Boost Athleticism With These Five Movements

Athleticism

We all know that old gray-pubed guy from the gym who talks about the good old days while blow-drying his withered nut sack in the locker room.

Hell, maybe that’s you out there muttering…

“I could do that when I was your age.”

“Just you wait.”

“Back in the day, I’d walk four miles to school through snowstorms, uphill both ways.”

Uh, okay.

But the point is, no one wants to be the old guy, telling everyone how jacked, how athletic, and how great he USED to be.

Problem is, the majority of men do exactly that once they hit 25.

AthleticismBut let’s face it. We’re all secretly worrying about our health, and yes, our physiques.

Sure, now you have more responsibilities in life, including your family and career. But it’s still up to you to be capable of performing your best, both physically and mentally.  You should have the ability to handle anything life throws at you.

That’s exactly what adding these simple exercises will help you do.

You will Power up your training to ignite your athleticism and build your ultimate body.

These exercises activate your nervous system to recruit fast-twitch muscles you’ve neglected. This means you’ll lift more weight and stimulate more muscle growth during workouts.

In time, you’ll recruit more muscle fibers with less effort, making it easier to jump, sprint, and be explosive both inside and outside the gym.

1. Hill Sprints

Have you noticed the lean, athletic physiques of most sprint athletes?

Sprints, and hill sprints, in particular, are one of the best ways to stave off father time and boost performance both inside and outside the gym. 

Sprints use major muscles like your glutes, quads, and hamstrings to generate insane amounts of force and power. These muscle contractions create a hormonal environment like heavy lifting.

Your body releases testosterone, growth hormone (the fountain of youth hormone), and improves insulin sensitivity. Altogether, this combination helps slow aging, increases muscle mass, and shreds body fat.

But, typical sprints are tough on your body. Instead of taking off in a sprint on flat surfaces, your best bet is an incline treadmill or hill.

The hill reduces the distance your foot goes to the ground, thereby reducing the impact of running. Running up a hill prevents over-striding, reducing the chance you’ll jack your shit up with a pulled hamstring.

Further, sprinting up a hill is tougher and hits your muscles harder than sprinting on a flat surface.

When you combine the hormonal environment that keeps you younger, leaner, and more athletic with the decreased chance of injury, hill sprints are a must.

2. Barbell Hang High-Pull

Cleans are a great exercise, but most guys struggle to rack the barbell on their shoulders.

In the best interest of your shoulders, elbows, and wrists, most guys are better off with the barbell high pull.

The high pull uses an explosive hip extension to generate force with your legs. Then shrug your shoulders and drive your elbows to pull the barbell between nipple and throat height. This forces your legs to develop power while challenging your traps, forearms, and shoulders to transfer force from the lower body.

The end result?

You’ll build the ultimate power look: thick traps, strong forearms, broader shoulders, and a well-developed lower body, with the athletic prowess to boot.

Try 3-5 sets of 4-6 reps with 90-120 seconds between sets.

3. One Arm DB Snatch

The snatch is arguably the best exercise for building head-to-toe athleticism.

Problem is, most dudes sit all day finger blasting their iPhone or laptop and are left with the shoulder mobility of an iron rod this renders most guys incapable of performing overhead lifts, let alone snatches without a huge risk of injury.

To bridge the gap between athleticism and safety, use the single-arm dumbbell snatch. This lift builds powerful legs, a strong core, and stable shoulders.

4. Jumps

Jumps boost muscle fiber recruitment and help you preserve explosive, fast-twitch fibers. As you get older, fast-twitch muscle fibers are the first to go both as part of the aging process and from a lack of use.

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𝗛𝗲𝗮𝘃𝘆/𝗹𝗶𝗴𝗵𝘁 𝗧𝗿𝗮𝗶𝗻𝗶𝗻𝗴 𝗳𝗼𝗿 𝗛𝗶𝗴𝗵 𝗣𝗲𝗿𝗳𝗼𝗿𝗺𝗮𝗻𝗰𝗲 𝗠𝗮𝘀𝘀 — People that look and perform like muscular athletes usually do two things in the gym: — They train to improve performance by driving up strength, speed, and conditioning. — They use specific hypertrophy work to attack weak points and, ultimately, build a balanced physique. — So, the question becomes…how do you do it? — The workout plans that best handle these types of workouts are called an"intensive-extensive" or a "high-low" training split. — It bases workouts on the neurological demand of training. It places the highest-demand work on nonconsecutive days. — The "heavy" or intensive days are when you do exercises that are more demanding on the central nervous system. — For lifting, this can mean that the work is greater in complexity, has greater explosive demands, or requires max strength. — The "light" or extensive training days are based on a higher volume and less weight. To keep the workout challenging without such extreme neural demands, this will mean creating more metabolic stress within your muscles. — Would you like to me to send you a full workout so you can try it for yourself? — Drop me a comment (and a DM) below saying, Gimme those gains bruh and I’ll send it your way. . . #tnation #strengthscience #athletebody #squatjump #aesthetic

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When you add jumps into your training, specifically before heavy lifting, you can recruit dormant muscle fibers, increase neural drive, and improve the efficiency of your nervous system. This allows you to activate and train more muscle during your workouts for faster strength gains. And when you activate more muscle fibers, you increase the number of muscle fibers you can fatigue to maximize muscle growth.

Over time, explosive movements make your body more efficient. They help you hoist huge weights, get more explosive, and recruit more muscle fibers.

The key with jumps is optimizing technique.

First, it’s important to jump with maximum intent, whether you’re jumping onto a box, or with bodyweight.

Second, focus on nailing your technique.

By practicing sound technique you’ll build muscle memory that automatically activates in more chaotic environments like jumping for rebounds during basketball.

Here are the points to keep in mind:

  • Feet should be flat when you land, rather than any anterior weight displacement, which forces you to tilt forward onto your toes.
  • Knees should be neutral, rather than in valgus or varus (diving in or diving out, respectively). This prevents shredding your knees and writhing in pain during your pickup basketball games.
  • Brace your abs. Don’t allow your back to round. Any weakness in the trunk position shows a power leak that reduces explosive power and opens the door for greater stress on the hips, knees, and ankles.
  • Head up, chest up. If your head and neck drop when landing you’ll lose trunk position and fold over. This leads to a breakdown in form from head to toe, decreasing performance and opening the door up for injury.
  • Pause and hold the position at the bottom of the jump to reinforce optimal landing position.

5. Daily Walks

Didn’t expect this one, did you? The majority of people are chronically stressed and always on the go. Stress is systemic.  The stress you have from work, family, traffic, and yes, your workouts, all attack your body in the same manner, making it harder to perform at your best mentally and physically.

That’s where daily walks come in. By using low impact conditioning and destressing, you’re improving your recovery and overall health to make all other training more efficient. Simply going for a walk for 30 minutes each day is enough to stave off weight gain, improve your health, and give you the headspace necessary to perform your best.

Looking for a simple plan to look great naked without living in the gym?

Click here for your free guide on the best time-saving high-performance tips. 

 

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.

 

Six Time-Tested Principles For Building Strength And Muscle

Build Strength and Muscle

Building strength and muscle isn’t easy, but it’s not overly complicated either.

Still, it’s common to find yourself 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

The Matador diet is a ground-breaking fat loss method that alternates a caloric deficit with eating at calorie maintenance in two week periods. By alternating calories, you’re able to minimize metabolic adaptions, such as a slowing metabolism. As a result, you can stick to this diet longer, have a more balanced lifestyle, and ultimately lose fat.

Is the Matador Diet Method for you?

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 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.

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✔️𝗧𝗵𝗲 “𝗧𝘄𝗼 𝗪𝗲𝗲𝗸” 𝗠𝗮𝘁𝗮𝗱𝗼𝗿 𝗗𝗶𝗲𝘁 𝗠𝗲𝘁𝗵𝗼𝗱 𝗯𝘆 @𝗯𝗮𝗰𝗵𝗽𝗲𝗿𝗳𝗼𝗿𝗺𝗮𝗻𝗰𝗲 ✔️ – The matador diet is a flagship strategy in the Bach Performance Physique Coaching program. For two weeks, you follow an aggressive diet at a roughly 30% caloric deficit. – After two weeks, you go back to maintenance. Rinse and repeat the two-week cycles. – Why the breaks? – As you stay in a caloric deficit, your body instinctively fights back. Your body hits the breaks on your metabolic and thyroid function as a protective mechanism against starvation and the calorie deficit you were in before…is no longer a deficit needed to lose stubborn fat. – 𝗬𝗼𝘂 𝘀𝗵𝗶𝘃𝗲𝗿 𝘁𝗵𝗿𝗼𝘂𝗴𝗵𝗼𝘂𝘁 𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝗱𝗮𝘆, 𝗮𝗻𝗱 𝘆𝗼𝘂 𝗱𝗿𝗮𝗴 𝗮𝘀𝘀 𝘁𝗵𝗿𝗼𝘂𝗴𝗵 𝘆𝗼𝘂𝗿 𝘄𝗼𝗿𝗸𝗼𝘂𝘁𝘀, 𝗻𝗼𝘁 𝘁𝗼 𝗺𝗲𝗻𝘁𝗶𝗼𝗻 𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝗺𝗶𝗻𝗱-𝗻𝘂𝗺𝗯𝗶𝗻𝗴 𝘀𝘁𝗮𝗳𝗳 𝗺𝗲𝗲𝘁𝗶𝗻𝗴𝘀 𝗶𝗻 𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝗮𝗳𝘁𝗲𝗿𝗻𝗼𝗼𝗻. – Next, you get hangry and snap at your spouse because you’ve been, foggy minded, and starving, cheat on your diet, and feel like nothing is working. – Trust me…we’ve been there! – The matador diet uses short increases in calories to reboot your metabolic machinery and keeps you losing fat without running your life of hittin’ the brake on your performance in the gym. – 👉It’s practical. 👉It’s effective. 👉It’s sustainable. – 𝘉𝘶𝘵 𝘭𝘪𝘬𝘦 𝘢𝘯𝘺 𝘥𝘪𝘦𝘵, 𝘪𝘵 𝘤𝘰𝘮𝘦𝘴 𝘥𝘰𝘸𝘯 𝘵𝘰 𝘤𝘰𝘯𝘴𝘪𝘴𝘵𝘦𝘯𝘵𝘭𝘺 𝘦𝘹𝘦𝘤𝘶𝘵𝘪𝘯𝘨 𝘢𝘯𝘥 𝘤𝘳𝘦𝘢𝘵𝘪𝘯𝘨 𝘢 𝘤𝘢𝘭𝘰𝘳𝘪𝘤 𝘥𝘦𝘧𝘪𝘤𝘪𝘵 𝘯𝘦𝘦𝘥𝘦𝘥 𝘵𝘰 𝘭𝘰𝘴𝘦 𝘧𝘢𝘵. . . #weightloss #losingweight #progress#weightlossprogress #fitness#fitnessprogress #weightlossjourney#weightlosssupport#weightlossstruggle #dieting #fatloss#fatlosstips #fatlossjourney #nsv#losinginches #progresspics#healthyweightloss #healthymindset#plateau #weightlosscoach#fatlosscoach #diet #dieting#dietcoach #matadordiet

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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 Bach Performance Physique Coaching Program.

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.




The Official “How To Get Started With Intermittent Fasting” Checklist

Intermittent Fasting Checklist

How you ever caught yourself typing, “How To Get Started With Intermittent Fasting” on your phone, only to find a bunch of shirtless salesly bro’s trying to sell you a workout plan in the first sentence?

Same.

Let me provide a refreshing, simple take to intermittent fasting so you know everything you need to start torching fat, looking great naked and improving your health for good.

 

Start Slow
If you’re apprehensive about fasting, start slow. Stop eating around 8:00 or 9:00 P.M. Focus on pushing your first meal back a few hours in the morning. Then, add an hour per day until you hit lunch time.

Start fasting on a weekday when your schedule is jam-packed. The more you have to go on the easier it will be to NOT think about food. As a bonus, fasting can improve cognitive performance due to the release of brain-derived neurotrophic factors, or  BDNF. While fasting and working on deep, focused work, you’ll find you’re getting more done in less time.

Drink Lots Of Water
Studies have shown nearly 75% of people walk around dehydrated. Even 1-2% dehydration reduces gym performance and cognitive performance. It also decreases most bodily functions, including your natural detoxification processes.

Dehydration when fasting increases hunger and irritability. You start feeling “hangry.” Drink more water to avoid being hangry. You’ll also maximize fat loss and performance.

I recommend drinking ½ your body weight in ounces of water per day. That’s around 100 oz,  3 liters, or 6 Dasani water bottles a day for a 200-pound man. Carry water with you at all times and take a sip every few minutes. You’ll thank me later.

Suppress Hunger With…
…Coffee, carbonated-calorie-free beverages, and gum.

Over the first five days, you will be hungry. That’s part of the process while your body resets hunger signals. To minimize discomfort and hunger, drink black coffee. If you must, add a little bit of coconut oil or whole milk, but no sweeteners. Coffee has been shown to suppress appetite and increase the release of stored fatty-acids from your body, improving fat burning.

Mineral water and (if you must) carbonated beverages like diet soda helpful during your fast. The carbonation will give help you feel full.

Finally, chew calorie-free gum. I don’t have any literature to back up gum helping with hunger, but I can tell you after years of fasting and occasionally, prepping for fitness photo shoots that a few sticks of gum are a game-changer for me.

 

 

Calculate Your Calories
You could do nothing different with your diet than switching to a 16/8 fast. That means you fast for 16 hours and eat during an eight-hour window, say from 11:00  AM to 7:00 PM.

But I’m here to help you get in the best shape of your life, so it would be rude of me not to share the best way to do so: calculating and tracking your calories.


All you need to do is measure (and, heck, guess at restaurants) the portion sizes of your food. This comes back to the most important component of fat loss. You must create a consistent caloric deficit to lose fat.

If you have no idea how many calories you’re eating you’ll have one hell of a time determining whether or not you’re eating the right amount of calories to lose fat.

As Brad Pilon of Eat Stop Eat puts it, If you’re not measuring, you’re not progressing. If you’re not measuring, you have NO idea what you’re doing.

In other words, you’re leaving the most important component of fat loss—creating a caloric deficit—to chance because you don’t want to spend five minutes tracking your food instead of watching NetFlix or scanning Instagram.
Okay, I’m done.

Here’s what to do:

For gradual weight loss, take your bodyweight in pounds x14.

For aggressive fat loss take your bodyweight in pounds x10.

To build muscle? Body weight in pounds x18.

These simple equations all give you a ballpark number of calories to eat each day. If you want specific calories and the most accurate plan using caloric cycling customized to get you in the best shape of your life, you will benefit from my coaching, here.

Calculate Protein, Carbs, and FatsHow To get Started With Intermittent Fasting
You’ve calculated your calories, great! Now it’s time for proteins, fats, and carbs. The beauty of the intermittent fasting lifestyle is you can eat low carb, high carb, or whatever style of diet you prefer as long as you’re following the eating window.

Let’s use a 200-pound man following an aggressive fat loss plan as the example.

Calories: 2000

Protein: Protein is essential for building lean muscle and keeping hunger at bay. A simple rule of thumb is to have 1g of protein per 1 pound of bodyweight or 200g per day.

Protein: 200g, or 800 calories of protein

Carbs: Carbs fuel performance and can help provide essential energy for your body.

We’ll put carbs at 30% of your calories.

This means 2000 calories x.3= 600 calories from carbs.

There are four calories per 1 gram of carbs, so this comes to 150g of carbs.

Fat: Fat is essential for hormone production and overall health.

Since we have 2000 calories to work with, 800 are used for protein, and 600 for carbs, we have 600 left.

Here’s the math: 2000- 800 (calories from protein)- 600 (calories from carbs)= 600 remaining calories.

Since fat has nine calories per gram, divide calories from by 9.

600/9= 67 g of carbs.

Altogether, this 200 bro would aim for the following each day:

2000 calories

200g protein

150g carbs

67g fat

Train At The End Of Your Fast
Because of the release of adrenaline during fasting, you’ll find yourself ready to roll when it comes to training. The first few days, while your body adapts, can be tough. But once you’ve adapted to fasting, you’ll find yourself loving fasted training.

To sweeten the deal, your insulin sensitivity, which is already heightened from the fast, will be even higher after exercise. This makes it even easier for your body to use your post-workout meals as fuel for recovery and muscle growth rather than fat gain.

Here’s our popular Power Primer workout, which will help you torch body fat, build muscle, and get more athletic.

If you exercise In the morning…
Things get a bit more complicated. For most people, fasting from the night before to the afternoon works best because they can have a larger dinner. In other words, you’ll probably enjoy fasting from 8:00 PM to 12:00 pm and eating from 12-8 PM much more than eating from 7:00 am to 3:00 PM each day.

But if you work out in the morning, how can you make sure you’ll maximize your gains without breaking your fast?

By taking 10g of BCAA’s during training, then another 10g after training. This should feasibly help you stimulate protein synthesis while decreasing the breakdown of amino acids as fuel.

Then, proceed as you would with your normal feeding window.

Understand This: Yes, You Will Be Hungry At First
When you start fasting, you will be hungry to start and towards the end of your fasts. But you won’t wither away your hard earned gains and diet. Hunger is not an emergency. Truthfully, hunger is a state of mind for most of us, and it’s a state of mind you need to conquer if you want to look great naked and experience the benefits of intermittent fasting.

How To get Started With Intermittent Fasting

Your body will adapt. It will change to better deal with hunger. But give it time. If you go into a fast and you convince yourself it’s impossible; you’re not going to succeed. You will soon give up.

Trust me here and relax. Not eating isn’t a huge deal. You’ll get to have bigger meals later today anyway.

 

Give It Time
Like any type of diet, fat loss takes time. The truth is your body can only burn fat so fast, a few pounds per week at most.

Your body will take a few days to get accustomed to the hunger pangs. But once you’ve adapted, you’ll find fasting to be a simple and maintainable plan for losing stubborn fat, looking great naked, and taking control of your health without obsessing over fitness.

 

 

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 to 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.

The Ultimate Guide To Building Muscle Without Getting Fat

Build muscle without fat

If you want to add muscle without using steroids and without gaining fat, you’ve come to the right place: The Ultimate Guide To Building Muscle Without Getting Fat.

Below you’ll discover:

  • The right blend of heavy strength work, higher-rep, bodybuilding exercises, and even (gasp) cardio to optimize muscle building without getting fat.
  • The four models that outline how much muscle you can build naturally. This is humbling, to say the least.
  • How to build lean muscle with minimum fat gain. I’ll give you a hint, avoid the biggest muscle building mistakes, follow a slight caloric surplus, and follow the step-by-step plan we outline instead. Build muscle without fat

Pump yourself up with some pushups. Or bicep curls in the squat rack. Whatever. Okay. Now pour yourself a protein shake and dig in. This is the most important article you’ll read on how to build lean muscle without getting fat.

 

Don’t Be Like Young Eric. He Was A Jerk. And Had Protein Farts.

Flashback to the young Eric. If this were a movie, you’d be hearing weird, ethereal music now as we dissolve to grainy black and white footage of my 19-year-old self.

Burrrrrrrrp.

I guzzle another protein shake mixed with mint-chocolate chip ice cream.

Oh, the sheer gluttony.

I sigh in relief as my gut rumbles and sit back on the couch. 3,000 calories already consumed, but another 2,500 left to “eat”.

I’m in the thralls of a “dirty bulk” and on the see-food diet. That means if I see food, I eat it. I make it a habit to devour every calorie containing-morsel in sight. I move only when needed.

After all, conventional wisdom says the more you eat the muscle you can gain, right?

Wrong.

You see, as a former 103-pound runt I wanted nothing more than to be big, strong, and muscular. After I stopped playing football, I continued to lift and eat everything in sight. It was bulking season year round.

But soon…

My stomach ached. I become lactose intolerant from drinking so many dairy-based protein shakes. Even worse, I spent winter break in the doctor’s office trying to figure out why my gut hurt and why I kept droppin’ bombs.

Sexy, right? I was a real chick magnet!

My weight crept into the low 190’s. That might not sound alarming until you consider I’d weighed 170 pounds three months early. Instead of being healthy, strong, and lean I looked and felt like crap.

And guess what I was studying in school? Yeah, binge drinking kinesiology. Ironic, huh?

But I digress. The point is I was not alone.

If you’re like most skinny guys you’ve made the same mistake: tried to gain too much muscle too quickly.

Don’t fall for the flashy ads and ridiculous promises. You’re more likely to end up with man boobs than bulging biceps.

But you’re better than that. So it all begins with setting realistic expectations on how much muscle you can build without steroids and without getting fat.

Before setting any goal you must know what’s physically possible. After all, a 5’6″ man can’t expect to guard Shaq in the low-post as an NBA center. And an average guy can’t expect to train, eat, and look like a stage-ready bodybuilder.

When it comes to building muscle without adding fat, forget scale weight

Those struggling to lose weight obsess over scale weight. So do anxious bulkers. They’re both wrong.

Remember: the goal is to add lean muscle, not weight.

To quote the great Vince Gironda, “If you don’t like what you see in the mirror, what difference does it make what the scale says?”

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Do you ever get discouraged by the number staring back at you on the scale❓BOOKMARK THIS POST — Men and women boh face this battle. The number on the scale doesn’t matter. The mirror (and your perception) is exponentially more important when it comes to developing an #aestheticphysique — For many guys who want to look bigger, get lean first – the ideal is around 10-15% body fat. (For women, it’s closer to 20-28) Gettin’ a tad leaner alone will help you look your best and make building muscle more effective. — Perspective for guys: If you're a naturally skinny-limbed dude, consider your expectations. Can you expect to develop the body of an NFL running back? First, you need to consider training, genetics, and dedicaton. — More often than not, the average 5'7 to 6'0" guy looks much better at 165-185 pounds and 8-12% body fat than at 200-plus pounds at 15% body fat or higher. — If your goal is fat loss, take girth measurements around your waist, chest, arms, and thighs every two weeks as well as progress photos in your skimpies. — The scale rarely cooperates. Many folks end up building lean muscle and losing fat concurrently. They see the scale hasn't changed much and proceed to throw in the towel. Stupid scale. — Use other tools of measurement, especially the mirror. It may be humbling at first, but you'll be astonished at how little scale weight means when you transform your body. — What do you think, is the mirror (and your perception of it) more important, or the number on the scale❓ . . #fatloss #buildingmuscle #recomposition #lookgoodnaked #gironda #vincegironda #fatlosscoach #weightlosscoach #fatlossforever #fatlosshelp #fatlosstips #mensfatloss #mindsetmatters #physiquetraining

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The mirror is the ultimate judge, not the number in the scale.

For many guys who want to look bigger, it’s all about getting lean first. Their ideal is 10% body fat or lower. Achieve this and you’ll look better and build muscle more efficiently.

If you’re a skinny-limbed dude, be realistic about your expectations.

Can you really expect to develop the body of an NFL running back? The average 5’7 to 6’0″ guy looks much better at 165-185 pounds and 8-12% body fat than at 200-plus pounds at 15% body fat or higher.

Instead of looking at the scale, take measurements.

Track your waist, chest, arms, and thighs every two weeks. Snap progress photos in your skimpies.

The scale rarely tells you the full story. But the combination of measurements, photos, and the scale paint a clear picture.

Consider the following before setting your goals:

Many men see pro athletes and magazine covers and decide, “This is what I want to look like” Yes, it’s great to set high goals and push yourself, but you must understand three factors that differentiate these folks.

  1. They’re completely focused on building their bodies. They eat, sleep, and train to be in great shape. This is a luxury most busy men and women (read: you) with 9-5 jobs, a family, and a commute don’t have.Build muscle without fat
  2. While less important but still relevant, a good chunk of these folks use performance-enhancing drugs like steroids.
  3. Plain and simple, most athletes and pro-bodybuilders are genetically superior. They’re the exception, not the expectation you should have for yourself.

Trying to emulate genetic outliers or geared up bro’s is a mug’s game. Don’t even try. But that still leaves the question:

How much muscle can you gain naturally without gaining unwanted body fat?

Read on.

How Much Muscle You Can Gain Without Steroids

You’re the average, busy dude with a family and obligations outside of eating, sleeping, and flexing your biceps. How much muscle can you gain? Here are some of the leading models from leading authorities.

Model #1: Alan Aragon

Alan Aragon, the researcher, and author who runs the Alan Aragon Research review provides a clear-cut breakdown of the maximum rate of muscle gain, here:

Build muscle without fat

Example: Jake is a 25-year-old busy dude who hasn’t lifted since high school. He weighs 140 pounds.

Build muscle without fat

Year One

140lbs x .0125% = 1.75 pounds per month = 21 pounds per year.

If Jake eats enough calories, trains 3-5 times per week, and sleeps 6-8 hours per night he can gain about 21 pounds in year one.

Year Two

161 lbs X .0075% = 1.2lbs per month or 14 pounds in a year. Jake is still gaining at an impressive rate.

Year Three

175 lbs x 0.0037 = 0.65lbs of muscle per month, or 7.7 pounds in a year.

This puts Jake at the maximum weight of 182 or 183 pounds. Yes, he can continue to gain muscle after this, but it will be slow.

Bottom Line: Your muscle potential decreases each year you train. Progress slows and tops out around 40-50 pounds of lean muscle total.

Model #2 The Lyle McDonald Genetic Muscular Potential Model

Lyle McDonald, researcher, author, and head honcho at Body Recomposition has a similar model.

Build muscle without fat

The rates of lean muscle gain growth slow dramatically the longer you train. Like Aragon’s model, there is a  cap at 40-50 pounds of lean muscle for men. The cap for women is about 20 pounds.

Age also plays a role. A 30 or 40-year-old person will struggle to gain as fast as an 18-year-old male with the testosterone of a raging bull.

Lyle also drops these words of wisdom. “After seeing a pro bodybuilder stepping on stage at 260 pounds or more and shredded, the idea that a natural may top out at 180-190 pounds of lean body mass (if that) can be disheartening.

Build muscle without fat

Of course, to the general public, an individual at a lean 180-190 pounds is still pretty enormous.  It’s just that compared to the absurd size of a pro bodybuilder, it seems absolutely tiny. But it is reality.”

The Bottom Line: Reality check time. There’s a damn good chance you’ll look your best between 165 pounds and 185 pounds, and not at the size of a professional bodybuilder.

Lyle’s model indicates your muscle gains slow dramatically after your initial training. If you start lifting at your hormonal peak in young adulthood, males can expect to gain 40-50 pounds without drugs and females half that.

Finally, people with bigger joints and a bigger overall bone structure may have greater genetic hormonal advantages to build lean muscle compared to my skinny-limbed, narrow jointed brethren.

Model #3: The Casey Butt Equation

Casey Butt, Ph.D. is a natural bodybuilder who’s analyzed the frames of thousands of bodybuilders to determine the maximum muscular potential for steroid-free lifters.

His formula is the most complicated and is based on the idea that bone structure plays a significant role on how much muscle you can gain. By measuring the size of your wrists and ankles you can determine how much lean muscle you can gain with this equation.

If you stumbled on this in High School math class you bright shriek  in  sheer terror:

Build muscle without fat

Yikes, right?

The Bottom Line: If you’re a skinny, small jointed dude like most hard-gainers you simply can’t build as much muscle as thick-jointed people.

Bigger jointed humans can build more lean muscle because they have the support. But don’t despair if you are smaller jointed. Your #gainz may end up looking more dramatic. You’ll appear more muscular than your scale weight indicates.

Model #4: The Francis Holway in the Sports Gene

Similar to Casey Butt’s model, this model relates muscular potential to bone structure. “Like muscle, bone responds to exercise and repeated stress.” Repeated stress builds bone, which increases your ability to carry more lean muscle.

Stronger by Science explains:

“In measurements of thousands of elite athletes from soccer to weightlifting, judo, rugby, and more, Holway has found that each kilogram (2.2 pounds) of bone supports a maximum of five kilograms (11 pounds) of muscle. Five-to-one, then, is a general limit of the human muscle bookcase. The limit for women is closer to 4.1 to 1.”

The Bottom Line: You can build bigger, denser bones through repeated training. While you have a limit to how much muscle your frame can support, heavy lifting can indeed build muscle and give you a bigger frame. And a bigger frame leads to more muscle growth.

Making Sense of It All

Here are the two key points:

(1) The longer you train correctly the less muscle building potential you have. Sorry, you can’t have newbie gains forever.

(2) Your bone structure plays a role in how much muscle you can build.

(3) There is a limited speed at which you can grow muscle. Find out exactly how much muscle you can build and how fast by reading here.

But don’t use the “I’m a skinny hard gainer” as a crutch if you’re a naturally narrow jointed dude. You can still build an impressive physique.

So focus on what matters:

  • Training hard and consistently.
  • Sticking to a muscle- building diet.
  • Getting enough Sleep to recover from hard training.

And for god’s sake…

Say Goodbye To The Dirty Bulk

All the dumb fitness ideas the classic “dirty bulk” is one of the dumbest. With so much competition, that’s quite a statement.

The classic dirty bulk leaves you devouring fast food and weight gainer shakes like it’s going out of style. The focus is all on consuming more calories to gain as much size as possible. While you’ll gain plenty of muscle, much of it will be fat.

What’s the point in bulking if you look worse?

There isn’t one.

After all, you want a big chest, arms, and strong legs, not flabby love handles, sagging tits pecs and a beer gut.

Why should you avoid the classic dirty bulk? Let me count the ways, then suggest what to do instead to get jacked, stay jacked, and live happily ever after.

First, the fabulous five fuck ups.

(1)  Consuming Too Many Calories

(2) Fat Hyperplasia (Teaser Alert: This Is Bad)

(3) Decreased Insulin Sensitivity (Also Bad)

(4) Developing Shitty Habits

(5) Rushing

Consuming Too Many Calories

You don’t need THAT many additional calories to build muscle.

Eating 5,000 calories per day works for lifters on a boatload of steroids, but not the average guy.

The truth? our body can only build so much muscle with its natural growth mechanisms at work.

Eat 300-500 calories above maintenance and you’ll gain lean muscle, not fat.

This is 1-2 protein shakes and a banana or two per day above maintenance calories. Alternatively, this is an extra sweet potato and a chicken breast each day, not a 1200 calorie burger from the fast food joint.

Fat Hyperplasia

When you overeat your body increases the number of fat cells your body stores as a survival mechanism.

This is called fat hyperplasia, which makes it more difficult to lose fat going forward. The big kicker here is you can’t eliminate cells, you can only make them smaller.

Following a dirty bulk will make you fatter. It will make it easier for your body to store fat in the future. Worse, it will make it harder to lose unwanted fat in the future.

I’ll pass. I recommend you do the same.

 

Decreased Insulin Sensitivity

At any moment you’re either burning fat or building muscle. The switch behind this?

Insulin.

When you’re sensitive to insulin, your body effectively burns stored body fat and breaks your food into energy.

Insulin stimulates protein synthesis, inhibiting the breakdown of protein, and transforms amino acids into your muscles. Insulin is an extremely powerful muscle-building hormone.

But here’s the problem: most people are insensitive to insulin. This makes it damn-near impossible to add lean muscle without adding a spare tire on the side.

Build muscle without fat, Building muscle without getting fat

When you follow a dirty bulk you’re constantly pounding your body with food, forcing insulin to work double-time. This causes three problems.

(1) You’re never giving your digestive system a break. This makes it hard to digest the food you’re taking in.

(2) When you’re constantly eating, especially carb-based meals, you’re spiking insulin repeatedly. You want to spike insulin strategically, like post-workout to maximize lean muscle and not build fat.

(3) You’re more than likely gaining fat on a dirty bulk. This decreases your insulin sensitivity, making it harder to build muscle and lose fat.

Your best option is to follow a clean eating plan. Progress will be slower, but you’ll build big muscles, not a big gut.

Developing  Shitty Habits

Yes, guzzling mass gainer shakes and drinking a gallon of milk per day increases scale weight. But the scale doesn’t matter if you don’t like how you look in the mirror.

Don’t use the excuse  “I’m bulking, bro” to eat like a spoiled six-year-old.

You’re developing tough-to-break habits while doing irreparable harm to your body.

Keep your eye on the ball.

Play the long game.

Rushing

There’s a limit to how quickly you can build muscle.

More food doesn’t equal more muscle. Eat slightly more calories than you need, rather than emptying the fridge.

There’s a limited amount of muscle you can gain at any given time.

The Keys To Building Muscle Without Getting Fat

Time and consistency are key.

If you’re serious about building muscle without getting fat, you need to commit to a 3-6 month program and not a month of bulking, followed by a month of cutting.

Remember: the muscle building process is slow, likely 2-3 pounds of muscle MAX per month when you’re eating and training well, and getting plenty of rest.

Stay the course and hammer the following 8 things.

First, the list. Then, more details about each.

  1. Eat For a Slight Caloric Surplus
  2. Eat Mostly Clean
  3. Eat High protein and Relatively High Carbs
  4. Time Your Carbs
  5. Take a “Diet Week”
  6. Lift Heavy and Get a Pump
  7. Do the Right Kind of Cardio
  8. Lose Unwanted Fat Before You Bulk

1. Eat For a Slight Caloric Surplus

You have a maintenance calorie intake to keeps your body weight level. To build muscle, you want to eat 400-500 calories above this number. This is a far cry from the “eat everything in sight” diets that have you adding excessive amounts of body fat.

Find out how many calories you need here:

Bodyweight (lbs.) x 16 + 500 calories

So, 160 lbs x 16 + 500 = 3060 calories

A 160-pound guy would eat about 3060 calories. Now, understand this number isn’t set in stone and there is no-one-size fits all equation. Chances are, you’ll need a little more or a little less. Either way, track your calories with an app like MyFitnesspal. Get consistent with your muscle building diet.

If your weight isn’t increasing, eat an extra banana or try one of these muscle building shakes to your diet.

You need to eat more calories than you burn, but not by much. Aim for a slight caloric surplus and you’ll give your body the fuel to build muscle while limiting fat gain.

2. Eat Mostly Clean

You don’t need to haul food containers in a cooler and choke down dried chicken breast and broccoli all day.

But you shouldn’t be spending your afternoons crushing Baconators and using bulking as an excuse turn into a fat slob.

If your body isn’t healthy, who cares how big you are? You’re playing a fool’s game. You’ll fail sooner rather than later.

Most of your foods should have had a face or grown naturally in the ground.

Aim to have a source of protein and a vegetable every time you eat.

As for macronutrients consider the following:

Protein: Provides amino acids, the building blocks for muscle. With each meal eat one of the following:

-lean beef, bison, venison, wild game, chicken, turkey, eggs, and seafood. Baked or grilled is your best bet.

Fats: Essential for healthy hormone levels. (men, you should read this)

You’ll get some from your protein sources. Also consume nuts, avocado, and some oils like coconut and olive oil.

Carbohydrates: Carbs are essential for energy production and prevent the breakdown of muscle tissue for energy. Reduce or eliminate refined crap and most white foods, including flour and sugar. (Rice is an exception.)

The majority of your carbs should come from rice, potatoes, squash, oats, barley, quinoa, 100% whole wheat bread, fruits, and vegetables. These foods provide a boatload of vitamins, minerals, fiber, and antioxidants for both health and performance.

3. High Protein and Relatively High Carbs

You need both sufficient protein and carbs to maximizing muscle building. The amount of protein you need to build muscle is often drastically overstated.

All you need is .82g/lb. -1g of protein per pound of bodyweight.

This means a 160lb guy needs 131g-160g of protein per day. Can you have more? Sure, but a 2011 study by Phillips and Van Loon found .82g/lb. of bodyweight to be the upper limit of protein synthesis. In other words, eating more protein won’t increase how much muscle you’ll build.

And carbs?

Everyone’s hopped on the low-carb bandwagon at some point. These diets work well for fat loss, but not building muscle.

Here’s the problem. Carbohydrates are protein sparing. This means eating carbs will spare your body from breaking down stored muscle tissue to fuel your day.

Eating a moderate-high carb diet helps you keep the lean muscle you’ve already built rather than breaking it down for energy, a key component of building muscle without getting fat.

Further, your workouts will suffer during a low carb diet. You’ll be lethargic and have terrible pumps. You’ll end up flat and deflated, not pumped and jacked.

Carbs are your friends. They’ll spare the muscle you have, improve your workouts, and help drive nutrients into your cells to maximize lean muscle gains.

Protein intake: Eat .82g/lb. -1g/lb. of protein per pound of bodyweight, or 131-160g for a 160-pound person. More protein won’t help, more calories will.

Carb intake: Eat 1.5-2g of carbs per pound of bodyweight to maximize lean muscle or 240-320g per day on workout days.

4. Time Your Carbs

If you’re interested building muscle without getting fat there is one stubborn bastard of a hormone you need to control: insulin.

When you eat carbs, insulin is secreted and your body is in storage mode. That’s perfect for building muscle. But you don’t want to always be in storage mode otherwise you’ll gain fat.

The solution? Cycle your carbs to control insulin so you can build muscle and burn fat on demand. Here’s a more simple approach to carb cycling: Carb Cycling Made Easy.

On workout days eat more carbohydrates throughout the day. Eat oatmeal in the mornings, faster-digesting carbs like rice after your workouts, rice at lunch, and sweet potatoes in the evening. To build muscle you’ll need to boost insulin throughout the day.

On off-days, keep carbohydrates lower, such as 1-1.5g/lb. of body weight. Move most of your carbs into the afternoon and evening. This limits number of insulin spikes throughout the day, promoting fat burning, maintaining insulin sensitivity, and gives you enough carbs to build lean muscle.

As a bonus, moving your carbs into the evening prompts the release of serotonin, a precursor to melatonin to improve your sleep.

5. Take a “Diet Week”

When it comes to building muscle without getting fat I recommend you cycle your calories to maintenance for one week every six to eight weeks.

This helps you in three ways.

  • You’ll give your digestive system a break. By dialing back a few hundred calories you’ll give your body time to rejuvenate.
  • Increased insulin sensitivity. The more sensitive your body is to insulin the better you’ll be able to minimize fat gain.
  • You’ll get a mental break. Eating to build muscle is a job. This break gives you the mental firepower to recuperate and come back full-speed.

What To Do:  Multiply your bodyweight (lbs.) x 16, so a 160-pound person would eat 2560 calories for one week. Then ramp your calories back up. You’ll feel refreshed, should be a little leaner, and ready to dominate another sprint.

6. Lift Heavy and Get a Pump

Use Compound Movements: Want more results in less time? Emphasize big lifts. They’ve been around for a long time. And the reason is simple: They work best.

Lower body: squats (all forms), deadlifts, and lunges

Upper body (chest): bench press, dumbbell bench presses, dips

Upper body (shoulders): barbell shoulder presses, single arm dumbbell press, push press, seated dumbbell shoulder press

Upper body (back): barbell rows, cable rows, dumbbell rows, pull ups/chin ups, lat pull downs.

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

Lift Heavy: Train to get stronger. Your muscles require what’s called mechanical tension to grow. You’ll activate more muscle fibers, which helps you get stronger and fatigue those muscle fibers to grow faster. Get stronger on compound exercises with rep schemes like 5×5, 6×3, 4×6, or our favorite: the Minimalist Muscle pyramid rep schemes

Get a Pump: You know the crazy pump in your arms after biceps curls? This is the pump, an essential component to building muscle.

Pick an exercise and do 3-5 sets of 8-12 reps with 45-60 seconds of rest.  Lifting hard without full rest will give you the muscle-building pump.

Create Muscular Damage: Remember the soreness after doing legs for the first time in months, or heck, years? This is muscular damage. This triggers your body to send nutrients to these areas so they come back bigger and stronger. Use 1-2 high-rep finishers like high-rep goblet squats or bodybuilding methods like drop sets to finish your workouts.

 

7. Do The Right Kind of Cardio

Skipping all cardio when you’re trying to build muscle is a great way to add fat and get out of shape. But any old cardio won’t do.

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Does Cardio block your gains? — Bookmark this post for safekeeping. — There’s an age-old belief in fitness that Cardio will prevent you from building muscle or, worse, eat away at your existing muscle. Is this idea overblown, or on the money? Resistance training and cardiovascular exercise both send a cascade of signals to your body to adapt to the “stress” of a particular type of activity. Resistance training sends a cascade of signaling proteins (mTor) that trigger muscle protein synthesis, so you grow bigger and stronger. Aerobic training sends signals to genes to develop mitochondria (increased mitochondrial density) to boost energy production and make you less likely to wheeze when running around the block. With aerobic exercise, AMP-K is triggered and has been shown to block the molecular signals for building muscle, which blows for gains. BUT, the signals for resistance training do NOT block the signals to improve cardiovascular health. 📍Here’s what this means if you’re trying to build muscle📍 I know you hate when you ask a question and someone says, “it depends,” but it’s the truth. Cardio can impair muscle growth, but the amount it does depends on how advanced you are in the gym, how much cardio you’re doing, how much overall training volume you have, as well as caloric intake and sleep/recovery. Further, if some cardio helps you stay leaner and recover better from training, it can be beneficial for building muscle. Here are your guidelines: ➡️Keep Cardio at two times per week. ➡️Either try 15-20 minutes of HIIT like sprint work (with recovery) or…30-40 minutes at 220-age x.6-.7= target heart rate ➡️Walk 10,000 steps/day ➡️Move Cardio to non-lifting days or as far away from your weight training workout as possible. ➡️In a pinch, do Cardio at the end of your weight lifting. — Bottom line: There are definite health benefits to doing Cardio, but yes, it can impact anabolic signaling and slow down muscle growth. Your best bet is to keep weight training as your entree with Cardio done as dessert, ideally on another day or as far away from resistance training as possible. . . . #cardio🏃 #cardio #musclebuilding #musclebuildingtips #musclebuildingplan

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Go for a walk each day. Take 15-20 minutes after dinner and go for a stroll. If your phone tracks steps, aim for 8,000 steps per day for overall health.

Take 10-15 minutes twice per week and focus and perform some form of high-intensity interval training (HIIT).

Also, try to …

8. Lose Unwanted Fat Before You Bulk

This is one of the best-kept secrets for building muscle without getting fat. You need to get lean first!

Excess body fat works like an organ; pumping out nasty cytokines that increase chronic inflammation and cortisol.

Unfortunately, cortisol also works in opposition of testosterone, increasing fat and making it damn near impossible to build muscle.

Further, the more body fat you have the more likely you are to be insulin resistance. This means your body will have one hell of a time breaking food into usable energy for training and building lean muscle.

So here’s what you need to do. If you’re a man and can’t see a spec of abdominal definition, 15% or so, or a female above 21% body fat you need lose fat first.

Check what this looks like here: Estimate your percent body fat.

If you don’t? Sure, you can gain 11 pounds, but 7 of them will be fat, not muscle.

Take 8-10 weeks and diet down first. It could be the most powerful way to build muscle instead of fat.

The Final Word On Building Muscle Without Getting Fat

There’s a limit to how much muscle you can naturally build. Your bone structure, habits, and training experience will all play a role.

And as a natural, non-steroid using guy?

You can’t expect to be the size of pro bodybuilder. In fact, it looks like you can expect to gain about 30-50 pounds of muscle if you’re a guy and half of that as a female.

But above all else, your habits in the kitchen, in the gym, and your consistency with both are what determine whether you end up Building Muscle Without Getting Fat or not.

The good news? You can have all of this put together in the clear-cut, easy to follow Minimalist Muscle Blitz by heading here.

 

Never Have a Bad Workout Again

Workout

Guest Post By Dave Bonollo

Here’s why workouts are like sex and how my Ladder of Workout Awesomeness  will ensure you never have a bad workout again.

How many times have you had bad sex? If you consider the alternative of not having sex, even bad sex is still pretty damn good.

Now let me ask you: how many times have you had a bad workout?

Odds are this number is considerably higher. I’d argue it’s more frustrating than not getting any. Don’t lie. You’ve considered quitting the gym after plateauing for a while.  I know I have.

Then I go on Instagram and I see someone crushing a PR. It’s almost like everyone in the world is crushing it every day.

Workout

What’s A Bad Gym Session?

Before prescribing the cure, let’s first diagnose the disease. What exactly is a bad gym session?

Did you miss a PR?

Was your energy nonexistent?

Were you sucking wind more than usual?

Each of these things can put a damper on a pretty sweet gym session. Put them together and you might as well pack it up and consider the day a waste.

The truth is you can’t kill it every day in the gym; some days are just going to suck.


P.S.
If your #gainz have stalled, check out my Plateau Busting Cheat Sheet. <<<=== Downlo
ad Now

workoutAcceptance is the first step.  The next step is to define what a good workout is.

Hitting a PR? Lifting more than last time? Never-ending energy?

If these were the only criteria for a good workout, I’d only have two or three awesome workouts a month.  That wouldn’t have been enough to keep me working out hard for more than ten years.

An awesome workout and a bad workout, like everything else, are based on perception and perspective.

These days, I have only awesome workouts.  I don’t hit a PR every day, and that includes when I was recovering from back surgery hoisting those hefty 25’s.

I chose to look at my workouts like sex. Even a bad workout is better than no workout.

PR or Bust?

Using PRs is the obvious go-to for progress checking. It’s pretty badass when you push yourself further than you have ever gone before.

It’s also one of the hardest to achieve. It’s like trying to score an 80-yard touchdown every carry. You need to lay down some two-to-three-yard gains to set up that 80-yarder.

When you start working out you, racking up PR’s is easy. I mean, it’s easy since your previous PR was what? Zero? Don’t get me wrong. Focusing on PRs is a good way to stay motivated in the beginning, but it shouldn’t be the basis of an awesome workout once you have been lifting for awhile.

 

workoutIf you can hit a PR once or twice a month, then you’re trending in the right direction. 

And that doesn’t have to be a 1-rep PR. That could be a 5-rep PR or a 10-rep PR. Any progress is good progress.

Getting frustrated with your progress at the gym doesn’t do anyone any good.  

Reframe how you judge the awesomeness of your workout.

Perception is everything. If you have a crappy outlook, then everything will be crappy. 

If you look at your workouts in a different light…
…then workouts and sex belong in the same category of awesomeness.

As they should. They were for Arnold.

Here is how to reframe your perception.

The Ladder of Workout Awesomeness  Explained

If setting PR’s and lifting more than last time is your only criteria for a good workout, I wish you the best. You’re going to be one unhappy mofo.

It all comes down to measuring progress. Did you get better than last time? But there’s more to progress than PRs.

I introduce to you the Ladder of Workout Awesomeness (Cue the trumpets.)

The Ladder of Workout Awesomeness™  is:

Personal Record (PR): You’ve accomplished something you’ve never done, like a 405-pound deadlift.
Here’s a simple formula to ramp up to a new max.  

Weight: You increased the amount of weight lifted

Volume: You increased the number of reps.

Frequency: You worked out more often, such as moving from three workouts to four in a week.

Form: You stopped rounding your back on deadlifts. Score!

Did You Show Up? Consistency is the most important factor for transforming your physique.

The Ladder Of Workout Awesomeness Explained

This ladder works like every other ladder on the planet. You start at the bottom.

Did you show up? If you did, you had a good workout. This means you didn’t die last night. This is huge. Most people can’t muster enough motivation to get to the gym. But you did. Someone is looking for a gold star for the day.

Now I know you might be thinking that’s like giving everyone a ribbon for participating but keep in mind that most people don’t participate. They’re too busy thinking of excuses and rationalizing not going to the gym. You didn’t. That’s a huge win.

workout

Form. You can never go wrong when focusing on form. It’s the most important thing keeping you out of the ER. Good form takes practice; lots and lots of practice. Even if you could do a power clean in your sleep, a little practice now and then will help you when you need it most. If you can progress your form, you’ll be doing your future self a huge service.

Frequency. After having good form, did you make it to the gym more this week than last week? Did you do two back workouts in one week? That’s progress. I bet you weren’t crushing two back workouts in a week a few months ago.

Volume. Are you doing 4 sets of 10 now? But isn’t that the weight you were doing 3 set of 10 last week? Adding an extra set or hammering out a few more reps than you did last week is all progress. Revel in it.

Weight. A numerical representation of progress that we showcase on social media. Adding more weight to the bar is tough to do. It doesn’t matter if it is 2 pounds or 50 pounds, progress is progress. Congrats bruh, you are in the upper echelon of awesome gym sessions.

PR. Let the euphoria of the PR wash over you as you post this on social media. Remember it’s not bragging if it’s true. You have reached the pinnacle of gym achievements. If you can lift more than you ever have in any lift, celebrate that shit.

The Takeaway

Excitement mounts as you go up the ladder. Personal records may get all the Instagram likes, but don’t forget about the factors that lead to your success.
First, you need to show up. Then, you may need to train more often, use more volume and add weight to the bar before going for personal records.

Once you ingrain these habits you’ll be well on your way to never having bad workouts again.

Read more about what to do once you get to the gym in my free Plateau Busting Cheat Sheet. <<<=== Download Now

About the Author

When not hating on the New England Patriots, Dave Bonollo is a fitness writer and Online Coach at Aesthetic-Physiques.com. He enjoys beer pong, his deadlifts heavy, and his shirts one size too small.

 

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