Rock-Bottom Beast-Building

From the Ashes of Misfortune Emerges a Monster Forged in the Flames of Hardship.
by Jared Smith
There are times lately when circumstances in life have left me feeling a bit bedraggled, broken, and beat up.  A combination of people in my life that lacked integrity and the unwillingness of people to act with decency had left me broken and miserable, with a heap of stress that felt almost crippling. Having to leave a place I called home, and wondering how my family would eat the next week has a way of bringing out the best and the worst in people. For myself, the best was not within reach just yet...
With just enough money in my pocket to get my family fed for a few more days, I took a new job that paid next to nothing.  This new job - however low-paying - had one decidedly bad-ass advantage going for it: I got to lift and tote some heavy shit. With no wiggle-room in the budget, I had no money for a gym membership. To make matters worse, the owner of the gym I had trained at for several years decided to alter the terms of my existing contract without informing me.  This left me without the one place I truly felt at home: the metal-music-filled dungeon of a place called a gym. I was at rock bottom. I had barely trained in weeks, and to say I was on edge would be an understatement. I was bursting with frustration, and I had lost sight of all that I felt was positive in my life.
The Switch
    Sometimes all we need is one small act of kindness to fill our souls with hope and purpose. I was delivering a bed to an elderly gentleman, and as I walked through his double doors with a queen size mattress on my shoulders, he spoke. With a huge smile on his face, he informed me that I was a “great big ‘ol fella”. This man was genuinely grateful that someone could move these things for him. He began asking me questions about how I had grown to such a size. I must admit, it felt great just to have someone treat me with such respect and kindness. As soon as I got off work that evening, I cleaned off the rudimentary, ancient, and poor- quality equipment that sat on the porch of my parents’ home.
All I now had at my disposal was an old adjustable bench, a thin bar that only had a capacity of two-hundred pounds, a set of adjustable dumbbells that held up to seventy pounds, and a few attachments for the bench (lat tower, preacher pad, and a leg curl/leg extension attachment). All this shit had sat on that old porch for years, and while it wasn’t the greatest thing in the world, it gave me what I needed to hammer out some workouts. That nice, elderly gentleman didn’t realize it, but his kindness filled me with a passion and desire to attack the iron in a way that I hadn’t felt since I was a newcomer to the iron world.
After cleaning up the old equipment, I ran an extension cord out to the porch and plugged in an old CD player. I popped in a Trivium album and proceeded to torch it. Knowing I was dealing with limitations in terms of poundage, I made sure to drive as much blood as I could into the muscles. When the workout was finished, I felt as if I was a new man. With an insane pump and a fresh outlook on things, I was ready to stare adversity in the eye and beat it into submission!
The Awakening
With that first workout, my body seemed to awaken from a slumber. I once again felt as if I was myself. I had trained hard and heavy for some time before the layoff, and during that time I had performed very few “pump” workouts in favor of a more power-oriented approach.  I didn’t realize it at the time, but being forced to train with limited equipment and weight reminded me of just how awesome it feels to have a giant surge of lactic acid!
There were no shiny machines, no scantily-clad “cardio bunnies”, but I was having a blast. There was only me, some heavy metal, and some insane training. For many, heaven may be thought of as pearly gates and golden streets. But for me, it is some sweet tunes and some sick pumps!
Paul Dillett was a '90s bodybuilder who built his massive physique using really high rep training.

The Training
I’m sure by now you have grown tired of reading about my spiritual revitalization. I know why you’re here. You want the meat and potatoes. What follows is the program I followed to recharge my soul and smash doubt and frustration with a ten-ton hammer! While I have prescribed some hellish programs before, this will take it to a new level. The pre, intra, and post workout nutrition will insure that you get the most out of this program and it will prevent you from gassing out halfway through the workouts. A technique you’ll see used here is a spin-off of what C.S. Sloan and I once called “neural training”, wherein we replicate the reps done with the rest period. For our purposes, we will call them Neural Enhancement Sets, or N.E.S. for short.

Note: When performing these workouts, I advise that you follow the nutritional protocol that I outline later.

Workout 1: Chest/triceps
Low-incline Dumbbell Presses   6x30,25,20,15,10,10 Resting 1 minute between sets.
Flat dumbbell Presses 6x 5,10,15,20,25,30 Replicate the reps with the rest period. Keep the weight the same. Example: 5 reps/rest 5 seconds followed by 10 reps/10 seconds rest.
Incline fly 6x 10,15,20,25,30,30 Performed exactly like the flat dumbbell press.
Reverse-grip bench press 6x 30,25,20,15,10,5 Resting one minute between sets.
Rope Pushdown (I used a chain I found in the yard and attached it to the lat tower) 6x 10,15,20,25,30,30 N.E.S.
Dumbbell overhead extension (One dumbbell in each hand) 6x10,15,20,25,30,30 N.E.S.
Workout 2: Back/hamstrings
Barbell Bent Row 6x 30,25,20,15,10,5 Rest 1 minute between sets.
Underhand-grip Barbell Bent Row 6x5,10,15,20,25,30 N.E.S.
Wide-grip Pulldown 6x5,10,15,20,25,30 N.E.S.
Stiff-leg Deadlift 6x30,25,20,15,10,5
Lying Leg Curl 6x5,10,15,20,25,30 N.E.S.

Workout 3: Shoulders/biceps
Dumbbell Shoulder press (seated or standing) 6x30,25,20,15,10,10 Rest 1 minute between sets
Lateral Raises 6x5,10,15,20,25,30 N.E.S.
Barbell or Dumbbell shrug 6x5,10,15,20,25,30 N.E.S.
Barbell Curl 6x30,25,20,15,10,10
Hammer Curl 6x5,10,15,20,25,30 N.E.S.

Workout 4: Quads/Calves
Squat 6x30,25,20,15,10,5
Bulgarian Split squat ( Check out the John Meadows Youtube clip and check out how this should be done. If done to exactly as he lays it out the pump is mind boggling!) 6x5,10,15,20,25,30 N.E.S.
Leg Extension 6x5,10,15,20,25,30 N.E.S.
Single leg Calf Raise 6x30,25,20,15,10,5

Nutritional protocol:
Pre-workout: 40 grams of carbs
40 grams of protein
Toss in some almond butter or any kind of good fatty acids, as this will slow the absorption of the carbohydrates, which will keep your insulin level more stable so that it is not spiking and then dropping.
40 grams of carbs
Essential Aminos
40 grams of carbs
40 grams protein
Remember: no matter what life throws at you, the iron is always there for you.
“Hard work pays off. Dreams do come true. Bad times don’t last but bad guys do.”-Scott Hall

About the Author:

Jared "J.D." Smith is a longtime bodybuilder and contributing writer for Integral Strength.  You can find several more of his articles on the blog, including his and C.S.'s "Cemetery Circuit Training" for something truly "Halloween-ish" this bodybuilding season.


  1. Is N.E.S same rep/rest scheme as described in flat db press?


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