What people are saying
By Chris Lund, physique photographer, and former Editor of the British FLEX magazine:
I’ve long believed that routines built around 20-rep squats are among the all-time best for bodybuilding, if not THE best, especially for hardgainers. One of these routines gave me more muscle growth than all the other routines I ever used put together.
Stuart specializes in bodybuilding for hardgainers, and in his latest book he has gone to town on variations of the 20-rep squat program. But I hasten to add that the book isn’t just about 20-rep squats, and it isn’t just for building big thighs. The program includes other very specific exercises, and builds muscle mass over the whole body.
The foundation of the basic program is the 20-rep squat. Stuart refers to the 20-rep squat as the “linchpin exercise.” Actually, he also provides two alternatives to the barbell squat, but the 20-rep format applies to all three of the foundation exercises.
No other publication has ever covered the application of this legendary program with the thoroughness, care and affection that Stuart has here. His reverence for it is because of one simple reason — the 20-rep squat routines can be super effective. BUT THEY MUST BE IMPLEMENTED CORRECTLY. Most people who think they know what this method is about, actually know very little about it.
Although it’s not a popular program today, over 40 years ago it used to be very popular, and built tons of muscle. It didn’t lose popularity because it doesn’t work, but because other methods received way more publicity over recent decades. Unfortunately, those other methods don’t work well for hardgainers. The time is right for a revival of 20-rep squat routines.
Stuart spells out every detail you need to apply to make the most of this wonderful method. You’ll learn the principles that underpin the routines, the essential foundation phase, the special training schedules and how to fine-tune them to best suit you, correct exercise technique in great detail, proper exercise intensity and poundage progression, and how to recuperate optimally (including nutrition).
And you’ll be inspired by two real-life illustrations of how to put the program into practice, and learn important lessons from the experiences of those two men.
Reading Stuart’s book brought back memories of my youth, and my time very well spent on a long cycle built around 20-rep squats. I trained in my own home gym in my garage in Sunderland, England. I grew muscle everywhere, and built myself up from 168 pounds to 210 pounds. For example, I gained 8 to 10 inches on my chest, and my thighs grew to 30 inches when measured at their largest girth. This was the only routine that enabled me to build a lot of muscle. When I completed the cycle I squatted 320 pounds for 20 reps. The bar I used for the squats took such a beating that it became permanently bent and was no good for anything else. But as it happened, the bend in the middle of the bar was perfect for high-rep squats, as Stuart explains in his book. The slight camber enabled the bar to stay in position on my back more easily.
If you’re unhappy with your current bodybuilding progress, why not apply Stuart’s modernized version of the 20-rep squat program? Then you’ll experience the muscle-building magic yourself, throughout your physique.
Although the book is thorough, and has over 200 large pages, it’s an easy read because it’s been written, organized and presented so well. From just a few hours study you’ll become an expert in how to apply this wonderful program, and then you can quickly get on with building your own load of muscle.
I unreservedly recommend this exceptional book.
By Steve Holman, Editor-in-Chief, Iron Man magazine:
Stuart McRobert’s new book is a tribute to the founder of this magazine, Peary Rader, even though it’s really a solid size-building guide. If you’re interested in packing on up to 50 pounds of muscle the natural way, The New BRAWN Series: Book 1 is a must-read.
In the first few pages McRobert retells the story of how Rader was very frustrated with his muscle gains for 12 years. Then he came across the 20-rep-squat routine espoused by Joseph Curtis Hise. With that system he managed to gain 10 pounds in only one month! The following two years he added 75 more pounds to his frame, and that gave him the foundation of muscle and strength to enable Peary to win the heavyweight Olympic lifting title in the Midwestern division of the USA for eight years.
Peary’s gains occurred long before steroids — he packed on pounds the natural way through a proven system that has worked for many, many trainees over multiple decades. As McRobert says, “What worked for him back then can work for you right now. Human physiology hasn’t changed.”
While the training routine is not complicated, McRobert is very thorough in his explanation of every exercise, how to get the best from progressive resistance, warming up, mind-set, and program variations. It is a large-format book with more than 200 pages. Once you read it, you’ll know how the routine works, why it works, and what to work to make it work for you. He includes plenty of exercise photographs and descriptions so you get it exactly right — and grow like crazy!
If you’re looking for a proven muscle-building program, this will be your new go-to mass cookbook. Add it to your bodybuilding library today, and start growing.
By Ian East, London, England:
Many years ago I read brief explanations about the 20-rep routine in a few magazine articles. I was sufficiently impressed by the results that were claimed for the routine that I gave it a try. But it didn’t produce any muscle growth of significance.
Then about six months ago, just after the New BRAWN Series, Book 1 was published, I was sufficiently won over by the promotional blurb that I bought a copy. Within just a few hours I had a full understanding of how to apply the 20-rep routine properly. And then I understood why I hadn’t benefited from the routine first time around. I had made so many mistakes with the application. But now, properly armed with McRobert’s thorough explanations of every detail required for proper application, I put the routine to the test for the second time. What a difference!
I gained 15 pounds, with just a half inch increase in my waist measurement, so I reckon over 10 pounds of that gain was muscle. Considering that I had already been training for many years, the 10+ pounds of muscle from just a few months was outstanding progress. I’ll be returning to the 20-rep routine next year, for a further boost in my progress.
I thought McRobert was hyping this routine up, but now that I’ve applied it as he instructs, it really is brilliant. I wish he’d written the book years ago.
By Craig K. of Pittsburgh, PA, USA:
I’ve been a huge fan of Stuart McRobert’s bodybuilding writing and publications. From his writing back in Peary Rader’s Iron Man, to publishing his own magazine HARDGAINER (which I still feel was the best magazine on bodybuilding and strength training ever), and to his BRAWN books. His latest work — the New BRAWN Series, Book 1 — continues down the path to sensible yet productive training advice seen in his earlier work. But over the years you can see Stuart fine tuning his advice.
All trainees, from beginners to anyone that has ever worked out, can benefit from this new book. Stuart leaves no stone unturned in describing how to take full advantage of “Course #1.” This training concept has been around a long time, and is very effective.
If only I had this book when I first started lifting, I would have saved a lot of frustration and made far more progress. His further pushing of the parallel grip deadlift can not be overstated. Squats are always held in such high regard, and Stuart doesn’t disagree, but he’s aware of how productive the parallel grip deadlift is. To do that exercise for 20 hard reps alone would make any training program productive. Add to it his continued promotion of abbreviated training, and you have a course that is sure to be successful. For the genetically typical trainee that refuses to take performance enhancing drugs, Course #1 is exactly what the doctor ordered. If you haven’t trained with weights or used an abbreviated weight training routine, read this book and you can skip the usual frustrating road that many of us have taken in the absence of this training knowledge.
For beginners, I feel this is a must-have book. For the advanced trainee, there is definitely enough to warrant a purchase. My only question is, if this is Book 1, when does Book 2 come out?
By Karl Coyne, Ridgewood, New York, USA:
I’m a serious and respected book collector. I’ve read and collected the majority of bodybuilding books that have hit the market during the past 50 years. I’m also a natural bodybuilder, at 44 years of age with a body fat of 6.5%. I take bodybuilding very seriously. I’m also in the process of authoring a bodybuilding reference book.
I’ve read all of Stuart McRobert’s books, and they have proven time and time again to be top of the line. They do what all bodybuilding books should do — provide readers with realistic and useful information that they can apply in order to reach their bodybuilding goals. There’s no fluff, hidden agenda, or supplement line. And all of his books are well composed.
The New BRAWN Series, Book 1, has a larger format than his previous books, which is a huge plus, and makes it very comfortable to read even for those who are not avid readers. The book measures 8-1/2 x 11 inches, and consists of just over 200 pages. Whether you’re a beginner, intermediate, or advanced bodybuilder, Stuart has provided information that will benefit you. The book covers instruction that all serious bodybuilders have applied, or should apply, at some stage of their training. And the book has a nice balance of content, illustrations and pictures, which makes his points easy to grasp.
If you’re looking to build lots of muscle, you’ll want to add this to your bodybuilding library. It will spare you tons of guesswork and wasted time, and won’t mislead you like many books and magazines do.
By Steve Wedan, Franklin, Tennessee, USA:
Part of Stuart’s particular genius has been in sifting the nuggets from the gravel and refining them into gold. This he’s done in several books and dozens of magazines, and now he’s done it again with his latest book, New BRAWN Series, Book 1: How to Build up to 50 Pounds of Muscle the Natural Way.
I was a teenager when I stumbled upon a version of the venerated Squats and Milk Program, which at that time had been around for 40 or 50 years. I didn’t get what I expected. What I got was exhausted and fat. I remember the alarm in my father’s voice when he pointed out my bulk, as bodybuilders used to term it. Dad questioned what I was doing, and, when I thought about the results I’d gotten thus far, his concern resonated with me: I could have lived with the extra bodyfat if I’d been getting the strength gains I’d hoped for, but I wasn’t.
I tried it again about 15 years later, with a modified intake of food and milk. I also didn’t attempt the routine as it had been advised many times, lifting three times per week and piling ten pounds of added weight to the squat bar every workout. The modifications I made got me better results, but still not all I’d hope for. In not allowing myself too many calories, I didn’t put on fat, and my conditioning was tremendous, but I wasn’t really gaining much in the way of size. I probably should have nudged up my calories at that point, but I felt somewhat directionless, and I just gave up. Twenty-rep squats with a heavy barbell is not something you can keep doing if you’re not highly motivated. Without proper guidance, my spirit flagged, and I shifted back into my normal routines, which at that point yielded results that were modest but reliable.
What Stuart’s new book offers is a treatment of the old approach that’s much more sane than the older, throw-caution-to-the-wind way. He equips you with all the details you need to tweak, modify, and adjust your training so that you stay injury-free and growing in muscle and might. This program holds more promise for muscle growth than any other drug-free way, in my estimation, and if you invest your will into understanding and then implementing Stuart’s wisdom and guidance, you’re going to succeed. You might, in fact, succeed beyond anything you really believe right now is possible.
Here’s a quick rundown of what you’re going to get. First, Stuart lays out the principles involved in this routine and why it works so well. Then, he discusses strategy, how you’re going to put your new knowledge into practice in sensible but effective ways.
After that, he shows you how to do what I utterly failed to do the first time I tried to follow the routine: recuperate. You already know you’re not going to grow extra muscle if the muscle you’ve already got hasn’t had a chance to recover from its last challenge. Now, you’ll find out how to recuperate with confidence.
You’ll then learn how to create and maintain the proper biological platform for growth. I don’t know if any other writer does this the way Stuart does — if they do it at all. You’ll learn, among other things, about putting yourself at the right level of leanness before beginning the program, and how to create the freedom of mobility you’re going to need to keep your newfound muscle pliant and usable.
Stuart then helps you with exercise technique. Choose the right exercises and avoid the sorts of injuries that you’ll kick yourself for incurring in ten or twenty years if you don’t learn now to avoid them. This is like a college course in exercise selection and performance.
And finally, he leads you into how you’ll use the version of the basic routine that works best for you. You’ll find multiple versions of Course #1. This is where you’ll find the difference between what will defeat you and what will be the tools for your growth.
If I’d had this book at either time in my life when I was trying to implement the so-called breathing squats program, I’m certain I would have succeeded. It might have changed my bodybuilding career — for the better.
Learn from the victories and mistakes of others who went before you: Buy this book and use it to become all you’re hoping to be!
Steve is an American artist and professor. He does both customization for customers and commissions for clients. Take a look at Steve’s work at wedangallery.com.
By Peter Johnson, Glasgow, Scotland:
I have enjoyed bodybuilding training for over 25 years, and have competed in a few natural bodybuilding competitions. I have been runner-up two times in contests in Scotland. I have tried many methods of muscle building, mostly with limited success. I had the extreme ectomorphic physique. Only by following Stuart McRobert’s training methods did I achieve good results and reach a level that enabled me to enter physique competitions. I have never come across a more effective way to train.
The New BRAWN Series, Book 1, is well structured, and the layout reminded me somewhat of an easy-to-follow college text book. But Book 1 is no ordinary text. It is a manual of instruction that, if followed, will lead the reader to a distinction in bodybuilding. And the content lends itself equally to a student or a master of bodybuilding.
Like many people, I lead a very busy life balancing a full-time job with family life and training. It is essential that the training routines in Book 1 do not take over my life. But even if I did have endless free time to devote to training, I would not deviate from the BRAWN training methods. The abbreviated routines work so well, so why add exercises and risk ruining all progress?
Book 1 caters for all shapes and sizes. As a tall, long-limbed lifter, I do not have good biomechanics for heavy squats. Book 1 reintroduces a tremendous squat alternative — the parallel grip deadlift. My local gym has a parallel grip deadlift bar, and the exercise is a core part of my training. The programs in Book 1 certainly helped me to get the best out of this exercise.
I am no novice when it comes to weight training, but I can see how the book will be well received by beginners. And if you wish to go much further, and complete in bodybuilding, Book 1 will teach you how to build the essential muscle mass.
By Paul Black, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia:
Stuart’s training principles as detailed in his BRAWN series of books have helped me tremendously. I’m finally seeing some progress again after many wasted years slaving away on the high-volume routines most commonly prescribed in bodybuilding magazines and other similar publications — routines that I now accept are clearly counterproductive for me and the majority of genetically-average trainees.
As a long-time trainee approaching my mid-40s I was beginning to think that the time had come to focus on simply maintaining the modest gains I have made over the years. However, since adopting Stuart’s training blueprint for typical drug-free trainees I realise there’s still plenty of scope for improvement. Training is now far less complicated, every rep and set has a purpose, and the duration and frequency of my training doesn’t impact on my family time.