What I Learned Since Quitting

A few years ago I decided I’d had enough of the world of strength training.

I’d spend nearly 20 years talking about it and investigating ways to use good reasoning, math and physics to try to make sense of what worked well and what did not work well in terms of gaining strength and muscle mass.

I suppose I got a little burned out. So I left.

But after a couple of years with no day to day involvement, I began to miss it a little. Then I got thinking about all the things that could still be investigated and my curiosity got the best of me. There was still so much that could be examined and discovered. So I rolled up my sleeves (again) and dived back in.

1. Timed Sets Generate Your Highest Output

Once you understand the role of high intensity in building muscle, you start wondering what techniques generate more intensity than others.

I’ve always been amazed that with all the thousands of trainers who talk about ‘high intensity’ virtually none of them has a measurement of it that they use when lifting. (???)

What’s equally amazing is never knowing whether, say, strip sets or pyramid sets generate more intensity. Because if you did know, would you ever use the inferior, lower intensity method?

Anyway, we testing the common variations and discovered that timed sets cause trainees to generate their highest output per unit of time.

The free report is here:


2. A Way to Guarantee Strength, Mass & Size Gains

It’s a tricky business to get steady progress in the gym. A big part of the reason is because a person has to be recovered before new muscle will grow. Ignore that and you’ll just dig a metabolic hole, get very tired, and stop making progress no matter how often you train.

Keeping track of the objective intensity of each exercise, plus personal recovery, plus training frequency can be very complex. To add to this, while things like adding a second set will double workout volume, it will not double the needed recovery. The relationship between volume and recovery is not linear.

On top of that, adding more weight is disproportionately more demanding than adding more reps. Two reps with 200 lbs is not the same as one rep with 400 lbs. That’s another non-linear relationship.

One of the first things I did when I came back was to create the Engineered Strength Gym to keep track of all the above and a bit more. I don’t talk about it the way I should. To be honest, it’s probably the best thing I’ve ever come up with. Especially for evaluating the complexity of a Power Factor workout. It’s basically guaranteed strength, mass gains. Plain and simple.

Engineered Strength Gym

3. A Mass Gain Study

But there is something very fascinating that I’ve recently come to realize.

We started an informal Mass Gain Study where volunteer trainees did very specific workouts so we could measure their results.

We discovered a lot of really interesting things. And it’s made me realize that – as our own little community of people interested in rational strength training – we can examine anything we want. Together.

I don’t want to go all philosophical on you, but personal freedom is a hugely important theme with me. So whenever I discover an aspect of personal freedom that I can enjoy, it really resonates with me. And I’ve realized that you and I and everyone else on my mailing list and in this little marketplace can explore anything we want as it relates to strength training.

How cool is that?


4. Crowdsourcing New Data

Recently some of us have been chatting about how LITTLE exercise it might take to trigger systemic muscle growth. That’s a good question. So we put together a quick and easy way to test that in ten workouts.

We’re running a really valuable informal study to discover the effects of minimal exercise using maximal effort as it relates to strength, mass and size gains.

I call it the Power Factor Minimalism Study and it would be great if you could participate and contribute the data from your experience.


This is a form of crowdsourcing stuff we are all interested in. And I think it’s a very positive new application of technology and social media. There is so much knowledge to discover. And keeping a curious mind is a good way to stay young. That’s another thing I think about as I approach 60. Ha!

So please take a look at what we’re doing to examine the question of how little exercise can still achieve a goal. This is very valuable information for those of us who have busy, enriching lives outside the gym and don’t care to waste precious time doing more than what is necessary to maintain good health.

If any of that resonates with you, I hope you’ll want to participate.

Thanks for your continued interest in rational strength training.



Allow Me To Explain

rp_Engineered-Strength-Gym-Logo-300x292.pngFollowing our recent survey, we received tons of really useful feedback from customers. Many thanks to those who took the time to contribute.

One of the things that became clear from the survey was that many people have questions about the ENGINEERED STRENGTH GYM.

I would like to answer the most common issues that were raised.

1. Isn’t the ENGINEERED STRENGTH GYM (ESG) really just some kind of online logbook for trainees?
No, that would be worth pretty close to zero. 

The critical issue in strength training is that every individual responds to a certain amount of exercise in a different way. The benefit one person gets from 15 reps with 100 lbs is not the same as the person training next to him. The weight and reps scheme that stimulates new muscle growth for one person could be useless or impossible for another. The trick is to find out what weight and rep combination squeezes the maximum power out of YOU on every exercise. 

And whatever that perfect weight and rep combo is, it is never the same twice. It’s a constantly moving target. Finding that new bullseye for every exercise on every workout requires a lot of knowledge and calculation.

The next issue is knowing the correct amount of recovery time after a workout. Again, while three days might be enough for one person, nine days might be required for another. And, just like the moving target of optimum intensity per exercise, the amount of rest every person requires is also a moving target as he gets stronger and lifts more tonnage per workout.

Discovering and tracking the proper recovery for YOU as you make progress and lift heavier weights requires a lot of knowledge and calculation.

Doing all of the above is lightyears from just keeping a log book. And it’s why we can guarantee you will make progress every workout for as long as you are a member of the ESG.

2. The price seems high for something that’s fully automated and just crunches numbers.
It’s not fully automated. In fact, it’s barely automated. I personally review every workout you do and I look at your comments and take them into account. If your deadlift went south but you mention your grip slipped or you lost balance of the bar, that is taken into account with your numbers because it’s different than muscle fatigue or exhaustion. Likewise, if you report running a 10K race the day before your workout or getting a cold. 

The ESG is highly individualized and requires my attention to every workout you do. I (obviously) have limited bandwidth for that and can only accommodate a discrete number of members.

3. Your training advocates the use of strong range partial reps. Why can’t I do a conventional, full range workout using the ESG?
You can. You simply need to let me know you are doing your exercises using a full range of motion. The algorithms are adjusted to account for this and you proceed from there at your own pace. It’s completely seamless and all the reports you receive are adjusted accordingly.

4. You also advocate infrequent training. I like to workout as often as possible, can I do that using the ESG?
There is a spectrum of recovery for everyone. For example, after a given workout a person could return to the gym and successfully hit his goals after only 72 hours of rest. But that same person could also wait 15 days before returning to the gym and also successfully hit his goals.

It’s up to you how frequently you train within your demonstrated range of recovery. However, the ESG algorithms never deliberately send you back to the gym early just so you can perform a useless, failed workout that does not stimulate any new muscle growth. Blind, pointless training can be done at zero financial cost by anyone.

Productive, rational, muscle-building workouts must be done in accordance with the rhythm of your body and its demonstrated and known abilities, and that requires close observation and monitoring of your personal statistics in the gym. That’s what the ESG is all about.

5. I can’t or don’t want to do the exact exercises you recommend. Can I do the exercises I choose?
Yes. Strictly speaking, the algorithms don’t know or care what exercise you perform, only that you constantly improve on that exercise. So you can make any substitution you want or need to make. You can use the Customized Workout of six exercises chosen by you, or you can make up to ten substitutions on the full body A/B split routine. And you can do it with Static Contraction or Power Factor workouts and calculations.

6. I’m out of shape and can’t lift heavy right now. Is there any point in me being an ESG member?
Everyone starts at his or her existing level of ability. That might be a 300 lb bench press or it might be a 30 lb bench press. The system works with your demonstrated levels of strength and then engineers from that point. As long as your physician says it’s OK for you to lift weights you can use the ESG to make sure you make steady, predictable progress.

7. I have one of the original SCT machines. Can I use it with the ESG?
Yes. Several members are already using their machines very successfully with the ESG Static Contraction protocol.

8. What happens if I don’t make any progress using the ESG?
The ESG is set up as a ‘no commitment’ month-to-month membership. I guarantee you will make progress every month. If you don’t make progress one month you can just ask for a refund of that month and quit the program. Every month is a new test of my guarantee. We started operating in July of 2014 and so far nobody has tanked and/or requested a refund for a failed month.

The central point is that you are never at risk of paying for failure. (Just to be clear, you can’t, for example, be a member for 8 months with every month a success then fail on the 9th month and request a refund of all 9 months of membership.)

I know my business and I know that nobody else offers a guarantee like this of successful progress or your money back. No gym. No personal trainer. No fitness product. No nutritional supplement.

The numbers we use have objective meaning. They measure real power and strength. The numbers don’t lie. You will get stronger every month. I guarantee it.

ENGINEERED STRENGTH GYM is as highly personalized and individualized as possible. It creates new workout goals that are optimized to YOU and YOUR rate of progress and YOUR rate of recovery. It relentlessly tracks your progress and calculates adjustments in your training so you make constant progress up to the limits of your physical potential.

Try ESG for a month – with no commitment to continue – and see for yourself what it feels like to generate maximum power on every exercise you do and get measurably stronger from every single workout you do in 2015.