Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Shotgunning the 350 method with Base Building

Everyone knows what calling "shotgun!" means.  It means you get the co-pilot seat.  You're not driving, but if the driver dies, you have some responsibility.  That's what Norm McDonald said about riding in the front passenger seat anyway.

The same can be applied to how to use the 350 method with your assistance work to support your main movements.  Use it as a nice compliment to keep the main work company, and also as a way to keep your assistance work in check yet keep you focused on hitting some PR's.

By keeping assistance work in check I mean, far too many guys make their assistance work the main dish rather than the co-pilot.  It should be in place to help you grow larger, and help the main movement in some way, shape, or form.

I have found that the 350 method does this perfectly.

What is the 350 method?  

I can't believe how many times I've had to explain this method to people.  To me it seems very simple, yet I still get a ton of questions about it, or someone doesn't understand it when I explain it.

You pick a weight, and do three sets with it.  Over those three sets, you try to get 50 total reps.

For example......

For incline press I did 275x20, 9, 8 = 37 total reps

That means I'm 13 reps short of the goal of 50.

Seems simple right?

I thought so too.  Yet I still get a ton of questions about how to use this method, or someone mentions how they did it, and it was all wrong.

This is not difficult.

3 sets
50 total reps over the three sets
Use the same weight for all three sets
Rest only 2-3 minutes between sets MAX

There's literally nothing else to explain.  This isn't quantum physics.

Building bodyparts with the 350 method - 

For the most part, I've used the 350 method for incline press as the main assistance work.  And this has worked VERY well.  Not only for myself, but pretty much every client I've had use it.

Since it has worked so well for pressing, I thought it was finally time to start implementing it into other movements, or at least brainstorm what movements it would indeed work well with.

Since I prefer the 350 method as an offseason staple, let's use it like a bodybuilding method and talk about it in terms of bodyparts, and not "movements" at first.

Shoulders - 

If you have a military press day, which seems to be really popular now and I don't know why, as I hate the fucking movement like John Wayne Gacy hated young boys having oxygen, the best way to implement the 350 method would be to follow up your standing press with either seated db press, or side laterals.

Standing Press - whatever it is you do
Seated Db Press - 350 method

next session -

Standing Press - more shit
Side Laterals - 350 method

Triceps - 

If you don't bench close grip then using the close grip bench with the 350 method would be a great idea.

The other movement you could do would be dips.  Although little guys always brag on their dipping strength because they weight sub-200 pounds and can do a million.  But let's keep things in perspective for everyone here, because even I can do 50 dips myself nonstop at 270 pounds.

Add some weight.  Doesn't have to be much, but adding a 45 pound plate to almost anyone will cut the reps down significantly.

If your elbows are beat up I have found that one of those dip machines, for whatever reason, seem to bother me a little less than real dips.  I also love overhead rope extensions as well.  Nothing actually gets my triceps more sore than those do.

Bench - Base Building Method I,II,III
Pressing Movement 2
Pulling Movement I
Pick one:  Dips/Machine Dips/Close Grip Bench/Overhead Tricep Rope Extensions - 350 method

Biceps - 

This will be the shortest installment.

Pick a curl.  Do the 350 method.

Chest - 

There is some overlap here with triceps.  By that I mean, I generally like to do my tricep work the same day I press.  And if you're doing dips or close grip bench with the 350 method then your chest is getting worked.  However, if your chest REALLY lags, I have a better solution than that.

Actually.....target.....the chest.

A lot of guys chests lag behind because they have really strong shoulders and/or triceps.  So when they press, those bodyparts do the bulk or the prime moving, and the chest sort of just hangs around and helps out the best it can.

Now if the chest can be brought up to match the strength of the triceps and delts, that lifters pressing will indeed go up (granted the movement still has to be trained...this isn't magical).

So let's use movements that actually target the chest a little better, than just pressing.  Some of these movements would be the dumbbell flye, pec deck machine, cable cross over, and the wide grip incline press.

If the chest was going to be emphasized in the workout using the 350 method, here's how we could structure that.

Bench - Base Building Method I,II, III
Wide Grip Incline Press - 350 method
Flat Db Flye/Pec Deck/Cable Cross-Over - 350 method

For chest, I really do prefer two movements because I have found, for whatever reason, that the chest really likes a lot of extra work.  Maybe it's because it just sits there on top of your sternum all day doing very little and needs more attention, but the chesticles seem to respond well to a lot of extra work.

Back - 

Implementing back work with the 350 method would best be served by understanding movements and how they impact the musculature back there.

To keep it simple, we will divide it into two patterns.  Vertical movements, and horizontal movements.

Or to go with bodybuilder speak, basically you have pulldowns or chins, and then rows.  Pulldowns and chins tends to  primarily work the lats, while rows tend to work the rhomboids, traps, and midback.

My opinion is that back should get a lot of extra work, so there's no reason to not get 3 back sessions in every 10 days or so.  One of those should have a deadlift in it.  So over the span of those three workouts we could situate the work like so....

Workout 1 -
Deadlifts - Base Building Method I,II,III
Barbell Rows - 350 method
Shrugs - 4x20

Workout 2 -
Chins - 50 total reps
Lat Pulldowns - 350 method
Shrugs - 4x20

Workout 3 -
T-Bar rows - 350 method
Db Rows - 1x30
Shrugs - 4x20

Legs - 

For legs obviously I would prefer the 350 method come after a squat, or front squat.  All depending on what the lifter needed, the 350 method could be applied to focus on quads or hamstrings.  Since we can simply rotate between a squat and a front squat workout, why not just address both?

Day 1 - Quad centric
Squats - Base Building Method I,II,III
Leg Press - 350 method
Leg Extension - 350 method

Day 2 - Hamstring centric
Front Squats - Base Building Method I,II,III
High Foot Wide Sumo Leg Press - 350 method
Leg Curls (seated or standing) - 350 method

The sumo leg press is where you place your feet as high and as wide on the leg press as you can.  This was a staple hamstring movement by DoggCrapp and the people that followed his methods.  I can tell you that it does indeed work very well.

Selecting weights - 

It would be dismissive of me to not include a section on what weights to select.  Or namely, how to understand what weights to select.

Obviously, you are going to want to start light.  For example I have a max incline press of around 440-445 pounds.  I am using 275 as my base weight for the 350 method right now, and still a little ways away from hitting the goal of 50 reps with that.   So that's about 62% of my max.

My suggestion would be to start at 50% of your max and go from there.  I started with 225 on incline, and did that for a while before I shredded the 50 reps.  I took a little time off from the 350 before I started back, and immediately went to 275 even though 245 may have been a better choice.  My reason for this is because I want to be a little more challenged and also to have a weight I can stick with a little longer.

I will say this, if you can't hit 18 reps on your first set, you're probably way too heavy.  I can do 315x14 on incline but I'm WAAAY off of using that for my 350 method.  WAY off.  So you get the point there.  I would use 18 reps for set 1 as the bare minimum in terms of a starting point.

Closing - 

There are TONS of variations to use the 350 method with so this article is by no means the final word on doing so.  Try some of your own favorite movements with it and see how it feels.  Make sure once you do decide to use it, stick with it for a while.  Much like the 100 rep work I promoted in the past, this has REAL merit in terms of mass but also appears to have a very nice carryover into your base work as well.



  1. Excellent. Love the flexibility of the BBM.

  2. Lmao at that john wayne gacy line , had me in tears. Question..i squat and deadlift in the same workout.. For assistance work would it be wise to lets say do both a quad and a hamstring movement using this method?

    1. Just rotate. One day finish with a quad, the next time a hamstring.

    2. I showed my girlfriend that comment. She didn't know who he was. So I proceeded to choke her.

      Just kidding. But seriously great article, plan on implementing it in my training.

  3. tried this last night after deadlifts- humbling... tried some close pulldowns and chest supported rows just to see how i liked it - i feel ' good sore ' in that even though i was going relatively light, i can tell the muscles were really worked..

  4. Well im just here to say thanks. 350 method clean up my bad habit of doing too much and having no progression for assistance lifts. Now everything is going up slowly but steady!

  5. Can pjr pull overs be used for Triceps 350 method?

  6. I attempted 350 for a couple of weeks on my main lifts (Bench, squat, etc), while it was brutal it was very effective. I had been stuck at a 265 squat forever and after doing 350 at 185, then 195 I hit 275. I know that's not a massive jump for this forum, but for me it was personally HUGE! What are your thoughts on using the heavy warmup and then 350 method on the primary lifts and not just assistance?