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Short Format

The “Secret” to Mass Building

Here for your benefit is an email exchange I had today with a friend. While it only scratches the surface of a popular topic and prefaces a drill-down into specifics, it’s a window into a sound philosophy. Magic pills and more-is-better are short-term strategies. Resist those avenues and focus on your fundamentals for results that last. Unmodified cookie cutter plans are also short-term strategies. Practice self-awareness and adapt them in the name of consistency and personal interest.


I just started working out again (probably since college) with the goal of putting on some size.  Any workout schedules/tips would be a huge help – I’m kind of making it up as I go.  Also, I know there’s a ton of BS with supplements – but wanted to ask if you had any recommendations before I go into GNC and get worked over by a sales rep.


Your strategy to put on mass is simple and two-fold: (1) increase strength volume and (2) increase eating volume. I know that sounds outrageously minimal, but it is the time tested formula. Allow me to expand…

ANY improvement over your current baseline (what you’re currently doing) produces results. Period, end of story. The actual results depend on your programming and level of improvement. Too little produces a minimal change. Too much crashes and burns you over time.

Strength Volume:
Start slow. If you’re picking up from way back in the college days, begin with 2x/week total body strength with ample rest between workouts. Include upper body pushes and pulls and lower body presses/squats/lunges (pick one) and deadlifts. 3-ish sets of each, 8-12-ish reps per set. Keep it vanilla. Focus on redeveloping your fitness habit and using strict form. Feel free to conclude each workout with the bro muscles (arms, calves, etc.) you’re interested in and a challenge along the lines of a farmer’s walk.

Get several weeks under your belt before advancing. When you advance, you’ll have a decision to make. How many days do you realistically want to workout and how singularly do you want to focus on size? The answers to these questions determine whether you begin splitting up the body and whether you layer in conditioning work (sprints, etc.) We can always revisit then.

Eating Volume:
Keep it simple. Eat more. You’re also lean to begin with, so don’t skimp. Stay well rounded and prioritize a blend of protein, fat, and carbohydrate. If you can handle lactose, a fantastic post-workout beverage is grass-fed full fat milk. Which brings us to…

Keep them simple as well. Most are junk. Protein and creatine are the two backed by data and geared toward your needs. I don’t like getting crazy with creatine quantity, and if I’m using it I’m on 5g/day. Here’s my preferred protein due to quality, simplicity, and its blendability (I doubt that’s a word).

Bottom Line:
The harder you hit the fundamentals, the stronger your house’s foundation. The simpler you keep things, the more likely you’ll see the project through. Go get it.

Short Format

Exercise is Overrated

Are we too tied to the concept of “exercise”?

It comes with a host of expectations.  Exercise _ times per week.  Exercise _ minutes per workout.  Exercise at _ intensity.  Exercise in _ format.

Ironically these criteria can create pressure, which in turn create excuses.  This is a crazy week, so I’ll pick it up next week.  I only had 20 minutes, so it wasn’t worth working out.  I didn’t feel up to it, so I bailed.  My trainer wasn’t available, so I’ll get after it next time.

Studies and data back up a useful point to internalize: the most important variable is that you do something – anything! – consistently.  Almost anything (safe) performed above your current baseline produces positive physical results.

The exception to this is the athlete/competitor tearing after aggressive goals.  Yes, this requires detailed, personal, and progressive programming.  But let’s be honest – how many of us fit that description?  Not many.  Most of us want healthy bodies that we can be proud of without requiring huge sacrifices on the personal and professional fronts.

Your takeaway is to forget “exercise”.  Take the pressure off, and strip away the expectations.  Try “movement” on for size.  It’s a comfier fit.

Now re-assess those excuses.  Any movement you fit in during the crazy week helps.  20 minutes is hugely beneficial.  When you don’t feel up to it, take a walk.  Any trainer worth his or her salt will provide an at-home/outdoor routine to keep you on track, so just ask!

Take an honest look at your lifestyle – your profession, your family, your recreation.  Instead of forcing in exercise, find opportunities to seamlessly integrate movement.

Have a walking conference call.  Go to yoga with your neighbors.  Play a game of Ultimate Frisbee.  Hike with the dog.  Engage your best friend in a push-up challenge.  Engage your family in a Fitbit challenge.  Choose to take the stairs.  Use the free workout videos on your cable package (did you know I have some of those?)  Hold a plank a day.  Do a pull-up every time you pass the bar in your house.  Do 10 squats from your computer chair every half-hour you’re seated.  Learn a Turkish Getup.  Lift, run, bike, swim, row.

Start simple.  Move.

Transformation 5.0

Too Much Too Soon, Fat 2 Fit, and Stoicism

I get it.  I know you are dedicated.

At the outset of any big physical push, there is a tendency to do too much too soon.  It’s natural.

Usually the push begins out of dissatisfaction with the status quo.  When the dissatisfaction reaches a tipping point – BAM – you want to change it all now.  Overnight.  Right this second!

In Relentless Transformation kick-off consultations, I’m regularly holding people back from what the believe they should be doing.  “I can give you 6 days a week.  1.5 hours in the gym per day.  No, make it 7 days!”  I always appreciate the dedication.  And then of course I roll up my sleeves and explain why I only want 3 workouts in week one. Continue Reading

Transformation 5.0

Relentless Transformation 5.0

Are you in need of a fresh start?

I know I am.

As I am fond of saying, life has a tendency to just happen.  Days, weeks, and months fly by with a disconnect between a visual in your head of what you wish for and what is actual reality.  The more time that passes, the more excuses arise.  “I’ll do it as soon as I have more time.”  “I’ll do it as soon as ___ passes”.

It’s been a busy year thus far, and those excuses have insidiously crept into my own life.  I hate that realization.  Hate.

The disconnect between my visual and my reality is a prominent source of dissatisfaction today.  And so I have two options:  change my expectations (the visual) or change my reality.

I choose the latter. Continue Reading