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The 3X2 Strength Program

Build a bigger squat, bench and deadlift... not to mention a bigger you.

By Shawn Perine

There's a natural tendency among us so-called evolved beings to gravitate toward chaos, and bodybuilders are no exception in our so-called "enlightened" 21st century. Back in the day, a person looking to get big and strong would follow a simple but effective path, but today he's often burdened with a gym full of confusing, and often contradictory, information: train to failure; train past failure; use drop sets; employ forced reps; don't overtrain; don't undertrain. In the end, a good deal of formerly clear-minded training devotees find themselves too overwhelmed and undermotivated to actually get into the gym and attempt to sort it all out.

But every now and then a clarion call cuts through the cacophony to save us from ourselves. In the auto industry it's the no-haggle policy that certain automakers are adopting to draw consumers away from their more aggressive competition. In the weight-training world it's Jim Stoppani, PhD, M&F senior science editor and author of Encyclopedia of Muscle & Strength (humankinetics.com), who has come up with a fail-safe plan for upping your strength and size without all the why's and wherefore's.

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Keep It Simple 

If your goal is simply to build a stronger, more muscular you, then keep it simple. Long before Jack LaLanne ever performed his first jumping jack in a Spandex bodysuit, musclemen consistently employed the "big three" exercises—bench press, squat, deadlift—in their workouts as well as used them as benchmarks for progress. These three movements en masse, determinants of overall strength, are so comprehensive that they comprise a sport unto themselves, aka powerlifting.

As a former national-level amateur bodybuilder known for his amazing strength (he would go rep for rep with the legendary Barbarian Brothers at Gold's Venice in the early '90s), Stoppani is well-qualified to cut through the clutter and deliver a no-nonsense, straightforward plan that can bring out your own inner barbarian.

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