For those who inquired, below is the foreword section of the Pump Dragon manual, a description of what the manual will entail, as well as one of the weeks, to give you a better idea of what it will look like. I will put the video demos for the movements in the manual itself, later this week. This program is absolutely for both women and men, as are all my programs. This is LBEB, after all. Thanks for reading.
Thank you for choosing to be a part of the Pump Dragon community. Before jumping into the programming, I want to take a few minutes of your time to outline some of the thought process that went into making this program, what led me to implement this training style in my own programming and finally, a short reference guide to some of the words I will be using throughout this training manual.
When I began training in 2012, I was like many of you who purchased this program: I wanted to consistently train with heavy weights, technique be damned. Instead, it was all about chasing big singles to win competitions and achieve eternal glory. Fast-forward a few years and a couple of injuries, I began to realize something: There is no eternal glory in a sport that forgets about you as soon as your record is broken or you leave the sport. There is no glory in chasing numbers to the point where your body is destroyed, your personal life is in shambles and you are in a dangerous mental state. This is when I began to explore other training options that would allow me to (at the very least) maintain my strength, if not increase it, while also training in a way that left me happy when I left the gym. It’s one thing to have a great training session, but it’s another to be happy when it is over. A good training session can last 2-3 hours a day, but what about the other 21-22 hours left in the day? I had to figure out a way of training that would keep me interested in lifting for the long haul, increasing my strength, improving my physique and maintaining my mental health.
Enter: The Pump Dragon
My previous training style was a pretty standard version of Strongman training: a combination of the standard Strongman competition lifts, with the Powerlifting movements built in, and some accessory/speed work. It was great to train this way because my strength was increasing and I could hit big singles. However, I personally had a hard time wanting to do the high-rep accessory/pump work at the end of the workout because I felt so fatigued both physically and mentally. A great man I used to train with, Jace Derwin, was the first guy I knew personally who spent more time on accessory work than on the competition lifts. He had a strong, athletic physique, he was happy and his strength was increasing. He introduced me to high-rep bodybuilding movements that would help me to not only increase my strength, ligament and tendon thickness, but also improve my mood allowing me to leave the gym in a better mindset than when I arrived. Jace was the first person I heard use the phrase “chasing the Pump Dragon” in reference to heroin users who are constantly chasing the feeling of their first high, while never quite reaching it. I liked the term instantly because that’s how training felt: No matter how great the pump was, you always wanted more. Luckily, we won’t be chasing heroin in this manual: instead we will constantly be chasing a great pump, an elevated sense of well-being and of course, size and strength. Jace and I don’t train together anymore, but I will forever be appreciative of the lessons he taught me.
After I parted ways with my old crew and began training by myself, I continued to explore ways to chase the Pump Dragon, especially in gyms that did not have readily-accessible machines designed to hit specifically-targeted muscle groups. You can see this in my videos: I am always trying to figure out machine and cable movements I can replicate in a garage/Crossfit gym setting, using only equipment that would be available at those locations. I have spent years doing this, and I will be putting that knowledge and tinkering to use in this manual so others can benefit from the experiments as well.
Unlike some of my other training manuals, Pump Dragon is not about chasing new 1-Rep Maxes (1RMs). Pump Dragon is about increasing muscle size, definition, tendon and ligament thickness, and mental well-being. Strength should, at the very least, be maintained throughout the course of the program, but is not the main goal here. Compound lifts will still be implemented in the program, but will not be the main focus. For the duration of the program, think of the compound lifts as more of a primer for the pump/accessory work, and a way to help you maintain your strength without completely draining your Central Nervous System (CNS).
Pump Dragon will involve four workouts each week with each workout containing at least 500 reps of all movements combined. Each workout will focus on a specific and different group of muscles. It will also contain compound lifts that will use whatever the muscle group is on any given training day. This is not a half-program, it is a complete program. In layman’s terms: Don’t use this supplement on top of another program you’re doing (for example, Crossfit). I strongly suggest that you do not combine this eight-week program with any other programming, as you will be wasting your time and money, as well as defeating the purpose of implementing a program that is designed to help you reset your training. Some athletes are under the impression that if you combine two programs, you will get twice as good in half the time. In reality, they will be lucky if they get half as good in twice the time.
The program design will be as follows:
Day 1: Legs & Squat Movements w/ Posterior Accessories
Day 2: Chest, Shoulders & Press Movements w/ Tricep Accessories
Day 3: Back & Deadlift Movements w/ Posterior/Bicep Accessories
Day 4: Arm Day w/ Short & Sweet Conditioning Movements
Why Chase The Pump?
Something that I have found lacking in almost every training program I have seen from the Powerlifting and Strongman world is the neglect of high-rep accessory/pump work. This is especially true for new athletes. For some reason, some coaches are so afraid of new athletes being “overtrained”, that they keep the volume low to the point where it looks like you’re following the programming of a veteran Powerlifter who weighs almost 400lbs. New athletes need volume. Lots and lots of volume. You need this volume for three main reasons: Instilling the proper movement patterns, increasing kinesthetic awareness, and keeping the blood in the targeted muscle group long enough to encourage growth. You simply are not going to grow your biceps, calves, hamstrings, and other hard-to-fatigue muscle groups with sets of five deadlifts or pullups or squats. These compound movements utilize the majority of the body. Because of this, hard-to-fatigue muscle groups will never get the fatigue they need in order to grow. Blood must be kept in the targeted area for at least 40 minutes in order for the blood to bring the nutrients necessary for growth. Tendons and ligaments also grow much slower than muscles and DEMAND that concentrated blood to encourage growth. You will get both of those things from Pump Dragon and you will love it.
You will see me talk about “the squeeze” quite often over the course of this eight-week program. What I am referring to is the flexing of the targeted muscle that you MUST do at the “top” of each of these isolation movements. It’s not about how fast you can do something like a bicep curl. What is more important is that you are isolating the targeted muscle, not wasting the movement by going too heavy too fast and recruiting the wrong muscles to finish the set. Weight does NOT matter for many of these pump movements: targeting does. What I will want you to think about is keeping the targeted muscle under tension and flexing it as hard as possible for at least one second at the top of each rep. This will fatigue the muscle much faster and ensure that you’re targeting it correctly. I will not write specific weights for a great deal of these movements, as pump weights are arbitrary and I have a baseline of information to guide you. As long as you are becoming fatigued and feeling the challenge of the weight while still being able to finish the set, you will do just fine.
Exercise Demonstrations & References
I will include photo and video guides for the majority of the movements within this program. If you train in a gym with cables and machines, you won’t need the guides as much. Instead, you are able to use weights on a guided track that will eliminate the need to jury-rig bands and chains to emulate them. That’s not to say the videos can be neglected: you can still look at how my body is positioned for these movements to ensure that you are set up correctly in order to get the biggest benefit from this manual.
Now that we have the background information out of the way, let’s get to chasing the Pump Dragon.
Work up to heavy set of 5 back squats, then do 4×7 w/ 70% of that number.
4×20 Bodybuilding (BB) squats w/ 35% of the day’s 5RM.
3×15 squats w/ KBs held in front rack (elbow crook position), 60sec rest between sets.
4 supersets of: 20 walking lunges + 20 ass-to-grass air squats, 60sec rest between sets.
10mins of: glute bridges w/ elbows and back on bench + frog pumps on floor. Once you are fatigued from one, switch to the other.
5 supersets of: calf raises w/ toes straight forward, toes angled in, toes angles out. 20 reps per position, squeeze at the top of each rep for 1sec. 60sec rest between superset.
Using moderately heavy for this bench press set, do the following supersets four times: 10 reps w/ wide grip, 10 reps w/ normal grip, 10 reps w/ close grip. Same weight across all sets, 60sec rest between sets. If you fail reps, it’s too heavy.
5×20 close grip bench w/ 30% of your estimated max, 60sec rest between sets.
5 supersets of: DB flyes + DB bench, same weight, squeeze pecs at top of each rep. 60sec rest between sets.
4 supersets of: 10 reps of DB front raises + 10 reps of DB lateral raises, keep glutes squeezed, 60sec rest between sets.
5mins of: using empty barbell, do two strict press in front of head + 2 reps behind head. Don’t lock out at top and don’t let barbell descend below forehead height.
4 supersets of: neutral grip DB bench + pushups w/ hands on bench. 60sec rest between sets.
100 tricep pushdowns w/ cable or resistance band. Turn pinkies out to the sides at the bottom of each rep and squeeze triceps for 1sec on each rep. if you get less than 30 reps before taking a break, you need to reduce the resistance.
Work up to heavy set of 5 conventional deadlifts, then do 4×7 w/ 70% of that number.
4×10 2” deficit deadlifts w/ 55% of the day’s max, 60sec rest between sets, use straps.
5 supersets of: 10 reps banded face pulls + 10 DB shrugs + 10 DB shrugs w/ palms forward.
4 supersets of: 10 DB rows per arm w/ opposite hand and knee on bench + Snatch-grip high shrugs w/ light barbell (barbell comes to nipple height). 60sec rest between sets.
5×20 banded hamstring curls w/ a big squeeze at the top.
6mins of max rep frog pumps on floor w/ big glute squeeze at the top of each rep.
100 reps of leg raises w/ back on bench, grab the bench behind your head, flex abs at the top of each rep.
5 supersets of: 12 single-arm banded curls w/ band attached to pullup bar + 20 reverse-grip barbell curls (both hands).
5 supersets of: 10 close-grip pushups (fingers at 11 & 1) + 20 tricep pushdowns w/ resistance band.
4×12 DB curls while lying your back on an incline bench, 60sec rest between sets.
5×15 skull crushers w/ barbell, swiss bar or football bar. Squeeze triceps hard at the top of each rep.
6mins of max rep cheat curls w/ 45lb bar.
6 mins of max rep overhead press w/ 45lb bar.
8 sets of: max speed 200m row (or 400m stationary cycling) + 12 burpees. 90sec rest between sets.