Gorilla Tactics – The Back to Basics Workout

Take cue from natural for the fastest-muscle building system you’ve ever tried.

Arthur Jones, the man who popularised High Intensity Training, came up with this muscle-building system whie watching his 200-kilogram pet gorilla do one-arm chin-ups as if it were a tiny marmoset monkey.

The logic underpinning this system is this: gorillas in the wild do almost no physical activity, but when they work, they go at it with 100 per cent intensity. The activity is hard, brief and infrequent.

If a gorilla exercised as often as most men do when they try to add muscle, it’d probably keel over. They don’t need much training to get big; neither do you.

The truth is you can get alpha male-size muscles with only a little effort in the gym. Here’s how.


1. Stiff-legged deadlift

Works: Hamstrings, lower back

1. Stand with your feet shoulder width apart and place a dumbbell on either side of each foot. Bend at your knees and hips to grab the dumbbells with an overhand grip. Push your thighs forward to raise the weights.

2. When your legs are fully extended pause, and then lower the weights to the floor by bending at your hips, keeping your knees locked.


2. Leg Extensions

Works: Quads

1. Sit at a leg-extension machine with your ankles tucked under the footpads, back and buttocks flush against the seat.

2. Slowly extend your legs up and forward until they are straight in front of you, but keep your knees unlocked. Pause, then slowly bend your knees until your legs are lowered back down.


3. Squat

Works: Quads, glutes

1. Place a barbell on a squat rack at upper-chest level. Grab the bar with an overhand grip slightly wider than shoulder-width apart, duck underneath and rest the bar across the back of your shouders.

2. Lift the bar off the rack and step back. Tense your abs and keep your back straight. Slowly bend your knees until your thighs are almost parallel to the floor. Pause, then press yourself back up into a standing position.


4. Pull-Over

Works: Lats, chest, triceps, core

1. Lie back on a bench. Push your hips slightly upward. Hold a dumbbell from behind or from the side with both hands under the inner plate of the weight. Hold them over your chest, keeping a 30º arc in your elbows.

2. Lower the dumbbell back and beyond your head until your upper arms are parallel to your torso. Pull the weight to the starting position along the same path.


5. Barbell Bench Press

Works: Chest, triceps

1. Lie on a bench with your feet flat on the floor. Grab a barbell with an overhand grip, your hands slightly wider than shoulder-width apart. Position the weight above your chest with your arms straight.

2. Bend your elbows to slowly lower the bar to your chest, just below your nipples.

Straighten your elbows to press the weight back up until your arms are straight but not locked. Don’t arch your back off the bench.



6. Barbell Bent-Over Row

Works: Lats, biceps, traps, shoulders

1. Stand holding a barbell with an overhand grip with your feet shoulder-width apart. Keeping your back flat, bend forward at the hips until your back is at a 5º angle to the floor. You should have a slight bend in your knees, with your straight arms beneath your shoulders.

2. Bend your elbows to bring the bar to a point that’s just below your chest. Pause, then slowly lower the weight to the starting position. Breathe in when you pull the bar towards you and exhale when you return it to the starting position. Never round your back during this exercise.


7. Shoulder Press

Works: Shoulders, triceps

1. Stand with your feel shoulder-width apart, holding a dumbbell in each hand, the edge of each one just touching your shoulders.

2. Press the weight up until your arms are straight but not locked. Hold, then lower the dumbbells back to your shoulders.


8. Biceps Curl

Works: Biceps

1. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, holding a barlbell with an underhand grip. Keep your upper arms tucked against your sides, while keeping your shoulderblades pulled together.

2. Bend your elbows to curl the weight up until the bar is just in line with your shoulders. Contract your biceps, then reverse the motion to slowly return to the starting position.


9. Triceps Extension

Works: Triceps

1. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, holding a dumbbell in each hand. Extend each arm directly above your head. Lower your forearm behind your head by bending your elbows completely.

2. Keep your elbows tucked close to your head while you lower the weights. Raise your arms up along the same patch you lowered them.


10. Lateral Raise

Works: Shoulders, traps

1. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, holding a dumbbell in each hand at your sides. (Your palms should be facing each other at this point.) Keep a slight bend in your elbows and knees, to help absorb the shock.

2. Raise your arms straight out to your sides. Imagine you are holding two buckets of water, so don’t tilt your wrists forward. Stop when the weights are even with the tops of your shoulders. Pause, then lower them along the same path.

11. Standing Calf Raise

Works: Calves

1. Place a raised platform in front of you that’s about 20 centimetres high. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart while resting a barbell across your shoulders. Lock your knees. Rest your toes on the platform with your heels in the air.

2. Lower your heels as far down as you can then rise up onto your toes. Hold for a second or two and then repeat. These muscles are used all the time when you are walking and are tough to work, so don’t be afraid to use some heavy weight.


12. Trunk Curl

Works: Abs

1. Lie on your back with your knees bent, feet flat on the floor and your hands held behind your head to provide support.

If you find this exercise quite easy, you can hold a weight plate behind your head to provide more of a challenge, but make sure you don’t pull forward on your neck.

2. Slowly lift your head and shoulders using your abdominals, curling your trunk about 30°. As you are lifting, imagine that you are trying to touch your ribcage to your hip bones, curling your trunk into a flexed position and pressing your bellybuttong down and in.

Lower and repeat.