T Nation

Christian, What Kind of Training Gave You Most of Your Muscle?


I realize that the answer may come with qualifications, such as your training age, periods when you used steroids, were eating to gain etc, but for you, what kind of training do you believe was responsible for most of the muscle you have gained? (Also realizing that you recently posted an article about how your body weight has really been quite constant for a decade plus.

The main reason why I prefer to stick with strength based goals is that you win either way. As long as you get stronger, you either are going to gain muscle in the process, or you are going to get a damn high strength to weight ratio, whatever your body is built for. Strength never really fails. Even though I have gained muscle by using high frequency low set intensity techniques, like rest pause sets to failure, pre-exhaust and overload negatives, I have never really progressed if I was not trying to get stronger on at least 1-2 lifts. Also, when I did gain muscle from intensification, it was much easier to do it on a specialization program where I was trying to bring up 1 large or 2 smaller muscle groups at a time for 3-6 weeks.

Anyway, what do you feel about rotating specialization routines for hypertrophy for naturals with a decade+ of training?


Honestly I don’t know! It feels like any new approach I tried gave me the best gains… for a short period of time :slight_smile:

I do agree that getting stronger in the proper rep range is likely the best way to get bigger (even though some recent research would disagree), getting stronger as in “1RM stronger” is not the way to do it IMHO.

From my experience getting stronger in the 5-10 reps range is the best way to get bigger, especially if you are natural. Now, what you need to do to get stronger in that range will vary based on you, your experience, your neuro type, your fiber type, neural efficiency, etc.

For example I find that for me the things that work really well are rest/pauses (ramping up to a 5RM, and on the 5RM set include one or two rest pauses), clusters (sets of 4-6 with around a 3RM, with 10-15 sec between reps), heavy partials for 5-8 reps. That always seemed to yield results provided that I didn’t overdo them.

I like to use a spec approach myself and I concur that we can progress faster if we focus on 2 muscle groups and train the rest of the body for maintenance. Rotating the various muscle groups like that is something I’ve done with competitive bodybuilders for 14 years and it works well. BUT as you mentioned, you must have a good overall development and long experience to maximally benefit from it.


Translated in practical programming:
push/pull (legs) split ramping up to a 5RM on major compounds (last set rest pause) & maybe a few assitance exercises
rotating the major lifts

:slight_smile: :slight_smile::stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:


Layers were really effective. And I’m doing a form of less traumatic layers at the moment.

My split is:

DAY 1. Chest/Biceps
DAY 2. Back/Hamstrings
DAY 3. Shoulders/Traps/Triceps
DAY 4. Back/Quads

FULL DISCLOSURE… I’m not really trying to gain more leg size. While they are not as big as when I did weightlifting, they are good enough to be aesthetic and that’s enough for me right now. And I am doing a form of deadlift on both back sessions so glutes and hams (weaker for me) receive more stimulus. I’m not squatting at the moment. In fact I would describe my leg work as “pussy training” but it’s enough to maintain my quad size and that’s what I’m looking for.

While the training might vary a bit, it kinda looks like this:

Decline bench press
a)Ramp to 3RM. But in the process I also ramp to a “near” 8RM and a “near” 5RM.

b) Partial decline press (top half) with 20lbs more than 3RM for max reps, 2 sets

c) Negative-only decline bench with 20lbs more than partials, 1 rep lowered as slowly as humanly possible, trying to hold for as long as possible 2" from chest.

Machine chest press
1 x 12 (easy)
1 x 10 (2 reps short of failure)
1 x 8 (2 reps short of failure)
1 x 6-8 (to failure) + rest/pause

Machine pec deck
1 x 12 (easy)
1 x 10 (2 reps short of failure)
1 x 8 (2 reps short of failure)
1 x 6-8 (to failure) + rest/pause

Machine preacher curl
a) Ramp to 6RM

b) 3 sets of bottom partial reps with 2 weight plates more than 6RM x ma reps

c|) Negatives-only rep, 3 sets of 1 with 2 weight plates more than hold as slowly as possible

Barbell curl
1 x 12 (easy)
1 x 10 (2 reps short of failure)
1 x 8 (2 reps short of failure)
1 x 6-8 (to failure) + rest/pause

And it’s fairly similar for the other session.


Oh very nice i will likely snag that. do you mind sharing the other exercises used (esp how you combine back/quad & back/hammy days).

Rest pause is great for assistance, esp after the ramp up on big movement -> muscle rounds (scott’s 6x4 style) or myoreps are also really great


Yes I do mind in fact.

I’ve just began playing with this approach this week (so only one workout in). I’m not even sure if I’m going to stick with it. Might go back to how I was training just prior to my photoshoot since it gave me great results.

And even if I continue on with this approach I wouldn’t talk about it before it’s solid, tried and true.

As for combining quads/back and hams/back I wont talk about it because, as I mentioned, I just want to throw some leg work in there to maintain. Last thing I want is for people who DO need to train their legs hard is to think that’s what I recommend.



Curious I have a “framework” in terms of adapting layers for the “long term” - pls let me know your thoughts.

When recovery, lifestyle is perfect (nutrition, sleep, low stresse veyrthing on point): then go all out with layers, particularly the clusters & HDL.

When life is a bit more stressful, tone down to one set of HDL only followd by 2-3 assitance exercises (Done for straight sets or myoreps).

When life is very stressful, done down to just the ramp and one or two clusters
followed by 2-3 assistance exercises.

Essentially the best part of the layers (maximizing neurologcail gains in one movement, activating CNS & causing physique gains quickly because of repetiive movement) is preserved by at least including the ramps (extending sets as needed) while the most DAMAGING part of the layers (very hard clusters or especally multiple HDL sets/volume sets) can be limited in favor of more assistance exercises done for hypertrophy (using bodyweight, dumbells, machines, cables etc. that are CNS less intensitve but still hit hypertrophy gains).

That way you are always hitting the big movements but doing so in a way that activates performance for rest of workout (and if you feel up to it, do the complete layers or if it’s off day, cut it off after one or two clusters, then fill in volume using assistance).

THoughts appreciated coach