Strength Requisite for Natty's? ("Best Damn Workout..."?)

Hi CT,

Say a 30 year old natural male, 192 lbs but relatively lean wanted to pack on size as much as possible. Would it be wiser to get stronger from a traditional 3x/week strength plan for a few years then do bodybuilding type programs later, or dive head into the “Best Damn Workout…”?

Current training max’s
Bench: 285
Overhead: 165
Squat: 315
DL: 400

Is there a conventional or ideal strength requisite that allows one to departure into this type of training in your workouts? Anything ideal for someone entering 30’s to keep in mind?

Thanks Coach.

I think you answered your own question. If you want to pack on size then you do a bodybuilding routine. If you want to increase strength then you do a strength focused routine. There’s a little crossover but if you want size then train for size.
As a side effect you’ll increase your strength.

If it helps I’m 32, 6’5", 235lbs @ 12-14% body fat and I’m doing the Best Damn workout. My goal is increased muscle mass. I’ve been training seriously since I was 17 and I think this program is worth a shot.

Are you saying accumulating solely strength in the long term will not help bodybuilding later on? I was thinking that if I can squat heavier than my posted abilities above after months or years of training, I would be able to handle more weight in any bodybuilding program.

It won’t hurt but moving a lot of weight is not a prerequisite of adding muscle. Strength is about recruiting all of your muscle fibers rapidly and efficiently for a max movement/lift. It is also a skill. Perfecting a strength skill won’t necessarily increase your muscle mass. Look at Olympic level weight lifters. They’re not exactly big in bodybuilding terms but they’re strong as shit.

I’m not saying improving your strength won’t contribute to increased muscle mass. I just think if you want more mass now then train for more mass now. Why wait?

The flip side is that increased muscle fiber size (mass) should help you increase your max lifts once you teach them to fire effectively.

Thanks for your response. I have been wanting to pursue adding size, but have only done so by ‘power building’ at best. I thought I would be limited by my current level of strength. I put on a bit of size going for strength, but I am curious to see what would happen if I made the switch to CT’s program.

I am also curious as to see what this next article from him will entail with main lifts being progressed for strength.

Yeah for an HIT program like this or Doggcrap you need to be pretty strong (say bench 315 for reps)to get the most out one set training. So best go with something like ‘complete power look’ program or newer 5/3/1 templates for a while then do this in 6 week blasts

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In a nutshell. I train for strength but do a bunch of reps on the main lifts as well BB style assistance. When all I did was low reps with heavier loads, I didn’t get much bigger, although I got stronger.

Just from my own perspective, I think you’ll get better carryover to strength from getting bigger than the other way around.

Right now I’m playing with a mix of 5/3/1 for my main lift and then using a low volume, 1 all-out set approach for the assistance/muscle building work. I then do a small amount of conditioning work at the end.

Exemple of a workout (this is what I just did in fact):

Military press (5/3/1 progression)

Machine shoulder press
1 warm-up sert of 10
1 moderate set of 8
1 all-out rest-pause set… got 7 reps, rested 15 sec then got an additional 4 reps

DB lateral raise
1 warm-up set of 10
1 moderate set of 8
1 all-out rest/pause set … got 8 reps, rest 15 sec, got an additional 3 reps and finished with 6 bottom partial reps

Lying EZ bar triceps extension
1 warm-up set of 10
1 moderate set of 8
1 all-out rest/pause set … got 7 reps then did 4 reps where I lifted as a close-grip bench and lowered slowly as a triceps extension

Battle ropes
10 seconds as violent as possible
Rest 30-45 sec
40 sec at about 80% intensity
rest 30-45 sec
10 seconds as violent as possible
Rest 30-45 sec
40 sec at about 80% intensity
Rest 30-45 sec
10 seconds as violent as possible
Rest 30-45 sec
40 sec at about 80% intensity


Interesting. Prior to your initial article on Best Workout for Natural lifters. I was doing an upper/lower split with the 5/3/1 concept on the ‘heavy’ day then followed it with a ‘lighter’ loads the very next day on the same muscle group (reps schemes in the 15-20 range) I would train 4 days in a row then take off a day. Overall the volume was higher than the workout outlined in your program. But I felt with the lighter day I wasn’t overtaxing myself. In fact I was pleased with the results I was achieving.

Which leads to my question, Would you adjust volume based on the experience level of the lifter? I more advanced lifter such as yourself would be more efficient and might experience the benefits with less volume than a more novice lifter such as myself. With the understanding that for both the volume would be less than conventional programs

For the record I started your program this week. I am not trying to bastardize it but this was a thought that popped into my mind after last night’s workout so I thought I would ask the expert.

Thanks in advance for your insight. Always appreciate your expertise.

I love you CT. All homo.

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In all seriousness, pretty much every program I’ve done in the last 3 years has been one of yours. You’re the Vince Lombardi of S&C. Ok, fan boy rant over

Would running a 5/3/1 type training as above for several weeks then blasting one cycle of your pure “Best Damn Workout…” be better than hybridizing below?

Day 1 - Overhead 5/3/1 + exercises low volume with intensifiers
Day 2 - Pulling with intensifiers exercises low volume with intensifiers
Day 3 - Off
Day 4 - Pushing with intensifiers low volume with intensifiers
Day 5 - Squat 5/3/1 + 2-3 exercises low volume with intensifiers
Day 6 - off
Day 7 - Push + 2-3 exercises low volume with intensifiers
Day 8 - Deadlift 5/3/1 + low volume with intensifiers
Day 9 - Off
Day 10 - Bench 5/3/1 + low volume with intensifiers
Day 11 - Lower body pushing 3-4 exercises low volume with intensifiers

I have been doing something similar to this since the 90s(most of the guys who taught me this stuff were probably influenced by Yates and other bodybuilders during that era) for most of my exercises at a frequency of 1-2 times, 5-6 days a week and went from an underweight 105lbs @ 5’9 to 190+lbs before using drugs.

I honestly think most of the people who have been led to believe hypertrophy training is only about “high reps, pump the muscle with light weights” will be doing themselves a great favour by doing your latest program.

In addition, there is no strength prerequisite for doing this program, or training for hypertrophy in general with limited movements. You simply need to be sufficiently proficient in executing the lifts and have the body awareness to fully activate and utilize the various muscles. If, for example, you are squatting your bodyweight, you aren’t proficient and should devote more time towards achieving that. This is more a matter of common sense than actual numbers.

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This says it all, very good answer


Please go into detail on how you are doing the 5/3/1 main lift progression? Is it just the basic 5/3/1 template?

Don’t let Wendler or his army hear that you haven’t done 5/3/1 ‘as it was written’… you’ll never hear the end of it :smiling_imp:

Actually I only do the 5/3/1 original/basic loading scheme for my main lift.

My workouts look like:

  1. 5/3/1 for the main lift

  2. Hypertrophy work
    3 exercises
    3 sets including 1 all-out set and 2 easier preparation sets. Right now I’m using rest/pause for my one all-out set

  3. Small amount of conditioning work
    Battle rope when doing military press
    Rowing ergometer when I do deadlifts
    Prowler or assault bike when I do squats
    For bench I like farmer’s walk but I sometimes do battle ropes with the rower.

That is 4 days a week.

The two other days I do…

  1. One olympic lift (keep the weight moderate and focus on explosion)

  2. Hypertrophy worlk
    3 exercises
    3 sets including 1 all-out set and 2 easier preparation sets. Right now I’m using rest/pause for my one all-out set

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What muscles do you work on in the hypertrophy section on each day?

e.g on Squat day what hypertrophy work do you do?

As from what CT wrote above one can suppose that on press day, he does shoulders and triceps, on squat day, probably quads and back/biceps, on deadlift day hamstrings and back/biceps, on bench day chest and triceps, maybe delts as well. Then two days with an explosive lift and then hypertrophy work, one day hamstrings, back, biceps, and one day with quads, delts, chest and triceps.