Powerbuilding: The Size and Strength Method

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Powerbuilding is the best of both worlds: get strong and gain size. 

You want to get strong. But you also want to get big. You start training for strength and all is well. A few weeks go by, and you feel small. So you ditch the strength work and start trying to get a pump. Things are going great at first but it isn’t long before you worry about being weak. What’s all this bodybuilding work good for if you can’t bench press a broomstick?

Does this vicious cycle sound familiar? What if I told you that you could have the best of both worlds? Maybe you wouldn’t be the biggest guy in the gym, but you’d have a great foundation of strength. You also wouldn’t be small. Maybe not bodybuilder big, but definitely jacked with functional muscle. Sound good?

Enter Doug Hepburn. One could argue that Doug was a founding father of “powerbuilding,” or the art of working out for size and strength. Doug was a freaky strong dude long before steroids became all the rage. We’re talking that old school “drink milk and eat steak” strong. Doug was the first natural lifter – meaning steroid free- to bench press 500 pounds. He also squatted 600 pounds for reps in his mid-fifties. When Doug talked about strength, you listened.

Not known for flash, Doug kept things very simple. If you have limited access to equipment, then this program works for you. All you need is a barbell, plates, and squat rack. His programs were so straightforward that he just labeled them A and B. Talk about straight to the point.

Doug’s 8 x 2 program can work wonders for you strength. Again I have to reiterate: this workout is very basic. If you need to be entertained to workout, don’t do this. It’s also not for those who worry about hitting their shoulders from 10 different angles.


The 8 x 2 routine looks like this:

-Pick a weight you could lift for 8 reps

-Do 8 sets of 2 with 2 minutes of rest between each set.

-Each workout you add a rep. So you then do 7 x 2 and 1 x 3. The next workout is 6 x 2, 2 x 3. Once you can do 8 x 3, add 10 pounds to the bar.

-After you your eight sets, take 20% weight off the bar and do 3 sets of 6 reps. Each workout you add a rep too. So 3 x 6 becomes 2 x 6, 1 x 7, then 1 x 6, 2 x 7….you get the idea. Once you get 3 x 8, add 5 pounds to the bar.

You need to workout 4 days a week. A week would look like this:

Day 1 and 3

  1. Low Bar Back Squat – 8 x 2, 2 minutes rest.
  2. Flat Wide Grip Bench Press – 8 x 2, 2 minutes rest.
  3. High Bar Back Squat – 3 x 6, 2 minutes rest.
  4. Flat Mid Grip Bench Press – 3 x 6, 2 minutes rest.

Day 2 and 4

  1. Deadlift – 8 x 2, 2 minutes rest.
  2. Standing Narrow Grip Overhead Press – 8 x 2, 2 minutes rest.
  3. Deadlift – 3 x 6, 2 minutes rest.
  4. Standing Wide Grip Overhead Press – 3 x 6, 2 minutes rest.

The program’s not designed for fast results. Steady wins the race; Doug was a big proponent of sticking with something for months and slowly adding weight to the bar. Your patience will pay off though: the hard work will get you strong. And big. Which is the best of both worlds.


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