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Build Muscle and Lose Fat Fast with the 8 x 8 System

Copyright Gregg Gillies

The 8 x 8 system is a very unique, and highly productive training program devised by legendary trainer Vince Gironda, that will help you quickly build muscle and lost fat without aerobics.

Keep in mind, while you will build muscle fast with this system, it is very demanding and definitely not for beginners. You need to have about two years of training under your belt before you tackle this weight lifting program.

You can build muscle mass with the 8 x 8 system due to it's unique design. It's a fast-tempo, high-volume, size-building weightlifting routine. It's not designed to build much strength. It's solely for building muscle and losing body fat at a rapid pace. You'd like to build muscle mass and lose body fat, wouldn't you?

The short rest periods will tax your cardiovascular system much in the way high intensity interval training for cardio does.

Here's the scoop: You perform 3 to 4 exercises per muscle group and you do 8 sets of 8 reps for each exercise. Yes, that's 24 - 32 sets per muscle group! Normally, I'd say that you'll overtrain in a week on this type of volume, but this weight training program is quite different than what you are used to.

You work two or three muscle groups per session and you rest only 15 to 30 seconds between sets and complete each workout in about 45 minutes - never more than 60.

This program, properly performed, will build muscle mass fast. Even with the large number of sets, it will crank up your intensity level by performing all this work in a short period of time. This is much different than the endless volume, 2 to 3 hour marathon workouts.

An absolute key to gaining muscle mass is overload, or progressive
resistance. This is usually accomplished by adding weight to your exercises but this is not the only way to achieve overload on your muscles. Another is to do more work in less time, which is exactly what you get with this weight training system.

This weight training program will be a serious shock to your system. It's nothing like the bodybuilding programs you see everyone else in your gym doing. Not even close. In fact, I would bet you've never seen one person in your gym train on this routine. But, hey, how many of them have you seen lose fat or gain mass quickly or, for that matter, make any positive changes in their body recently?

How Much Rest Between Sets?

The idea is minimum rest. This means working down to 30 seconds between sets at a minimum, and if you really want the program to work and quickly build muscle, you'll need to get down to 15 to 20 seconds between
sets. With a typical tempo of about 4 seconds per rep, you should be able to complete a 24 set workout in 18 - 21 minutes and 32 sets will take 25 to 28 minutes. Sounds painful, doesn't it? But it works. And you do want to build muscle, don't you?

Whatever exercise you're doing, don't let go of the bar or dumbbells between sets. If you're benching, keep your hands on the bar once you rack it. Doing deadlifts with straps? Keep the straps on and your hands in place between sets.

How Much Weight Should You Use

At first, you'll see a large drop in the amount of weight you'll be using. Hey, not many of use are used to 15 seconds between sets. Most of us take
at least a minute, if not two or three when we are training heavy. Most likely, you'll need to drop your weights by about 40 percent of what you typically use for a set of 8 reps. If you bench press 150 pounds for 8 reps with 60 to 90 seconds between sets, you'll most likely need to reduce the poundage to about 90 pounds (if not lighter for the first workout or two). As you adapt, start to build muscle, and get used to the short rest periods, you'll see your weights move back up.

You have to select the proper starting weight. This is so important in your ability to build muscle and be successful with this training program. The first workout or two should be pretty easy as you get used to the program.
This will help you build momentum moving forward and allow you to progress over a 4 to 6 week period of intense weight training. Besides building momentum, the first two workouts should be pretty easy so you don't end up with debilitating soreness that keeps you out of the gym for a week.

You'll be using the same weight on every set. It's okay to drop to 6 or 7 reps on the last set or two, but if you drop below 8 on your fourth or fifth set, the weight is too heavy.

When you can easily complete eight sets of eight reps, it's time to up the weight at the next workout.

Obviously, you won't be training to failure on most of your sets. Most likely you'll only do so on the last set or two of each. However, you will be training like your've never trained before. This routine is brutal on your body and, especially, on your mind. This is even more true on the big compound exercises, like dips, deadlifts, squats and bent over rows.

Don't think you can handle this intense muscle building weight lifting routine? You could start out by applying this technique to one body part. If you are going to do that, you'll want to cut back on the rest of your training.
Also, if you want results, you'll perform the routine on the big muscles, like the back, and not use it just for biceps. This is what I usually do. I'll perform the 8 x 8 routine on one bodypart at a time. It's a great way to keep your routine fresh and prevent burnout.

Here's an example of a complete routine:

Day 1

Decline Bench Press 8 x 8
Decline DB Flyes 8 x 8
Dips 8 x 8


Dumbbell Upright Rows 8 x 8
Bent Over Lateral Raises 8 x 8 Day 2


Leg Press 8 x 8
Leg Extensions 8 x 8
Leg Curls 8 x 8
Standing Calf Raises 8 x 8

Day 3


Two-dumbbell Rows 8 x 8
Dumbbell or Machine Pullovers 8 x 8
Lat Pulldowns 8 x 8


Weighted Crunches 8 x 8

Day 4


Tricep Pressdowns 8 x 8
Overhead Extensions 8 x 8


Barbell Curls 8 x 8
Incline DB Curls 8 x 8

For many of you, even fewer sets may be more effective, as you can quickly overtrain on a program like this. I don't recommend performing this weight training routine for more than 4 - 5 weeks before taking a complete week of rest from the gym.

Keep in mind that weightlifting workouts like this are a great way to quickly build muscle but it's also a great way to lose fat, completely change the shape of your body, and keep the fat off. Weight lifting is much more effective for fat loss than aerobics or dieting alone.

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