TLDR: In Ben Pollack’s Think Big, lifting like a powerlifter and looking like a bodybuilder need not be mutually exclusive. Both can be attained concurrently by focusing on the basics
Every lifter wants to both get stronger and lift heavy weight, most programs do not cater to both these goals. Ben Pollack, in Think Big, recognizes that though it is difficult to focus on both goals at once, it isn’t impossible. To achieve these goals concurrently, Ben Pollack removes low ROI work and focuses on high ROI diet and training aspects.
For the diet aspect, he suggests a balanced approach at 33-50% carbs, 20-33% protein and 20-33% fat. The lifter should also be at about 10-12% body fat percentage to even consider massing, otherwise, the lifter should aim to get down to that range. There are also recommendations as to meal timing, supplements and cheat meals.
As for training, he focuses on basic progressive overload, setting the macrocycle up in a phasic manner and implementing the work using principles from undulating periodization.
The program is 16 weeks, 4 times a week, that is split into 2 upper sessions and 2 lower sessions. Each upper session begins with bench press, alternating with lower reps at a lower weight, and higher reps at a higher intensity for growth. The goal of this is to peak at the end of 16 weeks, and the high-intensity work is lowered systematically.
As for the lower body days, the ‘practice’ and ‘focus’ lifts of the day alternate between deadlift and squat. The lower session features 4 sets of 15 for squats, but the deadlifts are 4 sets of 3 at a low intensity. Vice versa for the next lower body day.
There are also multiple ‘plateau busters’ that target different weak points, and ways to increase volume. One interesting thing I found is he recommends posing as a form of increasing volume of the muscle. A simple superset is to do a lat spread after a set of lat pulldowns. Feeder workouts are optional to bring up small bodyparts, performing 2-3 sets of 50-100 reps for 10 days straight.
- Phasic program with long-term progression
- Great training ideas are provided and are easily implementable
- Base template lack appropriate progression for bodybuilding work, like an afterthought