Fred Hatfield Reviews "BUILT TO THE HILT"

TAGS: Fred Hatfield, Built to the Hilt, Dr. Squat, bodybuilding, Josh Bryant

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!

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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 12Stretching

Chapter 13: Testing and Evaluation

Chapter 14: Top Ten Exercises

Chapter 15: Bodybuilding Routines

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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 hypertrophy gains.

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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, deadlift and bar dips. His rationale is elegantly simple. These are the lifts which involve the greatest amount of muscle, and thus provide 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. 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 burns more fat. Interval training. In fact, high intensity interval training. With dumbbells, kettlebells, and other mediums. Then there’s strongman training.

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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 than 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.

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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.

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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 seen anywhere.

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!

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