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It has been said that there are two types of weightlifters in the world:
On one hand, you have the people who just want to get as strong as possible—“aesthetics” be damned—and on the other hand, you have the people who just want pretty physiques, even if it’s all “show” and little “go.”
I don’t know about you, but I’m somewhere in the middle—I got into lifting to look better and that’s still a major motivator, but I also enjoy training heavy and hard and knowing that all this flesh I’ve added to my frame has some function, too.
This is why I’ve advocated for a “powerbuilding” style of training from the beginning of my evidence-based fitness journey, even if I wasn’t familiar with the term at the time.
Basically, what we’re talking about is blending strength training and bodybuilding in a way that allows us to gain considerable strength and muscle—that delivers steak and sizzle.
To help explain how powerbuilding works, I invited Kyle Hunt back onto the show. In case you’re not familiar with Kyle, he’s a competitive powerlifter, coach, author, and owner of Hunt Fitness, who’s worked with hundreds of powerlifters and bodybuilders alike. He’s also the host of The Absolute Strength Podcast, which I’ve been a guest on.
In this episode, Kyle and I discuss …
- What powerbuilding is
- How a powerbuilding program differs from a traditional bodybuilding routine
- Advanced training principles like daily undulating and linear periodization
- SImple programming tips for creating a powerbuilding routine
- And more …
So if any of that interests you and you want to combine powerlifting and bodybuilding into a single, unified routine, tune in!
10:15 – How does a power building program differ from a traditional bodybuilding program?
15:03 – How many sets do you have to do to work up to that single?
15:58 – Is this something that you do every week?
27:01 – What is your preferred split? Is there a template you can give to the audience?
28:17 – What are the exercise selections? How do those pair up with some of these rep ranges?
29:51 – How do you track weekly volume? What’s your recommendation?
40:28 – Is there a pro and con assessment regarding this style of programming?
Mentioned on the show:
Kyle Hunt’s New Book (Strength Training for Beginners)
Kyle Hunt’s Podcast: (Absolute Strength)
What did you think of this episode? Have anything else to share? Let me know in the comments below!
Mike: Hello, my fellow fitness fanatic. And if you’re not a fitness fanatic, I hope to make you into one. That’s. One of my life’s goals. Turn you into a fitness fanatic. I’m Mike Matthews, and this is the most full life podcast. Thank you for joining me today. And this discussion is gonna be about power building.
What is power building? It has been said that there are two types of weightlifters in the world. On one hand, you have people who just want to get strong. They don’t care about how they look. They just want to lift massive amounts of weight. And on the other hand, you have the aesthetics crew, right?
You have the people who mostly just want pretty physiques, even if it’s mostly just show. Very little go. Now, I don’t know about you, but I’m somewhere in the middle. I got into lifting to look better. That was my primary motivation in the beginning. And it’s still a major motivator of mine today. There’s no shame in admitting that I would say it’s probably the single no, it is for sure.
It’s the single biggest reason I still work out. There are other reasons, but wanting to look. Great wanting to look jacked, wanting to look in the mirror and really what I see is the single biggest reason that I still train. And if you feel the same way, I’m with you welcome to the club. That said though, as much as I care about my physique, I also do enjoy training hard.
I enjoy training heavy. I enjoy pushing my limits and seeing how strong I can get as well. It’s nice to know. All this flesh that I’ve added to my frame has some function too. And that’s why I have advocated for a power building style of training, really from the beginning, going all the way back to the first edition of bigger leaner, stronger, which was my entree into the fitness scene, so to speak.
And that has remained consistent throughout my. Based fitness journey. I wasn’t familiar with the term power building back in 2012 when I published that first edition of bigger leaders stronger, but that is exactly what I was telling people to do and what I was doing at the time and really what I still do today, even though I’m not working out the exact same way, because my understanding of how to train has evolved.
I’ve updated my books many times now to reflect that. And what we’re talking about here with power building is really it’s blending, strength, training, and body building in a way that allows us to gain considerable strength and muscle that gives us stake and sizzle. And to explain how this works and how to do it.
- Kyle Hunt back onto the show. And in case you’re not familiar with him, he is a competitive power lifter. He’s a coach who has worked with hundreds of power, lifters and bodybuilders. So he has a lot of hands on experience, both with his own body and with many other people. And he’s an author as well of a couple of body building and strength training.
Books. And he has a podcast called the absolute strength podcast. So if you like this interview with him, you’ll probably like his podcast. He’s had me on it, I think a couple of times now. And anyway, in this episode, Kyle and I discuss what power building is, how a power building program differs from a traditional body building routine, as well as a traditional strength training routine.
So how do you blend these principles correctly? We talk about some advanced training principles that he likes to use in his power. Programs like daily undulating puritization as well as linear puritization. We also get into some simple and practical programming tips that you can use right away to create a power building routine and see how you like it.
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So I can keep doing what I love, like producing more podcasts like this.
Hey, Kyle. Good to talk again, man. A randomly thought of you. And that’s why I reached out in that I was going over past guests who I liked talking with and I was like, all right, Kyle, I gotta talk to Kyle again. So here we are. Yeah.
Kyle: Awesome. I think this is our, probably our fourth podcast together. This is my second one on your show.
And you did two on my
Mike: show. Yeah. So I’m also happy to reciprocate now. We’re even. Yeah.
Kyle: Now it’s my turn. I’ll bring you back on .
Mike: Yeah. I’d love to come back on your show. So we’re here to talk about power building and this is good timing because you are well, you’re done with you have a book on strength training in particular coming out.
When this episode comes out, it’s gonna be, is it gonna be in its pre-order or is it gonna be live? Yeah, it’ll be
Kyle: pre-order when this first comes out.
Mike: Okay, good. So it’ll be in pre-order and what’s it called? It is
Kyle: called strength training for beginners. My first book was body building for beginners, and then it’s I win strength training for
Nice. And yeah, this is gonna be good timing for you. It’s gonna be very top of mind, obviously power building, quote unquote is a. Probably a little bit different than what you’re talking about in the book, but there’s definitely overlap. Oh, absolutely. Yeah. And this is also something that I actually, it’s funny, I’m not sure how popular the term is.
I’d have to check Google trends, but it is something that I get asked about now. And again, and. I am a big believer in the effectiveness of this style of training. So that’s why I thought this would make for a good discussion. And many people who have been following me in my work for some time are gonna realize oh yeah, this is the way that Mike’s been training for a long time.
And the way that he, this is how it’s reflected in most of the programming that I’ve shared in my books and my articles, but I haven’t written an article on it. I. Spoken about it in depth. So that’s why I thought this would make for a good episode for my listeners. Yeah, absolutely.
Kyle: The thing was with power building is at the heart of it.
It’s something that I think we all want, we wanna build muscle and we wanna gain strength for the most part. Yeah.
Mike: And as you advance in your. Journey. And especially as you get well into your intermediate phase, the correlation between your strength and your size becomes much stronger.
So as a newbie, we know this has been shown in research that at least for the first couple of months, a lot of the strength that you’re gaining. Is because this is new and you’re improving your technique. And it’s not necessarily because you’re gaining a bunch of muscle. However, let’s say, after your first year and a half, certainly after your first two years of proper lifting.
Now, a lot of the muscle that you’re gonna gain is gonna come just from gaining strength and conversely, a lot of. Strength that you’re gonna gain is gonna come from gaining muscle. Like your technique is gonna be pretty good. There’s not much improvement there anymore. This isn’t as squatting. Isn’t as difficult as maybe like pole vaulting or hitting a fast ball or something.
So you really just have to get bigger.
Kyle: Lifting is a skill. So like you said, initially, a lot of the strength gains are just neurological, but it’s a limited skill. It’s not anything too advanced. So after a year, you pretty much, I don’t wanna say master it because you definitely haven’t mastered and elite power lifters.
I do compete in power lifting. So it’s, technique is something that you can always tweak and improve, but largely beyond that first year, most of your gains are gonna shift towards hypertrophy. So when you are building muscle. A bigger muscle has the greater potential to be a stronger muscle.
So you gotta just kinda play on that a little bit.
Mike: Yeah. Yeah, exactly. That’s something that is fresh for me because I’m wrapping up. We were talking before we started recording, I’m wrapping up the audio book of this new second edition of my book for intermediates and advanced way lifters called beyond bigger leaner, stronger.
One of the big training related chapters just talks about how important it is to continue getting stronger. That’s really the primary goal as a natural weightlifter, especially when your newbie gains are past, you continue increasing your whole body strength. And a lot of that comes down to just working harder.
That’s it, there are no real hacks or tricks. You gotta do more work to get less. As an intermediate or advanced weightlifter than a newbie and tying this back into power building, that’s one of the reasons why I’m a big proponent of this style of training, because it does. And I’ll actually be curious, this is my take on it.
And I’ll be curious as to your take on it. And we get into some programming ideas and examples. My take on it is that it emphasizes. Increasing whole body strength while providing enough volume for each major muscle group per week to continue maximizing muscle growth as well, I guess is a way to put
Yeah. That’s a pretty good definition of it really. It’s just simply, you’re blending strength training, whether that’s just getting stronger in any movement or with a power lifting emphasis. So squat, Ben and deadlift, but then also doing enough volume. To elicit hypertrophy as well.
Mike: Then how would a power building program differ from just a traditional body building program? Like how might that look in practical terms?
Kyle: Yeah. So there’s really a couple ways that I like to look at it. And when we’re talking about power building, one thing that really is important is we gotta see, like, where are you coming from?
Because a lot of people either start with a body building focus or a power lifting focus. Like for me, actually, it’s ironic because I compete in power lifting. But when I first started lifting, I think this probably had to do with me being just a smaller kid growing up, I was really only focused on body building.
Like my first probably. I don’t know, four or five years of training, I really only cared about body building. Now that might have also been because at the time, and I graduated high school, my 2000 nines, we’re talking my 2004, 2005 to 2009, there wasn’t much of a power lifting scene back then, at least not that I had access to.
And most of the information I was getting was body building magazines. So that was what I was interested in. So for someone like me, I spent four or five years. Focused on just body building training 100%. Yeah. So then when I transitioned to power lifting, I already had that big base of muscle building before I even started power lifting.
So that’s a little bit different than if you would’ve just, focused 100% on power lifting and then switched to body building.
Mike: And that’s reflected, even in the way, many power lifters train. If you zoom out and look at it, macrocycle to macrocycle often you’ll see them training in higher rep ranges and maybe doing more accessory, work, more body building kind of stuff, and then increasing the specificity right.
As they get closer to a competition. And, but I guess if you’re gonna be following a quote unquote power building routine, it just remains blended, right? So maybe with a body building routine. How might that look in terms of, let’s say workout, split and exercise, focus, what exercises are gonna be emphasizing and how might you split that volume up versus in a power building program?
Kyle: Yeah we have a couple different ways to actually program it. I kind like to look at it in three different ways. So we have the first option, which I think Jim LER really popularized with 5 31, 5 31 was probably much the first introduction to percentage based training for a lot of people.
And the first program that actually had built in progressions and stuff. But the way that’s set up is you. Your main lift of the day. So like squat bench, dead lifter and overhead press for lower reps, kinda like the strength work and then throw in accessory work for accumulating volume. That’s one way.
Then you have the second way, which is more like the D U P model. I think lane back in the day lane Norton had is fat program where it was like the first couple days of the week are power based strength based where it’s, you’re focusing on squat bench, deadlift, overhead, press, row, things like that for low reps.
Higher weight. So those are like the strength days. And then later in the week, more accessory, more like quote, unquote, body building work, higher volume, and you just run that. Then there’s a third model, which I actually tend to gravitate towards a little bit more. And it’s really just how you would organize normal training.
Really? When you look at a general periodization cycle. So like you said, a lot of times you start out with less specific, higher volume stuff, and then you slowly work towards higher intensity. Now. You can hear people they’re already like, okay. Then there’s a couple things why people got away from traditional linear puritization and then they started focusing on Kaji, get and D P they’d say all right if you’re in a hyper trophy block, and if you’re moving in one direction for a long time stacking together, 2, 3, 4, Training blocks of building muscle.
What’s that gonna do to your strength work? So I think that’s answers your question here. It’s what can we do during those hyper trophy blocks to actually make it a power building program? And one of the things I like to do, one of the, probably the simplest ways is to pick a few exercises that you want to maintain or actually gain strength on.
So an easy, the ones that work really well are paring movement. So squat bench and deadlift, and just throw in some strength work. Not lower volume, so you’re not gonna affect your actual muscle building work. A good way to do it is just to work up to a heavier shingle, like between seven to eight RPE, which is probably roughly 90% of your one RM.
Do that work up to that. And then. Jump right into like your normal work.
Mike: So you might start a workout. Let’s say it’s a lower body workout. You might start a workout working up to one rep with about 90% on the bar and then do the rest of your workout, which would be higher reps. It’d be like your volume.
So it’s cool. You have your strength. You start with your strength work. How many. Might you do to work up to that single. And that’s my question there. And then you’d follow that up, with okay, cool. I’m done with that. I’ll head over to the leg press now do and now, and I’m gonna be doing sets of eight or
The single is great because that’s, it’s highly specific. One rep, but you could easily do, work up to a heavy triple, that would work too. And the reason I say that versus a traditional powering program would say, okay, you gotta. Accumulate volume in that rep range.
So it would be four, five or six sets of three. Instead of just one or two, of course we’re gonna work up to us, so we’ll have the build up sets, if we’re in a hyper trophy block, we wanna limit how much of the actual strength work we’re going to do. Cause that’s one of the issues that people have with power building programs.
If, cause you can’t just throw everything in, cause then it’s like you water everything
Mike: down or you just blow yourself up yeah. Or you just can’t recover from it. yeah. And is that something that you would do then. Week over however long the macro cycle is, let’s say it’s a three month block or a anywhere from two to four months.
Would you approach it that way week to week? Or would you start that training block, maybe working up to heavy triples and then move to doubles and then singles and restart or. Yeah,
Kyle: that would be a good way to do it. And you can do that. I’ve programmed it that way, where it’s you just do if you have a three week block, you go 3, 2, 1.
Yeah. Or if you look at it bigger picture, you can do the first three weeks, you’re working up the triples and try to get hire each week or depending on the RPE. Maybe even just maintain it for three weeks. And then for the next three weeks doubles. And for the following three weeks
Yeah, I’ve done that before and I’ve enjoyed that. My programming’s a bit different right now, because for before the the Ronna, I was on probably about month eight or nine of this. Beyond bigger lean or stronger 2.0, just to make sure I’ve run through it a lot myself, cuz you know, no matter how much experience you have with programming and training you with your body, when you put stuff down on paper and you go do it, there are always changes.
There are always things you I always make changes. Yeah. There are always things you just didn’t think of or didn’t realize, but it’s similar. And this is a question I actually have for you in terms of just your opinion on that style of programming, especially that style of pur. Where it is. I guess it depends on, we just talked about the little strength component of these workouts, but depending on what else you’re doing, it could be a daily undulating periodization, which for anybody listening, who’s wondering what that is.
It’s, you’ll usually see it with programs where you’re doing the same exercise several times per week. And you’re working in different rep ranges with different loads each time. So let’s say you’re gonna squat three times a week. You might start your first squat workout might be eight reps with I Don.
75% or something like that. And then the next one might be six with a bit heavier weights and then four and with a bit heavier weights. Do you have anything to add to that, Kyle? Yeah. No. I’m
Kyle: big fan of D P style training. That’s I’ve used it a lot on my program, my eBooks and stuff. I’ve used a lot of D P because it does offer you the best of both worlds.
And one of the things I like to do with it is I like to use the D U P model from like a weekly standpoint, but then also layer in the linear aspect of it too. And I’ve found that if you keep the rep ranges closer together. So for example, if we’re doing a D P program, but if we’re in a hyper trophy block, the rep ranges might be like, Ten eight, six.
Yeah. Versus something where, cause I think sometimes where people will mess up, they’ll say, okay why don’t we just throw it all into one training block? We’ll do 10 to 12 reps one day. Five reps the next day and then singles the last day. And then it’s oh, we’re doing everything. Then that’s where we’re watered down.
We’re like, okay, we’re not really enough volume to build muscle, not really enough intensity to build strength. So what
Mike: are we really doing? Yeah. Yeah. And not enough volume at that really high intensity. It’s just not exactly. Yeah. Yeah. That makes sense. So that’s one way of going about it now, what I’ve been doing for some time now, and what I am putting into this new book is a weekly.
Undulating periodization. And the reason being, I explained this in the book, but the reason being is D U P is great, but it is a bit more complex. Let’s say a weekly undulating periodization. And I feel like it’s most suitable to a situation where you’re doing the same exercises and you’re not gonna.
Probably not gonna be too concerned about applying D P to your biceps curls. It’s mostly for your big lifts. And then you might just do a double progression eight to 10 or 10 to 12, or maybe even six to eight on your small muscle exercises, your body building exercises. But so with D P. it works well, if you are squatting, benching, deadlifting overhead pressing several times per week, but if you’re not, then it doesn’t quite fit.
And yeah, in the programming that is in beyond bigger than or stronger, you’re not performing these same exercises several times per week. You’re doing some variations. Like you are doing some flat benching on one day and then some incline benching on the other day, but you’re also in these squat. Once a week and you’re deadlift once a week, although it’s a fair amount of volume on the deadlift.
So it is a four hard sets is so it’s a pretty decent, lower body workout. And so that’s why, and I talk about this in the book that I get asked about D a lot it’s solid programming. It has good science and it works, but I think it works best for very specific circumstances.
Kyle: Yeah, it definitely works with higher frequencies, but really what we’re talking about is really just how we’re organizing volume and
Yeah. And so in your typical power building program, then you will often find that you are doing the big movements several times per week, at least one, if not two or all three or usually
Kyle: just because the specificity element is important. I think that’s one of the things that really. Differentiates a, just a body building program or a power lifting program from each other.
And what makes a power building program is just a specificity of, Hey, we’re doing a lot of hyper trophy body building work, but we’re also being specific to the power lifting movements or whatever movements that we’re actually trying to get stronger on. Cause that’s the thing with strength.
There’s more to getting stronger than just getting bigger. Like we already talked about, you gotta practice the movements and although. When you start lifting. Yeah. A lot of the initial strength gains will be neurological, but if you find, if you get away from those movements that you almost lose, The efficiency yeah.
Mike: the movements. Yeah, for sure. By the time this episode’s out, I think a lot of gyms are gonna be back open and a lot of people are gonna be experiencing that firsthand. Yeah. Even people like me, I think you have a proper home gym, right? Yep. Yeah. So you’re one of the privileged few. I don’t like it didn’t occur to me until everything was sold out.
Essentially back in February is when I would’ve needed to buy everyth. Yeah,
Kyle: I’ve wanted to buy more stuff, but then obviously everything’s sold up. I know.
Mike: So I’ve had though some pretty good workouts. I have bands and I have Boflex dumbbells that go up to 90 pounds and that’s really what I’ve been using.
And I can’t, that’s all you really need to maintain and yeah. To maintain, I’ve lost no muscle whatsoever. And. I haven’t lost then anything in the way of, like you were saying potential strength, like the raw potential’s still there. It’s just, yeah, my form’s gonna be rusty. I’m sure it’s gonna take, I’m guessing it’ll take probably four weeks to get back to my pre coronavirus training weights.
I think that’s a fair. Estimate, considering again, that I’ve been working out intensely and regularly, it’s just, I haven’t, deadlifted in a couple of months and I haven’t barbell squatted in a couple months and Barb bench press and so forth.
Kyle: Yeah, absolutely. That’s actually one of the things I was talking to my clients a lot about Hey, look, that potential strength, that maintaining muscle.
Cause it doesn’t really take much volume to maintain muscle, takes a lot more to build it than it does to maintain it. So that’s why it was just important to kinda do what you. Rather than doing nothing, if you can maintain muscle. Yeah. You’re gonna lose some of the efficiency of the movements, but it’s gonna be a lot easier to transition back to the gym, maintaining muscle than if you’d done
Mike: nothing at all.
Totally. And if. Speaking to the listener. Now, if you haven’t done much in the last couple of months, you’re not screwed. You’ll be okay. Actually, I have an article going up over at Legion athletics written by my director of content. And I actually may take it and go through it and even turn it into my own article or I may leave it just.
It’s his, we went over the outline and all the programming and stuff. And so it’ll be live also by the time this podcast is live. So if anybody is like, what about somebody like me who has worked out like six times in the LA or less or three times in the last three months, you’re not gonna be able to just.
Jump right back into it and obviously resume whatever you’re doing previously. But again, within the, I think the program we include in the articles like four to six weeks, and it just focuses on working back up to a good level of intensity and a good level of volume. and thanks to muscle memory. If you’ve lost any muscle along the way, you will gain it back very quickly.
So just to give listeners a heads up, that they can find that information over at the blog. If I haven’t already turned it into a podcast, , we’ll see how the schedule plays
Kyle: out. Yeah. There’s actually some pretty good research on muscle memory oh
Mike: Yeah. I’ve written and spoken about that.
It’s a very real thing. What I tell people is I just compare it to newbie gains remember. For the first six-ish months, how fun it was to go to the gym every week and add weight to the bar. That’s the experience when you’re detrained and you get back into it. Yeah,
Kyle: I think there may be even an argument to, maybe not this prolonged absence, but there is an argument to spend some time, every, I don’t know, every year, every couple years where you take.
Mike: Couple weeks off, then you’re talking about something other than just for the purposes of, you’re not talking about a deload you’re talking about no, I’m not talking
Kyle: about deload I’m talking like kinda a little bit extended, like two, maybe even a month. You know what I mean? I personally don’t
Mike: do it, but
And are you referring to the sensitization to volume point? Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Greg knuckles has written about that and unless there’s new research that has come out or new analysis, the last I heard on it is that it’s an interesting theory that hasn’t been proven out and it’s probably not very relevant to most weightlifters.
Maybe it’s relevant to people who are competing either in strength or physique, bodybuilders or power lifters, but for most everyday people who just. Get pretty jacked it probably doesn’t have much usefulness to them one way or another. Yeah.
Kyle: And plus I think a lot of us, our weekly training sessions are more to us than yeah.
It’s like therapy, probably the
Mike: Xs knows. Yeah. Can’t quit therapy for. For a couple of weeks. We see what happens for a couple of months when city starts, they start burning down after you, you have gyms. That is the true causation. Is that’s the problem is that the gyms are closed.
Kyle: People haven’t been training.
They haven’t been going to therapy for two months. That’s true.
Mike: true. And it has all these ripple effects it’s affecting, people who don’t go to the gym are still affected. It’s the butterfly effect. It all came from us. We fitness people. We are the collectively, the Atlas that holds the.
Kyle: Yeah, we ruined it
Mike: for everybody. at least we like to tell ourselves that, but getting back on topic here to power building. So I’m just thinking with where people are at. They’re like, okay. I would like to give this a try, particularly this D P approach, because if people have come across anything over the years that I’ve written or spoken.
Written or said about power building. It wouldn’t have been that it would’ve been more along the lines of a, kinda like a push pull legs, split with some heavy weight lifting and then some body building stuff thrown on top of it. And that is one way of going about it. But what are your thoughts on what’s your preferred split?
And if you were to give people listening a simple template saying, Hey, you want to give this a go. Here, try this. What would that look like? Yeah. I
Kyle: love upper lower splits for this because the way it works out is, you can set it up a lot of different ways. So if you can do upper lower beginning of the week where you’re doing higher rep stuff, and then the upper lower later in the week is a completely different rep range.
Let’s say we’re starting out in a hyper trophy block. So it’s okay, we’re gonna do. Power building, but we’re gonna start focused on building muscle. So we’ll do upper lower for the most part. We’ll have the rep ranges, let’s say eight to 10, but we’re working up to one or two sets of one to three reps.
Like we talked about and we can run that for three weeks and then the next block could be another pretty much hyper trophy block where, but we changed the rep ranges a little bit. So instead of, eight to 10 and six to eight, it. Six to eight and four to six, and then work to the point where now we’re getting into more of a strength focus.
Yeah. But we’ve kept in. The strength the entire time, but then when we’re into the strength focused, we’ll still do the accessory movements. So we’re still accumulating volume to get the best of
Mike: both worlds. And what do the exercise selections look like and how do those pair up with some of these rep ranges?
Because when you say upper or lower, like people might be wondering, okay, they’re gonna figure upper, we’re gonna have some sort of press, but what else is gonna be in there then? The lower. Okay. It’s gonna be squat deadlift. Are they, do you separate those? Do you use ’em the same workout?
Kyle: Yeah. So typically I’ll throw in deadlifts on lower, even though obviously they do have some upper components as well, you’re back, but normally if I’m looking at it as for upper work, it would be the horizontal pressing bench pressing overhead, pressing vertical rows.
Horizontal rows. So like pullups rows, curls, tricep stuff, obviously some shoulders, some side raises obviously. Yeah. They’re critical. And then lower, squats, deadlifts, RDS, lunges, Bulgar, split squats, things like
Mike: that. Okay. And for the strength component of the workouts, I’m assuming you’re focusing just on the big movements, right?
So that’s gonna be like, you’re gonna be working up to, if we’re talking about working up to starting the workout with working up to triples doubles or singles, that’s gonna be on the squat bench, deadlift and the overhead press. Yeah. I
Kyle: don’t really even do that with the. Head press. I found that for most people, it just ends up hurting your joints a little bit too much.
So for me, I like to keep the strength work to just the squat bench and deadlift and the close variation. So you could do if you wanna alternate like a front squat instead of a regular squat or a close grip bench press instead of a regular bench press, things like that works. But the main three power lifting movements and the close vari.
Mike: That makes sense. And then in terms of weekly volume, how do you like to track that? And what’s your recommendation there? So if somebody’s taking notes and they wanna start sketching out a program, I know that’s gonna be something they’re gonna be wondering like, okay, how much should I be doing in these workouts?
Kyle: Yeah. For the most part, we wanna be in that 10 to 20. Hard sets range for each muscle group for the most part. Now, when we’re looking at the hard
Mike: sets and then just to interject that’s per week, right? Yeah. Per week. Yep. Yep. Okay. Per week. So you like, not session per workout.
Kyle: Yeah. Not session.
That’s how you die. Yep. Per week. Yeah. Although I, no, I’ve actually said that and I’ve had people ask me about that. So that’s a good clarification. .
Mike: Yeah, that makes me think of Lane’s fat program. I don’t remember the exact details, but I remember it was a very high volume program when viewed through that lens.
And I remember hearing from people back when that was popular, I think it was being promoted via body billion.com. Yeah. And I remember. Semi regularly hearing from people basically saying they were struggling on the program and they didn’t know why. And so I remember having, I had a copy and paste for that.
Just explaining that it’s a very difficult program, very high volume. Here’s what I would do. If I remember correctly, it was almost like if you cut the volume like in half you’ll probably do well. He had
Kyle: The fat one and then he also had the pH three, I think it was called or something. Now that one that killed people.
Mike: Oh really? So I was even again, I don’t remember the exact numbers on fat, but I just remember, I was often telling people like about cut it in half. Let’s start there and see how you feel. And then slowly work this up over the course of months. And if you can’t reach the prescription, don’t sweat it.
This is not for most people. Yeah. Yeah.
Kyle: Volume is something you always want to start on the low end and then if you need to add more, but yeah, 10 to 20 sets for the most. Per muscle group per week is a good spot to be in. And when we’re in the strength phases, we’ll probably actually want to have a little bit lower volume, just so we can account for the extra intensity on the main lifts.
Cause when we’re talking hard sets that works really well for things over six reps. But when we’re focusing on the strength stuff to equate volume, we almost have to get into the total tonnage. So sets times reps, times weight, and that can get a little squirly. So I’ve just found that when intensity’s higher volume almost has to go down.
So if you’re someone who is caught up on, okay, I wanna do as much volume as possible. That’ll probably work when we’re not doing as much strength work. So you can get closer to that 20. Sets per week, but when we’re doing more strength work stuff under six reps with the intensity higher, so intensity closer to one RMS, you’ll probably wanna back the volume down
Interesting. So let’s just call it a few months. It could be three months. It doesn’t really matter if it’s 2, 3, 4, but a few month macro cycle and we’re in the beginning of it. And we’re working up to, would you say triples for the strength components? Is that reasonable? Yeah, we could definitely do that.
Okay. And then your volume could be closer to 20 hard sets per major muscle group per week. In that first let’s say it’s three, four weeks, and then now we’re doing doubles. And then from there you would reduce the volume elsewhere, accordingly, like you would drop, would you drop just from your I guess this would be lower end.
So maybe you drop like three or. Hard set. So you ratchet that down a little bit and then yeah,
Kyle: you could, but then you could also bump up the volume actually at the higher intensity too, I guess I should say
Mike: that. You know what I mean? Yeah. So in the beginning you might only work up to, so that’s that point of yeah.
How do you calculate that? But I guess you can calculate it right in terms of, okay. You’ve worked up to your heavy set. In the beginning, maybe you’re saying it could be like one heavy set you’re working up to. Yep. And then in the next block you’re working, let’s say now it’s doubles. So it’s even heavier weight and you’re working up to, how would that look for you?
Would it be two sets or three? Yeah, you could do two
Kyle: or three because, so really what we’re saying is, so initially we’re our main goal is building muscle. So we’re keeping that heavy triple in. That’s just. Way
Mike: it’s like maintenance for strength
Kyle: for, yeah, exactly. Exactly. We’re maintaining strength. So we really aren’t really doing any type of overload for strength.
We’re just maintaining it. But as we move down the line and we’re getting closer to our actual strength work, We can bump up the amount of volume that we’re doing, strength work. If that makes sense, you know what
Mike: I’m trying to say? Totally. Totally. Yeah. So for anybody listening, who hasn’t experienced or hasn’t done this style of training, I have, and I can speak to my experience that, that point of maintaining strength, it might sound weird, cuz you’re like you’re still working hard in these other sets.
You’re maintaining all of your muscle. What do you mean maintain strength? But what you’ll find is if you train in higher rep ranges for. Any more than probably three, four weeks. And you can gain muscle in that period. So you’ve increased your potential for strength, but you’ll find that when you drop from, let’s say a lot of eight to 10 or six to eight, four to six, probably not so much, but let’s say six to eight to 10.
Yeah. Or higher than eight. 10. And so you’ve gained some muscle. You’ve worked really hard. You’ve done a good job. And now. You calculate your estimated when rep max and you wanna see how strong you are, you put out on the bar and you just have to bail. You’re like, what happened? How, where did I go wrong?
You didn’t go wrong anywhere. It’s just, you could think of it in terms of, and this is how I thought about it is when you’re working in those higher rep ranges. When you switch to the lower, when there’s a big change there, you have to recalibrate your muscles and your body to that heavier weight.
Particularly if you’ve gained a little bit of muscle and that might not be entirely physiologically accurate, but I think the analogy works as a basic understanding. It does take a bit of an adaptation on a systemic level to that heavier weight for you to be able to express your full potential for strength.
Do you agree with that?
Kyle: Yeah like we said before, really all our adaptations to training are specific to, to what we’re doing. So if we’re working in higher rep ranges, And then we go to try to test our one RM. We haven’t been working on anything close to a one RM.
Mike: Yeah, exactly.
Very true. And so by doing what you’re saying, then Kyle, by starting a block with where you have low volume, but you’re doing some heavy work in there. There are those triples and then you’re moving on and doing your higher volume body building muscle building stuff. That is enough to maintain strength.
And that’s the, I just wanted to make sure that was clear to the listeners that you’re just keeping your, you’re reminding your body of this is what it’s like to squat to do triples on the squat bench and deadlift. And if it has gone well for you, then what you’re able to do is when you get.
Into the heavier stuff. Let’s say it’s in your third macro cycle. Now let’s say you’re deeper into no, I guess it would be more just the third meso cycle. Say you’re deeper in your macro cycle now you’re in your, you’re doing your heaviest stuff. You’re gonna find that it won’t be as jarring as if you went from a lot of high rep to suddenly low rep, right?
Kyle: Yep. And as we get into later on in our overall macro cycle, and we start to move from initially, we’re doing mostly hyper trophy work with just the strength maintenance, and then we actually get into strength blocks. What we’ll find is, then we’ll start. We’re essentially just adding sets to our strength work.
That’s where we’re just, we could start our workout instead of. We did worked up to one heavy triple now we’re doing three or four sets of triples. And how
Mike: would that fit into the overall picture here for people who want to give this a go, want them to understand with a fair amount of precision?
Like what they’re supposed to do? So starting the macro cycle here, they work. Let’s say to a single triple, and then they’re gonna be doing some higher rep stuff on the compound exercises, mostly throwing some accessory stuff there. We don’t have to get into all the specifics of that type of programming, but it’s just straightforward weightlifting programming for getting more jacked.
And then as they move into the macro cycle, let’s say it’s a month later. Now they’re doing doubles. But still then the volume is gonna be what it’d be higher than when they were doing the triples, but they haven’t fully transitioned into like where they’re primarily focusing on strength. Yep. Okay, good.
And then they’re moving into, let’s say the third phase of this macro cycle, which would be more strength training in which case the strength volume has gone up and the body building volume has gone down quite a bit. I’m guessing.
Kyle: Yep. Also take a step further and start looking at, okay, so now we’re into the strength block.
Now it’s almost like we’re gonna prioritize the strength movement. So what do we need to do to get the strength movements up? So now we’re looking at even our accessory work, we’ll be okay. Okay. Where are we weak on our ma exercise? So where are we weak on a squat where a week on a bench, where week on a deadlift and then the hyper trophy work almost becomes now that’s the maintenance work.
Now we’re just, we’re lowering the volume a little bit throwing in. People will be worried about their biceps and calves, maybe quads, things like that won’t be hit from the main exercises, but the actual volume on the main work will go up. Everything else will go down to the maintenance.
Mike: Makes sense. And then you’d follow that up probably with a. Maybe a full kind of volume and intensity deload and restart. Yep. That makes a lot of sense
if you like what I’m doing here on the podcast and elsewhere, definitely check out my sports, nutrition company Legion, which thanks to the support of many people like you is the leading brand of all natural sports supplements in the. Is there a kind of pro and con assessment that you would make regarding this style of programming versus, really probably what it comes down to the main disadvantage, as far as I can see would be complexity.
So this style of programming, which requires you’re gonna be working. Google sheets probably you’re gonna be working a spreadsheet. , you’re gonna be calculating percentage of one at maxes. And I don’t know, unless there’s an app out there, maybe there’s an app out there that allows this level of complexity, but it’s gonna take some time.
It’s gonna take some work to lay this out. And obviously that means there are more ways to mess it up. And so what are your thoughts in terms of the strengths and the weaknesses of power building versus other simpler forms of programming? Yeah.
Kyle: One thing is, I think it sounds a little bit more complicated than it probably is.
I think if people saw it, like on a piece of paper, if you actually we’re listening right now, taking notes and laid this out, you’d see it. And it would all come together a little bit easier, but there are some pros and cons to power building programs. The biggest thing is, when we’re trying to blend two things together, You’re probably not going to get the absolute most out of either one.
You know what I’m trying to say? So it’s however I would say that you can, for most people, that’s not gonna be a concern. You can build as much muscle and gain as much strength following this style of training as really you want, however, if you wanna compete in power lifting, then Hey, the more we can actually spend prioritizing the power lifting movements.
The better now, like we said, building, muscle’s still important to strength because the more muscle you have, the more potential you have for strength, but once you get further down the power lifting rabbit hole, you start asking the question. Okay. The really, the only thing we’re going for is what increases our squat bench and deadlift.
So for example, like your upper body work would pretty much all revolve around the bench breast. It’s like how much volume can. Shuttle towards the bench press and what actually,
Mike: and then how much can we support it with accessory
Kyle: work? Yeah. Yeah. So it’s like our accessory work is pretty much going to be.
Gator towards the bench. Then you start asking the question like, okay how much do we really get out of an overhead press? Is that, adding to what we can bench? No. Let’s get it out. Let’s throw in a close grip bench press. Does that really, maybe take that out. Let’s put in dumbbell benching, how much rows do we need to do for shoulder help and front upper back.
Resets. Okay. That’s all we’ll do. Do we need biceps? Probably not. No. Do we need triceps? Yeah, probably a little bit of triceps and there’s the upper body workout,
Mike: and so then the point being there that if that’s what you want to do, then do it, but that is geared toward maximizing performance and power lifting.
And so for someone listening who even let’s say they compete in power lifting, or they do power lifting meets. They’re in amateur and they’re not, they don’t have any great ambitions. They just do it because they enjoy it and they enjoy the style of training then training, like you were just saying where it’s really just specific to power lifting may not be ideal for them.
Because yeah. You
Kyle: only need to do that maybe the last month. Yep. Before,
Mike: If at all. Yeah. And so then power building would give them if it’d be a sweet spot for them, where they can balance the volume between their major muscle groups, which means that they’re gonna get good physique development out of it where it’s not gonna become imbalanced in terms of how it looks, which that sometimes with people who do a lot of strength training, there’s a look to it.
Like they usually have massive. Legs and massive butts and smaller upper bodies, the smaller muscle groups, like the, especially the side deltas and rear belts are often lagging and the biceps are often lagging. Some of the stuff you already pointed out, which again, doesn’t matter if you’re trying to just maximize.
Strength. And I would say that’s particularly true. At least I’ve seen that among the natural power lifters or people who I would believe are natural. It’s a different thing. If you’re on a bunch of drugs. Yeah. Then everything is just huge and strong and you’re lean all the time and whatever, but there are some actual trade offs when you’re natural.
So that’s cool if that’s what you want to do, because you’re trying to get as far as you can in power lifting. But if you want to be able to put up some numbers that are impressive and participate in the sport of it, even if it’s just for fun, but you still feel like you can compete and have a physique that you want.
If you care about aesthetics. Then I think that’s a pretty good in. Yeah, absolutely.
Kyle: And the other thing is it’ll also offer some benefits if your goal is just building your physi . I think the qualitative benefit of actually looking at numbers because it’s very easy. That’s one good thing about when you’re, you are strength training, and although you, you can absolutely do this with a pure body building approach too, but just a lot of people don’t because, it’s just, it’s not important, but when you’re doing power thinking you actually, or power building, and you’re actually caring about your numbers, then.
Overload becomes more important because you’re actually paying attention to it. Just the act of recognizing what your numbers are and building in some progressions.
Mike: Is important. That’s very true. And that’s something actually I talk about in the second edition of beyond bigger, linear, stronger, and why the program uses a linear progression model.
Very similar to what we’ve been talking about for the primary exercises and double progression for the secondary exercises. Whereas bigger, linear, stronger, which is for people who are new to proper weight. Lifting uses double progression for both primary and accessory exercises. And I think linear can work just fine as well for.
New people, double progression is very simple. It makes your workouts like scrambling an egg, you just show up and you’re like, cool. I’m working in this rep range when I can hit that top of the rep range for three sets. I add weight. Very simple. Yeah, it works great. When you’re new, it’s so easy to do that.
And it’s so easy in a sense to audio regulate your workouts because your body’s so responsive, but then as you progress and I’ve experienced this firsthand, I know you have too. And probably many people listening has as well. It gets hard to know actually the psychological factors start to impact your performance more and just try to autoregulate your workouts based on how you feel in the moment, especially as you’re coming toward the end of a set.
And this is, I can speak for myself. I would tend to end sets earlier than I needed to. I would. Yep. I would progress if I was feeling great and I would tend to stagnate if I wasn’t, if I kept on trying to just autoregulate and use double progression, but by switching to a linear, like you’re talking about where it’s exact numbers and the progression is built.
In, and it’s forcing me to add weight to the bar and I have to at least give it a try. Like maybe I’m not gonna get every set necessarily. If I’m supposed to put 75% on the bar and put 80, 80% on the bar and get sick, something like that, I may not be able to, but I’m gonna give it a go regardless of how I feel and what I’ve found.
Now, having a lot of experience with both of those approaches to training, is that more often than not. I might feel like this is gonna feel heavy. This is gonna be tough. Or maybe the first set is fine. The second set is fine. And then the third set say I’m supposed to do four sets where I’m like, oh shit.
I don’t know if I’m gonna be able to get my reps just by having that clear goal in mind. Like I’m trying to get eight reps. There’s no range here. And I don’t have to think just get eight reps more often than not. I’ve been able to. Perform a bit better than I anticipated and therefore perform a bit better than I would’ve if I would’ve been auto regulating.
Kyle: Yeah. I think if, if the program’s set up it should build that in. So it’s Hey, maybe week one is challenging, you can get through it pretty easily. Yeah. Then week twos, a little bit harder then by week three, you probably should on your last set to be like, oh my shit.
I don’t know if I’m gonna get this
Mike: or not. Yeah. Yeah. I totally. Yeah Hey, that’s a, I think a great, just a to Z. Quick and dirty crash course on power building. And I think we’ve touched on all of the major points. Is there anything else that you have bouncing around in your head that you think we should share before wrapping up?
I think the biggest
Kyle: thing is for the most part, I know it probably sounds confusing. Maybe listen to this twice, put it down on paper. It’s probably not as confusing as it sounds. And maybe I just made it sound confusing, another thing with power building. It’s a relatively new, newer term I think probably has to do with power lifting, becoming more popular in the last five years or so.
Back in the day, a lot of the bodybuilders trained very heavy. Yeah. So it’s not really a new concept per se. A lot of the guys like Arnold and Franco, like they built their physiques doing a lot of heavy stuff and I think. Incorporating that, and is just something that people like to do because at the end of the day, like we said, people wanna build muscle, but they also wanna be strong.
Mike: And like we were talking about earlier in the podcast, as you become more advanced, you really can’t have one, but not the other. You really do need to make sure that you are getting stronger. If you want to keep getting bigger. I think that’s becoming more and more mainstream that concept, at least it is in the fitness, in the evidence based space, for sure.
Like the body composition space more and more people are realizing that the primary focus of a well designed weightlifting program for a natural weightlifter, who’s trying to get as jacked as possible is getting strong. And so you see a lot more of this kind of stuff that we’re talking about. And of course there are different ways to different splits you can use.
And D. Puritization methods, you can use that. It doesn’t have to be daily. And I think that fits well, if you are performing those exercises several times per week, but it’s just that the fundamental principle of your program should always include some heavy weight lifting in it. The range should probably be between, I don’t know, 60 and 95% of one rep max.
And how you break that all down. Very in many different ways, but that is, like you said, that’s new-ish because I remember when I first got into working out, you probably had a similar experience where you just go buy a bunch of magazines and you’re like, cool. What are all the really big guys doing? And you didn’t see much of that.
Like I didn’t deadlift for probably the first seven years. . Of lifting. Cause it just, I don’t know. It just, wasn’t a thing. I didn’t come across that much. Squatting was a thing, but it wasn’t as emphasized as it is now. And it was mostly just, you do a lot of high rep stuff and you do a lot of drop sets and super sets and giant sets and other fancy kind of training techniques.
And that’s how you get big, not you do these heavy kind of boring exercises and then you do some other stuff. In addition to it. Yeah. That’s
Kyle: kinda why I mentioned, in the sixties, seventies, it wasn’t that uncommon to see those guys doing a lot of heavy squats and deadlifts and stuff.
But then when I, yeah, like similar to you, when I first got into lifting, I was getting them, flags, muscle and fitness, those type of magazines. And it was basically not even really programs, just lists of exercises for yeah. High reps, a lot of machine
Mike: work. So that’s what I did. Yeah. 10 to 20 reps as if that’s even helpful.
Kyle: What does that even mean? Yeah. It wasn’t a program. It was a list of exercise. It was. A bunch of exercises, a lot of machines and cables for three sets, 10 to 20 good luck.
Mike: Yep. Yep. and I guess one of the reasons for that it’s been assumed and probably this is definitely part of it, is that is just how steroid use changed.
And how more and. I don’t even know if it was better drugs, probably just for the most case, more drugs allowed people to get away with more and more mistakes, really. And even single session could become absurd. Whereas like guys, like you and me were not gonna do more than probably eight or 10 hard sets for any individual muscle group in a session, it might be as low as six for that’s.
That’s how my training is. At least I can’t go. 30 hard sets for chest in a workout and expect to get much more out of it than I would get from 10 hard sets. But if I weren’t enough drugs, that changes now, right? Yeah. I think
Kyle: if you try to do it, if you’re not on drugs, you end up just doing a lot of junk volume.
Exactly. And I think what happened to a lot of people is they’d end up just doing a lot of junk volume. And then once they started switching to. More of a strength based routine. That’s why a lot of people, I think see great benefit when they initially jump to a little bit lower volume, more emphasis on the strength movements.
It may not even really be that. I don’t know that the program itself is all that fantastic. It’s just, it was better than what they were doing
Mike: before. Totally. Yeah. That’s the story that I’ve heard from many people who have come to. Again, for people who are new to proper weight lifting, maybe they’ve been lifting for a while, but they’ve been doing things the way I used to be doing things, for example.
So the programs for men and women where they’ll come from very high rep stuff, bodybuilder type stuff. If they’re guys and for women it’s even higher rep. Bend very low intensity and like Barbie weights with a bunch of cardio, but then they’ll switch to a program again that the programs are pretty simple.
They’re push, pull legs with some heavy weight lifting, 10 to 12 hard sets per major muscle group per week. Pretty balanced. The men’s program has focuses a bit more on the upper body than the lower body, cuz it takes a lot more work for us to get the upper body we want, then the legs that we want and for women, it’s usually the way around and that’s it.
So for a lot of people that have been surprised at how such kind of simple, I’ve gotten so many emails over the years where people are skeptical their workout, they’re used to doing eight exercises. So it’s a body part, split eight different exercises, all these fancy movements using the Bosu ball and using the cables and using machines and weird ways that you wouldn’t even use them.
I don’t know if you remember. I remember when pressing on the leg press and like chest pressing on the leg press was a thing. Oh yeah. So all these. Things and then they’re
Kyle: and just pressing on the hammer strength row. Yeah.
Mike: that’s good. I like that. And it’s still gonna go from that to wait, you’re telling me, I’m just gonna do the barbell bench press, and then I’m gonna do a dumbbell press and then I’m gonna do maybe some flies and like some triceps, a few sets of each.
There’s no way this is gonna
Kyle: work. It’s funny. I’ve heard that from clients too. It’s they hire me and then I give ’em a program, but they’re used to being on kinda like a program, like you said, a ton of volume on a junk volume. 10 exercises and you give them something very basic and, but effective, super effective.
And oh man, this isn’t what I expected. I’m like, then why did you hire me? If you just wanted me to give you what you’ve already been doing that obviously is not working. .
Mike: We could take what you’re doing and maybe randomize the exercises and then that I could give that back to you if you want.
Yeah. Hey, this was a great discussion, Kyle. I really appreciate you taking the time. And why don’t we wrap up again with, let’s tell people about your new book that is coming out very soon, and anything else that you want people to know about where they can find you and your work. If you have a new project that you’re working on, that you want people to know about.
Kyle: Yeah. Yeah. For starters, yeah. Thanks. For having me out on this show, I have a podcast too, that Mike’s been on. It’s called the absolute strength podcast. You can find that anywhere podcasts. Download and listen to my new book is strength training for beginners. It’s a book that I think is gonna be great for the time because I designed it.
So a lot of people are training from home. A lot of people bought new equipment to train at home and everything in the book can be done with a simple at home gym. So I like barbell squat. That’s pretty much all you need for it. And it’s a strength based routine, but it’s not just a maximal strength.
That’s something else we didn’t really talk about. But when we’re talking strength, there’s relative strength. So you’re strength improv with compared to your body weight. Now, obviously absolute strength, maximal strength, and we try to cover everything in the book. You can get that on Amazon. Yeah, you can follow me at hunt fitness on all social medias and the websites.
Kyle Hunt, fitness dot.
Mike: Awesome man. Thanks again. And I look forward to our next chat
Kyle: for sure, man. I think yeah, I gotta have you on the show.
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