T Nation

The Super Power and Bulk Thing



If I remember right, you discussed some of McCallum's writing in past articles, and generally viewed him in a positive light. I'd like to get your feedback on one of his programs.

I'm currently 5'10, 145lbs and I'm looking at using this to build a foundation of strength and size before I move onto something else. (I'm already 3 weeks into it and up from 137lbs.) Currently I plan to use it until I reach at least a fairly lean 180lbs.

Previously I used a modified 20-rep squat routine and bulked from 135 to 160, so I know the work involved. I'd worked up to nearly 1.5xBW in the squats. Unfortunately I got sick (GI and psych issues) and lost all my gains. I've started over, hopefully with some muscle memory.

This one's the "Super Power and Bulk Thing":

3x12 weighted parallel bar dips
3x15 machine pullovers
1x20 breathing squats
1x20 light DB pullovers
3x12 BB curls
3x12 standing behind-the-neck presses

Do this all 3x a week, M W F.

- I substituted straight-arm pulldowns for the machine pullovers
- the breathing squats are with a minimum of 3 deep breaths between each rep
- behind-the-neck presses seem to work fine with my shoulder ROM. After getting past the scare tactics, it looks like it comes down to "some people can do it, and some can't".
- calorie-wise, I'm taking in enough to gain 2-3lbs per week, with sufficient protein.

I'd like your view of the program, whether you think it's good, bad, and if there's anything you'd add or change in light of the last few decades of progress.

As far as I can tell, it's a good program to build a foundation, even if this style of programming has fallen out of the mainstream.

Offhand, a couple things stand out to me, but I'm not sure how much of a concern they are:
- there's not any pulling except the pulldowns, although there's indirect back work from nearly every exercise
- some bodyparts aren't addressed from a physique standpoint: upper chest, rear delts, hamstrings, calves
- behind the neck press can be "dangerous". Is there any way to know if it's actually a bad exercise for you... before you get injured? (Besides avoiding it.)
- there's a lot of stress on the mid/low back between straight-arm pulldowns, squats (due to the time spent breathing), BB curls, and the BTN presses



I love the history of the training world. I LOVED McCallum's writing style his aarticles were always very fun to read.

At one point in my career I liked the type of training he was espousing. To be honest it was a time of my life (I was about 22 at the time and I'm 35 now) where I wasn't lean, and didn't think I'd ever be able to get lean... so I liked that he said that it was okay to be "bulky"... probably made me feel good about myself.

But as I learned abotu training, nutrition, body composition and performance I moved further and further away from the type of training he promoted... in fact, it's kinda hard to be further away from my beliefs both regarding training and diet... but I still like his stuff for entertainement purpuses.


Thanks for the response. I'd noticed that your programs are significantly different than his so it's interesting to see how training philosophies evolve.

One more question:

What's your view on the importance of "whole body training stimulus" for growth? Not really "total body training", but rather the systemic overload from, say, 20 rep squats?


I've done ONE set of 20 reps squat in my life (after reading the book Super Squats) abut 15 years ago, and that's it. I'm not a high rep guy, I'm a load person. I do believe that a heavy squat or other lifts such as the clean & press and deadlift can have a great impact on the body. One of the reason might be a systemic loading of the whole body, but it is not the only aspect.