10 Tips To Getting SWOLE (and staying athletic)

By on November 24, 2014

Winter time.

When you live in the midwest that means snow, bone chilling winds, and shorter, grey winter days.

This means there won’t be a ton of outdoor type activities going down here for a while nor any shirtless days out in the sun.

In addition, as I write this we got Thanksgiving coming up at the end of the week then Christmas right around corner…

So you know what that means…

Time to FEAST! 

With this time of year it’s typically best to turn the focus over to building up a little more mass and strength since there’s so much going on as far as eating goes.

Of course I’m always focusing on strength, but packing on the pounds is a bit easier when you know you’ll be increasing the calories a bit more due to the holidays.

Hey, why fight it?

Especially if some goals of yours are…

To get a bit bigger, stronger, all while staying athletic (and NOT turning into a muscle bound robot)

Because the last thing you want to do during the winter is to build up a ton of extra strength and muscle to only lose your overall athleticism. 

NO ONE wants that.

So with that being said, here’s a quick list of 10 of my go-to athletic muscle and strength building tips you can start using ASAP.

1) Train HEAVY baby! franco-deadlift

So, you wanna get stronger?

Well, you gotta lift heavy weight.

Seems pretty logical right?

It is but just make sure you’re PROGRESSIVELY lifting heavier weights overtime.

Your goal is to add more weight onto the bar each and every week if possible (aside from adding in planned deload weeks for recovery, ect).

But, while you focus on adding weight to the bar, you need to make sure you do it with solid form and technique.

Lifting heavy sh*t while doing it with sh*t form and technique isn’t going to get you anywhere good.

I’d rather have you lift something way lighter with pristine form than to have you lift something double the weight while almost
snapping your spine in the process.

Just think RISK vs. REWARD in the end and lift as HEAVY as you can handle.

Avoiding injury should always be at the top of your list which is why figured this needed to be said FIRST before I got into my other tips for you…

2) Do Strongman Training (if you’re not already)

In all honesty, there’s nothing better for helping the body grow and get stronger all at once than by simply picking up heavy sh*t and carrying it around.

Yes barbells, dumbbells, and kettlebells should remain as your main source of heavy lifting, BUT don’t neglect using other heavy tools such as sandbags, sleds, kegs, logs, farmer walk handles, and even large stones or rocks.

Of course some of this stuff is tough to get, but if there’s a will there’s a way right?

Homemade strongman equipment is what I always used when I first got started and adding in these odd object lifts changed the game for me.

This type of training builds real world, functional strength and quite simply will transform you from the inside out.

I typically like to use it at the end of my main sessions.

3) Focus on your “BIG 3” during the week

The Big 3:

Squats, Deadlifts, and Overhead Presses

If you’re wanting to get stronger and build more muscle, these are the key movements you need to be adding into your programming every single week if you’re not currently doing so.

Keep them the same for 3-4 weeks while you focus on progressively getting heavier OR attack it in a more conjugate type of set up by changing up the variations each week.

4) Crush The Push Ups, Dips, HSPU’s, Recline Rows, and Pull Ups 9c30292925ae806df23f352248541ce5

You want a jacked set of shoulders, chest, upper back, and lats??

These are your go-to bodyweight “fillers” that you can easily add in for more volume.

And of course, you don’t have to stick to just the normal ol’ variations…

If you’re advanced, throw on a weighted vest, use chains or bands for extra resistance to make the movements HARDER.

This will push your strength through the roof plus give you some great gains in muscle.

And if you compete in Crossfit, cranking the STRICT variations of these movements will help transfer over to when you use them within a metcon.

OR, simply throwing in a couple of submax sets with the kipping variations will help as well.

Bottom line is, you can NEVER get in enough gymnastics.

5) Do 30-Days Of Just Rings

Going off of my last point with doing more push ups, dips, rows, and pull ups…

If you really want to crank things up and you’re advanced enough to do so, crank out those movements with just rings.

Do this for 30 days and I guarantee you you’ll be way stronger.

When you go back to the “normal” variations, it’ll seem like child’s play.

I had one of my wrestlers do this last summer and his pull ups went from 15-16 on the bar to 25 after a freakin’ month of just ring pull ups!

6) All You Need Is 3-4 SOLID Training Sessions A Week

If you’re wanting to build more strength and get yourself bigger, RECOVERY is going to be the key element you need.

If you’re training 5, 6, or even 7 days a week, recovery will not be happening unless of course you’re some sort of freak OR you’re on PED’s.

Most athletes will make great progress with a max of 4 solid big strength sessions per week.

For “solid” workouts I mean workouts where you’re of course hitting a few of the BIG lifts, a bit of assistance stuff then a ton of volume with other filler movements.

Maybe even a short “finisher” or metcon at the end (which I’ll get to next)

Main thing to note is, MORE is NOT better. 


If you’re training 5, 6, or even 7 days a week and not seeing the gains in strength and muscle you want, it’s time to cut things back.

Don’t worry, it won’t kill you to take a few extra recovery days.

In fact, it’ll probably make you feel like a damn superhero 😉

7) Speaking About Metcons…

When someone comes to me who’s not seeing the results they want, it’s typically due to them being completely burned out from too  much HIIT or metcon work. stone-lifting

You don’t have to be crawling out of the gym on the verge of puking up a lung every single time.

Every once in a while yeah, but if you’re main goal is to add a bit of functional size and powerful strength, not so much.

If you are going to add in some conditioning, make it super short and keep it to 2 maybe even 3 days a week tops.

And when I say “short” I mean to keep your “finishers”, HIIT, or metcon work to 7-10 mins max.  

Anything more than that is going to cut into your overall progress.

Just know that if you’re goal is to pack on muscle and strength, you’re going to have to let your motor work take a bit of a rest
for a bit.

Don’t worry as you’ll build it all back fast especially after you get yourself stronger 😉

8) Train Hard – Recover HARDER

Soft tissue and extra mobility work are your best friends.

Rolling around on a lacrosse ball, PVC pipe, and doing 15-20 mins here and there of focused mobility work will pay dividends to your overall progress.

Too many who don’t know doing this type of “extra” work seems like a waste of time when really, this is some of the most CRITICAL stuff you could be doing.

Your body only becomes stronger and grows bigger when it recovered so the better you can assist in this process, the faster you’ll see gains.

9) Sets and Reps For Strength and Muscle

This is where a lot of athletes either drop the ball totally or over analyze things a bit too much.

To keep things simple, I like to work in the 2-6 rep range for muscle and strength for your MAIN lifts (think the Big 3).

For everything else, you can train in a higher rep ranges like your 6-10’s or if you’re hitting bodyweight, go submax reps to crank volume.

As far as sets go, it can really range up and down depending on where you’re at with your programming.

This can get tricky, but like I said, I want keep it as simple as possible for you so here’s some of my favorite rep schemes for strength and muscle:

The Classic 5 x 5

6 x 6

8 x 3

10 x 2

And another favorite of mine is the TOUGH 6 x 4 (these can get BRUTAL).

They all get BRUTAL when you use them right!

10) Don’t forget to move FAST! Screen-Shot-2013-09-05-at-8.06.50-AM

For the final tip I want to share, it’s with a critical component that ALL athletes need to focus in on when trying to build up more strength and muscle.

It’s to MOVE FAST.

Best way to move fast is to do a steady mix of the following:

Sprint, jump, and utilize power based lifts like different clean and snatch variations, and bodyweight plyo’s.

Pretty simple, but easily left out by athlete’s who don’t know any better.

If you didn’t know, now you know 😉

So, there you go.

Some tips you might have already been using (especially if you’ve been following me for a while now) and other maybe not.

Either way, put them to use.




PS – This next month within The Aggressive Strength Coaching Community I’m about to drop the December workout of the month which is…

Aggressive M.A.S.S. 1.0 (Muscle Athleticism, Strength, Speed)

All geared to get you more swole, stronger, and of course as powerful and athletic as all get up.

If you want in, I’ve got a SPECIAL INVITE going on right now that’ll give you a 30-Day trial inside The Aggressive Strength Army.

Check the details HERE

Train Aggressive

About Train Aggressive

Because the STRUGGLE is a part of natural growth and if getting yourself STRONGER in all areas of your life is what you want, then you must embrace the RESISTANCE. Bring that sh*t on because the TRUTH is, it’s a part of the thing we call LIFE and if you want to avoid it or deny it’s existence, then you’re just like the majority of people out there that want easy. Here at Train Aggressive we don’t ask for easy. If you truly want it, then you’ve got to EARN IT!

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