T Nation

Built for Battle


Looks like you are using the strength/size template as I will. Desperate times…I will keep the same movement patterns but sequence them differently. Here is what I had in mind;
Military press
Front squat
Seated row
Thats something I can handle.


That’s smart, thanks! Taking the bar down from front squat to bench height (then moving the bench for deadlift), and cleaning it back up for military pass…that will be a pain in the ass though!

Also how hilarious is a 1-3RM on seated cable row…it reminds me of the preacher curl layers from CT’s new layers template. I dont know if anyone actually did a layer day with preacher curls lol


You just need a couple bars and a rack. Use the rack for front squats, OHP, and bench and have a bar on the floor outside of it for deads and rows.

My gym has placed their Incline near the power rack and it’s not used much. I could snag that and pull this off…as long as I didn’t go at peak times.


Hi CT,

Thank you for another amazing program. I am very eager to do this program, as I am expecting my first child in September (congratulations on your own child as well!), and I want to improve my health markers and get in better shape before the child comes. However, after he is born, I will not be able to make it to the gym five days per week anymore, both because of helping my wife and starting a new job. My question is this: what principles should I employ after 12 weeks that will allow me to preserve most of my gains in conditioning, strength, and size on three (3) sessions per week? Would the 3 day per week version of the “20 minute muscle builder” program be ideal, and if so, is there a progression that can be employed after hitting a plateau on the 20 rep sets (as I did before)? Thank you for all you do for us.


Did day 1 today.

Wrote about it in my log, but thought I would share some thoughts:

With a partner it’s fun, and easier to grab as much equipment as you need, especially with the cable rows, as they’re the odd one out.

Starting light is a good idea- with this many compound exercises, ego stays at the door and results show up anyway.

Gives you the lifting feeling while also hitting you with a conditioning/circuit kind of mentality - I wasn’t GASSED, like I finished a complex or a CrossFit WOD, but I was beat up, sweaty, and felt strong.

Finally, I really think the 5/3/1 mentality should be applied when hitting your 3RM. If there’s any doubt about your 3rd rep, drop the weight. With this many exercises in a row, a bad day is all it would take to miss reps because something is feeling tight.

I had fun, my wife had fun and hit her first 135lb DL for a triple (“fun” to me means I beat myself up) I’ll post a couple updates along the way if people are interested. I’m obviously not CT, so these tidbits are all my opinions - just thought people might want to hear about it.


IJust did say 1…oh the pleasure!!! And gains
Got so enlarged couldn’t fit into my clothes post workout

I could only snag a barbell/power rack + one of those lighter straight bar (people like to use barbell curl)

Broke it into two separate “sessions”

Front squat from box
1 arm db push press
Snatchgrip deadlift from deficit (using the barbell curl bar)

Then bench (regular bar/rack) & the straight bar for curls did pendlay rows
Did a few extra sets of 3’s as the 3RM was a bit technical (so made up with more volume)

Tomorrow the gold standard 5/4/3/2/1

Time to buy new shirts

One precaution gents…watch the Lower back. All the big compound movements kill the lower back.

Hope built for battle won’t also make us built as arthritis


Yes, if you do snatch grip deadlifts AND use a deficit you will put a lot of stress on the low back.


Depends on how you do it I guess. Olympic style it looks more like a squat


You did kind of choose some funky exercises. Snatch grip deficit deads? One arm DB push press? Both can aggravate the lower back. Sounds like a hell of a workout but no way in hell am I doing that.


How long could someone run this program as it is laid out before they would need to change it ? and could that change simply be changing exercise as long as they are the same movement pattern?


It’s mentioned in the article



Nice article about 5x/week frequency being better than 2x.

Built for battle for the win


Dumb study.

Only arms were trained 2x a week and that is because he is counting the indirect work on push and pull days. The only real advantage was in legs which in the split group were hit once.

Not only that but, no one programs push and pull days like that with that many exercises and sets there is A LOT of junk volume.

**I would love for him to bring this study up in a podcast with Eric Helms or Mike Israetel so, they can break it apart.


Well, Israetel and Shoenfeld are friends, I doubt that he would rip Brad appart.


True but, I meant more criticize/point out the flaws. Eric Helms and Mike Israetel are also friends but, have disagreed on many approaches to hypertrophy on podcasts.


Fair enough. Maybe there are flaws with the methodology BUT I still agree with the overall message that for optimal hypertrophy hitting a muscle twice a week is likely optimal and for strength a high frequency is even better (pretty much all olympic lifters clean, snatch and squat 4-6 days a week and more and more powerlifters are now doing the same with their competitive lifts).

My only issue with Brad (not a critique on him personally) is that he also did a study showing that at equal weekly volume, training a muscle once a week is superior for muscle mass and then have other studies saying the opposite.Then again this might simply show that other paramaters play at least an equivalent role as frequency in building muscle


I completely agree. For hypertrophy 2x a week is optimal while certain muscle groups like delts, biceps, quads may benefit from even higher frequency.

I only responded because Sigil wrote “Nice article about 5x/week frequency being better than 2x.” and I believe that it was closer to 5x vs 1x, though something like bench will hit triceps I would never count it at a 1:1 ratio with direct tricep work like skull crushers.

Menno really promotes the higher frequency/ full body approach so, I am not surprised he posted this study.


Doing full body every day is just so epic on so many levels (right, Menno likes it. built for battle is even more intense since its big compound movements).

These studies are catnip for gym addicts lol


“Being epic” should never be remotely close to being taken into consideration when designing/choosing a program. The only thing that matters is if it’s effective or not.

I know for a fact (science and experience) that when doing neurological/strength work frequency is key. Displaying strength is a motor skill, and just like any other motor skill frequency is the key to rapid progression. And that is the main goal of the Built for Battle and Built for Bad strength circuits. You will of course get muscle growth from these plans too. BUT for maximum hypertrophy I believe that the studies are correct when they show that hitting a muscle 2, maybe 3 times a week (like with the Best Damn Workout) is optimal.

Studies are useful. Disregarding them is just as much a mistake as following them blindly. They provide information that you integrate in the grand scheme of things and you use that information (along with the other info you have) to design the best plan possible.


Duly noted coach, thanks. I’m curious what degree, for a natural, does this even make? I mean we might literally be talking a few percentage points…or maybe much more (visually noticeable).

Also for me, and perhaps several others who have grown up on your performance style training, strength gains and performance (neural/CNS/skill etc) are quite integrally linked to size gains.

It’s one thing on paper to hit one all out set (best damn), for me it’s another in practice (ramping up, performance) or built for battle (whole body just gets a jolt, CNS overdrive and better/heavier weight lifting). This leads to more strength and more reps at higher %…so longer term more hypetrophy?

HP mass and indigo HFSW comes to mind. built for bad/batttle as well, however being on my first week, it can be a wake up call (shock) to the whole body when you go heavy and alternate these big lifts! (not in a good way either lol)