The first thing you need to know when you look at “Mad Scientist Muscle” is that it’s actually a serious program and a damn good program. Don’t let the name fool you. This program by Nick Nilsson is based on solid, scientific training principles and is definitely not just same random crazy crap that’s thrown together.
There is a method to his madness. I’m not saying there isn’t some really cool and effective stuff in there…it’s just not random…
What Nick has done is put together a series of programs based on the concept of “controlled overtraining,” also known as “accumulation and intensification” or “dual factor theory.”
To put it simply, in these programs, you’ll gradually ramp up your training volume by increasing the number of sets you’re doing (this is done on a weekly basis), while simultaneously DECREASING your rest periods in between sets, thus increasing the overall density of your training in a very deliberate fashion.
This is the “accumulation” phase as you’re gradually accumulating workload and training volume over the course of 3 weeks.
So, when you HIT this point of overtraining, that’s when you back off on both the training volume AND the rest periods. You’ll do fewer sets and with long rest periods in between sets. You’re also going to reduce the rep ranges so that you’re working with more power and strength-oriented loads.
Coming off this overtraining ramp-up, your body is desperately trying to keep up with recovery…the analogy Nick uses in his book is that of a car going up a steep hill. You have the gas pedal floored but you’re still going slow.
When you come up and over the top of the hill and keep the pedal down, you pick up speed FAST…just like when your body comes off the overtraining phase. You’re going to pick up speed FAST. This is the “intensification” phase, called that because you’re increasing the INTENSITY of the workload, operating closer to your 1RM.
This overall training scheme is extremely effective. It makes great use of your body’s predictable reactions to volume and overreaching and takes full advantage of the rebound on the other side.
All three programs that are included are put together in this format, utilizing different training techniques for each accumulation and intensification phase. You’ll really see the “mad scientist” stuff come out in the training techniques themselves!
The cool part is, this “mad scientist” stuff is actually very well designed and not just a collection of weird intensity techniques.
These are effective training strategies that are implemented in a logical way to achieve very specific effects on your body. This type of “accumulation/intensification” is a very accepted training-protocol that can absolutely deliver big results in strength and muscle mass.
Here’s where it gets interesting…
Nick’s theory is that by utilizing certain specific types of training, you can make changes to the physiology of your body/muscles in order to better set the stage for future muscle growth.
His idea is that there are certain aspects of your physiology that can be “trained up” using the right techniques so that your body is better prepared for muscle growth. If you have a hard time building muscle (i.e. you’re a classic hardgainer), this could be a very attractive idea for you. Heck, even if you’re NOT, the idea of turning yourself into an even EASIER gainer is good, too!
The question is: Does this idea have merit?
In a word…yes. The training styles that Nick puts forward in his “Structural Training” section DO have the potential to make very positive changes to your body’s physiology that impact future muscle growth.
For example, partial training is a very widely accepted method for increasing the strength of your bones and connective tissue due to the super-maximal loads you’re able to use. Using heavier weights also primes the nervous system for using heavier weights in FULL range of motion, too.
Also, one of the other changeable factors he talks about in the book is capillary density in the muscles…basically the number and density of the tiny blood vessels where oxygen and nutrient exchange take place. By using very high rep, endurance-type training, research HAS shown you can increase capilliary density. And by increasing this density, you enhance the ability of your muscles to receive nutrients and oxygen, which means more fuel and food for them to GROW.
His incorporation of Structural Training into the overall framework of the program is done in a very elegant and intuitive manner. You’ll start with it before you do anything else (what better time to set the stage!) then you’ll do more of it just after you hit the overtraining point.
Potential Weaknesses of the Mad Scientist Muscle Program…
Overall, this is a strong program. It’ll definitely deliver great results in terms of muscle and strength.
One aspect that might be something to modify would be the split training aspect of it. If you’re interested in a more performance-oriented program, you may need to make some changes to that.
Being from more of a bodybuilding background, Nick has used bodypart splits. Now, these CAN be effective when done properly and with primarily compound exercises (and that’s exactly how these programs are put together) but you could absolutely use the frameworks provided and change up the focus to be more on training movements rather than bodyparts.
But from a pure bodybuilding perspective, this is absolutely effective stuff. It WILL make you bigger and stronger.
There really isn’t anything in here that should stop you from picking up this program if you’re interested in hypertrophy and strength. You’ll definitely learn a lot from the approach Nick puts forward in this book.
Bottom line is this a very complete program and it’s definitely effective for what it proposes to deliver…muscle and strength.
You’re going to get SIX MONTHS of detailed training schedules, covering every single set and rep and exercise along the way. If you’re looking for a real “done for you” type of program, this will be exactly what you want. The included “lean muscle” meal plans are a nice bonus, too.
Nick is also offering separately an add-on program for the book that he calls “Frankenstein” and I have to say, when you SEE this program, you’ll know exactly why he called it that. This one is only for advanced trainers.
Here’s a hint…it starts with six-day-a-week training working your WHOLE body every day, before backing off to three days a week. After you pick up the main “Mad Scientist Muscle” program, you’ll be able to grab that one, too, in a package along with ANOTHER book he’s just put out “The Best Mass Exercises You’ve Never Heard Of” (yet another very interesting book from Nick..it’s a collection of 119 of some of the most unique mass-building exercises and training techniques you’ve ever seen – very cool stuff).
Overall, this is an excellent program, well put-together and definitely worth picking up a copy.