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Lifting Rep Range Rules for Building Muscle

Rep Range Rules for Building Muscle


“Man, this pump is insane,’” said Alex. “I think my muscles are already growing from that last set.”

 
I looked at him, doing my best Dwayne Johnson people’s eyebrow impression.

“What?” Said Alex, sipping his coffee while looking puzzled by my facial expression.

I offered my two cents: “Did you hit heavier lifts early in your training, or just chase the pump all day?”

“No, why would I bother lifting heavy?” replied Alex.

I sighed. Not wanting to sounds like a condescending meathead, but not quite succeeding, I smirked and said, “You know that’s not the best way, right?”

Deflated, Alex rolled his eyes and flipped me off.

“Sorry bro, ” I replied. I explain ed that high rep ranges and chasing the pump are important, but they aren’t the only thing you should chase to build muscle.

Alex said he thought he should just do sets of 10-15, with drop sets, timed sets, and high volume because “that’s what all the muscle magazines and bodybuilders say .”

Alex was wrong. I let him down gently. And I told him the same thing I’m about to tell you.

If you’re trying to build muscle, you need a variety of rep ranges to improve strength to get stronger and improve your ability to build muscle. That means you need to get strong so you can lift heavier weights for a higher number of reps, then add volume.

High rep ranges and chasing the pump are important, but they aren’t the only thing you should chase to build muscle. That means you need to get strong so you can lift heavier weights for a higher number of reps, then add volume.

You should spent the majority of their time using big lifts like squats, for 4-6 sets of 5-8 reps per set, building both strength and muscle.

 

To start you training, low rep sets (1-5 reps) should make up 20-25% of your total training for maximum muscle building.
Sets of 1-4 are important for skinny guys looking to build muscle. By loading up a heavy barbell and executing big lifts like squats, you’ll improve the function of the central nervous system (CNS). Skinny guys aren’t sufficiently strong to really benefit from tons of high-rep, pump training.

Instead, it’s better to focus on building strength for a while. And that’s true even if you are more interested in bolding muscle than strength

via GIPHY
I can’t make it more clear: For most guys,the fastest way to get bigger is to get stronger.

If you want to build muscle, you must force your body to adapt and grow. Consistently adding weight to the bar is essential.

Over time, more strength lets you use heavier weights with more volume, which then gets your bigger.

That’s not it, either.

“Intensity builds immensity” – Kevin Levrone

 

Lift with explosive intent on every rep of your big exercises.  Meaning, once you start reversing the motion on your squat, do it with as much acceleration as position.

Pick 2-3 compound exercises per week like squats, deadlifts, presses, or rows and increase strength. Control the eccentric (negative of the lift), and explode on the concentric (the way up) portion.  Use heavier weights each week, and track your progress. 

Hammer the Moderate Rep Sets

 

Five to eight reps per set is the sweet spot for skinny dudes, and you should spend at least 50% of your training here.

Yes, the lower rep sets I mentioned before are great for building strength. But, the moderate rep sets let you to train compound exercises for strength and provide enough time under tension (TUT) to stimulate muscle growth.

In the case of moderate rep sets, you’ll more specifically target myofibrilar hypertrophy while getting stronger in big lifts.

Myofibril hypertrophy, sometimes dubbed “ functional hypertrophy,” is muscle growth that relates directly to the breakdown and re-growth of muscle fibers.

This should make up the majority of your training. Pick 2 compound exercises during each workout for 3-4 sets of 6-8 reps on multi-joint lifts. Squats, lunges, pull-ups, dips, bench presses, deadlifts, and rows are all awesome.

Mix in some High Reps 

This rep range (10-15 reps per set) should be used to finish off your training, and make up a very small part of your training.

Training with more reps per set gives you the sleeve-stretching pump that makes you feel huge after lifting, bro.
The higher reps that create metabolic stress and muscular damage that makes you feel huge is important, but it really works best after you’ve gotten pretty damn strong.
Those high rep, long duration sets, create muscular damage and metabolic stress.  The metabolic stress is basically bunch of metabolites that float around from repeated muscular contractions that tell your body to stimulate growth.

But, it’s a little different than the myofibrillar hypertrophy we talked about before.

Instead, we call it sarcoplasmic hypertrophy.

Sarcoplasmic hypertrophy deals with storing more glycogen in your muscles, making them look bigger. If you really want to get yoked, add high rep work isolation work in 10 minute blocks at the end of your training. Consider this icing on the cake for any lagging muscles.

Sparingly Use Ultra High Reps

Ultra high-rep sets build on the same principles as the high rep sets mentioned before.

Greater time under tension, muscle damage, and metabolic stress to build muscle.
These come in the form of “sexy” methods like drop sets, timed sets, and finishing exercises. While the muscle damage and feeling of accomplishment is pretty high after these sets, so is soreness.

 

 Don’t we want soreness?

Not necessarily.

While some soreness is okay, too much may limit training intensity and frequency in future workouts. If you lift so hard with drop-sets at the end of a workout Monday, and can hardly move on Wednesday, you’re wasting your time. Seriously. Use ultra-high rep sets very sparingly, as to not conflict with training frequency, and building strength.

Wrap Up

Most of us know someone like the Alex mentioned at the banning of this article.

Maybe you even see him in the mirror when you get up in the morning.

Or maybe you were in his shoes 5-10 years ago.

I know I was.

Either way, it’s important to understand rep ranges and how they help you optimize your muscle building.

More often than not, you probably need to spend more time building strength, then the majority of your time lifting with 6-10 reps per set.

Do Less, Do it Better, and Achieve More.

 

Why You Must Sprint

lose fat fast

Quite the statement, but consider this:

  • Sprints will keep you lean during a bulking phase.
  • Sprints will shred fat when dieting down due to their impact on insulin sensitivity.
  • Sprinting before lifting will potentiate the CNS for greater gains in strength.
  • Sprinting helps you build powerful hamstrings and glutes and may be the key to conquering your muscle building plateau.

While sprinting is typically been associated with athletic development, lacing up the Nikes and hitting the track improves your conditioning, athleticism, and shreds ridiculous amounts of bodyfat, all while preserving your hard-earned muscle.

Yes, even when you’re looking to gain muscle.

The fact is that even skinny dudes need conditioning work. Hoisting weights isn’t enough, especially when the end goal is a body that’s shredded and athletic.

In all honestly, what’s the point being strong and jacked when you’re gassed walking up the stairs or can’t sustain your beastly skills a simple pick-up game?

Don’t be like most people who slug away on the treadmill or scan Facebook with a half-assed eliptical workout for 30 minutes, four days per week. Most of all, don’t skip conditioning altogether.

Drop the “conditioning keeps me small and weak ” sob story.

I’s time to maximize your training by uneashing the power of sprints. You’ll stay shredded, uncork new power and athleticism, and when combined with a muscle building diet, add muscle onto your glutes, hamstrings, and quads.

Here’s Why You Must Sprint

Speed Work Potentiates the CNS for Gains in Strength

Place your sprint training directly after a dynamic warm-up and movement prep to supercharge the nervous system for more strength. From sprinting, your central nervous system (CNS) is fired up to speed up your rate of force development via two potential mechanisms:

  • According to Hamada et. el (2000), there is an increased phosphorylation of myosin regulatory light chains during a maximum voluntary contraction (MVC). This allows the actin and myosin binding (for muscle contraction) to react to the increased calcium release. This reaction triggers a cascade of events leading to enhanced force muscle production at the structural level of muscle (Horwath & Kravitz ). Thus, increased muscle activation yields a greater duration of calcium ions in the muscle cell environment, yielding a greater phosphorylation of the myosin light chain protein (Rixon et al. 2007).
  • The second theory is based on the H-reflex, an excitation of a spinal reflex elicited by afferent muscle nerves. It is theorized that the PAP intervention enhances the H-reflex, thus increasing the efficiency and rate of the nerve impulses to the muscle (Hodgson, Docherty, Robbins, 2005).

Sprinting before lifting is ideal for improving performance in athletes and potentiating the nervous system for heavy lifts and explosive training. Start your training by doing sprints to hack your nervous system and improve strength performance. 

Improved Anaerobic Conditioning Levels

Ahh, the good ole’ C-word. No, not Crossfit. Kidding aside,  cardio really is regarded strangely in the fitness industry; some people love it for overall health and fat loss, and some people are hell bent on making cardio-bashing memes and slamming running like it’s worse than ISIS.

Smart people and good coaches no the answer is always “It depends with cardio.” You probably also know that—if used correctly, like sprints—cardio has a place.

To cut through the basis, our body has three main energy systems that work in concert to provide us with the energy (i.e. ATP) necessary for our daily activities, including exercise.

  • ATP-PCr: Provides energy for very high intensity, short duration activities (6 – 10 seconds) without the use of oxygen (1 ATP per reaction)
  • Anaerobic Glycolysis: Provides energy for high intensity, short-to-moderate duration activities (10-90 seconds) without the use of oxygen (2 ATP per anaerobic cycle)
  • Oxidative Phosphorylation (Aerobic): Provides energy for low-to-moderate intensity activities lasting more than 2 minutes (36-38 ATP’s per cycle)

To keep this short and concise, it’s important to note energy systems are not mutually exclusive. They all work together and are recruited based on the demands of an activity.

For example, a two mile race is primarily oxidative, a power clean is primarily ATP-PCr dominant, and a 200 meter sprint is primarily anaerobic glycolytic dominant.

Back to my point: Sprinting is a high intensity method that emphasizes the ATP-PCr and anaerobic glycolysis systems, the same energy systems used during  most high intensity lifting sessions.

 

By sprinting and improving your anaerobic glycolytic capabilities you’re allowed  to work at higher relative intensities, which elicit peripheral adaptations associated with aerobic AND anaerobic metabolism (i.e. improves function of ALL three energy pathways). This means, you’ll improve work capacity in your muscle-building workouts, allowing for harder training and building more muscle.

Sprints Build your Glutes and Hamstrings

Sprinting is a total body exercise with the primary driving force being powerful hip extension and flexion in acceleration, then rapid stride turnover as you reach top speed. The muscles primarily responsible for explosive hip extension/flexion are some of the biggest muscles in your body: the glutes, hamstrings, hip flexors, and quads.

Rather than solely using deadlifts, squats, cleans, and other weight-room exercise to build your backside —  use sprints. My assumption is you haven’t sprinted in ages. The training variety should be just  what the doctor ordered to jump-start rapid growth.

 

Sprinting Shreds Body Fat

Besides improving the look of your booty, improving athleticism, and stimulating muscle growth, sprinting will of course, shred body fat.

I’d take it as as to say that sprinting during the summer is the best training method accelerate fat loss and improve you athleticism. And do your best Rocky and Apollo reenactment before the most famous bro-hug of all time.

As an added bonus, sprinting works as a check-and-balance system during bulking phases. Too often, du. Oftentimes, overzealous lifters crush every calorie source available and follow the “See-Food” diet. Sprinting provides a similar reaction for the body to resistance by improving insulin sensitivity, increasing anabolic hormone levels, while burning more calories through high intensity exercise.

Sprinting effectively builds a safeguard against this all too common bulking pitfall to keep bodyfat low, even when you’re bulking up.

Sprinting Options:

Tweet: Check out these awesome sprint workouts to shred fat and preserve #muscle. @Eric_BachCheck out these awesome sprint workouts to shred fat and preserve #muscle. @Eric_Bach

 Low Volume Sprints Before lifting

Sprinting before lifting is ideal for improving performance in athletes and potentiating the nervous system for heavy lifts and explosive training. As a result, your strength performance will increase, conditioning will improve, and athleticism will be preserved.

But wait…Sprinting is a technical movement that needs practice. The most demanding and explosive exercises require maximum focus and energy to preserve technique and thus, should done first in a workout, which means sprints.

The neural demands of sprints need full focus for maximum performance and low injury risk, at least if you’re moving at top speed. Remember peeps, we need risk versus reward: enough sprinting to spark the nervous system, yet low enough in volume to prevent excess fatigue, especially in hard-gainers.

Perform low volume, short distance sprints before training rather than long-duration sprints when you’re already gassed and fatigued. Two days per week perform five sets of 10-20 yards with walk-back recovery and adding one sprint per week.

This way, you’ll improve athleticism and power without excess stress and training volume to interfere with your gains.

Sprints at the End of Your Workout

Option BEEE (B, duh), is sprinting at the end of your workout, ideally on a hill. Using a hill keep sprints sub-maximal in speed, but not effort to prevent overstraining and hamstring pulls, yet still shred fat and scorch your legs.

sprinting for skinny guys, why you must sprint
Photo Credit: http://rpmftns.com/hill-sprints-a-fat-burning-hell/

When sprinting for conditioning start with running two days per week on a treadmill or slight hill. After a warm-up and speed drills, sprint for 10 minutes with 8 second sprints and 50 second rests, increasing sprint time by one second and decreasing sprint rest by one second each week up to 15 second sprints.

Week One: Sprint 10 seconds, rest 50

Week Two: Sprint 11 seconds, rest 49

Week Three: Sprint 12 seconds, rest 48

Week Four: Sprint 13 seconds, rest 47

Week Five: Sprint 14 seconds, rest 46

Week Six: Sprint 15 seconds, rest 45

Tweet This workout

As always, a micro-progression to condition the body and tissues to the demands of sprinting without exceeding your recovery capabilities.

Wrap Up

Listen, I know cardio sucks. That’s why we all skip it, even more-so when there are too many options. Unfortunately, neither is a good option, So I’ll make it simple:

Get up and sprint.

Yea, it might be scary, but you must sprint to maximally improve improve athleticism and preserve muscle. Just as important, sprinting torches unwanted bodyfat that’s been hanging over your jeans from the Holiday season.

You have nothing to lose—only athleticism, a shredded body, and powerful legs to gain. Alright, I gotta go hit the gym to use the recumbent bike. Just kidding, hill sprints it is.

 

References

Horwath, R., & Kravitz , L. (n.d.). postactivation potentiation: A brief review. Informally published manuscript, Exercise Science , Retrieved from http://www.unm.edu/~lkravitz/Article folder/postactivationUNM.html

Rixon KP, Lamont HS, Bemben M. Influence of type of muscle contraction, gender, and lifting experience on postactivation potentiation performance. J Strength Cond Res. 2007; 21: 500–505.

P.S.

I want to help you avoid my training mistakes: you can start building your ultimate high-performance body now. And I’ve put together a free step-by-step guide to show you how.

Click here to get the free guide.

 

Three Problems with Your Bent Over Row

underhand row

While many coaches haphazardly throw exercises into a routine because they’re painstakingly difficult it’s imperative that all exercises have a clear point and purpose.

After all, in training…
Tweet: The goal is creating a physiological response to get jacked, lean, or athletic, not miserable. @Eric_Bach : http://bit.ly/1FbIBM4 #trainingThe goal is creating a physiological response to get jacked, lean, or athletic, not miserable.

In the case of the supinated barbell bent over row, a premium is placed on holding body position to get strong through the trunk while hammering the lats, rhomboids, traps, erectors, biceps, glutes, and hamstrings into hypertrophy.

Barbell bent-over rows are a great exercise to address common technique weaknesses and flaws, such as trunk stability and strength in the hinge position.

Problem is, they’re butchered all the time leading to dysfunction and injury instead of high performance gains.

In this post, I’m covering three major concerns with your bent over row that you must take into account to maximize your training and minimize the risk of injury.

Potential Issues with the Row

Rounding and Shear Stress on the Spine:

Lifters with flexion based back injuries may struggle to hold pain-free position with a loaded barbell in front of the body.
It’s essential to pull the body tight to the body, brace the abs to ensure neutral spine, and eliminate body english, to minimize problems due to shear stress.

Furthermore, be conservative programming heavy rows in conjunction with squats and deadlifts in the same workout.
Rows are great to get jacked and strong, but that’s no good if you have a mangled spine.

Program bent over rows conservatively if you have a history of flexion based back injuries.
Pulling the Body to the Bar:

Let your muscles lift the weight, not your ego. Most lifters have a tendency to excessively load the bar and end up using way too much momentum to move weight. While the intentions are good, losing position, raising the chest, flexing the spine, and doing total body convulsions to complete the lift do more harm than good.

Hold solid joint position, drop the weight a bit, and train what you mean to train!

Pulling the Elbows Too far Back:

When rowing, some lifters pull the bar too far past mid-line. While you might feel a better “squeeze” in the muscles, the humerus may migrate forward into the anterior socket of the shoulder, potentially causing impingement and dysfunction.

Rather than driving the elbows as far as possible aim to break the plane of the body, but no further if the shoulder caves forward. This way, you’ll optimize muscular recruitment for gains in strength and size without compromising the integrity of the shoulder joint.

Basically, you’ll still get jacked without harming your shoulders.

bent over row

(Photo credit: Brett Contreras)

Wrap Up:

No doubt, the supinated bent over row provides some massive benefits in terms of pulling strength and hypertrophy. But, every exercise is a tool, and any tool is only as good as its use. Troubleshoot your row and ensure you’re not making errors to the detriment of your health and function.

P.S.

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The Best Cardio for Skinny guys

5-Ways-Skinny-Bastards-Can-Add-Muscle

What you Need to Know:

  • Neglecting conditioning might help you you grow a smidge bigger, but at the cost of poor athleticism, and gaining enough marbeling around your abs to make a T-Bone steak cringe.
  • Sprinting before lifting is ideal for improving performance in athletes and potentiating the nervous system for heavy lifts and explosive training.
  • Complexes use major movement patterns in succession to challenge the cardiovascular system and muscles under fatigue in ten short minutes.
  • Jumping rope is a low impact exercise to preserve muscle mass while improving footwork and conditioning.
  • Sleds provide additional training volume without undue eccentric stress, preserving your recoverability.

All you need to do is eat, hoist huge weights, and eat some more and you’ll build muscle and become a jacked and diesel beast, right?

No.

As simple as it sounds escaping from hardgainer hell isn’t easy, especially if you want a body that’s athletic and shredded at the end.

Steady state cardio, endless exercises classes, and skipping cardio altogether aren’t options—they’ll just lead to skinnier with less muscle, and in the case of skipping cardio altogether, skinny fat and un-athletic and getting crossed over by 50 year old men at the local YMCA.

cardio for skinny guys

Contrary to popular media, your muscles won’t rot off at the mere sight of a treadmill. Your strength won’t erode and leave you crumbling under a barbell. Don’t be like most scraggly hardgainers who avoid conditioning like it’s an Ebola-laced napkin.

Conditioning is still vital to optimize athleticism, workout efficiency, and overall health.

In my latest article on T-Nation I cover the Best Cardio for Skinny guys to improve your conditioning, athleticism, and preserve your precious muscle.

 Continue Reading Here

P.S. Are you a Skinny Guy Looking to Gain Muscle? Here are Five Ways to for Skinny Guys to add Muscle

P.P.S. And here’s exactly How to Eat to Build Muscle: Escape From Hardgainer Hell Nutrition Guide

 

[fullopt]

Discover the Power of Complex Training

[A variation of this article was originally published on EliteFTS.com]

Here’s what you need to know:

1.Post-Activation Potentiation is the driving force behind the benefits of complex training.

2. Complex-pair training, when scheduled in appropriate training blocks, can improve power and rate of force development (RFD).

3.Complex training works best in trained, advanced level athletes. Unless you can move a decent amount of weight this isn’t for you. If this is you, stop watching Miley Cyrus twerkin’ it, go pick up heavy stuff, and raid the fridge.

Adding 5 pounds to the bar each workout might work when you’re a rookie, but not once you’ve earned your keep in the power rack.

Long term gains aren’t achieved solely by linear workouts. Soon, your linear periodization and s-medium T-shirts no longer get the job done.

You’ve hit the dreaded plateau.

Plateaus will occur in the weight room. Luckily, one strategy reigns supreme in helping you bust through your current levels of strength, power, and muscular development. The time has come to add strategically designed complex training to stimulate explosive growth and strength.

Enter complex-pair training, an advanced training strategy to add some spring to your static strength, new slabs of muscle, and develop a powerful physique.

This advanced strategy has an athlete perform a high-intensity strength training exercise followed by an explosive exercise that mimics the biomechanics of the strength training exercise, such as a deadlift and a broad jump.

The driving force behind complex training is a phenomena known as post-activation potentiation.

What Is Post-Activation Potentiation?

Post-activation potentiation, commonly abbreviated as “PAP” is a physiological adaption describing the immediately enhanced muscle force output of explosive movements after a heavy resistance exercise is performed (Robbins 2005). It is believed that the contractile history of a muscle influences the mechanical performance of subsequent muscle contractions.

Essentially, the nervous system becomes excited due to the heavy load from the previous exercise, causing in increased response in the subsequent explosive exercise (Rixon et al. 2007).

How PAP Works

Post-activation potentiation primarily occurs in type 2 fast twitch muscle fibers, so the advanced technique is best used to maximize performance of explosive based activities such as weightlifting, sprinting, jumping and throwing activities (2,6).

Luckily, type 2 muscle fibers are also the muscle fibers with the most potential for muscle growth.

*Note: This is awesome.

There are two proposed mechanisms for PAP. (Stay with me on this one, as the science gets a little heavy.)

1.) According to Hamada et. el (2000), there is an increased phosphorylation of myosin regulatory light chains during a maximum voluntary contraction (MVC). This allows the actin and myosin binding (for muscle contraction) to react to the increased calcium release. This reaction triggers a cascade of events leading to enhanced force muscle production at the structural level of muscle (Horwath & Kravitz ).

Thus, increased muscle activation yields a greater duration of calcium ions in the muscle cell environment, yielding a greater phosphorylation of the myosin light chain protein (Rixon et al. 2007).

Basically, the chemicals in your body that make your muscles contract get hyper sensitive and contract harder. 

2.) The second theory is based on the H-reflex, an excitation of a spinal reflex elicited by afferent muscle nerves. It is theorized that the PAP intervention enhances the H-reflex, thus increasing the efficiency and rate of the nerve impulses to the muscle (Hodgson, Docherty, Robbins, 2005).

In other words, your nervous system get’s jacked up full go from a heavier exercise that matches the movement pattern of the unweighted movement, such as a power clean. When an explosive exercise such as a vertical jump is performance, the body is primed and ready to fire on all cylinders.  As a result, the fully engaged nervous system powers up your jump to new heights.

The complex pair is then repeated for a number of sets. Over time, this improved neuromuscular efficiency improves the muscles ability to generate power.

It’s fun to be jacked, but the real bad-asses are jacked and explosive. You should have a little pop to go with your physique, not be as soft as melted butter.

Here are some common sample exercise pairings

Main Exercise:                        Explosive Movement:

Bench Press                               Clap Push Up, medicine ball chest pass

Shoulder Press                           Overhead medicine ball slam/ throw

Squat                                          Jump squat, vertical jump, box jump

Deadlift                                      Broad jump, kettlebell swing

Explosive Exercises For Complex Pairs

 

 

Considerations

Rest Periods

There is a balancing act between fatigue and PAP following a heavy strength movement. The key is finding a balance between the two, and I’ve found everyone to be different.

If the potentiation of the nervous system exceeds the level of fatigue, the explosive movement will be performed with more force and a higher rate of force development.

Bingo! Then we have both acute and long-term benefits of PAP.

But how long do we rest?

As it stands there is no uniform agreement about the optimal recovery required between the pre- load stimulus and subsequent muscle performance to gain optimal performance benefits (Macintosh et. al).

A comprehensive meta-analysis (Wilson et al) of Post Activation examined multiple variables, including rest periods and found both rest periods between 3-7 minutes and 7-10 minutes to yield significant power increases due to PAP, whereas longer time periods did not.

It’s important to note that the explosive exercise tested in many trials happened to be competitive sprint testing, rather than solely potentiating to bust through lifting plateaus.

As a Coach I must work within the time constraints of a typical session. For this reason, I   keep rest periods anywhere from 1-3 minutes between high intensity resistance exercises and explosive exercises, with active rest and mobility exercises performed between. A 1-3 minute rest period allows for PAP training stimuli while promoting a higher workout density and sufficient training volume, both important variables.

complex training

(Contreras, Post-Activation Potentiation: Theory and Application)

Workload:

To develop power, training intensity must be high enough to produce a potentiation effect. Workloads between 70-95% have shown the greatest positive effects on subsequent explosive exercises, although loads above 80% 1-RM have appear to have the greatest potentiating effect(4,12). In explosive exercises that use resistance (if at all) stay light, under 10 lbs. This places focus on moving fast and speed development.

Sets/Volume:

Volume is a tricky when it comes to PAP. Too much and you risk fatigue and limited PAP response. Too little and there isn’t a large enough training response for your ambitious goals.

“So what do I do?”

Volume can be achieved in a few ways, by increasing the number of sets total, the reps in each set, or both. Gilbert and Lees (2005) found performing as few as one set, and up to five sets, of an exercise has been successful in eliciting potentiation.

Gullich and Schmidtbleicher (1996) found sets consisting of greater than five total repetitions or 5 seconds of total contraction time are not advisable because of the fatigue induced.

In most cases, I use 3-5 sets of 3 repetitions. Do 3 Sets if you’re shooting more for strength/power gains and 5 sets if you’re aiming for hypertrophy and more power endurance.

Complex Training Workout Program:

Complexes maximize workout efficiency by combining a strength movement with an explosive movement. By maximizing the rate of force development (RFD) you will blast past stubborn plateaus and reach uncharted levels of muscular development, power, and strength.

A Sample 6 Week Progression may look something like this:

Week Load Sets/Reps(Strength Movement) Sets/Reps(explosive) Rest Between strength/ explosive movement
1 80% 5X4 5×4 60 s
2 85% 5X3 5×5 90s
3 90% 4X3 4×6 120s
4 (back off) 85% 3X3 3×3 60s
5 90% 5X2 5×5 90-120s
6 95% 5X2 5×4 120-150s

 

Monday: Movement Focus Squat Pattern

1a. Strength: Squat

1b. Mobility: Ankle/ Hip Mobilization

  1. Explosive: Countermovement Vertical Jump

Accessory Work: Vertical pulling, pressing, sled work

 

Tuesday: Movement Focus Horizontal Press

1a. Strength: Close Grip Bench Press

1b. Mobility: T-Spine Mobilization

1c. Explosive: Supine Medicine Ball Chest Pass

Accessory Work: Single leg, hinge pattern, weighted carries/ offset loading

 

Wednesday: Active Recovery/Off

 

Thursday: Movement Focus Hinge Pattern

1a. Strength:Deadlift

1b. Mobility: T-Spine/ Hip Mobilization

1c. Explosive: Broad Jump

Accessory Work: Horizontal Pulling, horizontal pressing, sled work

 

Friday:Movement Focus Overhead Press Pattern/ Olympic Lift

1a. Strength: Split Jerk

1b. Mobility: T-Spine/ Hip Mobilization

  1. Explosive: Overhead Medicine Ball Press-Throw

Accessory Work: Squat Pattern, Single Leg, weighted carries/offset loading

Wrap Up:

Unleash the power of complex training to shatter your strength training plateaus. As Yuri Verkhoshansky described PAP “ Imagine lifting a half-full can of water that you thought was full.” In other words, your jumps will feel like jumping on a trampoline after an extra scoop of pre-workout powder in your shaker cup.

The combinations included are by no means an end-all, but it’s important to match the movement patterns of the strength exercise and the explosive exercise. I wouldn’t advise training this way for long bouts of time, but strategically planned complex cycles will add plates to the bar, new found power, and pack on new slabs of muscle.

References:

1.)Contreras, B. (Designer). (2010, 05 4). Post-Activation Potentiation: Theory and Application [Web Drawing]. Retrieved from http://bretcontreras.files.wordpress.com/2010/04/capture.jpg

2.)French DN, Kraemer WJ, Cooke CB. Changes in dynamic exercise performance following a sequence of preconditioning isometric muscle actions. J Strength Cond Res. 2003 Nov;17(4):678-85.

3.)Gilbert, G, and Lees, A. Changes in the force development characteristics of muscle following repeated maximum force and power exercise. Ergonomics 48: 1576–1584, 2005.

4.)Gullich AC and Schmidtbleicher D. MVC-induced short-term potentiation of explosive force. N Stud Athlete 11: 67-81, 1996.

5.)Hamada T, Sale DG, MacDougall JD, Tarnopolsky MA. Postactivation potentiation, fiber type, and twitch contraction time in human knee extensor muscles. J Appl Physiol. 2000 Jun;88(6):2131-7.

6.)Hilfiker R, Hübner K, Lorenz T, Marti B. Effects of drop jumps added to the warm-up of elite sport athletes with a high capacity for explosive force development. J Strength Cond Res. 2007 May;21(2):550-5.

7.)Horwath, R., & Kravitz , L. (n.d.). postactivation potentiation: A brief review. Informally published manuscript, Exercise Science , Retrieved from http://www.unm.edu/~lkravitz/Article folder/postactivationUNM.html

8.)Macintosh BR and Rassier DE. What is fatigue? Can J Appl Physiol 27: 42-55, 2002.

9.)McCann, MR and Flanagan, SP. McCann, MR and Flanagan, SP. The effects of exercise selection and rest interval on postactivation potentiation of vertical jump performance. J Strength Cond Res 24(5): 1285-1291, 2010

10. Rixon KP, Lamont HS, Bemben M. Influence of type of muscle contraction, gender, and lifting experience on postactivation potentiation performance. J Strength Cond Res. 2007; 21: 500–505.

11.)Robbins, D.W. Postactivation potentiation and its practical applicability: a brief review. J Strength Cond Res. 2005, 19(2): 453-458.

12.)Saez de Villarreal, E.S., Gonzalez-Badillo, J.J. & Izquierdo, M. (2007). Optimal warm-up stimuli of muscle activation to enhance short and long-term acute jumping performance. Eur J Appl Physiol, 100 (4), 393-401.

Why DUP is Better Than Linear Periodization

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Guest Post by: Marc Lewis M.S.(c), CSCS, ACSM-CPT

You’ve hit the wall.

Your strength has plateaued, energy plummeted, and motivation has been embarrassingly low.

Hell, you’d rather watch friends and eat gelato than pull weight.

It’s obvious what you’re doing isn’t working.
You need to make a change.

When my clients plateau on basic linear periodization it’s time for a new strategy: Daily Undulating Periodization (DUP).

Daily Undulating Periodization Vs. Linear Periodization

DUP, or daily undulating periodization, is the systematic variation of training volume and intensity into shorter periods of time (1, 2). This method of periodization is non-linear, which is in contrast with the traditional linear periodization (LP) model.

The traditional LP model focuses on the variation of training volume and intensity throughout the year, which is facilitated by a systematic decrease of volume and increase of intensity to allow a peak performance at a planned time (1).

In other words, you train for a specific block of time with one goal that builds up to the next training block. This could be a muscle building phase followed by a pure strength phase, and finished with a power phase for competition.

 

large__7736528266, DUP, daily undulated periodization

Why DUP is Better Than Linear Periodization

What’s so great about it when compared to a more traditional method of periodization? 

DUP allows you to focus on four elements:

1) Establishing a more efficient recovery pattern (i.e. stress to recovery ratio)

2) Adding more total volume per week (added volume = hypertrophy)

3) Increasing training frequency = increasing skill acquisition/adaptation of neural movement patterns

4) Eliminate Plateaus

First, DUP allows for a more efficient recovery pattern, while still allowing you to maintain the adequate intensity and volume needed to increase strength and stimulate/maintain hypertrophic development (3). During a traditional LP training block, the intensity steadily increases while the volume steadily decreases.

This results in cumulative fatigue and staleness. In addition, you run the risk of losing a portion of the muscle mass gained during the higher volume blocks (3).

Second, the DUP method improves recovery while simultaneously allowing you to add total volume per week. This is critical, since total volume (i.e. mechanical overload) is directly related to stimulating the necessary cellular signaling for the development of muscular hypertrophy. 

Third, DUP allows for an increased training frequency through the alternation of stimulus during a shorter period of time. . As a result, you create a greater neuromuscular adaptation compared to the linear model (1, 2, 3).

Eric’s Note: In essence, you train heavy during one workout, while the next workout is more extensive, or volume based with less neural demand. This can be applied on a bigger scale to one or two-week microcycles of training. Read more about training splits here.

 How To Hang Clean

Charles Poliquin on Daily Undulating Periodization

Charles Poliquin (1988) originally proposed the systematic alternation of volume/intensity in shorter periods of time (3).

Poliquin (1988) theorized that strength-training programs lose their efficiency after two weeks, as he supported two-week cycles of a training block while alternating between volume and strength blocks (3).

Furthermore, Poliquin pointed out that alternating volume/strength blocks eliminates the physiological and psychological causes of progress stagnation caused by an overemphasized specialization on volume or intensity (3).

Poliquin’s DUP Plan

 

Weeks 1-2 3-4 5-6
Reps 10-12 4-6 8-10
Sets 3 5 4
Intensity 70-75% 82-88% 75-78%
Volume (reps x sets) 30-36 20-30 32-40

As you see, Poliquin’s model allows for a new stimulus every two weeks and provides you with the required intensity needed for strength gains, while facilitating the necessary mechanical overload required for muscular hypertrophy.

 Mirandas DUP Model

Miranda et al (2011) compared LP versus DUP in a model that was adopted by Rhea et al (2002), as daily undulating periodization, or what we refer to as DUP (1, 2). Miranda and his colleagues found that DUP elicited similar improvements in maximum strength when compared to LP (1).

However, since the DUP treatment group had a significantly higher baseline 1RM it can be suggested that the DUP treatment group did in fact elicit a greater change in maximum strength, by noting the magnitude of change (i.e. effect size) (1).

In other words, Miranda et al suggested a DUP model with varying volume and intensity is better at getting you jacked than basic linear periodization.

 

Day 1 Day 2 Day 3
3 X 8-10RM 3 X 6-8RM 3 X 4-6RM

Miranda’s treatment model portrays the alternation of volume and intensity throughout each specific week, which allows for adequate recovery as well as a new stimulus each training day. Rhea et al (2002) pointed out that the superior strength gains seen with DUP could be attributed to a multitude of mechanisms including muscle fiber transformation, bioenergetic adaptations, and neuromuscular alterations (2).

         Okay, Enough with the Research. What Does this all mean?

DUP is be prescribed many different ways and varies according to the individual, purpose of training, and period of sporting cycle (i.e. off-season, in-season, etc.). That means whether you’re looking to get explosive athleticism, strength, or get jacked DUP is adaptable to your goals. However, a four-week DUP program with a 2:2:1 weekly ratio of hypertrophy, strength, and power training would look like this:

Week 1

Day 1 2 3 4 5
Reps 10-12 6-8 3-5 10-12 6-8
Sets 4 4 6 4 4
Intensity 65-70% 70-75% 55-60% 65-70% 70-75%
Volume 40-48 24-32 18-30 40-48 24-32

Week 2

Day 1 2 3 4 5
Reps 8-10 4-6 2-4 4-6 8-10
Sets 4 5 6 5 4
Intensity 70-75% 82-88% 58-63% 82-88% 70-75%
Volume 32-40 20-30 12-24 20-30 32-40

Week 3

Day 1 2 3 4 5
Reps 6-8 2-4 2-4 6-8 2-4
Sets 3 4 5 3 4
Intensity 75-80% 88-92% 60-63% 75-80% 88-92%
Volume 18-24 8-16 10-20 18-24 8-16

Week 4

Day 1 2 3 4 5
Reps 10-12 6-8 3-5 10-12 6-8
Sets 4 5 6 4 5
Intensity 68-73% 73-78% 55-60% 68-73% 73-78%
Volume 40-48 30-40 12-24 40-48 30-40

In this four-week sample program, the training days would be split as follows:

Day 1: Upper Body/Hypertrophy

Day 2: Lower Body/Strength

Day 3: Full Body/Power (pause sets w/focus on slow eccentric control and explosive concentric movement)

Day 4: Upper Body/Strength

Day 5: Lower Body/Hypertrophy

When programming a training schedule using the DUP method, it’s imperative to remember that DUP is programmed based on each individual goal. Training must be specific to your goals—a one size fits all approach is a first-class ticket to mediocrity, not excellence. Although DUP looks complicated, the basics are still best. Pick compound exercises you know well and hammer home strength and performance.

 

Upper Bench Press Push Press*
Lower Back Squat Deadlift
* The weight is based on an estimated 1RM from a 5RM test

As you can see, the exercise selection is basic and focused on push, press, pull, and squat. Include accessory movements after the main exercises to balance training between anterior/posterior sides of the body and prevent injury.

Wrapping iDUP (see what I did there?)

When your training hits a plateau you must make a change.
Your periodization model is a good place to start.

Adapt daily undulating periodization to your training for improved recovery, greater training volume, and increased training frequency for massive gains in strength and muscle mass. Keep your exercises simple and train with purpose;  you’ll be blasting through your plateau and setting PR’s in no time.

About the Author:

daily undulated periodization

Marc Lewis M.S.(c), CSCS, ACSM-CPT is the Director of Sports Performance at Winston Salem Personal Training in Winston Salem, NC, as well as a graduate assistant at the University of South Carolina in the Department of Exercise Science.

www.winstonsalempersonaltraining.com

www.marc-lewis.com

Twitter: @mtlewis14

But, That’s Not All

Looking to Implement the DUP method into your training?
Then I have the perfect resource for you.

The DUP Method by Jason Maxwell and Mike Samuels is an easy-to-follow workout and nutrition plan that uses the latest science to allow you to get stronger in as little as 4 weeks.

DUP manual

Whether you’re an average dude just trying to look better or a competitive lifter looking improve a specific lift Jason and Mike have you covered from every angle. The DUP Method hits on every aspect to maximize your time in the gym as well as the 23 hours outside of the gym, such as recovery and soft tissue work to diet and supplementation.

You NEVER fail a lift, and systematically get stronger, making plateaus a thing of the past.

Get the Full DUP Method Now

References

  1. Miranda F, Simao R, Rhea M, Bunker D, Prestes J, Diego Leite R, Miranda H, De Salles F & Novaes J. Effects of linear versus daily undulatory periodized resistance training on maximal and submaximal strength gains. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research. 25(7). 2011.
  2. Rhea M, Ball S, Phillips W & Burkett L. A comparison of linear versus daily undulating periodized programs with equated volume and intensity for strength. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research. 16(2). 2002.
  3. Poliquin C. Five steps to increasing the effectiveness of your strength training program. National Strength and Conditioning Association. 10(3). 1988.

photo credit: legdog via photopin cc

Escape from Hardgainer Hell: Nutrition for Hardgainers

IMG_1888

For some dudes building muscle is easy. Add protein and creatine to their diet mixed with any  training and voila: 10 pounds of muscle in a month.

I’m not that guy.

In fact, I could pull off skinny jeans and small t-shirts no matter how much I thought I ate or how hard I trained.

It sucked.

That all changed one hot, muggy afternoon.

I just got done peeling myself off the turf at Football practice after I was absolutely trucked by a teammate. My teammate wasn’t a prick; I just provided less resistance than a blade of grass.

It was embarrassing, humiliating, and a huge wake up call to change. I read everything on nutrition and training I could, trying to implement it all at once.

Still, I failed miserably. My desire desire to change was so great that I changed everything whenever I read a fancy supplement label with giant promises or a new training routine.

When it comes to building muscle, information overload is a surefire way to fail.

Much like a Hail Mary pass your efforts will probably end up with a turnover and failure. It’s much better to dink and dunk your way down the field, taking what you can and creating small wins on a daily basis until you spark a big play.

Much like training, you wouldn’t jump into heavy singles without first building up and practicing technique with heavy loads.
Nutrition for hardgainers is no different.

It’s time to stop being the object of ridicule despite busting your ass. By implementing these hardgainer nutrition laws one at a time you’ll see the light and earn your pass out of hard gainer hell.

 1)Drink Liquid Meals Before, During, and/or After your Training

Ironically, when I’m working with clients looking to lose weight one of the first things we look to clean up is the intake of liquid calories. As it stands, my number one strategy to gain the first few pounds of hard-gainer muscle is to incorporate liquid calories before, during, and/or after training. The benefits are huge. Since you’re already guzzling fluids to rehydrate during workouts it’s easy to sneak in 500+ calories for improved exercise recovery, protein synthesis, and tissue repair.

Nutrition for hardgainers

What you need:

-Blender because well, you need to blend the damn thing

Fruit for flavor, high quality nutrients, and carbohydrates for energy

-Spinach or Greens, you wont even taste it and the added veggies are vital to balance a high-protein diet

Protein to support muscle growth and tissue repair

Topper/Texture adder for additional nutrients and to bring the whole recipe together

Optional: Creatine monohydrate to support high performance training, or a greens supplement to fill nutritional gaps.

Raspberry Chocolate Goodness:

This shake is an awesome post-workout shake, quick breakfast, or a healthy sweet treat option. If you are looking for fat loss keep this decadent treat for a post-workout treat due to the carbohydrate count.

Ingredients

-1 Cup Raspberries (frozen)

-2 Scoops Chocolate Whey Protein

-1.5 Cups Raw Spinach

-1 Cup Coconut Milk

– ½ cup water, ½ cup ice

Bottom Line: In all seriousness supplements make things much easier. If you’re busy then $2 for two scoops of protein per day is a no-brainer compared to cooking up an extra ½ pound of chicken for a similar protein equivalent. Both from a financial and time perspective protein supplements like Biotrust or Onnit are a godsend. Make a batch of Supershakes like the shake listed above.

 2) Track Your Calories for Self-Awareness

Tracking calories is a pain in the ass.

Tracking Calories is an in-exact science at best.

Still, if you’re not gaining weight the reason is simple—you’re not getting enough calories. Simple and straightforward, multiply your bodyweight by 18 to find the minimum number of calories you need.

Therefore, if you weigh 160 pounds… 160×18= 2880 calories

Thermogenics are simple–if you’re in a caloric surplus you will begin adding weight to your hard gainer frame. When it comes to “energy out,” the body’s energy needs include the amount of energy required for maintenance at rest, physical activity and movement, plus food digestion, absorption, and transport. “Energy in” is simpler: how many calories you’re putting into your body. Altogether, you need to put in 300-500 more calories than you’re burning for a positive energy balance.

How to Create a Positive Energy Balance:

Seriously—EAT MORE

If you’re not gaining weight the hard truth is you need to eat more. All the training in the world won’t do anything for you if you’re not putting enough fuel into your body. You need tons of fuel to support your hard training and even more to build muscle. You can’t build a brick wall without bricks—get your calories in.

Bottom Line: The science is in-exact, but self-awareness is priceless. The biggest most jacked guys in the world count their calories because it instills self-awareness and discipline on exactly what it takes to accomplish your goal. Count calories using Myfitnesspal for the next two weeks and monitor your weight every other day. This way you’ll see the amount of food needed to reach your goals and develop eating habits that match your goals.

3) Don’t Fast if you want to Gain Muscle

I understand the draw of intermittent fasting for fat loss, overall health, and working around a hectic schedule, but a restricted eating schedule is the last thing under-eating hard gainers need to gain muscle. Hardgainers simply can’t eat 4 cups of rice and 16oz of steak at dinner- they think a chicken breast and one sweet potato is eating big.
While you don’t need to eat every two or three hours or drag a cooler to work you must make time to get your calories in. If you’re dead-set on intermittent fasting for muscle gain don’t go over twelve hours without eating, you wont get enough calories in to support muscle growth.

Bottom Line: It doesn’t matter how many bricklayers you have; if there aren’t enough bricks you won’t build a foundation. The same logical applies to building muscle—all the training is for naught unless you eat enough calories to support muscle growth.

4.) Balance Acids and Bases:

Look bones: You’re crushing your diet, training hard, and making headway in your escape from hard gainer hell. Problem is, you reek like a toxic dump, your stomach is in fits, and your digestion is garbage.

What gives?

Digestive health is huge indicator of what’s going on side your body while you’re preoccupied with pumping your pecs and squatting a house. When muscle building is the goal, hard gainers opt for high-protein foods like tasty dead animal flesh to support their hard training. The tradeoff is on imbalance between having too many highly acidic foods (meats) and not enough bases (leafy greens) that results in symptoms from increased inflammation, acid reflux, diarrhea, and constipation. Any way you look at it health suffers unless the body is in balance between acidic foods and base foods.

Nutrition for Hardgainers
Get your greens while knowing at bambi’s femur

Without a balanced approach to eating training, recovery, and overall health suffer due to an acidic environment. Basically, you should be eating a handful of veggies while you’re gnawing away at your next sirloin.

Tips to Balance Your Diet:

– Have 2 “handfuls” or two cups with of veggies with each meat based meal. Eat one before diving into your protein source to jump-start the digestive process.

– Incorporate fermented foods like raw sauerkraut to improve digestion. Not only is it great on Brats (I’m from Wisconsin, dontcha know), raw sauerkraut and other fermented foods are rich in digestive enzymes and bacteria to aim in digestion.

  • Kudos on the Scrawny to Brawny program, blending spinach into protein shakes is an easy way to balance acids and bases in your diet. From here on out, blend spinach into your shakes. Trust me, you won’t even taste it.
  • Take a greens supplement like ONNIT Superfood. Not only can these replace a multi-vitamin, but they’ll also improve your digestion, immune function, and counteract a high protein diet. Plus, most of us struggle to get our veggies. Pick up ONNIT Superfood and have it you’re your creatine first thing in the morning.

Bottom line: Health is the first wealth and an unhealthy body is unlikely to be optimal for training. Without our health in line, we won’t ever build lean muscle and improve performance anyways so it is always best to focus on health first.

5.) Don’t Fear Fat

If you haven’t caught onto the theme yet calories are the supreme ruler for your hardgainer nutrition. Without enough calories your muscle building workouts are all for naught. One of the easiest ways to increase your calorie intake is to increase your intake of higher fat foods because fat contains 9 calories per gram of fat.

Avoid fat phobia—an increase intake of fatty foods like grass-fed meats, raw nuts, and cooking with virgin unrefined coconut oil or extra virgin olive oil has been shown to increase anabolic hormone levels like testosterone to support healthy energy, libido, and muscle building.

 

hardgainer nutrition
Behold the power of grassfed beef
  • For example, by using 2 tbsp. of olive oil to prepare our meals 2x per day, we can “sneak in” over 60g of fat and 540 calories into our diets.
  • Further, if we eat 3 handfuls (1/4 cup) of mixed nuts per day, which may be an extra 300-400 calories, depending on the size of your hands.
  • If we go with 4 whole eggs for breakfast instead of 3 egg whites and 1 whole egg, that’s an extra 18g of fat and 162 calories.

 

Bottom Line: Fatty foods are the most calorically dense and will drastic bump in calories for building muscle. Furthermore, fats in your diet will support anabolic hormone levels, libido, and energy for better workouts, more muscle, and 2000% more awesome manliness.

6.) Hyper Hydrate

Body water in humans varies with age and sex, but the body is composed of 40-60% water. Than means for a 160lb dude 80+ pounds of your water are composed of water.

80 pounds.

Needless to say, proper hydration is key for tons of bodily functions:

  • Water acts as a solvent to dissolve chemicals
  • Water transports nutrients to and from cells
  • Waste management
  • Water plays a role in the synthesis of proteins, glycogen, and other molecules
  • Water acts as a catalyst for metabolic reactions in the body
  • Water lubricates joints and tissues
  • Water helps regulate temperature

Our demands for water obviously increase with hard training. The enhanced metabolic rate of muscle contraction requires a larger delivery of nutrients and oxygen along with faster waste and heat removal from the body to continue training. Even the most experienced athletes struggle with water intake despite the fact that 1-2 % reduction in bodyweight from water loss leads drops in performance through muscle cramping, decreased endurance, loss of motor skill, and a loss of muscular strength.

Bottom Line: As much as 60% of your body and 75% of muscle tissue is water. If you’re dehydrated you’re not performing up to your maximum potential and limiting growth. After training, muscle repair requires fluid for nutrient absorption to maximize recovery. Get dat water bruh.

 

Implementing the Goodies

All the information is the world is great, but it takes a thorough plan to implement change.

All the information is the world is great, but it takes a thorough plan to implement change. (yes, it bears repeating)

Start for the first two weeks by adding a super shake like the recipe listed above after every workout and off day for breakfast.

Next, start tracking your calories for the following two weeks.

By one month from now you’ll be consuming an extra 500 calories/day in shakes with a huge bump in awareness of what’s going into your body.

At the end of one month that’s at least a bump in 15,000 total calories, or an extra 7.5 days worth of food to help you build muscle. Slowly add fats, additional water, and keep your health a priority while you bulk.

COMMIT AND PERSEVERE

Ending your hard gainer hardships isn’t about the perfect plan; rather, it’s about consistent behaviors that manifest into long-term change. If you’re a scrawny dude who sticks to a routine and diet for three days and then flips out when his abs lose a vein, only to switch to a fat loss diet this is for you.

The road is tough, but you must stay the course and persevere through the tough times. Muscle growth and getting jacked only take place in the presence of excess calories and amino acids for muscle fiber repair. If you’re gaining too much body fat look back at your food log and clean things up—health is still important.

Keep your goal, persevere, and crush your nutrition. If your goal truly matters I’m challenging you to step to the plate and see things through.
You’ve got this—now win the day.

P.S. 

[Stuck as a Hardgainer? I’ve been there and I’m here to help. This week I’m taking 20% off all Bach Performance Online Training until 11:59 pm Friday Only. That means four months of World-Class workout programs, Nutrition, Weekly and Monthly Skype Calls with a fifth month 100% Free. Apply NOW before spots are gone.]

 

Now, let’s hear it from YOU – what are your TOP SOURCES for muscle gaining information? Drop your comments below!

photo credit: cranrob via photopin cc

photo credit: ratterrell via photopin cc

Escape from Hardgainer Hell: 5 Training tips for Skinny Guys

“Hey, bones!”

Yea, you.

In the skinny jeans and skin-tight compression shirt.

If you’re a skinny hard gainer struggling to gain a mere pound on the scale and build some muscle before beach season you best listen up to someone who’s been there.

I high school I once peeled my 103lb carcass off of the football field after being plastered on my back. The sad part isn’t that I got lit up—it’s that the other player could have ran anywhere. The field was wide open.

I just provided less resistance than the open field and a few blades of grass.

Embarrassing. Enraging really. 

It’s time to stop being the object of ridicule despite busting your ass in the gym and seeing zero results.

The journey to appreciable muscle is an arduous one, but if you’re willing to re-evaluate your training, eat more than a small army, and persevere through the tough training then you’ll build muscle.

Trust me—I spent years spinning my wheels with pointless exercises, training methods, and routines. While I’ll never be huge, I’m consistently 185lbs at 5’8″ and fairly lean–a worthy goal for any hard-gainer. Now, I’m here to help you avoid the same fate and align your training with your muscle building goals.

training tips for skinny guys
Photo Credit: Ryan Dial

Genetics be damned, these five training laws coupled with a firm nutrition plan (coming Tuesday) will help any hard gainer finally build high-performance muscle.

Continue Reading Here on T-Nation for the Full article. Using these tips, I escaped the Hardgainer Mindset and body.

It’s time you do the same.

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Escape from Hardgainer Hell: 5 Training tips for Skinny Guys

Eight Training Splits for Strength and Mass

How many times have you started the perfect new training split only to realize it doesn’t fit your goals or your busy schedule, leaving you banging your head against a wall wondering “where to go now” with your training.

training splits for strength and mass Keep Reading

Shake Up Your Muscle Building Diet

Building muscle is brutally tough work. Some dudes might even say it’s impossible.

Like most of my clients you probably want a strong, high-performance body that’s ripped, muscular, and by all accounts, capable of handling anything the world throws at you. You already train smart, are dedicated to high-performance training, and you eat a decent diet. Still, you aren’t getting jacked.

It sucks; I’ve been there too.

I missed the boat in my own training for a long time. Suffice to say, I spun my wheels with every training tool, program, and diet imaginable. Before I dive into your diet I have to tell you the truth: No matter what you’re looking to accomplish you must first define it. Define your goal qualitatively and quantitatively.

Qauntitative: I want to build ten pounds of muscle and weight 170 lbs

Qualitative: I want to build confidence to ask Jessica Alba on a date. Good luck by the way.

muscle building diet
photo credit: http://actresspose.blogspot.com/2012/02/pictures-of-jessica-alba.html

The point is, no goal will ever feel complete without an ending in sight. Without a definitive stop point you’ll lose aim of what you really want to accomplish and in turn, fizzle out. Definable paint a vivid picture of what success really means to you. Once you’ve taken this step, the real fun begins–like taking specific actions on a consistent basis to build a new habit and new behavior.

Truth be told, people don’t miss their goals because they don’t care, they miss there goals because they a.) Never define success, and/or b.) Never take small steps to adopt a new behavior.

The number one biggest problem guys trying to build muscle make… 

Is still not eating enough to gain calories. Despite how much you’re eating the hard truth is if you’re not gaining weight you’re still not eating enough. If you’re building a wall it doesn’t matter how many bricklayers you have, if you don’t have enough bricks the wall won’t get built.

Some days you run out of time or room in your stomach. Tough– you’ll have to push through. You either make time to get your goals accomplished or you don’t. If your not willing to make sacrifices and get out of your comfort zone then you’re just being lazy.

in the words of Sweet Brown, we ain’t got time for that. Fast forward to 24 seconds.

I’m not here to harp on you and call you out for a lack of effort. Instead, I’m here to help you carve your path out of hard-gainer hell with this one sure-fire solution– adding one Supershake to your diet each day. Uno. One. One measly protein shake each day will change your body and start a new muscle-building habit.

Not Chalky Weight-Gainers, Just High Performance Nutrition

Health is the first wealth and must be priority. Skip the classic gainers like MEGA-MASS 3000 filled with 90 grams of sugar, heavy metals, and sub-par protein. Instead, opt for high quality whey protein, all natural ingredients, and a high-performance blender for meals on the go.

Nutrient packed, tasty, and convenient these simple shakes will add 500+ calories per day without taking up time or room in your stomach.  These my top four muscle-building protein shakes to support your high performance training and muscle building diet.

These are all Precision Nutrition inspired and Bach Performance tweaked to based on self-experimentation and feedback from Bach Performance Clients. They all taste dank as hell, are filled with high quality ingredients, and will impress all those new dates you’ll be bringing home with your chiseled physique.

P.S. I highly recommend you check out Gourmet Nutrition for dozens of delicious and healthy meal options to support both muscle gain and fat loss.

What you need:

-Blender because well, you need to blend the damn thing

Fruit for flavor, high quality nutrients, and carbohydrates for energy

-Spinach or Greens, you wont even taste it and the added veggies are vital to balance a high-protein diet

Protein to support muscle growth and tissue repair

Topper/Texture adder for additional nutrients and to bring the whole recipe together

Optional: Creatine monohydrate to support high performance training, or a greens supplement to fill nutritional gaps

It’s much easier to make a few shakes at a time, throw your shaker in the fridge, and grab it as you run out the door. Here are my top-four favorite Super shakes to help you pack on the pounds.

High Protein Piña Colada:

This is an awesome post-workout shake, especially when the weather gets warm. This shake is packed with protein and high-performance super foods like coconut, green tea, and pineapple. I’ve found its best to play around with fluid amounts until you determine how thick’n chunky you like your shakes.

Ingredients

  • 1 frozen banana
  • 1/2 cup frozen pineapple
  • 1/2 cup coconut milk
  • 1 cups ice
  • 50 grams protein (1-2 scoop vanilla protein powder
  • 2 tablespoons of shredded, unsweetened coconut (texture and flavor overload added flavor)
  • 1 cup green tea Or 1 cup water (pick one, one)

Mixed Berry Blast:

The Berry Blast is my go-to when I’m in a rush with 5 a.m. clients. I’ll whip up a batch and fill up two shakers. Generally, I’ll down one as I wake up and throw the other back post-workout. To maximize post workout efficiency and restoration of glycogen stores  drop out the Virgin Unrefined coconut oil to minimize fat intake.

muscle building diet

Ingredients

–       1 cup frozen mixed berries

–       2 scoops vanilla protein

–       2 tablespoons milled flax

–       1 cup spinach

–       1tablespoon raw, unrefined coconut oil

–       1 cup green tea or water (pick one)

Nutty Buddy:

This a high calorie shake with a decent amount of fat. I use this a lower-carb snack option and its best used sparingly. That said, you might roll over and pass out with a smile on your face after downing this nutty beast.

Ingredients

–       2 scoops protein (I prefer vanilla, but chocolate works here too)

–       1 cup spinach

–       2 tablespoons milled flax

–       2 tablespoons peanut butter

–       ¼ cup pecans (cashews also work)

–       1 cup water or Green tea (pick one)

Raspberry Chocolate Goodness:

This shake works best as a post-workout shake, a quick breakfast, or a healthy desert. If you are looking for fat loss keep this decadent treat for a post-workout treat due to the carbohydrate count.

Ingredients

-1 Cup Raspberries (frozen)

-2 Scoops Chocolate Whey Protein

-1.5 Cups Raw Spinach

-1 Cup Coconut Milk

– ½ cup water, ½ cup ice.

Directions: Yes, these are all the Same.

  1. Place all ingredients into the blender in this order. Seriously, this order works best:
  • Ice first
  • Frozen fruit over fresh
  • Throw in veggies- spinachor Onnit powdered greens wont even be tasted but provide a huge influx of awesome phytonutrients for those lacking in the Veggie department.
  • Protein powder—gainz bro. I recommend Bio Trust.
  • Nuts, Seeds, and Toppers I add nuts and seeds to most shakes for flavor, high quality nutrients, and fiber. Nut butters work well, although the name still disturbs me. Nut. Butters. Weird.
  • Liquid—I prefer water or green tea between ½-1 cup. This is highly variable as more liquid means a thinner shake. Play around with your preference.
  1. Blend for 30 seconds or until desired consistency.
  2. Drink and enjoy, a finish with push-ups to increase anabolism and muscle gainzzz by 500% bro. I’m kidding. Seriously. But really, do the push-ups anyways.

How to Implement It:

Building muscle isn’t impossible, you need a clear picture or where you’re going and what success looks like. After that, it’s all about making small changes that have a long lasting impact.

Start by drinking one shake everyday and watch the your shirt sleeves stretch and your our strength to skyrocket. Then, after a few weeks drop by and comment below on your favorite shake and we’ll chat from there.
Yes, building muscle is really that simple.

For You:
Looking for more muscle gaining tips? Join the Bach Performance Community for Free Updates and your Free E-book 101 Tips to Jacked and Shredded here.

Want to expedite the process?

Stop by and fill out a brief Online Training Application for one of my last three Online Personal Training Slots! Hurry though, they will be gone in the next three days!

Other Great Articles and References:

Gourmet Nutrition Cookbook

Busy Mans Carb Cycling

Ultimate Guide for Lean Gains: Carb Cycling

Scrawny to Brawny: Paul Valiuis

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