How to Use MEGA Training for Strength & Muscle Gains

How to Use MEGA Training for Strength & Muscle Gains

Building muscle has been grossly over-complicated in the fitness industry for the last two decades. My approach is that simplicity is power.

This is where MEGA Training comes in, or Minimum Effort Growth Acceleration Training.

MEGA Training is a training style that Greg O’gallagher developed that focuses your efforts on the key exercises and lifting protocols that will produce the most powerful gains.

As natural lifters, we’re not very good at doing multiple things at once. Recovering from a torturous amount of training volume and making consistent improvements in strength and power is very hard to do.

The Key to Building an Incredible Physique

It all comes down to this:

getting stronger over a period of time will make you build more muscle. because as long as your weekly VOLUME is going up- you will gain more muscle.

Why You’re Killing Your Strength & Muscle Gains

To me, lifting is a system of fine calibration. Every workout is a means to improve in weight lifted or reps performed. If myself, or a client, fails to make the scheduled progression, I go in there and make an adjustment to keep the ball rolling.

Throughout the years, this often meant reducing the training volume significantly.

At the very heart of this style of training is a lifting protocol that is hands-down the most sensible way to train for strength and hypertrophy.

Enter Reverse Pyramid Training

This involves performing one heavy set with maximum effort followed by one to two progressively lighter sets with full rest periods between all sets.

By performing the heaviest set first, you are completely fresh. This allows you to lift at your true potential. And by doing so, you will set yourself up for consistent personal records on each and every lift.

Now, one heavy set per exercise is all you need. If you try to repeat that set multiple times, you will create excessive neural and mental fatigue.  After completing the heavy set, the next step is to drop the weight by approximately 10%. (This is going to feel surprisingly light.)

What that heavy set trigger is a state known as post activation potentiation, resulting in greater muscle fiber recruitment and force.

So how does it work?

Let’s say bench pressing and your goal is 200 lbs for 5 reps. After a couple low-rep build-up sets, you’d do 200 lbs for 5, 180 lbs for 6-7 and 160 lbs for 8-9. With each subsequent set of reverse pyramid training, you want to shoot for 1-2 additional reps. Make sure to take a full three minutes of rest between these sets.

I have used this training protocol to build up to a 330 lbs Deadlift for 6 and 90 lbs weighted chin-ups for 6 at a bodyweight of 140 lbs. It really is that effective. 

Bringing In The Pump

Before we get into the form of pump training that works best, we need to understand what this kind of training is for. Normally, the goal of pump training is to create a high degree of cumulative fatigue using lighter weights with short rest periods – which creates a massive pump. This type of training stimulates increased glycogen storage in the muscle and sarcoplasm, the fluid-like substance in the muscle.

While this produces very quick results (the “pump effect”), those results top off pretty quickly. Meaning, there’s only so much sarcoplasm and glycogen you can stuff into your muscles before they’re full. 

Here’s what you must understand:

Lighter weight training results in limited muscle fiber recruitment, except for those last few really challenging reps.

To enhance this training stimulus, I utilize a technique known as “Rest-Pause” training.

With rest pause training, you’re doing one high-rep activation set followed by multiple “mini sets” with only 10-20 seconds of rest between sets.  Limiting rest after a high rep set to only 20 seconds lets the body maintain the temporary state of heightened muscle fiber recruitment.

Four to five of these “mini sets” are all it takes to trigger a high level of muscle growth.

Keep in mind, you want to use the same weight on your mini sets as your initial activation set. This is due to the fact that you’re only resting 10-20 seconds.

Rest-pause training is like a muscle-building loophole that allows you to get enhanced muscle fiber stimulation with a light weight.

Here’s How It Looks

Let’s say I’m doing dumbbell lateral raises. I might do 40 lbs for 12-15 reps, followed by 4-5 sets of 3-5 reps with only 10-20 second rest between.

Here’ another way of putting it: 40 lbs for 12-15 reps + 3-5, 3-5, 3-5, 3-5, 3-5 reps (20 seconds of rest between sets and same weight for all sets).

The goal is to build up to 15 reps on the activation set and 5 sets of 5 reps with no more than 20 seconds of rest between sets before increasing the weight.

Crafting the MEGA Workout Routine

Here is how I would craft a MEGA routine to trigger solid and proportionate muscle growth for your entire physique. You’ll also notice some of the best shoulder gains of your life.

The combination of heavy shoulder presses done reverse pyramid style with lateral raises and rear delts done rest pause style works wonders. 

Any stubborn body part you thought you had will finally be brought up to speed once and for all.

Here’s what a workout combining these two styles looks like:

Workout A (Monday) – Shoulders, Back & Triceps

Weighted Pull-ups: 4-5, 5-6, 6-8 (RPT)

Seated DB Shoulder Press: 4-6, 6-8, 8-10 (RPT)

Seated Cable Rows: 12-15 + 4-5 sets of 3-5 reps (Rest Pause)

Cable Rope Push Downs: 12-15 + 4-5 sets of 3-5 reps (Rest Pause)

Lateral Raises: 12-15 + 4-5 sets of 3-5 reps (Rest Pause)

Workout B (Wednesday) – Lower Body

Barbell Squats: 4-5, 5-6, 6-8 (RPT)

Romanian Deadlifts: 6-8, 8-10, 10-12 (RPT)

Leg Extensions: 12-15 + 4-5 sets of 3-5 reps (Rest Pause)

Leg Curls: 12-15 + 4-5 sets of 3-5 reps (Rest Pause)

Calf Raises: 12-15 + 4-5 sets of 3-5 reps (Rest Pause)

Workout C (Friday) – Chest, Biceps & Rear Delts

Incline BB Bench Press: 4-5, 5-6, 6-8 (RPT)

Flat BB Bench Press: 4-5, 5-6, 6-8 (RPT)

Standing BBCurls: 4-5, 5-6, 6-8 (RPT)

Cable Rope Curls: 12-15 + 4-5 sets of 3-5 reps (Rest Pause)

reverse peck deck: 12-15 + 4-5 sets of 3-5 reps (Rest Pause)

Workout Notes

RPT = Reverse Pyramid Training. Reduce the weight by around 10% for each subsequent set. For example, if you did 80 lbs dumbbell shoulder presses for your first set, you’d go down to 70 lbs for your second set and 60-65 lbs for your third set (it doesn’t have to be exactly 10%).

Rest a full 3 minutes between these sets.

When you can hit the top end of the rep interval for a set, increase the weight of that set by 5 lbs the following workout.

For weighted pull-ups, use total weight (bodyweight + additional weight) when determining 10%.

For rest pause training pick a weight you can do for 12-15 reps. After which, rest 15-20 seconds and perform 3-5 reps. Do 4-5 of these mini sets. The goal is to build up to 15 reps on the activation set and 5 mini sets of 5 reps with no more than 20 seconds rest between sets.


Closing Thoughts  

I challenge you to try the above routine for three weeks and tell me you don’t experience some of the best strength and muscle gains of your life, even on lifts you’ve previously plateaued on.

When you build up your physique with a lower volume approach some amazing things will happen.

One, you’ll be a lot stronger than you look. Building size without living in the gym requires you to get very strong. Secondly, you will maintain your muscle size effortlessly. If you take a couple weeks off the gym, you’ll hardly notice a difference.

Furthermore, if you’re cutting to low levels of body fat, you’ll find you maintain your muscle size without any issues.

(In fact, with this approach, you’ll often look bigger when cutting since the added definition with no drop in muscle size will create the illusion of more muscle.)

Finally, with such a training approach, you will be able to enjoy life. I am a firm believer that fitness should enrich your life, not consume it. 

What’s your take on MEGA Training?

Have anything else to share?

Let me know in the comments below!

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