How To Build Muscle – The Revolutionary Guide

This not only a guide on how to build muscle.

It is a guide on how to build muscle in the most effective and safe manner possible.

This guide is structured in an easy to read and understand format.

I will provide you with the main information that you need to know.

This information will give you an overall view so you can see the forest from the trees.

I will avoid some of the finer details like what a muscle fiber is etc.

Because that information is not important for the average person seeking a greater understanding on the processes of how muscle is built by the body.

Some of this information may sound alien to you because my philosophy towards exercise is one of increasing efficiency and reducing the time needed exercising.

How Long Does It Take to Build Muscle?

The primary determining factor will always be genetics.

Some individuals are born with a predisposition to build large amounts of muscle faster than the masses.

These individuals will also have favorable bone structure and long muscle bellies.

I refer to these individuals affectionately as, ‘thoroughbreds’.

The point is it doesn’t matter if you do or don’t have favorable genetics that respond well to exercise stress.

The formula is exactly the same.

Only ‘thoroughbreds’ will find they recover faster.

Have more potential for larger muscles and can sustain more stress, but the traits can vary.

The question of ‘how fast’ is a moot point.

For example, the well known: “Colorado Experiment”.

image of casey viator a body builder before and after a body transformation.

In which Arthur Jones re-trained a fine specimen ‘Casey Viator’.

After an injury that left Casey bedbound for months.

The training experiment resulted in an increase of muscle tissue to the sum of 63 lb in 28 days. Crazy, I know.

Then there are ‘averages’ of 1-2lb per week for men and 0.25-0.5lb for women.

Other sources say the total amount is 5lb per pound of bone mass.

It doesn’t matter.

Your goal. Is to build it as quickly as you can.

In the safest and most effective manner possible.

Muscle growth will be one of the results.

That the human body, when subjected to overload.

Will produce if left alone and provided with the basics. E.G Sleep and food.

If you want to know more check out my article How Long Does It Take To Build Muscle?

Age and Gender as a Factor

Women, of course, will not develop muscle to the same degree as men.

There is a fundamental difference in anabolic hormone quantities, frame size etc.

Elderly people may also find it slow going.

The benefits of effective exercise for the elderly.

Are comparable to the fountain of youth.

That’s no exaggeration.

As this study here explains.

How Fast do Beginner Trainee’s Build Muscle?

Beginners will build muscle fairly rapidly.

Following a smart programme, a newbie can start building muscle after 3-4 workouts.

He/she will build the most amount of muscle in the 1st year.

If a trainee understands the fundamental principles. As outlined in this article and commits herself.

He/she can maximize 90% of one’s genetic potential within 12-18 months.

This is possible and represents a paradigm shift away from dated conventional wisdom.

Are You Building Fat or Muscle?

Accurate record keeping is so important.

I have dedicated sections to every aspect of record keeping below.

For now, I want to re-emphasize.

That you must take steps over and above the scales.

You need to ensure you are building muscle.

It is very easy to think new weight gains also contain lean mass. When in fact this may not be the case.

Lose Fat First? Or Build Muscle First?

image asking the question-Should I Lose Weight Before Building Muscle?

Keep it simple. The most effective way to lose fat is via calorie restriction which we will discuss further down.

The role of resistance exercise in fat loss is to prevent muscle loss in the face of calorie restriction.

If you are overweight by 20 lb or more.

Then start your diet regime to lose fat (reduce calories).

Continue resistance exercise in exactly the same manner as detailed below.

Whilst it may be possible to build muscle whilst losing fat in some individuals.

Do not expect this and aim to keep your muscle mass stable whilst losing fat.

The maximal rate at which the body can utilize fat. Is around 31.4 Kcals per pound of fat. Per day. Click To Tweet

You can read my article Should I Lose Weight Before Building Muscle? If you want to dive deeper.

Strength Training vs Muscle Building

Strength = Size & Size = Strength Click To Tweet

Some people believe that strength and muscle are somehow mutually exclusive.

And to maximize both. The training stress must be different for each goal.

This is only true for specific skills such as powerlifting or olympic lifting.

If you have no interest in these skills then do not practice them.

A thicker muscle is a stronger muscle if everything else is equal.

The body enlarges muscle tissue to increase strength and metabolic efficiency (muscular endurance).

If all else is equal a larger you is a stronger you and that is all you need to know.

The Magic Formula

It’s actually not magic.

Unless you’re looking under a microscope.

But it is a formula that works consistently.

You just need to follow it and learn how your body responds, individually.

There are 3 phases which your body will move between.Stress - Recovery - Adaptation. Click To Tweet

This is the big picture concept of exercise.

I will go into each section of the concept in detail, below.

Along with relevant questions associated with each part of the concept.

image of the thre phases of exercise. stress, recovery and adaptation

Stress

Exercise by its very nature is a stress that the body can only tolerate so much of.

Like any other stress, the body has a process that it initiates to deal with this new stress.

The body responds by super-compensating.

This super-compensation.

Increases the capacity of the musculoskeletal system and its supporting systems.

Cardiovascular system etc. To do more work.

The end result is an increase in the capabilities of the systems mentioned above.

This is the way the body adapts to the stress of exercise.

The new adaptation costs the body much energy and substrates.

The body will only invest in a super-compensation mechanism. If the stress exercise stress is of a high-intensity nature. Click To Tweet

How Hard Do I Need to Train?

How high?

Nobody knows for sure.

And measuring the intensity of effort directly. Is currently impossible.

But we know 2 things.

0% or 100%?

We must start by standardizing intensity.

The intensity of effort is the most important variable in exercise.

It is constantly in flux second to second.

We can only accurately measure the two percentages.

0% i.e (At complete rest).

and

100% i.e (Your momentary maximum capability).

The required intensity of effort to switch on the growth process is very high.

So the obvious choice is 100%.

100% is Momentary Muscular Failure (MMF).

Momentary Muscular Failure

We discuss this concept in greater detail further down.

For now, understand that MMF.

Is the point, momentarily.

When your output of force is no longer adequate to complete another repetition in good form.

We know from studies that a single set to MMF is sufficient to trigger muscle growth and other adaptive processes.

Some studies have shown a single set to be superior, others show multiple set schemes to be superior.

There is a growing debate amongst the scientific and general fitness community.

The debate continues over issues such as terminology, measurements of intensity, definitions etc.

The debate rages on, as it should.

The true scientific method must prevail.

Failure is an Option!?

You need to change your perspective on failing a little.

Some people say: “Failure is not an option” or “Failure is a bad thing, and practicing it is even worse”.

I have to laugh.

Firstly this is not about the psychology of failure and winning.

This is all about the physiology of your body.

Your physiology requires extremely high levels of intensity in order to provide super-compensation.

Pushing your body to its limit (MMF) does this in the most time effective manner possible.

Your body has no reason to adapt to stress unless this stress momentarily defeats it.

Simple.

Now in terms of the psychology.

Name me one genius, successful person, legend etc.

Who never failed on their way to greatness?

Failure is a part of life, the trick is in how you deal with it.

Do you learn from it or cry about it?

I’m Not Good at Failing?

You need to change your perspective on failing a little.

Some people say: “Failure is not an option” or “Failure is a bad thing, and practicing it is even worse”.

I have to laugh.

Firstly this is not about the psychology of failure and winning.

This is all about the physiology of your body.

Your physiology requires extremely high levels of intensity in order to provide supercompensation.

Pushing your body to its limit (MMF) does this in the most time effective manner possible.

Your body has no reason to adapt to stress unless this stress momentarily defeats it.

Simple.

Now in terms of the psychology.

Name me one genius, successful person, legend etc.

Who never failed on their way to greatness?

Failure is a part of life, the trick is in how you deal with it.

Do you learn from it or cry about it?

What Does MMF Look & Feel Like?

You start the stopwatch.

Bend down and pick up the bar to begin your next exercise barbell curls.

The weight is set and you are now counting down from 10 seconds.

3,2,1 and go!

You slowly lift the bar.

Contracting the muscle and feeling your way through the hard and easy points of the exercise.

Your breathing is constant through an open mouth but relaxed as the burn hasn’t kicked in yet.

You get to the top.

Contact your muscle intensely.

You slower lower the bar making sure your posture is consistent and unwavering.

You perform the next 6 repetitions in exactly the same way.

Each rep an identical copy of the previous one.

Your heart rate now has dramatically increased.

Your breathing is now much faster, almost hyperventilating.

You resist the urge to contract your facial and neck muscles.

Most importantly you never hold your breath.

Constant breathing, no Valsalva maneuver.

This is what can happen if you use the Valsalva maneuver. 

7ht rep was much harder, slower than the others.

Despite your efforts to keep the same cadence.

You know from experience that you have 2-3 more in you.

Most people would have already stopped.

You complete the 8th rep even slower than the previous.

Despite the fact that you lifted it as fast as you could.

Your breathing rate is now at maximum, blowing out as much CO2 as possible.

Trying to reduce the lactate levels mounting in your body.

The lowering phase is agonizing.

You do everything you can to stay calm.

You can feel it now.

The next one for sure ain’t going to the top.

You get to the fully stretched position and summon everything you have left.

You heave the weight up, still with perfect form, your upper body and lower body barely moving.

The bar gets up to the halfway point.

The sticking point.

The bar stops moving.

You keep pushing.

Now hyperventilating.

Short sharp breaths are the only option other than holding your breath.

Holding your breath and employing Valsalva is not an option.

You push for the mandatory 5 seconds.

Ensuring no more upward (concentric) movement is possible.

Nothing!

You place the bar on the floor.

Countdown to 10 seconds and stop the stopwatch.

When the ability to move your arm has returned.

You write down the TUL (Time Under Load).

Minusing 20 seconds.

10 from the beginning when you started the stopwatch, grabbed the barbell and got ready to begin.

10 from the end where you placed the bar on the floor and went for the stopwatch.

Luckily you used a stopwatch because you can’t remember if you got 7 or 8 repetitions.

You feel a tad dizzy. But awesome.

This is the best possible way I can describe MMF to you without showing you in person.

This was my 1st leg’s session after a layoff. Definitely not my best form or performance but it helps to paint a clearer picture.

Your Long Term Goal

The idea when delivering exercise stress.

Is to provide the minimum effective dose to get the maximum adaptive output.

In other words.

We want to do the least amount of exercise necessary to produce the maximum response our body can signal.

The pursuit of such a balance should be the long term goal of every trainee, for obvious reasons.

The body can only produce a limited response to an imposed stimulus.

It must work within its available energy reserves.

Every second of exercise above the minimum amount needed.

Is not only wasted effort.

But counterproductive as it eats into valuable energy reserves.

Recovery

Once you have ceased exercise.

You have stopped the ‘Stress Phase’.

Immediately the ‘Recovery Phase’ will begin.

The recovery phase will require energy to complete.

If you subject yourself to a form of stress other then exercise to a great degree.

You may cut short the recovery phase and restart the stress phase.

It is very important to ensure that you provide your body with adequate rest, sleep and nourishment.

During times of elevated stress, your body will use substrates faster.

So ensure you have time to rest and nourish your body.

Activity and Sport During Rest

Mild activity is fine, but you should not engage in any forms of recreational sport or “exercise”.

I placed exercise in quotation marks.

Because there is no universally agreed upon definition of exercise.

Some people believe recreational activities like running, or tennis are actually exercise.

It may appear that way, as these activities elevate heart rate and body heat.

But so can a scary movie complimented by a large soda.

We need a definition that separates activity, sports etc from real exercise.

Here is the definition I agree with.

Courtesy of Mr. Ken Hutchins, a true genius when it concerns exercise.

“Exercise is a process whereby the body performs work of a demanding nature, in accordance with muscle and joint function, in a clinically-controlled environment, within the constraints of safety. Meaningfully loading the muscular… Click To Tweet

(HRV) Heart Rate Variability:

Heart rate variability is common predominantly amongst “Cardio” folk.

Probably because their chosen training modalities likely lead to severe levels of overtraining.

HRV is a method people use to gauge how relaxed their body is.

I’ll be honest with you it is not something I have tried myself yet.

But I plan to experiment with it soon.

You can read a bit more about HRV training here.

Dynamometer

A dynamometer is a simple and cheap piece of kit.

It allows you to measure your grip strength grip strength accurately.

Which can serve as a good indicator of which phase of adaptation you are in.

Weaker Grip = Recovery

Stronger Grip = Adaptation.

Off-course, it is not 100% accurate and it also still requires some intuition and expertise.

For example, if your grip is 0.7 kg stronger.

Does it mean you have finished adapting?

Or if you tested again tomorrow would it be 1.1kg?

You will need to record the data of your tests and your workouts to create a reliable picture.

How Long Does Recovery Take?

Recovery can take anywhere from approximately 1 day to 14 days.

It depends on the stress imposed.

It will also depend on other lifestyle variables individuals experience day to day.

There are too many variables to consider to provide an accurate answer.

I can talk from experience from training clients and viewing the research.

When a trainee begins training in the fashion outlined in this article.

He will benefit from 3 workouts weekly off no more than 30 minutes each.

As he begins to understand how to push his body to its limits.

This number will probably come down to 2 weekly workouts.

Some people may find 2 workouts work very well.

For some people, however.

As they progress into the intermediate and advanced level.

He/she may find that 1 workout is all their body can handle in order to continue progressing.

It makes perfect sense.

As your body climbs towards its genetic potential.

It becomes hundreds of % stronger than when you started.

The rate at which you are able to stress your systems increases dramatically.

But the rate at which you adapt to this stress is slower.

It follows then.

That whatever you were doing in the early days of your training.

Cannot be the same as your training efforts now.

You are a different beast now. Or beastess.

Less is More.

The Answer is never more exercise when you master intensity of effort. The answer is the right amount of exercise. Click To Tweet

Which you will learn how to find specific to your body/genetics and lifestyle.

This will be clear if you take this advice to the gym and achieve MMF on all your exercises.

You will feel no need to perform a second set. If the 1st set is done properly.

Achieving MMF for people who have never done it before is almost impossible in the 1st 6 workouts.

But you will still feel the effects if you really try and go for it.

When you learn to relax other muscles not contributing to the exercise.

Breathe properly and not panic.

Then you will be able to push till MMF.

Sleeping Like A Pro

I can’t emphasize the importance of sleep enough.

Following the circadian rhythms.

Eliminating blue lights before bed.

Measuring your sleep quality.

Switching off wifi. Putting your phone on airplane mode.

Testing which foods affect your sleep, and off-course, caffeine.

All play a large role in how well you sleep.

Sleep is 1 of the most important factors that you can vary to ensure your recovery will be as quick as possible.

A Tip for Managing Stress

Meditation – The art of learning how to switch off the conscious side of your brain.

Focus on your breathing and allow thoughts to drift in and drift out again.

Will help you in reducing stress and anxiety prevalent in today’s world.

Adaptation

The final phase in the magical super-compensation cycle.

This is where we start to build an adaptive response to the stress imposed by the workout.

This phase can only begin once the body has recovered from the workout.

The body can now divert energy towards building up the systems involved.

Cardiovascular system, musculoskeletal system central nervous system.

The Amazing Car Tank Analogy

This is an analogy I would provide to clients to help them understand the whole process:

Imagine a car that could increase the size of its gas tank.

Whenever the driver reached perilously low levels of fuel.

The car gas tank would ‘super-compensate’ and allow for a greater amount of fuel.

It done this because you pushed the car to almost empty.

It responded in kind by ensuring that the car could carry a bit more gas. So that next time you won’t run dry.

That’s how the muscle and energy systems work.

Unless you push your body to its current limits your body has no reason to super-compensate.

Another Analogy

When you cut your skin or cause abrasion to your palm from lifting barbells and dumbbells.

What happens?

Your body begins healing straight away, as soon as the stress has ceased.

If you allow enough time to pass.

You will find new, tougher skin has formed in direct response to the earlier stress.

If you train the next day.

The skin has not yet formed into a rugged callus and it will peel off.

You have restarted the process.

Let your body fully heal, before you stress it again. Click To Tweet

Take the Path of Most Resistance

bodybuilder pushing huge rock up a mountains

 

I borrowed this term from Mr.Nautilus himself John Turner.

We already know that as soon as we begin our workout our job is to efficiently and safely exhaust the muscle.

The most effective way to do that is to find the path of most resistance.

When the exercise feels incredibly hard at a certain points, embrace it.

Do not speed up out of these tough points as most trainees do.

Keep your form consistent but expect and even look forward to these hard points.

The harder the point in the lift the more effective it is.

Take the path of most resistance.

Not the path of least resistance.

You already know that hard work is essential.

How To Exercise Safely & Efficiently?

Safety.

It’s not something people think about too much when they start training.

Yet, once you pick up an injury. You will start to think about it a bit more.

The haphazard form and strategies. Most people use when training will eventually lead to an injury.

It’s a case of ‘when’ not ‘if’.

If you follow this information properly.

You will never receive an injury during weight training.

Not once among the hundreds of clients whom I instructed.

With these very methods, did someone pick up an injury?

Not once.

Maximize Your Efforts with Excellent Form

I have taken this from Drew Baye’s “Ten Rules For Maximising Muscle Gain”

 

  • Move in a slow and controlled manner
  • Lift the weight, don’t swing or throw it
  • Lower the weight under strict control, don’t drop it
  • Do not set the weight down or unload between repetitions (unless you are performing rest-pause repetitions)
  • Do not lock out and rest at the endpoint during pushing movements
  • Do not alter your body position or movement to reduce the resistance or shift it to other muscles
  • Do not avoid or rush through harder portions of the range of motion, “mine” them
  • Do not pause or move too slowly through easier portions of the range of motion, or avoid them altogether
  • Maintain continuously, even tension on the working muscles, do not back off then heave at the weight

 By following these rules, you will maximize both the safety of a workout and efficiency.

You will also get some glassy-eyed looks from other gym members.

Who are now questioning their own form.

You’ll get used to it. Or if you’re at your home gym. Even better.

Remember, we seek the path of most resistance.

Don’t Dilute Your Efforts and Kid Yourself.

When you’re performing an exercise you are trying to target a specific set of muscle/s.

A common mistake trainee’s make.

Is that during the intense exertion of an exercise.

They contract other neighboring muscles.

These muscles are not in the optimal position to help.

By doing this they dilute the stress to the target muscles by also contracting these neighboring muscles.

If you are performing a bicep curl.

You should only be thinking about the biceps.

Whilst simultaneously relaxing to the best of your ability.

Any other muscles that are tensing up and trying to help your biceps out.

E.G The forearms should be as relaxed as possible.

Your grip should be as loose as is safely possible.

If you want to train the forearms. Then do so with their correct muscle actions and a full range of motion.

Perform wrist curls and extensions.

When performing an exercise for a specific muscle or subset of muscles.

Your attention should be on the primary muscles you wish to work.

All other neighboring muscles should be completely relaxed.

Some Examples:

You’re most likely doing some or all these without even realizing it.

Squeezing the handles or bar when performing squats or leg presses.

Grimacing the face and neck muscles detracts from the exercise. Don’t waste energy contracting these muscles.

The next time you perform squats or leg presses.

Pay attention not to shift onto your toes.

You will find that in an attempt to better recruit. The momentarily stronger quadriceps.

Your body will shift onto your toes.

This will dilute intensity away from the glutes and lower back.

Should I lift Weights Fast or Slow?

First, let’s just address a very common myth:

“You must perform exercises fast so you can recruit the higher order ‘Fast Twitch’ motor units”

Bull Sh*t.

This is a common example of people getting confused over, perhaps not the best name choice.

Actually, these high threshold motor units.

Also have other names that are less confusing. “Type 2 Muscle fibers.”

The reason they are also known as fast twitch motor units.

Is because they fatigue very fast.

Due to their inherent ability to produce large amounts of force.

These motor units activate large areas of muscle fibers.

You can target these motor units more effectively by performing slower, safer repetitions.

As you approach the upper realms of intensity these units will come into play regardless of the speed.

Train to Momentary Muscular Failure (MMF) and you will recruit the entire spectrum of muscle fibers until they are all exhausted.

Now whether you choose to lift the weight fast or slow is up to you.

They both work. Here is an excellent explanation. Dont worry about the infimetric part. We will come to that later.

How Much are Your time and Joints Worth?

Moving a weight slower is more time efficient and safer.

It reduces external forces such as inertia.

Which in turn makes the load more stable and provides a more consistent even tension on the muscle.

The efficiency that you obtain by default also reduces extra wear and tear on the joint.

As well as enabling you to focus on the form in much greater detail.

‘Embrace’ or ‘mine’ as Drew Baye would say those spots where the resistance is higher and thus more effective.

Exercise Selection – Which Exercises Should I Do?

Multi-Joint (Compound Exercises) will make up the bulk of your exercises.

Think Squats, Deadlifts, Bent Row, Machine Press.

Woman performing chest press on a smith machine in supine position

 

 You will also want to incorporate Isolation exercises.

Such as neck extension & flexion.

Calf raises.

Dumbbell or Machine Lateral Raises.

Etc

Whether you place these isolation exercises within your full body workouts.

Will be a question of whether you have enough energy to perform them.

It may be better to have Isolation exercise only workouts.

There are many options.

Injuries

It may be that you have some existing injuries, hip pain knee discomfort.

In these cases, isolation exercises are a must for strengthening specific areas.

Identify where the injury is stemming from.

Then test both opposite sides of muscle for weakness and tightness.

Begin to strengthen these weak areas as you would any other muscle.

Some Advanced Workout Tactics

Pre-Exhaustion

You may want to momentarily weaken. A stronger muscle in a chain with an isolation exercise.

This will allow all the muscles to tire at approximately the same time.

E.G: Leg Extension followed by Leg Press, will allow the thighs to hit MMF before the lower back.

Rush – Sets

Rush sets are when you move between your exercises as quickly as possible.

This gives the workout more overall intensity because you are doing more work or the same work in less time.

When you have learned how to perform the exercises with excellent form and control.

Then i recommend gradually reducing the transition time between exercises.

This rush factor will provide you with the benefits of HIIT (high intensity interval training).

As well as the benefits of resistance exercise in 1 efficient workout.

Follow the Muscle Actions

Your goal should be to exercise the major muscle actions of the body.

A Compound/Multi-joint Full Body Workout should comprise off:

Horizontal Push

All pushing exercise will involve these two actions predominantly aswell as some variations.

 

Horizontal Pull

All pulling exercise will involve these two actions predominantly as well as some variations.

 

 

Vertical Push

This is a vertical pushing movement like a seated overhead press. Vertical pushing will involve shoulder abduction like below plus elbow extension like above.

Vertical Pulling

Vertical pulling movements will include exercise like chin ups and will involve the above muscle as horizontal pushing but in differing directions.

Lower Body Push & Pull

This is a lower body pushing exercises like a leg press, barbell squat or Belt Squat*.

Combined with a lower body pulling exercise like a leg raise or even better. Supine Cable Leg Raise**

*Belt Squat – Discussed below*.

**Supine Cable Leg Raise also discussed below**

Rotation

NOTE: Not essential as the mid-torso muscle will be indirectly worked. Through a combination of all the exercises.

I still believe a rotation exercise is excellent for thoracic (torso) mobility.

A common postural problem.

A rotation exercise like a torso twist machine or a Seated Cable Twist***

***Seated Cable Twist – Will be discussed below.***

When To Do Full Body Workouts?

Whether you are a beginner, intermediate or advanced trainee.

You will want to exercise your full body for 2 primary reasons:

1. The Indirect effect:

This principle introduced by the late, great, Arthur Jones stated that:

When you train a muscle or muscle group the growth is not only limited to that muscle but also spills over to other muscle groups. Click To Tweet

We know this to be true. If you only did squats or an exercise similar for the lower body.

Growth would also spill over to areas of your body such as the arms, traps, upper back, and even the chest.

With full body workouts of only a few exercises, you can maximize this phenomenon.

2. Easier to Monitor Recovery:

Once you have trained the full body.

You know your only job is to rest, monitor your recovery and adaptation.

Then return back to the gym to complete another full body workout when the time is right.

When To Do Abbreviated Workouts (Split Routines)

With a split routine, although you only trained a set muscle group/s.

It does not mean you can return to the gym the next day and train a different body part.

Your body cannot distinguish between upper body stress and lower body stress.

They are both stressors! Here’s a quote from Arthur Jones:

“Split routines make as much sense as trying to sleep or eat for only one-half of your body. The body should be exercised as a whole”. Click To Tweet

A time may come when your ability to generate stress from a single exercise. Has such a profound effect on your body.

That it exceeds your momentary ability to perform subsequent exercises with the intensity needed.

When this time comes, then it will be appropriate to conduct an abbreviated routine.

That routine may look like lower body one day and then upper body several days later.

It could even warrant a further consolidation and look more like a conventional split routine.

E.G

Chest and Triceps. Back and Biceps. Shoulders and Abs. Etc.

Start with full body workouts for the foreseeable future.

Exercises to Avoid.

There are certain exercises that are inherently flawed in their mechanics.

There are also certain exercises you should never do. Period! As Bill DeSimone says.

Below is a small summary you can check out my other article Worst Exercises.

Wide Grip Pull-Down

schematic showing the inherent problems with a very wide grip on the lat pull down exercise

The wide grip pulldown is executed to primarily target the lats (latissimus dorsi).

The problem here is that if you move the elbow joint this far out in extension (behind you).

You reduce the ability for the lats to contract.

The lats are responsible for bringing the arms down from above the head and into the side of the body.

With a wide grip lat pulldown.

You are reducing the ability to adduct (pull the arm into the side) the arms and thus impeding a maximal contraction.

If you wish to exercise the upper back.

Then choose a movement more congruent with the needs of these muscles like a seated row with arms at shoulder height.

Step Up Barbell Lunge

This exercise seems to be popular amongst strength coaches.

Hopefully not anymore.

At least 2 players had serious injuries. One almost lost the ability to walk.

I’ll leave it to Bill again to explain why this idea is a terrible idea.

Reverse Barbell Curl

This exercise is believed to target the brachioradialis a large muscle in the forearm.

The movement does stimulate this muscle.

For any degree of comfort or a meaningful load, you must wrap your thumb around the bar.

As soon as you do this you place the brachioradialis in a position of passive insufficiency.

You will be better of doing hammer curls as well as incorporating a grip trainer into your regime.

Exercises to Replace

man performing bent over cable tricep extension with arm adducted against the body.

There are many exercises to choose from.

Before choosing an exercise.

You should always understand 2 points:

Muscle Action = When the muscle contracts which directions does it pull the limb it moves towards? Understand the primary and secondary muscle actions, memorize them.

Directional Resistance = Which direction is the resistance coming from and is that sufficient to allow the muscle to work hard.

For example.

Any tricep exercise that requires you to keep your arms above your head.

Will be inferior to a tricep exercise with your upper arm against your side and behind you.

 

This is due to the primary and secondary muscle function of the tricep.

Primary action of tricep = To extend the forearm at the elbow joint. (straighten the arm).

Secondary Action = To pull the upper arm toward the body (adduction) and pull the upper arm backward (extension).

For now, let me give you 2 exercises that you could replace tomorrow.

You will increase efficiency and increase safety.

Replace Barbell Squats with Belt Squats.

Most people are unaware.

That when you perform a barbell back squat.

The full weight of the bar is literally compressing your spine from the weakest position.

 

Pros of Belt Squats.

  1. No spine compression.
  1. Possible to perform negative only training as demonstrated.

The load is situated directly below your center of gravity.

This makes the exercise safer for the spine and more effective for hip &  quadriceps muscles.

Cons of Belt Squat

  1. If you are very strong, hooking all the plates may be troublesome. My advice would be to refine form further.
  2. Set up is more complicated than using a barbell and squat rack.

Note: If you can’t or don’t want to do belt squats try performing squats properly in a smith machine.

Replace Cable Leg Raise with Supine Cable Leg Raise

Hanging leg raises are a decent exercise.

Indeed, if you don’t have access to a cable pulley then they are your only option.

The problem with hanging leg raises.

Is that in most people the weak link will be the forearms and hands.

Especially after performing several other compound exercises for the other larger muscles of the back.

Performing the below exercise allows you to take the arms from the equation completely.

As well as add small incremental weight increase via the stack.

Perform like the below video except, bend your knee’s to take strain of the lower back and perform far slower. Under much more control.

Pro’s:

  1. Incremental weight increase is possible.
  1. Eliminates arms from the equation so you can focus on lower body pulling and all the associated muscles
  1. Can train negative-only. Quite easily by yourself and very easily with a partner

Con’s:

  1. Requires cable machine and bench

Frequency – How Often Should I Train?

You should base your training frequency on your bodies schedule.

Not your schedule.

The general rule.

Is that it will be better to wait an extra day to complete the next workout than hitting the body again 1 day early.

You will not lose any muscle or strength in a day.

But you could prevent the adaptation finishing by going a day early.

Using techniques for monitoring recovery.

Do your best to find out when you feel ready to go and restart the adaptation cycle.

Remember that growth happens. After the workout, not during. Click To Tweet

Number of Workouts Per Month

It is far better to calculate monthly workouts as opposed to weekly workouts.

Some weeks you may be able to do 3 workouts.

Some weeks 2 will feel right.

Some weeks you have so many outside stressors. There is a high probability these outside stressors will affect your sleep and diet.

in this case. One workout will be the safest option to ensure progress.

Count how many workouts you did in a month, measure your progress, and evaluate the month, not the week.

Consistency is important.

Ensure you are doing 2-3 workouts in the first 6 months of training.

Then re-evaluate whether 1 or 2 workouts will be better.

Hec, if you’re a thoroughbred you might even be able to do 3 high-intensity workouts per week.

The devil is in the detail and the detail is in the data. Click To Tweet

No matter what happens 4 workouts per month should be your absolute minimum.

Especially in the 1st 6 months of training.

6-8 workouts would be better as an absolute minimum.

How much weight? – Go Heavy, Light, or in the Middle?

Let’s just get it straight out the way.

The load is not as important as people think.

You do not need heavy weights to ensure maximal growth.

This has been common knowledge amongst smart trainees for decades.

Research had been lacking and various sources continue to misinform people.

Telling them that heavier weight equates to a higher intensity.

Simply not true.

This study recently conducted by Brad Schoenfeld.

A well known high volume advocate is just one example study.

A higher load may result in a greater amount of intensity faster.

But form is equally as important for intensity.

Controlling form to increase the intensity of effort is also far safer.

Higher loads are not required to generate maximal intensity.

The onus is on the individual to generate the required intensity i.e MMF.

The only thing that matters in terms of sending a growth signal.

Is absolute intensity.

Whether you do it in 6 reps or 30 reps the outcome can be and will be the same.

Off-course, doing it in 30 reps is unnecessary.

It will also result in a higher probability that the individual will stop due to pain rather than MMF.

I recommend a happy medium.

Choose a rep range between 6 and 12.

Anything below 5 is an unnecessarily heavy load.

It will likely lead to poorer form, more joint wear and tear and a higher chance for injury.

Anything above 6 will allow for a moderate weight that you can handle with perfect form.

It will also allow for sufficient metabolic stress which is necessary for maximal growth (super-compensation).

What About Powerlifting & Olympic Lifting?

If displaying strength rather than accumulating it safely and effectively appeals to you.

Then you’re on the wrong site.

woman wearing a t-shirt

 

Duration – How Long Should My Workouts Last?

The workout should dictate that to you. And the rules should dictate the workout.

Learn to perform only 1 set to failure*

Until you have learned how to do that.

Perform only 1 exercise per muscle action.

Some muscle actions will cross over and that is fine and unavoidable to a certain extent.**

Move as quickly as you can between exercises but not so quickly that your form is comprised due to fatigue.

Slowly aim to decrease total workout time if all other factors remain equal for that given workout.

*Read section How Many Set Should I Do?

** Unless you are performing pre or post exhaust.

So if you are performing 6 to 12 exercises then the work out should be kept under 30 minutes.

For beginners, 45 minutes is perfectly fine.

But after 4-6 workouts. You should be training in under 45 minutes and closer to 30 minutes.

If you are able to set up all your equipment and weights in advance.

Then 15 minutes should be more than enough.

Volume – How Many Sets Should I Do?

motor-unit-cartoon

The idea is that 1 set should be enough to completely recruit and exhaust a muscle or muscle group if executed until MMF.

This stimulus should be an adequate signal for the body to respond to maximally.

However, as with any real-world training system.

There may be some cases for whatever reason, (the variables are too many).

That more sets may make a greater impact.

If you believe this to be true for yourself.

Then test a second set and even a 3rd set by following the guidelines later in this article relating to the accurate measuring of performance.

If you are learning how to train to MMF and are unsure whether or not you are reaching MMF.

Start with 3 sets. Ensuring the last set is your best effort at MMF.

Hard Gainers – Non-Responders:

There exist a category of individuals.

That seems to either not respond to certain exercise programs or regress.

If you are not seeing progress or encountering regression.

I encourage you to try low volume high-intensity training.

If you are already training in this way. First, ensure that you have mastered form and intensity.

And are now performing only 1 set per exercise until MMF.

Then you can reduce the total number of sets per workout.

E.G.

If you are doing 6 exercises for the whole body.

Then you should reduce this to 5 or 4 exercises and test to see what happens.

Lack of progress may mean that your body is more inflamed than the average trainee.

The stress you are providing is overburdening the recovery systems.

Some individuals may find that they can’t go to MMF.

If this is you then, of course, try a second set.

Test the results and then later try a 3rd set and see if it adds any additional benefit.

You can still abide by all the above principles just experiment with a slightly higher volume of work.

Early Stages – Beginners

I recommend that beginners either experiment with a second set.

Or incorporate an accurate way of adding in a ‘rest pause’ set.

Discussed in the advanced tactics section.

Your goal should still be to push till MMF.

Rather than accumulating stress through multiple lower intensity sets.

Warm Up Sets.

Generally, warm up sets are not needed and a cardio warm-up is absolutely a waste of time.

The 1st few repetitions in a set will act as the central nervous system primer as well as allow the muscle to warm up.

After these 1st few controlled repetitions.

Your body will be ready for higher levels of intensity.

Another reason why low reps (below 5) are unfavorable.

If you want to spend an extra 10 minutes going around and performing a warm-up set of each exercise.

Then go ahead. Try it out.

Record it and then A/B test it against a month of workouts without such a warm-up procedure.

Then let me know how you got on.

Progression is Key

Ensuring that you are progressing over the long term is essential. Click To Tweet

If you are not measuring performance, you have no comparison to measure change.

Increases in strength.

Will show that you have all 3 stages of the Stress- Recovery – Adaptation cycle under control.

To answer the question of whether or not you are making maximal progress.

You must test the variables.

Removing or adding 1 variable at a time will allow you to split test the results.

Progress in Form First. Always. Click To Tweet

When I train a client.

I always keep a record of all the major variables we need to control.

But in the early stages, this is a relatively ‘loose’ record.

As the primary focus is on perfecting form and the form will get better from one workout to the next.

An individual can increase the weight and repetitions from one workout to the next just by compromising form and ‘diluting intensity’.

Wiggling around under the bar to change the moment arms is just one example.

First, you must master the form. This comes from remembering and executing the cardinal rule of ‘The Path of Most Resistance’.

Revisit the above section “How to Exercise Safely & Effectively” for the rules.

Progress in Weight/Load

Once you are confident with your form.

One of the ways you can manipulate the intensity is through increasing the load.

In the early stages of your training, you will be able to make larger strength increases than later on.

Strength increases of 10% – 15% per workout. For the same number of completed reps are not uncommon in the early stages.

As you get stronger and get closer to your genetic limit, your increases in strength will be smaller. Click To Tweet

Micro Loading

Micro-loading with tiny weight plates that can range from 250 gram (¼ of an lb) to 1kb (2.2lb).

Will represent an excellent way of continually adding weight and thus intensity.

E.G

you have been overhead pressing 20kg (44lb) for 15 repetitions (perfect form).

A logical method to increase the intensity will be to increase the load.

But perhaps your strength improvements have only been around 5% workout to workout, which is still very good progression.

You need to increase the weight by 5% which is the average strength increase per workout you have been attaining.

5% = 1kg (2.2lb)

You probably will only have access to 1.25kg (2.5lb) plates or 2.5kg (5lb), which are standard.

You can see how have micro-plates will fill the void.

Allowing you to make accurate, minute changes to continue seeing progress.

TUL (Time Under Load)

 

Time under load or sometimes referred to as TUT (time under tension).

Is the process of measuring your working sets through time. Instead of counting repetitions.

For measuring Isometric (static) exercise. TUL is the only option.

Trying to count reps can be distracting and frustrating.

For example.

A 1 repetition increase can represent a 10% increase in strength. That is substantial progress.

If you miscount by 1 repetition.

You could be skewing the data you collect from your workouts.

You might end up making changes that will hinder your progress.

I recommend you use a stopwatch like this:

  1. Before commencing the exercise start the stopwatch.
  2. Count to 10 seconds to give yourself time to grab the weight and prepare yourself.
  3. Once you have counted to 10. Start the exercise.
  4. Once you have finished the exercise (hit MMF).
  5. Immediately start the 10 count again and then stop the stopwatch.
  6. After completion of the exercise, you write down the TUL minus 20 seconds.
  7. This will allow you to track your TUL with accuracy.

How to Track Your Workout

Below are the variables of your workout that you must track.

1. Load

The weight used on each exercise

2. Repetitions or TUL

Either record repetitions or TUL

3. Exercise Order Sequence

Keep track of the 1st, 2nd 3rd exercise etc

4. Rest Time, when transitioning between exercises

Tracking rest intervals between exercises will allow you to accurately track progress.

As well as shave seconds off when you’re ready.

5. Machine Settings

Having a field to record machine settings is very important.

A slight change in settings can affect exercise performance.

6. ROM (Range of Motion)

Try to have a system in place to ensure you are always traveling the same distance for each repetition.

7. Date

Track your workout date for recovery data.

8. Time

Time of workout may provide some interesting insight into performance.

9. Notes:

Make any comments like: “Douchebag jumped on my machine so had to have extended break so I could keep order sequence the same”

or

“Added too much weight, realized after”

or even just

“felt tired today”.

How To Measure Physical Progress?

Measuring physical changes is fundamental.

Nothing is more motivating than seeing your body fat go down and your muscle mass go up.

Some of my colleagues would shy away from measuring clients because of fear.

That is natural. But it doesn’t benefit anyone.

You need to know what kind of physical changes your methods are producing.

A client wants to see physical changes as well as workout progress.

Collecting data is the only way to split test variables and fine tune your methods.

Body Fat

Realistically the cheapest way to measure body fat is through a combination of tools:

Good old measuring tape.

Digital Body fat scales.

Callipers.

Remember the goal here is not to measure your fat in %.

This is only possible to do accurately with a university grade machine like a DEXA or Bod Pod

The purpose is to get an accurate reading across devices.

Measure body fat in exactly the same way. In the same place. Every time. Click To Tweet

As close to the original conditions as possible, get another reading and compare.

Having 3 different methods to get readings will ensure a good broad perspective.

Conditions

  1. Try to measure in the morning whilst fasting.
  2. If you must drink water when you wake up always consume the same amount of water
  3. Do not measure after any exercise or activity.
  4. Always pick exactly the same spot to measure from.

Tip: use birthmarks and tattoos as reference points.

Muscle Mass

Now that you are tracking body fat.

You can distinguish whether you are building muscle.

If your weight is going up and your body fat is going down. Then this extra weight will be a combination of increased muscle, glycogen and water.

This is excellent news!

Glycogen and water will increase as well as muscle mass. Due to them being intrinsic parts of the muscle.

In fact, muscle is around 70% water.

Individual measurements around the limbs and torso (chest and waist).

Will allow you to gauge which parts of your body are increasing and to what extent.

Tape Measure:

Body fat and muscle mass measurements can be obtained by using your tape measure. Track these areas and be exact with where you are measuring.

You can measure anywhere from 3 sites to 20 sites.

It’s up to you.

I like fewer points because it is easier and quicker to measure. Which increases the likelihood I will do it at the allotted time and date.

Some example areas:

  • Middle of Bicep: In the flexed position. Measure around the middle of the bicep.
  • Chest: Have the tape resting on the nipple.
  • Waist: Make it easy, measure over the belly button.
  • Thighs: Measure up a certain distance. E.G ¾ of the way up toward the hip. From the center of the knee cap. Mark with a pen and always measure the same spot.
  • Shoulders: Measure down from the bony acromion process. Situated at the outer edge of your trapezius muscle down. Record the distance and take the full circumference measurement.
  • Gluteals (Bum): Measure from the center of the butt looking side on. Mark with a pen and always measure the same spot.

Types of Resistance

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Understanding the various forms of resistance. You will encounter when training is essential for the smart trainee.

Rotary

Muscles rotate around a joint axis.

Thus the most efficient type of resistance is rotary resistance.

It will allow for more stimulus through an entire full range of motion.

As well as greater activation of all motor units within the muscle.

Exercise machines allow for rotary resistance.

The problem is.

Many exercise machines available to the average person.

Are cheap copies of the original Nautilus machines. So don’t expect too much from them.

In some cases.

If they are really bad, opt for a free weight.

I will write a separate article on how to discern between a good and bad exercise machine.

Uni-Directional

This is your free weights and cables.

Free weights provide resistance in one plane of motion, the same plane gravity works on.

To exercise the full body with free-weights. You must change your body positions and work around the bar/dumbbell. Click To Tweet

Either you must rotate.

Or the free-weight must rotate.

Regardless of the direction, the resistance is coming from.

Something must rotate.

With a free-weight, you must work around the limitations of the apparatus. In Order to achieve the desired muscle action under resistance.

With a machine, the apparatus is designed and built around the movement.

Bi-Directional

This is resistance across two planes like having a band around your knees whilst you squat.

Direct Resistance

A lateral seated shoulder raise.

 

When the pads rest on your elbows is direct resistance.

 

Because only the deltoids will be lifting the weight.

 

No free weight exercise will be direct resistance.

They will always require you to hold a weight.

Meaning that even in isolation exercises such as barbell curls.

Your forearms and hands will be working directly as well as the biceps.

Note: There is no such thing as an isolation exercise in the true sense of the word. Neighboring muscles will always contribute to a certain extent because they are sharing the same joints etc.

Indirect Resistance

The opposite of direct resistance.

Requires separate muscles to contribute.

To the primary and secondary actions of the muscle/muscle group you are trying to work.

E.G. The triceps must work when bench pressing, the biceps must work when chinning.

Variable Resistance

Have you ever tried to attach bands to a bar when you are squatting?

You will notice that as you approach the easiest part of the exercise (the approach to knee lockout).

The resistance gets dramatically harder.

This is ‘varying the resistance of an exercise’.

Variable resistance makes an exercise far more effective.

Good machines will have cam profiles that have a strange non-cylindrical shape to them.

Image displaying vintage nautilus mahcine and cam profile next to one another. Message on image says:

This strange shape is to allow the radius of the cam to change to accommodate the natural strength curve of a muscle.

As the radius increases the resistance increases.

What Equipment Should I Use?

Free Weights

Free weights are like the horse and cart of the exercise age.

Reliable.

Relatively cheap.

And

Will always get you and some luggage from A to B in fair time.

Compared to walking anyway.

Unlike the horse and cart.

Most people are still using free weights.

Or no weights.

Because weights scare them and treadmills are easier.

This is not me trying to belittle free weights.

Free weights were revolutionary.

A giant step towards increased efficiency.

That was about 100 years ago.

Machines

Exercise machines promised a new revolution for exercise.

Arthur Jones dedicated a lot of energy, money and time.

Towards creating machines that would satisfy his need for biomechanical perfection. Or close to.

They were very successful.

Then Arthur died and so did his dream for a new dawn in exercise efficiency.

The exercise industry raced against one another to fill the void by creating cheap copies of the machines.

It became a race to the bottom.

The gym user paid the price.

Some machines still offer great value. In time, I will teach you how to discern between a good machine and a bad machine

Exercise Bands

Exercise bands offer a cheap and effective way to add variable resistance.

I highly encourage you to purchase resistance bands.

In differing levels of resistance and immediately start using them with squats.

Calisthenics

Calisthenics has become a bit of a cult.

Mainly due to genetic thoroughbreds.

Swinging on bars and displaying their awesome physiques and skills on youtube.

Calisthenics can represent an effective way to train.

Especially with the help of bands.

However, calisthenics is vastly inferior compared to free weights and machines.

At least from a biomechanical standpoint.

I have written at greater depth on this exact topic. If you want to learn more read Weights vs Calisthenics? A New Perspective

Advanced Training Concepts

At some stage.

You may want to play around and diversify your training program.

As you put in place these advanced training concepts.

Be sure to incorporate them one by one and split test the results.

It is possible that these advanced training techniques could give you the edge you need. Or enter you quickly into a state of overtraining. Be vigilant. Click To Tweet

Isometrics

An isometric contraction is in effect a static hold.

By holding a weight isometrically.

You are able to support a greater weight then if you were lifting the weight concentrically.

This is not an exhaustive guide to isometric contractions.

Just a brief introduction.

I will cover isometric contractions in a separate article.

Isometric contractions are usually held at the point of peak contraction. For the greatest benefit.

For certain exercises. This will not be beneficial for example with a bench press or squat.

The position of peak contraction would be at the lockout phase.

There would be no direct stimulus to the muscle.

In these examples.

You would benefit from performing the isometric contraction at another point.

For the bench press that would be at the midpoint.

For the squat, it would be somewhere close to parallel.

Concentric Contraction

A concentric movement is the lifting part of the exercise.

There is no good reason that I can think of to only perform the concentric phase.

You will perform the concentric exercise with your normal dynamic movements.

Eccentric Contraction

An eccentric contraction is the lowering portion of a movement.

You will be much stronger in the eccentric portion of a movement. Approximately 40% stronger.

So if you could squat up a 100kg. You could lower around 140kg.

Adding in eccentric only work will be a great way to stimulate muscle in a new way.

The DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness. Discussed below) will be substantial initially.

Performing eccentric only contractions can be challenging to incorporate by yourself.

Due to the fact that the weights you can use will be much heavier then you can actually lift.

However, it is possible to do by yourself on certain exercises.

For example, jumping up when performing pull ups.

Then Slowly lowering yourself. Exactly how the guy performs it in this video.

You can swing the bar up when performing bicep curls and lower slowly.

You can press the dumbbells overhead, straighten the arms to the side and slowly lower the load. To train the deltoids and traps.

The benefits of eccentric training are many and I will write an article purely on eccentric only training.

This assistance band could prove to be an excellent investment if you want to master form on the chin up or pull up.

Negative Accentuated

Eccentric only work.

Performed by using two limbs to lift the weight and one limb to lower the weight.

E.G Leg extension – Lift with two legs lower with one leg.

Swap the lowering phase to the other limb.

Keep going until you can no longer lift the weight.

Infimetrics

Infimetrics is a more advanced concept.

But very interesting.

So don’t worry if it goes over your head.

Infimetric exercise.

Is the process of using one limbs eccentric strength.

Against the other limbs concentric strength.

Thus creating the ability to have an infinite supply of resistance using your own body.

If you like calisthenics or home workouts then this is for you.

Rest Pause

As the name suggests.

Rest pause is a set extension method.

Once you have done all you can do or reached MMF.

Preferably MMF.

You pause for a predetermined time, e.g 5 seconds

Then perform more repetitions.

Until you can no longer tolerate or you again hit MMF.

Be careful with this technique.

Like eccentric or negative accentuated training.

Use it sparingly and track meticulously.

Drop Sets

Drop sets are similar to rest pause only the idea is to perform a 2nd, 3rd set at a reduced weight.

Drop sets should be used as a set extension technique to draw out the working set for a longer time.

I like to use performance pins as they allow super set automation.

Meaning that you don’t need to physically take out the pin and drop it to a lower weight.

picture of performance pins, which are used for drop sets. they allow for drop set automation.

 

Muscle Isolation Tactics

One important point to remember despite what you may have heard.

You cannot change the shape of a muscle. You can only increase the size. The shape is predetermined by your genetics. Click To Tweet

Some people believe that by doing certain exercises.

They can emphasize the stress to a specific portion of a muscle.

And that this will change the shape.

This is a fallacy.

Focus on increasing the size of the muscle.

Train the muscle according to its muscle function.

Using the principles outlined above

Is Stretching Required for Weigh Training?

No.

Static stretching is not required.

If you train according to the above principles.

Your muscle will be working through a full ROM (range of motion).

That is sufficient for the muscle to be flexible within natural parameters.

People often confuse joint laxity with muscle flexibility.

A ballerina has excessive joint laxity.

That is what allows her to perform these beautiful.

But unnatural postures and movements.

If you are an athlete then I would recommend diving into the research a bit more.

But in terms of resistance exercise static stretching provides no additional benefit and is a waste of time.

Here Come the DOMS

If you become excessively saw from a workout.

Do not fear.

It is normal when starting a new program.

Or when resuming training after a layoff.

DOMS can give you an indication about certain exercises.

Which areas of the body are most sore? It might help you determine which muscles were working the most.

However, DOMS should not be sought after during workouts.

It is not necessary for growth.

Cardio. A Good Appetite Stimulant … Wait What!

The only thing cardio is good for is stimulating appetite.

If you struggle to eat enough to allow for building muscle.

Which actually isn’t that much.

As I will discuss below.

Performing cardio can actually be an effective way to increase appetite.

Consume more food, for very little energy burned.

Of Course, a better idea would be to walk in nature.

Walking at a fast pace for an hour will only burn a few hundred calories but will leave you feeling ravenous.

A fast walk home from work could leave hungry enough to eat more calories then you burnt. Easily.

I recommend listening to Dr.Doug McGuff talk about ‘cardio’ in this short video.

I talk more about cardio and provide more scientific context in my article 7 controversial steps to get you in shape fast.

Should I Take Supplements?

In terms of sports supplements.

The general answer is no.

Make an effort to get your nutrition from high-quality food.

There is no replacement for food.

The only ‘sports’ or ‘body-building’ supplement I take.

Is creatine monohydrate.

It has more scientific literature to suggest its effectiveness than any other supplement out there.

However, I recommend doing research into brands that have been third-party tested for contaminants such as heavy metals.

image of purity report for a brand of creatine monohydrate conducted by a lab

In terms of regular supplements.

Certain oils like vitamin E, D and Omega 3 fish oil can be a good idea.

Again find companies that have been 3rd party tested for heavy metals. Especially fish oils.

Dietary Considerations

There is no magic formula or complexity.

To maintaining a diet that supports the muscle growth you activated during your workout. The most important factors are consistency, quality, and quantity. Click To Tweet

Consistency

If you are not consistent enough week to week.

Month to month.

In supporting your body by nourishing it.

Then don’t expect great results.

Quality

I have placed quality before quantity.

The world we live in has been getting progressively more and more toxic.

The people of our generation are far sicker than our grandparents.

Despite advances in medical technology.

Purchasing organic foods is essential in reducing your exposure to toxins and metals.

Purchasing organic and wild.

Will reduce the possibility of endocrine (hormone) disruption.

Which will not only affect your strength/muscle goals.

But also your health and longevity.

Another thing.

What has more nutrients 30 grams of pasta or 30 grams of broccoli?

Quantity is important but quality should take a seat before.

Quantity

Digesting (digesting as opposed to eating) enough calories.

Will maximize your bodies recovery and adaptive responses by ensuring it has all the energy and substrates it needs.

You should look to accurately track your intake week to week.

You can do this through a pre-calculated meal plan or using a calorie tracking app.

Whichever you choose you need to manipulate the number by only 100 or 200 calories per week..

Once you are maintaining weight and not increasing fat then you are onto a winner.

You can then start to increase the number of calories weekly or fortnightly by 100 or 200 until you gain fat.

Record the number at this point and drop back to the previous number used which led to no extra fat gain.

Fat loss is not easy.

It is one of the main reasons more and more people are turning to steroids or surgery for lat loss.

The question as always is how bad do you want it?

One more thing.

Some people may not need to measure to this degree and some will.

Whether or not you are happy with your current results.

The way you eat will determine the results you get.

Steroids

Avoid at all cost.

The number of bodybuilders who have suffered heart attacks around their 50’s and 60’s is quite worrying and will hopefully be studied in time.

You don’t need them.

If you are really struggling to build muscle.

You need to look at your health very, very, very closely.

You need to analyze every aspect of your lifestyle.

You need to gauge how acidic your body.

Also gauging chronic inflammation is essential.

Do not take any drugs to restore health, it doesn’t work like that.

Clean your body from the inside.

Meal Frequency

I wouldn’t place too much emphasis on this. There have been studies on this subject.

It seems more important to consume a small amount of protein within a 12-hour window of exercise.

If more frequent meals are a burden for you, do not worry.

Just eat 3 meals a day around training days and you will be more than fine.

However. Increasing insulin throughout the day would be more attuned with a constructive metabolism.

Manipulating your insulin levels especially after a workout can also be beneficial.

Fasting?

Fasting has been proven time and again to be incredibly beneficial to overall health.

The autophagic (cell cleaning) activity present in extended fasts is very beneficial.

If you are not experiencing good results then I recommend you try extended fasting to allow the body to clean house.

Do not expect your training output to be excellent, but once you get the hang of fasting for 24 hours better yet 48 hours.

You will be able to train intensively whilst utilizing your fat stores rapidly.

I speak from experience.

The other incredible benefit I love when fasting for over 24 hours is mental clarity.

You may experience ‘brain fog’ in the 1st 24 hours.

Even mild headaches.

Be sure to consume plenty of distilled water and ride it out.

At around the 40-hour mark, you will begin experiencing amazing clarity of mind.

IMF (intermittent fasting)

Is just a shortened fast normally around 12 to 24 hours.

It is also beneficial.

But does not allow you to ramp up the cell cleaning and fat burning benefits vs fasting 24 hours and above.

Water

image of water boy from the iconic movie. The muscle is over 70% water

The muscle is over 70% water and the muscle is only around 22% protein.

Be sure to hydrate.

 

Here are some guidelines:

Imperial units:

  • Body weight in lbs X 0.6 = water intake in ounces.

The same formula in metric units:

  • Body weight in kg x 40 = water intake in milliliters.
  • If you are over 30, you can lower these numbers to lbs x 0.46 to 0.54, or kg x 30 to 35.

Minerals

Don’t just focus on macronutrients.

Without proper and increased mineral intake during a grueling exercise regime.

You cannot expect optimal performance from your body.

Check this resource for some basic guidelines on the mineral intake.

Macros

There is an abundance of information online.

About all different kinds of macronutrient ratio splits.

This is not an exhaustive guide.

Just an introduction to nutrition which could be enough to see you through for a long time to come.

Macronutrients are your 4 basic food groups:

Protein

Fat

Carbohydrate

Water

Importance of Protein

Protein will break down into amino acids which will form the new building blocks of protein.

These resource come in the form of essential, conditionally essential (depends on circumstance) and non-essential.

If you are a meat eater then you need not really be concerned.

Just don’t forget to eat those organs meats!

If you are veggie or vegan.

Then you already know the importance of diversifying the range of foods to ensure adequate intake of the essential amino acids.

Meat eaters will have to worry more about intaking sufficient minerals and vitamins.

Veggies/Vegans will need to worry more about essential amino acids.

Tradeoffs.

Few Tips

No study has ever found any benefit to consuming over 1.6g per /kg/day (3.3g/ per lb/day) Click To Tweet

Aim for 0.5g-0.85g/kg/day (lean mass)

If your overweight base calculations on your desired body fat %.

Remember:

  • 1 gram of protein provides 4 calories
  • 1 gram of carbohydrate provides 4 calories
  • 1 gram of fat provides 9 calories

You could try this below ratio split for building muscle:

  • 35% of calories from proteins
  • 45% of calories from carbohydrates
  • 20% of calories from fats

Scheduling Workouts

Generally speaking, I wouldn’t recommend personal trainers.

I am one and have worked alongside many for years.

I have only met maybe 2 I would consider paying myself and having to train me.

This is due partly to the general lack of knowledge.

And partly due to the industry naturally attracting genetic thoroughbreds.

Unfortunately, these thoroughbreds know nothing. About the struggles of building strength/muscle in an efficient manner.

However, there are some benefits to having a personal trainer.

I will write a future article on how to qualify and interview a personal trainer.

Either a trainer or workout partner can be useful for:

Helping you to stick to scheduled appointments.

Having someone hold you responsible and charging you for not turning up.

Can work a treat.

Your training partner can charge you as well, why not?

Planning your workouts in advance.

I like to plan my workouts the week in advance.

This allows me to visualize the exact workout and train it in my head.

Going through your past workout performance and notes.

Is a good idea to get you mentally ready for the brutal workout ahead.

Enjoying Workouts

It’s very important to go and enjoy your workouts.

Embrace the feeling of pushing harder than any other person in that gym or within a 5-mile radius at home.

Whilst finishing 30 minutes earlier than them.

Look forward to that feeling the next day.

When you know that you have taken the steps needed to make yourself stronger and invest in your health.

You can vary the exercises. Vary the order. Choose less efficient exercises. But never compromise your safety. Click To Tweet

Try also to never compromise your gold standard for training which is MMF (momentary muscular failure).

In the beginning, don’t worry too much. Just get started and practicing hitting MMF.

Good luck and if you need anything I’m here to help.

Your Training Partner

David Klein

Chief Exercise Geek

P.S: If you read this whole thing! I salute you!