This is the first in a series by Stewart Breeding CPT, CES, PES

Click below to see a short video intro to the Hacking Strength series.

Click here to get a copy of Biohacker.


Now… read on for more info!

Seems like every freak’n time I check in on Facebook I’m bombarded with the latest, greatest strength training routines. Almost as hilarious as the programs themselves are the program names which strangely enough seem to always have some iteration of the Spartan warrior mixed in.

Body Spartan

Jacked and Tan like a Spartan Warrior

Spartan X-treme Strength

Iron Spartan

Iron glutes like a Spartan Warrior… just to name a few.  Alright, I may embellish a bit, but I know you’ve seen the ad campaigns. They are filled with imagery of sweaty, ultra-pumped, spray-tanned physiques. Each one igniting our imagination and filling us with a pheromone induced fervor. It’s a blood lust, only satisfied by the hunt and subsequent kill of our prey.

In this case, the kill can only be satisfied by clicking the “Purchase Now” button conveniently located at the bottom of your screen. The strategic product placement meant to optimize your viewing experience and seamlessly integrate the point of sale… DOWNLOAD COMPLETE… Next stop, Amazon. Before one sets out on a great expedition, one must look the part.

Shopping list for getting Jacked:

Weight lifting belt (animal print optional)

Weight lifting shoes (I recommend Nike MetCon) also comes in animal print

Weight lifting gloves

Knee high socks (some kind of cool Crossfit brand)

Wrist straps, Chalk (gonna need lots of chalk)

Bag to tote all the shit in

Ok, NOW we’re ready. At last the great hunter begins his long journey, leveraging all hopes on the promises made by the latest, greatest YouTube Fitness sensation. What you didn’t know is this individualized program you purchased for three easy payments of $9.95 was actually intended to be consumed by the masses. That’s right, chances are this program you’ve staked your hopes and dreams on has been stamped out more times than the model T. But hey, no worries. The reality is NO ONE except a real Spartan Warrior could have even survived past the first week of training anyway. Oh well, back to the drawing board…

This leads me to our topic of discussion: What is the best way to get bigger, stronger and ripped to freak’n shreds? Put aside your leggings and black Pure Barre socks for a second and let’s get brutally honest. That’s what we all want, right? If you are lifting weights don’t you wanna look like it? I don’t care if your male or female, muscles are hot, being strong is sexy and we ALL wanna look good naked…

For the next 4-6 weeks, I will share my beliefs and the vast research done on the subject of EFFECTIVE strength training and hypertrophy (increasing muscle size). I don’t pretend to know everything but my fitness geek addiction has left me drowning in knowledge over the last 35 years, twenty-five of which has been spent as a professional trainer and nationally-ranked powerlifter. By the end of this series my goal is to:

  • Deepen your understanding of the human body
  • Make programming recommendations for beginner to advanced strength athletes
  • Examine current trends of “Bro-Science”
  • Debunk popular myths in the Industry
  • Wade knee deep into the REAL science of Strength training

Upon completion, beginner and advanced athletes alike will be left with a comprehensive guide into optimal strength training fundamentals. I’m not gonna lie. The reality of getting bigger, stronger and ripped to shreds is incredibly complex to say the least. No matter what Billy Bob says, the getting tan part of Jacked and Tan is a shit-ton easier than getting Jacked. The key to long term, sustainable growth and success lies in realistic, INDIVIDUALIZED, PERIODIZED programming.

Programming should meet the athlete where they are and gradually get them where they want to be. Thus, the need for periodization (Link to this blog eventually?). Not to get to far ahead of ourselves but here’s a brief explanation. Periodization is defined as the “long-term cyclical structuring of training and practice to maximize performance. It is usually broken up into microcycles (1 week), mesocycles (3-6 weeks), and macrocycles (1 –year). There are multiple types of periodization including block, linear and undulating just to name a few. The best strength programs consider the cost/benefit offered by different types of periodization and apply them in a thoughtful manner. Put simply, it’s the individualized program design that gets or doesn’t get results. The program should govern planned, systematic variations in training specificity, intensity, and most importantly volume. The goal of periodization is to maximize your gains while reducing your risk of injury and the staleness of the protocol over the long term. Periodization is just one of many important variables which must be understood and represented in order for the program design to be effective.

Other variables include:

  • Metabolism (catabolism/anabolism) and Human energy systems
  • Maximal Recoverable volume/Minimal effective dose for creating both hypertrophy and strength
  • Dimensions of Strength
  • How do we get stronger? Neural adaptation
  • Mitigating over/under training
  • Nutrition
  • Mental skillset
  • Proper evaluation of athlete (both physically and mentally)
  • Progression of programing for beginner to advanced strength athlete (periodized programing)

I know what your thinkin’. Wow, dude that’s a lot of shit I never heard of before… No worries. What’s the best way to eat an elephant? That’s right, one bite at a time. Each week we will post a new blog and video (Stewsday) pertaining to the above mentioned items. Join us next week for our discussion on metabolism and the Human energy systems.

More on Hacking Strength Every “Stews-Day”…(yeah, that’s Tuesday).