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Update 3rd July, 2012

I now cycle my very own program (Reveal The Steel) year round and no longer use Visual Impact. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a great program, but what I’ve come up with is completely different, and works for me a lot more long-term.


I’m currently completing a program outlined by Rusty Moore over at called Visual Impact.
This is a program designed to give you the ‘mens health’ or ‘Hollywood’ kind of look rather than the bulky muscle-bound look that a lot of muscle hypertrophy programs are aimed at.

My preference used to be on the latter, but I’ve since learned the error of my ways and reduced size, become leaner and sharper, and my girlfriend is a lot happier for it! Programs like this one, aren’t for everybody, especially those looking to become HUGE.

I’ll outline Visual Impact for you below as well as give you my honest opinion on it.

Visual Impact is split up into 3 phases

Phase 1 Sarcoplasmic hypertrophy. Simply trying to add volume to muscles rapidly.
Phase 2 Hybrid power-muscle building. Maintain muscle + harden it up.
Phase 3 Lower volume and heavier weights to really harden up existing muscle. Strategic HIIT added for stripping more fat.

So what’s REALLY in Phase I?

Phase I concentrates on Sarcoplasmic Hypertrophy over the entire body.
Pyramid sets working within the 6-15 rep range will cause ‘cumulative fatigue’.
Rest periods will be short and the overall volume is high.
The weight lifted is secondary to the fatigue created from set to set.

Day 1 Chest, Shoulders, Triceps
Day 2 Legs, Calves, Abs
Day 3 Back, Biceps, Forearms

The entire body is worked over 3 workouts with a rest day every second day

I tend to train 4 times a week, therefore Day 1 is repeated on the friday, then I start off the next week starting with Day 2.

Muscles are grouped to allow for maximum fatigue in each workout giving you the optimum scenario for mass building.

Sample day of Visual Impact training

I won’t reveal what’s in every day, but ill outline the first day of Phase 1 so you can get a taste.


Barbell bench press Rep range 12, 10, 8, 6, 12-15
Add weight from set to set and go light at the end. Sub incline barbell if upper chest is a weak area.

Flat bench dumbbell flyes 4 sets same weight
Use weight you can do 12 times and rest 45 seconds between sets. As each set progresses, you’ll do less and less reps due to fatigue.

Incline dumbbell presses 3-4 sets same weight
Same as previous exercise.


Standing military press Rep range 12, 10, 8, 6, 12-15
Add weight from set to set and go light at the end

Dumbbell lateral raise 4 sets same weight
Use weight you can do 12 times and rest 45 seconds between sets.

Seated shoulder press machine 3-4 sets same weight
Shoulders will be destroyed from last 2 exercises. Pick a weight you can do 12-15 times and rest 45 seconds.


Lying triceps extensions Rep Scheme 12, 10, 8, 6, 12-15
Add weight from set to set and go light for the last set. You can use either a regular barbell or ez-curl bar.

Cable pressdowns 4 Sets With Same Weight
Use either a rope or bar and aim for the burn rather than pushing heavy weights

Close grip push-ups 2-3 sets to Failure
Do the reps in a smooth rhythmic motion and build up the burn with each rep.

Optional HIIT 15 Minutes of Interval Cardio
Limit excessive cardio when gaining mass, but 15 minutes of short interval cardio with long rest periods in between sets will increase HGH without taxing the system too hard.
Aim for a 3 to 1 rest-to-intense ratio on intervals. So 90 seconds of walking alternated with 30 seconds of running.

Visual Impact

If you want to get ‘shredded’, much like this paper, perhaps give Visual Impact a shot.

Honest opinion of Visual Impact

It’s been giving me great results in terms of hardness to the muscles, and with the added HIIT in coming months, I’m hoping to be even more beach-ready for the summer.

The program is designed for the mid level to advanced trainer, so if you’re new to fitness, you might want to try something else first to avoid injury and burnout.

Head over to the Visual Impact page if you want more information, or Rusty explains it himself here.

Editor’s note: Have you tried or are you on Visual Impact yourself? What have your results been like.
Leave your comments below.

Clint Nielsen

Author Clint Nielsen

Clint is a dad and husband trying to stay in shape. He's also a highly opinionated fitness enthusiast and author of Reveal The Steel. Follow him on: Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and Google+

More posts by Clint Nielsen

Join the discussion 12 Comments

  • Ken Rogers says:

    Way to go! The lean, strong muscles are way more efficient and in fact the ladies prefer them to the big, bulky bodybuilder type muscles. It’s true, there has even been studies done on it.

    Ken Rogers

  • Clint,
    VIsual Impact was a real eye opener for me. It outlines a great six month routine to build a great body…essentially adding muscle mass with limited, if any fat gain. I’ve been cycling some of the phases and have just gotten to the bonus phase. That alone is worth the look.

  • Clint,

    I’m nearing the end of Visual Impact and I’m very happy with the results. I’ve never seen another program structured quite like VI with the various stages (that you can and should customize to your starting point) to transition from building mass in certain areas to hardening the muscle to create maximum definition. I definitely recommend VI for anyone who is going for the Hollywood look.


  • Clint,

    I too have been doing Visual Impact for about the last 6 months. I have measured my weight and taken a picture every day too. I took measurements too for comparing before and after. I’ll also be doing the bonus phase.


  • Matt says:

    I noticed you’re on to phase III. Are you planning on outlining that phase as you have done with phase I and phase II? Thanks for the the great reviews on the program!

    • Clint Nielsen says:

      I will be mate.
      I have a couple of weeks left on Phase III (im fast tracking it to get to the BONUS phase early).
      This is also due to the fact im going away on a mini-break for 4 days and see it as perfect timing to change it up when I get back.

  • Tony says:

    Hey Clint I was wondering if I could modify these VI workouts to purely bodyweight exercises. (I have a pull up bar though.) I haven’t bought the program yet, because I dont want to waste the money on a program that forces me to pay for a gym membership. Tell me what you think and if you have any suggestions. Thanks

    • Clint Nielsen says:

      You definitely can, although it won’t be quite as ‘easy’ to add weight as you progress. Rusty does outline at-home substitutions the whole way through though.
      Hope that helps!

  • Jess says:

    Clint, thanks for the great resource. I’ve completed a few rounds of P90x as well as Insanity and am now looking for a new program. Can you tell me on average how long the workouts take to complete; both the lifting and cardio? Thanks again.

  • Min says:

    Hey Clint, I’ve been vi for all the phases except for phase 3, only been through a month and fall off followed other programs with friend since last December, now I planning to start back vi course, starting back on phase 1, about the eating regimen. BF and weight slightly went up Alittle compare to last December. Current state : 5’8, BF around 13-15% and weigh around 154-156lbs hovering. Do you think I should go into deficit, maintenance or surplus calories if you’re in my stats? And yeah, I followed 16/8 eating style aft the fallout, I do it everyday. Sometimes I break the fast Alittle late or sometimes Alittle earlier. So what do you recommend me to do before I start back the program? Thanks!

    • Only you can answer what your caloric intake needs to be dependant on your goals – if you’re looking to increase mass, then bump up your calories. If you’re looking to lose some body fat, you need to be in a deficit.

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