Hardcore Training

By Ross Enamait - Published in 2006

An Experiment In Mass-building And Athletic Performance

Video Overview

This video was filmed at the conclusion of an experimental mass-building program (2006). During this time, I set out to gain mass, without sacrificing other athletic attributes such as speed, agility, mobility, endurance, and power. This video clip demonstrates the results of the experiment, shows some of the movements that I used, and offers readers ideas to spice up their own routines.

Background Information

For most of my life, I have participated in sports (ex. boxing) that required me to compete at specific weight classes. Gaining mass was never an option. On the contrary, I've spent a good part of my life trying to cut weight for competitions. Aside from heavyweight fighters, all combat athletes can relate to the difficult and unpleasant task of losing weight for a weigh-in.

As I transitioned from athlete to trainer, I still found myself subconsciously trying to maintain my fighting weight. I didn't want to creep too high, as I felt the need to stay in fighting shape. My philosophy as a trainer is that one must walk the walk. I always test the routines that I create. I want to see and feel what each routine produces. Far too many trainers in today's polluted strength and conditioning industry design programs that have never been tested or utilized in the real world.

Living with the mentality that one must walk the walk, I never had a need to gain mass. I rarely recommend bulking up when working with fighters. Added mass does not guarantee improved performance.

Why Perform The Experiment?

Many athletes have come to me and expressed a need to gain mass without sacrificing athletic ability. Consider professional boxing as a classic example. Many fighters must move up in weight to find more lucrative paydays. Bernard Hopkins recently moved up 15 pounds from middleweight to light heavyweight when facing Antonio Tarver. After gaining 15 pounds of muscle, Bernard was stronger, perhaps faster, and certainly a busier fighter than he had been in recent bouts. The added size did not impede his performance. Bernard's complete dominance over Antonio Tarver offers proof that a fighter can gain mass without hindering performance.

Unfortunately, not all fighters have shared the success of Bernard Hopkins when moving up in weight. It is actually more common to fail when jumping from one weight class to the next.

Why does this happen?

Many strength coaches are uneducated regarding the physical requirements of a fighter. These trainers prescribe bodybuilder-type workouts that build mass, with no consideration for athletic qualities such as speed-strength and agility. You cannot train with the sole goal of hypertrophy and expect performance to improve.

With that said, there is nothing wrong with setting a goal (one of many) to gain useful mass. I make this statement particularly for non-combat athletes. If you are not fighting within a specific weight class, there is a good chance that you will welcome some added muscle mass. For example, added mass may help to improve your self-confidence.

Do It Right, Or Don't Do It

If you wish to gain mass, you owe it to yourself to do it the right way. After all, why change your physique if it will sacrifice your ability to use it?


Over a period of approximately 4 months, I was able to gain 12 pounds. Although 12 pounds is certainly not a huge increase in size, it would be equivalent to moving up one or two weight classes as a fighter.

After gaining the mass, I do not notice any changes to my conditioning. I am still a "conditioning fanatic" and have been able to maintain the same level of intensity while training. In addition, I have not noticed any reductions in speed or power. Overall, I feel as fast and explosive as I did prior to gaining the weight.

My experiment has shown me that one can gain size without impairing other athletic qualities. In my opinion, the most important aspect of mass building takes place in the kitchen. I did not make many changes to my actual training plan. The biggest change to my daily schedule was related to food consumption. I simply ate larger meals with greater frequency. The intense nature of my conditioning workouts allowed me to eat more without gaining body fat.


Despite the results of my experiment, it would still be rare that I recommend gaining mass as a fighter, unless a specific fight is available to you in a higher weight class. Simply gaining mass will not make you a better fighter. If however, you have a lucrative opportunity in a higher weight class, you can successfully gain weight with the right program.

If you do not compete within a specific weight class, you will be more likely to pursue mass gaining initiatives. If you find yourself in this position, I suggest following the abbreviated list of recommendations contained within this article. Take your time and continue to focus on the complete package. Do not put all of your eggs into one basket. There is much more to physical fitness than simply gaining 10 pounds of mass.

For more information regarding strength training for fighters, refer to this article.

Hardcore Video - Exercise Descriptions

Lastly, please note that the exercises within this video do not represent a sample workout. I have simply video taped a few random exercises in hope that you can find some ideas to enhance your own workouts.

Works Cited
Siff, M.C. (2003). Supertraining, 6th Edition. Supertraining Institute. Denver, CO.

About the Author - Ross Enamait is an innovative athlete and trainer, whose training style is among the most intense that you will find. Ross is committed to excellence and advancements in high performance conditioning and strength development. He has a sincere interest in helping today's athlete in their quest for greatness.

Ross has authored several training manuals, and operates a training business in the New England area. Feel free to contact him at ross@rosstraining.com, and follow his regular updates at www.rosstraining.com/blog