By Travis DeGraff
Fortitude Training by Scott Stevenson PhD LAc
Recently (very) I picked up the newest training book in the bodybuilding world. The book is called Fortitude Training and it was written by Scott Stevenson. Scott is a PhD in exercise physiology. To be perfectly honest I had heard his name over the course of a few years but never really paid much attention to his achievements. That is until I heard him interviewed on a radio show. He’s not only a PhD in exercise physiology, but he’s also a pretty successful national level bodybuilder. He also comes with the recommendation from the Mountain Dog himself John Meadows. In this interview he sounded like an extremely bright guy who combined science with real world experience. If you follow this site you know I’m a die hard science guy (as virtually every article is based on some new research), but I also realize that science doesn’t fully extrapolate to what we experience in the gym everyday. In the Fortitude Training book Scott attempts to mesh the worlds of science, and real world application into a training, diet, and supplementation program.
It’s also worth noting Scott is responsible for guiding IFBB Pro David Henry’s training, who arguably should have been the 202/212lb Mr Olympia on several occasions. I could go on about Scott’s acheivments, but needless to say he’s fully qualified to write a highly informative book on bodybuilding training.
Why I purchased the Fortitude Training Book
In that same interview (hosted by IFBB Pro Shelby Starnes) they noted that the workouts look extremely demanding. They also discussed how the training program was influenced heavily by Dante Trudell’s DoggCrap training (high frequency, with a focus on strength building and beating a log book). Both of these facts made it appealing enough to spend the $20 and purchase the book. I love high frequency programs like DoggCrap and PHAT, and having something like a log book to compete against has always given me extra motivation. And quite frankly I’m growing weary of the Mountain Dog split that I’ve been using the last 9 months. With all this said, I was most attracted to the book because of Scott’s science background, and I wanted to see what he brought to the proverbial training table.
The book itself is 176 pages long, but the final 36 pages are taken by the 607 scientific references. Yes, 607 scientific references! Scott supports 90% of the statements he makes in the book with scientific references, many of which are linked to the actual papers themselves for further reading. The book is split into 6 chapters, and an appendix which includes printable training logs, the references, and a hyperlinked index (the index I have found to be extremely useful when needing to go back for a quick look).
Chapter 1 is a brief introduction to the best uses of Fortitude Training. Scott makes an important mention here, and that is that Fortitude Training requires the trainee to really know their body. The training is set up into “blasts and cruise” phases. When each ends and begins is truly up to the trainee to decide when they “have had too much.” It is likely very easy to overtrain using the Fortitude Training blast phases, which is exactly why the cruise phase is built in, which is essentially a period of deloading.
Make no mistake, the training plan itself is not for beginners. Does that mean beginners shouldn’t check this book out? No, not in my opinion, here’s why…
Chapter 2 is an explanation of how Scott’s training life led him to the creation of Fortitude Training. To a beginner, it can be motivational to see even a good bodybuilder like Scott has had to work through years of trial and error. It also teaches them a little about the great training systems that were perhaps once more popular, that are still very effective (i.e. DoggCrap and Titan Training).
Chapter 2 goes on to explain why training to failure is both good and bad, what the best rep range is for optimal growth, and why training outside the optimal growth range is beneficial (pump sets). He also describes undulated periodization, and at a high level how Fortitude Training employes this method. I previously mentioned that Fortitude Training requires the trainee to know when enough is enough before overtraining, so Scott goes into great detail on how the system is built around “autoregulation”.
Perhaps the best part of Chapter 2, is the scientific breakdown (or lack there of) and history of sarcoplasmic hypertrophy. He compares and contrasts the theory of sarcoplasmic hypertrophy with what we know about myofibrillar hypertrophy. This particular section of the book is a great educational piece for both beginners and experienced bodybuilders alike.
He finishes Chapter 2 by describing how the loading parameters apply metabolic stress, the tension required to mimic occlusion training, and the three types of stretching applicable to Fortitude Training (which I would simply call dynamic for pre-lift, static for improved overall flexibility, and post lift weighted stretches such as DC training utilizes).
Overall Chapter 2 is the meat and potatoes of the WHY behind Fortitude Training. It’s the one reason I believe even beginners can learn a lot from this book, even if they aren’t quite ready for the training program.
Chapter 3 of Fortitude Training is all about the application of the training plan, including descriptions of both the “blast” and “cruise” phases. The idea is that you cannot blast forever (without overtraining) and after 3-6 weeks of blasting Scott believes a cruise phase 1/3 as long as your blast is necessary to properly recover. He breaks down the training plan, which consists of 4 weight training days. He then provides a list of overtraining symptoms to look out for (including all the scientific references). He explains the differences between the Basic Plan and the Turbo plan for those who want to train even more volume. He also describes “zig zagging” which is where you rotate compound lifts with isolation lifts on certain days of the plan. He finishes by describing the “cruise” phase, which unlike some programs is not a complete deload from the gym. As I’ve previously written, completely taking off of weight training, even for a short period, can be detrimental (Read – Taking 5 Days Off From the GYM?). And it seems Scott agrees.
Chapter 4 is all about the diet. Feeding the Machine as Scott says. He outlines when to eat carbs, how many to eat, and the type of carbs that may be best for different people. A highlight of this chapter is the section on peri-workout (intra) nutrition. Scott describes the different proteins, and carbohydrates that are best used intra-workout. He also describes some supplements he finds useful near a workout. He goes on to describe the diet on training days, and on non-training days. I think I can give you a general idea of the diet by telling you the majority of the diet’s carbs are during, and post workout. While off days are generally “low carb” but still high in good protein and fat sources.
Chapter 5 is a Frequently Asked Questions chapter, and includes various topics including periodization and how to hop back and forth between the Basic and Turbo versions. For the guys who can only get to the gym 3 times per week he also includes the “Family Man Plan”, which is a nice addition to the book. Scott concludes the chapter with additional supplements.
Chapter 6 finishes the book with links to various articles and videos Scott has written for other websites. The videos are particularly helpful for the stretches he employs and the muscle round descriptions.
Overall Impression of Fortitude Training
While I’m only a few days into the training program it is certainly a change of pace (much needed), so I cannot say for sure how effective the program is just yet. However, I would highly recommend the book for anyone looking to try something different and more importantly learn a lot about muscle building. It’s also worth mentioning the book comes with a free private forum membership to Dr. Scott’s website, where you can ask questions and get answers from Dr. Scott himself.
The book itself will sit in my tool box of information. It is one of those books that you will refer back to often for information, as well as to get quick links to studies relevant to our never ending quest for muscle. If you are interested in checking out the full contents of this book, including the training templates, you can purchase it and support this site by clicking this button $20 —–> Click here to view more details