Build Muscle Fast With The 8 x 8 System

By Gregg Gillies

The 8 x 8 system is a very unique, and highly
productive training program devised by legendary
trainer Vince Gironda, that will help you quickly
build muscle and lost fat without aerobics.

Keep in mind, while you will build muscle fast
with this system, it is very demanding and definitely
not for beginners. You need to have about two years
of training under your belt before you tackle this
weight lifting program.

You can build muscle mass with the 8 x 8 system due
to it's unique design. It's a fast-tempo, high-volume,
size-building weightlifting routine. It's not designed
to build much strength. It's solely for building muscle
and losing body fat at a rapid pace. You'd like to
build muscle mass and lose body fat, wouldn't you?

The short rest periods will tax your cardiovascular
system much in the way high intensity interval training
for cardio does.

Here's the scoop: You perform 3 to 4 exercises per muscle
group and you do 8 sets of 8 reps for each exercise. Yes,
that's 24 - 32 sets per muscle group! Normally, I'd say
that you'll overtrain in a week on this type of volume, but
this weight training program is quite different than what
you are used to.

You work two or three muscle groups per session and you
rest only 15 to 30 seconds between sets and complete
each workout in about 45 minutes - never more than 60.

This program, properly performed, will build muscle mass fast. Even
with the large number of sets, it will crank up your intensity
level by performing all this work in a short period of time.
This is much different than the endless volume, 2 to 3 hour
marathon workouts.

An absolute key to gaining muscle mass is overload, or progressive
resistance. This is usually accomplished by adding weight
to your exercises but this is not the only way to achieve overload
on your muscles. Another is to do more work in less time, which
is exactly what you get with this weight training system.

This weight training program will be a serious shock to your system.
It's nothing like the bodybuilding programs you see everyone else
in your gym doing. Not even close. In fact, I would bet you've
never seen one person in your gym train on this routine.
But, hey, how many of them have you seen lose fat or gain mass quickly or,
for that matter, make any positive changes in their body recently?

How Much Rest Between Sets?

The idea is minimum rest. This means working
down to 30 seconds between sets at a minimum,
and if you really want the program to work and quickly build
muscle, you'll need to get down to 15 to 20 seconds between
sets. With a typical tempo of about 4 seconds per rep,
you should be able to complete a 24 set workout in
18 - 21 minutes and 32 sets will take 25 to 28 minutes.
Sounds painful, doesn't it? But it works. And you do
want to build muscle, don't you?

Whatever exercise you're doing, don't let go of the
bar or dumbbells between sets. If you're benching,
keep your hands on the bar once you rack it. Doing
deadlifts with straps? Keep the straps on and your
hands in place between sets.

How Much Weight Should You Use

At first, you'll see a large drop in the amount of
weight you'll be using. Hey, not many of use are
used to 15 seconds between sets. Most of us take
at least a minute, if not two or three when we are training
heavy. Most likely, you'll need to drop your weights by
about 40 percent of what you typically use for a set of
8 reps. If you bench press 150 pounds for 8 reps with
60 to 90 seconds between sets, you'll most likely need
to reduce the poundage to about 90 pounds (if not lighter
for the first workout or two). As you adapt, start to
build muscle, and get used to the short rest periods,
you'll see your weights move back up.

You have to select the proper starting weight. This is
so important in your ability to build muscle and
be successful with this training program. The first workout
or two should be pretty easy as you get used to the program.
This will help you build momentum moving forward and allow
you to progress over a 4 to 6 week period of intense weight
training. Besides building momentum, the first two workouts
should be pretty easy so you don't end up with debilitating
soreness that keeps you out of the gym for a week.

You'll be using the same weight on every set. It's okay
to drop to 6 or 7 reps on the last set or two, but if you
drop below 8 on your fourth or fifth set, the weight is too

When you can easily complete eight sets of eight reps,
it's time to up the weight at the next workout.

Obviously, you won't be training to failure on most of
your sets. Most likely you'll only do so on the last
set or two of each. However, you will be training like
your've never trained before. This routine is brutal on
your body and, especially, on your mind. This is even
more true on the big compound exercises, like dips, deadlifts,
squats and bent over rows.

Don't think you can handle this intense muscle building
weight lifting routine? You could start out by applying
this technique to one body part. If you are going to do
that, you'll want to cut back on the rest of your training.
Also, if you want results, you'll perform the routine on
the big muscles, like the back, and not use it just
for biceps. This is what I usually do. I'll perform the
8 x 8 routine on one bodypart at a time. It's a great way
to keep your routine fresh and prevent burnout.

Here's an example of a complete routine:

Day 1

Decline Bench Press 8 x 8

Decline DB Flyes 8 x 8

Dips 8 x 8


Dumbbell Upright Rows 8 x 8

Bent Over Lateral Raises 8 x 8

Day 2


Leg Press 8 x 8

Leg Extensions 8 x 8

Leg Curls 8 x 8

Standing Calf Raises 8 x 8

Day 3


Two-dumbbell Rows 8 x 8

Dumbbell or Machine Pullovers 8 x 8

Lat Pulldowns 8 x 8


Weighted Crunches 8 x 8

Day 4


Tricep Pressdowns 8 x 8

Overhead Extensions 8 x 8


Barbell Curls 8 x 8

Incline DB Curls 8 x 8

For many of you, even fewer sets may be more effective, as you can
quickly overtrain on a program like this. I don't recommend performing
this weight training routine for more than 4 - 5 weeks before taking a complete
week of rest from the gym.

Keep in mind that weightlifting workouts like this are a great way
to quickly build muscle but it's also a great way to lose fat,
completely change the shape of your body, and keep the fat off.
Weight lifting is much more effective for fat loss than aerobics
or dieting alone.

Gregg Gillies is the founder of
His articles have appeared in Ironman Magazine. He has written two books
and is a regular contributor to Body Talk Magazine. He publishes a free
fitness newsletter available at his site that includes
lots of weight training tips, fat loss, nutrition and exercise
program information to help you build your best body as quickly as
possible. check it out at Build Muscle
and see how you can get a customized muscle building nutrition plan at

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