Two years ago I released my first book, “Base Strength” which included 10 prefabricated programs at the end. I never meant for these programs to be ran as written or to be done in sequence of some kind of bucket list of training programs (though I knew they would). Rather, they were specifically meant to be examples of the concepts that I’d spent the early part of the book fleshing out.
The fact is there are a lot of viable ways to train that involve different frequencies, exercise selections, set and rep schemes and so on and I wanted to give the reader plenty of opportunity to see how these same principles pop-up in differently structured programs.
However, I knew that it was inevitable that most readers would pick the program that appealed to them most and run it exactly as it was on paper. That’s not such a bad thing; really the only way that you learn is by having a starting point that involves some mistakes or setbacks so you can learn what to change in the first place. So I made it my mission to structure these programs broadly, so they would prove effective for as many people as possible.
“Bullmastiff” as a program is very middle of the road. Training frequency is twice per week for each main lift, which isn’t really high or low, and the rep ranges vary quite a bit, subjecting each lifter do a lot of different pathways to grow.
Just by adhering to this split and exercise selection, an intermediate lifter could probably assign just about any set and rep progression they want and still grow. But the 3-week wave structure that Bullmastiff utilizes (plus sets with sub max volume for the main lift and volumizing for accessory lifts at higher rep ranges) definitely kicks this arrangement of training up a notch. I’ve had immense success with both of these tactics both for myself and the people that I’ve trained.
The progression I pulled straight from a program made famous by Doug Young. Doug young was a monster bencher and the epitome of 70 powerlifting beef. He was one of those lifters of that era that looked like he was carved out of marble and it was a direct result of the type of training he exposed himself to. In short, it was a strength progression for the main lifts followed by a lot of bodybuilding volume work on the back end. In his own words those who say they think looks aren’t important “ain’t telling the whole truth”. And there’s no doubt that the aesthetic work actually padded his frame and allowed him to lift with greater efficiency than he otherwise would have been able to.
Feedback from this program has been overwhelmingly positive. I looked for a negative review and neglected to find one but there has been a bit of criticism with some people who experienced less than exciting growth on their bench press. It seems that the dosing of squatting and deadlifting is very appropriate for most of the people running this but there’s a good chunk of people who might have to increase the amount of work they do with pressing movements.
A few of the Reddit reviews of Bullmastiff: I was thrilled that so many had a good experience with it.
Some pressers myself included have thrived off of medium frequency with emphasis on just a couple of exercises; in the past it’s allowed me to stack successful workouts together every 3 to 4 days without quite overtraining my shoulders or elbows. The recovery has actually been a huge asset to my own growth.
But as I covered in my video about fast gainers and slow gainers lifters who do not grow especially fast from a particular stimulus (that is, those in a calorie deficit, those who are underweight or with small frames, those who aren’t very explosive, those who are very coordinated) typically need more frequent touches with pressing movements in order to get them to move. Because pressing utilizes smaller muscle groups and moves the bar over a shorter distance, the stress of each press is not as substantial as the stress of you squat or deadlift repetition. So it stands to reason that in many cases more work will be needed.
As I stated in the video my programs are not meant to be taken as gospel; Wendler is known for saying that if you make changes to 5 3 1, “you’re not running my program” (which I find odd considering he made two sequels to the book that are entirely filled with arbitrary ways to change the program). But I digress.
You are never not on the hook for adjusting your training based on how you respond in real life. It is always up to you to figure out how to get the right answer. You’re a mad scientist in a laboratory and you’re experimenting with different chemicals. If you fail to get the right answer, you titrate: you continue to make changes, drop by drop, until you stumble across the right one.
My programs are absolutely meant to be tweaked with so long as it is to solve a specific problem. So if you find yourself with your squat and deadlift going gangbusters but your bench gains are mediocre, don’t hesitate to look at increasing the frequency, adding an extra exercise or in some other way upping the training stress to get the numbers to move. Continued growth is about finding the right balance of stress that substantial enough to make you grow with recovery that is ample enough to prevent you from overtraining. If you’re showing up to each workout and sticking through to the end and nothing’s happening, one or both of those is off.
For the PDF of the complete bullmastiff program Click on the link here. And once you fill in your email, bookmark the page because of that is where I will be updating all of my free PDFs, ebooks, slideshows and presentations.