was a very motivating program that made a big difference in my back strength and size. That?s always worthwhile.

Thanks for the feedback. If you try the program again, drop the 5 x 10 load another 5% in order to hit all 5 sets of 10 reps (very important).
Also, utilize the arm option and see how that works with regard to hypertrophy. Some trainees receive more arm hypertrophy by focusing on compound movements, whereas others (albeit less) respond well to isolation arm training.
Give it another shot if you feel so inclined, and email me with any questions/concerns.

Feedback from the man himself! I will probably give ABBH another go in three or four months with the modifications you suggested. Thanks again for putting it online.


Not that my opinion matters all that much in the shadow of mighty Chad… but, I have done ABBH twice, once without arm specialization, and once with. I spent a lot of time working with Flex and M&F programs so my arms were pretty well used to being worked viciously. I found that I saw little improvement in the arms without the specialization, but with the added work… they grew outta control.

Also, I had to eat like mad to keep up with my calorie expenditure. Although this was exacerbated by the fact that I added a HIIT day on the weekend.

Finally, I think everyone should use this program once or twice a year, if not more. I showed clear improvement everywhere except for the instance above, and the chest (a hard gain area with me, esp since I have taken to pressing a bit more like a Westside powerlifter.)It’s a high pump, and highly motivating regime.

Started the program today, am trying to get back into lifting and everything I have read and heard about this program sounds good. One question though, and if its a dumb one, flame at will.

Why is there no direct shoulder work, i.e. push press, military press? Could it be worked in and when or would it be too much work on the upper body?

Dan Reeves

I’ll chime in for Chad. I have done the program and trust me, stick to the setout as is. For your question - you get enough shoulder work from dips and bench presses. But if you really want to put them in, you can do them instead of your dips. There both vertical pressing movements.

Rank is right. But I suggest doing the dips instead of substituting overhead presses. If you do the presses, your chest will get worked only once every 8 days. Not enough, in my opinion.

Just finished up the ABBH yesterday and personally I loved it. It was a change in routine and my overall strength and size definitely improved.
before: 168
after: 176
followed a massive eating type program but I do martial arts so I burned more cals than I shoulda probably. Bump to the major back improvement. I’ll do another round in a couple of months probably with the extra arm work this time. Thanks for yet another insightful program Chad!

Thanks much for the info, Rank and Rocket. Will stick to it as written and add in the arm movements also. Next question is duration of the cycle. I was planning on doing it for 10 to 12 weeks, is this too long?

Did teh first upper body day yesterday and I’m sore as hell today. Haven’t lifted in two years, and kinda good feeling that old familiar pain. Also made me realize just how pathetically weak I’ve gotten. Just pathetic.

Duration of the cycle? I am not sure I understand. The program is 23 days long. Just over three weeks.

Don’t do it for 10 to 12 weeks. You have to do it for the 23 days as setout. You can swap the reps and sets around for another 23 days. So Instead of doing day 1 as bench and row at 10 sets by 3 reps. You do 10 sets of 3 reps of dips and chins.
After that you should do something else.

yeah 3 weeks mini cycle jives with most western periodization models out there.

Again thanks for the advice, understand the program better now. Had the wrong idea on the duration of it. Will hit it as written for the 23 days, then do the switch as suggested for another session, then let y’all know where I’m at and proceed accordingly…

Again many thanks.