For bodybuilding success in the gym is all about weight training rather than weightlifting. The goal isn’t to see how many pounds you can lift, but to use resistance training to develop, shape and sculpt your muscles. Of course, when you train, you also get stronger, though that isn’t the primary goal.

Weightlifting creates a different kind of physique than bodybuilding does. While weightlifters frequently do a lot of bodybuilding-type workouts, they generally concentrate on training with the heaviest weights possible for very low reps — triples (three reps), doubles (two reps) and singles (one all-out repetition). This approach is designed to create maximum strength, but it doesn’t produce the kind of size, definition and symmetry that you get when using a true bodybuilding routine. Bodybuilders’ physiques result from using moderate to heavy weight and higher reps (somewhere between eight and 15, typically), as well as a program that focuses on all major muscle groups and specific areas within them.


To weightlifting’s credit, though, there’s a certain thickness and density you can get only from very heavy training. I never wanted to lose that mass and density later on, so once a week or so, I’d pick one bodypart and tax it with heavy sets.

When training chest, I’d warm up, then do a series of bench presses with heavy sets of triples, doubles and singles (working with a spotter, of course). I’d do the same thing using squats for legs or deadlifts for back.

Working with heavy weights and low reps every once in a while stimulates growth. After several days of rest, I advise doing a much lighter, higher-rep workout the next time you train that bodypart.

Here are some basic rules to follow when training heavy:

  • Select a bodypart and a multijoint exercise (like the bench press) to train very heavy (1–6 reps, 4–6 sets).
  • Warm up beforehand, starting out light and progressing to heavy weight over 3–4 sets.
  • Perform 2–3 more exercises for that bodypart, 3–4 sets each.
  • Give the selected bodypart a full week’s rest before training it again.
  • Keep track of your poundages in a training log. Your ability to lift heavier weights over time will lead to greater gains in muscle size.


Here’s a sample heavy workout for chest that will help build size as well as strength.

  • Bench Press (warm-up) | SETS: 3-4 REPS: 8-2*
  • Bench Press | SETS: 5 REPS: 6,4,3,2,1
  • Incline Dumbbell Press | SETS: 3-4 REPS: 6-8
  • Dumbbell Flye | SETS: 3-4 REPS: 8-10

*Start off light and increase weight gradually until your last warm-up set is slightly lighter than your first working set.