T Nation

Thoughts on Choosing a Program?


Hello Thib and everyone,

Anyone have any thoughts/opinions on choosing between some different programs. I never browsed this site before though I read most of the articles that come through my FB feed from T-Nation.

I have been looking through many of the programs here as I have been looking for something different. I have sort of narrowed it down to a few “6 weeks to Superhero”, “Look like a bodybuilder, train like an athlete”, “Built for bad” and the “Zombie Apocalypse”

I am currently in the process of gaining weight/mass. I know some of these programs are geared towards fat loss but I know fat loss or mass gaining the end results are mainly based off your nutrition so I don’t mind doing a “Fat loss” program that includes big lifts if that makes sense.

I would like to lift 5-6 days a week as I enjoy being I the gym. Any thoughts would be appreciated…



They’re all great programs.

6 Weeks to Superhero is an intense, but fun program. Out of the examples listed, I’m a big fan of the "Look like a Bodybuilder, Train like an athlete style.

How much size/strength are you looking to gain?


I really really enjoy “look like a bodybuilder, lift like an athlete”. I’m gaining weight (and slightly leaning out) at the fastest rate I have had in a long time (but have also upped calories after a long time of maintenance/holding a low bf).

I enjoy it because it’s not a long laundry list of exercises, it’s not very taxing on the cns/body - but imo gives the best results out of the bunch. I’ve been doing a lot of CT’s programs/approaches over the years - and this is the setup I like the most AND have the best results from.

I also like the change of pace with more focus on explosive lifts and olympic lifts. All that pulling is putting mass on my legs and back pretty fast. I have had a bit of a maintenance/less training period though. I also decided to learn the snatch properly while doing this, so that’s an added benefit.

Honestly I have seen better results from this approach than the Layer system - which gave me some visually quite impressive body changes. The “look like…train like…” doesn’t run you down - and I really think that is why I am growing so much faster again.
I think this gives you a different look. My back is getting some nice depth again (and width). My legs are growing nicely too. I plan to keep up this approach for the next 3-4 months at least, until a change in pace.

CT said he wanted to provide a platform for people that was very simple, and then people can build (or not) from there. It seems as you can add isolation work here and there for weak points (with the caveat of never coming anywhere near failure) and also for back/biceps - if you want to. I add some rows etc. intermittently (as advised) in between sets or at the tail end - but very light, focusing on contraction and probably like 10reps of a 15-18 RM. As such you can also add zombie-style conditioning to it, but be careful of overdoing. That has been my achilles heal all throughout my training “career” - overdoing it.
You might find the weights are “low” - but they are not, and they are just right considering the way you perform the reps (explosive/intent of explosiveness).

Look - they are all great programs really and centres around the same sort of approach- and I also loved doing the 6 weeks to superhero, but those shorter “blitz” cycles are really taxing - and I find that the best results I have gotten is always with the less blitzy approaches. I also did the old “HP mass - train like and athlete look like a bodybuilder” program (it’s not on the site more -they updated the new one on request) and found that this approach is the most effective(for me).
Especially if you are a work-horse mentally but can’t keep up with recovery or if you’re natural.

Just some thoughts…

Edit: I might add that my extra-work I have been putting in is the rows I mentioned/slight work on clean technique, some front squats instead of back squats, some very light zercher squats and then some supportive work for snatch such as the snatch balance. All of it not taxing, but light and brief etc.

Also another add is my main goal is size with strength. (and find I get that best with less grinding work, high frequency, more explosive movements etc.)


Also this: 6 Weeks to Superhero for Strength/Mass? if you go the 6 weeks way. (he changes the program significantly to suit it for mass-gain).


I also enjoyed using these programs:

Whichever program you choose, keep up the intensity in the gym and keep filling your belly with some good quality food…and lots of it.


Allow me to throw in a couple thoughts.

  1. Think “year of training”, not just “my next program.” Stringing together blocks of training into a year of progress will take you much farther. It takes years to build a body, so plan for the long haul. For example I just finished my crazy season of the year at work. During that time I was doing Dan John’s easy 40. Got me in the gym everyday but kept me from overdoing it. Now I am doing LLBBTLA. The strength base coming in allows me to use higher poundage with the higher volume and I am already conditioned for high frequency.
  2. Figure out what will keep you going and what will kill your motivation, and keep that in mind w your programming. CT talks about isolation and high reps killing his mojo, so a lot of his programs are built wiith low reps and big lifts. I train alone, so programs like Six weeks to Superhero was a big fail for me. I was trying to change all the equipment and weights, and suddenly I was taking longer rests, (and wussing out) and the whole plan broke down. I also do much better on higher frequency programs. 5/3/1 and some of CT’s layer stuff just didn’t work as well.
  3. Lots have written that the best program is the one you believe in. That’s very true. If I add to that, I’d say the best program also adapts/fits to your life. Unless you are a monk, or independently wealthy, Beware of programs that are very rigid and longer than 4-6 weeks. Auto regulation is one of the most valuable skills for kicking ass in the muscle game long term.


Very good advise from orcrist. We’ve talked about this before on the forum, but case in point; the Layer System is very effective - but very very taxing. If you do a cycle of Layers - just after you did a full cycle of Layers… then you’re asking for trouble. But if you did it after a period of low volume and intensity then it would be different.

Sequencing and making it all fit into your life, your personality, your diet, your strengths/weaknesses, injuries, equipment, potential peds, training-partners and so and so forth is very important. More important than whatever “program” you choose. The beauty of some of CT’s programs such as “look like…train like…” is the amount of auto-regulation that is inherent in the approach.


Thank you everyone for your responses.

Many of those things I took into consideration especially using a commercial gym (24 hour fitness) set-up/location of equipment plays the biggest role (and I train alone).

My calories stay pretty high (Close to 4000 right now) and I I get about 7 hrs of sleep a night so my recovery from day to day feels pretty good. I usually tend to gravitate towards programs that I can follow that don’t give me too much leeway (Except subbing an exercise here and then that fits “Me” better) because like @Norcient said I also tend to over do it if I don’t follow something closely. I feel that if I don’t kick my ass I didn’t get a great workout. It has been that way since college football…go hard or go home EVERYDAY and that doesn’t work as a natural, especially in his 30’s haha.

The main reason I asked is because I have been following typical “Fitness/bodybuilding” workouts for a while now and wanted to incorporate something more functional and fun that had an explosive feel. Plus we all know the best programs are the ones you “Believe” in as you tend to work a lot harder.

I ended up trying “Built for bad” the past 3 days. I enjoyed it as it was different and I was able to set everything up at 1 station and 2 bars. I did tweak it a tad (The 1st exercise, don’t have access to dead-squat/trap bar) changed on Tues/Thur so it looked like this:

Thoughts on splitting it like this?


  1. Deadlift
  2. Bench
  3. High Pull
  4. Push Press
  5. Pulldown


  1. Front Squat
  2. Bench
  3. High Pull
  4. Push Press
  5. Pulldown



Then you may enjoy again the challenge of big weights with compound lifts. give it a try to the “Complete Power Look Program”. It will boost your strenght,and you may use it, after finishing the program, for a hypertrophy focused program.

Keep us posted