Phase 2 of the P.B.S. Model, the Build Phase, capitalizes on the groundwork done in the Primer phase and uses it as a launchpad to see radical changes in your physique.

Before you keep reading, check out part 1 of the P.B.S Model, the Primer Phase.

With firm foundations in place, it is time to build on them. You can now capitalize on the groundwork you have done in the Primer phase and use it as the launchpad into a productive Building phase. It is during the Build phase that you will see radical improvements in your physique. These changes are possible because of what you have done in the Primer phase.

Recommended: Need help building muscle? Take our Free Muscle Building Course

A Breakdown of The Build Phase

Intensity First Then Volume

Ask any veteran bodybuilder or gym bro how to train for muscle growth and they will probably say something along the lines of, “It’s all about intensity. You’ve got to train hard. Pick a weight where you hit failure in the 6-12 rep range and make every set count.” And they would be right but, there is more to it than that. 

Ask the same question of the typical evidence-based coach or sports science enthusiast and you’ll most likely hear something along the lines of, “Progressive overload is key. So is volume. It’s a key driver of hypertrophy. There is a dose-response relationship between volume and hypertrophy so, you need to do more over time.” They too would be correct. 

The key to your success is to avoid putting the cart before the horse and focusing on volume first. No amount of volume can make up for sloppy sets done with half-assed intensity. Before you can take advantage of increases in volume you must first ensure you train with optimal technique and sufficient effort. If you can do that and then incrementally increase the volume, you are on to a winning combo for muscle gain. The Build phase is set up to achieve exactly this combination to provide you with the best possible muscle-building stimulus.

Primed for Growth

After completing a Primer phase, you are in the best possible position to gain muscle. A key component of the Primer phase was to develop the 4Ss. 

  • Stability - the ability to resist force and maintain your position in space
  • Skill - the ability to execute a movement pattern/exercise to a high level of technical skill
  • Structural Balance - the optimal ratio of strength between different muscles/movement patterns
  • Strength Output - the ability to maintain perfect form and create high workloads/force production as fatigue increases

By targeting these capacities in a structured fashion, you have developed the stability, skill, structural balance, and strength to properly execute every rep of every set in the Build phase. You have also managed your injury risk. This makes your body more resilient to the demands of the brutally hard workouts required to force your body to grow. This means your training is more effective, you can handle more of it, and you are less likely to succumb to an injury that keeps you out of the gym. These are all vital elements to reaching your maximum muscular potential.

Related: How Much Muscle Can You Actually Gain?

Get the Most from the Least

A vital skill developed in the Primer phase which has immediate utility in the Build phase is that you have created the ability to get the most from the least. Making every set count. Every rep count. Now it is time to push the envelope and force the body to grow. 

The Build phase is broken down into four sub-phases. The programming structure of the building phase allows you to progressively overload via mechanical tension for the first three sub-phases (9-12 weeks). As the response to this stimulus begins to become muted and adaptive resistance rears its ugly head, the metabolic stress pathway is made the focus of your training for the final phase. 

In my experience, metabolic stress techniques are very effective but only for a short period of time. It appears they provide a novel muscle-building stimulus, but you adapt quickly to this. For that reason, I tend to keep this phase to 3 weeks.

Initially, you will use relative intensity (proximity to failure/effort) to drive gains in size. Then as the effectiveness begins to plateau, you have scope to use volume to progress and provide a further growth stimulus. It’s a case of holding tools back to use them when needed. Not just doing everything at once and then hitting a dead end. This is also why metabolic stress is reserved for a distinct and focused phase rather than being used constantly. The metabolic stress phase is also strategically placed following the phase using the rep ranges that cause the lowest metabolic stress. Consequently, it creates the greatest contrast to what you have been doing and ignites additional growth.

To give you a complete understanding of the thought process behind this framework I will provide you with all the details. Then, I will provide specific examples of exactly how to structure workouts in each phase.

Why the Primer Phase Precedes the Build Phase

A recent study by Carvalho et al. (2020) has shown the benefits of a Primer phase in creating the potential for accelerated muscle gain. Their study showed increased hypertrophy when training volume was cycled. They had a 3-week pre-study hypertrophy protocol then, split participants into two groups. One group did 8 weeks straight high-volume hypertrophy training. The other group did a 3-week strength phase followed by 5 weeks of high-volume hypertrophy training. In essence that means one group did an 11-week constant high-volume hypertrophy protocol (3 weeks pre-study and then 8 weeks within study). While the other group cycled volume 3 weeks high, 3 weeks low, 5 weeks high. The volume cycling group saw significantly more muscle growth compared to the constant hypertrophy protocol. The P.B.S. model allows you to apply this to your own training.

Having analyzed the study, I believe there are two potential explanations for these results. The first is the beneficial effects of gaining strength and skill on key movement patterns that then create the potential for superior training quality and loading in the subsequent hypertrophy phase. The second potential explanation is that a period of low volume then a large increase in training volume is beneficial for hypertrophy. If I had to guess, I’d say both factors contributed. The great news is the P.B.S. framework ties in with both factors.

In my opinion, a Primer is better than just a low volume phase. It doesn’t simply manipulate volume, but strategically targets weak links and develops the skill required to optimize the Build phase. By sensibly manipulating volume through the Build phase you can then continue to build on the foundations the Primer gave you and keep driving volume up in the short to medium term (9-12 weeks). Your volume drops slightly from Primer to the first Build sub-phase, before steadily climbing. Then, when increases in volume begin to lose their effectiveness, transition to a metabolic stress-focused phase to keep gaining muscle. 

Ramping training volume up to achieve planned functional overreaching and then backing off is a very powerful strategy. It provides a great physiological stimulus but, potentially, more importantly, it allows for extreme focus, motivation, enjoyment, and sustainability. All this makes volume cycling an extremely powerful practical tool. This delivers results and will help to avoid plateaus and burnout. That’s why it is central to the P.B.S. model. 

I’m getting ahead of myself though. Allow me to bring all the loose threads together and then map out exactly how you can design your own Build phase.

Related: Two Types of Hypertrophy for Maximum Muscle Growth

Woman doing dumbbell squat snatch in CrossFit-style gym.

What Makes Muscle Grow?

Unlike strength or power, hypertrophy is not a specific performance adaptation, but a structural change in response to a stimulus. There are various mechanisms that can elicit a growth stimulus. This is why so many different methods can cause muscle gain. To take advantage of this and maximize your muscularity you want to provide a varied stimulus that exploits all the mechanisms for growth.

Modern scientific research adds some more detail to our hypertrophy training knowledge base. Our current understanding of training for size can be boiled down to the following key elements:

  • You can build muscle using loads anywhere between 3-30 reps
  • The 6-20 rep range is probably the most efficient rep bracket to focus your efforts
  • Your sets must be challenging – anything from 4 reps in reserve (RIR) to training to failure seems effective
  • Some level of variety is needed in your training over time to overcome adaptive resistance
  • Training a muscle 2-3 times a week tends to cause slightly superior size gains than once per week
  • Progressive overload is vital to create long-term increases in muscle mass (most people don’t understand how to apply progressive overload to create increases in size though)
  • Training volume has a dose-dependent relationship with hypertrophy

Using the guidelines works pretty well in providing a framework of how you structure your training. Taking these guidelines and implementing them into a well-planned program takes some thought, but can be done to optimize hypertrophy.

Hypertrophy and Muscle Growth

Three key mechanisms of hypertrophy have been identified. These are:

  1. Mechanical tension
  2. Muscle damage
  3. Metabolic stress

As more research has been conducted on these mechanisms and their relationship with hypertrophy, it appears that mechanical tension is the most important. Metabolic stress appears to play an additive role but to a much lesser degree. Muscle damage, meanwhile, appears to be more of a secondary mechanism of hypertrophy. By that I mean, it is more a consequence of training strategies that achieve high degrees of mechanical tension and metabolic stress that then contributes somewhat to muscle gain.

On that basis, it seems logical to structure your training in a way that prioritizes mechanical tension. Incorporating some metabolic stress style training will enhance your results. Specifically targeting muscle damage, however, seems less important. Instead, just realize that by working sufficiently hard training the other two mechanisms you will by default cause some muscle damage.

Related: Smart Training: Don't Break Your Body Trying to Build It

Training Volume

In addition to the three mechanisms of hypertrophy, research has identified training volume as a key variable that contributes to hypertrophy. Training volume is a metric of your overall workload. It can be measured as volume load (sets X reps X load) or simply the number of hard sets you do.

A review by Baz-Valle and colleagues (2018) concluded “the total number of sets to failure, or near to, seems to be an adequate method to quantify training volume.” In fact, it is arguable that the number of hard sets is actually a more useful metric of effective volume for hypertrophy than volume load. I don’t want to leave anything to chance though so the Build phase aims to achieve both an increase in hard sets and volume load to guarantee optimal mass gain.

Does More Volume = More Muscle?

The scientific literature indicates that training volume has a dose-response relationship with muscle gain. That is to say that, the more training volume you do (without exceeding your capacity to recover) the better your results.

Progressing from your newbie gains levels of size and strength to building noticeably more muscle mass often requires a substantial increase in set volume. The problem is, many people rush their volume progressions and run out of runway to utilize volume as a means of progression. Once you’re doing 30 sets per body part per week you don’t leave yourself with much room for maneuver! 

Given the body adapts to the stimulus placed upon it, becoming a volume junkie often means developing the work capacity to handle high volumes without gaining additional muscle mass than lower volumes would have yielded. Essentially, you just got better at tolerating more training instead of getting better results because you are doing more training. At this point, your training has literally become an exercise in generating fatigue. 

Varying your volume over time is massively beneficial and why periods of deliberately lower volume (e.g., the third and final phase of the P.B.S. model) are so effective. Lower volume training helps you to “re-sensitize” or “refresh” yourself to the stimulus of high volumes and means you get a greater response when you return to them. This is why Bryan Haycock used to call “strategic deconditioning”. You can maintain the muscle easily while dropping your fatigue levels the come back refreshed and in a position to make rapid progress.

Scientific evidence suggests that really high volumes are beneficial for muscle growth in short-term studies. However, what works for eight weeks may not be advisable over the long term. That is why the Build phase aims to escalate training volume for a window of 12-15 weeks. In my experience, this is about as long as you can do it before results begin to decline.

Rate of Increase in Training Volume

The rate of increase in training volume is an important consideration. Don’t make the mistake I made when the research started identifying more volume with more muscle. I took the more is a better approach and ran with it. Aggressively jumping my training volume up on a weekly basis. This worked great for a few weeks, but at about the 6-week mark I felt like I’d been hit by a truck and my training performance plummeted. So, my cautionary tale is this, strive to increase volume over time, but be patient, do it strategically, and only when it’s needed.

To support this advice, we now have research that shows quickly increasing sets on a weekly basis can coincide with a reduced rate of hypertrophy. A study by Haun and colleagues increased sets by two, every week from 10 to 32 sets. They discovered that muscle growth slowed as sets continued to increase to a very high number. It’s not possible to state categorically that the set increases caused this reduction, but they certainly didn’t prevent it. It seems that rapid increases in training volume can exceed your ability to recover and hinder your hypertrophy progress. 

Further insight into an appropriate approach to increasing volume is provided by another recent study. In the study, they had two groups. One was arbitrarily assigned to 22 sets per week for a muscle. While the other group had their habitual volume increased by 20%. The 20% increase group saw more muscle growth despite the overall volume between groups being similar. This suggests that when increasing sets, it should be a relative increase from where you were. As such, an incremental step-wise increase in volume is utilized throughout the Build phase.

Related: Overtraining - Why Less is More

Practical Applications in Training Volume

While I provide a framework for progressing volume in the Build phase, it is important to consider your current training volume when incorporating them. If my suggestions are wildly higher or lower than your existing training volumes it might be wise to modify them slightly to fall more closely in line with what you have become used to.

From a practical perspective, you want to set a reasonable starting volume which you think will be ideal for hypertrophy (I believe what I have offered will apply to most people), based on your current training. Then, gradually adjust volume upwards over time to provide a volume that continues to ensure you do what is ideal for hypertrophy as your capacity to tolerate, recover, and thrive off more volume climbs. Your ideal training volume is not a static number. It will change as you become more experienced but is also affected by thing such as stress, sleep, and diet.

If you are uncertain, then I suggest you go with my recommendations which fall within the existing published data of about 8- 12 hard sets per muscle group per week.

At this stage, it is clear that for effective long-term gains in muscle mass you need to do the following:

  • Focus on training methods that create high degrees of mechanical tension
  • Push sets relatively close to failure (e.g. less than 4RIR)
  • Aim for progressive tension overload
  • Utilize metabolic stress techniques when tension dominant methods begin to diminish in effectiveness
  • Gradually increase training volume over time
  • Strategically cycle volume over the course of a year 

Man doing ez-bar preacher curls in gym.

Change Reps Not Exercises

In the build phase, I like to sequence phases of different rep pages as we don’t want to change exercises too often because that creates the illusion of progress. Changing rep ranges allows for a new stimulus but without the technique and neural adaptations being the primary driver or perceived improvements.

Switching exercises often is tempting and creates the illusion of progress. The reason is that there is a skill component to all exercises. Where skill is involved many of the initial improved performance comes from increased efficiency. This is widely reported in the scientific literature. 

Most of the strength gains you see early on in a new program or when using a new exercise are neurological. Essentially, your body becomes more efficient at the exercise. This is cool and makes us all feel good in the short term. Who doesn’t like seeing rapid increases in performance? The problem is that this rapid improvement is relatively short-lived. Once the improved technique and skill are developed, the performance curve flattens dramatically. 

Given what we care about here is building bigger muscles not seeing false positives in performance, created by improved skill on a lift, it is a self-defeating approach to switch exercises too frequently. A far better strategy is to keep exercises in your program for longer and adjust rep ranges. The neural adaptations to new rep ranges are far less significant compared to entirely new motor patterns. This means you can utilize reps as a means to offer variety and provide a novel stimulus without tricking yourself into thinking you’re making progress.

To do this in the Build phase, I like to use the following rep ranges:

  • Phase 1 - 15
  • Phase 2 - 10
  • Phase 3 - 6
  • Phase 4 - Metabolic Stress Techniques

This linear approach to rep ranges allows you to use progressively heavier loads. This has an important psychological effect. It helps build your confidence and belief in your progress when you can consistently use heavier loads. Linear loading schemes also make sense from a practical perspective. It is much easier to gauge what weight you should be used when transitioning from a phase of 15 reps down to 10 reps. It makes finding the correct load to begin each new phase almost idiot-proof.

Given hypertrophy isn’t actually performance adaptation like strength, speed, or power, but a structural change brought about by various training stimuli it can be hard to “know” you are gaining muscle. The fact muscle gain is much slower than fat loss makes being confident on a day-to-day basis you’re gaining muscle mass doubly hard. Performing the same exercises in a linear fashion allows you to monitor performance. If performance across sets on an exercise you are proficient in improves it’s an excellent indicator you’re building muscle.

Related: Progression 101: 8 Ways To Keep Making Consistent Gains

Indicate, Signal, Maneuver…Towards More Muscle

I think your progress on your lifts is such a good indicator of performance. I suggest you keep a few fundamental exercises in your program throughout the whole Build phase. Obviously, we want to see progress on all the lifts in your program, but some exercises don’t lend themselves to adding weight or increasing reps quite so easily as others. For example, single-joint lifts for small muscle groups are unlikely to see the same rate of progress as multi-muscle, multi-joint lifts. Your lateral raise probably won’t improve as quickly or obviously as your squat. For that reason, I suggest you select some “indicator lifts” to form the foundation of your Build phase workouts.

I’m a big fan of indicator lifts. An indicator lift is a big, compound movement that you track your performance on over a number of months. If your performance on this lift is steadily improving then it is a great sign that your program, as a whole, is working.

Your indicator lifts should be an exercise you are competent with, have goof form on, can execute with intent, doesn’t cause you injury, allows you to steadily add weight to the bar, and suits your leverages.

I suggest you pick four. A quad-dominant one, a hamstring dominant one, an upper-body push, and a pull. Now, many of you might gravitate towards the big 3 lifts (squat, bench, and deadlift) for the first three. That’s fine, but you don’t have to be tied to these lifts. You could instead choose heel elevated squats, incline bench, and Romanian deadlifts (or any other variants of these basic movement patterns). Personally, these rank very highly for me.

As for an upper-body pulling exercise, you could choose a chin up or pull up, bent over row, or a DB row variation. One is not inherently better than the other. Pick the one which suits you best and you have scope to progress on. Also, consider your current back development. Need more width? Then maybe wide grip neutral pull-ups are a good choice. Need more thickness? Then a row is more likely a better choice.

I like to program indicator lifts for performance so I tend not to use really high-reps. Their multi-joint, multi-muscle nature means fatigue accumulates quickly on the typical indicator lifts. This means that technique can get sloppy, tension shifts off the target muscle, and injury risk increases. To avoid this, I usually program them a rep bracket below the rest of the workout. This means quality is high on your indicator lift and a good muscle-building stimulus occurs. As a bonus, it also helps to prepare you for the next phase in the plan because you have performed sets of your indicator lift for the rep range that then is the central focus of the next phase. For example, doing bench presses for sets of 10 reps is your indicator in phase 1 when other exercises are done for sets of 15. When in phase two, you transition your other chest exercises to sets of 10. That transition will be smoother because of the work you’ve done in that rep range on the bench press.

Woman using leg press machine in gym.

Adjust Sets, Too

To increase training volume from phase to phase, I don’t solely rely on changes in reps. After all, if you do 3 sets of 15 reps you will accumulate more training volume than you do when performing 3 sets of 6 at an equivalent level of effort. (e.g. 3x15x100lbs = 4,500lbs 3x6x150lbs = 2,700lbs). 

To create the increase in volume load and facilitate a progressive tension overload I adjust the number of sets per exercise. This increase in sets has knock-on effects in the number of different exercises you use per session and your training frequency (I’ll cover both of those in a moment). Firstly, let me illustrate a simple set progression you can use to help create the progressive tension overload we want through the first three training blocks of a Build phase:

  • Phase 1 – 2x15
  • Phase 2 – 3x10
  • Phase 3 – 4x6

From a practical perspective, it is obvious that if you do more sets, then your workouts will last longer. Consequently, making some adjustments to how often you train and how many exercises you perform within a given workout is sensible to avoid training sessions turning into marathon events.

Generally, we start the Build phase with a wider pool of exercises and gradually narrow that down over time so that the training sessions don’t become too long. This also allows for you to utilize exercises that suit certain rep brackets and remove them when the rep range is sub-optimal. For example, seated cable flys, leg extensions, and lateral raises are all exercises that suit the 15-rep range well. They also are effective for sets of 10. Pushing these exercises hard for sets of 6, however, is not so productive. Thus, I tend to remove them from Phase 3 of the Build phase.

To illustrate how this works here is an example for back training (I tend to suggest a slightly higher overall volume for the back compared to other muscles because it is such a large and complex area made up of multiple muscles).  If you begin Phase 1 training back twice per week with four exercises per workout, you will be performing 16 sets for back per week (4x2 = 8 sets per workout, 8x2=16 sets per week). 

If you keep all of those exercises in and simply add a set for each phase as the reps come down this will become an excessive overall volume and will likely hinder your progress rather than improve it. By phase three, you would be doing 32 sets for back per week (4x4 = 16 sets per workout, 16x2 = 32 sets per week).

Instead of just adding junk volume we want more effective volume. This can be done by increasing sets on some exercises, keeping some static, and removing some exercises that become redundant at lower rep ranges. Taking the back training example, from earlier you might begin with 4 exercises in a workout the first time you train back. These exercises could, for example, be:

Phase 1

In phase one, you perform 2x15 for all exercises for a total of 8 sets. In phase two, the default set/rep scheme becomes 3x10. Rather than making all four exercises 3x10 you could just pick the first two, and leave the final two at two sets. On that basis, the Phase two progressions would be:

Phase 2

You are now performing 10 sets for back per workout instead of 8. Given you’re following an upper/lower split in this phase, that means you are performing 20 sets of back per week in phase two compared to the 16 sets in phase one.

Phase three is centered around 4x6 as the target rep scheme. At this stage, you could decide that straight arm pulldowns are not an ideal choice for heavy sets of 6. You can consolidate your exercise variety by removing them from your program. Removing them gives you scope to add sets to the other exercises without your overall volume escalating excessively. Phase three could then become:

Phase 3

You have ramped your per session set total up from 10 in phase two to 11 in phase three for a total of 22 sets per week. This rate of increase in volume is assertive enough to help contribute to gains, but not so dramatic that you’re likely to exceed your capacity to recover.

Increased Training Frequency for More Volume

To allow for the increased volume we increase the frequency so that you can distribute the higher workload across the week. For example, in phase 1, I generally start people with an upper/lower split. This tends to work extremely well in phase 2 too. In phase 3, an increased training frequency is often required to keep training quality high and to avoid sessions dragging on too long. In phase 4, I often push frequency even higher to milk every last ounce of muscle growth to conclude the Build phase. This is how that process generally plays out:

  • Phase 1 – 4 Days Per Week Using an Upper/Lower Split
  • Phase 2 – 4 Days Per Week Using an Upper/Lower Split
  • Phase 3 – 5 Days Per Week Using an Upper/Lower/Pull/Push/Legs Split
  • Phase 4 – 6 Days Per Week Using a Pull/Push/Legs Split

I often tell clients that the approach to Phase 4 of the Build phase is the equivalent of throwing the kitchen sink at muscle growth. At this stage, your body is quite resistant to further muscle growth. It has adapted significantly to the continued stimulus of increases in mechanical tension and volume you’ve been applying. To keep growing past this point you can’t just do more of the same. Instead, you need to capitalize on what you’ve done and empty the tanks before throttling back in the third and final phase of the P.B.S. framework (Solidification).

Maintaining Strength Gains

After the third sub-phase of the Build program, you should have developed some impressive numbers on your lifts. You will be used to handling a lot of weight for sets of 6 reps. This strength creates an extremely high digress of tension on a rep by rep basis. Despite the focus now being on metabolic stress training, you don’t want to lose what you’ve got. 

Maintaining your strength and retaining a bit of tension dominant training has proven extremely effective with all of my clients who have worked their way through the P.B.S. process. The best way to achieve this that I have found is to perform a top set of about 6 reps and a down set of 12 reps on the main lift of the day. This covers both ends of the traditional “hypertrophy rep range” and allows you to maintain this quality before focusing on the metabolic stress methods.

Metabolic Stress Techniques

There are an almost infinite amount of metabolic stress training protocols available. Your only real limitation is your imagination. The goal of metabolic stress training is to create a cell-swelling effect in the muscle and to increase the acidity of the cells. Essentially, you are training for the pump and burn associated with high-rep, short-rest protocols. Think about techniques like drop sets, super-sets, tri-sets, rest-pause, etc.

The one point to remember with this type of training is that the metabolic stress should be local, not global. By that I mean, the limiting factor should still be the target muscle. Some people see metabolic stress and think met-con. This is not what you want. This isn’t conditioning work. You shouldn’t be stopping sets because of a lack of cardio or overall fatigue, but because the muscle itself is completely fatigued. So be sure to pick protocols that create metabolic stress within the target muscle not an overall systemic level of fatigue.

Done properly, you should have a skin-splitting pump, your muscles should be burning like crazy, and your mind should be telling you to stop. Sounds fun, right?!

Ok, that’s the theory out of the way. It’s time to put the pieces together. Below I’ve outlined how a series of lower body sessions might progress across the four sub-phases. I have also outlined how the upper body could be progressed across these four phases. Please remember this is not the only way to do structure things. It is just an example, that should help you to put together a plan that is best suited to you.

Man doing kneeling cable chest press in gym.

Example Build Phase Workouts

Lower Body - Sub-Phase 1:

Exercise Sets Reps Rest
A1. Single Arm Suitcase Dumbbell Walking Lunge 2 8 each side -
A2. B-Stance Romanian Deadlift 2 8 each side -
A3. Paused Goblet Squats 2 8 -
Heel-Elevated Back Squat 2 8-10 (2-3 RIR) 120 sec
Romanian Deadlift 2 15 (2-3 RIR) 90 sec
Bulgarian Split Squats 2 15 each leg (1-2 RIR) 90 sec
Seated Leg Curls 2 15 (0-1 RIR) 90 sec
Leg Extension 2 15 (0-1 RIR) 90 sec
Seated Calf Raise 2 15 (0-1 RIR) 75 sec

Lower Body - Sub-Phase 2:

Exercise Sets Reps Rest
A1. Single Leg Romanian Deadlift 2 6 each leg -
A2. Paused Goblet Squats 2 8 -
Heel-Elevated Back Squat 3 6-8 (2-3 RIR) 120 sec
Romanian Deadlift 3 10 (2-3 RIR) 120 sec
Bulgarian Split Squats 3 10 each leg (1-2 RIR) 120 sec
Seated Leg Curls 3 10 (0-1 RIR) 90 sec
Leg Extension 2 10 (0-1 RIR) 90 sec
Seated Calf Raise 3 10 (0-1 RIR) 90 sec

Lower Body - Sub-Phase 3:

Exercise Sets Reps Rest
A1. Hip Airplanes 2 6 each side
A2. Paused Goblet Squats 2 8 -
Heel-Elevated Back Squat 4 4 (2 RIR) 120 sec
Romanian Deadlift 4 6 (2 RIR) 120 sec
Hack Squat 4 8 (1-2 RIR) 120 sec
Seated Leg Curl 4 6 (0-1 RIR) 120 sec
Standing Machine Calf Raise 4 8 (0-1 RIR) 90 sec

Lower Body - Sub-Phase 4:

Exercise Sets Reps Rest
A1. Hip Airplanes 2 6 each side -
A2. Paused Goblet Squats 2 8 -
B. Heel-Elevated Back Squat 2 6, 12 (2 RIR) 120 sec
C1. Lying Leg Curls 3 10 (0-1 RIR) -
C2. Romanian Deadlift 3 12 (2 RIR) 90 sec
D. One and a Quarter Hack Squat 3 10 (1-2 RIR) 120 sec
E. Seated Leg Curls 3 10 (0-1 RIR) 120 sec
F1. Leg Press 3 12 (0-1 RIR) -
F2. Leg Extension 3 15 (0 RIR) 120 sec
G1. Standing Machine Calf Raise 3 10 (0-1 RIR) -
G2. Seated Calf Raise 3 15 (0 RIR) 90 sec


  • One and a Quarter Hack Squat: 1 rep = all the way down, up a quarter, back down, up all the way
  • Seated Leg Curls: Drop weight by 15-20% and go to failure on each set

Upper Body - Sub-Phase 1:

Exercise Sets Reps Rest
A1. Foam Roll Thoracic Extension 2 30 sec -
A2. Lat Stretch 2 30 sec -
A3. Band Pull Apart 2 15 -
A4. Cable External Rotation 2 10 -
B1. Bench Press 2 8-10 (2-3 RIR) 90 sec
B2. Pull Ups 2 8-10 (1-2 RIR) 90 sec
C1. Incline Dumbbell Bench Press 2 15 (1-2 RIR) 90 sec
C2. Single Arm Dumbbell Row 2 15 each arm (1-2 RIR) 90 sec
D1. Seated Cable Flys 2 15 (0 RIR) 90 sec
D2. Lat Pulldown 2 15 (0-1 RIR) 90 sec
Straight Arm Pulldown 2 15 (0 RIR) 90 sec
Cable Lateral Raise 2 15 (0-1 RIR) 90 sec
E1. Rope Pressdown 2 15 (0-1 RIR) 60 sec
E2. Dumbbell Spider Curls 2 15 (0-1 RIR) 60 sec

Upper Body - Sub-Phase 2:

Exercise Sets Reps Rest
A1. Foam Roll Thoracic Extension 2 30 sec -
A2. Lat Stretch 2 30 sec -
A3. Face Pull with External Rotation 2 12 -
B1. Bench Press 3 6-8 (2-3 RIR) 90 sec
B2. Pull Ups 3 6-8 (1-2 RIR) 90 sec
C1. Incline Dumbbell Bench Press 3 10 (1-2 RIR) 90 sec
C2. Single Arm Dumbbell Row 3 10 (1-2 RIR) 90 sec
D1. Seated Cable Flys 2 10 (0 RIR) 90 sec
D2. Lat Pulldown 2 10 (0-1 RIR) 90 sec
Straight Arm Pulldown 2 10 (0 RIR) 90 sec
Cable Lateral Raise 3 10 (0-1 RIR) 90 sec
E1. Rope Pressdown 3 10 (0-1 RIR) 60 sec
E2. Dumbbell Spider Curls 3 10 (0-1 RIR) 60 sec

Upper Body - Sub-Phase 3:

Exercise Sets Reps Rest
A1. Foam Roll Thoracic Extension 2 30 sec -
A2. Face Pull with External Rotation & Overhead Press 2 10 -
B1. Bench Press 4 6 (2-3 RIR) 120 sec
B2. Pull Ups 4 6 (1-2 RIR) 120 sec
C1. Incline Dumbbell Bench Press 4 6 (1-2 RIR) 90 sec
C2. Single Arm Dumbbell Row 4 6 (1-2 RIR) 90 sec
Lat Pulldown 3 6 (0-1 RIR) 90 sec
Dumbbell Upright Row 4 6 (0-1 RIR) 90 sec
D1. Close Grip Floor Press 4 6 (0-1 RIR) 90 sec
D2. Incline Dumbbell Curls 4 6 (0-1 RIR) 90 sec

Upper Body (Push) - Sub-Phase 4:

Exercise Sets Reps Rest
A1. Foam Roll Thoracic Extension 2 30 sec -
A2. Face Pull with External Rotation & Overhead Press 2 8 -
Bench Press 2 6, 12 (1-2 RIR) 120 sec
One and a Quarter Incline Dumbbell Bench Press 3 10 (1-2 RIR) 120 sec
B1. Machine Chest Press 3 12 (0-1 RIR) -
B2. Seated Cable Fly 3 12 (0 RIR) 90 sec
C1. Single Arm Dumbbell Lateral Raise 3 10 (0 RIR) -
C2. Single Arm Cable Lateral Raise (cable @ wrist height) 3 10 (0 RIR) -
C3. Single Arm Cable Lateral Raise (cable @ bottom setting) 3 Max (0 RIR) 90 sec
D1. Rope Pressdowns 3 12 (0-1 RIR) -
D2. Seated Rope French Press 12 (0 RIR) 90 sec


  • One and a Quarter Incline Dumbbell Bench Press: 1 rep = all the way down, up a quarter, back down, up all the way
  • C2 and C3 should use the same weight

Outrun Your Rate of Adaptation

Your body adapts to whatever you do and in time it becomes acclimated to your training. When this happens your rate of progress will slow significantly. This is known as adaptive resistance. To overcome adaptive resistance, you need to make adjustments to your training to provide an overload that keeps pace with your rate of progress and challenges different physical pathways. 

The thought process that underpins the P.B.S. sequence was formulated to achieve this with the goal of rapid muscle gain. Following the framework, I have provided puts you in the perfect position to grow muscle as efficiently as possible. Each phase stacks on top of the one before to build more muscle. It’s time for you to put this to work and build your body phase by phase, brick by brick.

1 Comment
Laila Garcia
Posted on: Wed, 09/01/2021 - 10:19

Very nice