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Bulldozer Weight Training System Basics

Origins. The Bulldozer Training system is a mix of Doggcrapp training, Max-Stim training, and Mike Mentzer’s Heavy Duty training. On the surface, Bulldozer Training doesn’t necessarily look like any of these systems. Here is what I pulled from each…

Doggcrapp Training. Doggcrapp Training focuses on performing 3 sets to failure with a given weight, using a rest-pause system of 10-15 breaths between each set. Bulldozer training uses the same 10-15 breath rest-pause style, but does NOT have you train to failure.

Max-Stim. Max-Stim Training focuses on performing single reps, using just enough rest between reps to be able to perform another. In between ever rep, the weight is set down or racked. Generally, Max Stim Trainees perform 20 total reps for each of these rest-pause sets. Bulldozer Training uses the 20 rep per set scheme, but avoids the annoyance of having to rack the weight after every rep. Bulldozer Training also performs more mini-sets per exercises, which is pulled from max-Stim as well.

Heavy Duty. Mike Mentzer’s Heavy Duty training system focuses on high intensity lifting, often beyond failure. Like the Heavy Duty system, Bulldozer Training workouts tend to be shorter, more intense, and “beyond failure.” Though you do not train to failure with the Bulldozer system, You DO perform more reps in a set then you normally would be able to manage training one set to failure.

With Bulldozer training, I did not set out to create a new training system for the sake of being unique. I put together Bulldozer Training to fit my weight training needs.

Claims. I am not claiming that Bulldozer Training is the be-all, end-all system. Anyone who makes such claims are wrong, and generally trying to sell you something…themselves, an e-book, blah, blah, blah. I am also not claiming that Bulldozer Training is better then Doggcrapp, Max-Stim, Heavy Duty, etc. Bulldozer Training is a unique training style that you can add to your lifting tool belt. Feel free to borrow from it, mold it to your needs, and put it aside when it becomes ineffective. No training system works forever.

Training Splits. How should training splits be set up under Bulldozer Training? Anyway you like. Bulldozer Training is a system that focuses on 20 rep rest-pause sets. You can fit this into any training split you please. You can also perform as many different exercises per day as you please with Bulldozer Training. You can turn it into a high volume system (which i do NOT recommend – not a big fan of high volume), or you do a hit-and-run style of training, performing 2 different exercises per day, and getting out of the gym in under 30 minutes.

Sets. For a given exercise, pick a weight that you can perform 8-10 reps with. Without training to failure, do as many reps as you can, then rack the weight. Take 10-15 slow, deep breaths, grip the weight, and do more reps. (Again, lifting SHY of failure) Keep repeating this cycle until you hit 20 total reps for that set. There is no need to go beyond 20 reps, but if you still have gas in the tank on your last mini-set, by all means go over the 20 rep total. That’s it. Simple. Effective. And ball-busting.

Mini-sets. A mini-set are the rep units between each 10-15 breath rest-pause. So, if you bench press 205 pounds for 9 reps, rack the weight, then 5 reps, rack the weight, then 3 reps, rack the weight, then 3 reps…you have performed 4 mini-sets on your way to the 20 rep total. I log my sets as such…

  • 205 x 9/5/3/3

Progression. Progression of weight is king. If you are not getting stronger, it is much harder to gain muscle mass. A lifter that can squat 500 pounds will almost always have quads bigger then a 200 pound squatter. ‘Nuff said.

When is it time to move up in weight? generally, when you can perform the 20 total reps for a set in 5 mini-sets or less. I find that for bench press and overhead pressing, it is almost impossible for me to hit 5 mini-sets…my muscles fatigue much easier. So for these exercises I shoot for 6 mini-sets, then I progress in weight. Here is my recommended mini-set guideline for progression…

  • Chest. 5 mini-sets for non-pressing movements. For Bench Press, Incline Press, etc, 6 mini-sets.
  • Shoulders. 5 mini-sets for non-pressing movements. For barbell and dumbbell overhead press, etc, 6 mini-sets.
  • Triceps. 5 mini-sets.
  • Back. 5 mini-sets. (See Deadlift note below)
  • Biceps. 5 mini-sets.
  • Traps. 5 mini-sets.
  • Forearms. 5 mini-sets.
  • Quads. 5 mini-sets. (See Squat note below)
  • Hamstrings. 5 mini-sets.
  • Calves. 5 mini-sets. (See note below)
  • Abs. Work abs as you please. See note below.

Deadlifts. I do NOT recommend performing sets above 3 reps using heavy weight on the deadlift. The deadlift is a unique exercise, and should be treated as such. There are three ways you can approach the deadlift with Bulldozer Training…

  1. Singles. Perform single reps, rest-paused, up to a total of 10, 15 or 20 reps. Find the rep range that you are comfortable with, or alternate rep ranges each workout. Rest between reps varies. Rest until you feel strong enough to perform another rep. Generally, a 20 rep rest-pause set should take you 10-15 minutes, and a 10 rep set should take you 5-7 minutes. Progress in weight when you start to feel comfortable with your set.
  2. Doubles. Perform two rep mini-sets, up to 10-20 total reps. Progress in weight when you start to feel comfortable with your set.
  3. Triples. Perform three rep mini-sets, up to 10-20 total reps. Progress in weight when you start to feel comfortable with your set.

I strongly recommend using singles on the deadlift, but to each his own. Do what feels good for you. If you do want to cycle rep totals, here is a good way to do so…

  • Workout 1. Heavy weight, 10 single reps.
  • Workout 2. Heavy weight minus 30 pounds, 15 rep singles.
  • Workout 3. heavy weight minus 60 pounds, 20 rep singles.

Squats. If you do not feel comfortable performing Bulldozer style sets with squats, it is OK to switch to another rep/set scheme. I recommend two alternatives…

  1. 20 rep set. Perform a single 20 rep set of squats.
  2. HHLL. perform 4 sets of squats…first, perform 2 heavy sets of 5 reps, followed by two lighter sets of 8 reps. Generally I recommend that your lighter sets are about 60 pounds less then your heavy sets. Mileage may vary.

Calves. Calves are a unique muscle group. I recommend performing 30 rep Bulldozer sets for calves, instead of 20.

Abs. Abs sets can be tweaked anyway you want. Some may perform 30-40-50 or 60 rep set totals using Bulldozer Training.

Now what. Now what? Piece together a training system that works for you. Bulldozer Training isn’t rocket science.

My routine. This is the routine I use. Keep in mind that I often vary routines to stay out of ruts.

  • Day 1. Legs. Squats using HHLL, Leg Extensions (Bulldozer 20 rep), Hamstring Curls or RDLs (Bulldozer 20 rep)
  • Day 2. Arms. 2 working 20 rep Bulldozer sets of 2 exercises for both triceps and biceps.
  • Day 3. Off.
  • Day 4. Back. Deadlift, 10 rep rest-paused singles, followed by DB Rows (Bulldozer 20 rep) and T-Bar Rows (Bulldozer 20 rep).
  • Day 5. Chest. Bench Press (Bulldozer 20 rep), followed by two addition chest exercises (Bulldozer 20 rep).
  • Day 6. Off.
  • Day 7. Shoulders. 2 heavy weight, non-Bulldozer sets of Overhead Barbell Presses, followed by Side Laterals (Bulldozer 20 rep), Upright Rows (Bulldozer 20 rep), and then (again) Overhead Presses (Bulldozer 20 rep).

I work calves and abs when i feel like it, and rarely work forearms.

Steve Shaw is the primary content writer for Muscle and Brawn. He began lifting seriously in 1986.

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