3 Training programs that changed my life by Nick McKinless

3 Training Programs that CHANGED MY LIFE!

In 30 years of training I have made some great progress in strength training and physical development and that is due to my own need to understand a program and fully train it for a good period of time before changing it, dismissing it or adding to it.

Here’s a few programs that really made a difference to my training with Pros and Cons. I’m not one for sensationalism and other programs had a massive effect on my training life but these one’s changed my life.

H.I.T – High Intensity Training

This term gets thrown around a lot today and FEW really do HIT correctly as it was intended by the likes of Arthur Jones, Mike Mentzer, Casey Viator, Ken Leistner and to a lesser degree Dorian Yates.
In the archives on beyondstrong.com I wrote an article explaining my way of doing TRUE HIT work (You’ll have to sign up to the Newlsetter to read that one now).
In short, pick 5-8 (10 if you’re nuts) exercises and work them to COMPLETE muscular (and mental) failure in succession.

For example (after a thorough warm up):
Squat – 1×15-20 reps
Seated Shoulder Press – 1×8-12 reps
Pullups/Chins – 1×8-12 reps
Bench Press- 1×8-12 reps
One Arm Rows – 1×8-15 reps
Dips – 1×8-12 reps
Barbell Curls – 1×8-12 reps
Deadlift – 1×8-15 reps

At first you may think you want to do an extra set of this all the way through. However, when you TRULY worked to absolute failure this one set is enough. The problem is working to failure will burn you out FAST. I can generally only do HIT for 4-6 weeks MAX until I burn out.

Massively muscled Casey Viator was said to have performed the following workout:

“During the leg portion of his workout he started by performing more than 20 repetitions of the leg press with 750 pounds, stopping only when another repetition was impossible. He then moved immediately to the next exercise and performed 20 repetitions of the leg extension with 225 pounds. And this was immediately followed by the final exercise, 13 repetitions of the full squat with 503 pounds.”

Tell me that doesn’t boggle your mind!

Casey Viator (first two pictures), Mike Mentzer and Dr. Ken’s adopted son Kevin Tolbert all had muscle and strength from bouts of HIT Training. Kevin Tolbert, it is said, squatted an incredulous 600lbs for 30 reps!!!











HIT taught me how to work HARD, then work HARDER the next week, then HARDER still! It also showed me that at least part of the year I could make terrific progress in a limited amount of time if I TRULY POURED EVERYTHING into my training time.


The burn out factor is high. To manage HIT for long periods of time, say 12-16 weeks, a ton of programming and variation in every area is required. This needs someone who knows exactly how to use the system and few do.


I cannot believe the amount of people that shy away from a properly programmed 20 rep squat program!

For well over 100 years the simplicity of taking your 10 rep maximum and working it into a 20 rep maximum has added SLABS of MUSCLE to many a man (and aesthetic muscle and booty to the female form). The MENTAL FORTITUDE required to complete an ALL OUT set of 20 reps in PERFECT form is second to none. Few will ever pour their heart and soul into ONE SET the way those who have done a 6-12 week (or more) run at a 20 rep squat goal.

It took me over 20 years of squatting to accomplish my ultimate goal of squatting 185kg/405lbs for 20 reps. I am not done with 20 reppers and will revisit them in the future.


20 rep squats taught me that quitting is not an option. They taught me how to say ‘YES!’ when my body and mind are saying ‘NO!’. I also got pretty damn good at squatting and that means I got stronger, bigger and better conditioning for heavier squats.


Form can and will breakdown. A part of the process is learning how to manage perfect form when things start to break down. Conditioning for 20 rep squats is key. Like the HIT piece I wrote sometime ago this requires a whole article.


I’ve spent more time with this program than any other. Over 3 years now with a few breaks in between (actually one was to do the 20 rep squats you see above so not much of a break!).

I developed the system through a simple NEED:


I think I found it!

The program consists of 3 main sections with some additions based on time for rehab and prehab.

  • SST (Simple Strength Training)
  • Magical 8×8
  • Support work
  • Additions include band mobility, simple but specific stretches and super ab circuits

Although the program is simple, it is not easy! Many of you may recognise 8×8 but you will have never done it quite like this within the parameters I have tested over and over again. You simply can’t help but GAIN MUSCLE!

The full program will form the bulk of my book called BEYOND STRONG: Total Body Training. 

I hope to release this later in 2015 BUT if you attend one of my SEMINARS, book me for YOUR GYM,  or buy the BEYOND STRONG program you will get access to it NOW!

Here’s a sneak peek at part of the workout filmed a few weeks back. Notice how heavy I am breathing at the end. My heart beat was over 160 BPM during this phase of the workout and stayed around 130 BPM for the rest of the session. Tell me that ain’t BURNING FAT!


This program gives you the most BANG FOR YOUR BUCK! If you want strength it’s there. If you want fat burning it’s there. If you want muscular and cardiovascular conditioning it’s there. If you want to only workout 3-4 hours a week it’s there. And if you want LEAN, ATHLETIC, MUSCULAR DEVELOPMENT it’s there!!

PLUS, you can run this program for a long time because it has endless variants.


Although I am adapting this program for competition purposes I don’t believe it’s best used for competitive Powerlifting, Bodybuilding, Strongman or other weight training based sports. It would however, be PERFECT as an OFF SEASON program for all the benefits above.


I encourage you to try all these programs!

Start with HIT.  Train for 4-6 weeks and really commit to the intensity required. Learn how to work HARD!

Then move to 20 rep Squats. Take your absolute MAXIMUM 10 rep set and work for 6-12 weeks (or more) to make it into a true 20 rep set of squats. Watch your weight climb!

By then the BEYOND STRONG book will be out and then you can start on this exciting NEW training protocol!


For more information on these programs please contact us at coaching@beyondstrong.com or buy one of the custom training programs we offer. Train HARD but train SMART!

NOTE: Please don’t contact us to give you a programme or consultation for FREE unless you are willing to do your job for nothing too. Thanks!



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