When it comes to packing on size and strength, the unfortunate reality is that there is no one-size-fits-all training regimen or meal plan that is going to be ideal for everybody.
However, the good news is that experts and fitness junkies alike have been experimenting for decades with all different kinds of diets and training programs and it turns out, there are a lot of different methods that can be effective.
While there are indeed various approaches to building size and strength, there are some underlying fundamentals that youll need to have in place in order to be successful, no matter which angle you chose to take.
Advice from top practitioners
In order to get you pointed in the right direction on your muscle building journey, where ever it may lead you, weve sought out advice from some of the top practitioners in the field of strength and conditioning. Heres what they had to say.
Quite often I am asked what is the best piece of fitness advice you could give me? Does it have to do with sets, reps, exercise selection, morning or afternoon training, fasting, macro counting, and on and on and on. When after all the years of experience and learning, I have come to one conclusion: consistency. By definition, consistency means: acting or doing something in the same way over time, especially so as to be fair or accurate to a particular outcome.
Knowing that we have the power to make the ultimate changes to our bodies by simply making a decision is very commanding. It should inspire us to learn more and educate ourselves on what that simple change in our lives can be.
Then as that change becomes routine, we can slowly integrate another consistent change. Soon we will have transformed our habits to resemble something that before we thought to be ideal and something difficult to achieve.
Its all about small steps and consistency. Lay the most perfect brick every single day and understand that by the end of the year you will have a beautiful wall.
Packing on Lean Muscle Mass: Ideal timing & drink mixtures for athletes
The latest research clearly shows that what you eat and when you eat, makes a tremendous difference in the speed and quality of the results you get from your workouts as an athlete.
Research shows that one to two hours before your workout, you should eat a light meal, drink a meal replacement drink or eat a large protein bar. Immediately before workouts you should drink a pre-workout drink. Whey protein is the preferred choice since it digests fast. Along with protein, consume at least 30-40g high glycemic carbohydrates such as glucose, maltodextrin or glucose polymers. This helps spare glycogen for improved performance and results.
When you exercise your body produces a stress hormone called cortisol. Cortisol is actually your muscles enemy since it tears muscle down and converts it into fuel. The opposite is true for insulin, which helps rebuild muscle and suppresses the release of cortisol. Drinking a carb-filled drink therefore stimulates insulin and blunts cortisol. The result? More muscle gains!
Misunderstanding how hormones work
Misunderstanding how these hormones work is why so many people hit plateaus in the gym despite their heavy workouts.
If your workout is less than one hour, just drink water. However, if training extends past an hour, during your workout you should consume the same high-glycemic, carb/protein pre-workout drink previously mentioned to help maintain glycogen (stored energy) levels for a longer workout.
After a workout, it is a critical time for proper recovery. You need to rush nutrients into your body preferably within 30 minutes of your workout. By taking a carb/protein drink immediately after your workout, you will double your amino acid uptake and increase subsequent protein synthesis by a whopping 25% when compared to waiting a few hours!
The post-workout formula should contain at least 15g of whey protein (which is fast-digesting) and about 45g of high glycemic carbohydrates. This is about a 3 to 1 ratio of carb to protein in a liquid form for fast absorption.
After about two hours your body is primed to stimulate further muscle protein synthesis and recovery. This is the time to eat a regular meal. Eat about 20-40g of protein along with low-glycemic carbs. Lean meats and steamed vegetables are a good choice. Stay away from refined carbs like breads, pastas, rice, and cereal to minimize insulin stimulation unless you are trying to gain weight.
Enter the Weight Room with a Purpose
The importance of having a plan before entering the weight room is vital to any individual looking to make progress, whether your goal is to increase strength and size or learn to move like a supple leopard. It doesnt need to be perfect to start, nor does it even need to be something you created, but having a game plan before you enter weight room or fitness center will go leaps and bounds towards seeing the gains you want and keeping you motivated in the process.
The body needs different stressors to adapt and see change. Beginners can get away with repeating the basics and still produce great results, but as you get more experienced variety becomes crucial when trying to avoid reaching a plateau and even boredom.
(Michael has a Masters of Science in Sociology and is a former sociological researcher and course instructor at Florida State University. During his tenure at FSU, Michael specialized in the sociology of sports where amongst other things, he worked on research examining football participation and injury amid youth players.)
Adapted from The 4-Hour Body by Timothy Ferriss, this article is for people who has a desire to lose weight, to sleep better, and of course, to have great sex!
Learn from the research of other
Instead of testing and trying new methods, you can rely on research that has been done by medical pratitioners and the world's best athletes.
Start with the Minimum Effective Dose (MED)
The first thing to learn is the importance of the Minimum Effective Dose. Created by Arthur Jones, a leading specialist in exercise science. Based on his research, he identified the minimum amount of effort required to produce the desired outcome. Interestingly, anything more than the MED would be affect the end result in a negative way.
Based on this, Brian MacKenzie, a triathlete and Ironman competitor, changed his training schedule. Using the MED method, he switched from his usual 30 hours-per-week routine to a 6.5 hours-per week routine. Result? He was placed fourth in the most intense race in the world.
Losing Weight the Harajuku Moment
One of the proven methods to lose weight is the slow-carb diet. Within 30 days of using it, the author was able to drop 9kg without any exercise. There are a few rules to abide by:
1. Stop eating white carbohydrates. This includes all kinds of rice, bread, noodles, potatoes, pasta, cereal, etc.
2. Keep eating the same meals. There is a small selection including main proteins (eggs, beef, pork, chicken breast or thigh), legumes (beans and lentils). Included too are vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower, asparagus, peas, green beans, etc.)
3. Avoid drinking calories. Avoid milk, soy milk, fruit juices and soft drinks. Instead, drink water, including unsweetened tea or coffee. Red wine is okay in moderation, but always keep away from beer.
4. No fruits. This is because fruits contain fructose, which is a type of sugar.
5. Give yourself a cheat day. This is because binge-eating once a week increases your metabolism and stimulates fat loss. (!!)
To recall the Harajuku Moment, read this excerpt. Here’s how Chad recounts the psychological shift that empowered his impressive physical transformation :
“I was in Tokyo with a group of friends. We all went down to Harajuku to see if we could see some artistically dressed youngsters and also to shop for fabulous clothing, which the area is famous for. A couple of the people with us were pretty fashionable dressers and had some specific things in mind they wanted to buy.
After walking into shops several times and leaving without seriously considering buying anything, one of my friends and I gave up and just waited outside while the others continued shopping. We both lamented how unfashionable we were. I then found myself saying the following to him: ‘For me, it doesn’t even matter what I wear; I’m not going to look good anyway.’ I think he agreed with me. I can’t remember, but that’s not the point.
The point was that, as I said those words, they hung in the air like when you say something super-embarrassing in a loud room but happen to catch the one randomly occurring slice of silence that happens all night long. Everyone looks at you like you’re an idiot. But this time, it was me looking at myself critically. I heard myself say those words and I recognized them not for their content, but for their tone of helplessness. I am, in most of my endeavors, a solidly successful person.
I decide I want things to be a certain way, and I make it happen. I’ve done it with my career, my learning of music, understanding of foreign languages, and basically everything I’ve tried to do. For a long time, I’ve known that the key to getting started down the path of being remarkable in anything is to simply act with the intention of being remarkable. If I want a better-than-average career, I can’t simply ‘go with the flow’ and get it.
Most people do just that: they wish for an outcome but make no intention-driven actions toward that outcome. If they would just do something most people would find that they get some version of the outcome they’re looking for. That’s been my secret.
Stop wishing and start doing. Yet here I was, talking about arguably the most important part of my life— my health— as if it was something I had no control over. I had been going with the flow for years. Wishing for an outcome and waiting to see if it would come. I was the limp, powerless ego I detest in other people. But somehow, as the school nerd who always got picked last for everything, I had allowed ‘not being good at sports’ or ‘not being fit’ to enter what I considered to be inherent attributes of myself.
The net result is that I was left with an understanding of myself as an incomplete person. And though I had (perhaps) overcompensated for that incompleteness by kicking ass in every other way I could, I was still carrying this powerlessness around with me and it was very slowly and subtly gnawing away at me from the inside.
Advanced Occam's Protocol Method
An advanced form involves weightlifting exercises. This includes the overhead squat, where you perform ten squats and lift a barbell at the same time. To do so, you need to position both of your feet further apart than shoulder width. Make sure your knees are bent about 45 degrees and your thighs are parallel to the floor.
You can refer to this guide by the "fourhourbodycouple".
The secret to the workout is in the 5/5 cadence. This means in every workout you do, you move in a 5 seconds up, 5 seconds down motion. This ensure constant maximum load on your muscles at all times. This will eliminate momentum that most weight lifters use to help them finish their sets. The reward of doing 5/5 cadence? You only do ONE set. That's right. One set. In that one set, you must hit 7 repititions, but if you can do more, do more. It's one set to failure. 10 minutes after each workout, you'll want to do more. Don't do more. Just stick to the same two exercises in each workout.
WORKOUT A: (Machine Option)
Workout (A) consists of two primary lifts + (optional) abdominal exercises from “six minute Abs”
I. Close-Grip Supinated (palms facing you) Pull Down x 7 reps (5/5 count)
II. Machine Shoulder Press x 7 reps (5/5 count)
III. Two Abdominal Exercises from “Six-Minute Abs”Movement #1: Thy Myotatic Crunch
1.Start with your arms stretched overhead as high as you can. Keep your arms next to your ears for the entirety of the exercise.
2. Lower your arms under control 4 seconds until your fingers touch the floor.
3. Pause at the bottom for 2 seconds.
4. Rise under control and pause in the upper fully contracted position for 2 seconds.
5. Repeat for a total of 10 repetitions.
Movement # 2: The Cat Vomit Exercise (Optional)
1. Get on all fours (arms and legs) and focus your gaze either directly under your head or slightly in front of you. Do not arch your back or strain your neck, as this will cause undue stress.
2. Forcefully exhale from your mouth until air is fully expelled.
3. Hold your breath and pull your belly button upward toward your spine as hard as you can, for a target of 8-12 seconds.
4. Inhale fully through the nose after the 8-12 second hold.
We have reached the end of Part I. We will cover Part II and Part III next.