Hit the Gym Hard—And Smart: 5 Tips That Will Pack Muscle Onto Your Too-Small Frame FAST

foxhound-60-days-in-5-tips

Jared and I just finished taking our 60-day progress pictures and we were blown away. We know what we look like now. We spend an embarrassing amount of time flexing our ‘guns’ in the mirror on a daily basis. Jared’s girlfriend teases us about it. And narcissism at its fullest – Payam developed a way of jumping so that he can see his abs. Since we’re seeing the change happen so gradually though it’s hard to remember what we looked like two months ago. These pictures reminded us that the program is working.

Our strength is increasing dramatically too. Over the course of the past four weeks alone my deadlift has gone from 261 pounds to 367 pounds. After the jump are the rest of the pictures and 5 of the most useful things we’ve learned about hitting the gym.

1. Don’t trust the big guy at the gym. Trust us two small guys on the internet. There are many ways to get big. Your hulk of a friend might have gotten enormous by training inefficiently for several years. He might be a mesomorph that genetically has twice as many muscle fibers as you, resulting in fantastical gains from virtually any kind of muscle stimulation. He might have also forgotten the process he went through to get big and is confusing it with what he does now. Don’t get us wrong, we’ve gotten a lot of great advice from people and we’re really grateful that people are so helpful. We’ve had help with our form, we’ve been recommended great books, and we’ve learned a lot from others. Just be careful to keep in mind that what works for one person isn’t necessarily the best for everyone. The ideal routine for an experienced bodybuilder is drastically different from the ideal routine for a novice or intermediate bodybuilder. For example, training guidelines for the hypertrophy phase (the get big and strong phase) as outlined by Tudor O. Bampa (olympic trainer, doctor, professor, and inventor of periodization) vary enormously between recreational trainers and professional bodybuilders. For professionals he recommends 6 growth workouts and 3 cardio workouts per week with calorie intakes as high as 6000 per day. For an entry-level bodybuilder he recommends 2-3 growth workouts per week with a calorie intake of half that. Keep in mind that both of those programs are designed for exactly the same purpose: maximum size and strength increases and minimum fat increases for the purpose of building a body that can win competitions. Many people at the gym are training with different goals in mind and have radically different workout plans. Find out what you want to achieve and trust your research, not your jacked friend.

Similarly, don’t trust everything you hear about bodybuilding. Creatine isn’t like steroids (don’t worry, your jacobs will be safe), and it’s been proven to both work and be safe. Supplements aren’t all terrible for you either. Some, like glutamine, are actually a healthy addition to any diet. Big muscles aren’t the slow muscles, small ones are (look at sprinters vs endurance runners). Big muscles don’t turn into fat, they actually help you burn fat quicker. And bodybuilding isn’t just for aesthetics, especially when incorporated into a periodization program, and can be a great tool for athletes looking to improve their performance.

2. Focus on the 3 main exercises: the squat, the bench press and the deadlift. The squat is considered by many bodybuilders to be the best lower body exercise out there. It directly works the thighs, hips and buttocks. The best thing about the squat though is that the leg muscles that it stimulates are so large that it causes human growth hormone secretions and elevated testosterone levels, resulting in size gains in the upper body as well. The bench press is possibly the most famous exercise out there. It’s the staple of any chest routine. Decline and incline dumbbell bench press are the most effective exercises for developing a powerful lower and upper chest, as well as triceps and shoulders. The deadlift is my personal favorite. It’s a true full body exercise that strengthens virtually all the major muscle groups. If you want a bigger back the deadlift should be the staple of your routine, and like the squat, much of the benefit comes from the full body stimulation and the hormone production that results. Don’t take these exercises lightly. In order to get the full benefit you need to be lifting heavy weights with good form to the point where you absolutely cannot give it any more. I’ve been on the ground gasping for breath and dry heaving after doing a single set of deadlifts – and then had to do another round.

*(Edit) In the comments, Marco makes a good point. Standing military press and chin-ups/pull-ups (palms in/palms out) should also be staple exercises in any program. Chin-ups and pull-ups will help you pack on width and depth to your back muscles (lats, teres major, rhomboids, traps), arms (biceps, brachialis, brachio-radialis and pronator teres) and the back of your shoulders (posterior deltoids). Standing military press will not only add mass to the rest of your shoulders (anterior deltoids and medial deltoids) and arms (triceps), it will also strengthen your core and improve your balance and coordination.

3. Form and tempo (the speed that you lift and lower) count. Don’t think of yourself as a weightlifter or powerlifter when you’re at the gym. Think of yourself as a bodybuilder. You shouldn’t be trying to recklessly throw as much weight as you can in the air to impress the people working out next to you. You should be focusing on lifting the weight explosively but smoothly, and lowering it slowly and controlled. If you can’t lift and lower a weight with good form and tempo, use a lighter weight until you can. Your muscles will build themselves up more quickly that way, and in the long run you’ll be able to lift more weight than you would have been able to by recklessly hucking around weights.

On exercises like the deadlift you need to make sure you maintain a straight back. There are tips to help you keep good form, like looking at a point high up on the wall in front of you, instead of straight ahead. You also need to make sure that your hands are evenly spaced on the barbell and that your weight is primarily resting on your heels. If you aren’t lifting the weight properly you aren’t training your muscles as well as you could be, and you could be setting yourself up for an injury.

Don’t take this advice too far though. You don’t need to lift weights like a robot. The truth is that our bodies have a natural way of moving and you should trust that, to a certain extent. As you perform a bicep curl you shouldn’t be trying to keep all the muscles in your arm tight in order to perform them with absolutely perfect textbook form. In order to perform a proper bicep curl your triceps should be relaxed and you should be moving the weight up with a natural form. You should minimize the movement of your elbows and the swaying of your body, but the most important thing is to train that bicep to absolute concentric failure. If you have to sway a little bit on that last rep in order to get it up, it really isn’t that big of a deal. We put a star in our notebook next to the reps that we perform that are slightly cheated or assisted.

4. Machines have their advantages, but free weights are better for strength and size gains. Machines isolate specific muscles and restrict the range of motion, making them safer and more pleasant than free weights. Many people prefer machines for those two reasons. Free weights require attention to form in order to be safe and the use of stabilizer muscles to restrict the range of motion, as well as requiring balance and grip strength. The result is that more muscle groups get worked (including joint stabilizer muscles), and core strength and coordination are developed. The gains that result also have the advantage of translating into strength in real world situations.

There is the argument that while free weights work more muscles, machines target individual muscle groups better, but integrated electromyographical (IEMG) research, which measures the level of excitation of specific muscle groups, has shown that free weights produce more stimulation than machines on the targeted muscles, and for similar reasons that dumbbells produce more stimulation than barbells. Decline dumbbell bench press has the highest IEMG rating, with 93%.

5. For entry-level and recreational bodybuilders and athletes it is ideal to workout 3 times per week. Recovery time improves with training, allowing professional bodybuilders to effectively hit the gym 5 or 6 times a week without overtraining … but as amateurs our bodies need more time. Overtraining is actually more harmful than under training, so if you feel sore play it safe and do even fewer workouts. Mike Mentzer, the first Mr. Universe to achieve a perfect score of 300, advocates training only once every 6 to 8 days! Our bodies will eventually decrease the size of our muscles if they aren’t used (muscle atrophy), but with a proper diet this process will only begin after several weeks of inactivity. It isn’t something you need to worry about. Overtraining, however, can damage muscles and decrease strength. Don’t think that sneaking in an extra workout will improve your results. It might do more damage than good. Focus on training with the highest intensity possible, not the highest frequency possible. Get a good amount of sleep in between workouts and eat properly so that your body is fully recovered by the next time you hit the gym. If you enjoy the gym you can eventually increase your workout frequency to 5 times a week as you become more experienced.

And here are the before and after photos of us 60 days into training. They were all taken first thing in the morning on an empty stomach. No tricks or gimmicks. We can’t, however, figure out how we organized the lights in the first one. We think the lighting difference may be due to the ambient light coming in from the windows on the right? You might also notice that we don’t get as red when we flex anymore.

 

Update: We’ve come a long way since then. See the final results here.

34 Comments

  1. Suzie on July 5, 2010 at 9:56 pm

    This is so awesome! It’s actually cool to see the progress for real(: not like tv and stuff!

  2. Marco on July 5, 2010 at 10:25 pm

    I would add two more exercises to that, Standing Military Press, and Weighted Chin Ups/Pull Ups

  3. Lush. on July 5, 2010 at 11:42 pm

    I am impressed! Definitely look more mean, that’s for sure.
    p.s. mmmm.butt.

  4. Viviane on July 5, 2010 at 11:42 pm

    I will start being a lot nicer to both of you.

    Love,

    Vivi

    ps – GO MICHELLE GO!

  5. Willem on July 6, 2010 at 2:30 am

    beasts 🙂

    I love the new site, looking good guys.

  6. Billy on July 11, 2010 at 9:52 pm

    The most apparent place I think on both of you is the arms. Also you both look much happier in the after shots. Good job. (:

    Jared! You need to get some sun!

  7. W. Shane Duquette on July 11, 2010 at 10:30 pm

    Billy we’re supposed to look meaner! Not happier. Although I suppose we ARE happier. Definitely more energetic.

    Thanks Willem. Can’t wait to see the treeplanting physique!

  8. frank on July 18, 2010 at 11:50 pm

    Which program did you find the best?? I noticed that you throw a couple of names out there, and was wondering what your thoughts are. Great improvements, keep it going!

  9. W. Shane Duquette on July 20, 2010 at 10:47 am

    Hey Frank,

    Check out our Bony to Beastly blog / program. That should give you absolutely everything you need 🙂

    http://www.bonytobeastly.com

    -Shane

  10. Tim Ferriss on July 26, 2010 at 2:01 am

    Gents! Pure awesomeness. For real. Incredible job and keep it up! The back poses in particular show how much muscle you’ve gained, which is likely more than the scale reflects.

    Congrats!

    Tim Ferriss

  11. andy thoma on August 23, 2010 at 11:34 pm

    Great improvements! I am about your guys size (before pics)
    And I have been doing stronglifts 5×5 programs, but I would like to switch to whatever you are doing. Do you guys have that info available?

  12. W. Shane Duquette on August 26, 2010 at 12:55 am

    Hey Andy,

    I’ve heard that 5×5 workouts can be great, especially for powerlifters. Great for improving strength. We’ve experimented with them a bit, actually. The next workout program we’re using begins with 5×5 before moving onto other exercises. For gaining mass as an ectomorph using a simple 5×5 powerlifting routine probably isn’t your best bet though.

    We’ve been using a different program each month. We’re treating this as an experiment, so we’re testing out different popular theories on how to get maximum gains in the shortest time period possible. So far each has worked, although with varying success. After the first month we made an instructional video which has our three weekly workouts in it, as well as a video of each exercise being performed. We got great results in the first month, as you can see in the pictures. It’s an intense strength training program that should shock your body into some impressive growth. If you’ve been doing 5×5 you should actually be really well prepared for it, although it has you going even heavier, with just 1 rep on the heaviest set.
    As for diet, we’ve found that the information out there is pretty consistent. We outline that briefly in the same video, although we’ll be going into more depth on that soon. Sign up for the newsletter to the bottom left and we’ll keep you posted!
    How have your muscle gains been on a pure 5×5? How much more are you adding to your lifts weekly? A couple months from now and you could have an entirely different body!

  13. Andy thoma on August 26, 2010 at 7:52 pm

    Hey, thanks for the response! I did look at your video and it was pretty helpful but you guys left out some details in reps and sets in some of the exercises. I have been doing the 5×5 strong-lifts for about 8 weeks now. and I have went up in weight as it says but I have know stalled out on 70lbs on the overhead press and 135lbs on squats. I think I have hit a plateau and although I have some muscle mass, the is not much definition. I started out at 5’6 and a body weight at 117 I am now about 132. With a little gut though.
    I am thinking I was maybe taking in to much cals, on average it been 3000-3200 a day.
    And oh am also vegan so that’s challenging too trying to get enough calories. If you have any thoughts or a new workout plan let me know please.
    Thanks andy

  14. W. Shane Duquette on August 26, 2010 at 9:41 pm

    1) If no sets/reps are mentioned then it’s what was mentioned before. The whole program is based on doing 4 sets consisting of 6-8, 4-6, 2-4, 1-2 reps at the absolute heaviest weight you can lift.
    2) If you get stuck at a plateau there are a bunch of different solutions. Jared got stuck on the bench press for a while. The first thing you’ll want to do is make sure you’re lifting with perfect form. The second is to figure out what muscle is causing the failure. With bench, for example, depending on where during the lift you fail you can determine whether the cause is the triceps, the anterior deltoids or the chest. Once you figure out the weak muscle add in an exercise targeted at that muscle. If, for example, on your overhead press you realize that it’s your shoulders that can’t lift it (this would be if you fail at the beginning of the lift) then you would add in an exercises targeting your anterior and lateral deltoids. Side raises should do the trick. If you fail at the lock out stage then your triceps are responsible, and you’ll want to target those. Triceps pushdowns and bench dips are great. Same goes for the squats. Another solution to blast past a plateau is to solve it through your diet. Increasing your caloric intake can help, although if you’re building a gut you might want to instead focus on the ratio and quality of calories you take in. Make sure that 30-40% of your calories come from protein. Soy doesn’t count, as it causes estrogen secretions. I just responded to another commenter asking about lacto-ovo vegetarian solutions that you might find helpful here. You’ll want to make sure you’re secreting the most testosterone you can so get some quality EFAs in there too.
    3) Don’t freak out about the fat. It’s easy enough to lose and if you’re building up quality muscle under there it will increase your metabolism making it even easier to lose the gut afterwards. Jared and I are just finishing up a cutting phase that seems to be working quite well. Our strength has improved marginally and we’ve lost tons of fat. If you’re putting it on too fast though just fix your diet up. Either less calories or better nutrient timing / ratios. We’ll post about rapid weight loss while maintaining muscle mass after our cutting phase is done and we can tally the results.
    4) What are your reasons for being a vegan? Are you open to whey protein powder (derived from dairy)? Are you using BCAAs while working out? You might want to add in 15g before and after your workout as well as during to make sure you’re getting the amino acids that your body would typically break down from whey. The journey is certainly a much harder one when on a vegan diet. There seems to be some interest in it though so I’m considering writing a blog post on how to build muscle as a vegan.

  15. Andy on August 29, 2010 at 5:58 pm

    Hey so I am going to try what you guys have been doing.But I looked at your 60 or 90 day video and it looks like you are doing other things not in the 30 video? Do you have that plan? Could you give it to me? As for why I am vegan. I am a softy for animals and unfortunately, at least in the US, the lives of the animals are last on the list of considerations. They are treated as a thing not a living creature. So there is my preaching 🙂
    Andy

  16. W. Shane Duquette on August 29, 2010 at 11:48 pm

    Hey Andy,

    You’re right. Every month we tweak and fiddle with our program to try and optimize it. We’ve tried a few completely different things. The first month worked great, and while we’ve discovered a lot since then, I still think it’s a great program. Triple split strength training has given us the best results and that’s a killer program for it. Most of the improvements that we can be certain of since then are due to form, nutrition, nutrition timing, and maximizing on natural hormone production. We actually plan to go back to re-test the first month’s program to see if we can reproduce the incredible results we got with it. We loved it.
    I’m absolutely for eating animals and absolutely against animal cruelty. Sadly these days they seem to go together. I try to avoid it, even when it means paying a bit extra. Taking more care to avoid cruelty-free animal products is something I hope to improve upon in the future. Canada, I believe, is better than the US, but we certainly aren’t perfect.
    My best,
    Shane

  17. Mario on September 2, 2010 at 5:48 am

    Hey I am really impressed on your size gains! I am an ectomorph too and I found your videos doing some research like you guys. I’ve been doing my workout and nutrition plan for 30 days now and i have gained 12.8lb and half of it was of muscle (btw I am tall and my initial weight was 126lbs). I am pretty focused on my goals i want to get to 150lb with good muscle and fat in this 30 days. I am interested on your workouts and i’ve been doing brad pitt’s workout that he did for the movie fight club (great movie). I skip the cardio I swim a little bit just to improve my surfing. Anyways I am interested the supplements you took, I am taking nitro tech and cell tech, but no glutamine or multivitamines. should i buy glutamine? what does it do? what do you think of my workout i would like to add up a little bit more excercises like the dumbbell incline bench.I have very skinny legs, what excercises should I do to stack them up. How important is the preworkout shake because right now I am only taking the post workout shake? Thanks for the help.

  18. W. Shane Duquette on September 4, 2010 at 3:59 pm

    Hey Mario, thank you!
    Great gains! Congratulations man! Pictures?
    1) My initial goal was to get to 180, but after this past month and doing some more reading on weight fluctuations it seems like setting weight goals isn’t the best way to go about it. At my heaviest during this program I made it to about 175lbs. Right now, a week after dropping the fat, I’m about 165lbs and I don’t just look leaner, I also look bigger. I could probably look even bigger at 155lbs if I got my body fat ridiculously low. I’ve re-adjusted my goals for size and strength now, instead of weight. I’m now shooting for 15″ biceps and a 225lbs bench, for example.
    2) Tyler Durder, Brad Pitt’s Fight Club character, is actually one of our icons that inspired us to get bigger. Him, bearded Frank Zane, and Ryan Reynolds in Blade Trinity. I checked out his workout. You might be better off switching to pure intense strength training right now until you overshoot the size you want. That’s not to say you can’t still swim, though, so long as you make sure you’re feeding yourself properly before and after.
    3) Whey, multivitamins, creatine and glutamine are the core supplements. You’ve got whey and creatine covered, so I’d go ahead and add the other two in. They’re much much cheaper, too. Cell Tech (creatine) and Nitro Tech (whey) are good products in terms of quality, but they’re really damn expensive. Cell Tech, for example, is basically just creatine monohydrate (cheap) and dextrose (REALLY cheap). You can just buy the ingredients separately and save a fortune.
    4) Glutamine is a non-essential amino acid, which means that your body can produce it. You can get it from cottage cheese and it’s found in BCAAs as well. Research shows that it’s pretty effective at helping to repair your muscles and keeping your immune system strong. They use it on burn victims to help them heal, actually. Glutamine deficiencies lead to a number of problems.
    5) Multivitamins. New bodybuilders often get so caught up in the macronutrients (protein, carbs, fat) that they forget about the equally important micronutrients (vitamins and minerals), which are equally important when trying to put back together a body that you’ve beat up in the gym.
    6) Worried about skinny legs? Squats and deadlifts are really all you need. You can superset those with leg press (quads) and hamstring curls. If you want bigger calves do some weighted calf raises. Calves are funny muscles, as they really don’t affect any of the other ones. We don’t focus on them much. I know Arnold put a lot of emphasis on them though, as his struggled.
    7) Pre-workout is pretty important. You want to have some fuel on hand that your body can draw on during the workout so that it doesn’t need to tear down your muscle in an effort to feed itself. Sipping on shakes during the workout is a great idea too. Throw in some BCAAs (10-15g) with some protein (30g) and some dextrose or gatorade (60g of sugar) in a water bottle and sip on it between sets. We’ll write a blog post on that soon! Subscribe to our newsletter (bottom left of website) and we’ll keep you posted!
    Hope that helps Mario!

  19. Chris on February 26, 2011 at 3:09 am

    Hey guys Im a struggling ectomorph, but yall are giving me inspiration to change this. I see how yalls workout days go, but how about on non workout days? What do you guys eat and supplement? Also, im a student in college so i only have access to a microwave and im trying to get a george forman grill in here. What do yall recommend i do to keep a good diet?

  20. W. Shane Duquette on February 28, 2011 at 9:22 pm

    Non-workout days are “recovery” days. Focus on your diet so that the next time you hit the gym you’re bigger and stronger. Your muscles break down and get smaller when you go to the gym. They only get bigger when you rest and eat. So that’s what the off-days are for—eating.
    Microwaves are fine. Tuna doesn’t need to be heated at all. A great meal for bulking is whole wheat macaroni with tuna… and I believe you can make macaroni in the microwave? I’ve never tried. Cottage cheese is another great protein-packed meal that you can make without a stove. So is milk.

  21. Jared Polowick on March 1, 2011 at 12:29 pm

    Chris, I’d also add that casein, whey, or meal replacement shakes (like Myoplex or QuickMass) could go a long way as well. I found the hardest part about University food was getting enough protein and vegetables. Obviously, a lot of what you purchase depends on your budget but having a veggie supplement like Athletic Greens once a day and then a protein shake just before hitting the cafeteria could help a lot with energy levels and progress in the gym. Shane’s advice is great though, always have cottage cheese and milk on hand.

    • W. Shane Duquette on March 1, 2011 at 7:02 pm

      Jared you forgot to mention your favourite! What about MUTANT MASS? Trying to keep that gem a secret? Or are you trying to spare him all the teasing he’d encounter?

  22. Liam on March 3, 2011 at 6:04 pm

    hey guys, firstly congrats on the serious gains you’ve been making. I was just wondering if you could possibly make a blog about good nutrition, what should I be eating and in what quantities in order to become bulky ectomorphs such as yourselfs lol.

    • W. Shane Duquette on March 4, 2011 at 2:11 pm

      Thanks Liam! The nutrition side of it is interesting. I find with the workouts there are lots of fairly functional competing approaches and tons of false information. Nutrition is a little bit more complicated but there’s more of a consensus in the industry about what works. And our research has shown that it DOES work. There are a few hidden secrets, too, of course. The problem is there’s a lot to talk about: macronutrient ratios, micronutrients, nutrient timing, sample meals, supplements, testosterone boosting etc etc. We’ve been considering writing an e-book or something similar with a complete diet breakdown and explanation, various sample menus, simple and periodized workout options, a cutting guide and a bunch of other really wickedly fascinating stuff we’ve come across along the way.
      Stay tuned!

  23. Sam on March 21, 2011 at 2:15 pm

    Hey guys i have a question for y’all. Im a very extreme ectomorph, i weigh 135 and i’m 6’2. im almost literally skin and bones haha. but i was wondering do you guys recommend trying to dirty bulk too? Like eat everything i can get my hands on not just strictly clean foods. i dont mean candy and stuff but like microwave meals and such. also i have the worst chicken legs imagineable. did you guys see good gains in your calves and thighs?

  24. W. Shane Duquette on March 21, 2011 at 6:13 pm

    Great questions and man can I ever relate. I had really bad chicken legs and saw massive improvements. Check out my 4 month before and after.

    Keep in mind that this “before” picture is after a year of cluelessly working out and dieting. My before weight of 152 was 10 pounds heavier than it was a year previously. And a year before that I was even smaller. About 135. I’m 6’2 as well. I know exactly how you feel. Luckily, we’ve finally got this stuff figured out. Jared ‘n I will be getting rid of chicken legs one ectomorph at a time!

    Dirty dieting? I’ve been there and tried that. I don’t recommend it. I plumped up in the bad way. I was really happy to be heavier… but Jared likes to call those my “fat days”. In retrospect it wasn’t the best decision. I lost my chiseled face and my arms looked swollen instead of muscular.

    I’d diet clean. Pig out after workouts (2-4 hour window) and go wild once a week (I recommend Saturday). Keep your protein intake solid throughout. Microwaving stuff? The most recent research shows that there’s nothing wrong with warming stuff up in the microwave! You’re safe there. I eat left-over chili all the time. If you’re talking about TV dinners though I’d find a healthier alternative.

    My best,
    Shane

  25. Daniel Scott on September 28, 2011 at 10:51 am

    I’d say the 7 basic movement patterns:
    1.Deadlift
    2.Squat
    3.Row
    4.Bench
    5.Pullup
    6.Standing Press
    7.Farmers Carry

    Also, most people should realize that until you hoist some serious weight, YOU WILL NOT GET VERY BIG. You need to say to hell with aesthetics, and focus on your strength.

    Not to be a self selling asshole, but checkout my blog!

  26. B. on October 14, 2011 at 12:56 pm

    Hi Shane,

    Thanks for the tips. I’m starting just with machines until I get used to lifting, and then I’ll move to free weights for sure. It’s just a little intimidating at first.

    Is there a machine that does anything like the deadlift? Thanks!

    • W. Shane Duquette on October 15, 2011 at 4:14 pm

      The great thing about free weights is that you’re engaging all of your stabilizer muscles, you don’t need to worry about pattern overload injuries (which you get from machines from working out particular ligaments and tendons week after week through the exact same range of motion), and you get a wicked core workout all workout long — so much so that you won’t need to waste time on crunches and such. Your strength will also translate better into “real world strength” and you’ll be able to wow your lady with your couch lifting skills.

      The deadlift is a core, back, hamstring and grip exercise (primarily), so what you’d want to do is some lower back exercises, some core exercises, some machine hamstring curls and some farmer carries. Or just start doing some light deadlifts using a barbell and see how it goes. Ask one of the staff at the gym to stand watch if you’re worried about your form — that’s what we did. What we recommend for beginners is actually starting with a rackpull or romanian deadlift. It’s much easier to get the form correct, the exercise isn’t nearly as intimidating, and you get a lot of the same benefits. I’d give those a try? Let us know how it goes!
      And be careful with the smith machine! Those things cause injuries like no other!

  27. scott on November 28, 2011 at 11:51 pm

    thanks for this guys! it’s very inspirational. i’m a natural ectomorph and have gone through a few workout periods in my life where i was able to bulk up above the waist but have always neglected my legs. the couple times i’ve started i quit a month or so in. i’ve always HATED squats, partially because they make me want to vomit (from what they take out of me) and because my legs are skinny enough that i don’t trust my balance when i’m tired and caring a weighted barbell.

    i’m thinking i’ll use the smith machine for squats and do dead lifts with either dumb bells or a bar bell, at least for the first couple months.

    for the supersets, you just do one set to failure immediately after doing the previous exercise that works the same body part?

  28. […] Hit the Gym Hard—And Smart: 5 Tips Th… […]

  29. John on September 3, 2013 at 6:17 am

    This is the kind of routine I was looking for since I’m pretty slim. Thank you for this wonderful case study!

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