Feeder Workouts and Specialisation

In addition to the my daily Big Beyond Belief workouts, I also perform 20-30 minute feeder or specialisation workouts in the morning 6 days a week. I keep these simple and use them primarily to incorporate extra volume which I feel helps tremendously with recovery and keeping the body-part continuously pumped. To read more about the science and efficacy of feeder workouts, check out this article from Christian Thibaudeau here.

Chad Waterbury has also written about incorporating feeder-type workouts in his PLP (Pullup/Lunge/Pushup) and HFT Programs.

Even Piana endorses high rep shoulder and arm feeder workouts prior to sleeping in his “Bigger By The Day” series.

sergio twist

Volume and frequency were the main factors behind building those superb physiques from yesteryear.

sergio and arthur.jpg

Later in his career, Sergio Olivia was put through his paces to endorse Jone’s HIT protocol. It was reputed Olivia would sneak away from the Nautilus compound to hit his own feeder workouts to get in more volume. 

The specialisation workouts are used to bring up my hamstrings which are my focus point this contest prep.

The feeder workouts basically use a rotation of exercises performed for 5 sets, giant set style (i.e. each exercise is performed back to back with no rest until the circuit is complete).

So I’ll start with body weight dips for 10 reps, move straight to pullups for 10 reps, hit light dumbbell lateral raises for 30 reps and then stomach vacuums for a 35 second hold. I’ll then rest 30 seconds and repeat the circuit for a total of 5 times.


Body Weight Dips



IMG_0046 (1)

Lateral Raises


Stomach vacuums

Again, the aim is just to flush the blood into the body-part and get a slight pump. I want to feel amazing after the feeder workout, never trashed. Often times, I’ll head to the gym feeling lethargic and hateful only to emerge 25 minutes later feeling on top of the world. It’s the physical equivalent to a morning caffeine-MDMA cocktail.

Hamstring Specialisation

relaxed side

Need more…..a lot more…..

Dumbbell Leg Curls – Third World Gyms = First World Problems

As I mentioned previously, I think hamstrings and back development are the two areas that separate the men from the boys in a competitive lineup. I think there’s few things more impressive than a set of hams that hang down to meet the calves on the side poses giving one’s legs that 3-dimensional look even when standing relaxed. I think it’s one aspect of physique development the classic guys lacked – Tom Platz and Robby Robinson being the exception.

Hamstring emphasis wasn't a priority in the golden era days.

Hamstring emphasis wasn’t a priority in the golden era days.


robby side chest

But, Tom and Robby had hams for days.

platz hams

When I look at most hamstring routines, they seem to be comprised of a doing a few leg curl variants coupled together with some stiff-leg deadlifts.
I’m using a specialisation routine taken from Charles Poliquin’s book, “The Poliquin Principles” which looks at hamstring training given the fibre makeup of the muscle group.

poliquin principles

Charles main points on training the hamstrings:
– Sprinters and bobsledders have the best hamstring development due to extreme short burst of force production.
– Your hamstrings should be able to produce 66% of the force as your quads – best tested by your front squat which should be 85% of your back squat.
– Hamstrings are mostly comprised of fast-twitch fibres meaning they respond best to low reps and short time under tension.

  • Exercises working the hip extension function (good mornings or stiff legged deads) and knee flexor function (leg curl variation) should be selected for maximal development.
  • Train one leg at a time. Due to a neurological effect called the “bilateral deficit”, the hamstrings will contract harder when trained unilaterally. Plus there are often large disparities in strength between one leg and the other that need to be addressed.
  • Stretch the quads between sets
  • Emphasise the eccentric.
  • Vary your foot positions (neutral, inward and outward) for different lifting permutations creating a unique pattern of overload.
  • Train hamstrings first. Priority principle at work.
  • Allow for recovery. Due to their fast-twitch makeup, the hamstrings take longer than normal muscle groups to recover.

Charles also lays out a schedule for hamstring training which I have incorporated into my specialisation approach.

Screen Shot 2015-12-30 at 8.24.41 am





  3 comments for “Feeder Workouts and Specialisation

  1. January 17, 2016 at 1:50 pm

    Hi my friend.. I’m a big fan of Rich Piana and i practiced most of his teachings.. “like the 8 hours arms marathon”.. yes i did it, LOL. Do you think that feeders works for natural athletes? I mean: I’m already hitting my muscles 3 times a week due to my HST training i’ll benefit from feeders in your opinion or am i “digging deeper scars on my already damaged muscles” (cit: mike mentzer)?


    • January 18, 2016 at 1:53 pm

      Yep, I think feeders can suit anyone because they’re low impact and facilitate recovery more than tax it. I was once upon a time a follower of Mike’s methods and writings, but he was too invested in the philosophy of training without taking into account the actual science of what works. Granted, not a lot was known back then and we know infinitely more now about what works optimally, but anyone can see that there’s a variety of methods that work….it’s about finding what works for you through trial and error. I did T-Nation’s 1000 rep challenge for arms the other day which was pretty cool. Tried an all day arm blast though once upon a time and didn’t notice much from it, haha.


      • January 18, 2016 at 3:28 pm

        Ok mate i’ll try. Maybe on my lacking bodypart.. Like shoulders and upper Back.. What do you suggest for upper back feeders? I was approaching feeders Piana’s style.. Hitting 2-3 sets of 100reps.. Feeling that burning into the muscle.. What do you think? Tks


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