Cluster Sets for Serious Strength, AND Size.

Cluster Sets for Serious Strength, AND Size.

Cluster sets are capable of giving you significant gains in size and strength in a short period of time.

When programming for my athletes in the Swole Town Program, I’m constantly looking for ways to make my training cycles as effective as possible.

I don’t want guys (or girls) following my program in the gym wasting time with 20 different Bicep curl variations.

I want them to be big, strong and functional beasts. I can’t have it any other way.

If you’re interested in getting stronger, this will be a great read for you.

At the end I’ll give you a full sample training day with cluster sets.

*Note: Heavy Cluster training is on the advanced side. Don’t attempt this method if you’re a beginner.

The “More is Better” Trap

Most people in the gym believe that more is better.

Work harder, spend more time, do more reps, and your results will improve, right? Not so fast..

Your body does not have endless energy to expend.

Training requires a lot of energy, and what people forget is that recovering from training also requires a massive amount of energy.

No matter what you do, there is only so much you can recover from.

If you cannot recover, your body does not adapt to the training.

That means you work hard and get little results, especially if you’re trying to get stronger and/or build muscle.

How Does The Body Get Stronger?

If you’re stronger today than you were a month ago.. Why is that?

What caused you to be able to exert more force?

Is it simply that working out builds muscle, and more muscle = more strength?

While it’s true that more muscle mass will generally correlate with greater strength, there are plenty of examples of people who you wouldn’t even know worked out who can lift superhuman amounts of weight.

My brother-in-law looks like a regular 170lb guy, and has more than once casually stepped into my gym and pressed 275lbs over his head, while I stand at a solid 240lbs and cannot perform that on my best day.

Is it not a fascinating question?

How can someone with less muscle exert more force than someone with considerably more? The answer lies in the nervous system.

The Nervous System Controls Strength

get strong get stronger with cluster sets.  build muscle

When you lift, you are not using all of the muscle available.

Your nervous system is much smarter than you, and its job is to protect the integrity of the structures within its control (among other things).

Trying to lift something very heavy could hurt you, and to protect you from injury, the nervous system will not allow you to recruit all of the muscle fibers at once.

An untrained person will be able to recruit only about 40-50% of the available muscle fibers at once.

A highly trained strength athlete can recruit well over 90%, and the strong guy in the gym is probably in the 70-80% category.

So How do you train the nervous system to allow you to recruit more muscle fibers and get stronger?

Strength is a Skill

I think it’s most useful to think of strength as a skill.

You have to view training as an opportunity to “teach” the body how to be stronger.

With that in mind, it becomes obvious that the way you set up your training is extremely important when your goal is to become stronger.

You cannot just go do your usual 3 sets of 10 on the bench press and expect to get dramatic results.

Unless you’re a new lifter, this simply will not work for very long.

If you’ve been training that way for a long time, your body has adapted already and has no need to take any further action.

Cluster Sets

Cluster sets are basically heavy singles performed on short rest periods, generally around 20 seconds long.

So, you hit one heavy rep, rest 20 seconds, and repeat for the prescribed number of reps.

The benefit here is that you’re lifting very heavy weight relative to your max.

If you’re able to get 5 reps normally with 225lbs, you can use clusters to get 6 or more reps in one set by spacing the reps out with very short rest periods.

How Cluster Sets Make You Stronger

get stronger faster and build muscle with cluster sets

When lifting loads at about 85% or higher relative to your max, you’re recruiting the maximum amount of muscle fibers that you’re capable of.

With lighter loads/higher reps, this is not the case until the end of the set when you’re fatigued.

Recruit the Highest Threshold Motor Units/Muscle Fibers

Heavy loads are forcing the nervous system to call upon the highest threshold muscle fibers.

The ones most capable of producing force.

As the load increases (relative to what you’re capable of), these high-power motor units must fire at a faster rate to keep up.

Thus, you’re teaching your nervous system to fire those high-impact muscle fibers faster by repetitively hitting them with heavy loads.

This alone will make you stronger. Every rep you hit in a cluster set is an impactful rep, from the first to the last.

Turn off The Governor

Like a governor on a vehicle that slows it down when it reaches a certain speed, your muscles contain organs called Golgi Tendon Organs (GTO’s) that are constantly monitoring tension.

The GTO’s will basically turn muscle fibers off when tension gets too high, in an effort to protect the structure.

The repetition of heavy loads can desensitize the nervous system, relaxing the GTO’s and allowing more force to be produced. Again, every rep in a cluster set is intense, and we’re training the nervous system to allow us to produce more force.

You Become Better at the Movement

When repeating heavy lifts on 20 seconds of rest, you don’t have time to overthink anything.

You simply grab the bar and perform the lift.

This type of training really forces you to be in the moment.

The heavy repetitions will make you more comfortable with the lift, and you will naturally get better at it.

It also alleviates some of the fear of moving heavy weight, as you’re doing it repeatedly.

Sample Training Session Using Cluster Sets

The training session below is directly from the Swole Town training cycle called “Intensity.”

Keep in mind that when using high intensity methods like these, it is imperative that you keep the overall volume low. (volume = the total amount of reps/sets, or “work” that you’re doing.)

You absolutely have to prioritize recovery, as you’re pushing the body/nervous system very hard with the heavy repetitions.

Too much volume and accessory work and you’ll burn yourself out.

Cluster Set Training Sample: Bench Press/Back

swole town

You want to get a solid warm up in, and I prefer a circuit style warm up here as it allows me to sneak in a little low-intensity volume, build work capacity, and prepare for the session.

The weight should be very light, this should not be a struggle.

A.) Prep Circuit:

Perform 2-3 sets, moving continuously with little rest.

DB Incline Bench Press20
DB Bent Over Row20
Band Triceps Pressdown20
Ab Crunches20
*Weight should be LIGHT

B.) Cluster Sets: Bench Press

Take a few warm-up sets of 2-3 reps to build up to about 87-90% of your max on the bench press.

You’ll do 5 total reps per set, hitting one rep every 20 seconds. After 5 reps, rest 4:00 and repeat.

After 2 sets, assess how you feel and hit a 3rd set if you’re feeling good about it. If you’ve never done these, stop at 2 sets.

MovementSetsRepsRest b/w sets
Bench Press2-35 reps at 87-90% of max
20 seconds between reps

C.) Close Grip Floor Press

We’re choosing a movement complimentary to the bench press to get in some additional heavy volume. We’ll hit 3 heavy sets of 5. Heavy meaning you’re not sure if you’d have gotten another rep or two.

MovementSetsRepsRest b/w sets
Close Grip Floor Press353:00

D.) Bench Supported DB Row

Perform on an incline bench. These are to be performed as drop-sets, hitting 8-10 reps, then dropping to lighter dumbbells to get up to 20 reps per set, for 2 total sets.

MovementSetsRepsRest b/w Sets
Supported DB Row2203:00

E.) Decline DB Pullover

Same as the last block, perform 2 drop-sets, aiming for 8-10 reps, then dropping down to a lighter dumbbell and getting up to 20 total reps.

MovementSetsRepsRest b/w Sets
Decline DB Pullover2203:00

F.) Plank to Side Plank – 2:00

30 second front plank, 30 second side plank, 30 seconds back to front, then 30 seconds other side for 2 total minutes. These are used frequently for endurance throughout the core and to enhance core bracing.

Full Workout Table

I’ll put this session in one table if you’d like to try it out, feel free to screenshot.

MovementSetsRepsRest b/w Sets
Warm up Circuit3200
*Bench Press (Cluster)2-35 (cluster reps)
20 sec b/w reps
Close Grip Floor Press353:00
Bench Supported DB Rows220 (dropset)3:00
DB Decline Pullover220 (dropset)3:00
Plank to Side Plank12:00 holdn/a

Final Notes on Cluster Sets

As you can see, the overall volume in this session is pretty low. 9 total sets of lifting (warm up sets don’t count).

If we start throwing in all kinds of curls, triceps extensions, etc. we’ll be forcing the body to try and recover from more than it will likely be able to.

Recovery is everything when you’re training for strength and size.

If you’re going to try out training with cluster sets, devote a training block of 4-6 weeks with it.

Give your body some time to adapt and you’ll likely see some nice gains in strength and probably some new muscle to go along with it.

If you’d like to have your workouts programmed for you so you can hit the gym with a solid plan, check out Swole Town, available only the world’s best training app, TrainHeroic.

Thanks for reading! Any questions? Feel free to reach out.

Mike Richardson
Mike Richardson

ISSA Tactical Conditioning Specialist. Creator of Swole Town, Forged Female and Coach, Husband, Father, Brother, Friend.

Swole Town.  A Lifting Program to Pack on Slabs of Muscle.

Swole Town. A Lifting Program to Pack on Slabs of Muscle.

Want to look like an absolute beast? Swole Town is live, and residency is earned and paid for with effort. I want to give you a sample training week (scroll to the bottom), and explain why this lifting program is worth paying a visit to if you’re looking to build muscle, get stronger and scare children and small animals with your physique.

3 months on the Swole Town Program and you’ll be buying new t-shirts… and jeans, cuz we don’t skip leg day, and we sometimes do it twice.

Build Muscle Fast

Swole town is designed around 4 week training blocks. Every 4 weeks, we move into a new cycle. When this happens, the focus changes a bit, gradually moving from higher volume cycles full of high-rep supersets and metabolic stress-inducing protocols, to more intense methods such as cluster sets and myotatic reps.

The point of this is to keep your body in a constant state of evolution and adaptation, and to keep things fresh and exciting. When you look forward to your training, your results tend to be a lot better. Swole Town is exciting and you’ll find yourself wanting to know what’s coming next.

You’ll also be marveling at the huge traps and massive back you see staring back at you in the mirror. This isn’t about pretty boy beach muscles. We’re building beasts.

Swole Town Pin

Methods for Strength and Size

The program uses varying methods designed to pack on size and build strength. Proven strategies are taken from many different programs and methods. These are all built in to optimize gains.

You may see elements of 5 x 5, strongman training, and classic bodybuilding techniques all thrown into the mix in different cycles. If it works, I’m going find a way to use it. And this makes training more enjoyable, as you’re exposed to different methods.

Metabolic Stress and Mechanical Load

In the end, only 2 factors lead to hypertrophy…

Metabolic Stress

Metabolic stress is induced through high rep supersets and taking sets to failure at the right time. We also utilize newer methods, such as Blood Flow Restriction Training (BFR), also known as occlusion training.

The physiological environment created within the muscle from this style of training is a huge stimulus for muscle growth. Metabolic stress is what causes the “pump” you feel (and see) when you train.

The current cycle we’re in, called “RAGE,” is full of metabolic stress-inducing methods. The pump is real.

Here’s just one example of extreme metabolic stress from a leg-day session. It’s simple. 100 reps on the zercher split squat without putting the bar down. Similar tactics are employed for upper body work as well.

Mechanical Load

Mechanical load simply refers to the load, or resistance placed on the muscle. Heavier weights cause a higher load to be placed on (and sensed by) the muscle, which leads to muscle growth and gains in strength. Your muscles are organs and can sense the tension being placed on them. The human body is truly amazing.

We take a balanced approach and attack each with specific methods.

What’s a Day in Swole Town Look Like?

Here’s a week from the current cycle, “RAGE.” This is just an example, but if you like what you see, come check out the program and try a free week to get a closer look.

In the app, every movement has a video demo and you have access to a coach as well.

Click on the date to see different days for this week of training.

Your Move

I already know you can get bigger and stronger with Swole Town. I’ve been using this programming for a long time and have trained many people using the same strategies. When you’re ready, come take a tour of the town and let the gainz begin.

Try Swole Town now for free for a week, no questions asked.


Bioforce Certified Conditioning Coach, Trainer. Coach/Creator of Swole Town and Currently a federal agent, formerly 11b Infantry in the US Army Reserves. Training and coaching are my passions.

Swole Town.  A Lifting Program to Pack on Slabs of Muscle.

Swole Town Has Arrived: The Best Program For Size and Strength

It’s been a long time coming, but Swole Town is finally going live in January 2021. If Swole is your goal, you’ve found exactly what you’re looking for. A fully periodized, ongoing lifting program designed to get you as jacked as possible and keep the gains flowing.

Swole Town is born out of a combination of old school effort and modern training principles, and will only be available through the TrainHeroic App. The app is free and offers incredible value. Every training day is laid out a week in advance, with demo videos for every movement and clear explanations on what is expected.

And, all of your stats are tracked over time, allowing you to track your PR’s and training progress.

Get a free week of training and see for yourself

What is Swole Town?

Swole Town is a badass lifting program for those who want to get big and strong as hell. If you want traps and shoulders that scare people, you’ll fit right in. Want to have to buy bigger t-shirts? Come on down.

If you’re looking to train for a half marathon or a Spartan Race, it probably won’t work out so good.


program for size and strength

RAGE is the first cycle in Swole Town. Every 4 weeks begins a new cycle with a different focus and different training methods. RAGE is a high volume oriented cycle, with lots of supersets and metabolic stress-inducing training protocols. It’s a fun training block for sure, and one of my favorite ways to train.

When Will it Be Available?

As of right now, Swole Town is scheduled to go live on January 1st, 2021, with the first training day being Monday, January 4th. The cost will be $12/month through the TrainHeroic app. Considering a decent trainer would easily charge over $400/month for this much programming, it’s an incredible value.

I’d like to see you over in Swole Town.. Will you come take a tour?

If you’d like to get in early, email me at

How to Jump Higher, Run Faster and Increase Speed and Power

How to Jump Higher, Run Faster and Increase Speed and Power

Being a more powerful athlete means you’ll be able to hit harder, run faster, jump higher, and have an advantage over your opponents. To get there, you’ll need to train specifically for power by using lighter loads and explosive movements. Implement some of the ideas in this article and you’ll be well on your way to becoming a better athlete.

In This Article We Will Discuss:

  • The Difference Between Strength and Power
  • How to Train for Power and Explosiveness to get faster and jump higher.
  • Exercises you can use to improve your explosiveness and power.
  • How to implement and use Velocity/Power training
  • How to measure power output and progress

Becoming a more powerful athlete requires careful attention to the types of training methods you’re using. Lifting heavy weights all the time does NOT necessarily lead to improved explosiveness. The boxer who doesn’t even bench press might hit a lot harder than the guy who bench presses 500lbs.

Note: I am not a doctor, so you should consult yours before undertaking or performing any exercises or workout programs. Sorry, had to get that out of the way.

What is Power?

If you want to be more explosive and powerful, jump higher and/or get faster.. You have to understand the difference between Strength and Power

Strength = The maximal force you can apply against a load…i.e., how much weight you can move/lift.

Power = The ability to exert maximal force in the shortest time possible. Power is determined by how fast you can exert maximum force. Power = Work/Time

So, If me and you can both bench press 250lbs, you could say we’re equally strong. But, If I can lift it in 2 seconds and it takes you 4 seconds, that would make me the more powerful athlete (on the bench press, anyways).

Tip: Check out my Instagram. I’m currently training my nephew, who is looking to play D1 college football. A lot of his training gets posted on there and can give you some new ideas to play around with.

Training Methods to Improve Explosive Strength

There are specific training methods you can use to improve your speed and jumping ability. You can accomplish this by using exercises that force the body to generate force rapidly, improving what is known as rate of force production.


The single best training method to improve jumping ability, speed and overall explosiveness is plyometrics. Studies show that 6 weeks of plyometric training can improve agility and jumping ability in athletes.

Plyometric exercises take advantage of the stretch shortening cycle. This involves exercises in which a muscle is rapidly stretched and shortened.

Exercises like the depth jump (below), in which you jump from one platform, rapidly absorb the energy of the landing and then exert force by jumping back up, train the body to absorb and generate force rapidly.

Plyometric exercises work by increasing the speed and force of muscle contractions.

These agility hurdles are excellent tools for plyometric training. Check ’em out for under $50:

Speed Strength Training

Lifting with lighter loads and faster reps is another way to train for power and explosiveness. Powerlifters, and training methods such as Westside Barbell understand and utilize this form of training to great effect.

Whether you’re lifting a heavy load slowly, or a lighter load with speed, you’re still generating force. Speed strength training specifically trains the body to improve rate of force production, the ability to generate high power outputs faster.

Power Shrugs: focus on being explosive through the hips, Knees and Ankles.

Maximal Strength Training

jump higher get faster squat strength

There is always a place for strength training when it comes to getting faster, jumping higher and becoming more explosive.

At the end of the day, you may be limited by the amount of force you can generate. In order to jump, sprint or perform any explosive movement, you must generate maximal force.

Improving your max squat or bench press will likely lead to your plyometric training being more fruitful. The ability to generate more absolute force by getting stronger is an essential component to becoming more explosive. It lays the foundation for increased explosive abilities.

Can Squats Make You Jump Higher?

This is a common question that gets asked when people are looking to improve their jumping abilities.

The answer is that yes, getting stronger on the squat can improve your jumping ability. Increasing the amount of force you can generate can certainly make you a more powerful athlete.

However, using squats alone is not a good strategy. You should use heavy lifting along with other forms of training like plyometrics and speed-strength movements to get the biggest improvements.

Olympic Lifts

The olympic lifts (Power clean, snatch) train the body to generate maximal force in a very short time. Specifically, you’re training the legs and hips to be as explosive as possible to move heavy loads with speed.

Jumping in particular is very reliant on explosive hips. If you observe the movement of the body during a power clean or snatch vs. jumping, you’ll see it’s actually very similar.

How to Jump Higher and Be More Explosive.

To put it all together, you should use a variety of different training methods to become a more explosive athlete. Here’s a quick list of how you can get there, with some advanced tips:

1. Use Creatine

A 2016 Study showed that supplementing with Creatine resulted in greater improvements in both jumping and sprinting. This makes logical sense, since Creatine is well known to improve power output and explosive performance.

My suggestion is to get your Creatine from Bulk Supplements. It’s cheaper, you get more, and it’s pure creatine monohydrate, with no filler ingredients.

2. Get Stronger

Don’t ignore strength training. If your goal is to be more explosive, jump higher or be a faster and more dynamic athlete, you don’t need to be lifting like a bodybuilder. You should be focusing on lower rep ranges (3-5) and keeping the volume relatively low.

Try 3 sets of 3-5 on the squat 1 – 2 times per week, and try to add weight each week.

3. Use Plyometrics (Carefully)

Plyometric exercises are great for improving explosive abilities. They can also be hard on the body. Start out by aiming on the lower end for volume and build up to doing more sets and reps over time.

Here are a few that you can try:

  • Box Jumps
  • Depth Jumps
  • Shin Hops
  • Later Skater Jumps

4. Don’t Over-do It

You never want to train more than what you can recover from. Plyometrics and other dynamic forms of training put a lot of stress on tissues like tendons and ligaments.

Allow your body to recover between sessions. 2 plyometric workouts per week is enough to get some good results, along with 2 strength training days for the lower body.

5. Use Speed Strength Movements.

Focus some of your lifting on speed strength movements. For these workouts, you should focus on using less weight and lifting with speed. Here are a few exercises you can use to good effect.

  • Box Squats
  • Pause squats (pause at the bottom, then explode up)
  • Jump Squats (with light weight)
  • Jumping Lunges
  • Power shrugs, speed deadlifts
  • Olympic lifts
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6. Focus on Each Rep. Emphasize Quality

When performing power/explosive movements in your training, you really need to focus on each rep, making sure every repetition is performed as explosively as possible while maintaining good form.

You want to train the body to recruit maximum force from as many muscle fibers as possible, as fast as possible. It is for this reason that lighter loads are optimal, allowing you to really explode through the resistance.

Make each rep it’s own, and focus on technique and generating as much force as you can.

7. Don’t Chase Fatigue. Chase Performance

Don’t fall into the trap of thinking you have to be wiped out from every training session. Keep in mind that you’re trying to become more explosive. Training until you’re completely fatigued will result in performing slower, ineffective repetitions. That is NOT what you want to do.

Focus on performing quality, powerful reps, and build up volume over time. This way, you can actually recover and adapt to the training, instead of driving yourself into the ground.

How To Measure Improved Power

As with any type of training, you always want to have some measure of progress. You want to know that your efforts are resulting in adaptations that benefit you as an athlete. Here are some specific ways you can measure for improved power and explosiveness.

  • Broad Jump. Measure how far you can jump, then retest every 4 weeks or so.
  • Vertical Jump: Same idea… measure your vertical jump, or max box jump height and measure for improvement.
  • Med ball throws: From a seated position, hold a medicine ball (10-20lbs) to your chest, then using only the upper body, explosively throw the ball as far as possible. Measure the distance.
  • Use Olymic lifts: Snatch/Clean. Measure by how much weight you can successfully move.


A lot of people want to be more explosive athletes. What athlete wouldn’t? Armed with the right training techniques, a strong desire and a willingness to always be learning, you can get there a lot faster than you think.

Thanks for reading, and I hope you found this helpful.

Check out some of my other articles on strength and conditioning:

Mike (Supastrong)
Mike (Supastrong)

Bioforce Certified Conditioning Coach and personal trainer. I’ve run boot camps and served as the wellness coordinator for a fortune 500 company. Currently a Federal Agent in San Diego, CA, and an Infantryman in the Army Reserve.

Bodyweight Exercises That Build Muscle Without Equipment

Bodyweight Exercises That Build Muscle Without Equipment

I think a lot of people are skeptical about bodyweight exercises. Can you really build muscle and a better physique using just your own body weight?

To answer that question, you need only look at some of the athletes that train using mostly bodyweight exercises. Gymnasts are among the strongest pound for pound athletes in the world. Few “strong” guys in the gym can rep out ring dips, muscle ups or handstand push ups.

Herschel Walker, the famous NFL Player, is known for his insane bodyweight workouts and claims to have never lifted weights in the traditional sense. His story is worth a read.

It appears that when it comes to building muscle, getting stronger and building a better body, those things can all be achieved with bodyweight training. It’s just a matter of challenging your body and using more advanced bodyweight exercises as you progress.

Benefits of Bodyweight Training

To be clear, I’m not writing this to discourage resistance training. There are plenty of benefits unique to lifting weights, and it will always the the optimal way to put on pure size and raw strength.

But that doesn’t mean it’s the only way.

There are plenty of studies showing that bodyweight exercises and programs can:

More Muscle Activation

bodyweight exercises home workout push up

Bodyweight exercises generally activate more total muscle. This is because bodyweight movements are generally more functional, forcing the whole body to work as a single unit, vs. isolating body parts.

Think of a push up vs. a bench press. During a push up, you have to stabilize your core and upper body throughout the movement. During a bench press, your body is resting on a bench, taking away this element.

You can argue that a push up is a lot easier than a heavy bench press. However, as you use more challenging variations of push ups, you might find that this is not the case at all.

Improved Body Awareness

Forcing the body to work as a single unit with bodyweight exercises has been shown to improve kinesthetic sense, or your awareness of the position of your body through space. This is an important attribute to possess as an athlete. This is what is meant by bodyweight training being “functional.”

Bodyweight Training for Strength and Power

Studies have shown that bodyweight exercises done in the form of plyometrics can improve lower body power at the same rate as other forms of training (like resistance training).

Plyometrics are explosive bodyweight exercises like depth jumps, explosive push ups and any other movement that uses the stretch shortening cycle.

The stretch shortening cycle means that a muscle is stretched and then immediately exerts force, as in when you jump, absorb your landing then immediately jump back up again.

Bodyweight Exercises that Build Muscle and Strength.

bodyweight exercises build muscle push up

Taking all of this into consideration, I’ve got a list of bodyweight exercises that use zero equipment and can target the entire body effectively. You can incorporate these into your home workout routines.

Note: I am not a doctor, so check with your doctor before performing any type of exercise, including the ones listed here.

Bodyweight Back Exercises:

Hitting your back muscles with bodyweight exercises and no equipment can be a challenge. But it is certainly possible. Try these bodyweight back exercises out.

Slideboard Pushups: Chest and Back

Slideboard pushups force you to work your back and chest/triceps at the same time. One arm basically performs a straight arm pulldown, one of the best ways to target the lats. The other pushes the body back up. It’s a challenging movement for sure.

Use a hand towel or a tshirt, anything that can slide on the floor.

Sliding Pulldowns: Bodyweight Back Exercise

Lay on a towel, extend your arms in front of you and “pull” your body forward. The movement mimics a lat pulldown. I raise my upper body to get a deep squeeze of the upper back.

Slideboard Pulldowns: Bodyweight back exercise

These are a little different than the last one. Again using two hand towels, extend your arms out in front of you. Pull your arms back towards the body, focusing on pulling through the elbows and getting a good deep squeeze of the upper back.

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Bodyweight Chest, Triceps and Shoulders

Everyone knows how to do a push up. I’m not trying to give you copy and paste exercises that 100 other sites are repeating. That’s too easy.

Try some of these out to mix things up.

Read: How to Build Muscle at Home. 5 Methods that Work + 2 Workouts

Tempo Push ups

Changing the tempo of an exercise can change things dramatically. Doing slower reps forces the body to recruit more and more muscle as the muscle fibers fatigue. This can lead to additional muscle growth.

Try 2 seconds up and 2 seconds down for each rep and go to failure. You can introduce tempo reps into other bodyweight exercises as well to make them more challenging.

Table Skull Crushers: Triceps

Using a table, bench or any other stable object, you can perform relatively challenging triceps extensions that mimic the same movement pattern as skull crushers. The lower the table, the more difficult it will be.

Sphinx Push ups: Triceps

Sphinx push ups are a more challenging bodyweight triceps exercise. Start in the plank position on your forearms, then raise your body back up by extending the elbows.

Other Push up Variations That Can Build Muscle

Here’s a video I made of 20 Push up variations you can incorporate into your workouts to build muscle and strength. You’ll recognize a few that we’ve talked about already.

You can also read the full article here

Bodyweight Leg Exercises

Studies have shown that using lower body plyometric exercises can result in strength and power gains at the same rate as using resistance training.

Perform plyometric exericses like jumping lunges and depth jumps before moving on to more traditional bodyweight squats and lunges.

Jumping Lunges

Jumping lunges are an excellent lower body exercise. In this one movement, you can target the quads, hamstrings, hip flexors, glutes and calves.

Don’t try to go too fast. Stay under control. Use your energy coming back into the ground to spring you back up into each rep.

Single Leg Squats

Unilateral (one leg) squats are challenging. There’s an element of balance involved. In this example, I’m using a low bench to sit onto. When you feel comfortable enough, you can perform these unassisted.

Depth Jump

Depth jumps are a relatively advanced lower body plyometric exercise. Only perform these if you’re already comfortable with box jumps and have a decent base of strength. Raising the height of either or both boxes increases the intensity of the exercise.

Other Lower Body Bodyweight Exercises.

There are a lot of good lower body exercises to incorporate into your bodyweight home workouts. Here’s a small list you can use for reference.

  • Jump Squats
  • Walking Lunges
  • Reverse and lateral lunges
  • Hip Bridges
  • Sprinting

Equipment that can Boost Your Bodyweight Workouts

how to build muscle at home

There are a few, affordable pieces of equipment that can dramatically boost your bodyweight workouts and make them more productive.

BFR Bands and Resistance bands are two items that I’d recommend anyone have in their home bodyweight workout arsenal.

Read: How to get Bigger Arms with BFR Bands

Blood Flow Restriction Bands (BFR)

BFR bands allow you to perform occlusion training. By using the bands on the upper arms or legs, you restrict blood flow into the working muscle.

When used with high rep bodyweight exercises, this limited blood and oxygen supply to the muscles will force the body to recruit more fast-twitch type II muscle fibers.

The result of this, according to research, is increased muscle mass and strength without using heavy weights.

You can get a good pair of BFR Bands on Amazon for around $28

Resistance Bands

Resistance bands offer incredible versatility to your home workouts. You can perform just about any gym exercise using nothing but your bodyweight and a set of resistance bands.

Check out my video below for 16 bodybuilding gym exercises done using resistance bands.

You can get a set right here on Amazon at an affordable price.


You can get really incredible results using nothing but your own body weight. The trick is in challenging the body using exercise variations mixed with some plyometric exercises, tempo reps and explosive movements.

I’d recommend checking out the push up variations video to get yourself some solid upper body exercises to do.

I’d also strongly encourage you to invest in some BFR Bands and resistance bands so you can be more versatile in your approach to building muscle and getting stronger with your own body weight.

I hope you found this useful. Feel free to leave a comment and let me know. As always, I hope this helps you somehow get a little bit closer to that best version of you.

Note: This article contains affiliate links to products I believe in. They come at no additional cost to you.

Mike (Supastrong)
Mike (Supastrong)

Bioforce Certified Conditioning Coach and personal trainer. I’ve run boot camps and served as the wellness coordinator for a fortune 500 company. Currently a Federal Agent in San Diego, CA, and an Infantryman in the Army Reserve.

Chest and Arm Workout For Explosive Hypertrophy.

Chest and Arm Workout For Explosive Hypertrophy.

The gyms will be open soon, and you better believe that first day is going to be national chest day. But that’s okay. You’ll be prepared. This chest and arm workout will mark your glorious return to the gym, and you’ll walk out with a massive pump. Let the hypertrophy begin.

Note: This training is taken from my Swole Town program, available through TrainHeroic; the world’s best training app. If you like this workout, come train with the team and get swole af.

Chest and Arms Go Together Like…

Peas and carrots, coffee and cream, alcohol and bad decisions.. You get the idea.

Chest and arms are a natural combination. All pressing movements, like the bench press, dumbell bench press and push ups already work the triceps pretty hard. So, it’s both efficient and productive to work the triceps alongside your chest exercises.

We’re going to work the biceps as well for this workout. And no, it won’t screw up tomorrow’s back day. I’ll show you how, just stay with me.

Chest and Tricep Anatomy

A little anatomy never hurt anyone. If your goal is to build muscle, then your chest and arm workout (and all your workouts) would benefit from having a deeper understanding of how to target specific muscles to get the most out of your training.

Chest Muscles

chest and arm workout hypertrophy

The Chest is actually made up of 4 separate muscles. The Pectoralis Major and Pectoralis Minor make up the vast majority of your chest muscle.

To work the Pectoralis minor, we can use dips and decline presses. Any movement where the body is leaning forward with the arms pressing at a downward angle.

Incline bench presses work the Pectoralis major, focusing on the Clavicular head of the muscle (the upper chest).

The pectoralis major is by far the largest and most dominant muscle in the chest. It spans across your chest from your shoulder to your sternum. It is responsible for moving the humerus (arm), and is worked during just about every chest exercise you’ll do.

With just a little variety we can easily hit all the muscles of the chest.

The Triceps

chest and arms workout triceps muscle

The triceps muscle is a little more interesting. It’s made up of 3 separate muscles. The lateral head, medial head and the long head.

To get the “horseshoe,” we need to specifically focus on the long head of the triceps. The long head can be isolated using movements like skull crushers, lying dumbell extensions, overhead triceps extensions and my favorite.. dips.

Well hit them all in our chest and arm workout, so don’t worry.

BFR Bands and Resistance Bands for Explosive Hypertrophy

For this workout, we’re going to use Blood Flow Restriction Bands (BFR) and Resistance Bands. These tools can take your workouts to the next level. You can take it from me, or read the research for yourself.

Occlusion Training with BFR Bands

chest and arm workout bfr

Blood flow restriction training, also known as “occlusion training” has been around for a long time. Bodybuilders have used it for years.

BFR bands are kind of like a tourniquet placed on your arms. Blood flow is restricted, limiting oxygen and blood to the working muscle.

They are meant to be used for high reps (15-30) with lighter loads (50% of your max or less). Normally, the slow twitch muscle fibers would be handling that type of work.

However, with restricted blood and oxygen, the slow twitch fibers cannot keep up. As a result, the fast twitch muscle fibers have to take over.

Finishing your workout with 10 minutes of fast paced BFR lifting will give you the biggest pump you’ve ever had in your arms. That pump is caused by cellular swelling, and is a precursor to increased testosterone and growth hormone release, and increased hypertrophy.

You can get a set of BFR Bands for around $30 on Amazon. I use these, and they’ve lasted me almost two years already. You’ll thank me later.

Resistance Bands

resistance bands build muscle from home

Resistance bands are a great tool to compliment your lifting.

I like to use them primarily because I can get a ton of volume in with them without the joint stress I’d get from using dumbells, barbells or cables.

Resistance bands offer ascending resistance, meaning the resistance increases as the band stretches, towards the end of the movement.

Since people tend to be weak at the end range of motion, this can be very beneficial. (Think about that last few inches of the bench press when you can’t lock out your arms.)

With bands, we can safely throw in a ton of volume for arm training that we otherwise probably wouldn’t have been able to get in.

You can get a whole set of bands here at a really good price.

Chest and Arm Workout for Hypertrophy

School’s over, and it’s time to get down to business. This chest and arm workout is probably different from what you’ve done before.

I don’t like copy and paste workouts or workout programs. There have been a lot of advancements in our understanding of how to build muscle and get stronger. This workout uses concepts that might be new to you, but if you want to grow, you’ve got to…. grow!

Here’s the workout. Scroll down for videos and explanations for each exercise and for specifics.

A1 – Floor Flyes310-12
A2 – Single Arm Bench Press31090 sec
B1 – Depth Push ups4-53
B2 – Close Grip Bench Press4-552 mins
C – Dips410-1290 sec
D – Incline Dmbl Bench Press38-1090 sec
E – BFR CIRCUIT10 mins30-15minimal
E1 – Dmbl Hex Press///
E2 – Plate Curls///
E3 – Banded Triceps Ext///
E4 – Reverse Curls///
A and B performed as Supersets

1. Warm Up: Floor Flyes/Single Arm Press

Get a good warm up in by doing 3 sets of 10 reps for each. Perform these as a superset, resting 90 seconds between sets. Go light, it’s a warm up.

2. Depth Push ups to Close Grip Bench Press

Research shows that barbell work hits the triceps much harder than dumbells or cables. So I want to make the most of that.

Studies also show that performing explosive push-ups before a heavy bench press can improve your performance. I want to fully activate and stimulate the explosive fast twitch muscle fibers.

Perform 3 explosive depth push ups, then go immediately to the bench and hit 5 reps of close grip bench presses. Work up to the heaviest set of 5 you can get. Try to get there within 5 sets.

3. Dips

Dips are one of my favorite upper body exercises. I’d argue you can build more muscle with dips than with the bench press.

You’re looking for 10-12 reps. If you can get more than that, add weight with a Dip Belt or a dumbell between your legs. . Hit 3-4 sets of 10-12 reps.

To protect your shoulders, you can come down until your arms form a 90 degree angle, then push back up.

4. Incline Dumbell Bench Press

Nothing fancy here. We want to hit the upper portion of the chest. 3-4 sets of 8 reps. Be explosive when you press the weight up.

5. BFR Chest and Arms Circuit.

Strap your BFR Bands on and get your mind right.

Peform the circuit for 10 minutes. Rest as little as possible. Get in as many reps as you can. Go from one exercise to the next.

On the first set, aim for 20-30 reps. Each set after that, your goal is 15 reps. Remember, with BFR Bands, you want to use lighter weight and get in a ton of reps.

All that volume will lead to big gains, and a massive pump. Crush it.

1. Hex Press:

Squeeze the dumbells together the whole set.

2. Plate Curls:

Grab a plate and curl it until your arms feel like they’re going to fall off. Get a good squeeze at the top.

3. Banded Triceps Extensions:

Keep tension on the triceps by trying not to pause or allow the band to come up too high. Constant movement. If you don’t have them, Invest in some Strength bands!

4. Reverse Curls

Grab an empty barbell, palms facing down and bang out some reverse curls. These really make for an insane forearm pump.

Remove the BFR Bands and marvel at the pump.

Maximize Your Gains

If you’re going to be putting in this kind of work, you might as well reap as much benefit from it as possible. Here’s a few things you should definitely be doing to make sure you maximize hypertrophy and recovery.

If you’re looking for some badass back workouts, check this article out

1. Use the Right Supplements

You don’t need to go crazy on the supplements. There are a few that can give you an edge that I’d recommend.

  • Creatine increased power output, strength, recovery
  • L-Citrulline – Found in many pre-workouts, it is converted to nitric oxide in the body and improves blood flow. i.e, gives you a massive pump. Which of course, leads to more hypertrophy
  • Protein – If you aren’t getting at least 0.7 grams of protein per pound of body weight from food, then use a supplement.
  • L-Carnitine – Improved fat burning and increased androgen receptors (better use of testosterone = more muscle).

I recommend getting supplements from Bulk Supplements. It’s cheaper, you get way more, and it’s high quality, pure ingredients vs. the mixtures you get in pre-made supplement formulas. Your results will be better when you know exactly what you’re taking and how much.

Get 5% off your order from Bulk Supplements

2. Eat Before Your Workout

Eating before your workout has been shown by research to have just as much impact on muscle building and protein synthesis as eating after.

During a workout like this chest and arm workout, you want to make sure you’ve got plenty of amino acids and carbohydrate in your body. This tells your body not to burn up muscle, and sends a stronger signal for muscle growth.

It also leads to better recovery after your workout. So, try to get in 20-30 grams of protein and some complex carbs 1-2 hours before your workout.

3. Take Rest Days Seriously

More is not always better. 4-5 workouts a week like this chest and arm workout is more than enough to stimulate massive hypertrophy. If you’re new to working out, 3 days might even be enough.

Prioritize rest and recovery. That’s when you actually build muscle, when you’re resting. Watch a movie, take a nap. Relax. You’ll come back feeling stronger and will build muscle faster.

4. Eat Enough to Build Muscle

You have to eat a surplus of calories to build muscle. There’s no way around it, unless you’re pumping yourself full of anabolic steroids.

Eat more. Get enough protein. Studies show 0.7 grams per pound of body weight of protein is adequate for most people.

Don’t lift like a beast then eat like a squirrel. Your body won’t build muscle that way, and you’ll be wasting a lot of effort.


I hope you actually put this workout to the test. I’d be excited to hear how it went. Let me know in the comments, or by email at

Here are a couple other articles you might find helpful:

As always, I hope this article helped you get a little closer to that best version of YOU!

Mike (Supastrong)
Mike (Supastrong)

Bioforce Certified Conditioning Coach and personal trainer. I’ve run boot camps and served as the wellness coordinator for a fortune 500 company. Currently a Federal Agent in San Diego, CA, and an Infantryman in the Army Reserve.