Fortitude training is a high-frequency bodybuilding training program invented by Dr. Scott Stevenson. Fortitude training uses many different training methods including heavy loading sets, high-rep pump sets, loaded stretching and a special type of cluster set training called muscle rounds to build muscle mass as quickly as possible.
Many of the world’s best bodybuilders including IFBB pro David Henry have used Fortitude Training to take their physique to the next level.
Dr. Scott Stevenson’s goal with Fortitude Training is to take advantage of all of the different mechanisms for stimulating muscular hypertrophy in one brutal training program.
This is radically different from a program like DC Training or Dorian Yates’ “Blood And Guts” Training where the primary goal is to get stronger over time on key exercises. You could say that Scott is a mad scientist who wants to use every muscle-building ingredient together in one single program!
Fortitude training is first and foremost a high-frequency training program. The scientific literature is very clear that higher-frequency training programs are fantastic for building muscle mass and Scott wants to take full advantage of this.
The research shows that protein synthesis is usually only elevated for 24-48 hours following a workout. If you only train a muscle group once every 7 days then that muscle spends most of the week doing nothing!
With Fortitude Training you are going to train each muscle group 3-4 times per week to get all of the benefits of higher-frequency workouts. Don’t worry, Scott designed his training program so that you can train each muscle group 3-4 times per week without overtraining.
Here is how Scott usually organizes his workouts:
The Fortitude Training Split
- Monday: Upper Body Heavy / Lower Body Light
- Tuesday: Lower Body Heavy / Upper Body Light
- Thursday: Upper Body Heavy / Lower Body Light
- Saturday: Lower Body Heavy / Upper Body Light
Of course you can train on any four days of the week that you want. Just make sure that you do not train more than 3 days in a row. With Fortitude Training you have four major workouts per week.
You are going to perform two heavy upper body workouts and two heavy lower body workouts per week. You are also going to perform lighter “pump” sets at the end of each workout for the other half of your body.
For example on your heavy upper body days you are going to perform some higher-rep pump sets for your lower body at the end of the workout. This is how Scott has you training muscle groups 3-4 times per week without overtraining.
Scott has two main types of workouts in his Fortitude Training program:
- Heavy Loading Workouts
- Muscle Round Workouts
You are going to perform two heavy loading workouts early in the week and two muscle round workouts later in the week.
For the loading workouts you are going to perform one exercise per muscle group in the 6-12 rep range. For the muscle round workouts you are going to perform a bodybuilding-style cluster set called a muscle round. Of course you finish each workout with some higher-rep “pump” sets for the other half of your body.
Here is what your four weekly workouts look like:
Fortitude Training Workout Templates
Monday: Upper Body Loading Day
- Upper body “loading” sets
- Lower body “pump” sets
Tuesday: Lower Body Loading Day
- Lower body “loading” sets
- Upper body “pump sets
Thursday: Upper Body Muscle Round Day
- Upper body “muscle round” sets
- Lower body “pump” sets
Saturday: Lower Body Muscle Round Day
- Lower body “muscle round” sets
- Upper body “pump” sets
I hope you’re still with me! If that seems confusing then go back and take another look at the training split for Fortitude Training. Scott’s program is reasonably complicated so don’t feel bad if it doesn’t make perfect sense right away.
You already know that Fortitude Training uses three main types of sets:
- Loading sets
- Muscle rounds
- Pump sets
Loading sets are just heavy sets performed in the 6-12 rep range. For these sets Scott wants you training to failure or just shy of failure. Your job is to really bust your ass and try to “beat the logbook” on these sets! Scott has his bodybuilders perform anywhere from 1-3 loading sets per exercise but this varies depending on the person’s recovery ability.
Muscle rounds are completely different from the loading sets. Muscle rounds are basically a form of cluster set training. You are going to perform 6 sets of 4 reps on an exercise with 10 seconds rest in between each set.
Scott says that you should pick a weight that is right around your 10-15 rep max. The first few “sets” in a muscle round are relatively easy. However, but the end of the muscle round your muscles are going to be on fire!
Scott likes muscle rounds because they use discontinuous sets to let you accumulate a ton of volume in a short period of time with a reasonably heavy weight. In other words you can really stress your muscles without overworking your central nervous system.
Pump sets are the third type of set used in Fortitude Training. Pump sets are very important because they are performed on every training day and they are the reason you can train each muscle group 3-4 times per week.
A pump set is a straight set of 15-25 reps. Scott wants you performing all 15-25 reps in a continuous manner without any rest breaks in between each rep. The goal is to fatigue your muscles and to get a great pump without burning out your central nervous system.
There is actually a fourth type of set that Scott uses with Fortitude Training: loaded stretches. Scott uses loaded stretches to enhance the overall training effect from his workouts.
Scott actually has three different types of loaded stretches that he uses:
- Flexibility Stretches
- Occlusion Stretches
- Extreme Stretches
Flexibility stretches and occlusion stretches are somewhat “gentler.” You just put your muscle into a stretched position using your bodyweight for resistance. The extreme stretches are a little more challenging. These are the DC-style stretches where you use extra loads and hold a deep, painful static stretch for 60-90 seconds.
Scott has you perform these different stretches for your weaker muscle groups right after your heavy loading sets or muscle round sets. For example you could perform a muscle round on some type of “back width” exercise and then perform an extreme stretch for your lats.
Now let’s take a look at a Fortitude Training template for all 4 weekly workouts. Scott recommends that you use three different volume tiers depending on your recovery ability. This template is appropriate for people with average recovery ability. Check it out:
Workout Template More Detail
Upper Body Loading Day
- A1: Back (loading set), 2 x 6-12, 90 seconds rest
- B1: Chest (loading set, 2 x 6-12, 90 seconds rest
- C1: Delts (loading set), 2 x 6-12, 90 seconds rest
- D1: Thighs (pump set), 2 x 15-25, 60 seconds rest
- E1: Quads (pump set), 2 x 15-25, 30 seconds rest
- E2: Hamstrings (pump set), 2 x 15-25, 30 seconds rest
- F1: Calves (pump set), 2 x 15-25, 60 seconds rest
Lower Body Loading Day
- A1: Thigh (loading set), 2 x 6-12, 90 seconds rest
- B1: Quads (loading set), 2 x 6-12, 90 seconds rest
- B2: Hamstrings (loading set), 2 x 6-12, 90 seconds rest
- C1: Adductors (loading set), 2 x 6-12, 90 seconds rest
- D1: Calves (loading set), 2 x 6-12, 90 seconds rest
- E1: Chest (pump set), 2 x 15-25, 30 seconds rest
- E2: Back (pump set), 2 x 15-25, 30 seconds rest
- F1: Shoulders (pump set), 2 x 15-25, 30 seconds rest
- F2: Abs (pump set), 2 x 15-25, 30 seconds rest
- G1: Biceps (pump set), 2 x 15-25, 30 seconds rest
- G2: Triceps (pump set), 2 x 15-25, 30 seconds rest
Upper Body Muscle Round Day
- A1: Back width (muscle round), 6 x 4, 10 seconds rest
- B1: Back thickness (muscle round), 6 x 4, 10 seconds rest
- C1: Chest (muscle round), 6 x 4, 10 seconds rest
- D1: Delts (muscle round), 6 x 4, 10 seconds rest
- E1: Triceps (muscle round), 6 x 4, 10 seconds rest
- F1: Quads (pump), 2 x 15-25, 30 seconds rest
- F2: Hamstrings (pump), 2 x 15-25, 30 seconds rest
- G1: Calves (pump), 2 x 15-25, 60 seconds rest
Lower Body Muscle Round Day
- A1: Thighs (muscle round), 6 x 4, 10 seconds rest
- B1: Quads (muscle round), 6 x 4, 10 seconds rest
- C1: Hamstrings (muscle round), 6 x 4, 10 seconds rest
- D1: Calves (muscle round), 6 x 4, 10 seconds rest
- E1: Biceps (pump), 2 x 15-25, 30 seconds rest
- F1: Triceps (pump), 2 x 15-25, 30 seconds rest
As you can see Fortitude Training is a 4 days per week full body training program. There are a lot of exercises that you have to perform on each training day. This is why Dr. Scott Stevenson calls his program “Fortitude Training” – you need to be a strong-willed person to push through the long and challenging workouts!
Scott says that each workout should take you about 90 minutes to complete if you are moving at a good pace. It’s very important that you really push yourself on the heavy loading sets and on the muscle round sets.
For the heavy loading sets I recommend you perform your first set 1-2 reps shy of failure and your second set right on the edge of failure. For the muscle rounds you should perform as many reps as you can on your 6th attempt with the same weight.
For example here is what your muscle round might look like:
- Attempt #1: 4 reps
- Attempt #2: 4 reps
- Attempt #3: 4 reps
- Attempt #4: 4 reps
- Attempt #5: 4 reps
- Attempt #6: 6 reps
If you can get more than 4 reps on your last attempt then you keep going and get as many reps as you can in good form. On the other hand if you fail to get 4 reps on any of the attempts then you just perform 3 reps on your attempts and finish the muscle round that way. Just make sure you stick with the same weight for the muscle round until you can get at least 4 reps on all 6 sets.
Here are a couple of David Henry’s Fortitude Training workouts to give you a better idea of how everything fits together. Check it out:
David Henry’s Lower Body Heavy Loading Day
- A1: 45 degree leg press, 3 x 8 / 6 / 5, 90 seconds rest
- B1: Lying leg curl, 2 x 8, 60 seconds rest
- B2: Back squats, 2 x 8, 60 seconds rest
- C1: Calf raise, 5 x 10 / 8 / 6 / 5 / 4, 90 seconds rest
- D1: Cable fly, 2 x 15-25, 30 seconds rest
- D2: Seated cable row, 2 x 15-25, 30 seconds rest
- E1: Rear cable fly, 2 x 15-25, 30 seconds rest
- E2: Crunches, 2 x 15-25, 30 seconds rest
- F1: Seated DB curl, 2 x 15-25, 30 seconds rest
- F2: Skull crushers, 2 x 15-25, 30 seconds rest
David Henry’s Upper Body Muscle Round Day
- A1: Deadlift, 6 x 4, 10 seconds rest
- B1: Lat pulldown, 6 x 4, 10 seconds rest
- C1: Hammer strength incline press, 6 x 4, 10 seconds rest
- D1: Seated DB press, 6 x 4, 10 seconds rest
- E1: Hammer strength dip, 6 x 4, 10 seconds rest
- F1: Leg extension, 2 x 15-25, 30 seconds rest
- F2: DB stiff-legged deadlift, 2 x 15-25, 30 seconds rest
- G1: Leg press calf raise, 2 x 15-25, 60 seconds rest
These are just a couple of sample workouts that David Henry has performed. In reality Dr. Scott Stevenson has several different versions of his Fortitude Training program. He has a “basic” version where you train each muscle group 3 times per week and a “turbo” version where you train each muscle group 4 times per week. He also has 3 different volume tiers for each version depending on your recovery ability.
Beat The Logbook!
Dr. Scott Stevenson uses progressive overload as a core component of the Fortitude Training program. In other words he wants you to train with progressively heavier weights over time to help with the muscle-building process. In order to do this he wants you to track all of your workouts in a training logbook.
Each week when you hit the gym your job is to beat the logbook on as many different exercises as you can. Of course you cannot beat every exercise on every workout. However, the act of trying to do this will help you to make much faster strength and size gains.
Scott recommends that you train heavy for a bout 4-8 weeks in a row. He calls this the “blasting phase” where you are really pushing yourself and trying to get bigger and stronger. After about 4-8 weeks your body will be in need of a break. At this point you switch to a “cruise phase” where you take it a little bit easier in the gym.
Scott has several different ways that you can structure the cruise phase. One of his favorite strategies is to drop the heavy loading sets and just have you focus on the muscle round sets. This lets you continue to train with reasonably heavy loads while giving your central nervous system a bit of a break.
If you want to learn more about how Dr. Scott Stevenson organizes his cruise phases and how he rotates through different exercises over time then you will have to buy his e-book Fortitude Training. I can’t give everything away here!
Dr. Scott Stevenson’s Fortitude Training is an incredibly creative and effective bodybuilding training program. It takes advantage of many different hypertrophy training stimuli such as higher-frequency workouts, heavy loading sets, pump sets, hypertrophy-specific cluster sets and various forms of loaded stretches.
One of the really great things about this program is it’s emphasis on health and longevity. Scott trained for many years with the DC Training program before inventing his own program. He wanted a program that allowed him to train hard and heavy but without the aches and pains that come with a program exclusively focused on progressive overload.
Fortitude Training allowed Scott to continue making gains well into his 40’s when he first invented the program. The same is true for IFBB pro David Henry: he continued to make gains well into his 40’s using the Fortitude Training program.
If you are looking for a new bodybuilding program that will help you take your physique to the next level without being too hard on your joints and connective tissues then Fortitude Training has your name written all over it!
Here are some links where you can learn more about Dr. Scott Stevenson and his Fortitude Training program:
“Always bear in mind that your own resolution to succeed is more important than any other one thing.”
Thank you for reading and I wish you the best of luck on your strength training journey!
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