The STRENGTH BODYBUILDING Series (Part 1): Introduction and Preparation

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The following will be a multi-part publication of the STRENGTH BODYBUILDING course. This first section will cover the Table of Contents, Introduction, Preparation, Cardio & Equipment Needed.

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• Preparations prior to using this course
• Before proceeding
• Cardiovascular/aerobic fitness
• Equipment needed
• Terminology

• Your current caloric maintenance level (preferably broken down in detail)
• Your level of energy expenditure
• Your body mass index (lean to fat ratio)
• Supplement use

• Warm up/Preparation & Stretches
• List of Various Exercises

Beginner Routine
• Week 1 – Testing
• Week 2 – Increasing Stability & Volume
• Week 3 – Introducing Auxiliary Work
• Week 4 – Emphasis on Strength
• Week 5 – Rest

• Test Period – Not applicable if you are familiar with your weight and rep limits
• Weeks 1 & 5 – Initial Training Week
• Weeks 2 & 6- Auxiliary Work Week
• Weeks 3 & 7- Max Strength Week
• Weeks 4 & 8- Layoff (Rest) Week

Expanding on this course
Special considerations
Bonus- Shock Routine- Add Up To 1⁄2 Inch+ To Your Arms With One Day’s Training!

My name is AJ Alfaro, and I have been involved in health and fitness for over 25 years (as of this writing). I’ve written numerous manuals on the subject of various health related topics and one such manual at was geared towards a “complete” overview of natural bodybuilding.

My interest in writing this particular manual on Strength and Bodybuilding is due to my own experiences early in my training history when I was most interested in packing on mass and strength without the use of anabolic aids. That particular phase of my life was one of the most enjoyable — a time when training was new to me and where most of my gains were due to findings based on trial and error as well as experimentation with the various methods available from the literature of that time.

It was during a summer in the late 1980s when I had various epiphanies concerning training that helped shape the rest of my weight lifting endeavors. During one particular summer, I managed to pack on 20 pounds while training for a little more than half of it. One of the realizations that came to me was the importance of rest in the growth process. Early in the summer, I had injured myself to the extent where I was unable to train for several weeks.

Those were days where training was one of the biggest things in my life so I was devastated at being unable to lift. What interested me and what made a huge difference in my training thereafter was the effect that this enforced rest had: a much added size as well as strength. Getting back into training after that injury, I would check and recheck the loaded barbells to ensure that I was putting on the right amount of weight because it felt too light!

Before that, I had foolishly attempted to copy routines from the “pros” like training up to six days a week and doing multiple exercises and numerous sets per body part. In those days (and even more now), it was common to compare one routine to the next to see how “hardcore” each one was.

Some of my best memories are of that summer. My friends and I would do our best to get together on Saturdays to train and we’d prepare all sorts of cheap but calorie heavy foods like ramen, chicken thighs (the kind that came in a 10lb bag), ice cream and protein milk shakes, and other concoctions. I also worked at a popular steak house that summer so work days gave me ample opportunity for bringing home steaks, shrimp, pasta, fresh fruits and veggies, and even different types of high calorie beverages and desserts. I estimate consuming better than 6000 calories per day during those times!

“Bench days” were the most fun, and we would do our best to beat our previous attempts each session.This brings to mind the other epiphany that I mentioned. I had been “stuck” benching 235 x5 for a couple of sessions. What was strange is that I didn’t have problems with any weight before that. The thing that was different was my mindset. I was so psyched out about the weight being lifted, that I would unrack the weight and hold it there for several seconds before I lifted. One of my friends observed this, and made the comment that I should just start repping immediately after unracking the weight. I did, and was easily able to get all 5 reps per set!

The points above are that I learned most of what I learned through trial and error, with a good measure of instinct thrown in. It served me quite well, and my results were prominent enough that many of my schoolmates thought I was on steroids at the time. Though I was in my mid-teens, it should be noted that I lived in Miami at the time and that city, back then, was quite a center for bodybuilding as well as rampant steroid use.

My goal with this manual is to share what I learned back then and in subsequent years with you so that you can avoid many of the errors that I made and make your size and strength gains safely and quickly!

Preparations prior to using this course

Before proceeding

The function of this particular course is to help you maximize both your muscle size and strength.

It’s actually quite possible to add strength without gaining much in the way of size. Many different athletes involved in sports requiring size limits due to weight classes are familiar with this type of need.  The reverse is also true to some effect: it is possible to add muscle size without increasing strength to a great degree, although some strength is almost always added merely due to a larger muscle being able to impart more “hydrodynamic” force. There are particular bodybuilding routines that accomplish the goal of adding large amounts of mass without doing nearly as much to strengthen the ligaments, fascia, tendons, and bones to an equal degree, not to mention other aspects like “nervous” conditioning. I’ll go more into this in the “Special Considerations” and “FAQs” section of this course.

This course is meant for the intermediate to advanced trainee, but if you’re new to training the beginner’s course will bring you up to speed.

It’s assumed that prior to your using any of the training techniques in this manual, you have been cleared to train by your doctor and have no pre-existing conditions that could be aggravated by intense training or by consuming a high calorie diet.

Cardiovascular/Aerobic Fitness

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While this manual is meant for gaining size and strength, some mention should be made of the benefits of having at least a decent level of cardiovascular fitness and aerobic capacity. Many bulk weight training courses eschew the idea of doing any type of extraneous exercise especially anything in the realm of “fat burning” movements. However, having good “cardio” should not be limited to mere fat burning efforts. It is NOT unusual to see trainees gain a lot of weight during a bulk cycle while doing away with anything cardio-related in an effort to speed gains. You may note these trainees often having greatly increased difficulties doing things that they used to do with ease that required even moderate levels of cardiovascular endurance.

Having a high degree of fitness in this area before starting a course like this will ensure that you are able to train harder and recover more quickly from your workouts. It’ll also ensure that you stay heart-healthy throughout the course of this regimen. I also speak for having experienced this myself in the past so I know what I’m taking about here.

A distinction should be made between “fat burning” and “cardio” training. Fat burning can be considered a step under the requirements for cardio training, as the objective with cardio is to improve the strength of the heart and the resting heart rate, whereas the objective of fat burning activities is to raise the metabolism and burn calories. The former requires a minimum threshold for qualification being 60% of the maximum heart rate (220 minus your age). There are clear exceptions to this rule especially if your ability to perform any cardio training is poor. If you cannot maintain a minimum of 60% MHR activity for at least 20 minutes, it might be best if you train to be able to do so before taking on this or any other type of weight training regimen. This is due to health reasons in addition to the other reasons outlined in the previous paragraphs.

Performing some form of cardio training at a moderate level 2-3 times a week should help you maintain your heart in a healthy condition. Merely ensuring that you do not get too sedentary during this period will also help somewhat, and it will ensure that you are able to manage any new additions to your body weight without causing additional strain to your cardiovascular system.

Equipment needed

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This routine is best performed in at least a small gym setting, though a large gym may offer more opportunities for variety. It may be possible to substitute some of the exercises listed in this course with calisthenic alternatives or with exotic, creative variants; but to keep this manual from going off in a tangent, it’ll focus on basic free weight movements.

What you’ll need in terms of training equipment:
Bench (preferably adjustable, but not vital)
Power rack (preferred), squat rack, or adjustable racks

Nonessential but good to have equipment if you have access to it:
Pulley set up
Seated calf raise machine
Dip bars
Chin up bar

Definitely good to have, and very relevant to the purpose of this type of training:
Sturdy weightlifting belt
Knee and elbow wraps
Floor padding
Fat calipers
Measuring tape
Food scale
Notebook for recording diet and training
Thermos and small cooler for your meals
Fractional plates – you can purchase washers with internal diameters that correlate to whatever type of barbell or dumbbell you plan to work with. Using these devices allows you to make tiny increments when you feel that you can make small but definite increases.

In the next edition of STRENGTH BODYBUILDING, we’ll go over Terminology, Diet & Pre-training details.


  1. As a Poliquin and Chek qualified Coach and educator im happy to see this article here. Good write up, not a criticism, I appreciated the difficulties writing short pieces but i must mention that belts and wraps are not to be used until a person is lifting heavy, heavy is relative so lets say double your bodyweight in the deadlift and 1 1/4 in the pull up, by that stage their core and grip is fully developed. Belts create weakness in the core and back which is the most common injury in the gym and wraps weaken hands. Hands need to be as strong as possible in every movement due to nerve recruitment. Your body can only recruit so many nerve units so make them fire in the target muscle, not on your wrist forearms and fingers. Yes you can move more and puts more focus on the target muscle but this is for beginners. On that note readers who cares what that guy is lifting, focus on your form and progression. Follow what this gentleman says. Other than that on this piece, move your pull up bar to your “must have” section and this is golden.

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