Creating A Muscularly Strong And Superbly Conditioned Body
That Will Last A Lifetime
by Fred Hatfield
Up front? This is not just another bodybuilding book. The title, Built To The Hilt,
implies that if you follow Bryant’s formulae for training, you’ll get extremely muscular.
You will, make no mistake! But you are also going to get more fit than you’ve ever
been, and you will learn the real secrets to staying that way for your entire life!
See, folks, back in the 40s, 50s and 60s, as far back as I can personally remember,
bodybuilding was regarded as the ultimate means to fitness, and for good reason.
Competitive bodybuilders were judged not only for muscularity and symmetry, they were
also judged by their level of success in sports participation! Modern bodybuilders have
no such standards to be judged by. Just get bigger and more shredded than the other
competitors, and you win! Fitness and health have nothing to do with it. So, Built To
The Hilt is a bit of a throwback in that respect, because it places a premium on health
and fitness, but it also may very well be the most scientifically sound how-to book on the
topic available today!
Here’s the lineup:
Chapter 1: Bodybuilding Methods and Traditions
Chapter 2: Hypertrophy and Adaptations to Strength Training
Chapter 3: Back to the Basics
Chapter 4: Periodization
Chapter 5: Bringing Up Symmetry and Attacking Weaknesses
Chapter 6: Bands and Chains Break into Bodybuilding
Chapter 7: Aerobic Training
Chapter 8: Injuries in Bodybuilding
Chapter 9: Bodybuilding Sports Psychology
Chapter 10: Nutrition
Chapter 11: Recovery
Chapter 12: Stretching
Chapter 13: Testing and Evaluation
Chapter 14: Top Ten Exercises
Chapter 15: Bodybuilding Routines
Before examining the contents of this 438 page tome on muscle training more
thoroughly, let me introduce you to the author, Josh Bryant. He has a Master's degree in
Exercise Science, has won many national and world titles in powerlifting and strongman,
and was the youngest person in powerlifting history, at 22, to bench press 600 pounds
raw. Bryant has squatted 909 in the USPF, officially bench pressed 620 pounds raw, and
officially deadlifted 800 pounds raw. Bryant is a speed, strength, and conditioning coach
for some of the strongest and most muscular athletes in the world. Along with his
receiving ISSA certifications in fitness training, nutrition, and conditioning, he was recently
awarded the prestigious title of Master of Fitness (MFS) by the ISSA. So, you can see that
you will be reading wisdom from deeply passionate experience, as well as learned principles from
the hallowed towers of Academe.
Now, the book. Bryant dives into deep water right off the block. Systems of training, ranging from
the ever-popular and simplistic approach of the “set system” all the way through pyramiding, post-
exhaustion, forced reps, —even the old Mentzer “heavy duty” and CAT (compensatory
acceleration training) systems are covered in minute detail over the first 50 pages of text. Bryant is
no stranger to any of these systems, either from the standpoint of practical application or from the
standpoint of scientific scrutiny. You get the feeling that he’s done it all, and simply knows. You
will know as well. There will be no shadow of turning.
Then, flying through the gears, Bryant progresses from simple explanations of these systems to
the science behind them all (if any science is there in the first place). Bryant explains in beautifully
understandable language what muscle structure and function are all about and what your nervous
system has to do with lifting. You will see satellite cell proliferation, fiber recruitment, sliding
filament and the all-or- none theories of muscle contraction. These are the important mechanisms
that support muscle hypertrophy, and — well — ya just gotta know this stuff to optimize your
Bryant then takes a novel approach, one that you rarely see bodybuilders take. He hammers the
basic lifts, the ones that give the most bang for the buck: squat, bench press, deadliest and bar
dips. His rationale is elegantly simple. These are the lifts which involve the greatest amount of
muscle, and thus provides the greatest hormonal response.
Periodization, as a general rule, has been all-but- absent in bodybuilding circles, probably because
it can be so complex. But overtraining has been such a problem that periodization just kept
popping up it’s head, saying, “I am the answer.” Indeed it is, and Bryant masterfully guides you
through all of the important laws of training science, through foundational training systems and
arriving at a system of training that is fully periodized and which is (finally) gaining widespread
acceptance in the muscle world.
One problem that is unique to bodybuilding, and which rivals periodization in its importance to
bodybuilders, is how to overcome problems with symmetry. There are a lot of techniques
bodybuilders have used over the years to achieve a more balanced, aesthetically pleasing
appearance, and Bryant puts them all on the table.
Is aerobic training necessary? In a word, Ugh! Bryant shows you a better way, one that will not
waste muscle, and which burns more fat. Interval training. In fact, high intensity interval training.
With dumbbells, kettlebells, and other mediums. Then there’s strongman training.
Dealing with injuries is important in any sport. Bryant sought the masterful assistance of Joe
Giandonato, MS, CSCS to do this section of the book. Giandonato, whose resume is impressive
indeed, covers each area and joint of the body, and how to treat or prevent injuries from
bodybuilding training. Nothing is more frustrating and time-wasting as getting injured. Bryant
picks up the ball later in the book and spends a lot of time talking about recovery, sleep, nutrition,
stretching and other modalities important in dealing with injury prevention and treatment. It is to
your own peril to gloss over these sections of the book, folks. Yes, they are that important!
Now, every athlete has a rudimentary understanding of psychology. But did you know that you
can train your mind just as you can train your body? Yeah, there’s an app for that, and Bryant lays
it out pretty cogently in this book. Spend some time learning how to condition your mind. You will
learn some highly beneficial things that will stay with you throughout your entire lives.
The general areas of nutrition and recovery go hand-in- hand. If you were to poll a hundred top
bodybuilders, I daresay that almost all of them would place these areas well above lifting in their
overall impact on one’s physique. Beliefs like, “Bodybuilding is 75 percent nutrition and 25 percent
lifting” are quite common. No area of bodybuilding science has been given more scrutiny than diet
and supplementation, and Bryant is a master at it.
So, how do you determine whether you’re making progress? The ol’ mirror test? Ask a buddy?
Ask a boyfriend? Girlfriend? Spouse? Haha! Your fragile ego would simply scream! You can’t
do that! Fortunately, there are some rather objective self-assessment methods at your disposal.
The section of the book that will get the most attention by a majority of lifters will no doubt be the
section where Bryant lays out the best exercises, techniques and routines for each muscle. He
covers the top ten exercises for each body part, and meticulously explains how each is to be done
for the greatest gains possible. His final chapter on bodybuilding routines is the best I have ever
There you have it, folks. Quite possibly the single most important bodybuilding book in existence
today. I do not say this lightly, as I have written several over the years. Bryant
has a way of picking up where all of the rest of us had left off. Great book! I recommend it!
Get your copy HERE.
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