What is the Best Workout System?

Let me just start by saying that I don’t believe in magic training programs.

You’ve come here looking for the best workout system, but instead I am going to give you something better. I am going to provide you with a set or rules that will help you maximize gains, regardless of the training style used.

This might sound too good to be true, or like a sales pitch. It isn’t. Hear me out.

Let’s start at square one: Internet forum debates. How many times have you heard the following questions asked?

  • What is the better choice: Starting Strength or Wendler’s 531?
  • Which is better for gains: a fullbody workout or a muscle building split?
  • Arnold Schwarzenegger’s volume training vs. Mike Mentzer’s Heavy Duty: which one of these is the better choice?
  • Which rep range is best for muscle growth?

On any given day these debates can get heated. Real heated. Arguments will be given on both sides, usually reasonable. Perhaps you’ve even been persuaded by one of the arguments.

There was a time where I engaged in these debates. Just like everyone else, I wanted to unlock a magic training system. I knew if I read enough, became familiar with the studies and research, and analyzed the workout systems designed by top trainers that the truth would fall into my hands.

It did, but not in the form you would have expected.

Workouts: We Are Asking The Wrong Questions

Ever heard someone say there is an elephant in the room?

This metaphor means that there is an obvious, but ignored truth that isn’t being mentioned. Well I am going to mention this ignored truth now.

Everything works.

Yes, everything works. I’ve seen volume training work and I’ve seen high intensity training work. I’ve seen 5 rep sets build muscle, and I’ve seen 12-15 rep sets build muscle. I’ve seen Starting Strength work, Stronglifts work, Wendler’s work, Doggcrapp work and even bro splits work.

Despite being completely unique, each of these programs work. They can build muscle and they can build strength.

I work in the lifting industry. Over the years I have had the pleasure of chronicling hundreds of transformation stories. Despite what you would think, most of these individuals weren’t using one of the “big name” workout systems. They made amazing transformations using workouts and splits that they devised based on their own research.

The crazy part? Most of these workouts – on paper – looked like a hot mess.

People would find aspects of training that appealed to them. Some of them would adopt rest-pause methods, some drop sets, some high volume, etc. Workouts would be pieced together that often lacked balance, moderation or principles we consider to be “common knowledge.”

Examples include:

  • Doing way too much chest, biceps and ab work
  • Underworking the back and shoulders
  • Ignoring squats and deadlifts (How dare they!)
  • Training one body part multiple times per week, while others only once

I could go on and on with this list, but I think you get the picture. A huge number of lifters are thriving despite using inefficient programs.

Am I saying that having an efficient program isn’t important? No. What I am saying is that we are asking the wrong questions.

Let’s start with what I consider to be the single most important question in the lifting realm…why does everything work?

The Big Question: Why Does Everything Work?

Everything works because there are a set of rules that, if followed, help you build muscle and strength regardless of the workout used. Even if it’s an inefficient workout.

What are these rules? I call them the Massive Iron 6 Pillars of Success. Here they are.

  • You must remain consistent.
  • You must get stronger.
  • You must use the best tools.
  • You must eat according to your goals.
  • You must be patient.
  • You must evolve your training and diet based on (your) needs.

I will end with this though: if you remain consistent, get a lot stronger than you are now using a decent amount of potent exercises, eat enough food so you can build muscle, remain patient and evolve your training based on body feedback – you will build muscle and strength. Even if your workout is lacking.

Imagine the improvements you might see if you start improving your training efficiency.

Steve Shaw
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