How To Build Tremendous Traps

Traps, Trapezius

Guest Post By Jordan Galida

Traps, trapezoids, trapezius muscles…whatever you call them,  there’s no doubt 99% of guys want them to be bigger. The other 1% are lying.

Let’s face it:  bulging traps ooze masculinity, strength, and power. 

A pair of bulging traps can leave you walking around feeling like a cobra ready to strike its prey. Many guys think big traps are a sign of a big dose of alpha-male essence that spills out of your t-shirt. Who am I to argue? So let’s get real.

It’s all about domination and commanding attention. I mean, just look at some of the strongman competitors. 

Here are the three main exercises and rep schemes to build your best traps. They have worked for me, and they can work for you. You’ll pack a couple of ribeyes worth of meat onto your upper back. The image below is me. I train my traps often, and with high volume. 

Traps, Trapezius

 

Why Trapezius Muscle Volume Matters
The traps are a postural muscle, that is primarily slow-twitch fibered. This means that they are very good at fighting off fatigue. Think about it. Your traps have to hold your shoulders and upper back up throughout the day.

The traps are almost always active. Sitting at your computer typing, like I am now? Your traps are keeping your shoulders back and stopping them from rounding forwards. Carrying groceries into the house from your car? Yup, they are especially active there.

The traps are pretty much one the most “functional” muscles in the body. They are also active a lot during your training in the gym.

But most people undertrain traps.  Think of how much pressing you do in your lifting routine. Now, think about how much you actually train the traps directly.

If you’re being honest, and aren’t already prioritizing them, you’ll realize you don’t actually train them a lot. This can actually be detrimental to your lifting, as there is probably an imbalance between your pushing muscles (chest and front delts) and your pulling muscles (upper, middle, lower traps, rear delts, and lats). 

The best way to train the traps, and upper back, is to use high volume because they can tolerate it well. This means that training up into the 15-30 rep range is not only acceptable but recommended. The exercises I’m going to show you lend themselves very well to higher reps.

Basic Traps Anatomy

The traps are split into three heads. A descending part (upper traps) a transverse part (middle traps) and an ascending part (lower traps.) Fortunately, the movements you’ll learn today will really hit the upper and middle traps while the lower ones get enough stimulus from pull up variants.

The upper traps are responsible for moving your neck around as well as shrugging your shoulders. The middle traps are responsible for pulling your shoulders back (think military posture) and the lower traps are responsible for scapular depression (think  of depressing your shoulders down and tightening your lats.)

The Face Pull For Trap Power
The face pull is the ultimate movement to sculpt your upper back into a muscle roadmap. This exercise works mainly your rear delts and middle traps. To do it, grab a long rope (or two normal ropes extended all the way out) and attach it to a cable pulley system. I like to do mine seated so I can focus on just doing the pulling movement.

Pull the ropes so that your hands go back above your ears, and a little bit behind your shoulders. You should look like you’re doing a back double-biceps pose.

Make sure you get that full contraction at the end of the movement and a full stretch at the beginning. Don’t be scared to use some momentum because you’re weakest in the contracted position.

Do these for:

  • Sets of 15-30 reps
  • Do them until you are about 1 rep away from failure
  • Do them 2-3x a week

The Overhead Barbell Shrug
The second exercise for lurching traps is the overhead shrug. This is an amazing exercise for the upper traps. If you ever wanted to not have a neck, then this is your exercise. Grab a barbell and load it up with a weight that you think you can do a decent amount of reps on. It shouldn’t be too heavy, but heavy enough that you feel it.

Take a wide grip so that your arms form a v-shape. The pressure should be coming down at an angle since the upper traps themselves are at an angle. Press the bar up overhead so that it’s directly over your midfoot. It helps to look down so that you give your traps room to fully contract. 

Do these for:

  • Sets of 15-30 reps
  • Do them until you’re about 1 rep away from failure
  • You can do this every day if you want, but 3x a week should work great

The Shoulder Pull
This is the sister movement of the face pull. The shoulder pull targets your middle traps better, however. Having well developed middle traps will help you with most of your exercises as they are fundamental to being able to keep your shoulders retracted during movements like the bench press.

Again, take a long rope (or two short ropes that are fully extended) and attach it to a cable pulley system. I like to do these seated because it helps me to maintain my posture and so I don’t use any lower body movement to help me out.

You can heave these back with some momentum and then resist on the negative. This will equal out your strength curve with the force curve as the exercise is really easy in the beginning and really hard at the end.

Make sure that when you’re doing this exercise that you aren’t doing a face pull. Pull your hands back so they are in line with your shoulders. When you finish the movement, you should get a full contraction and your arms should be right above, or slightly in front of your delts. 

I like to do a full contraction at the end by trying to pinch my shoulder blades together and position my posture as upright as possible, almost leaning back. At the beginning of the movement, I get a full stretch by slightly rounding my upper back thus lengthening the middle traps.

Do these for:

  • Sets of 15-30 reps
  • Do them until you’re about 1 rep from failure
  • Do them about 2-3x per week

Doing these exercises will pack pounds of muscle onto your upper back. Don’t be startled if your shirts start to fit differently, in a good way! Your newfound musculature will help you stabilize and be stronger in all the other movements you do in the gym.

As to what you do with that newfound muscle in your personal life, well, I leave that up to you.

About The Author
Jordan Galida is an online personal trainer who has competed in powerlifting at the national level. He works mainly with dedicated strength trainees who lift at least three times a week and want to up their game. Check out his website.

 

All I Need to Know About Business I Learned In The Gym

Fitness and business

You learn more in the gym than just how to add muscle.

Along with the physical transformation, you learn how to transform your mindset about what you can achieve professionally. You add mental muscle and resilience.

I’ve been an iron junkie since I was 13 years old. I wanted to add muscle to my feeble 103-pound frame for football. And, yes, there was also another reason: I wanted to impress the ladies.

Eighty pounds and 17 years later, I’ve gone from skinny runt to author, business owner, and sought after trainer, working with athletes and executives.

I bought my own home before age 30 and am living life on my own terms with the woman of my dreams. Life is good!

Along the way,  I’ve started three business: my online fitness coaching business, my business mentorship program for trainers, and a new venture completely outside the fitness industry that draws on the sales and marketing skills I’ve mastered.

Here’s what I’ve  discovered:
The discipline, laserlike focus, and willpower you use to transform your body serve you well in succeeding in business.

Here are the eight things I’ve learned about what building your body has in common with building your business.  

1.What You DON’T Do Determines What You Can Do

There is a staggering amount of information out there on training and nutrition. The same holds true for building any kind of business.

So you don’t need more information. You need more focus.

Start by eliminating conflicting sources of information that will just overwhelm you. Read less and do more.

Whether in the gym or in business, formulate a plan and stick to it.

Execute with excellence.

Get in your sets and reps. There are no shortcuts.

Don’t be a program-hopper. It never works.  

Overwhelmed? Stop following so many different people. Stop taking advice from 87 different sources.Follow ONE…

Posted by Eric Bach on Tuesday, April 30, 2019

When it comes to fitness, follow one expert who resonates with you. Dig deep and truly understand their method. Buy their programs and do them to completion.

Apply the same focus to your business. Pick one program, one funnel, one social media platform, and nail them one at a time.

Only move to a new area, goal, method, or create a new product once you’ve mastered what’s in front of you. But this all begins with eliminating the noise so you can focus.

2. No One Cares About You

All those buff half-naked studs and sweaty meatheads grunting and smashing weights can make for an intimidating environment.

You look around and feel like you don’t measure up. Everyone seems more advanced than you. But as Theodore Roosevelt once said, “Comparison is the thief of joy.”

Whether you’re a seasoned vet or just getting started, you have to remember everyone was a beginner at one point. They’ve all walked in your shoes. They had the same doubts, insecurities, and struggles you’re experiencing now.

The same dynamics exist in business. When I started blogging, I was terrified of hitting publish, figuring I’d get criticized left and right by my boss and coworkers.

It turns out the opposite was true. They reached out and said, “Congrats, it’s great to see what you’re doing. I wish I could do the same.”

We all tend to think our every action is being examined with a microscope and being criticized by others. Not so. Almost no one cares what you do. They have their own problems.

The truth is, we’re all just trying to figure shit out as we go. Do you. Focus on the process and improve daily. Sure, some haters may pop up, but they’re the minority, not the majority. (More often than not, their criticisms are more about their insecurities than anything you’re doing, anyway.)

3. Consistency is More Important Than Perfection.

Tell me if this sounds familiar. You’ve decided now is the time to get in shape. You’re going to follow a specific diet, workout five times per week, and turn off Netflix so you can get your needed sleep.

You crush it for a week, or heck, a month.

Then work gets in the way. So do family obligations and social engagements. They leave you exhausted with little willpower and time to focus on you. Voila, you’ve fallen off the wagon (again) and are back at square one with fitness.

The key to transforming your body over the long term isn’t having a plan created for the perfect time. It’s about having a plan you can stick with long term.

The inability to adapt and stay consistent (not a lack of information or “drive”) is the reason most people fail.

The same troubles brew in business. Your new marketing strategy or sales funnel will never be perfect. If you continuously chase perfection, you’ll never get anything accomplished.

Which is not to say you should just “take it easy” or release an inferior product. I’m saying, do great work, then course correct as needed.

You can slow down in the gym and have an imperfect product, but you can’t “stop” or never start in the first place. We learn, grow, and adapt through action. Over the long term, consistent effort is what separates the best bodies and businesses from the crowd.

4. Sometimes Bad Shit Happens. It’s How You Deal With It That Matters

I ran track as a senior in high school to prepare for college football. For a white dude in northern Wisconsin, I was okay. But everything changed when I tore a hamstring in the state semi-finals for a 100-meter race.

I was devastated. Still, I rehabbed all summer and was ready for fall camp. I tested and ran well. But ten days later, history repeated itself. My hamstring frayed like an old rope, and my football aspirations fizzled. 

I could have kept going, but the injury presented me with another opportunity: to go all in and learn the ins and outs of strength and conditioning, getting experience early. What felt like the end of the world ended up being instrumental to my success as a coach.

A few years later, right after I had decided to go all in on my online business, a fraudulent accountant  stole roughly 50k in tax payments meant for the IRS, causing an incredible amount of financial and marital stress. I tell the full story here

The bottom line is: bad things happen.

I hope you never have to deal with either scenario or anything worse. But should an unfortunate situation arise, choose to use it.  You can either let it define you, or use it as motivation and a chance to improve.

5. Hone One Skill At A Time

An old saying goes: “If you chase two rabbits, you’ll catch none.”

If you train to run a marathon, build muscle, and powerlift at the same time, you’ll end up working your ass off with nothing to show for it.

Fat loss requires a caloric deficit. Building muscle requires a caloric surplus. So chasing two opposing goals won’t work out too well. In fitness, you’ll get results exponentially faster pursuing one goal, doing it to completion, then moving to the next.

You need the same focus in business. With my online business, I need a few pillar skills:

Writing: Content writing and copywriting.

Sales: Hey, it’s a business. You need to sell your product to make an impact.

Deliver a Killer Product: Without this, nothing matters. No amount of slick marketing will make up for a bad product.

Systems and Processes: You need to systematize delivery, scale, and have quality control.

Most entrepreneurs take a shotgun approach to improvement. They try to improve all areas at once and end up feeling overwhelmed.

A better option is to take a sniper’s approach, shooting for one precise target at a time. You’ll make marked improvements and stay motivated to push through initial struggles.

I like to break my self-improvement into quarters. In the first quarter of the year, I may go deep into copywriting, focusing on getting coaching and reading books on improving as a writer.

In fitness and business, go an inch wide and a mile deep. You’ll learn more, grow more, and succeed faster.

6. If You Want More, Do More

Lost in the world of “hacks and secrets” is a simple truth: if you want more, you’re going to have to do more.

In fitness and business, you must be willing to make sacrifices the “average” person isn’t ready to make if you want exceptional results.

In fitness, you’ll need to train harder, longer, and say “no” to a night out on occasion. In business, you may need to get up earlier and sacrifice sleep or date night.

You may need to invest, get a loan, and take a risk. For some strange reason, many would-be fitness entrepreneurs seem to think they can launch online businesses without spending any money at all. They hesitate to invest a few hundred dollars in software or a website and say they “can’t afford” $2,000 for a course that would provide them with the very skills they need to succeed.

In the end, the choice is yours. It’s up to you to decide what you want, what sacrifices you’ll make, and ultimately, where you choose to be great.

7. Play The Long Game.

Crash diets and crazy “photo-shoot ready” routines can help you get dramatic results in the short term. Take this picture for example:

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I fucking hate how I look in picture 😣. I put in an incredible amount of work to get into into tip top shape in under six weeks. ⠀ But holy shit, I needed Zebra cakes and a pedialyte. I’m ripped, but I looked and felt like I could be cast on the living dead. ⠀ The beauty of this picture is, it shows the side of #fitspiration and exposes the bullshit most will never talk about. ⠀ The highlight reels? ⠀ Photoshoots? ⠀ That shit doesn’t last. – It’s an aggressive, incredible stressful short-term ATTACK to get as lean as possible. It’s an incredible experience to push your body this hard, but it’s not safe, maintainable, practical, or what you should compare yourself to on a regular basis. – ➡️➡️As an example, I did my bloodwork after this shoot and again this week. My TESTOSTERONE was 423 compared to my normal levels around 790 (where I am now). ⠀ So, the striations and ripped physique you see❓That stuff lasts hours, days at most before your body reverts to a semi-normal state. What you see on the outside doesn’t show a clear picture of health, performance, or longevity. ⠀ Use this as a simple reminder not to compare your shitty days to someones highlight reel. Chances are, they feel like shit during the highlight reel, it’s short lived, and had months of preparation going into it. And in most cases? It takes weeks (or months) to bring health back to normal levels. ⠀ Want to know more about the process (or some of the B.S.) most wont talk about? Ask away. ⠀ I’m an open book. ✌️ -Eric #fitspirationexposed 📷 @kaylatrainsandshoots

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After following an aggressive fat loss diet and pre-shoot hydration strategy, I was shredded, not to mention ravenously hungry.

Here’s what you don’t see. My blood biomarkers for organ stress were all elevated, and my testosterone levels withered like a raisin. As a reference, my testosterone levels were down to about 400, the equivalent to a 60+-year-old compared to my normal levels of 800.

Had I stayed the path, I would have done long-term damage to my health and hormones. The lesson? Despite how they’re marketed to you, challenges, tweaks, and aggressive fitness plans must remain short term.

Only take on aggressive, short term plans with professional help and a plan to return to sustainability. If you rely on them or stick to them too long, you’ll run into long-term issues.

The same lesson applies to business, especially those who sell out for a quick buck or rely on constant sales and challenges to generate business.

Sure, a short term sale can improve cash flow, but it can’t be the lifeblood of your business. If you make a habit of discounting your services, people will wait until the next discount. You’ll become the Groupon version of your industry, rather than the Apple.

Another example would be the “influencer” crowd.

Popular media personalities attach themselves to any brand willing to dole out a 30% discount code on form-fitting tights or protein supplements so they can pay their bills.

But as we often see, companies go bust whether it’s due to poor management or something more sinister, like lying about their product. When you attach your brand to another (or 20), you’ve now linked any bad stuff your partner does.

Choose wisely. Play the long game. Protect your name and your integrity. Much like you need a long-term focus on transforming your body, you need a long-term plan for creating a sustainable business.

8. No One Succeeds Alone

You can learn from a trusted expert who can help you avoid the biggest mistakes, hold you accountable, and provide the roadmap to success.

Or you can take exponentially longer to (maybe) figure it out for yourself. But this is a mugs game. You can’t grow and take the next step forward without picking up your back foot. We’ll help you take the next step.

Even more important is your time. You’ll never get it back, which is why having our world-class coaches get you better results in a fraction of the time is a no brainer. A quality coach will help you get better results in a fraction of the time.

This leaves you with two options.

A. You can use this information and do your best to go it alone.

B. You can trust in a proven Physique Transformation Program and get world-class results by applying here.

Six Time-Tested Principles For Building Strength And Muscle

Build Strength and Muscle

Your progress in the gym has crapped out. You’re working hard but not getting closer to your goals.

You catch yourself scanning social media and perusing different programs as a means to change things up, overcome your plateau and, hopefully, hop back on the gains train.

But you’ve been here before: jumping to the latest popular diet and training method, only to find yourself in the same battle six weeks later.

When you hit a plateau, the answer often lies in doing less, but better. Here are the six laws you need to simplify your training so you can look great naked without living in the gym.

#1 – Train Movements First, Muscles Second

I love curls as much as the next guy, but unless you’ve built up serious levels of strength, doing tons of isolation work is a poor use of your time. The three main triggers for muscle growth are:
1. Mechanical Tension
2. Metabolic Stress: the pump
3. Muscular Damage: soreness

Of these three factors, mechanical tension is the most important. The best way to create higher levels of tension is by training heavy, compound exercises. As you get stronger, you’ll be able to lift more weight for more reps, making every other training goal exponentially easier to accomplish.

Instead of focusing on isolation exercises, focus on these six movement patterns:

      1. Hinge: Deadlift, good morning, kettlebell swing, snatch and clean variations

      2. Lunge: Lunge, split squat, step-back lunge, Bulgarian split squat

      3. Push: Bench press, push-up, overhead press, jerk, one-arm press

      4. Pull: Pull-up, bent-over row, seated row, one-arm row

      5. Squat: Front squat, goblet squat, Zercher squat, back squat

      6. Carry: Farmer walk, single-arm carry, overhead carry

Analyze your program and ask yourself if these movement patterns are covered. If not, cut out the fluff and focus on the most time effective training possible.

To reiterate, isolation exercises aren’t bad. They can be the perfect icing on the cake in terms of building muscle and for activating stubborn muscle groups. But you need the cake; ergo, the foundation of strength to complete your journey for size and strength.

In other words, focus on bangin’ out decent weight in bent- over rows and chin-ups, before chasing a bigger biceps peak every Friday evening.

2. Optimize Exercise Order

To maximize your gains in performance, strength, and muscle, exercise order should be based on the demands of the nervous system. That means advanced methods like sprints, plyometrics, and heavy compound lifts should be done first, not after your cardio or conditioning work.

Exercises that require explosive action and synchronization of movement like jumps, cleans, heavy squats, and sprints are primarily driven by your central nervous system.

When fatigue sets in, your ability to generate force, control every inch of your reps is compromised, and your chance of pulling a hamstring or tweaking your back skyrocket.

This is why repping out power cleans and box jumps is an absolutely horrendous way to “get more athletic” and a first class ticket to injury.

A friend who wishes to remain anonymous has 17 stitches to prove it. He decided to do prowler pushes and box jumps at the end of a strength workout. The box jumps did not go well.  #WTFwashethinking.

Here’s the ideal way to order exercises, especially if you want to boost strength and performance. It’s based on nervous system demands.

1. Dynamic Movements: Jumps, throws, and sprints if training for speed

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Can jumping get you jacked❓ ⠀ Well, yes. But as a byproduct of sound training. Oh, and you want a body that’s able to perform too, right? 😉 Perfect, read this whole post. ⠀ Jumps, such as the broad jump here will hep you build explosive power and athleticism, especially as you get older. Try 3×3-5 reps before your main lift once per week with 60 seconds rest between sets. ⠀ Jumps will fire up your CNS, “turning on” more muscle fibers and waking your body up to improve each individual workout. Outside the gym… ⠀ You’ll be able to move faster whether you’re playing basketball at the gym, volleyball at the beach, or chasing your minions around the house. ⠀ ➡️➡️➡️Do you use any jumps in your training? Comment below and let me know! I’ll send the first 3️⃣3️⃣ commenters my ultimate jumping article. . . #athleticphysique #highperformancemuscle #tnation #performancetraining #trainingover40 #trainingover30 #onthego #menshealth

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2. Explosive/Power: Power clean, snatch

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[Build the Ultimate Power Look] – Do cleans beat up your wrists? Switch to high pull variations and you'll still build #athleticism, coordination, muscle, and strength. While both cleans and high pulls require roughly 200 muscles complete a rep, hanging high pulls take stress off of your wrists AND add more muscle building stress due to the catch and eccentric loading of catching the barbell. – Altogether this makes the high pull one of the best moves to build insane total body power and add size to your forearms, traps, shoulders, and rhomboids without aggravating your wrists. – For power and strength, try 5×3 with 90-120 seconds rest. – To add size to your traps, forearms, and rhomboids Go from the hang position and try 4-5×6-8 reps. – Do you include any weightlifting #olympiclifting movements into your training? . . #mensphysique #aestheticathlete #highpull #barbellbend #tnation

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3. Compound Strength: Squat, deadlift, press, pull

4. Compound, Higher Rep, Hypertrophy: Squat, deadlift, press, pull

5. Isolation Work: Curl, calf raise, leg extension

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If you’re frustrated by skinny arms and shirt sleeves flapping in the wind you could be making this common mistake: ⠀ Going too heavy on isolation exercises. ⠀ The result? Achy joints, stagnant gains, and shit-tastic form. ⠀ Eek. Remember, the goal of isolation work is to improve your mind-muscle connection and “feel” your muscles contracting, not setting records for the biceps curl olympics 🤭. ⠀ During your next workout, try an Alternating Dumbbell Biceps Curl with a lighter weight, focus on the contraction, and at the end of the set, do a 10-15 second hold to stretch your biceps. ⠀ What is your favorite biceps training tip? I’ll DM my BEST arms training article of all time. . . #flexfriday #armsday #bicepscurls #bachperformance #bigarmsworkout #mensworkouts @caffeineandkilos

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6. Conditioning

As far as building a high-performance physique is concerned, it’s important to train the exercises most sensitive to fatigue early on.

Sure, you can try pre-fatiguing sets and isolation exercises early in your training during some muscle building phases, but it’s not ideal for performance. Start with explosive movement, sprinkle in your heavy compound weight training, move to higher-rep isolation work, and finish with conditioning.

3. Stick to Mostly Classic Strength Training Exercises

Consider me an old soul (or just plain old) but the exercises that worked best generations ago for classic bodybuilders and athletes are still the best today.

“New” doesn’t necessarily mean effective.

A good rule of thumb the majority of the time: If the training implement wasn’t around thirty years ago, then it’s not worth your time.

There are a few exceptions, but when it comes down to it, exercises and tools that have withstood the test of time should make up the majority of training. There’s a reason barbell and dumbbell exercises have been around for 100+ years– they work.

As an example, take a peek at Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Golden Six Program. This is what he recommends for most folks getting started in the gym. This was his focus BEFORE adding anabolic steroids into the mix and dominating the bodybuilding world:

  1. Barbell Back Squat: 4×10 Strength Training
  2. Wide Grip Barbell Bench Press: 3×10
  3. Chin-Up: 3 x Max Reps
  4. Behind the Neck Overhead Press: 4×10
  5. Barbell Curl: 3×10
  6. Bent Knee Sit-Up: 3-4 x Max Reps

Pretty basic and simple, right? Well, this is because basic and simple is often the best.

Remember, you don’t need to train like a pre-contest bodybuilder or high-level athlete to look great naked and improve your health. Chances are you don’t have the foundational skills, the drugs, nor the all-in lifestyle to maximize the demands of these workouts, anyway.

Squats, deadlifts, cleans, push-ups, and lunges, etc., should be the primary exercises used in your programs. Kick it old school. Keep it hard and simple.

4. Quality Lifting Will Triumph Over Quantity Lifting Every Time

Would you rather have a five-pound microwave pizza or an authentic pizza with the best ingredients, cooked by an Italian chef in a wood-burning stove imported from Italy?  

Quality is more important than quantity, in pizza and in lifting.

Tracking weight, setting personal records, and adding weight to the bar is essential to building strength and muscle.

But never forget the basics, like the quality of each rep.

Your goals dictate the number of reps, the speed, and the weight on the bar. But your focus should never change. Hone in on the best technical mastery of each rep, rather than each set.

Try to mentally break your sets of 5 reps into 5 sets of 1 rep. It’s much easier to focus on rep execution when you only need to worry about 1 rep. In other words, focus on each individual rep, independent of the set. By focusing on the rep execution you become more in tune with technique, recruit more muscle, reduce injuries, and get more plates on the bar.

5. Training Consistency Is The Most Important Factor For Success

A few months back, I asked the Minimalist Muscle Facebook Community how often they trained. The majority said 4-6x per week.

This is great, except for the elephant in the room: Are they really training that often and that consistently each and every week, without fail?

Choosing a five-day-per-week body part split might be perfect, but missing a day or two every week throws the entire program out of whack.

You might end up with nine or ten days between leg workouts,  for example. Not optimal. When this happens, the results are huge performance gaps that cause strength and muscular plateaus down the road, imbalances that lead to injury, and shoddy training overall.

Remember, your workout plan must match your ability to consistently complete full training cycles. Training is not a mish-mash of exercises thrown together in fuck-it-all fashion; it’s a process of triggering the right physiological change at the right time to trigger a correct response.

That’s why total body training splits are a good idea for many people. Even if you miss a day, you’re still hitting major muscle groups and movements two or three days per week.

6. Be Present. Stop Just Going Through the Motions

At work, I’ve noticed four to six hours of focused, distraction-free work is exponentially more productive than 12 hours of “grinding, which is inevitably broken up by scanning social media and getting lost in my inbox.

In the case of work, less but better is, well, better.

The same principle applies to the gym.

Those who train like caged animals (even when form sucks), aren’t scanning their phone between (or during) sets generally have impressive physiques and move serious weight.

This is focused intensity and determination at work, my friend.

You can’t approach the rack while swiping for babes on Bumble, or posting on Instagram if you want to maximize your training.

Remove distractions.

Focus.

Close your eyes, imagine yourself crushing the weight, and then do it.  

Don’t worry about tempo, number of sets, and what Tabata hip-thrusting routine is best for you. Just focus on each rep, each set, and each workout with distraction-free intensity. Combine your knowledge and technique with intense focus and you’ll maximize your training.

Trust me on this: Your ability to focus on a superpower both in the gym and out in the world. By limiting distractions and focusing on the task at hand you’ll do more quality work in less time and ultimately, succeed.

And should you need help along the way?

I’ve developed two free guides to help you out. Click on the links below to download, simplify fitness, and ultimately, look better naked without living in the gym.

Lose Fat: The No BS Guide to Intermittent Fasting

Build Lean Muscle: Chiseled Muscle Cheat Sheet


Note: A variation of this article was originally published on T-Nation in 2015.

Five Fatal Fitness Mental Roadblocks (And How To Overcome Them)

Mental Roadblocks

Most lifters have the drive and knowledge to eat and train their way to a high-performance body. But few succeed.

Why? They fail to do what’s most important and makes all the difference:
Win the mental game going between their ears.

Conquer these five mental roadblocks to stay focused. You’ll develop the consistent habits and skills needed to build and keep a high-performance body.

Roadblock #1: Fear Of Failure

Failure: Lack of success.

Failure is part of the game. It’s everywhere and in every facet of life.

Show me a quarterback who’s never missed a throw.

Show me an entrepreneur who’s never failed with an idea or a business.

And show me a successful lifter who’s never missed a workout, a rep, or cheated on his diet.

Failure happens.

Unfortunately, many lifters mistake one small failure for definitive proof that they can never lose fat, build muscle, or get strong.

So they immediately go into puppy mode and start chasing next shiny object or 7-day tea detox.

By way of antidote, here’s some tough love. We are not all special snowflakes. We all need to fail. It makes us stronger in the end.

We develop to become resilient. Accept that failure is part of the learning curve.

Find out what went wrong and fix it.  Own your failure and get back to it. You only fail when you refuse to get back in the game.

Roadblock #2: Looking for the Hack or Shortcut

Searching for shortcuts is a first class ticket to failure, especially if you haven’t done the required work in the first place. The short and easy road is often the quickest route to failure. Taking the hard and long road is the only real way to succeed.

So skip instant gratification and the Instagram selfie for the #fitfam.

You can’t undo years of bad choices with a 30 challenge, detox, or quick fix. Results don’t happen overnight. There is no easy way.

The best bodies take years of hard work to build. Here’s how:

  • Focus on building a necessary foundation of strength in major movement patterns before competing on the stage or platform.
  •  Don’t try an advanced arm specialization workout when you can’t do a chin-up or bench your bodyweight, let alone 1.5x your bodyweight.
  • Count your calories and learn the basics of portion control before hopping on the next fad diet.
  • Don’t cash in all your chips for an aggressive fat loss diet when you haven’t learned how to put the fork down in the first place.

Pay your dues and put in the work. You’ll be rewarded with the body and wisdom you’ve earned.

Roadblock #3: All or Nothing Thinking

The black or white/feast or famine mindset means you’re either all in or all out.

It’s not a healthy long-term plan for success.

When you bulk, you eat everything in sight and train like a demon.

When you’re cutting, your life revolves around counting every grain of rice and going as hard as possible until you hit the wall.
How often does that happen? 100% of the time. It’s inevitable.

This mindset can have its advantages. When you’re on, you’re on. You’re able to push harder than the average person and go all-in with extreme levels of discipline.

But only for a while. Then the backsliding self-sabotage starts.

Here are a few classic examples:

  • Intermittent fasting during the day…followed by uncontrolled binging at night.
  • The classic “dirty” bulk, resulting in tons of fat gain, followed by an aggressive cut, leading to the classic “yo-yo dieting physique.”
  • Cheat meals…followed by cheat days or weeks.

I’m all for creating habits that work around your lifestyle, but you must accept that you’ll need to make long-term changes if you want to see long-term progress.

To escape the feast or famine mindset, try the following:

  • Start be re-evaluating your goals from the ground up.
  • Define “why” this goal matters to you.
  • List the behaviors that will lead to success in your goal.
  • Focus on one goal every two weeks, then add to it and improve.
  • Hire a coach or use a training buddy as a source of accountability to stick to your plan.

Good habits take time to develop. Poor practices take dedication to break. With a sustainable plan of action, you can say goodbye to the feast or famine mindset.

Roadblock #4: Putting One Method On A Pedestal

It’s fashionable to take a dogmatic, hard-line perspective when it comes to getting jacked. You know the messages I’m talking about.

You need to squat, bench, and deadlift if you ever want to get strong.

CrossFit is the answer. (Or CrossFit sucks.)

You have to run to lose weight. (Or running sucks for weight loss.)

The truth is, any number of approaches can work if they are built on the real foundations of success: progressive overload, consistency, and discipline.

Most lifters run into problems when they stubbornly apply one method to the exclusion of all others or fail to adapt as their bodies change. 

One classic example? 

The former high school athlete who still follows his 5×5 BFS program from high school. This doesn’t take into account:

  • the 50 hours a week he spends as a cubicle drone.
  • the back injury he got moving his couch out of his mom’s basement.
  • the beer gut he grew while spending his 20’s failing to outgrow his frat boy ways.

Yes, the basics are critical. But your training must adapt to the changes in your body, your lifestyle, and your schedule. That’s how you make progress and remain injury-free. 

Learn. Grow. Adapt.

Again: anything can work given it fits your body, your schedule, is done consistently and provides progressive overload.

Roadblock #5: Waiting For Motivation

Don’t worry about motivation.

Motivation serves only the limited purpose of giving you a quick initial impulse to take action.

Counting on motivation is like answering those 2:00 AM texts from your ex. It always ends badly.

There is a better way. It’s the old-fashioned virtue called discipline.

You’re in control. You can be the master of your own destiny. There is no need to fall into the destructive mindsets discussed above.

You can do better.

You can do more.

Will you rise to the occasion?

If so, take the first step by using a workout that improves your life, rather than consumes it, like the Minimalist Muscle Blitz. Your workouts are perfectly designed for the busy, stressed out person looking to build muscle in as little as 30-40 minutes per workout.

Join the Blitz Today: https://www.minimalistmuscleblitz.com/mmb





 

The Matador Diet Study: How to Lose Fat Dieting Two Weeks at Time

Fat Loss

Lots of people train hard and try to eat healthy, but struggle to lose fat and build the body they want. They fall prey to fads and gimmicks.

They’re sick of being out of shape and feeling unhealthy. They’re baffled by painstakingly slow fat loss and minimal strength and muscle gains.

Sound familiar?

You may not necessarily want to stagger onto a bodybuilding stage in a spray tan and a banana hammock. You just want to look good naked in front of the mirror (or someone else) each morning. And damn it, you want to feel confident with your shirt off at the beach.

Help is on the way, my friends, in the form of the best method I’ve found: an intermittent energy restriction diet.

What The Heck Is The Intermittent Energy Restriction Diet?

First, fat loss comes down to burning more calories than you take in.

Intermittent energy restrictions diets use intermittent diet periods (generally two weeks) of a strict caloric deficit of 30-35%, followed by two weeks at maintenance calories. You’ll use an aggressive approach for two weeks, then scaling back to maintenance calories to prevent metabolic adaptation (or slow down) in response to eating fewer calories.

Weeks 1-2: Aggressive diet with 30% deficit.

Weeks 3-4: Maintenance Calories

More on this in a minute. But before we get there, let’s dig into the “slow and steady” approach of using consistent energy restriction for long periods of time, then come back full circle.  

Typical Consistent Energy Restriction Diets

A typical diet uses consistent energy restriction-reduces calories for a long period of time.

Weeks 1-4: 10% Caloric deficit

This works wonders for some people. But what about others, like the busy professionals I work with who have families, busy careers, and enjoy a good meal or cocktail during the weekend?

They’ll be great all week, then miss the boat on the weekends. They’ll eat for a 500 calorie deficit Sunday-Friday (3000 calorie deficit), then have a 3,250 calorie surplus on Saturday. Because they’re still in a caloric surplus at the end of the week, they fail to lose fat. Or they make progress so slowly they throw in the towel and say fuck it.

Sure, you can say suck it up and be more disciplined, but my job as a coach is to find a sustainable long-term approach to health and fitness, not belittle adults for having too many IPAs on Saturday. Ranting aside, let’s look at some of the research, starting with the Matador Study.

The Matador Study

Beyond having the best name of any nutritional study in history, the Matador study (Minimising Adaptive Thermogenesis And Deactivating Obesity Rebound) found greater weight loss was achieved using intermittent energy restriction.

You can read the study here if it gets your rocks off.

The Problem With Diets

I’m going to keep this as painless as possible.

Dieting is not healthy. Your body hates it more than Fox News hates CNN. Hell, your body hates dieting more than I hate BOTH Fox News and CNN.

Your body wants to store fuel as a survival mechanism should it have to go for long periods of time without food. That’s what makes weight loss so hard. When you stick in a caloric deficit for a long time…

  • Your performance will decrease and weights feel glued to the floor.

  •  Your mood will crater and you’ll get hangry.

  •  You’ll get stressed, your sex drive can plummet, and hormones start flippin’ you the bird.

  • Your metabolism picks up an ax and starts to fight back. Soon, the “caloric deficit” you were in no longer works.  You start adding fat, despite working your ass off and eating like a bird.

As my friends at Precision Nutrition put it, when energy in goes down, energy out goes down to match it. Your resting metabolic rate decreases, you burn fewer calories during exercise, the thermic effect of food decreases, and you start to absorb more calories from your food because your body needs the nourishment.

This is why you might hop on a 30-day diet, achieve incredible results, then completely plateau. When you eat less and less, you don’t make any progress and instead, are digging yourself into a deeper hole without knowing it or having a good coach to guide you.

Sounds pretty fucking shitty, right?

It is.

Unfortunately, I’m seeing more and more men and women fall into this trap and coming to me with a completely jacked up metabolism after months or years of failed dieting. It takes months of reverse dieting to undo this damage before it’s safe and intelligent to get back onto a fat loss diet.

Here’s Why Intermittent Energy Restrictive Diets Are Superior

Using a cyclical approach to fat loss, you’re able to push your body to burn body fat over the course of two weeks. As your body begins to fight back and slow down your metabolism and decrease thyroid function, you increase calories.

Increasing calories back to maintenance will boost your hormone profile back up.

You’ll feel better.

You’ll perform better in the gym.

And when you hop back onto an aggressive fat loss diet for two weeks, your hormones will be firing at full throttle and lean to greater fat loss.

The Mental Game

No diet works for everyone. This is no different.

Personally, I’m a Type-A guy.  I go hard in sports, fitness, and business, then I need time to recover.

For the last photoshoot I did I pushed too hard for too long. After the shoot, I devoured ice cream, donuts, pizza, plenty of beer and tequila on back to back nights in New York City. Three days later I went to Cancun for five days of debauchery and finally arrived back in Denver 20 pounds heavier than the week before.

Not. Good. Nor something I’d recommend. But it’s an example of what can happen if you push too hard for too long.  had a blast though. 

Matador DietIf You’re A Hard Charging, Type A Individual…

You’ll thrive with this diet.

You’ll leverage the extreme levels of motivation and discipline you have for long enough to make changes.

Then, you’ll dial back to a sustainable approach for two weeks before another sprint.

If You’re A Laid Back, More Type B Individual?

Give the intermittent energy restriction diet a shot.

Generally speaking, you’re probably better more even-keeled and can work towards a steady goal for long periods of time than most type-A folks and because of this, are more likely to succeed with a consistent caloric deficit.

Setting Up An Intermittent Energy Restriction Diet

You’re going to alternate two week time periods of aggressive fat loss with eating at maintenance, the number of calories you need to maintain your current weight.

Calculating Caloric Maintenance:
The best way to find out your true maintenance is to get tested by a qualified professional. Every other number is an estimation. If you’ve been yo-yo dieting for a long time, your maintenance calories may be much lower.

Option A: Go to a qualified professional to get an accurate resting metabolic rate (RMR) then measure physical activity. Frankly, I’m not that obsessive. I found other options to be close enough.  

Option B: CalculatorsMatador Diet
Try this at Bodybuilding.com strength.

Let’s say your maintenance calories come out to 2,000 calories per day.

We want your caloric deficit to be 30%, so we’ll multiply 2,000 x.7= 1400 calories.

Your Diet Would Look Like This:
Two Week Diet Phase: 1400 calories/day

Two Week Maintenance Phase: 2000 calories/day

After the month, recalculate your maintenance calories based on your new bodyweight. Rise and repeat until desired leanness.

For your macros…
When it comes to fat loss your most important variable is protein intake. Eat 1 g per 1/lb of body weight to maintain lean muscle mass during your diet. If you have protein questions, read this go-to guide

Carbs and fats: Frankly, arguing carbs and fats is minoring in the minutiae. If you nail your calories and protein you will lose fat. Eat carbs and fats as it fits you.

For your workouts…
Lift heavy to preserve strength and muscle even when in a caloric deficit. You may need to reduce the volume (fewer sets and reps) to limit cortisol, which can stop fat loss in its tracks. Walk daily and do sprints twice per week. You’ll love the workouts in the BOSS group coaching community.

If you’ve been dieting unsuccessfully…
Let’s talk. Chances are you’ll need a specialized approach to ensure your metabolism is firing at full speed. In this case, a reverse diet is needed and any attempts to drop calories further digs you into a deeper hole.

Are you sick and tired of working hard and not building the body you deserve?

Then going it alone or following another cookie-cutter approach isn’t going to keep working. Apply here and I’ll personally coach you to look better naked and find a long-term, sustainable approach to looking, feeling, and performing your best. Start your transformation today.




Intermittent Fasting Myths Debunked

Intermittent Fasting Myths

“OMG, like, won’t intermittent fasting burn muscle and crash your metabolism, bro?”

Great question. The truth is, intermittent fasting challenges many of our longest held assumptions about nutrition.   Hell, it’s a slap in the face of most of what we’ve been told from an early age about healthy eating.  As a result, intermittent fasting myths are bountiful.

So, what’s the truth? I admit I was a skeptic of fasting. Now,  after using it myself and with dozens of clients, I no longer doubt i’s efficacy. But first, let’s flashback. As your average middle-class midwestern kid, I heard all the same things you did.

“Breakfast is the most important meal of the day.”

“If you skip meals your body will think it’s starving and your metabolism will crash.”

“You should eat more often to stoke your metabolic furnace.”

As a result, I carried Tupperware and pre-packaged snacks labeled as healthy. And I spent plenty of money on supplements. It was all to make sure I had protein every few hours. Unfortunately, I was never able to stay muscular and lean with this approach.

What I really needed is what everyone needs: a lifestyle to improve life without consuming it. 

That goes hand-in-hand with a little self-control in the kitchen to create the caloric deficit needed to lose fat.

Let’s begin by destroying the nutrition dogma holding you back.

 

Breakfast Is NOT The Most Important Meal Of The Day (But Damn, I Love Me Some Bacon)
When I was a kid, I’d get up early and wolf down some cereal before heading to school. After all, breakfast was the most important meal of the day.  

Where did this belief come from?

Well, we were led to believe skipping breakfast would lower your blood sugar. You’d get lethargic and start sliding into starvation mode. By eating breakfast, you’d jumpstart your metabolism and go into fat burning mode right away.

Let’s start with the blood sugar and insulin argument. Insulin sensitivity is how sensitive your body is to insulin in response to eating. The better your insulin sensitivity, the more likely you are to lose fat and gain muscle. Proponents of breakfast say insulin sensitivity is highest in the morning at breakfast. They correlate breakfast with improving insulin sensitivity.

Unfortunately for them, correlation is not causation.

The truth is insulin sensitivity is highest after fasting, which happens during the 6-8 hours you’re sleeping. This coincides with breakfast time.

So, is breakfast truly magic?

Sorry, but no. Your insulin sensitivity is highest because you haven’t yet eaten, not some magical aura around breakfast.

Extending the time between your meals can boost insulin sensitivity. Avoid sugar bomb foods like cereals, donuts, and even bagels. When you boost insulin sensitivity, you reduce your chance of diseases like diabetes and heart disease that plague the western world.

You’ll also lose fat and build muscle more easily than ever before.

And when you eat less often?

Call me crazy, but the more I think about preparing and eating food, the more likely I am to overeat. It’s not rocket science to consider the more often you eat, the more likely you are to overeat. And when you overeat, you gain fat.

Breakfast is not a magic fat loss solution. Most Americans eat breakfast. 70% are overweight or obese.

Note: I love breakfast! There’s nothing wrong with it, but nothing inherently great about it, either. I still enjoy bacon and eggs. I just have it later in the day or on weekends. Still, there’s nothing inherently great about breakfast.

Eating More Small Meals Won’t Lead to Faster Fat Loss
It’s been common practice to recommend three to six or more small meals throughout the day. As the idea goes, eating more often spikes your metabolism, helping you burn calories and run “hot” throughout the day. This stems from the thermic effect of food (TEF) which is the energy your body expends to break the food you eat into usable nutrients.

It’s thought the more often you eat, the more active your metabolism stays. You’ll burn more calories and “keep the metabolic furnace going.”

The only problem?

TEF only makes up for about 5% of the calories you burn each day.

Plus, the thermic effect of food is directly proportional to caloric intake (the number of calories you eat) not the number of meals you eat.

This means it doesn’t matter if you have ten 200-calorie meals or two 1,000 calorie meals. The thermic effect of food for 2000 calories is going to be damn near identical.

At the end of the day, your metabolism from TEF increases to match the size of your meals, not how often you eat. That’s why you feel warm, relaxed, and sleepy after a big plate of spaghetti or Thanksgiving dinner.

Remember, the successful fat loss comes down to calories versus calories out above all other factors. If you’re overeating to keep your metabolism going but still end up in a caloric surplus, you will gain fat.

In the case of intermittent fasting, you’ll eat fewer, but larger meals. As long as you’re in a caloric deficit, you’ll lose fat and feel more satisfied after meals.

Want more? Nerd out here. And here.

 

 

Fasting Doesn’t Crash Your Metabolism
The most common argument against Intermittent Fasting is “not eating puts your body in starvation mode.”

For starters, we’re talking about using short-term fasts of 12-24 hours, not medically supervised week-long fasts nor long-term extreme caloric restriction or disordered eating like anorexia.

But even with longer-term fasts? The evidence does not support the starvation mode argument.

Intermittent fasting uses shorter eating windows on a daily basis to limit caloric intake, so you do lose fat. That said, some studies show an increased metabolism with fasting diets up to 48 hours due to increases in adrenaline in your body.

According to sources cited from the Ultimate Guide to Intermittent Fasting by Mike Matthews,  your metabolism slows by only 8% after 60 hours without food.

The truth is intermittent fasting won’t crash your metabolism. To the contrary, the release of adrenaline from fasting can boost your metabolism to accelerate fat loss.

Fasting Doesn’t Decrease Brain Performance
Glucose is the primary source of fuel for the brain so it’s easy to see why not giving your brain a constant supply of glucose could be problematic.

Here’s the problem with this belief: your body can produce glucose from stored fuel via gluconeogenesis, the process of turning stored fuel into glucose.

Even with low-carb intermittent fasting diets, your brain can still generate fuel via ketone bodies from breaking down fat.

When you fast, you’ll likely notice increased mental performance, clarity, and focus. The idea of getting more work done in less time should be enough to entice you.

Personally, I feel like I’ve gotten a hold of NZT like Bradley Cooper in Limitless when I’m fasting. So, how does this focus work? There are two key factors at play.

First, fasting increases epinephrine and norepinephrine. Since you’re going without food, your body triggers a small stress response, releasing adrenaline during periods of fasting to break down stored fat as fuel, which gives you more energy and focus.

Second, fasting triggers the release of brain-derived neurotrophic factor or BDNF.

BDNF has been shown to support the survival of existing neurons, boost the growth of new neurons and synapses in your brain, improve memory, learning, and thinking, and potentially reduce depression and later on, cases of Alzheimer’s.

The bottom line: Fasting won’t decrease mental performance, it may increase mental performance, focus, and brain health.

Okay, So How About Fasting and Muscle?
As a former skinny runt who had to fight tooth-and-nail to gain even a smidgen of muscle, I was terrified of losing lean muscle when I started fasting. But as covered above, starvation mode is completely overblown. It takes long-term fasting (days, not 16-24 hours) before your body starts breaking down muscle tissue for fuel.

But what about eating frequently to stay anabolic?

As it turns out, how often you eat is much less important than what and how much you eat, especially for building muscle.

If you eat enough calories and train hard, you can build muscle. Heck, this study found IF diets to be better at maintaining lean muscle during fat loss and this study found Intermittent Fasting style diets to be more effective at retaining lean muscle.

As the first law of fat loss is you must create a caloric deficit, the first law of building muscle is you must create a caloric surplus. If your primary goal is to build muscle, IF might not be optimal simply because it’s tougher to get your calories in.

But you can build lean muscle with intermittent fasting as long as you’re consuming enough calories, protein, and following an intelligently designed workout like the custom workouts I create for my clients.

No, Your Body Can’t  Only Digest 30g of Protein At Once
In fitness circles, it’s been popular to recommend eating 20-30 grams of protein every few hours to maximize protein synthesis and muscle gain. It appears much of this evidence has been overblown, often to sell more protein supplements. (No surprise most servings of protein powder are 20-30g each, right?)

When you apply common sense, this myth seems even more ridiculous. I have a hard-time believing generations of humans would have survived periods of scare food, let alone caveman times if they could only digest 30g of protein while feasting on a beast around the campfire.

Luckily, we have more than common sense to support this notion; we have #science. This study found eating the entire days’ worth of protein in a 4-hour window (followed by 20 hours of fasting) didn’t negatively impact muscle preservation.

Much like total calories are more important than having a bunch of small meals throughout the day, your total intake of protein is more important than small, frequent feedings.

As usual, the health and fitness industries tried to make this much more complicated than it needs to be, often to fill their coffers and get you hooked on a steady diet of 30 grams per scoop protein powder. 

The bottom line?
There is nothing wrong with having more, high protein meals, but it’s not magic either. You can enjoy larger meals like a 12 oz ribeye steak with intermittent fasting and know your body will break down the protein into useable chunks to support your #gains.

If You eat After 8, You’ll Gain Weight, Right?
In a word, no.

Remember the most important component of fat loss. It all comes down to calories in versus calories out, not to avoiding carbs, eating six, satisfying meals throughout the day, or perfectly timing your meals after your workout.

Preparing for my last photoshoot, I routinely ate after 8:00 PM and everything worked out okay. Remember, calories are king.

In fact, I’m going to recommend you eat the majority of your calories in the evening.

The truth is, eating in the evening particularly carbohydrate-rich meals, helps you synthesis serotonin, the primary hormone for helping you relax and unwind. Eating carbs also help suppress cortisol, the primary stress hormone responsible for you feeling anxious and alert. If you’ve ever felt tired and wired–exhausted but antsy around bedtime, there’s good chance your cortisol is spiking in the evening. Moving your carbs to the evening may help you relax and fall asleep.

Eating more of your calories at night will help you reduce stress, relax easier, and potentially improve your sleep.

And socially? Well if you’re like most of the busy people I work with in the Bach Performance Online Coaching program, you have business dinners, family meals, or social events in the evening. By limiting your calories early in the day, you’re able to enjoy these events fully, and eat like a king (note, not a peasant on crap food), and still get in great shape.
Yeah, But Won’t I Be Hungry?
I’m going to give it to your straight, no chaser: Yes, you will be hungry when you first start intermittent fasting.

After the first five days or so your body will reset your hunger signals this is necessary because frankly, most people don’t know what real hunger feels like. Understanding and managing hunger is an essential component of fasting and any successful dieting–you will be hungry. Accept it and move on.

But even more important? We live in a time of excess. There’s a good chance the hunger you feel is more likely from being systematically trained to frequently. Non-surprisingly, there’s a term for this: hedonic hunger, the increase in eating due to our habits, rather than the actual need for food. This is a huge reason for all the weight-related issues and yes, the extra layer of flab hanging over your jeans.

The truth is, managing hunger is an essential skill for anyone who wants to get in shape and stay healthy and fit. Intermittent fasting breaks you of the hedonic hunger habits holding you back from the body you want and deserve.

I promise I’m not just blowing smoke up your ass here. Research from this study has shown eating larger, but fewer meals can help you control hunger.

Anecdotally, I’ve found the more often I eat, the more likely I am to sneak in a few hundred more calories throughout the day.

Coming back to the most important rule of fat loss (creating a caloric deficit), if you over consume calories it doesn’t matter how often you eat, you will lose fat.

Remember, if you have weight to lose it’s because you’ve over consumed food. You need to break the cycle of addictive style eating and constantly thinking about food if you want to lose weight. The best eating style to help you crack the code and look great naked while eating like a king? Intermittent fasting.

Want to learn more and lose weight without losing your sanity? Click the image below to grab your free Intermittent Fasting cheatsheet.

 

 

Rest Pause Training For Rapid Muscle Growth

Minimalist Muscle

Training to failure is a popular way method to maximize muscle growth. The only problem?
Excessive cortisol release, often from extremely high training volumes is the number one training mistake non-drug using men make.

This begs the question: how can you, a busy, stressed out guy maximize growth-inducing benefits of training to failure without overdoing it?

Enter rest pause training: the best training method for busy, drug-free men.

Why rest pause training?

The biggest mistake most men make is never getting strong in the first place. Because you’ve been force-fed high-volume programs from bodybuilders as the ultimate way to transform your body, you’ve tried to isolate and blitz every muscle fiber with marathon workouts, often to no avail.

The big key most men miss is building a foundation of strength as the first order of business. Rest pause training combines the strength-building benefits of heavy weight lifting while triggering maximize muscle growth associated with training to failure. 
Rest Pause Training

Even if your goal isn’t to be strong, you need to build strength for two reasons.

#1: You’ll Build Muscle
Heavy strength work helps you maximize muscle fiber recruitment, meaning you’ll train a greater percentage of your muscles with each lift. You’ll be able to lift heavier weight for more reps as well. This means a greater overall training stimulus, which leads to greater muscle growth.

#2: You’ll Preserve Muscle While You Lose Fat
The biggest mistake most people make during fat loss is combining low-calorie diets with high-intensity intervals, yet neglecting heavy strength training.

While this works for the first few weeks, you’ll run full speed into a fat loss plateau. When you don’t lift heavy during a fat loss phase, you’ve given your body no reason to hold onto the lean muscle you do have.

When your body starts to burn lean muscle mass, your metabolism slows down and fat loss stops in its tracks. Even worse? Instead of being strong, lean, and defined, you’ll end up with the dreaded “skinny fat” look.

Which is why I’ve designed my new program The Minimalist Muscle Blitz: to help busy guys like you look better naked in the shortest possible amount of time.

One of the key tenets of the program is rest-pause training, an advanced method to help you cruise right through the “red lights” that most guys hit in their muscle building journey.

What Is Rest Pause Training?
Rest-pause training breaks one heavy set into several short sets. This training method allows you to select a weight that you can normally only lift somewhere between 4-6 times before failure, and get as many as 10 reps with that same weight.

Rest-pause training is one of the most advantageous ways for you to build strength and size as fast as possible.

Not to mention that you’ll have no problem breaking through strength barriers from now on. Have I convinced you yet?

Let’s take a closer look at why you need to implement rest-pause training into your next gym session and how to do it.

Building Strength
Building strength isn’t rocket science.

And as I cover in, Minimalist Muscle Blitz (grab your copy here), your main goal in the gym is simple: Get stronger.

When you set your sights on building strength, dense, lean muscle and your ideal physique and the confidence will follow.

And in order to get stronger, you need to push yourself to lift heavier weights day in and day out. Remember: to make progress you must stress the system above what you’ re currently doing. As a result, the body creates stronger muscles, stores more fuel, and grows.

One of the best methods for getting strong, quick? Rest-pause training.
It is one of the safest and most practical ways to take this strength-building mentality into the gym with you. It essentially allows you to add volume to your workouts without costing you any time.

Do you find yourself capping out at 5 reps of 270 lbs? on your bench press? Well, with rest-pause training, the next time you step into the gym, those familiar 5 reps will be 10 reps, no question.

Building Size
Your muscles respond to the amount of tension they’re placed under. If they’re not placed under increasing amounts of tension each workout, they’ll stop responding and won’t grow.

This fact is the basis for the progressive overload protocol that I’ve made prominent in the Minimalist Muscle Blitz. Grab a copy for yourself today to build the most muscle in the shortest amount of time.

Rest-pause training is one of the most effective ways to ensure that you’re constantly challenging your muscles with more tension in order to stimulate rapid muscle growth.

Continuing with my bench press example above, let’s just say that you seem to cap out at 5 reps of 270 lbs. on the bench press. You’ve been stuck at this weight every day that you’ve hit the bench press for the last few months. So naturally, your muscle growth is going to stall, because, well, you aren’t lifting more weight than you were three weeks ago.

This where rest-pause training will save the day. Like I said, your 5 reps of 270 lbs. will be 10 reps the next time you put your headphones on and get under the barbell?

How exactly? in one word…

Keep reading.

Efficiency
I wrote the Minimalist Muscle Blitz to help busy guys look better naked…

Which is why the efficiency aspect of rest-pause training is so appealing. It’s a surefire way to build strength and size in a short amount of time.

Rest-pause training works by adding broken repetitions to the end of a 4-6-rep set.

So, getting back to our bench press example, after you hang up your fifth rep of 270 lbs., you’ll rest for 15-30 seconds.

Then you’ll lift off the weight, perform another repetition, and hang it up.

Rest for 15-30 more seconds, lift off the weight, perform another repetition, and hang it up. And so on until you’ve hit 10 reps.

With this method, you’ll crush any strength barrier you have in the shortest amount of time possible while adding insane amounts of strength and triggering top-notch muscle growth that you have yet to tap into.

Efficiency is key.

For a more efficient way to train, grab your copy of Minimalist Muscle Blitz here!

Now, let’s get to the “how-to” of rest-pause training.

The Crucial Rest Pause Training How-To
Rest-pause training will work with any compound exercise. But for the sake of consistency, I’m going to stick with our bench press example above.

Your goal here is to have one all out working set, which will be your fourth set.

So if 270 lbs. is going to be the fourth set (your all-out working set) your 3 warm-up sets of bench will look like this:

Warm-Up Set

  • 5 x 205 pounds
  • 5 x 220 pounds
  • 5 x 250 pounds

Then you’ll move to your working rest-pause set. Make sure you have a spotter with you for safety.

Your Rest Pause Training Sets

Do 5 reps. Then, rest for 15-30 seconds. After 15-30 seconds you’ll perform one single rep every 15-30 seconds. Perform single reps resting for 15-30 seconds between each set or until you reach technical failure (when you can no longer use perfect form to complete the exercise).

  • 5 x 270 pounds (working set)
  • 1 x 270 (rest for 15-30 seconds)
  • 1 x 270 (rest for 15-30 seconds)
  • 1 x 270 (rest for 15-30 seconds)
  • 1 x 270 (rest for 15-30 seconds)
  • 1 x 270 (rest for 15-30 seconds)

The Rest Pause Training Result
So I want you to notice the major benefit of rest pause training here. Instead of capping out at 5-reps of 270 on your bench press and calling it a day, you’ve now performed 10 reps of 270 lbs.

You’ve essentially increased your training volume by 1,350 lbs. compared to if you hadn’t performed the rest-pause set.

As a result, your muscles will have no choice but to adapt, get stronger and grow.

And of course, you’ll look better naked.

For more rest pause training and other training techniques to build muscle faster, grab your copy of the Minimalist Muscle Blitz today!

Build Massive Muscle The Minimalist Way

             3 Minimalist Muscle Pyramid Methods for Size and Strength

    • Pyramids involve starting with a number of reps and working down (or up) in reps from set to set.
    • Done correctly,  the right pyramid can help you build size and strength at a much faster rate than straight sets, like good old 3×10.

One size fits all.

How many times have you heard that phrase?

From T-shirts to diets to workout programs, everyone is looking for a one size fits all solution. But everyone’s situation is different.

To be blunt…

There’s simply no such thing as a single solution that’s right for everyone.

As a former 103-pound skinny runt turned fitness professional, I know the gym is the last place to look for a one size fits all answer. And yet….

Every day, enthusiastic guys and girls download a one size fits all program from the internet,  or tear out a “guaranteed” shoulder building workout from FLEX magazine. Even worse, a co-worker convinces them  that his or her method is the be-all-end-all foolproof trick to training “the right way.”

We’ve all seen it. And hell, most of us have done it. I know I have….more times than I’d care to admit.

Truth be told, there isn’t a one size fits all, especially when it comes to building strength and muscle.  

However, there are basic foundational components of muscle building pyramid that you need in order to take your strength and physique to their peak heights (and,  you know, look great naked!).

I cover these basics in depth in my new program, Minimalist Muscle Blitz, a revolutionary guide to help you build muscle and look great naked without living in the gym. (Grab your copy now).

And I’m going to lay down the basics of getting stronger and building muscle for you in this article by looking at 3 rep-scheme pyramids that I mention in Minimalist Muscle

But first, let’s look at why basic rep pyramids are the best way to build massive muscle.

Why Rep Schemes Matter?
Do rep schemes really matter all that much? Does Aaron Rodgers slang touchdowns like it’s going out of style? Of course rep schemes matter.

See, even though not everybody in the gym has the same goal per se, their chosen rep schemes will determine whether they reach their particular goal in the fastest amount of time possible, or not.

Different rep schemes place your nervous system, joints, ligaments, and muscles under unique stressors that determine how exactly they adapt. This is why natural bodybuilders first get strong, then emphasize a fair amount of volume.

This is also why some powerlifters can stay relatively small, but hoist barbells meant for a crane.  

These pyramids provide a method to the madness, calculations for the chaos that is your fitness journey.

They keep your workouts on a directed pathway that promises strength, lean muscle, and a physique that performs as good as it looks.

Without a rep pyramid in place, you’re merely closing your eyes and swinging for the fences, hoping that you’ll hit a home run. But it’s more likely you’ll strikeout rather than building muscle without getting fat.

So check out the following rep schemes so that you get to the point of the pyramid (build strength and muscle) as fast as possible, just like you can in the new Minimalist Muscle Blitz.

Strength Pyramid (5/4/3/2/1)
Now, this isn’t a one size fits all recommendation…

However, I do suggest that when someone first steps foot into the gym, his or her goal should be as simple as this: Get stronger.

Strength is the foundation of not only lifting heavier weights (I know, obvious, right?), but also of building better muscle. The more weight you can lift, the more your muscles have to grow in order to adapt to that load.

Think about this with me for a minute.

If Jim bicep curls 30 lbs. for 8 reps, and Tom bicep curls 50 lbs. for 8 reps, who’s going to have the bigger biceps?

Well, damn near every time, it will by Tom.

Why?

Because Tom is stronger than Jim. He can create more tension in his muscles to generate force and move the dumbbell. This same tension needed to build strength is a primary driver of muscle hypertrophy or #gains for those in the #fitfam generation.

As I cover in Minimalist Muscle, all massive muscle building begins with a good foundation of strength. And that’s why the 5/4/3/2/1 Strength pyramid makes its appearance first of the 3 pyramids I’m going to mention.

Here’s how the Strength Pyramid works:

Let’s say you’re on the bench press and your starting weight is 155 lbs.

  • Complete 2 warm up sets with 135 lbs.
  • 155 x 5, rest 2-3 minutes
  • 175 x 4, rest 2-3 minutes
  • 195 x 3, rest 2-3 minutes
  • 215 x 1

This rep scheme will warm you up to lift bigger loads in the gym, and as a result not only increase strength frequently but build better muscle as well.

Want to develop a workout plan around the 5/4/3/2/1 method?

Join the Minimalist Muscle Blitz to build muscle fast without living in the gym.

Muscle Building Pyramid (12/10/8/6)
The Muscle Building Pyramid is next on this list of rep scheme pyramids because it’ll help you to build muscle while lifting relatively heavy weights.

Not as heavy as the Strength Pyramid, but hey, that’s why it’s called the Strength Pyramid.

This rep scheme in particular increases mechanical tension, stimulates metabolic stress and increases muscular damage. These are the three proponents of massive muscle growth.

Mechanical tension comes from the “time under tension” concept. The more significant the amount of tension, or the more amount of time your muscles are under tension, the more muscle fibers your body will recruit to combat that tension, and as a result, the more muscle you’ll build, faster.

Metabolic stress is what you call “the pump.” When you get a pump, your body builds up lactate, hydrogen ions, creatine, and other metabolites, while keeping blood in your muscles… And this balloon sized pump leads to muscle growth.

Lastly, muscular damage is a group of micro muscle fiber tears that initiate an inflammatory response. This response is necessary for muscle growth. And even though you shouldn’t chase after “soreness” it’s a good indicator that this necessary process has taken place.

Here’s how the Muscle Building Pyramid works using the bench press:

Because the reps are higher, you’ll decrease the weight.

  • 135 x 12, rest for 2 minutes
  • 150 x 10, rest for 2 minutes
  • 165 x 8, rest for 2 minutes
  • 180 x 6

As I mentioned above, this pyramid includes the three elements of building muscle: mechanical tension, metabolic stress, and muscle damage.

If you want to build your physique on this pyramid (the fastest way possible), check out The Minimalist Muscle Blitz, here.

Reverse Pyramid (6,8,10,12)
No surprises here. This one’s exactly what it sounds like.

For the Reverse Pyramid, you’ll take the pyramid I listed above and put your thang down flip it and reverse it, Missy Elliot Style.

Why would you reverse they pyramid?

To lift the heaviest weight that you can, you must lift when you’re not yet fatigued.  A basic but huge error most lifters make is they hit numerous heavy sets warming up without sufficient rest.  Then they bomb out when it comes time to lift heavy.

The reverse pyramid fixes this issue by ramping up to a heavy work set before you’re tired out. You’ll lift heavier to build strength and muscle, then decrease the weight as you fatigue.

Heavier weights on the first set will increase muscle fiber recruitment on the subsequent sets, leading to faster strength gains and more muscle-building metabolic stress on the higher rep sets.

This isn’t the most common pyramid you’ll see in the gym but it’s an effective way get strong and build an impeccable physique.

Here’s how the Reverse Pyramid works with the same bench press example I used above:

  • Complete 2 warm up sets with 135 lbs.
  • 185 x 6, rest 2 minutes
  • 170 x 8, rest 2 minutes
  • 150 x 10, rest 2 minutes
  • 135 x 12

Note: In Minimalist Muscle, I take you through a specific warm-up so your body is ready to rock and roll by the time you do your first work set.

Notice that even though your 10 and 12 rep sets didn’t change from the above example. You lifted a total of 10 lbs. more (185 vs. 180; 170 vs. 165) during the entire exercise because you had better strength to lift heavier at the beginning of the exercise.

If you want to switch things up a bit with the Reverse Pyramid, check out more ways to utilize it by grabbing the Minimalist Muscle Blitz.

Next Steps
There is no one-size-fits-all program for every person in the gym.

But you do need a method to the muscle-building madness if you want to see results, fast.

Try out one of the 3 pyramids I listed about to build strength and muscle mass the better way.

Also, check out Minimalist Muscle, my new revolutionary program to help you build muscle and look great naked without living in the gym.

No fluff. Just the stuff that works.

For more rest pause training and other training techniques to build muscle faster, grab your copy of the Minimalist Muscle Blitz today!

 

How Much Muscle Can You Gain In A Month?

Muscle building

Have you ever wondered, “how much muscle can you gain in a month?” It’s a question we hear often. Today, we’ll get you the answer. But first, I need to warn you:

You’re going to need time and consistency if you want to build a dense, muscular body.

Focusing on getting #yoked in one month is a myopic approach that does more harm than good. Building muscle is a long-term process. You can’t rely on a quick jolt of inspiration from the #fitfam or slam an extra scoop of pre-workout powder and hope to gain muscle instantly.

You need to master muscle building habits: eating right (aka a caloric surplus), sleeping at least seven hours per night, and lifting heavier in the gym. When you focus on the process the muscle will come.

How much muscle, you ask?

Well, strap it in and learn how much muscle you can gain in a month below.

How Much Muscle Can You Gain In A Month

Ding. And there it was, a new message slidin’ up in my DM’s on Instagram.

“Bro, I need to get bigger. For real this time. I’ve tried in the past, but nothing seems to work for me. How much muscle can I gain in a month? I don’t want to get fat either.”

Oh, boy. As a former 103 pound runt with toothpicks for arms, I’ve been there: Feeling like I was doing everything right but still weak and wire-thin. Yup, that’s me: young Eric as #68 … just a wee little guy.
Note: I was 12 in this picture, but you get the idea. 

How Much Muscle Can You Gain In A Month

I looked ridiculous. like I didn’t belong in the uniform or on the team. So I trained harder and lifted heavier and grew naturally. 

Even then I ate “a lot” and was bulking,’ bro…

…and yet I couldn’t gain weight.

Days, weeks, and months passed.

I barely gained an ounce of muscle despite hard lifting, dropping wads of cash on supplements and, of course, reading tons of articles and trying new workouts.

Luckily, I pulled out of my tailspin and figured a few things out since then.
How Much Muscle Can You Gain In A Month
And you can do the same if you focus on the muscle-building process and stay the course. You have to hammer away at the basic principles, but first, you need to know how much muscle you can realistically build; which brings us back to…

 

How Much Muscle Can You Build In A Month?

The short answer is “it depends.”

If you’re a beginner 1.5 to 2.5 pounds of lean muscle mass is the maximum amount of muscle you can build each month without steroids.

As you make progress, your gains slow down to one pound per month and slow to a trickle as you get advanced; gaining as little as .2 to .5 pounds a month, max.

(Please note this doesn’t account for increased water weight/glycogen storage, which can add a few pounds per month).

Here’s a good rule of thumb:

If you’re gaining more than five pounds per month of scale weight, you’re probably adding unwanted body fat.

How Much Muscle Can You Gain If You’re Not a Beginner?

As illustrated by Alan Aragon, nutrition expert, author, and king of the Alan Aragon Research Review, the amount of lean muscle you can build depends on where you begin with your training.

Build muscle without fat

There is no clear-cut method to determine your training status. Instead, let me slice and dice the specifics, so you have some clarity about where you are in your training career, mmm’kay?

Beginner:  60%+ people in the gym

The beginner stage is a wide-ranging category of lifters which extends to at least 60% of people in the gym. In the beginner stage, there are two zones of development: raw beginner and beginner.

Raw Beginner: You’re a beginner if you’ve trained for six months or less.  You move like a drunk baby giraffe, shaking like an earthquake on basic exercises.

The lack of stability in your movements indicates your nervous system is still figuring out how to lift. Nearly all your gains result from improved nervous system efficiency and better technique, not from bigger muscles.

Beginner: Even if you’ve been training for a bit and aren’t shaky, you can still be a beginner. You haven’t yet built a base of strength, the most important foundational piece of building a great body.

I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but many lifters never leave the beginner stage because they hop from program to program without mastering the basics.

Until you’re sufficiently strong on major movement patterns like squats, hinges, presses, lunges, and pulls, you’re probably a beginner.

Here are a few strength standards. They’re not set in stone, but should be a minimum to consider yourself more than a beginner.

Barbell Bench Press: 1x bodyweight for 5 reps. 170 lbs = 170×5 reps

Squat: 1.5x bodyweight for 1 rep. 170 lbs = 255 lb squat

Deadlift: 1.75x bodyweight for 1 rep. 170 pounds =297.5 lb deadlift

The numbers above are relative and don’t apply universally.

They’re more difficult for women due to differences in muscle mass distribution and don’t apply to people who are extremely overweight. Take them with a grain of salt.

The bottom line is if you’re not strong in your big lifts, you’re not as advanced as you think.

P.S. Looking for a simple, easy to implement muscle building plan? Grab your free Chiseled Muscle Cheat here.

Intermediate:  30%+ of people in the gym

You understand the terminology of training, know when to push yourself and when to pull back, and are capable of making adjustments in your workouts.

workout, How Much Muscle Can You Gain In A Month

As an intermediate, you can hoist a decent deadlift and have some muscle.

People no longer ask, “Do you even lift, bro?” You’re stronger than most people at the gym.

Alas, your training isn’t all sunshine and rainbows. You’ve hit your first plateau. You tweak your training and add more volume to drive new gains.

Advanced: The Top 5%

I’m going to give it to you straight: 95% of lifters never reach the advanced stage. Advanced lifters dominate bodybuilding stages and playing fields. You might know them as “those people.”  You won’t find many at your regular gyms.

Advanced lifters are near their natural genetic limits. They’ve overcome many challenges in the gym and are capable of pushing harder than most people.

Here’s a Step By Step Example of How Much Muscle You Can Gain In A Month

Build muscle without fat

 

 

 

 

Let me tell you about Jake.

Jake is a 19-year-old college student. He lifted weights in high school and as a freshman in college but fell off every few weeks. Jake would rather play Call of Duty, drink cheap beer, and chase girls. Not a sad life.

Unfortunately, girls refuse to date a guy who resembles their puny little brother, not a powerful mate. Frustrated and determined, Jake proclaims, “It’s time to get jacked” and fill out his scrawny 140-pound frame once and for all.

Jake will be training hard and build strength with 3-4 workouts per week.

He’ll no longer eat “a lot.” Instead, he’ll track his calories to ensure a caloric deficit. He might even drink less beer and sleep a bit more. Here’s what he can expect.

Year One: Beginner

Woohoo! Jake focused on a simple workout plan like this (link) to build strength and size. Now, though still skinny, Jake has a decent amount of lean muscle. Here’s how it breaks down:

140lbs x .0125 (rate of total body weight per month) = 1.75 pounds per month = 21 pounds per year.

Jake gained nearly 2 pounds of lean muscle per month and now weighs 161 pounds. Goodbye, small t-shirts and hello, mediums.

Year Two: Intermediate

For the first time, Jake started to hit a wall with his workouts. Luckily, he tweaked his routine by working with me as his online coach (shameless plug, I know; did I mention I now have a mortgage?) Jake started to add lean muscle again.

161 lbs X .0075 (rate of total body weight per month) = 1.2 pounds per month or 14 pounds in a year. Jake is still gaining at an impressive rate.

Jake gained about a pound per muscle and now weighs 175 pounds. He’s lean with a few abs showing and appears much bigger than he is. Jake deadlifts 405 lbs and looks better than 90% of guys in the gym.

As to whether his dating life is improving, I leave that to your imagination.

Year Three: STILL Intermediate

Jake has learned a lot. He might not be a gym Jedi, but he’s every bit a Han Solo.

He knows how to make subtle adjustments in his training. He tracks his workouts and “feels” when he needs to push harder or dial back. He’s in the zone and pushing his body to the max.

175 lbs x 0.0037 (rate of total body weight per month) = 0.65 pounds of muscle per month, or 7.7 pounds in a year.

Jake gained almost eight pounds in his third year and now weighs 183 pounds. His strength gains slowed down, so he added more training volume to focus on building muscle. Right now, he’s at a level most folks won’t ever reach in the gym.

How did Jake do it?

Well, he’s been consistent.

Jake can continue making progress, but the process will be slow. He’s creeping towards his genetic limit for size and strength. He might gain a few pounds per year, but he’s not piling on 30 pounds of new muscle like a newb.

How Much Muscle Can You Gain In A Month

About two pounds of pure muscle as a beginner. Sadly, your gains go from a full-on fire hose to a trickle as you become more advanced. Less as you train longer.

Two pounds of muscle per month sounds like nothing to the anxious skinny dude, but this is incredible progress.

The most significant mistake many lifters make is thinking they’re progressing too slowly and hopping from program to program. They think it’s a mistake to stick with a program when progress slows.

Wrong. Program hopping is the mistake. Keep it simple.

Start with a basic strength building program like 5×5 and run it for a year. Make sure you’re eating enough to move the scale; not just “a lot.”

Mind Muscle Connection

As an intermediate, you’ll benefit from more variety and training volume in your workouts.

Since you have a base of strength, you’ll benefit from more volume and (gasp) isolation work like biceps curls. (I know: somewhere a CrossFitter is dying, but I call ‘em the way I see ‘em. Deal with it.)

I’d recommend an upper-lower split (like this (link) to train your muscle groups more often while building size and strength. Some lifters use an upper-lower split forever and are incredibly strong and jacked.

After a few years of solid training, your progress will slow to a trickle. No biggie, it’s part of the game when you’re no longer makin’ newbie gains.

Again, your reaction to slower progress is key. Don’t try every method under the sun and end up with information overload,  like most lifters. Instead, reconsider down on your expectations and review your progress.

Are you willing dedicate every aspect of your life for bigger arms or a more symmetrical body?

If not, consider continuing on your path and understanding you’ll still make progress, but it’s going to be a journey.

Remember most guys can build around 40-50 pounds of lean mass naturally, and 20-25 if you’re a woman.

Gaining more than the aforementioned 40-50 pounds requires an elite level of discipline (like competitive bodybuilders) and potentially, a good pharmacist.

The Takeaway

You can gain 1-2 pounds of lean muscle as a beginner and gradually less; .2 – .5 lbs per month after. The process is slow. So you’re better off looking beyond the Explosive Strengthnumber on your scale in measuring progress.

 

Use the mirror and more importantly, your progress on the key habits below to truly transform your body.

1. Build Strength Over Time

Muscle growth is the result of doing work (lifting more weight for more reps) and how you increase it over time.

Setting a personal record every workout isn’t practical. Instead, get stronger from week-to-week and month-to-month.

As a beginner, getting stronger from month-to-month alone will lead to gains in muscle size and set you up for the future.

The more experience you get, the more increasing volume (sets/reps) will help you eke out more muscle gains. Transforming your body requires you give it a reason: the reason is progressive overload.

2. Eat More Calories Than You Burn

Many hard gainers have said, “I eat a lot.” Well, tough news, buddy. A lot isn’t enough unless your weight on the scale goes up.

A simple equation to find out how many calories you need is bodyweight (pounds) x 20. Eat one gram of protein per pound of bodyweight and mix a blend of carbs and fats for the rest of your calories.

You can find exactly how much you need to eat by heading here.

3. Repeat 1 and 2 (aka Be Consistent)

Train hard, get stronger, and increase your workout volume.

Eat for a caloric surplus every day.

Nail your workouts and don’t skip legs for biceps.

A caloric surplus and progressive overload with workouts only work when you pair them together consistently. Consistency is the key to the process working.

Occasionally eating big won’t build muscle. Skipping legs won’t build muscle.

Focus on what matters. Train hard. Eat big. Rinse and repeat. Building muscle is that simple.


Think building muscle is tougher than eating a $2 steak?
 
That aesthetic physiques are reserved for the genetically elite?
 
Take it from me:
 
A former 103-pound runt being routinely steamrolled on the football field, who has since packed on over 90 drug-free pounds, I’m here to tell you that waking up in the morning, and looking in the mirror to see your dream body staring back at you is far from impossible.
 
I won’t lie, or tell you that it will be easy.
 
But, it WILL be worth it.
 
If you follow the dead-simple strategies inside the Chiseled Muscle Cheatsheet…which are the exact same training and nutrition methods I used to flip the switch from [RUNT] to [RHINO-JACKED]…there’s no way you can fail.
 
Grab your FREE copy of the Chiseled Muscle Cheat Sheet by clicking here. 

How to Build Eye-Popping V-Line Abs

v-line abs

“Bro. I don’t care about getting stronger. That’s been easy for me. I just want to see my abs for the first time.”

Sound familiar? It does to me.

I regularly hear something like that from experienced lifters. They work hard and get strong. They have no interest in turning into bodybuilders. But they do have one aesthetic goal that’s often elusive:

Building six-pack abs.

And we’re not just talking about seeing the first two or four abs at the top. We’re talking about deep cut v-line abs with visible separation.

v-line abs

What Are V-Line Abs?

Unless you’re a skinny dude with the metabolism of a hummingbird on meth, deep-cut six-pack abs are visual proof of your discipline in the kitchen. They also say something about your training focus.

Still, there are abs…and then there are v-line abs.

V-line abs, when you’re lean enough to show your inguinal ligament, are called anything from “sex lines” to moneymakers. The V comes from the two ligaments that originate in your hips and extend to your pubic bone.

v-line abs
Wannabe Abs vs Real Abs

The V-lines are not a muscle and therefore cannot be directly trained.

How can you make your abs pop?

First, seriously commit to getting extremely lean. We’re talking in the neighborhood of 5-8% body fat or so. Yes, you read that right.

Second, develop muscular abs. Though the actual “v-lines” are a ligament, it does help to have deep, muscular abs.  The more muscle you have, the more definition you’ll reveal once you reduce body fat.

Get Lean First

If I hear the phrase “abs are made in the kitchen” one more time, I might just gag on my protein shake.

The problem is, the phrase is 100% true.

Chances are you won’t be able to out-train a bad diet and get shredded enough to reveal v-line abs unless you’re blessed with great genetics. Alas, most of us aren’t.

So you must diet my friend. Fat loss still comes down to energy balance. (Can I say: “double, alas?”)

You must take in fewer calories than you burn each day to lose fat.

The extreme leanness needed for v-line abs often requires a customized approach. Maintaining v-line abs is not possible all the time for most people. It’s more realistic to shoot for v-line abs only occasionally. My online training client, Naz, is an example. He built v-line abs for a recent photo shoot, then went back to something more sustainable.

v-line absIdeally, I’d advise getting professional help. And guess what? I’m available. (A shameless plug, I know, but hey: I have a mortgage to pay and the doggie food bills are out of control.)

But if you want to go it alone, the remainder of this blog post will explain how in five steps.   

Beware:steps one and two may make your head spin. So unless you have an affinity for math, Consider skipping directly to Step 3.


Step One: Determine Your Own Body Fat and Lean Body Mass

Before determining a plan of action, you must determine where you currently are. Here is a visual display of body fat by percentage.

BIA

BIA, known bioelectrical impedance analysis, is a common body fat measurement tool. It often comes in the form of a handheld device or digital scale.

BIA is notoriously sporadic and works by measuring electrical signals through your body. Hydration status and timing play a major role. These are highly variable, so you must be consistent with your timing of measurement as well as hydration. BIA analyzers are often quick and easy, but the numbers can be off by 5% or more.  

Skinfold

Skinfolds, when done with a skilled professional, can be as close as +/- 2-5%. These measure your levels of subcutaneous fat; the fat directly beneath your skin. These are a great option.

DEXA is best

Dexa scans, which normally cost anywhere from $25-$100, are the most accurate test and are generally spot on for measurements. If you want the best measurement possible, get a DEXA scan.

Whatever option you choose to analyze body-fat, stay consistent. Different tools will likely yield different results.

Step Two: Calculate How Much Fat You Need to Lose and How Long It Will Take

Research has shown the maximum rate of fat loss to be about 1-2% of your body weight per week. There are times when you may lose more than this due to water weight and – ahem – bodily functions. But 1-2% is a good, consistent mark to shoot for.

Let’s say you were 200 pounds at 16% body fat. First, we’ll calculate your lean body mass.

200lbs x .84 (% of lean mass) = 168 pounds. You have 168 pounds of lean body mass (bone, water, muscle etc.).

If you need to be 5% bodyfat without losing any muscle, you would do this simple calculation.

168 x1.05= 176 pounds.

Therefore, your goal would be to diet to 176 pounds or so.

Above, we talked about 1-2% being the maximum rate of fat loss. So at 200 pounds, at 16% body-fat, you can expect to lose 2-4 pounds per week at first; provided your diet and training are dialed in.  

Fat loss will slow drastically the leaner you get. But for now, let’s “pretend” you maintain this amount of fat loss each week. You would need to calculate at the new bodyweight to be precise, but if you maintain 2-4 pounds of fat loss per week….

… it would take you anywhere from 6-12 weeks of hard dieting to reach 5% body fat and have deep, v-cut abs.

Step Three: Calculate Your Calories

There are any number of equations to calculate the ideal number of calories to maximize fat loss. As with any fat loss diet, the goal is to minimize the loss of lean muscle and prevent your metabolism from adapting and slowing down.

This means you need an aggressive, yet sane, diet. Research indicates a 20-25% caloric deficit is about as aggressive as you can go for moderate time periods without messing up your body.

First, determine your maintenance calories. Then, we’ll find how many calories you need to create a deficit and carve away belly fat.

For maintenance, we’ll use body weight (pounds) x 14.

An active, 200-pound man (we’ll call him Gerard Butler) is 16% body fat and in shape but has no visible abs. He would need 200 lbs x 14 = 2,800 calories.

To create a 20-25% deficit we’ll take…

2,800 calories x.8= 2,240 calories per day.

2,800 calories x.75= 2,100 calories per day.

One caveat: If you’ve been dieting long-term, then this may be way off. Your metabolism can adapt to long periods of dieting, resulting in a metabolic slowdown. This stuff can get complicated when we’re talking’ about extreme leanness.

Step Four: Nail Your Macros

While calories are the most important component, the macronutrient split (how many grams of protein, fat, and carbohydrates) also counts. Some folks do better with higher carbs and low-fat, whereas others thrive with low-carb and high-fat diets. This is extremely variable from person to person.

Protein

During a fat loss diet eating a high-protein diet is essential to maintain lean muscle mass. This helps you maintain a sound metabolism and of course, helps you look “more jacked’ once you strip the fat off.

At a minimum, I recommend 1g of protein per pound of bodyweight during fat loss phases, and often move this number as high as 1.2g/lb of bodyweight. Research shows 1g/lb to be the “maximum” benefit. If there’s one macronutrient you’re going to overconsume during an aggressive diet, best that it’s protein.

Plus, protein is tasty! 

Carbs

As a general rule, 1g of carbs per pound of bodyweight is a safe bet. This is low enough. Unless you have significant fat to lose, or true blood sugar control problems, there is nothing wrong with a higher carbohydrate approach to lose fat. As long as your calories are low, higher carbs during a fat loss phase can lead to better workout performance and more balanced energy.

Later in the diet, you can cut carbs in final prep mode. But again, this is an advanced strategy that requires customization in most cases.

Fat

The remainder of your calories will come from fat. You’ll need enough fat to maintain anabolic hormone levels, but not too many where you blow your calories out of the water.

Here is how to break it down. We’ll run with

  • Calories: 2,100 per day.
  • Protein= 4 calories/gram  — 200 g protein (1g/lb) x 4= 800 calories
  • Carbs= 4 calories/gram =200 lbs (1g/lb) = 200g/carbs x 4= 800 calories

2,100 calories -800 (from protein)  – 800 (from carbs) = 500 calories remain.

  • Fats= 9 calories/gram = 500 calories/9 calories/gram = 45 calories/gram.

Altogether, a 200 pound Gerard Butler would aim for:

  • 2100 calories
  • 200 grams of carbs
  • 200 grams of protein
  • 45 grams of fat

Track your calories with an app like MyFitnessPal. Yes, I know counting calories can be a pain in the ass, but I’ve never met anyone who’s gotten shredded without tracking his or her food.

Track your diet, stick to your calories and macros, and reveal your abs once and for all.

The Bottom Line

Calories are king when it comes to fat loss, but macros are also important.  Take care of calories first, protein second, then test different amounts of carbohydrates versus fats. As long as your calories are on target, eat carbs and fats as it fits your preferred eating style.

Step Five (Optional): Supplementation

In most cases, I’m not a fan of supplements for fat loss. But once you’ve dialed in your diet and are training hard, a few supplements can accelerate fat loss. This is especially true for elite levels of leanness.

Green Tea Extract

The fat loss benefits of Green Tea are dose-dependent. According to Examine, the maximum fat loss benefits are achieved at high doses, such as 400-500 mg per day.

Yohimbine

Yohimbine can accelerate fat loss and aid in erectile dysfunction, but it’s not for everyone; particularly high-stress individuals and those with anxiety. Examine has found yohimbine to burn fat best on an empty stomach and be dose specific at /2 mg/kg body weight.

This results in a dosage of:

  • 14 mg for a 150lb person
  • 18 mg for a 200lb person
  • 22 mg for a 250lb person

Pre Workout: Coffee or Onnit T+

When you’re dieting, hard training will occasionally be the last thing you’ll want to do. In this case, extra caffeine and/or pre-workout supplements will help.

If you’re looking for additional fat burning, caffeine – and coffee in particular – is a useful tool.

If you’d prefer to feel a pre-workout rush, without the “cracked” out feeling and often questionable products, then Onnit T+ is a winner. Since caffeine is a stimulant, over-reliance on it to maintain energy during a cut can lead to an increased cortisol response, which makes it easier to add body fat and lose muscle mass. This is obviously less than ideal, so consider going light on the caffeine if you need a pre-workout boost.

All About Stress And Sleep

Cortisol, the stress hormone,  can wreak havoc on your fat loss diet. Being that you’re already stressed and fat loss diets add an extra stressor, you must also manage stress to build your best-looking body.

First, get more sleep. Your body needs rest, especially if you want to build muscle and stay lean. If you’re not getting six to eight hours of quality sleep per night, kiss your dreams of having sculpted abs goodbye.

In one study published in Growth Hormone & IGF Research, researchers pointed to the fact men have one single burst of growth hormone released each day. And it happens during their sleep.

Guys who sleep less and spend less time in slow-wave sleep tend to notice a decline in the amount of growth hormone released.

Growth hormone is a powerful anti-aging hormone as well as a fat burner. Suboptimal levels of growth hormone can hinder fat loss.

Sleep deprivation correlates with higher cortisol and lower testosterone levels.It hinders workout quality, decreases muscle building, and increases fat storage. Yikes.

Second, start meditating. Meditation improves focus and productivity. It has a positive impact on nearly all areas of your health and decreases stress. Don’t be fooled by pictures of monks meditating in a peaceful garden; you don’t need to spend all day in a zen state. I recommend using the Headspace app and starting with 10 minutes per day at the same time every day.

Adopting the simple habits of meditating and getting adequate sleep accelerates fat loss by improving hormone levels and reducing stress.

Training For V-Line Abs

Your workouts must include compound lifts like deadlifts, squats, pull-ups, and lunges as the foundation of your training.

Lift three to four days per week and do some form of conditioning at least once or twice per week. Training for strength with big movements works your abs, stimulates the release of anabolic hormones like testosterone and growth hormone, and does more for building a beach-ready physique than any single ab routine.

If you’re looking for a dedicated program to get you in tip-top shape without living in the gym, I’d recommend you check out this abs workout.

Still, training your abs is vital to revealing chiseled abs and that coveted V-cut. Stronger and muscular abs create deeper separations and cuts between the rectus abdominis muscle, helping your abs remain visible even when your body fat is a bit higher.

The Workout

Perform this workout separate from your other weight training two times per week. If you need more than four weeks to get in tip-top shape (and you probably will) perform this routine twice a week for one month.

Then, take one month completely off before returning for a second round as you wrap up your cut. This keeps the training stimulus novel; promoting gains. The planned break allows full recovery to maximize your hard work.

1. Hollow Body Hold — 3x 45-60 seconds, rest 45-60 seconds

A gymnastics move by nature, the hollow body hold teaches you to brace and hold neutral spine while contracting your entire rectus abdominis muscle.

Lay flat on the ground, looking up. Flatten your lower back and flex your knees, pointing your toes away from you. Extend your legs in front of you while picking up your arms, keeping your back flat, and lifting your head and shoulders off the ground. Aim to do these twice a week.

2. Ab Wheel – 3 x 6-10, rest 60-90 seconds

Ab wheel rollouts are an absolute killer for ab development. Plus, they force you to resist the extension (arching) of your lower back while also training your lats, shoulders, and triceps.

Kneel down, holding the handles of the wheel with your arms locked out beneath your shoulders. Brace your abs and roll out as far as possible, then roll back without shifting your hips or arching your lower back. Alternatively, the stability ball rollout is a great drill to progress towards the ab wheel.

Start small: The ab wheel brings the pain and serious soreness. Start with two to three sets of six to eight reps twice per week. Add two reps per week (up to 15 or so), and then move on to adding a third set.

3. Farmer’s Walk — 3 x 60 seconds, rest 60 seconds

Dubbed the “most functional exercise” by experts like Gray Cook and Stuart McGill, farmer’s walks should be in every training program.

Walking with heavy dumbbells in hand, your core is forced to dynamically stabilize the hip and midsection during every step, which fires up your abs and teaches deep stabilizing muscles to stay strong and hold position during other exercises.

Grab a pair of heavy dumbbells and walk slowly — heel to toe — for 30 to 60 seconds, squeezing the dumbbells and staying as tall as possible throughout the entire set. Perform 3 sets of 30 to 60-second walks twice per week.

4. Hanging Leg Raise 3×10-15, rest 60 seconds

The hanging leg raise is a popular exercise for targeting the part of your abs below your belly button. By keeping your elbows slightly bent and shoulders retracted, you’ll also stretch the lats, build a stronger grip, and develop more muscular forearms.

As with the other ab exercises in this list, keep your abs braced, and avoid arching your lower back. Grab a pull-up bar with a double overhand grip, squeezing the bar as tight as possible and keeping the elbows slightly bent.

Retract your shoulders, as if tucking them into your back pocket and holding them there.

This protects the ligaments and tendons in your elbows and shoulders from unnecessary stress. From this position, flex your quads and bring your legs up just past 90 degrees, allowing your hips to roll up, forming an L shape with your body. Pause at the top for two seconds, then lower with control.

Too Tough? Start by bending your knees and holding them up at 90 degrees for 5-10 seconds for each rep. Perform 3-4 sets of 10-15 reps twice per week

Putting It All Together

With a strategic plan of action, determination, and plenty of willpower, you can get the vaunted V-line abs that will make your physique stand out.

But you must commit to eating right, training right, and recovering right.

Here’s how:

  • Dedicate yourself to a diet that puts you in a caloric deficit.
  • Continue training with big, multi-joint lifts three to four times per week while doing a conditioning drill once or twice.
  • Refine your training and attack your abs twice per week with the exercises above.
  • Finally, sleep well and reduce stress. These are the secret weapons and the most commonly neglected aspects of transforming your body.

With discipline, perseverance, and dedication, you’ll achieve the epitome of a lean beach-body: deep-cut abs and defined V lines.

And if you’re looking for the perfect workouts and diets to get you there, join the BOSS Group Coaching Community Today. Try it for 21 days for only a buck. You’ll have access to our entire video library, fast-paced muscle building training programs, and custom fat-loss diet guides. You’ll get in the best shape of your life without living in the gym.

⇒ Become a BOSS Today.

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