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There comes a time when you’ve trained for a couple of months or a couple of years and you find yourself at a stage where your muscle growth seems to have shrivelled up. You train day in and day out without feeling much soreness and you’re just not seeing the types of gains you’ve been used to. What do you do?

The answer is to shock the body out of its stagnant state and force your muscle to grow. Just as a defibrillator will jump start the heart, so will the right training regime help to jump start your muscle growth. While there are many techniques to help break out of a plateau, one of our favourites is the 8 x 8 method made famous by the legendary 50’s bodybuilder Vince Gironda. Known for being an amazing and innovative trainer as well as for his defined, symmetric and aesthetic build, Gironda liked using the 8 x 8 method amongst other training regimes as a key tool to elevating your muscles capacity to grow.

What is the 8 x 8 Method?

The 8 x 8 Method is a training style that is extremely similar to the popular 5 x 5 Method; however incorporates 8 sets of 8 reps of each exercise instead of 5 sets of 5 reps. Whereas the 5 x 5 method is one of the best strategies to improve strength and power, the 8 x 8 is a powerhouse technique that focuses on hypertrophy or muscle growth as its end goal.

How to Perform the 8 x 8 Program - Tips

The 8 x 8 program is relatively simple to perform, but your muscles are going to be feeling it from the very first session. Here are some of the key tips of the 8 x 8 protocol:

  • 8 sets of 8 reps per exercise
  • Attempt 3-4 full body workouts per week
  • At the very least, aim to work the 3 main muscle groups with one smaller muscle group (eg. Legs, Back and Chest with Biceps/Triceps/Shoulders/Calves)
  • Minimal rest – aim for 30 seconds
  • Pick a heavy weight that you start failing at 7-8 reps
  • If you can’t perform more than 5 reps, it’s time to drop the weight.
  • Stick with the program for at least 4 weeks and no more than 6 weeks.
  • Try to increase the weights every 2 weeks.

Sample 8 x 8 Program

Day 1 Exercises:

  • Barbell Bench Press
  • Arnold Press
  • Front Squats
  • Dips
  • Lat Pulldown
  • Preacher Curl
  • Seated Leg Curl
  • Standing Calf Raise

Day 2 Exercises

  • Squats
  • Dumbbell Chest Press
  • Lying Leg Curl
  • Lateral Raises
  • Seated Row
  • Seated Calf Raise
  • Close Grip Bench Press
  • Dumbbell Curls

Day 3 Rest Day

Day 4 Exercises

  • Deadlifts
  • Standing Cable Flyes
  • Rope Tricep Extensions
  • Straight Arm Pulldown
  • Leg Press
  • Shoulder Press
  • Cable Bicep Curls
  • Donkey Calf Raise
  • Shrugs

Day 5 & 6 Rest Days

Day 7 Exercises

  • Pullups (Assisted if required)
  • Incline Chest Press
  • Walking Lunges
  • Behind The Neck Dumbbell Tricep Extensions
  • Standing Calf Raise
  • Push Press
  • Barbell Bicep Curl
  • Jump Squats (Weighted if possible)

More Volume for More Muscle Growth

If you’ve found your muscle growth lacking in the last couple of weeks or months, it’s time to switch things up in terms of your training. The 8 x 8 protocol is an excellent approach to push the muscle further, exhaust the muscle and to force it to grow. It is the perfect middle ground between 5 x 5 training and German Volume Training to help you pack on the mass and size. So what are you waiting for, get training!

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