Doggcrapp adherent David Henry grinds out chest dips. / Instagram video

Forget the name for minute. Doggcrapp is that rare thing—a revolutionary weight-training system. It started “underground” on an internet forum, and, though it’s never gone mainstream, it at least went bodybuilding-mainstream. I wrote about it extensively in FLEX magazine around 15 years ago. Pro bodybuilders Cedric McMillan, David Henry, Steve Kuclo, and Mark Dugdale were among its many adherents. It resurrected rest-pause, an invaluable but long-neglected technique; and it shifted emphasis away from volume and intensity to strength. Doggcrapp is the most unique bodybuilding system since high-intensity training arrived 30 years before it. Even if you don’t strictly follow a Doggcrapp (DC) protocol, focusing on long-range strength gains for moderate-to-high reps in specific exercises is a great muscle-making strategy.

Let’s investigate Doggcrapp, how it works, and how getting stronger for reps and rotating exercises can unleash continuous growth.

DOGGCRAPP: THE NAME

Okay, back to the name. When self-taught training and nutrition expert Dante Trudel, who published the newsletter Hardcore Muscle in the mid-’90s, posted his unique workout philosophy to an internet discussion board in 2000, he thought no more than the few dozen meatheads there would read it. That explains the moniker. “Doggcrapp” (with the superfluous “g” and “p”) was his spur-of-the-moment, what-the-hell screenname for what he anticipated would be a single post that would soon fade away. But Trudel was deluged with questions, the original post grew to 118 pages, and his musings were copied and pasted all around the internet, and they have been ever since.

Dante Trudel Doggcrapp
Dante Trudel / Instagram

Dante Trudel stated that if he knew Doggcrapp would become so popular, he would’ve chosen a cooler name. But Doggcrapp is certainly memorable, and most adherents refer to it as “DC” anyway. The name also seems oddly appropriate in a punk rock sort of way, because Doggcrapp is an anarchic ideology that challenges the status quo.

DOGGCRAPP: THE PHILOSOPHY 

“I thought about what makes a muscle grow, what would make it grow faster, and to absolutely stop thinking in this I want to be big so bad I’ll overthink and overdo everything concept,” Dante Trudel told me in 2006. “Why do people think in terms of annihilating myself into rigor mortis in today’s workout instead of progression and recovery over weeks, months, and years? I scrapped everything and reverse-engineered it. I broke it down, took out all the things I felt were just fluff and there for ego and obsessive-compulsive satisfaction, and created a power-building attack.”

What Trudel deduced was that bodybuilding gains are directly related to strength gains. Forget pumping up the muscles or shocking them with intensity techniques. Doggcrapp prescribes that you choose only one exercise per bodypart (two for back) per workout and focus on growing progressively stronger in that exercise over time. Easier said than done, right? Try to beat your best in the same lift workout after workout, and you’ll quickly smash into a wall. Trudel knew this. To avoid that wall as long as possible he devised a rotation for doing a different exercise per bodypart from workout to workout.

Let’s break down the Doggcrapp fundamentals and exactly how a DC workout routine is assembled.

DOGGCRAPP: THE FUNDAMENTALS 

🔹 Progressive strength gains are paramount to progressive size gains.

🔹 Do only one exercise per bodypart per workout with the exception of back, which is trained with one thickness exercise and one width exercise.

🔹 Do as many warmups as necessary (2-4 sets progressively heavier), but typically only one working set per exercise.

🔹 With the focus on one working set of one exercise per bodypart, you have the energy, strength, and time to hit several bodyparts in each workout.

🔹 Doggcrapp prescribes dividing the body into A and B workouts and training three times per week, so each muscle is worked three times every two weeks (see schedule below).

🔹 You never do the same exercise for a bodypart that you did the workout before or the workout after. Instead, you rotate three workouts, each of which focuses on one different exercise per bodypart. So, the exercises you do in your first workouts (A1, B1) you repeat in your fourth workouts, two weeks later, and on and on (see schedule below)

🔹 Always endeavor to get at least one more rep with the same weight or the same reps with more weight than you got last time you did that workout, two weeks before. If you fail to do this, remove that exercise from the rotation and replace it with another.

🔹 Use rest-pause with three failure points on most working sets. For example, you might fail at eight reps (failure point #1), stop for a few seconds, get three reps before failing (failure point #2), stop for a few seconds, and grind out a final two reps before failing (failure point #3) for 13 total reps.

🔹 Doggcrapp is done for a 6-to-8-week “blasting phase” followed by a 2-week “cruising phase” of low-volume, low-frequency work with straight sets done to non-failure.

🔹 Emphasize the sort of compound basics that let you pack on the most weight. These best allow you to grow progressively stronger over a long period. For example, choose barbell curls over concentration curls. (A list of Trudel-approved exercises follows below. Choose three exercises per bodypart, one for each of the three, rotated workouts.)

🔹 Keep a logbook or a training log on your phone and bring it to the gym, so you always know exactly what you need to do to beat your previous best.

🔹 For quads, you can, if you dare, do a final “widow-maker” set of 20-25 reps to failure.

🔹 For safety, back thickness and quad exercises are not rest-paused, neither are calf and forearm exercises. Instead, do the straight reps prescribed in the exercise list below.

🔹 Dante Trudel prescribes the following for calves: Do 1-2 straight sets of 10-20 reps. On each rep, lower into the eccentric half over 3-5 seconds, hold the fully stretched position for 10-20 seconds, explosively perform the concentric half.

🔹 Doggcrapp prescribes as much work for forearms (which are often neglected) as chest and other major bodyparts.

🔹 Conversely, there is no direct trapezius work because traps get hit with some back thickness exercises, especially rack deadlifts (deadlifts done in a power rack with the supports set just above knee level).

🔹 Abs can be trained on the days of your choice with one warmup set and one set to failure of both a crunching exercise and a leg raise exercise.

🔹 Extreme stretching is another technique that Dante Trudel popularized, and it’s frequently performed with Doggcrapp. Check out: Fascia Stretching Ultimate Guide

Doggcrapp training
David Henry hammer curls 40 kg. (88-pound) dumbbells. He’s gone as high as the 120-lb. dumbbells. / Instagram

DOGGCRAPP WORKOUT SCHEDULE

A Workouts: chest, shoulders, triceps, back width, back thickness

B Workouts: biceps, forearms, calves, hamstrings, quadriceps

1, 2, 3 Workouts: different exercises in each numbered workout

MondayWednesdayFriday
Week 1A1B1A2
Week 2B2A3B3
Week 3A1B1A2

DOGGCRAPP SAMPLE WORKOUT A

Weighted Dip (chest) — 2-4 warmup sets — 1 set x 11-15 rest-pause reps

Behind-the-Neck Press (shoulders) — 2-4 warmup sets — 1 set x 11-20 rest-pause reps

Overhead Triceps Extension (triceps) — 2-4 warmup sets — 1 set x 15-30 rest-pause reps

Hammer Strength Lever Pulldown (back width) — 2-4 warmup sets — 1 set x 11-15 rest-pause reps

T-Bar Row (back thickness) — 2-4 warmup sets — 1-2 sets x 6-12 reps

Doggcrapp training
David Henry T-bar rows as much weight as he can get on the bar (290 lbs.). / Instagram

DOGGCRAPP PREFERRED EXERCISES

WORKOUT A: Chest, Shoulders, Triceps, Back Width, Back Thickness

CHEST

1 exercise per workout, 11-15 rest-pause reps


Flat, Incline, or Decline Barbell Press with Dumbbells, Hammer Strength Machine, or Smith Machine

Flat, Incline, or Decline Cable or Dumbbell Fly

Chest Dip (lean in; weighted if possible)

Kneeling Landmine Press

SHOULDERS

1 exercise per workout, 11-20 rest-pause reps

Seated or Standing Overhead Press with Barbell, Dumbbells, Hammer Strength Machine, or Smith Machine

Push Press

Behind-the-Neck Press

Upright Row

Bulldozer Lateral Raise (This is a one-hand lateral raise. Start each rep, holding the dumbbell in place before your opposite leg. Release the dumbbell and explode it up to shoulder height.)

TRICEPS 

1 exercise per workout, 15-30 rest-pause reps

Close-Grip Bench Press

Triceps Dip (stay upright; weighted if possible)

Flat, Incline, or Decline Skullcrusher

Overheard Triceps Extension

BACK WIDTH

1 exercise per workout, 11-15 rest-pause reps

Pull-up or Chin-up (weighted if possible; feel free to vary your grip if you stall)

Narrow- or Wide-Grip Pulldown

Hammer Strength Lever Pulldown

BACK THICKNESS 

1 exercise per workout, 1-2 sets of 6-12 reps without rest-pause

Deadlift

Rack Deadlift

Barbell Row

Two-arm Dumbbell Row

T-bar Row or Chest-Supported T-bar Row

Narrow- or Wide-Grip Seated Cable Row

WORKOUT B: Biceps, Forearms, Calves, Hamstrings, Quadriceps

BICEPS 

1 exercise per workout, 11-15 rest-pause reps

Seated or Standing Dumbbell Curl

Barbell Curl

Cable Curl

Preacher Curl

Spider Curl

FOREARMS 

1 exercise per workout, 10-30 reps to failure without rest-pause

Hammer Curl

Reverse Curl with Barbell, Dumbbells, or Cable; Regular or Preacher

Barbell or Dumbbell Wrist Curl

Barbell or Dumbbell Reverse Wrist Curl

CALVES

1 exercise per workout, 1-2 sets of 10-20 reps: slow eccentric, static hold with full stretch, explosive concentric

Leg Press Calf Raise

Hack Squat Machine Calf Raise

Standing Calf Raise with Machine or Smith Machine

Seated Calf Raise

HAMSTRINGS

1 exercise per workout, 15-30 rest-pause reps

Romanian or Stiff-Leg Deadlift

Seated Leg Curl

Lying Leg Curl

Good Morning

Glute-Ham Raise

QUADRICEPS

1 exercise per workout, 1-2 sets of 6-12 reps to failure without rest-pause, optional additional “widow-maker” set of 20-25 reps to failure

Barbell Squat

Front Squat

Leg Press

Hack Squat

Dumbbell or Barbell Lunge

Dumbbell or Barbell Step-up

Leg Extension