I’m not sure why, but this question came into my mind today and it’s a good one. But it’s also a tricky one to answer although I’m going to attempt to all the same.

When training for cardiovascular improvement we can gauge our intensity by measuring heart rate.

When doing high repetition weight training, we can judge successful training by cell swelling/ a massive pump.

When pure strength training working “hard” generally means (or should) increasing the load with consistent form.

But if your goals is “building muscle” it becomes a little less clear, especially since it takes a long time to make noticeable (natural) gains.

When it comes to adding size to muscles we have to force the body into a state where it thinks it has no other choice to survive than to build muscle, but despite what Mike Mentzer would have you there is more to it than just lifting heavy weights for one or two reps. There is a fascinating study called the “mechanisms of hypertrophy” that suggests that adding size comes down to maximizing mechanical tension (heavy weights – 6-8 reps), cell swelling (high, 8-15 reps), Metabolic stress (building up lactic acid).

One of the things that is often overlooked in all of this the rest between sets, which plays a key role in my latest attempt to maximize the mechanisms listed above. By gradually decreasing rest time between sets, while simultaneously adding the number of sets you are increasing overall volume or workload, as well as incrementally making it more difficult metabolically.

But what about weight, won’t it have to get lighter over time if the rest time is shorter? Aaaaah, well here’s where it gets fun… to accommodate this what I’ve implemented is the idea of jump-sets – going from one set with one body part to a set with a different body part. This essentially gives you double the amount of rest time for that body part so load does not suffer too much.

But if you are gradually increasing volume how can you increase load? Another great point… how I’ve decided to overcome this is by using a sort of zig-zag pattern, where I gradually decrease rest/increase volume for 3 weeks, then de-load by spending 1-3 weeks with low volume. Then I will start where I left off at week 2 but with increased load and decrease rest for another 3 weeks then de-load.

I must stress that this is theoretical at the moment, but I guess the idea I want to express that by setting up a program with built in progression in as many areas as possible, you are likely to find that working “hard enough” will fall into place even when you can’t rely on muscle soreness or other signs.

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6 month recomp program

Posted: December 9, 2016 in Fat Burning, Muscle Building

After an up and down 2016, I’ve finally decided upon a direction to take my fitness/physique.

Here are the guiding principles…

First and foremost, I want to embrace change. I want to do what so many seem to have difficulty doing these days which is to try something outside of what we believe to be the “right” way to do things, as Stephen R. Covey said “Every significant breakthrough began with a break in old ways of thinking.”

Mental principles:
1. The primary goal is to slowly burn fat – about 3lbs per month
2. The secondary goal is to build muscle size – especially shoulders and back.

Dietary principles:
1. chicken and rice with steamed broccoli as a regular meal
2. majority of protein to be lean meat (fish & chicken)
3. post workout banana then protein/green powder
4. majority of carbs to be taken post training
5. Use portion sizes rather than calorie counting

Training Principles:
1. Form matters
2. train in all three primary rep ranges
3. value of metabolic stress/progression – utilize density training to increase progressively in metabolic expenditure & volume
4. De-load every fourth week
5. Increase load following de-load weeks

It’s all probably a little abstract at this point, but the fact of the matter is that I have no idea if this program will prove to be effective or not. If it is I will write it out in an easier to comprehend format.

For the time being here are a couple of the video blogs I’ve started for the program…

Video 1: overview

Video 2: day 1

I just read an article about a 25-year-old moron who decided to shoot up with Coconut oil… I’ll be honest, this was the first time I’d heard of this. I figured it was trying to achieve a similar effect to what synthol does and just ballooning up your muscles, but apparently the prodigies behind this foolishness have way more in mind.

Apparently he thought that this would spike insulin, boost testosterone, increase muscle volume and improve protein synthesis.

Now I’ve never been sold on coconut oil and all the claims seem too outlandish for me, but this is completely nuts. In the end, instead of the results he wanted, he was hospitalized, had┬áseizures, muscle cysts, raised blood pressure and estrogen.

To be honest I’m skeptical if this is true, but people do go to moronic lengths when it comes to trying to get big.

The way the articles are written it sounds like the bonehead was doing a pretty stupid training program to begin with so if there is truth to this I suggest the guy has already snorted some other “superfood” to kill off the majority of his brain cells.

belly-fat

If you’ve done a google search on “belly fat” or “abdominal fat”, you are probably experiencing a problem with it and more than likely you are coming across the same old suggestions which you’ve no doubt tried without success. If this sounds familiar to you… I have been in the same boat, and I had to do a lot of digging around to find some actual useful suggestions so hopefully this will help you too.

Aside from being unsightly, belly fat can be a precursor to type 2 diabetes which is a fairly frightening though in and of itself.

It is often said to be due to one of two things: insulin resistance or elevated cortisol.

So the natural solution is to lower your carbohydrates right? Well if you’re like me and have lowered them to near non-existence yet made┬áno progress you’ll know there is something missing here. A lot actually.

The first problem is with cortisol… cortisol is a stress hormone, meaning that it is present when it detects a “stress” – well guess what happens when you depleted of carbohydrates? Your body goes into a state of “stress”. In addition, the hormone Leptin tells your body to stop burning fat as does your thyroid.

New studies seem to confirm this, as they have shown that if people deplete carbohydrates too much and their body has to synthesize the energy they provide, the body will stop burning fat.

So clearly carb depletion is not the answer – yet we need to lower them to resolve the insulin problem…

The solution? Carb cycling.

This is not a new concept by any stretch of the imagination, but here’s a way I have found to implement it practically…

5 days of the week limiting carbohydrate intake to 1-2 meals after training. This will provide carbs when your body really needs them and help prevent cortisol getting out of hand. Then 2-non consecutive days have carbs with EVERY meal (excluding pre-workout if you choose).

But that is not the end of the story.

Something else might be at play here. We have been conditioned recently to believe that dietary fat is not a bad thing and assists with the absorption of vitamins as well as healthy hormonal functions. Unfortunately being lenient on fats might be part of the problem. Dietary fat – specifically saturated fat has been shown to cause insulin resistance (source).

I don’t know about you, but when I am on low carb days I tend to fill out my diet with fat-dense foods. But now we know that doing so might aggravate the issue.

Now I know that a lot of people out there are standing up for saturated fats these days, especially when it means jumping on the coconut oil bandwaggon – but speaking from personal experience, I will be making a conscious effort from this point on to avoid saturated fats.

Back in 2008 bodybuilding e-books were all the rage just at a time where I was first learning about the subject.

One or two were great (like Tom Venuto’s) and many were garbage (like Vince Del Monte’s). 

There was one that was getting a lot of hype called Optimum Anobolics by Jeff Anderson who also called himself “the muscle nerd”. I picked up the program and what I found was a very easy-to-read manual laying out a very promising philosophy. Here it is in a nutshell: there are 8 muscle “factors” the main one being to overtrain and then super-compensate via 3 weeks of incrementally increased volume followed but three weeks of lower volume. There is a hierarchy of exercises that vary in effectiveness starting with isolation machines being the least effective to body weight being the most effective.

My results on this program were not what I had hoped for, but it was so long ago that now it’s difficult for me to truly account for what the actual problem was.

Fast forward to fall 2016 – I was in a dispute with Greg O’Ghallagher and his entourage about exercise form – my position being that exercise form is of the utmost importance, theirs being that it is if little importance. While looking for material that would support either my claim or theirs, I stumbled upon a manual written by Leo Costa and Dr Russ Horine back in 1998.

Obviously my first takeaway was that they agreed with me on the form issue, but then the further I read on, many of the concepts seemed familiar… eerily so – it was almost as if I had read this exact same manual in someone else’s words… that’s when I remembered Jeff Anderson’s program. I pulled out Jeff’s program from my old files and sure enough – the similarities are too striking to ignore…
Both of them list the same “8 factors” for muscle growth, they both have 3-weeks of increasingly high volume followed by 3 weeks of lower volume adaptation. They both even have virtually the same hierarchy of exercise movements.

I tried to get in touch with Jeff to ask about this – but he is totally off the grid. In fact I thought perhaps he was dead or something. The only thing I could find was a personal Facebook page, which, aside from a couple publicity pictures had some not-particularly flattering picture of him.  Now I’m no one to criticize someone falling from the grace of physical fitness due to Father Time, but I’ll admit that when I saw one of his pictures(below) in which he was looking a bit chunky at an internet marketing convention I began to feel that the naive, trusting me of many years ago had been scammed.
anderson

I reached out to a couple of the sites he used to contribute to and even sent him a friendly message on Facebook, but neither he, nor the websites he once wrote for wanted to respond to my questions of the similarities of these two programs.

Graciously Jeff’s programs don’t seem to be available anymore, whereas Big Beyond Belief is on amazon – albeit for a pretty steep price tag. That being said, I can’t speak to the effectiveness of it as I only did Jeff’s variation many years ago.

Jeff, it would seem has been replaced now by the likes of O’Gallagher, yet it makes me really nervous thinking that he is still out there lurking online using who-knows-what pseudonym selling who-knows-what – very possibly following the footsteps of such world class douches as Eben Pagan.

Update: while it seems Jeff has left the world of fitness e-book writing, a colleague found his current website in which he claims to be a master of “combat” and a “survivalist”, making no mention of his previous claims of being a master fitness guru – as much as I hate to plug the guy it is actually really funny in a cringe-worthy way: http://www.moderncombatandsurvival.com/

  
Time for another BS-free, non-sponsored review that is just as likely to piss off as many people as it pleases.

For those who have seen Mr O’Gallagher on YouTube via his company Kinobody, you certainly know this much about him: he’s young, fit, seems to be well off financially and loves keeping training and diet simple (non-time consuming). Specifically he races about intermittent fasting (IF).

So from that outlook he’s doing a fantastic job of marketing using the ideology “I have what you want”, which is all well and good, but does he deliver for people who fork out cash on his program(s).

First let’s consider what you get for $40-50 (he offers a $10 discount for doing a survey)

  • A pdf e-book
  • A couple extra pdf’s
  • Video demonstrations of the exercises
  • Access to a Facebook group (for more on that particular subject: https://youtu.be/A59xS36QfkA)

So considering the price tag it’s not a bad return. That being said you must also keep your expectations in check.

The program is based on two key concepts:

1. Intermittent fasting

2. Strength-based training; specifically Reverse Puramid Training (doing heavy sets first)

Those familiar with Martin Berkhan’s LeanGains blog know that this is precisely what he has been preaching for ages. Of course finding his information is a little tricky as it is spaced out of several blogs, so the fact that Greg altered it slightly then put it all into one place is actually quite convenient.

There are two questions I feel we should ask then:

Question 1: does this method work?

Question 2: is this method “optimal”?

To be honest I think I have to side with Tom Venuto on this one, who said that this is definitely not THE way to get into great shape yet it is certainly A way. Does it work? Absolutely! Is there any lean mass loss? Hard to say, but personally I believe that if your training is really intense it shouldn’t be an issue.

So we’ll leave the program review as being worth the cost. It’s a solid method, and it brings many concepts into one place.

One caviat here: he discussed a bit of “spiritual” content here, basically quoting Eckhart Tolle. While I am all for spiritual and mental open-mindedness and learning, this aspect of the book did not appeal to me, not because it may not hold merit, but because it seemed irrelevant and almost forced.

Onto the next component: the bonus pdf’s. There was a “missing chapter” which was just more of the spiritual stuff I mentioned before, and there was an updated workout, which could potentially be a useful followup program to what’s in the main book.

The videos of him doing the routines are pretty much what they sound like, but unfortunately they are a little flawed. While Greg shows you the movements he does not talk about such useful information as form (one of the reasons MI40 excelled). But I’m not sure how appropriate that would’ve been anyway because the videos give the impression that correct form is not a big concern of his anyway.

The Facebook group is simply a private community for discussion. If it is personal advice from Greg you want you are unlikely to find it here, however you may get assistance from others who follow his programs.

To be honest this program is not that difficult to reverse engineer from YouTube videos etc, and the “bonus” material is probably not substantial enough to make it worth the cost. However, if you’re a complete noob to the concept of IF and want a fairly good rundown of it from someone who has utilized it firsthand this may be for you. Just know that what you’re getting is a suggestion from a young man, not a scientific document or profound/innovative work.

Hope this helped with your decision making and make sure to check out this video for more:

douche

Okay in fairness, much of this is not from Greg himself but rather his minions, but since they view him as a god I give myself licence here. I used to be a member on the “Project Beach Body” facebook group (if I recall the name right), and it was usually good for a laugh, but eventually it became less entertaining and more frustrating, so I had to separate myself from the rampant stupidity that people want to believe.

Regardless, here are some of the gems they taught me…

1. Greg is God!

2. Intermittent Fasting is the only effective way to burn fat.

3. Exercise form is unimportant (unless you’re taking steroids).

4. It doesn’t matter what you eat as long as your calories meet your goals, the Twinkie is evidence of this.

5. Getting high before lifting heavy weights is not just safe and intelligent, it’s downright awesome!

6. The whole point of making progress is so that you can post selfies and lifting videos to show how awesome you are.

7. Diet soda is good for you.

8. The more education someone has the less they know (after all, grand master Greg has no qualifications and no education yet knows everything).

9. Sugar has no impact on insulin.

10. The only way to build muscle is by lifting heavy.

11. Adrenal fatigue is a myth. The more stimulants you can take the better!

Okay I gave you eleven instead of ten. Don’t you feel enriched!

And here’s the video version: