Building Muscle Density

Brandon Ray's strategy for building thick, rock-hard muscle
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One of the main questions I’m asked is how I’ve been able to get such a dense look with my physique.

Recently I joined a new gym, Powerhouse Gym in Burbank, CA. It’s straight-up old school and has just the right amount of equipment so you’re not overwhelmed, yet all of the perfect equipment for a bodybuilder. I joined this gym because the dumbbells go up to 200 pounds and still increase in increments of 5 pounds.

So now that I have access to these heavy-ass dumbbells, I thought I might as well put them to use. On chest day I warmed up with my typical pec-deck movement to get a good stretch in the pecs and front delts, warm up my rotator cuf, and put some blood in my pecs. Then I was of to the dumbbell rack for some flat-bench dumbbells.

Okay, because I was anxious to go as high as I could, I didn’t go to failure on my sets leading to the heaviest weight. I started with 75s. Normally I’ll do 20 reps, but I stopped at 10. Then I went up to 100s and did only 8, where I still would have done 
around 20 reps in the 
past. So basically,
 every set was just 
enough to stimulate 
but not annihilate my 
chest. Now normally,
160 pounds would
be the highest I
would go for 8–10
reps, but I blew past
 that because I had a 
lot left in my chest.
 I went to the 180s.
 Let me tell you,
it felt like I was 
holding a mini bus 
in each hand.

I was able to crank out 5 reps with perfect form with a spot for the 6th rep. I used this same method on my next exercise, incline presses on the Smith Machine. I did not go over 10 reps even on my first set of 135 pounds. Eventually, I made it up to 455 for 5 reps while screaming like a Thundercat with the Sword of Omen.

The next day my chest felt like it took a thousand punches but looked like it could stop a bullet. I thought of the great philosopher Ronnie Coleman who once said, “Everyone wants to be a bodybuilder but nobody wants to lift no heavy-ass weight.”

I had legs the day after chest, and applied this same training principle and rep range—don’t burn out so that you can put your all into the heaviest weight for 5–6 reps. Of course, a spotter is beneficial for this training method because you should choose a weight that will look back at you and call you a punk ass. You should choose a weight that you will stare at like you’re looking out of a plane and about to do a parachute jump. Grab that weight and try your best to get 5 reps with perfect form and a full range of motion.

I started this training method a month ago. My density grew exponentially. I broke past a plateau that I didn’t even realize I was sitting at and experienced new growth.

It is very important to maintain strict form when training heavier with a shorter rep range in order to not only develop muscle mass but also to prevent injury. A lot more is required from your joints and tendons, so I added glucosamine and hyaluronic acid to help lubricate them.

As the seasons change and the weather starts getting cold, it’s time to start massing up. Try this training method of not burning out until your last set with the heaviest weight and you will definitely make gains and won’t even fit through the door sideways!

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