Thoughts on Athletic Muscle Mass

This article breaks down into 2 categories:

  1. WHERE you have your muscle mass.
  2. How MUCH muscle mass you have.

Chapter 1: WHERE

Michael Jordan’s body type worked well for him in basketball, yet in other sports and positions, such a lean frame would not be ideal. Below are some raw looks at Michael Jordan’s body composition BEFORE he began lifting weights. What is interesting is that the highest jumps of his life took place prior to weight training. So if you’re hoping to get more elastic like MJ but doing traditional weight training, you’re likely to be out of luck. Jordan’s elasticity was natural, and the weight training he did primarily gave him more upper body strength. If you break down his film to time his speed and measure his jumps, you will see that he actually got slightly slower and slighty lost jumping ability after his weight training. The reason is simple: he did not gain muscle mass proportionately in the muscles which make us run and jump — and that was OKAY for MJ, because he was already world-class elastic, and just needed some extra upper body strength to handle the contact nature of basketball…

What body type you want to create is up to YOU.

Almost to the day that I took training into my OWN hands and stopped following traditional methods and traditional strength coaches, my body looked as you see on the left (picture below). It was after seeing this picture that my life flashed before my eyes. I could see my chances of becoming a basketball player were slipping to zero…

Fast-forward a few years and my body looked as you see on the right.

If you have ever tried to LOSE muscle in one area while GAINING muscle in another… SHEESH is it a challenge!! But I did it. I simply stopped all upper body training other than what have become the ATG Shoulder Standards.

So I’ve lived life built from the top-down, and from the ground-up.

I’m often told by new followers: “Yea of course you can jump high, you have the perfect genetics for it! Look at your frame!” — HAH! They shit their pants when they see the photo on the left and realize I had to CREATE my athletic frame.

You CAN create whatever frame is ideal for YOU, even if you don’t have it naturally.

So ALL ATG programs: Zero, Dense, Standards, and Athletic Potential, include upper body in OPTIONAL amounts.

Let’s take a look at the program I am on right now, and what I chose this past week…

The Athletic Muscle program (the first phase of Athletic Potential) uses the following:

1–9 sets per session for ankles and hip-flexors. This past week I chose ALL 9 SETS, EVERY DAY MONDAY THROUGH FRIDAY :)

10 sets per session for knees and hips. This is not optional :)

3–11 sets per session for upper body. I chose 3 sets per session, but took each to failure. That’s the rule if you’re only going to do the minimum on this program: each set has to go to FAILURE.

So you can see that within a single program there is tremendous variance in terms of where you want to partition your mass.

I believe to my core that you CAN create whatever ideal world-class sports physique you desire.

Here are 3 pictures from this past week:

Picture 1 is a good overall example of how I’ve created a body more like MJ:

Picture 2 is a good example of how I’ve also built up those VMOs down by the knee. At one point in time I did not have visible VMOs. I had to make them. The VMOs are the most FAST-TWITCH of the quads and the FIRST quad muscle to contract when your knee is under load. So yes, the ATG system in general DOES have devotion to the most bulletproofing and athletic of muscles. I included this picture for that reason. No matter WHAT you choose, in the ATG system you will proportionately be getting stronger in the most bulletproofing of areas.

And Picture 3 is a solid example of my personal belief that you CAN (gradually) pursue more muscle mass and less body fat at the exact same time. As of late my bodyweight has gone UP, and I have seen even more layers of fat coming off at the same time. The reason is SIMPLE: as my body has gotten more bulletproof from Zero-Dense-Standards, I am now able to (in Athletic Muscle) relish in some of the most metabolically-demanding lifting sessions possible while still RECOVERING. Meaning: I am able to challenge both musclebuilding and fatburning qualities in a single session, and be fired up and ready to do it all over again the next day!

Chapter 2: How MUCH

Considering you are already doing your best in training, I have a very simple philosophy on the amount of muscle mass you have:

Diet becomes the primary factor in HOW MUCH. Meaning: two athletes could be on the exact same program, but depending on how much they eat, could wind up with very different amounts of muscle mass. The linebacker wants to be fast at 250 pounds, while the receiver wants to be fast at 200 pounds. Both want to be fast, both want to be bulletproof against injuries, but the linebacker has to possess more mass to do his job.

For people who struggle to gain weight OR lose weight, this may take a new level of dedication to DIET.

This article is not a diet article, and IDEALLY you can gain or lose the mass you need without any dietary stress, but in the case of someone who simply has to gain or lose LARGE amounts of mass and is struggling to do so, I will share the best tip I have observed for each:

To gain mass: alternate solid with liquid meals. This tip was taught to me by Charles Poliquin, who used it with hundreds of Olympic medalists. By liquid meal, I mean a protein shake. And it could still be on the healthy side:

  • quality protein powder
  • berries
  • almond milk
  • rice powder (optional based on how much mass you need)

For athletes I’ve coached who were struggling to gain weight, this alternation of solid and liquid meals has been a foolproof strategy.

To be clear, the idea is NOT less solid food. If you eat 3 solid meals a day, you’d still be trying to work those the best you can, while also getting 1–3 liquid meals in — AND THAT BEING SAID: this is just a TIP. If you are succeeding with all solid meals, AWESOME. The liquid meals are simply a great trick for someone struggling to gain weight, because they make it more realistic to get enough volume of food. That is all.

To lose mass: the best trick I have found is building an obsession with figuring out which foods you LIKE to eat which are most NUTRIENT DENSE. The more vitamins, minerals, etc. packed into your food per the volume of the food source, the less volume of food your body is likely to desire in order to still handle its functions.

I hope this article helps!

Yours in Bulletproofing,


For my equipment list by program, with links: And to follow my full route from ZERO to DENSE STRENGTH to STANDARDS to ATHLETIC POTENTIAL, which has produced 1975 knee success stories and requires ZERO equipment for your first 12 weeks (but you are free to progress at ANY time), check out and use code FRESHSTART2021 for my lowest price ever!

I’ve received over 1500 knee success stories from my route which follows evidential clues to create less knee PAIN and more knee ABILITY.

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