Shrugged Collective

The Keys To Getting Bigger, Stronger and Better at the Olympic Lifts Part 1 – Muscle Gain Challenge

Learn more about the Muscle Gain Challenge here

Why is it so important to get bigger and stronger?

Well, let’s start with the ultimate truth – Confidence is everything. We all feel like awkward amateurs when we first start training for max strength, that’s normal. Nobody wants to get buried under a 95-pound bench press, especially with cute girls watching.

Forget about PR’s in the gym. You should take the time right now to get bigger and stronger because NOTHING is more effective at boosting your confidence and success in life. As the psychologist Joyce Brothers wrote, “A strong, positive self-image is the best possible preparation for success.”

That’s true, both inside the gym and out.

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Confidence is critical, but performance still matters.

No one enjoys being at the bottom of the gym whiteboard. And as you might have already noticed, simply performing more and more WODs isn’t enough. Sure, you will improve a bit. Hard work always counts. But you have to understand that more and more of the very same thing will not get you to where you want to go.

For real progress and success in the gym, you must take time and focus on the barbell. Until you can casually pull 455-pounds from the floor and clean 225 for rep after rep, you have no business doing MORE conditioning work.

Instead, your primary training focus must shift towards strength. No, that doesn’t mean you will get fat. You won’t get terribly out of shape and lose your hard earned WOD-skills. The opposite is true. If you’ve been struggling to climb to the top of your whiteboard then dedicated strength training is what you’ve been missing.

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So, where do you start?

There are many variables to consider, and countless strength programs that you could choose. But none of that comes before some basic core truths. No matter your specific goal, here are three essential elements for gaining size and strength:

1. You must commit.

You can have the greatest strength program ever devised, right in the palm of your hand, but guess what? …If you fail to commit fully, you might as well be using no program at all.

Choose a program that makes sense to you. Trust it. Commit to pushing yourself and staying on plan for at least 6-months to a year. I know that seems like a very long time, especially when there’s so much other stuff you could also be working on in the gym. But that’s just a mindset limitation.

It’s possible that you’ve been relatively weak your entire life, for years and years. With better habits and training, you could easily add 4-5 pounds of solid mass month to month. So, you do the math.

Adding 30 pounds of muscle to your frame in half a year will change your life forever. There’s no better personal investment you could make than that.

2. Community is critical.

You can’t do this on your own. What you need more than anything is an objective set of eyes that can hold you accountable.

A coach is the best place to start. They will see things – both good and bad – that you simply cannot notice for yourself. That alone will save you YEARS of wasted effort and progress, but it doesn’t stop there. It’s also incredibly important to surround yourself with like-minded athletes that share your goals, commitments, habits and new lifestyle.

3. You need to eat a LOT MORE FOOD!

We’ve talked a lot about confidence, training and making commitments. But we cannot do a post about strength without pointing out one of the BIGGEST mistakes athletes make.
Listen, if you’re struggling to recover and get stronger we can almost guarantee one of two things. First, you probably don’t sleep nearly enough (Yes, you do need at least 8 hours of sleep EVERY SINGLE NIGHT). All the training in the world will do you no good if you cannot sleep, recover, and rebuild tissue.

Likewise, training can only be a constructive process when there’s plenty of resource and raw materials for building muscle, right?

You could get very fancy with your nutritional strategy, but only a few simple rules are essential. First, you cannot fear getting fat. Trying to stick to your typical strict paleo approach to eating is just not good enough. You need to start eating more calories. It’s that simple.

Just try eating more. Rice, potatoes and high-quality carbohydrates of all varieties are awesome! Also, feel free to consume dairy and milk if your digestive system can tolerate it. Tell me, what could be better for an aspiring strength athletes than a natural food specifically designed to make mammals bigger and stronger?

You won’t find a protein powder or supplement in the world that works better than a gallon of whole milk, trust us.

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If you have any questions about what it takes to build strength, just leave them in the comments below. We’d love to help you out.

Commit and train hard. We promise, the results will change your life forever! See for yourself.

Get it!

The Barbell Shrugged Team


For more

Mike Bledsoe


  • how would you combine Oly-Lifting and more traditional strength training like Squat,Press and Deadlift ?
    I´m currently on the Texas Method and would like to implement Oly-sessions

    • Hey! If you were looking to pack on pounds, but still nail down your Weightlifting Technique, make sure you are are getting 2-3 days a week of Weightlifting Practice with 3-4 exercises in each session. Maybe Do a heavy single Snatch and CJ on the weekend. If you are powerlifting , make sure and do 2 rowing type exercises for every one time you bench press and work mobility. Deadlift heavy only once a week and use clean and snatch deadlift variartions and pulls in place of other pull sessions.

    • I’ve been doing the barbell wod and skill wod. But I really want to get stronger being that I’m 5’7″ 165lbs I would love to be able to deadlift not then I squat. Squat is 315, deadlift is 365. I am not the best at the Olympic lifts. I’m guessing this is due to my poor pulls from the floor. But I’m trying to perfect my technique. Would the muscle gain challenge or strength challenge be good to gain wait and strength while I’m doing my other programs that’ are 3x a week or is layering my programs like this not a good idea. Also should I keep my coming haha. Thanks.

      • Hey Daniel, typically when trying to maximize skill, improve positions and get dialed in for the snatch and clean and jerk, that will take precedence in training over the deadlift. There’s a ton of different ways to improve the deadlift without having to deadlift! Training the Olympic lifts, there’s a ton of room to improve the posterior chain and your pulling capability so that when you get back to traditional pulls, it’s likely you’ll see improvement. I think bottom line is you CAN do it all if you want, just depending on how much you want to focus or how much you’re willing to focus on the quick lifts.

    • Hey Karl, that’s acutally pretty common! I personally think 3x a week with a focus on maximizing recovery is a great way to go. Gives you plenty of time to rest and recover, as well as my favorite…FOOD PREP!

  • concerning the ladies: since we can’t gain muscle at the same rate as the men, we can’t eat as big as the boys. What advise do you offer concerning caloric intake for an average woman who lifts moderate to heavy several days each week?

    • Hey Alice! Who says you can’t eat what as much as a guy?!?! Ha! If you wanted to really add it on, you’re going to have to focus on .75g-1g/Protein a day, and adjust fat and carbs accordingly. Feel free to shoot me an email and chat it up!
      [email protected]

    • Registration will be open soon! Sign up at to get the guide you and get on our update list so you’ll find out as soon as it’s open Workouts for this round of the program will start June 8th!

  • Not a hard gainer. 6’1 250. Look at food and put on a few Lbs. Main problem is mobility. Bad left knee and hip. Several surgeries on both. Next step is replacement. Dr. Wants me to see if I can make it to 50 before the replacements (47 now). Arthritis is a b!+€¥. Want to not loose to much strength and cut 15-20 lbs. Most lifts are ok strength wise. Back squat 400+, front 300+, C&J 275, snatch sucks 200 (power. Unable to squat overhead), deads 550, bench 350. You think it would be a good move for me to back off the weight and dedicate my attention to mobility. Only time hip and knee feel almost pain free is 15-20 minutes into my workout. What you think?

    • Hey Curtis! You are a strong dude! I’m no surgeon, but I know what has worked for me and several others in the past. Single leg work such as bulgarian split squats keep the wear and tear down on the knees compared to cleans and high bar squats. Box squats to a depth you can handle are great as well. You could add in hammy work like GHR’s RDL’s and Hammy curls to keep the balance. I’m also not against leg presses or extensions done for hypertrophy. Reps, baby! Also, row your balls off! If you can bench and row, you can stay in the strength game for sure. Focus on mobility and keeping the gainz you have, and you will be good!

  • If I am doing offseason training for a sport like hockey, should I do sprints two times a weeks for conditioning or is skating two times a week, plus powerlifting enough? I want to gain 5-10 pounds before I go back to college.

    • James, hit your squats at least twice a week, and make use of the Olympic style lifts another 2-3 times a week, be smart with peppering in presses, and hit those sport specific workout more close to the season. You can skate for skill work on days you arent lifting. Squat, press, and pull as much as you can in the off season, use olympic style lifts to stay explosive, and about 5-6 weeks out from season start the conditioning. Conditioning happens quickly. Strength does not. Drink milk, put butter on the shitloads of veggies you eat, and hit the pot roast hard. Most of all, ENJOY IT!

  • Hey, I really appreciate the strength training guide. A few weeks ago I watched the episodes about daily squatting with Cory Gregory and John Broz. Would you advice squatting everyday to gain strength? I’m not properly trained in the Olympic lifts so I’m looking to replace them on the guide until I can get a proper coach.

    • Squat as much as you can. The key bit…Doesn’t have to maximal at the start. Strength is a skill, and that takes time. So, do as many reps as you can, and increase the load as you’re able to recover. Practice makes perfect.

  • I’m a 56 year old male, soon to be 57. Currently I am struggling at my crossfit gym and feeling like I am slipping backwards. Slower, weaker. I question if this is more what I should naturally expect at my age.
    What’s your opinion on a program like yours for someone my age?
    If I were to undertake this commitment should I be modifying the program; eating; sleeping???

    • You can get strong at this age, but you will need to work very hard on recovery. That’s all. You will want to have close interaction with someone. The advantage of programs like this is that someone will work with you on making those adjustments. Get a coach, and you can get strong. No doubt. Just don’t try it all on your own. You could end up beating your body down.

  • I’m wanting to get stronger overall, but particularly, I’d like to increase upper body strength. I ran a Spartan Race in April and failed 6 obstacles due to weak upper body. I’m still having some mobility issues from doing 180 burpees (definitely don’t want to repeat that) but I want to start lifting. I’ve signed up for another race in March of next year. If I spend time solely on lifting and then start training more for conditioning a few months out, will I be likely to have more success with the obstacles I failed?


    • You should always be strength training your entire body. Squats, pulls, presses and rows at a minimum. Also probably a very good idea for you to swing some heavy kettlebells and learn snatch and clean.

      You need to always remain fit. Keep in some trail running, hill work, etc. And that volume can be high in the 8-12 weeks or so before a race. However, away from that I would really focus on progressively building strength. Especially on pull-ups.

      If you get stronger, you’ll crush all of those obstacles.

      • Right on. Thanks, Chris. Appreciate you guys (Barbell Shrugged) putting such great and varied content in one place. I’ll be following along for quite some time to be sure.

  • Giving this a try!! Been at a Crossfit box for 2.5 years to get fit, now I”m ready to get strong. Hard gainer here, so gonna be eating all the food I can find, and lifting all of things. Any encouragement and advice will be greatly appreciated!!

    • If you can tolerate it, I’d just start with having a glass with my main 3 meals of the day. Just 3 16 oz glasses a day of whole milk is an additional 900 calories.

  • I just switched to a strength based s
    12 week program. But like any man who worked his tale off to get a good toned body, I want to try and go the Sixpack and muscle definition through the summer.

    Is there a balance in the diet (consuming say 500 extra calories a week vs 900 a day) that could be used for the next 3 months or should I abandon my perception or exercise and eat my way back to 230# from 190?

  • I have been looking for a program to gain strength. I have recently just put in a home gym. I am really looking to just increase strength with some minimum weight gain. Is this a program that could be geared towards his kind of goal?

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