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Get Better Results Than 99% of Guys At The Gym

This is for you if you’ve never seen the results you wanted from your workouts. If you want to build muscle, lose body fat, or both. If you’re tired of always looking the same. 

Reading and applying the following advice will put you in the 1%. 

You’ll build more muscle, make more progress, and find it easier to stick to. 

The big idea here is to train like you’re building a wall.

If you lay a bunch of bricks one day, then leave and go start building a wall somewhere else tomorrow, you’ll never get anywhere.

But if you keep coming back to that same place and laying bricks on that same wall for weeks, months, and years, you’ll build something incredible.

If that sounds like a new idea to you, what I’m about to tell you will change what you do at the gym for the rest of your life.

Having a plan drops the first 88% of guys.

It’s more than just building muscle that stretches your shirt sleeves too.

Your motivation goes up when you know exactly what to do.

It’s time to stop thinking about your workouts as a random batch of exercises you throw at your body in hopes that something sticks. 

You’re in there to improve your performance on a handful of specific tasks. 

Just like a builder builds a wall…

Each time you hit the gym, you pick up where you left off. 

Stop guessing which exercises you’ll do on which days.

Plan out:

  • How many sets you’ll do

  • How hard you’ll train

  • How much weight you’ll use

  • How many reps you’ll do

Here’s a simple starting place for each of those. 


Assuming you’re going to the gym 3x/week, you’re going to want to train your whole body every time you go – because stimulating muscle growth is kind of like prodding a sleeping cat. 

That cat wakes up and walks around for a bit before laying back down to sleep. 

In the case of muscle growth, after you train – muscle growth will be elevated for about 36 hours. Then, just like the cat, it returns to baseline. 

It makes sense to train frequently to continue stimulating that growth. 

So you’ll train everything on Mon-Wed-Fri to see your best progress. 


Quad Exercises – Leg Press, Back Squat, Lunges, Front Squat, Smith Squat

Hamstring / Hip-Hinge Exercises – Deadlift, Sumo DL, DB Deadlift, Stiff Leg Deadlift, Ham Curl

Pull Exercises – Lat Pull Down, Chin Ups, Assisted Chins, SA DB Row, Bent Over BB Row, Seated Cable Row

Push Exercises – Machine Fly, BB Bench Press, BB Incline Press, DB Flat Bench, DB Incline Bench, Cable Fly, Pushups

Shoulder Exercises – BB Upright Row, DB Lateral Raise, Cable Upright Row, Cable Lateral, Cable Face Pull

Bicep Exercises – DB Curl, Hammer Curl, Cable Curl, EZ Bar Curl, BB Curl, Incline Curl

Tricep Exercises – JM Press, DB Skullcrusher, BB Skullcrusher, Rope Pushdowns, OH Extensions

This would be a good format for a guy who wants to see more muscle on his whole body, especially his upper body. 

Here’s a sample session:

Back Squat

Stiff Leg Deadlift

DB Bench Press

Lat Pull Down

Incline Curl 

Rope Pushdown

DB Lateral Raise

Do the same thing for Wednesday and Friday, with different exercises. 

Grab Your Free Training Tracker

I want you to stick with these exercises for at least a month. 

Unless you get joint pain, or something really is bothering you, just stick with them – even if they don’t feel perfect on day 1… you’ll improve. 

You’ll learn – “If I put my hand here when I press… that feels good”.

The only way to get better is to repeat exercises. 

Write this all down in a notebook, or use a Google sheet, like the free tracker available above!


How many sets to do is another way of asking, ‘How Much Should You Train’.

This will be different for everyone and might change over time. Here’s a good place to start and a simple method to adjust based on your individual progress. 

Start with two sets per exercise across the board. 

Seriously, that’s it. 

If you’ve been out of the gym for a while, or are brand new to it… this will be PLENTY. 

Especially if you follow the advice in the following section. 

But we can always adjust accordingly. 

If you’re doing too much, drop a set

You’ll know that’s you if you’re:

  • Still sore in the target muscles you trained earlier in the week.

  • Too smoked to continue giving good effort WITHIN the session. Or,

  • Getting biblical pumps during your sessions that lead to DEEP lasting soreness for multiple days. 

If you’re doing too little, add a set

You’ll know that’s you if:

  • You’re never really getting many pumps within the session, and not getting much soreness in the target muscle.

  • It doesn’t really feel like much work, you think you could do much more quality work, and you are well beyond recovered next time you go to train. 

ONLY add/remove 1 set per exercise, per week. 

Look back at your notes from the previous session to make that decision at the end of the week. 


Pushing hard puts a nail in the coffin for almost every other guy in the gym.

This means serious efforts against challenging weights. 

If you’re brand new to this – just push your sets until you are challenged. That means the weight feels HARD to move, the bar may slow down, or you might have to abandon your technique to do the next rep. 

That’s a great place to start. 

As you get more comfortable with that, you can introduce the idea of Reps in Reserve, (RIR). 

This is how many more quality, technically sound reps you could have done at the end of your set. 

1RIR = I could’ve done 1 more good rep. 

For most folks, keeping your training around 0RIR to 2RIR, for the most part, is a great idea. Erring on the side of 2RIR for big nasty stuff (like squats, leg press, and bench press) that would be a disaster to fail on. 


You’re going to do between 5 and 25 reps for your exercises. 

Keep it on the lower end for big, gnarly, multi-joint movements like squats and deadlifts. 

Try single-joint movements like lateral raises and curls in the 10-25 range. 

Feel free to experiment with what works best for you

That means getting a TON of high-quality muscle stimulation without beating up your joints and connective tissue too much. 

Eg. Squats in the 5-12 rep range cause my quads to feel like they’ve had a bike pump inserted into them. 

15-20 reps just bothers my lower back. 

The opposite is true for leg press. 

Try things out for yourself. 


This is also now a much easier question to answer since we know how hard to train and how many reps you want to be doing.

Use the weight that lets you hit your target rep range for challenging sets. 

How to find that? Do warm-up sets. 

Start with the empty bar, body weight, or a lighter setting on the machine. Do a set of 10-20 reps. 

Slowly add load in small jumps, doing sets of 5 or so, until you reach a set that feels challenging within that 5-25 rep range. 

Write that weight down, and stick with it for your following sets! 

Tracking your progress is the natural sequel.

If you’re not doing this, I bet it’s why you think the gym sucks.

Seeing your numbers go up in the gym will do as much for your adherence as it will for your progress. Write down which exercises you do, how much weight you use, and the sets/reps you do.

Aim to beat these scores by a rep or two each week. 

If the reps are climbing out of the rep range you want to use for that exercise, add 2-3% more weight, and start again! 

Week 1 – Squat 45 lb x 9, 7

Week 2 – Squat 45 lb x 12, 10

Week 3 – Squat 45 lb x 16, 11

Week 4 – Squat 50 lb x 9, 8

Remember how I like to keep my squats under 12?

That’s how I’d manage the progression. 

Adding weight and reps over time is crucial to training. 

If you remember nothing else from this article – only remember this. 

A trainer I used to work with saw me trying to grow my triceps early on in my training career. 

Week after week, I’d do pushdowns with 25-30lb, sets of 10-15 reps every week.

One day he approached me and asked how those were going. 

“My triceps aren’t really growing, idk”

“That’s because you already have 25lb for 15 rep triceps”, he said, looking straight into my soul. “If you want more, you gotta do more”.

I’ll never forget that. If you want more, you gotta do more.

THAT is the underpinning of making progress that you can notice in the gym. 

Without making progress, you won’t make any progress. 

Bizarre, huh?


Using good technique keeps you safer.

It sharpens your hard efforts into something that will transform your body.

Lower the weights under control. Every inch. 

Be sure you’re challenging the muscle that you’re trying to target.

Push or pull hard to return to the start position. 

Go as deep as you are comfortable with each exercise. 

Getting into a big stretch under load is probably a smart idea if you want to grow. 

They’ve done research where they just put people into a boot that forcibly stretched their calves. 

Their calves grew.


If a specific exercise is bothering your {insert joint here} in some way, try swapping something. 

Maybe that thing is how wide you’re gripping the bar. How narrow your feet are. Use a dumbbell instead of a barbell. Machine instead of free weights. 

If things still aren’t comfortable, swap the exercise.

You’ll never be able to push hard and grow muscle if you’re in pain. 

Focus is what turns all this sunlight into something powerful.

The way I see it, there are two kinds of focus. 

Short-term focus and long-term focus.

Short-term is about doing what’s right in front of you with the highest degree of excellence that you can. 

Push that set HARD. Keep your technique CRISP. Track your sessions

Make every rep count.

Long-term focus is just about doing that consistently

Stringing together huge streaks of completed workouts. Multiplying those great reps into great sets. Into great workouts. Into great months, and years. 

Stay with this for long enough, and you’ll just run out of unluck.

The likelihood of you consistently working out with any degree of intensity and intelligence for 3-5 years without seeing awesome visible results is near zero. 

You just need to start. 

And keep going. 


Hey! I'm Matteo Marra

Owner/Head Coach at Marra Strength. 

I believe “getting in shape” is really just a set of skills that can be learned and utilized to upgrade your life. 

Using this concept, i’ve helped hundreds of busy guys look and feel amazing shirtless by teaching them how to master the skills of dieting for fat loss and training for muscle growth.

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