Article Brawn – An Abbreviated Training Routine


Well-Known Member
4 Jul 2011

In my opinion, of all that has ever been written on the topic of weight training, the most comprehensive and most useful overall to the the vast majority of the population comes from Stuart McRobert. His two major works are “Brawn” and “Beyond Brawn”, both of which are essential primers in the basics of weight training, detailing everything you need to know about gaining slabs of solid muscle. His ideas of abbreviated training using basic compound exercises using a few sets per exercise, at most, twice weekly would actually promote muscle growth! The principles found in Brawn and Beyond Brawn are not a fad, gimmick or dogma and don’t pretend to be and easy quick-fix “get ripped in 6 weeks” bullshit.

Those like myself, who believe that the old maxim “less is more” holds true when it comes to weight training (and many other things), will love the simplicity of the bare-bones minimalist routines laid out in his books as “frameworks”. The reasoning here, is that one seldom needs more than one exercise per bodypart and when using heavy compounds – squat, bench, rows, deadlifts, cleans, press etc. Using these types of movements you actually get the most efficient workout by hitting several muscle groups with one exercise. McRobert’s approach aims at using the most productive movements, using them as the core or your workout routine. The typical routine of his uses 2-3 compounds per workout, along with some “accessory” movements, few overall work sets, and sufficient rest between sessions – fortified with proper rest, nutrition and lifestyle management.

The approach presented by McRobert is contrary to the “conventional wisdom” promoted by routines in the major muscle magazines on shelves today: the obligatory 6 day per week “muscle building” workout. The training reality for the vast majority of the public is about as far as you can get from these sorts of workout routines. Sadly, go into any gym and you can see the vast majority of trainers who never progress from year to year, all because they are to afraid to go against this conventional thinking of the “bodypart-a-day” 5-6-7 day a week routines. They are slowly running their growth potential into the ground by following the advice of steroid flooded, genetically gifted bodybuilders. Sure, there are those who might benefit from a high volume, high frequency routine for a limited period of time – everything “works” for a while. And these routines might initially look like they work for a beginner, for whom, everything works due to their disuse atrophy, but even this progress will be short lived as the body adapts to the stress. Too many trainers have succumbed to the “more is better” propaganda that typifies so much of our culture today.

NON-exhaustive exercise list (buy the book):

Bench Press
Weighted dip
Breathing Pullover(rib cage expansion: 20 rep variety… generally speaking, to be done after a compound movement that will have you somewhat winded if possible)

1-Arm rows

Trap-Bar Deadlift
Calf raises

Overhead Pressing of all kinds… although he stresses caution with standing military due to potential back injury with poor form.

Probably not essential to the program, and towards the end of a training cycle when things slow down, will be one of the first exercises to be dropped to save recovery ability for the more important lifts.

General accessory (all done progressively) :
Abdominal work

Sample #1:
Squat 3x5
Seated Calves 2x12-20 Rep Range
Leg Press 1x20
Breathing Pullovers 2x15-20 Rep Range
Hypers 2x12-25 Rep Range

Deadlift 3x3
Pullups 3x10
45 Degree Shrugs 2x10-15 Rep Range
Thick Bar Holds 1x60/30
BB Curls 3x10-15 Rep Range

Bench Press 3x5
Push Press Rep Range 5-10
Breathing Pullover 15-20 Rep range
Triceps Pressdowns Rep Range 12-20
Abs 2x10
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Active Member
1 Oct 2011
They say that McRobert takes the fun out of weight training. Just no nonsense training bit by bit, slow but steady progress.


Global Moderator
Staff member
1 Jun 2011
They say that McRobert takes the fun out of weight training. Just no nonsense training bit by bit, slow but steady progress.
It may be boring but unless you are blessed with great muscle building genetics make-up, it is difficult to go wrong if you follow his method. The growth may be slow. But slow progression is better than no progression.