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Bigger Faster Stronger


Hey Guys. I was recently at borders, and saw a book called "Bigger Faster Stronger" by Greg Shephard. Basically its a book for atheletes, used to bring up strength, agility and speed. I was wondering if atheles, and anyone in general has ever used their system, and had good results in becoming more "atheletic". What is your input on this book? I, being an athelete, was just wondering if this book is worth 17 bucks, and if I should keep it, or go out and buy another book? Suggestions would be great. Thanks


We did a program called BFS when I was in high school. It's nothing revolutionary, a 3 day-a-week split focusing on the big compound lifts and using basic linear periodization.

If you're an athlete, it's definitely a lot better than a bodybuilding program. However, I prefer DeFranco's WSSB2. It's available here for free, uses conjugate periodization, and includes speed/agility work. It's also much more flexible/variable.

Disclaimer: It's been about 7 or 8 years since I did BFS, and I've never read the book. I'm just discussing how it was implemented by my HS coaches.


I read the book this summer. I would not recommend buying it. It is definetly better than the bodybuilding stuff most kids are doing but it has a number of flaws. There is very little variey and it doesn't take into account the induvidual differences of atheletes and just puts them all on the same system. It would be a decent starting point for training large groups or if you were just learning the basics. Most of what he rights about is very basic and airs towards being a one sizes fits all. If you already know about the core lifts bench, squat, deads, and cleans and basic plyos you won't get very much out of the book. If you still want to read it most libraries will have it.

I too would highly recommend Defrancos WS4SBs or the Westside template. Look into Supertraining or The Science and Practice of Strength Training. They won't give you a "cookie cutter" program to follow but it will tell you all you need to start designing your own programs. Also reading anything you can find by Defranco, Louie Simmons, and everything at elitefts.com


There is a lot more to the program than just the book. They also have videos (pretty good), a magazine, and a bunch of other stuff. It is excellent for highs school football players.

If you don't want to:
Squat deep
Learn the O lifts
Bench heavy

Don't waste your time.


Haha! Thanks! Yeah I was wondering if it was worth keeping, in the respect of a highschool athelete's perspective. Does the agility, plyometrics, and weight training system work? Any writers on this site you would recommend for sports specific training + muscle mass? Thanks for your input


This is what I found about the BFS program on the Internet some time ago. It's about weightlifting part of the program; I've been told that the book also contains descriptions of basic exercises and various warm-up and agility drills.

You workout 3x a week. Each workout you do 2 main lifts, and then, some assistance work based on weaknesses/work capacity.

Monday - Back Squat, Bench Press
Wednesday - Deadlift, Power Clean
Friday - Squat variant, Bench variant

Sets and reps for the main lifts are rotated weekly. It's an interesting way of periodizing:

Week 1: 3x3
Week 2: 5x5 or 3x5
Week 3: 5-4-3-2-1 or 5-3-1
Week 4: 10-8-6 or 4-4-2 (for DL and PC)

You should be near failure in the last rep of the last set. Usually the younger athletes are given slightly less volume. For assistance work, use 2-3x8-12. IMO, you'll definetly need back work every day (rows and/or chins), then some overhead work etc.

I think this is a nice setup for setting a good foundation, as you get to focus on the main lifts, with different intensities each week. You adjust it to personal needs by choosing assistance exercises and their volume. It can also be good for an intermediate lifter who, due to circumstances, can't get away with more complex program.

This way of periodizing is very similar to what former US OL coach Jim Schimtz advocates. Within a month, you have a heavy week, then medium, maximum, light, then repeat :slightly_smiling:

Finally, I've tried something similar in 2004. The biggest change I made was to do light 5x5 @65% and 1 min rest, instead of 10-8-6; that protocol applies better to all main lifts in my opinion.


Hey slotan, Thanks for your input!

Hey Guys thanks for the response. I was wondering if it was worth to pay 20 dollars a year for 6 issues? I also have a couple of other questions.
For DJ, and all the others.

1) What type of periodization is incorporated with BFS?

2) Has any athelete on this site have success with it?

3) Is this in any way similar to Westside?

4) What would you change about their system (Weightraining, plyo, basically anything) to make it more efficent for a football player? E.G Rep/sets, Periodization, Exercise selection, training percentages and anything else you can think of.

5) Is there any good info in the magazine subscriptions?

6) Are there any books ou there similar to BFS, you would recommend?

Anyone feel free to to give your 2 cents on BFS. Anyone think any modifications can be made for more efficeny? Thanks guys


As far as the book is concerned, all I had to see to advise against it was the form advocated for stiff-legged deadlifts.

The magazine is actually quite good, though.


I used it for a while like I said if you are just starting out it is fine but if your experienced it will not be very useful. Most of my lifts went up after a week or so but progress slowed up not long after. One thing that I did find useful was the 10 sprints(40s) twice a week and I had never done any sprint work before and that helped my speed a lot.

BFS is quite different than Westide

Westide uses conjugated periodiaztion, BFS is linear but you could easily modify it to be conjugated(when you are training multiple skills simultaneously)

In BFS you max out once every few weeks but in westside it will be done weekly for both upper and lower body. But deloading will be done every 4-6 weeks for 1-2 weeks to prevent overtraining. Also the exercise you max out on is rotated atleast every 2 weeks. if your interested in westide read Dave Tate's periodization bible part 2 and Joe DeFranco's Westside for Skinny Bastards.

If you're just starting BFS wouldn't be a bad place to start. The biggest thing you can do to modify it is add variety to the core lifts and also try to identify your weaknesses and use exercises specific to them accordingly. Bringing up your weakpoints will give the fastest improvements in you strength and athleticism.

Good luck with all your training efforts.

BTW I am a high schooler.


Since you've actually read the book, I have to ask: Are set/reps schemes I posted alright? If so, then if you managed to progress only for a week, then your program wasn't set up properly. From what I gathered, first 4 weeks should be completely doable, by definition, since you select the weights which will allow you to get all the reps. From that point on, you can try increasing the weights a bit and try improving over the previous week where you did that set/rep combination. Could it be that you were expecting too much of an increase?

How is BFS linear periodization? Intensity and volume vary practically independently of each other.

Week 1: low volume, 90%
Week 2: med-high volume, 80%
Week 3: low volume, 80-100%
Week 4: med-high volume, 70-80%

Don't forget that Westside is primarily a PL template. BFS is for football/athleticism, so doing 1RMs isn't all that neccessary. WSSB is more of an in-season program, one of it's goals is to spare the lower body and thus you have just lower body rep day. On the other hand, with (at least) 2x squatting, BFS would be more applicable in the off-season.


I agree completely, though I've never read the magazine.

If you don't look at the form advocated by BFS for exercises, I'd rate the program as "good."

It's idiotic to tell a large group of high school kids (primary market) to max out in any capacity before they learn the right form for exercises - this means Westside AND BFS and any other method really. Once they learn the lifts correctly, though, go for it once in a while as it fits into a training scheme.

The main problem I have with the program is the rather haphazard arrangement of set/rep schemes. There doesn't seem to be much of a point other than switching it up once in a while. Switching is good, but planned switching for particular goals is MUCH better.

To whoever it was that asked, yes, the program does tell athletes to expect huge gains too quickly (for most people).

I wouldn't buy it, nor would I base athletic training on a Westside template.




Sorry if I was unclear when I was talking about my lifts going up I wasn't saying that they only went up for a week but that after aabout a week or so I did see improvement in the amount of weight I could use on various excercises compared to before I was using BFS. The thing for me was that my progress slowed thats all I was saying. I think it was just because I need a lot more variety and I also needed the dynamic component( at the time it was a weakness) which BFS doesn't incorporate unless you are doing the plyos but it's not the same as dynamic box squats with bands.

Yes, Westide is primarily a PL template but the beauty of it is that it can be modified so easily for whatever you training goals are. I have had amazing gains with Defranco's WSSB and the original Westside template. The other great thing about it is that it incorporates all three methods of strength development: Max Effort, Dynamic, and Repetition.

I don't see how which should be used in season/ off season is very relavent but it is inseason for football right now anyway. Also the leg day in WSSB is ME not RE but it could be modified to be that way if that suited your needs.

I've just found Westide Barbell methods to be much more effective.


Well said, Dan.


i saw this routine from a guy from another site i think it looks prett good, what do u guys think

reps and sets: week 1-4x5, wk 2-5x4, wk 3- 6x3 wk4 - 7x2 wk5 deload- 2x4

box squats
Bench press
barbell curls (2 sets of 4-6 reps cycling each week with a 6 5 4 2scheme)
abs (10 8 6 4 scheme)

floor press
incline barbell
tris (2 sets of 4-6 reps cycling each week with a 6 5 4 2scheme)

Parallel squats
Natural glute-ham
wide grip pullups


My highschool utilized this program and I can say that most players had horrible imbalances. Now, our coaches were not the most intelligent, nor experienced in the weightroom, so we were doing the plyo's almost every week of the year, which caused many guys to burn out.

I've noticed that many players had horrible back strength(noone EVER did back work, as it was not mandated by the program). We had a couple guys that could bench 335 but noone on the entire team could parallel squat 315, primarily because a huge part of the program is box squatting on a high box. I utilized the program and made virtually zero gains, so I switched over to a program of my own(don't remeber, this was 5 years ago). I think many of the problems of my team spawned from the incorrect implementation of the program, as the highest powerclean was also 225(by me), highest squat was 300(me also), highest bench was 345, and highest deadlift was...well...we did trap bar deadlifts, so I don't remember.

I think that with correct implementation, the program can be used successfully to coach a large number of player, but I concur with Dan on this one.


Thanks - watching BFS and other programs fail for the athletes while I was in high school was actually one of the main reasons I started studying Exercise Science.

Well, and to have hard evidence to show a coach that "The only exercise you should do for your back is sit ups" was a load of crap :slight_smile:



Having started my foray into lifting armed primarily with the BFS Program and a copy of Bill Pearl's Getting Stronger; Ican attest to the validity that BFS is a great program for beginning athletes as it focuses on compound movements and avoids bodybuilding excesses. That said for the advanced trainee, whether they be in High School or beyond, there are definitely better things out there.

Of course, the counterpoint is that most high school's don't have a qualified strength coach and the program is easy to implement and administer. Additionally, my experience is that many HS athletes aren't overly motivated to lift and that few think of it as the lifelong pursuit as we do. Thus, for the average HS athlete I think its a great program.


Great book with a ton of knowledge. I have it in my collection of sports training books.

BFS has the best videos! The older ones with Stefan Fernholm are AMAZING!!

I use to get the mag, supps. & training equipment from them, GHGR, box squat.

But back in 97' I called to ask about my hero Stefan Fernholm & was told he had died 6 monthes earlier!!! They never brought it up in their mag! And when they finally did it was 1 lousy half pg. about him. Actually, if I remember right, it was a paragraph! They still today sell posters, videos, & the book with Stafan everywhere. Such a nice guy & they couldn't even put him on the cover or do a special video on him.

Dr. Greg Shepard you are a coward & you only think of yourself & your business.

So now I boycott their company. They don't deserve it. You don't treat a champion like that! It was way out of line.

So don't buy BFS.


Back when I was in highschool we used to joke about this program, calling it bigger, fatter, slower because it seemed like our frickin oline just blew the fuck up in a bad way...those fat fuckers...but in retrospect I have seen way worse programs, and done way worse programs, but I don't think you should spend the money on that book.


BFS is designed for teaching big groups who don't know anything about lifting or training. I believe that it's a pretty good program for those starting out in training for sports. It bills itself as a package program, adressing things like speed and agility too. If you want to powerlift early, you might want to look elsewhere.

BFS also has a very-well spelled out program for use by beginning lifters as young as junior high. Young athletes have to complete the readiness program before they can start doing maxes.

The big drawback I see in the weight training is that it could place a bit more emphasis on P-Chain, Core, and Triceps, however the later editions of the program are starting to come over to those things more. Sheperd (sp?) is even selling GH machines and chains now.

As far as the magazine: It ain't worth it. There is very little real training info in it since they went over to six issues a year. It is mostly inspirational, rah-rah, testimonial stuff for the program.