From the Desk of Jen Sinkler

It’s 3:45 a.m., and I’m alone in my office, crying again.

The source of my tears are a group of 40 women. Well, plus one: their coach, Kourtney Thomas. This is all her fault, really.

I’m crying because I’m watching a flexathon of bursting biceps and big grins; hands sliding over rounder, higher haunches as they describe more booty developing and increasingly defined quads; gleefully celebrating new muscle striations in their shoulders. The new ripples look like 3D tiger stripes. These women are rejoicing because they feel bigger, inside and out.

(Did I mention these are happy tears?)

 
 
 

The crew was selected last fall to embark on a special resistance-training endeavor called The Bigness Project. Over the course of the 14-week program, they were to try to pack as much muscle as possible onto their frames during that time.

Obviously I’m joking—everyone knows women don’t want to get muscular (or worse, the dreaded “bulky)!

But [whispering]: What if that assumption is incorrect? What if some of us really do want to look like we lift?

What if we stopped pretending otherwise, and admitted that yes, we WOULD like to look strong and muscular; gunsy, even?

After having to cap registrations for The Bigness Project after a scant two hours, we found that assumption to be flat wrong. In fact, it turns out that response wasn’t a fluke. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a recommendation that all women do some sort of muscle-strengthening movement at least two days a week, and research indicates they are hitting the weight room in ever-increasing numbers.

Ladies, it turns out, are all about them gains.

“I spend more time flexing than I ever have before in my life, and I have to say, when there’s a lot more to see, it’s much more fun,” says Hilary Glaus, a personal trainer and health coach based in Bronx, N.Y. “You can’t hide these arms. That would be a crime!”

It’s not just entertainment and gym selfies, however. Having more muscle mass is fantastic for your health; some refer to it as a veritable fountain of youth due to benefits such as:

  • More metabolically active tissue (meaning your body can handle more calories without storing fat)
  • Greater bone density (making you less susceptible to fractures or osteoporosis)
  • Stronger connective tissues (making you less prone to injury)
  • Better mental and emotional health (creates the hormonal environment to deal better with stress)
  • Increased longevity (lifting literally helps you live longer)

THE SPECIAL SAUCE

So you see muscles are for women. They can be for you, if you want them to be. And resistance-training is the means to that end.

But any old resistance training won’t get you muscles, at least not as effectively anyway.

Let me be perfectly clear. Any kind of resistance training will help grow muscle.

BUT, it won’t get you the:

  • Thick thighs (#teamthickthighs, anyone?)
  • A juicy booty
  • Coconut shoulders
  • Big biceps
  • Detailed quad definition
  • Poppin’ hamstrings
  • Curvaceous calves

And that, hypertrophy training delivers in droves.

Hypertrophy training is, essentially, striking that perfect balance between workout volume, training frequency, exercise selection, amount of weight you use, rest times, and a myriad of other factors in order to build the biggest muscle size that you can.

If resistance training is barbeque then hypertrophy training is the “special sauce.”

Decades of research in exercise science lay the groundwork for the ingredients in this special sauce. You need to choose the right exercises, you need to perform them correctly (not just technique, but how you do every repetition matters), you need the exact amount of volume to stimulate growth but not hamper recovery, you need to create metabolic stress by manipulating rest times, and the list goes on and on. But like any recipe, the devil is in the fine details.

This is both art and science. You are the art. And you employ the science.

The thing is, I’m not a hypertrophy specialist. It takes deep, unrelenting attention to keeping up with the science and experimenting with the art to be a great hypertrophy coach. I know when I’m out of my depth, so I brought in hypertrophy expert and devoted coach Kourtney Thomas to create the bigness for you.

Get The Sauce

If you’re looking for a passive fix, this isn’t it. This demands your full attention and focus. Some of the The Bigness Project lifters called it meditative. Of course, that’s exactly what makes it so engaging, fun, and rewarding.

So, yeah, it’s hard work, but the rewards are big. Big. Huge.

THE MAGIC OF THE MIND-MUSCLE CONNECTION

With hypertrophy training, it’s not enough to go through the motions. It’s important to consciously connect with the working muscles to recruit more muscle fibers. (That mental focus on the feel of lifts is thought by many in that community to directly impact muscle size.)

“Embrace that mind-muscle connection in the gym, and suddenly, it becomes second nature to be more mindful in all of your decisions,” says Thomas. “Over time, it creeps around and takes over, grounding you in the idea that taking up space—physically and energetically—is the way to go. Bigness encourages power, owning your choices, taking control of your body and your life, and standing in that power.”

These predictions have been borne out, time and again. Witness:

Christy Richarz

After spending most of my life in pursuit of getting smaller, the idea of seeking Bigness turned out to be a life changer to me! I’m not meant to be small — I was made to be BIG. I’ve never felt more confident, beautiful, and so at home in my own skin.

Christy Richarz, 34

Utopia, Texas

@christyricharz

All my life I have believed that I needed to be small…in size, in weight, in my words and my actions, that I needed to take up the least amount of space possible. I have worked very hard on these thoughts over the past 14 weeks and know now that it's OK to be BIG in all aspects. I was put here for a reason and it sure as hell wasn't to be small and quiet.

Erika Dickerson, 37

Ruskin, FL

@edickerson1979

Erika Dickerson
Kristen Buter

I've totally embraced Bigness — and have had so many good conversations with my 7 year old daughter about it over this time too. It’s fun to hear her say to someone at the bus stop, "My mom could do that — she’s stronger than dad!"

Kristen Buter, 36

Greely, ON, CA

@kristenbuter

The Bigness Project has changed my life — no joke. Taking up space, being empowered, embracing growth and bigness: this program has delivered. Kourtney has put together something awesome, something that will fundamentally change you in ways that you won't believe. I have changed my body, grown my muscles, expanded my mind and my horizons. Embrace Bigness. You won't regret it.

Jude Crowther, 49

Gloucester, England, UK

@jcrowther9

Jude Crowther

WHO, ME?

We are, as women, used to having people up in our business in ways that range from subtle to absolutely no chill, about how we should look, act, and speak, how much we should or shouldn’t eat. Also, how much we should or shouldn’t lift.

That last one sounds like a joke, but you know it isn’t. Some people get reeeaaal nervous about the prospect of a muscular woman.

But...it is a time for bigness. It’s a time for showing all the way up in our bodies and in our lives.

How that plays out for each individual will be different. Some people are seeking a “toned” look (which shhh, secretly also just means building muscle), while others want biceps and delts for days. (Personally, I dig a “foxy linebacker” aesthetic for myself.) Still others aren’t into lifting weights at all, which means you’ve taken a wrong turn to end up here, but feel free to stay as long you like. This goal is not for everyone, and that’s OK.

It is for those ready to show up as Big as you really are, to create a physical reflection of how you already feel on the inside — or for those who would like to give yourself a physical space to grow into. Maybe you’re making art (one woman in the early group remarked that training this way made her feel creative—“as, I’m creating my body!”). Maybe you want to learn to treat yourself with all the reverence and awe of great art. Maybe you just want to support your strength goals, or try something new and different. Regardless, if you do not feel curious, eager, or elated at the idea of making muscle as an act of self-care, please pursue something that does make you feel that way.

I'm Down With Bigness

NOT JUST FOR WOMEN

I’m so sorry, I’ve done nothing but talk to women so far! But, I have not forgotten everyone else. This program is for you, too! Totally and completely. You may share many of the same motivations above. Or, like a contingent of our ladyfriends, you may just be here to get totally jacked. Either way, the answer is dead ahead.

Muscles are a huge part of what The Bigness Project is all about. But what we’ve found, too, is that it’s, well… bigger than that. If you follow this path, you’ll see what we mean.

You’ll begin to see results quickly — within the first 14 days, after tackling four muscle-building sessions per week. By the second half of the program when we add in the fifth day (I told you this hard work), you’ll see results on the outside and the inside.

The Perks:

  • There’s no guesswork involved—each step that will help you change your physique is backed by tried-and-true methods so that you build visible muscle on your body. There’s no more spinning your wheels in workouts that don’t work the way you want them to and you’ll look like you lift more than ever before.
  • A better mind-muscle connection. Learn cues that will help you literally activate more muscle fibers simply by thinking about it. The intense focus and mental engagement also helps you build more body awareness.
  • Strength imbalances get buffed out by training with more of a focus on single-sided movements
  • Higher volume means you’ll necessarily have to lower the weights, and a side benefit of working with lower weights is a decrease in chances of injury.
  • A second benefit of working with lower weights is that it can be more accessible to people for whom high-intensity exercise is off limits: those with hormonal or other issues (but of course, as with any fitness endeavor, consult with your health-care professional first). Strength-training can be thought of as upgrading the software of your body, but it’s hard on the system to upgrade the software. Hypertrophy training, on the other hand, is like upgrading the hardware — it makes the software run better
  • A deeply creative, meditative focus during weight training—unparalleled to other styles of resistance training, which can be more task-oriented.
  • You get to adorn yourself with new muscle in places you want to put it! The magic of hypertrophy training is in the self-care and the ownership of your path
  • Optional access to resources from nutrition titan Renaissance Periodization. If you choose that option during the checkout process, you will be granted access to a super-simple, super-effective nutrition plan customized for your gender and bodyweight. That way, you know you’re fueling your body for the work you’re putting in

Join The Project

The Bigness Project isn’t just a program. It’s an ongoing endeavor that will carve out new muscles, new insights, and maybe even a new path.

P.S. We’re sorry in advance for how much you’re gonna want to squeeze your own muscles.

Actual Week-by-Week Highlights From Bigness Project Participants:

  • Week 1: "Huge fan of the intro week. It felt like a really productive rough draft to an ‘A’ paper. I was able to take a curious approach and be humbled (then hooked) instead of my typical perfectionistic approach that would have led to frustration with myself."
  • Week 2: "Curves are coming out in FULL FORCE! I have "ass cleavage" now because my underwear cannot contain my growing booty!"
  • Week 3: "I noticed an improvement in whole body coordination. (Or maybe it is simply my improved awareness.):) My posture and balance is better both inside and outside the gym."
  • Week 4: "I’m starting to look like I actually lift!!!!! 😊"
  • Week 5: "I'm looking more muscley everywhere. I know thats vague, but my arms have more definition, and actually, ive seen a difference in my waist this week. Abs are popping more, and im making a dent in my fairly ‘blocky’ midline."
  • Week 6: "My body feels like a machine again with all the parts working together. My back is becoming the Mississippi. And my legs ‘got my back.’""
  • Week 7: "I feel like superwoman and I want the whole world to know it. My arms have really exploded during these past seven weeks and I definitely want to show them off. I have never seen such a measurable improvement each week and I LOVE that."
  • Week 8: "I feel like a boss."
  • Week 9: "Arms and legs are feeling and looking ‘full.’""
  • Week 10: "I feel confident and I like my body for the first time in decades. It’s been a miracle for me. No exaggeration."
  • Week 11: "The information about the mind-muscle connection was so spot on. I've really slowed down mentally to connect with what I'm focused on building for the workout. "
  • Week 12: "My husband commented that my thighs, shoulders, back, and arms are looking and feeling meatier."
  • Week 13: "My lower half is definitely firming up. Shaving my legs is an adventure now because of all the new divets and bulges I'm discovering! HA!"
  • Week 14: "I feel like my body now clearly demonstrates how I feel on the inside: strong, knowledgeable about fitness and nutrition, and dedicated to training. I feel fantastic!!"

HERE’S WHAT YOU GET!

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User Manual

The nitty-gritty of making gains and developing bigger muscles through the best, tried-and-true methods of hypertrophy training. We lay it out step by step so you walk away with the knowledge specific to building muscle. Also includes information on including mobility and stability into your program to keep you supple as you pack on the muscle.

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Exercise Glossary

Includes step-by-step photos and clear, vivid coaching cues spelled out for every single strength exercise in the program, so you know how to do every one of them correctly and effectively. (This comprehensive resource, which details 95 exercises, is an incredibly useful resource all on its own!).

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Training Program

A complete 14-week program that focuses on building muscle all over, including how to use eccentrics to maximize your gains in the gym. Specific rest protocols and the use of compound sets help make the program effective and challenging.

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Video Library

For those who prefer visual cues, the 20 videos of strength and how-tos of lifting in a hypertrophy program will break down step by step everything you need to know to be able to perform the movements.

Get The Program

What about, Cardio???

I thought this was all about dem gains?!

It is. But being cardiovascularly fit and incorporating targeted cardio workouts into your hypertrophy routine is only going to support growth. Here’s how:

Without getting too technical muscle hypertrophy actually lowers the amount of blood flow that is available to the muscles due to decreasing capillary volume relative to the size of the muscles. Cardiovascular exercise helps to build out this network of blood-delivery vessels and increases muscle perfusion. Better bloodflow = more ability to use and grow muscle. It's like clearing the streets for the delivery vehicles of raw materials.

The options in the Cardio Calendars will adjust your schedule to optimally benefit your muscle gain.

So if you’re already doing cardio and loving it, you can keep doing it and chase the pump. And if you’re not, but you want to? Don’t worry, cardio won’t steal your gains – it’ll help you make even more muscles. The Cardio Calendars lays it all out on how best to achieve a big healthy heart along with your big muscles.

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Common Questions

  • QWhat should I eat when training?

    AIf you’re newer to training, the most important factor is simply getting enough protein, says Dr. Mike Israetel of Renaissance Periodization (RP). About a gram per pound of bodyweight is a good rule of thumb, and spread evenly throughout the day. If, on the other hand, you’re a more advanced trainee or you want to better fuel your training, you will likely want to pay closer attention to calories and macronutrients, as well, in order to optimize your results.

    To that end, we’ve paired up with RP, a leader in nutrition programs for a variety of clients, to give you the tools you’ll need in the kitchen, too. The RP Bigness Plan was written specifically for fitness enthusiasts going through The Bigness Project.

    Note: The plan is written as a maintenance plan that will help you maintain your current body weight while better fueling your training with more ideal nutrient timing and food ratios to support hypertrophy as a goal. If you follow it as written, you will likely see your body “recomp” — that is, gain muscle and lose fat at the same time, while maintaining your current body weight.

    If that doesn’t suit you, the plan can very easily be modified to fit your specific physique goals, meaning you can titrate the plan either upward or downward if you have a more specific goal of gaining muscle more rapidly, or losing body fat. (All of this is explained in more detail in the RP Bigness Plan User Manual.)

    The plan very simply lays out what to eat and how much in an easy-to-follow format. RP has done an excellent job at creating a unique system that makes staying on a nutrition plan sustainable and sane. Each plan has two options — one with a more balanced nutrient content and one that is low-carb. Within each option you also have the choice to split your day up into three or four meals depending on your lifestyle. RP also gives you a list of recommended foods and comprehensive details on how to put your meals together so there’s no guess work in meal planning.

    All that said, your exact nutritional needs will depend on you. If you’d like additional guidance, we recommend seeking the counsel of a trusted nutrition coach. (RP does private coaching, as do many other coaches and companies. That answered my question, I want to join The Project.

  • QWhat if I become bulky as I put on more muscle?

    AThere are tricky dynamics at play when women put on muscle — one of the words commonly used is “bulky,” often said with disdain. We think it’s necessary to reframe the term, and perhaps even more importantly, to reframe what it means to be a muscular woman (or man!). Bottom line — you’ll add muscle mass, but it’s up to you to determine how you view it. Any sort of muscular development takes loads of work, so when it comes to getting bulky, I recommend trying your best on this program. Where you will end up 14 weeks from now, chances are, is exactly where you want to be: with more visible muscle definition to your frame.

    If you are still concerned, rest assured you will not accidentally become Ms. or Mr. Olympia. Unless you’re in the top echelon of that gene pool and you train for three to five hours every day for the next five years, it simply won’t happen. Moreover, this program isn’t intended to prepare you for a bodybuilding competition (the sport of bodybuilding involves more training that’s geared toward the specific aesthetic preferences of its various governing bodies). That answered my question, I want to join The Project.

  • QWon’t I lose my strength gains as I go into a hypertrophy cycle?

    AIn short (and in the short-term), you may lose some strength in certain big lifts. First, it depends on your training background. If you’ve been doing bootcamp-style training, it’s likely you’ll get even stronger! If you’re coming from a powerlifting background or the like, you may temporarily lose some ground on your big three.

    But, that doesn’t give you the whole picture. Cycling in a hypertrophy program will help you build more muscle, which you can then put to work turning into even stronger muscles when you go back to heavier programming. Physically more muscle (as in a greater cross-sectional size of the fibers) means that you have the potential to reach and activate more muscle when you start training for strength again. (Plus, this can be a great reset for your body. If you’re feeling beaten up from the really heavy stuff, this will feel like a dream, and you’ll get more jacked, to boot. That answered my question, I want to join The Project.

  • QDo I need a gym to do these workouts?

    AYou’ll to need a wide range of dumbbells, a barbell setup (including a squat rack), an adjustable bench (or a way to create an incline), various bands (mini- and full-length), a pull-up bar, and a stability ball or Valslides. You’ll also want some accessories like a kettlebell and slam ball. If you have all of those things in your home gym, you can absolutely complete the program at home.

    If you cannot check off all of those boxes, you'll need to head to the gym to get the most from this program. There is also a benefit in doing the program in a fully loaded gym in that you can take advantage of various machines throughout the program that you wouldn’t have access to at home, such as a leg press.

    All that said, if you have most but not all of the equipment, there are ways of getting creative. That answered my question, I want to join The Project.

  • QI’ve heard hypertrophy is boring — how is this program different?

    ARep after rep can get boring, but what we’ve found is that this program has a way of drawing us inward and into our muscles — which put us into a highly focused, nearly meditative state. (No, really!) The mind-muscle connection that we teach you helps you hone in on how your body is moving, which is naturally a more mindful approach to moving and boots boring right out the window.

    In short, keep your focus dialed in and you won’t be bored. That answered my question, I want to join The Project.

  • QThere’s only one option to choose — is this program better for beginners or advanced gym goers?

    ABoth! Starting with hypertrophy or cycling it into your existing program are both great ways to add Bigness to your routine. We give you step-by-step instructions on how to perform each movement safely and effectively if you’re just starting out, and the ability to scale each movement makes sure you have options if you need them.

    For those who are more experienced, going into a hypertrophy cycle will give you a different stimulus and help you continue on to (or return to) that sweet muscle-building zone. That answered my question, I want to join The Project.

  • QIs the nutrition plan necessary to see results?

    AThe training program is written so that you will build muscle mass even without following a specific nutrition plan.

    That said, the nutrition program is highly complementary to the training program, and will accelerate your results (you’ll get the added benefit of ensuring you’re getting enough protein for your muscles to recover). That answered my question, I want to join The Project.

  • QIs The Bigness Project for men and women, or both?

    AHypertrophy does not discriminate. While there are invariably differences in training from person to person, and even between genders in some regards (generally speaking, women do better with higher volume than men), the training principles in the Bigness Project apply to everyone.

    As far as physical results to expect go, your look will very likely change. Some people may call it “getting ripped” while others might say “toned,” but we’re talking about the same thing: adding muscle mass and improving posture and coordination. That answered my question, I want to join The Project.

  • QAm I too old for this program?

    AAbsolutely not. That answered my question, I want to join The Project.

  • QI’m in—how will the program be shipped to me?

    AShipping is so ’90s. Everything is a completely digital, downloadable series of PDFs that you get instant access to as soon as you purchase. What’s more, you can download and access the entire system on any device that can read a PDF — which, these days, is nearly anything. You can read it on your computer, your tablet, or even your phone. Or, print it out, if you prefer. That answered my question, I want to join The Project.

  • QWhat is the structure of the training program? How many days of lifting per week will I be doing? And about how long are my gym sessions going to be?

    AThe Bigness Project training program is broken into what’s commonly referred to as body-part-split training. In the beginning, for the first 7 weeks of the program, you’ll be hitting the gym 4 days per week. The last 7 weeks, your training days will increase to 5 per week. This does not include any additional cardiovascular workouts. The days must be completed in order, but how you complete them throughout the week (ie: where you take your rest days and/or do your cardio) is flexible.

    For those first 7 weeks, you can expect your workout to take somewhere between 45 and 60 minutes. And for the second 7 weeks, you can expect workouts to increase to somewhere between 1 hour and 90 minutes. Of course, this all depends on how quickly you move and assumes you don't have to wait for equipment. That answered my question, I want to join The Project.

  • QI don’t see the nutrition plan on the package options. When can I add that to my purchase?

    AThe RP Bigness Plan can be added to your cart after you select and purchase either The Bigness Project Silver or Gold Package. On that page, we’ll walk you through everything offered with the RP Bigness Plan so you know if it’s the right option for you and want you want to acheive. That answered my question, I want to join The Project.

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