The ridiculous thing about the training program in this post, is that it came about from stumbling across something by accident – and turned out to be the best training decision I’ve ever made.
It’s going to be a sore 8 weeks for you, but I promise that if you stick to the program, your results will speak for themselves.
1. The Backstory
A couple of years ago, I was working long hours in a busy office job, and my upper body strength and size was plateauing hard. My rep performance started to drop off during sessions, and I was actually regressing. Coming into the gym week-in, week-out only to get weaker is just a tad demoralising… I felt like this sedentary job would be the final nail in the coffin to lifetime progress.
So – long hours during the day, and my evenings were filled with prep for my med school applications. I didn’t have the time or energy to be wasting hours in the gym with endless isolation exercises or doing 2-a-days, especially not long-term. But at the same time, I knew the reality is that minor tweaks won’t suffice to bust through a plateau.
If your upper body progress is stagnating, then continuing to do the same thing and hoping you’ll get a different outcome is literally the definition of insanity.
We’re all gulty of this. We push on, hoping that eventually, by sheer attrition, we’ll be repping 3 plates on the bench press and have a tasty V-taper. I present to you exhibit A: you. Look back on the last 6 months of your progress.. are things already headed in that direction? If not, and your progress has been stagnant, then an intervention may be required.
There is a military concept of ‘overwhelming force’: the idea that to conquer a task, undercommitting your resources could cost you MORE time and energy in the long run. The stubbornest target need activation energy: an overwhelming force. Dive in head first and you’ll squash all resistance.
What happens to the martial artist that meekly toes the wooden block? He looks like a belson with a broken toe.
‘Do it, you fanny’
A friend of mine came to visit during this lull, who happened to be doing the Armstrong pull-up program at the time. He suggested that I try it out.
Me: ‘Pfft. I’m above that. I only do weighted pull-ups now.. and 3 sets of pushups in the morning? That’s cute. Do you even lift?’
He berated me and wrote out the program on a scrap of paper… ‘do it, you fanny’.
You know what? Fuck you, I’ll do your little program.
2. Results: Week 1 →Week 8:
I did the program as written. The result was adding 25kg to my bench press in 8 weeks, over an inch to my upper back & chest, and 125 reps on my pushups.
If you had told me that this was possible, (despite not even benching for 4 of those weeks) by doing pushups and pullups… I’d say you were living in lala land. Here’s what happened:
Pics or it didn’t happen:
Lats on tour: End of Armstrong Program
I held on to a lot more size in my subsequent diet as a result:
But it wasn’t all lollipops and rainbows. Looking back, there were some hitches that needed ironing out if one were to do the program exactly as written, which I would not recommend. I was niggly, tight and had no plan for transitioning out of it.
Armstrong can be done straight out of the box if the goal is just to increase your pull-up numbers for an army test. However, without considering the context of your training, it’s unlikely to produce results, or worse, cause injury. The progress I made was a result of fitting Amstrong into an appropriate training and diet setup.
This begged the question: How can we safely and predictably replicate these results with clients?
Over the following couple of years Jonny and I looked at refining the process to create a ‘turbo-boost‘ button for anyone experiencing a slump in their upper body progress. It needed to: complement a hypertrophy-focused training program, while keeping you injury-free, and provide a smooth transition back to regular training.
The refined program is now reliably doing the following:
- Producing a persistent surge in peoples bench press and pull-up numbers. Typically 15-20kg to clients bench press 1RM.
- Adding slabs of muscle to the upper body, fast. Typically 2 inches to the chest and back circumference.
- Allowing you to hold on to those gains after the program is done
- Keeping your shoulders healthy and pain-free
What if you had the blueprint to break through plateaus while keeping your shoulders healthy, and accelerate your size and strength progress more in 8 weeks than in your previous year? What if you could then maintain those gains when you return to your normal training?
Set a date in your calendar 8 weeks from today: what if you were 2 inches bigger around the chest & back and 25kg stronger on the bench by that date?
I have an offering for you: the result of the years of testing and redrafting: your V-taper Manual. Now I’ll tell you what’s great: this is an 8 week sprint. It’s the secret weapon that you can bust out when progress slows down. It doesn’t impose permanent and ever-increasing volume requirements on you. You can blast and cruise. Unlike a program like Smolov Squat Cycle, which is designed for peaking (and ‘chemically assisted’ lifters), where the progress fades quickly, instead your gains will be locked in.
We’ll also provide you with some aftercare guidance too for returning to normality (normal-lat-titty).
If this has produced such extraordinary results, why isn’t the approach more well known?
The fitness industry likes quick-fixes – but only the ones that can sell a pricey supplement, or something that doesn’t require hard work. I won’t beat around the bush – yes, this is a turbo boost, but it is tough, and needs solid consistency for 8 weeks. There’s no magic here – this is just the sensible application of progressive overload and high-frequency bodyweight training, harnessed and directed to exploding your upper body.
3.1 – Equipment
You will need:
- A chin up bar
- Paralettes (optional)
- Resistance band: Light-medium, i.e. 10-30kg
- Gym membership
The chin-up bar is a must. Since you’ll be doing these every day, you must have constant access to one, or at least something to do chin-ups on at home. It’s not feasible to go to the gym every day just for pull ups. If you’re renting, you can buy one of these cheaply to hook into your door frame and avoid upsetting your landlord:
I advise that you do pushups using pushup-bars/paralettes. They’re not essential, but they will help you to achieve a greater range of motion (which translates into more muscle growth) and spare your wrists from a battering:
I got these because they were pretty and cheap. Mistake. They’re not stable, and can flip over if you apply any lateral pressure. Don’t try to buy a piece of modern art like I did: use normal parallettes.
3. The Program
You’re still reading – I assume that you’re maybe going through a similar lull and are ready to take your upper body to the next level.
It’s time to get swelly. This is an 8 week upper body hypertrophy program, focused around rapidly building your V-taper. The program has three components:
- The bodyweight component
- The stretching + soft tissue component
- Weight training & shoulder health component
- The full training guide: Find out how I and all of our tester clients added 15-25kg to their bench press in 8 weeks, while keeping their shoulders healthier than ever/
- Nutrition plan: Everything you need to gain slabs of muscle over the next 8 weeks
- Consistency & habit building hacks
- Goals 101 guide & worksheet: £47 value
- 8 weeks of programming and tracking tools
- Bedroom wall chart
- FAQs: Commonly asked questions
- Transition phase: How to LOCK IN your gains for life
- Principles and Applications of Hypertrophy Seminar
I don’t want you to go through the same frustrations as me of banging your head against the wall. Stop fishing for the next supplement or little change that will get you out of this rut – use overwhelming force for 8 weeks.
All is laid out for you so you can start today, and mark a point 8 weeks in the future to step into a significantly more jacked version of yourself.
The evidence-based principles and the constant real-world results with clients make me so confident in the results of this program that I’ll personally refund you if you get anything less than stellar results from following it as written.
One more thing: a hidden benefit is the new sense of empowerment from completing something like this. You’ll build not only your lats, delts, chest and arms, but your consistency muscle, that radiates into all other facets of your life. Many come out the other side with a newfound meditation/productivity habit, and having made concrete steps towards their career goals.
So I’d like to help you along the way with that too, and bundle in our Goals 101 system, worth £47, building crystal clarity and carrying you towards your goals while leaving nothing to chance.
If all this program did was put you back in the drivers seat with your progress, giving you that secret weapon to never experience a plateau again, wouldn’t that be worth it?
Working with us one-on-one is over £200/month, with a waiting list. We can’t work with everyone we want to, so I’m giving you this for a fraction of the investment.
You can access all of the above’s £247 value for a launch discount of £9.95.
What if I can’t do pull-ups?
You will be able to by the end of the program! In the meantime, if you can do less than 3 pull ups, try one of the following options as a preparatory phase. You can then transition into doing the full program.
The first option, from Major Armstrong himself:
“Ladies will find this program adapts well to the flexed-arm hang. Training sets are simply translated into hang time.”
- Alternatively, switch pull-ups for inverted rows on a bar, or a TRX. The more horizontal your body, the more difficult the movement:
Why does this program work so well?
The Bodyweight Engine smashes you with volume and builds your work capacity, allowing you to ultimately train with more volume long term, which is one of the primary drivers of muscle growth. The supporting weight-training program is designed with the best evidence-based progression and periodisation models for maximum hypertrophy.
– Increased appetite, driving more progress
– Higher frequency training is associated with improved muscle and strength gain, even in volume matched comparator groups:
– ‘Greasing the groove’: Strength is a skill, and by training a movement frequently in submaximal conditions, we are ingraining the motor pattern.
How were you personally training the bench press during your initial trial?
As you can see on my dusty old training log on the forum, I was using a reverse pyramid rep scheme before and during Armstrong. I didn’t change my bench training during the period, so we can attribute the additional high-frequency work in the Armstrong program to the gains.
Would you do it again?
I wouldn’t do the initial trial again as written, but I would absolutely do the new modified V-taper program. The big lesson from this is not to poo-poo bodyweight movements, and to take specialisation cycles as **dedicated assault.
What improvements can I expect to see?
If you’re eating to gain 100g+ bodyweight per week and following the program as written, you should see a major improvement across all of your performance indicators that you track: physique progress in your photos, strength, max reps of chins/pressups, chest/back measurement and bench press. The average gain I’ve seen is 1-2 inches around the chest and back, doubling the pull-up max reps, and adding 15kg+ to the bench press.
Does this program mean that bodyweight is better than free weights or machines?
This ‘argument’ is often thrown around in fitness, and its a bit of a strawman. We have a number of tools for gains available at our disposal on this beautiful earth, why not make use of them all? Bodyweight movements allow us to benefit from full body stabilisation and intermuscular coordination to develop our synergistic muscles, helping us use our body as a unit for athleticism while preventing injury. They’re also low on recovery demands. Free weights are great for system stress, and machines are great for annihilating a specific muscle. They all have their purpose in a training program.
Let me know if you have any questions in the comments.