T Nation

King Principles

I think Ian King is the man when it comes to strength training but prefer to tailor my own programs on what I have learnt than follow prescribed ones. When I read his programs I do so to work out the principles he is using to achieve results and usually get more out of Heavy Metal than the programs. Im wondering if anyone else is interested in an article by Ian King on his strength and hypertrophy principles so that we can devise out own King style programs (including generalised (a) rep AND set and intensity guidelines (b) split and frequency recommendations, exercise choice etc).

On this website you can order “Get Buffed” or go to Ian Kings website-you can find it at the bottom of one his articles- and see what other products are available to help you write your own programs.

Yeah, I enjoy taking a “mix-n-match” approach to King’s various techniques and movements. For example, I’ve been doing a shoulder program consisting of 4x4-7 incline bench shrugs, 2x8-10 Arnold Presses, and then a circuit of King’s Heavy Metal exercises including cuban presses, front raises and several others. The results have been very pleasing. Lata.

“MB Eric: Any way you slice it, he’s still cut since 1920.”


King is a genius and I would love an article that captures his principles for general application. But, please read me out. Until about four months ago, I regularly applied his principles to my own regimen, but then I decided to follow his Bring the Pain series (emphasizing the lower body) over a twelve week period. I figured it would force me to manage my recovery and give me a break from having to put too much thought into devising my own movements, tempo, rep and set patterns and splits/frequency issues. The only thing that would require some thought and maturity was loading parameters from session to session. I went to a Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday format as King recommended. Monday-Hip Flexors (i.e. Deadlift and variations thereof), Tuesday-Chest & Back, Thursday-Quads (i.e. Squats and variations thereof) and Friday-Delts and Biceps. I followed King’s protocol for a mixture of strength and hypertrophy. Over the twelve week period, I gained about 7 pounds most of which was lean (with no drugs), but more signficantly, I got alot stronger than I have ever been. (For perspective, I’m 36 and I’ve been training (for the most part) since high school.) This surprised me because I did not think I would make substantial progress with a frequency of hitting a body part once every seven days, but I did. After I completed the program about a month ago, I also found that I had a better intuitive understanding of King’s principles and how to apply them to my own programs, which has enabled me to ad lib with those principles more effectively than before. I’ve even been able to use his principles to invent some of my own movements (variations on King’s) which have been killer. Basically, I have stayed on the Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday regimen, although I switched to priortize quads by doing them on Monday and doing Hip Flexors on Thursday. I change my routines every two weeks. I train particularly high intensity (“intensity” as a percentage of my 1RM) in the first movement of each session and do whatever number of sets that will yield an approximate total of twelve reps of that intial movement (e.g., 5-1-5-1 (wave loading) or 5-4-3.) Subsequent movements in the session are single sets in the 5-8 rep range (an 8 rep set would be treated as a “back off” set). On lower body days the total number of sets generally does not exceed 8, and the total number of different movements generally does not exceed 5. I frequently employ King’s “1 and 1/2 method” as well as his “pause method” and I think more appropriately than I would if I had never strictly followed a King program. The moral of this story is to give some serious thought to letting go for a twelve week period and following one of his programs, rather than merely continuing to apply his principles to your own regimen. If you do it correctly, you will make substantial progress and you have a better understanding of how to apply his principles to the routines that you create yourself after completing his program. One thing is for certain, you won’t regress and you’ll find it’s a nice change of pace.