I’ve been a little obsessive over the recent weeks at watching some freakishly strong dudes talk and teach about the deadlift, squat, and bench press.
The reason is that I really like powerlifting, and I just want to expand my knowledge, and just lift more weight and do it better.
That’s my style of training, so I’ve got to learn more because I’ve got goals I want to hit.
But, if you’re not into powerlifting why even listen?
Listen because you’ll be able to build more muscle endurance, hypertrophy (size of the muscle), and eventually have more strength, so you can do the things you want to do, inside and outside of the gym, better.
As simple as that.
Where Does Building a Bigger Engine Come from?
Perhaps, the one person that has resonated with me the most through this obsession with lifting more weight, is none other than the great Eddy Coan
(He’s the gentleman who’s pictured above).
For those of you who don’t know, Ed Coan is often regarded as the greatest powerlifter of all time. He holds 71 different powerlfiting records, and is accredited with becoming the lightest person to pass the 2400 pound barrier in the squat, deadlift, and bench press. His best totals is a 1019lb squat (equipped), 901 pound deadlift, and a 584 pound bench press.
With those numbers, he’s bound to have tons of wisdom and knowledge, and that’s why I listened (and maybe also because he’s short like me, lol).
I watched his video series at Super Training Gym, with Mark Bell (click HERE to view his deadlift video), and he had so much wisdom that it was hard to retain just after one watch. I had to go over it again, and after I did, one of the top things that stuck with me the most, is him explaining, in order to lift more weight you have to “build a bigger engine.”
It seems like common sense, but I had to hear it for the light bulb to go off. That’s why I’m working on building a bigger engine.
So, “What is the engine?”.
The engine is your body, and, essentially, how much muscle mass it has.
For example, if you weigh 170 pounds and you gain 10 pounds of muscle to bump your weight up to 180, then you have more potential to lift more weight because you added more “horsepower” through the addition of muscle.
For me, I’m roughly 184, 185ish at the moment, and I’ve already gained about 5 pounds; I’d say almost completely muscle, in almost the past 2 months. The reason is because I’ve been programming better by following my own that I put together (available soon!), which includes a lot more volume. I’ve already hit 455 in the deadlift with just a belt, no chalk, and no wraps.
My goal is 500 and I’ll get there soon, in large part because of a “bigger engine.”
So, how do you do it?
How to Add More Muscle to Build a Bigger Engine
In order to add more muscle, you must incorporate more volume in your training, by focusing on hypertrophy training that promotes building muscle size and endurance. This way, you have greater muscle potential that can be used through your central nervous system (CNS) allowing you to lift more weight.
This, however, does not mean you stop lifting with intensity, focus, and proper posture and movement patterns, and all that good stuff.
What it does mean is that you train within your means at a weight range that is suitable to you where you can “build your engine.”
This is what my training has shifted toward in the past two months, or so, and I’ve definitely noticed gains in muscle size and increased endurance. I’ll do this for a little while longer then go back to lifting heavy sets of 5’s, triples, doubles, and singles, in order to peak.
This way, I will progress better to lift my goal of deadlifting 500 pounds, squatting 405, and benching 300 faster.
How to Program Training Volume
To program and incorporate training volume you must simply do more work.
This means lifting for higher reps for a given amount of sets.
Your intensity should not be too high, because you don’t want to over-stress your body and CNS, resulting in your body burning out too quickly, which will negatively affect your training for weeks to come (think snowball effect).
For instance, if your squat maximum is 300 pounds, then you should probably train around 200, and do no more than 5 sets at maximum, for 8 to 12 reps.
As mentioned, it’s important that you have that same intensity and focus like you were trying to hit a heavy triple, or even single, and move with the most perfect form you can, but just with lighter weight and more reps.
It’s as simple as that.
Given your focus is high, and you do all those things, you’ll be building muscle size and endurance in no time.
Of course, there’s variability in all of this. For example, you can go heavyish in the barbell bench press, and then get your volume with an assistant exercise like flat, decline, or incline dumbbell press.
The point, overall, is to increase your volume, so you build muscle, break plateaus, and hit new PRs.
Follow these guidelines to build a bigger engine:
- Increase overall volume, especially in your main lifts (squat, deadlift, bench press, and even their variations).
- Train volume within your means (nothing more than 70% of your 1RM) and lift perfect every time.
- Variability is acceptable, but avoid doing everything at once (strength, endurance, hypertrophy, aesthetics, etc.) or else you will burn out.
- Train volume in the 8 to 12 rep range for 3 to 6 total sets, at a given weight, or weight range.
- Your main lifts will have slightly fewer sets, typically no more than 4, 5 max, while your assistant exercises, or variations, like dumbbell bench press, goblet squat, bent over rows, etc., will have higher sets, in the 5-7 set range.
- Keep your intensity high and do everything the same, like you were lifting heavy ass weight.
- Keep stretching, doing mobility work, eating right, and all that good stuff.
Follow these guidelines, and you will be well on your way to building a bigger engine!
So, what are your thoughts about volume in training?
Let me know by leaving a comment down below, and, as always, thanks for stopping by and reading.
Until next time, be strong and be you!
(Photo Credit: Ed Coan)