T Nation

anti-bodybuilding program

What has worked best for me, and another guy I train with, is to do compound, big lifts for the majority of the training year and using direct arm work for only small specialized times. This seems to work the best for me, as well as not overtraining me, or making me bored or anything.


I would not say that isolation work is worthless. It is just that isolation work should not be the focus of well designed training program. If you do compound movements such as chin ups, squats, deadlifts, dips etc. You will add more size overall and thuas add more size to your arms. That said, feel free to do a few sets of bicep and tricep work. Especially, if you are someone that likes the pump that direct exercises do for the arms.


Do you suppose if you're pressed for time (i.e. you don't have 1.5 hrs or so per day to train regularly), it's better to stick to compound mvmt and leave out all arm work? I'm trying to do GVT, and my routine will be around:

deadlifts (likely stiff-legged)
pull downs (not strong enough to do chins yet. :(

I'll do no direct calf work (my calves really don't need any development), and some ab work. I plan to do some jump roping for about 10-15 mins at the end of the weight training sessions. I'm debating whether or not to add shoulder, bi, and tri to my routine.

Thanks. :)

Stella, although I know a little bit about you from various posts, I don’t really know enough to make a good recommendation for you here concerning GVT and how I would set up a program like that for you. So let me give you a few suggestions about stuff to watch out for:

If you’re relatively new to working out (“relatively” being a, uh, relative term…), I would watch out for trying to do ten sets of ten on technical lifts like squats. The reason being that your form may break down along the way, setting you up for injury. Depending on how (un)confident you are on this point, I’d substitute leg presses instead.

You’re Asian, right? In that case, you’re probably right not to incorporate calves in this cycle.

If you can’t do pull-ups, I’d at least try to incorporate some negatives into the mix. Maybe ten sets of two-negatives-plus-eight-pulldowns - something like that.

While I wouldn’t incorporate any direct arm work, I would do something for shoulders. DB military press or push-press most likely.

Hope this helps. And yes, I expect to see pictures up on the Photo Forum before long… :wink:

Hi Char-dawg,

Thank you for your response. Yes, I'm Asian. How did you know? I never posted my pic!!!! X_X

Yes, I hate doing calf routines. My calves are already big enough. Actually I really hate my calves because I always think they look too big. But then I have this hate complex about them, so who knows what they REALLY look like?

I'd say I'm "relatively new" in that I worked out for about 6 months then quit for a whole frigging year. *sigh* I know, I know, it's bad, but it's a long story....something I may tell over a drink.

As for the forms, I feel pretty OK w/ them. I trained w/ Ko and Pat twice before, and they showed me how to perform squats, dead correctly.

As for pics? Hmm...not right now. I saw the pics at the pic forum, and everyone looked very good. Maybe when I'm leaner. I did gain little weight while working on a project (100 lbs of chocolate available to you 24/7 plus all kinds of junk food you can possibly imagine plus all kinds of dining out events X_X I'm trying to start this year right and I want to achieve the things I always wanted to achieve. I'll post a pic in June if I feel comfortable enough. ;)

A guy with a huge chest and scrawny arms seems weak. Its hard for a guy with huge arms to seem weak.

Not to say that you should NEVER work your calves - I’d just save them for when you’re on a strength cycle rather than a bulking cycle. And just for the record, Asians usually have gorgeous calves. I would trade my stringy lower legs with pretty much anyone I see around here on a daily basis.

The point I was trying to make about not doing technical lifts on a 10 x 10 program is not that you don’t know how to perform the lift correctly (I’m sure you do, especially with such good teachers), but that 10 x 10 is tough if you’re doing it right, and with that number of reps your form will very likely break down just from cumulative fatigue. With only six months’ or so experience under your belt, I would say definitely NOT to opt for squats this time out. Seriously. The massive neuro impact along with the high degree of techincality inherent in the lift is - IMHO - just asking for trouble at this point.

How did I know you were Asian? Oh, after ten years or so in Japan I’ve developed a sixth sense about this sort of thing. I also know what color underwear you’re wearing right now - but don’t worry, I won’t tell. :wink:

I’m not a dog pound member, but I would like to respond to Chad’s request for feedback anyway. Great article and I liked the five hypertrophy principles you laid out at the beginning. I agree totally with the first principle that you need to stimulate a muscle more often if your looking for optimal hypertrophy. It seems just about everyone is a “blast each bodypart once a week trainer”. This ties in well to your third point on limiting muscle stimulattion and fourth point of not training to failure. I truly believe that frequent training of a muscle group with reduced volume and not going to failure all the time is the key to hypertrophy. I also agree with training through soreness. I know this is heresy to HITer’s, but so is everything else about this program, and I’ve honestly not met too many big HITer’s. Some of my best squat days have been when my legs were still sore from the previous leg workout. I don’t totally agree with your feelings on time under tension although I’m totally in agreement with the over-emphasis placed on it. I believe it has a place in hypertrophy training, but in a periodized manner. I focus on it a little early on in a macrocycle for a couple of weeks before lowering my rep range in my usual hypertrophy program. Of course when I try your abb program (which I will) it will not be an issue as the rep range is low from the beginning.

Hi Char

I’m flattered that you find Asian calves so pretty. To make you feel ill – I read from the Wall St Journal that some Asian girls actually have calf-reduction surgery to reduce the size of their calves because they feel that their calves are too big (I sympathized w/ them cuz that’s how I felt sometimes). I couldn’t help but notice the difference between here and there (Asia) because here, some guys are doing calf padding surgeries (or whatever is the technical term for it) to make them look big!!!

As for the forms breaking down, I'm very aware of that. *sigh* I tend to terminate my set before I get to the failure (failuire = form breaking down and/or loss of ROM). Leg presses are nice though, but I think (and this is my personal exp and people may have a diff exp) that leg presses tend to stress my knees more. For whatever reason, my left knee's dying after leg presses. :(

I didn't know you lived in Japan for 6 years! I'm so envious. I wanted to go to Japan for a project, but I couldn't because I refuse to hang out w/ this guy who was in Japan (he's a soy boy dork who believes that you should deadlift w/ your knees....don't ask....he's a creep who likes to stare at the girls when he goes to the local gym, but doesn't do any exercise himself), and I knew if I went to Japan, I'd have to hang out w/ him since the team's so small. *yuck*

And no, you'll never guess the color of my underwear! :-p

nate said, “I think the only time direct arm workouts are more useful is if you are lifting light weights or if you’re trying to bring out more definition. That’s when curls and triceps pressdowns are actually useful”. diet effects definition, direct arm work has nothing 2 do with it.

It’s been over ten years, and I’m still here. Not planning to go anywhere anytime soon. So you want to come out, come on. There’s a great gym here and if you don’t speak Japanese I’ll be happy to translate for you.

As for the underwear issue: I was trying to be nice before, but you force me to reveal your secret to the Forum. [Stage whisper] People, she’s not wearing any.

I don’t agree at all. Most of my clients who complain of lagging arms usually don’t train arms, have piss poor training routines, or just don’t eat enough to make good gains. Using isolation exercises and emphasizing proper diet, I can usually add 1/2 to 1 inch on their arms in a matter of 4-6 weeks. In fact, didn’t Chris Shugart say he put 1/2 inch on his arms as a result of a specialization routine?

O I’m scandalized! :-o And I neither confirm nor deny your guess (a very politically strategized statement from a gal from Washington DC).

Since you're in Japan (Tokyo?), when I visit Japan, I'll ping you. I'm not sure when I'll get to visit Japan, but perhaps sometime this year when it's a little warmer. :)

Nah, I’m in Hiroshima. Tokyo’s too much of a hassle as far as I’m concerned.

Nonetheless, feel free to ping me. I had a great time letting Machine kick my ass in a workout over the holidays, and I welcome any opportunity to meet more of the T-community in person.

char-dawg: Waitin’ to be pinged by Stella. Caint hardly wait. Since MBE started these silly tags.


Excuse my ignorance, but how far is Hiroshima from Tokyo/Narita Airport? I know it sounds bad, but I always try to estimate distance by using the major airports since I fly so much. If I get staffed West Coast again (I'm crossing my fingers REAL hard that I stay in San Fran or go to Seattle), then I'm likely to visit Japan for a weekend. And one more question -- is there any decent hotels around where you live? Preferably a Hilton chain (Hilton, Embassy Suites, Homewood, Hampton) or a Starwood chain (Sheraton, Westin, Four Point, or W)?

As for work out... OMG...you're going to kick my ass so bad. My bench/squats are so puny that if I ever see a guy who bench/squat less than me, I just burst out laughing. (And ask Ko & Patricia if you don't believe that my bench/squat = puny) Anyways, this discussion's getting waaaaaay off topic. I'm afraid I'm going to get flamed. hehehe. If you want, email me at skyung@braxton.com for any off-topic stuff. And let me know how to ping you off board just in case. I'm visualizing a possible visit in April or May, depending on my project scheduling. *crossing fingers*


Most of the people here have seen recent pics of me. What they’ll notice in them pics is that I still have decent arm (bicep) size. I have done absolutely not direct bicep work for months - I believe since the beginning of summer and even performed occasional bicep curls before that. So, I believe Mr. Waterbury is absolutely correct.

I wouldn't say that they (isolated arm work) are entirely worthless. I would say that in some instances, they are important. Example, a newbie. Or someone new to bodybuilding. I would incorporate some bicep/tricep work so that they would at least KNOW what it feels like to work the arms. To get familiar with the movement and to build somewhat of a base.

My routine of late, has been more compound movements (bench, squats, cleans, snatch, deads, dips, etc.) than anything else. I doubt I will ever go back to that "typical" bodybuilding routine. Besides, I'm having waaaaay too much fun now.

Sorry for the late involvement in this thread. I just haven't had the time to add the proper .2 cents worth of opinion. Oh, and Char: Stella's bench/squat ain't that puny. She's just bein' humble ;-)

I’m with Chad on this one. I find most people who I’ve trained or trained with tend to over train their arms, well at least their bi’s and tri’s. Once they switch over to more compound excercises and less direct arm work their arms grow. Like Chad I don’t thing that direct arm work is worthless, just overrated.


Your arms are frigging amazing. (Having a major arm envy!)

And as for my puny bench/squat (or was it not so puny bench/squat), I'm so flattered. (Watch my head swell!!!) But seriously....they need to be better. I'm working on them, working on them. :)

Okay, Stella, I tried. If you don’t get the email, something’s gone wrong.

And to get back on topic, I think that Myotrainer has misunderstood the point. Changing your routine up is good. If you do a lot of arm work (as most trainers do, often to the point of excess), you’ll benefit from cutting the direct work out. And if you’ve NOT done direct work for a while, then a good one- or two-month cycle can give you some gains. Not that one way or the other is always the way to train all the time.

I very much enjoyed reading this article. Reading about training methods that are boiled down to simple rules is attractive to me, because I don’t want to be thinking about a lot of confusing details when I’m trying to plot a regimine or lift a dumbell at the gym.

However, a few ideas presented in the article bothered me. I’m sure the author is well-educated with tons more experience than me; yet, a couple details in this writeup seemed weak, and I wanted to mention them:

1.) He advocates training more often to get results - that’s great! I read about this on T-Mag several months ago, and so, I work shoulders and chest twice a week and have had great results. But then he mentions this arm thing which has been debated above to death. If training more often produces results, why would eliminating direct arm work be a good thing? For whatever it’s worth, I still do direct arm work with along with all my compound motion exercises with fine progress. It’s true, he didn’t say that we wouldn’t benefit from doing arms, just that the best way to achieve results was to incorporate compound motions. But doing less arm work still contradicts his ‘more is better’ idea.

2.) His abandonment of the TUT principle kind of bugs me. No offense, but what is this based on? I know other routines he listed like the 5x5 which are known to produce results without fitting within the strict TUT brackets exist, but should we really ignore this principle? Ever since I read the REFERENCED studies here on T-mag months ago, I discovered the thing I was most negligent about in my workouts was tempo - I was one of those guys that would throw the weights around in a body-jerking, 8-rep, 10-15 second set, and ever since I incorporated the changes to my tempo in workouts (to slow it down, pause at the tops and bottoms of lifts), my results have DEFINITELY been enhanced. The TUT articles are referenced with scientific evidence supporting the ideas. Maybe I’m interpreting this article incorrectly, but it seemed to me that he was saying “don’t worry about your tempo - it’s not important.” without anything to back up this viewpoint. I did read about his credentials at the bottom, which depict his experience with military men and various other athletic clientele. So it’s very likely he has a lot of real-world experience to support this perspective. But I’m saying, for a guy that got into this with a very ignorant background about lifting (and still has a long way to go) the TUT idea has been an amazing change for me, and dumping the principle in a couple of sentences feels cavalier to me. I apologize for the criticism, I’m not trying to pick holes here.