Archive for October, 2013

Now that the summer blockbusters are done, the studios are rolling out the second string films, and with them of course is the sequel to the first atrocious Thor film.

While I wasn’t impressed by the first film, one had to be impressed by Chris Hemsworth’s physical transformation where he managed to pack on plenty of muscle (reportedly 20lbs) while keeping lean enough for his gains to be evident.

As with my Man of Steel and Wolverine articles, I’m going to propose a program that might help someone seeking a similar transformation.

Putting on lean muscle without adding just as much fat is perhaps the greatest challenge that recreational bodybuilders encounter, and to be successful requires strict attention to detail as well as intelligent hormonal optimization.

One of the things I’ve found over the past number of years is that my greatest gains have come directly after an extended diet, in fact, the first two weeks after a diet the body seems to be like a sponge. Many people gorge after a diet and put in a lot of fat in a short period of time, but i the diet i clean and high in protein you can put on some impressive muscle mass instead of fat.

With that in mind, I suggest the following dietary protocol:

Week 1: detox, Calories kept to about 10x bodyweight, consisting of mainly vegetables and nuts.

Week 2: calories at maintenance, or about 16x bodyweight. Eat primarily protein and healthy fat throughout the day and carbs after training.

Week 3: increase calories by 250.

Week 4: increase by another 250.

Next it gets interesting… Repeat weeks 2-4

Training will be pretty cool here too, a method I developed that is probably unlike anything you’ve done before!

Week 1: 4-day Anatomical Adaptation split

Week 2: 2-day strength split

Week 3: 4-day hypertrophy split

Week 4: 6-day lactic acid/GH split

Now to make it even more interesting, when repeating weeks 2-4 diet, reverse the order of the training split!

After 6 weeks of this program I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised by your results as I was.

The guidelines are exactly as I performed it, but obviously I’m limited by space on my blog. I am however putting together the full, unabridged program which I’ll be publishing shortly!

Related: Man of Steel Physique; Ripped like Wolverine; Ninja Turtle Legs

Super Hero Physique
superhero_physique by Shawn Buffington

Please join me on facebook

The Key to Success

Posted: October 28, 2013 in fitness, fun
Tags: , , ,


Whether your goals are to burn fat, build muscle, or get filthy rich, I’ve come to find there is one thing that sets apart the successful people from the unsuccessful ones…


The idea of Keeping on keeping on has served me well when I’ve applied it along with fierce dedication.

When we look at anyone who is successful in their given field it is easy to see that they dedicated time and persistence to their endeavours, often from a young age. I look back on the areas in my own life where I’ve come up short and I think I could’ve seen success had I not given up the good fight.

We must be careful however not to be discouraged by the fact that we didn’t start our pursuit at age 5 like others have. We have to start where we are and push forward. The more support we can garner the better… and you all have mine!!

Related: Eating disorders in bodybuilding

Please join me on facebook


SuperHero Physique
superhero_physique by Shawn Buffington

S.O.A. – a hilarious new web series

The term “progressive overload” is almost synonymous with bodybuilding and is one of the major principles in muscle-building.

The concept is pretty simple: progression in workload = adaptive muscle gains

Workload here can be defined as: Workload = Load(weight) x Time under tension x sets / total time
Time under tension = number of reps x tempo of each rep
Total time = amount of time to complete all sets including rest periods

This provides us with number of areas in which progression may occur:

  1. Increasing weight
  2. Increasing time under tension (via tempo or number of reps)
  3. Decreasing rest time between sets
  4. Increasing volume (number of sets)

In an ideal world we would improve upon one (or more) of these each and every workout, but in practice that’s not always possible; hence the beauty of INTENSIFIERS (also known as Finishers).

Intensifiers typically come in one of the following four forms:

1. Drop Sets

Typically you would do this by adding 3-4 sets immediately following your last work set, dropping the weight by 15-20% on each drop. This is my preferred method, as it works the muscle to complete exhaustion.

2. Partial reps

At the end of a set when you can’t perform any more full reps, you can often do 4 or 5 reps in a small portion of the range of motion to squeeze out a little more work. This is another good way to help you towards lifting progressively heavier weights.

3. Negatives

The negative portion of a rep is where you are strongest, so you can often perform additional reps by just doing the negative portion. This one often best utilized in unilateral exercises where the non-working limb can assist with the positive potion.

4. Rest-pause

To be honest, I don’t use this one a lot, but where I find it handiest is when doing high-rep exercises when you are totally drained; by resting for ten seconds or less, and then completing the remaining reps, you can often push beyond your current failing point.

Hopefully some of these ideas will help you on your mission to acquire the coveted progressive overload!

Related: How to lift heavier weights

Please join me on facebook

Super Hero Physique
superhero_physique by Shawn Buffington

Self-assesment 101

Posted: October 25, 2013 in fitness
Tags: , ,

Specialization programs are all around us these days. We all have body parts we’d like to improve, but the question often ought to be first, what SHOULD I spend more time on.

It begins with taking an objective look at yourself.

First look at your overall composition. Are you fatter than you would like? If so begin to cut.

Next, assess your posture. My own had been a challenge and I know first-hand that poor posture will hold you back big time!

Next look at your extremities… Are your forearms or calves disproportionately small? If so perhaps you should spend a few months training them every day.

The next major weak point many have is their back (see my Back Attack post).

Quads and hams are the next most commonly neglected muscle group. Work them in twice as much as you do now if that is the case (unless you currently train them zero times, in which case do them 3 times a week). Remember to have lots of water and electrolytes when training legs!

If your arms are small, check out my arm blog.

If your chest is small, try training it twice a day 1-2 times per week.

Good luck on achieving your ideal body!

Related: Weak point Training

The Back is one of those unglamorous body parts that I’ve never developed well enough for my liking, yet when you see someone with a muscular back they immediately command respect and admiration, and set themselves apart from the rest of the casual gym-goers.

Of course as soon as I dedicated myself to focusing on my back development, I quickly learned that there are reasons why it is such a hard area to enhance that goes beyond the fact that it can sometimes be neglected.

  • it is harder to feel than most other parts, and thus harder to stimulate
  • it has several muscles, each of which have different functions. due to the amount of functions the back has, it is hard to adequately stimulate all of these
  • My plan of attack was to specifically address both of these with my training protocol.

    The first, and most important thing I do is do a 4-day back split worked in with my other body parts. It looks like this:
    Day 1: Chest & rows
    Day 2: Quads & calves
    Day 3: delts & lats
    Day 4: hams & lower back
    Day 5: arms & traps

    This split has been serving me well, but in order to get the most out of the back exercises I really strive to feel the muscle working early in the workout. For me this is best done by carefully choosing the first back exercise of the day.

  • On the rowing day I do a variation of a one-arm db row I came up with, where I add a slight inward rotation and scapula squeeze at the top.
  • On lower back day some heavy deadlifts do the trick nicely.
  • For lat day I like starting with a straight-arm pulldowns.
  • On trap day I like to perform high-rep overhead barbell shrugs.
  • Since I’ve been doing this split, I’ve seen noticeable improvement in my back development. But I’ve also needed a lot of massage work and been told that my back feels like a slab of tough meat. I’ll take that as a compliment!

    Related: How I gained an Inch on my Arms

    There are two main hormones that create a massive anabolic reaction when combined with HGH: Testosterone and Insulin

    Combining GH and Testosterone

    This is actually easier than you might think, because increasing Testosterone will also increase Growth Hormone, and visa versa.

    Part of increasing Testosterone, means reducing cortisol, especially after exercise when cortisol levels are at their highest. This allows the pregnenologne to be used to create Testosterone and not Cortisol.

    Now some dietary considerations:

  • EFAs and Vitamin D3 have been shown to be limiting factors in testosterone creation.
  • Carbohydrates can lower cortisol
  • Carbohydrates can blunt GH
  • So it would appear that we are dealing with a conflict of interests here. It would seem like taking carbs post workout would help Testosterone but lower GH. Well actually things get even more interesting when we look at the next combination…

    Combining GH and Insulin

    When these two hormones are both present, IGF-1 is produced, and that’s when massive muscle growth begins.

    However, those two hormones are rarely in the body at the same time because the same factors that signal Insulin to be present also signal the body to stop producing GH.

    What then to do?

    Sometimes you have to try to do the best with what you can. Here’s how I approach the conundrum, and to be fair, I haven’t tested my blood levels multiple times throughout the day to test if it’s working, but my physique improvements have been noticeable since adopting this method:

    Step 1. Eat the right Breakfast

    This would contain a high amount of protein and fat. A Salmon omelet, ground beef and nuts, something along those lines with some veggies for fibre, and a healthy dose of vitamins.

    This will set the stage for testosterone and growth hormone, as well as improving your focus-creating neurotransmitters.

    Step 2. Pre-Workout

    Shortly before training you want to eat only protein or BCAAs. Some added glutamine may be a good idea as well. No carbs, no Fats.

    Step 3. Post workout

    Immediately post workout take a high-glycemic carb drink with some BCAAs. This will give a massive spike of insulin, which should occur just as GH and testosterone are peaking. The carbs will then be out of your system fairly quickly, so about an hour after I suggest having a meal consisting of protein and veggies.

    While I found this method fairly effective at building muscle I also tend to add a little fat doing this as well, which I suspect is due in part to the insulin spike. I’ve found that adding 5-10 minutes on the treadmill after training, WHILE taking the post workout shake has helped me keep the gains almost entirely lean!

    Good luck, and good gains!

    Related: GH Part 1, GH Part 2


    In Part 1, we talked about some of the reasons that GH is such a great little thing when we can get it flowing in our body at increased levels, now onto how to accomplish that. I’ll be breaking this down into 3 categories:

    1. Food
    2. training
    3. supplements


    Nutritionally (meaning the three macronureints) there is not a lot known that can increase GH however Carbohydrates have been shown to blunt the GH response. For this reason, when trying to get increased GH, you will want to be wise with your use of carbs. In general this means keeping them low or non-existent in the early part of the day until after having done some intense exercise. Being in a fasted state has been shown to increase GH, but personally I’m not big on that idea. By limiting carbs you will be eating larger amount of fat and protein which will also be beneficial for reducing inflammation and supporting testosterone.


    The more intense the training, the higher the GH! But I think to be useful we should define “intense”. there are actually two types of intensity: Effort and Relative.

    “Effort Intensity” is what people are talking about when they define intensity as being relative to their 1-rep-max. As an illustration, E-intensity would be greater lifting 100lbs for 1 rep than lifting 80lbs for 5 reps.

    “Relative Intensity” is what people talk about when they use the term “progressive overload”. It is describing how stressful the activity is relative to your level of fitness.

    So as far as intensity is concerned, it will often mean training heavy, and training with increasing workload, whether that means incrementally decreasing resting periods, doing super-sets, etc.

    This is one reason why HIIT cardio is so popular. The full-out, highly intense cycles drastically raise GH.

    High levels of lactic acid have also been shown to increase the GH response. This is created when you are incur an “oxygen debt” which creates a burning sensation in the muscles. To create this burn you often use a moderate weight for a high amount of reps (usually 12-15). This one can be tricky to manage because if the weight is too small you will not utilize enough energy to great the burn.

    One clever way that has surface recently is the idea of occlusion training, which uses a small blood-flow restriction in order to induce the oxygen debt with even lighter weights and supposedly even more effectively. I’ll be doing an entire article on Occlusion Training in the near future.

    So with all this knowledge, I will supply my two cents… I have had the best results when training heavy compound moves in the first part of the workout (usually 3-6 rep range), progressing to mid-range work in the 8-10 rep range, then finishing with either higher reps, or even using super drops.


    If I’m honest, most supplements that claim to boost growth hormone are not worth the cost. That being said, this would be a perfect time to mention that GH levels have been shown to rise during deep sleep. So any supplements such as Magnesium (or better still, ZMA) or melatonin, which help with a good sleep could be beneficial here. L-Dopa is also supposedly help with the GH release which is why there are a few night-time products around that contain L-dopa, ZMA and Melatonin. I’ve made use of these, and whether or not they’ve helped GH is debatable, but they definitely helped me get a good sleep.

    Now that we’ve covered the primary ways to maximize GH, the next article will address what I find to be the most intriguing facit of it: Combining GH with other hormones

    Related: GH Part 1, GH Part 3, Periodization