You all know what an “FAQ” is. So let’s get right into it.
1. What is intermittent fasting?
Intermittent fasting, or IF, is an eating pattern where instead of “eating” for 16 hours and “fasting” for 8 hours (while you sleep), you flip it. You “eat” for 8 hours and “fast” for 16 hours.
Simplest way of looking at this? Don’t stress the clock. Skip breakfast. Eat lunch and dinner.
More on IF here.
2. What is “Leangains”?
Leangains utilizes this 16/8 eating pattern and also incorporates nutrient timing, calorie cycling, and macronutrient cycling.
This means we will eat according to our training schedules.
On training days, we will eat more carbs before and after our workouts to ensure proper recovery. Since carbs are higher on these days, fat must be lower.
On rest days, we will eat more fats in order to optimize fullness and our hormonal profiles. Since fats are higher on these days, carbs must be lower. Carbs are also less necessary since we will not be training.
3. What is “RPT”, or “Reverse Pyramid Training”?
RPT is a minimalist, intense training style preferred by Leangains users.
You start with your heaviest weight for Set 1, and your next set is at a lowered amount.
This ensures you are your freshest when it’s necessary.
RPT utilizes basic, compound barbell movements and body weight exercises.
A full description and common mistakes of RPT users are found here.
4. Why are we weight lifting? Can I spin/yoga/zumba/circuit train/P90x instead?
We want to use the most effective means by which to gain strength and muscle.
The most effective way to do this is through heavy barbell lifting.
Your fat loss will be achieved through diet. Not additional activity.
This method has proven time and time again to be the most sustainable, non-intrusive, and effective means of total body recomposition.
5. These workouts are too easy. I didn’t “feel” like I got a good training session in. Should I do more?
In short, no. Don’t do more.
When starting out, your workouts should feel very light. You’re learning form and proper technique.
Fast forward a few months of linear progress, and the weights will start to feel very heavy.
Large amounts of volume aren’t needed for optimal fitness.
4-5 exercises, 8-10 sets, max, should be done when cutting.
Soreness, sweat, or difficulty are not functions of effectiveness.
Focus on your DIET for the fat loss. Not your workout.
6. I have “stalled” in the weight room! What should I do?
You should assess the situation, verify that it is, in fact, a stall, and then try to troubleshoot the issue.
Full instructions on how to do so are written about here.
7. I “got” all my reps, but it was REALLY hard and I BARELY got my last one. Should I still go up next week?
Your hope is that through the process of “supercompensation”, your body becomes stronger and you will be able to do even more next week.
This is written about in detail here.
If you get your reps, you must go up.
It’s the very definition of “progress”.
8. I have to miss a day of training. What should I do?
Two options: forget it and pick it up next week, or alter your schedule.
You can put two training days back to back as long as you allow two, full rest days between squats and deadlifts.
If MWF doesn’t work, you can go MTF, or MThF.
If something unplanned comes up and you have to miss a Friday unexpectedly, and you can’t bear the thought of saying “bye, bye” to your squat day, here’s what you do:
Do the workout on Saturday. Take Sunday and Monday off. Make Tuesday “Deadlift Day” and make Wednesday “Bench Day”.
And then you’re back on track.
For optimal progress, make most weeks a MWF format.
9. What is “macro counting”?
Macro counting means you will be counting the macronutrients – protein, carbohydrates, and fats – of the food you eat.
It’s a slightly more sophisticated way of counting calories.
The benefits include increased muscle retention/gain, an optimal hormonal profile, increased satiety, and solid recovery from workouts.
10. Okay, so what should my macros be?
That depends. Are you trying to lose fat or gain muscle? Pick one.
If you’re trying to lose fat, here’s the link to those instructions.
If you’re trying to gain muscle, here’s the link to those instructions.
“Recomps” are a terrible idea. Here’s why.
11. I set my macros. How do I decide what to make my lunch and what to make my dinner?
There are ways of optimizing your set up.
It’s written about extensively, here, if you’d like to take a look.
12. How do I figure out the macros in “Food X”?
There’s two ways: nutritional labels or Google.
With nutritional labels, you’ll have to use fractions, measuring devices, and sometimes scales.
With Google, you’ll have to take your best guess.
In a greatly simplified response: “Be consistent”.
Whatever methods you use to track, be sure to always use those methods. Then, if an alteration must be made, you change the macro numbers, not the tracking methods. The error will take care of itself.
More on this concept here.
13. Can I eat “Food Y”?
The answer is almost always “Yes”.
Find a way to fit it into your macros and you’re good.
We want to be sure that most of our food comes from whole food sources. Let’s not kid ourselves and think that Pop Tarts are a better choice than sweet potatoes.
However, flexible dieting means you can always sneak a treat in.
If you don’t have the macros available for something you want, in a pinch, you can use the “Caloric Equivalent Trick” I wrote about here.
14. I’m a bit short on “Macro Z”. How do I make this up?
A few foods are “straight up” macros. Straight proteins, straight carbs, or straight fats.
Proteins – very lean meat, fat-free cottage cheese, powders
Carbs – rice, potatoes, sorbet, sugary cereal
Fats – butters, oils, creamy dressings
These foods can be helpful to fill in the gaps.
Or you can use the “Caloric Equivalent Trick” from Question #13……
15. How do I eat at a restaurant that doesn’t have macros?
If cutting, I would highly suggest just having a decent sized buffer, make sure you get enough protein for the day, and eat.
Hitting your protein is priority #1 diet-wise while cutting.
If you have no clue on the macros at a restaurant, go online and pick out your meal.
Estimate the protein amount. A good gauge for lean meat is, 1 pound = 100 grams. That protein number goes down when the fattiness of the meat goes up.
Be sure you eat the rest of your protein during the day in the form of relatively lean sources.
Save the fat for dinner, eat the dinner, and relax. You’ll make progress.
16. What if I’m travelling? How do I get a workout in?
The general RPT format is as such:
Mondays – pulls
Wednesdays – pushes
Fridays – squats
If you do a bit of research, you can probably find a local gym with a one-day pass or a small admission fee so you can train.
If that’s just not possible, and the hotel weight room sucks (most do), try to find a place to do pull-ups, push-ups, and sprints/body weight squats on the respective day.
A simple and brutally effective HIIT workout which only needs an exercise bike:
This workout will leave your legs shaking, your face red, and will tax every muscle in the body when done right.
If this doesn’t happen, you need to learn what “maximum effort” truly means.
If you truly give your max effort when it says to, you will be in tatters when finished.
Plus, it only takes 20 minutes and it’s one of Layne Norton’s favorites. So I’m sold.
17. How do I eat if I’m travelling?
Keep some powder/beef jerky with you at all times. Protein requirements are hard to hit when eating out constantly.
If it’s a rest day, steer clear of the starches. Pass on the potatoes/rice/pasta/bread. Go for salads with meat, steaks and veggies, etc.
On training days, steer clear of the fats. Go for chicken or turkey. Get a side of rice or a baked potato. Try to keep it low fat.
And just realize you won’t make substantial training or dieting progress while on the road.
Maintenance is an achievement in these situations.
18. I’m finding it really hard to eat “0” carbs. How do I do this?
It’s extremely difficult to actually eat “0” carbs.
Your meals would have to be straight meat and eggs.
I recommend veggies at every meal, which obviously have a carbohydrate content.
But I wouldn’t recommend tracking veggies. It’s totally unnecessary.
On your “0” carb days, eat lots of veggies.
But no fruit, sugar, starches, potatoes, rice, pastas, breads, etc.
And don’t sweat it.
19. My weight isn’t changing much! I want that scale number to go down! What should I do?
For experienced exercisers and dieters, they can help.
For noobs to barbell training, they suck the big one. The BIIIIIIIG ONE.
When you start, your body will be rapidly gaining muscle.
It’s not uncommon for new lifters to stay completely stagnant weight wise and lose 1-2″ on their waistline for the first month.
This link gives a full, detailed answer with proper measurement tracking parameters.
20. My fat loss has completely halted. How do I adjust my macros?
This is possible. As you diet, your caloric needs change.
First, you make sure that your stall is a stall in fat loss, not just scale weight.
Again, scales suck.
Assuming it is an actual fat stall, drop your calories 5-10% by taking away fat and carb macros.
The complete process is discussed here.
21. Can I do cardio to speed up fat loss?
It’s not really needed. And it’s not really optimal.
But you “can” if you want to.
Your best option is a simple, brisk walk.
Your next best option, assuming you aren’t having strength maintenance issues, is the HIIT described in #16.
This option should ONLY be used if you’re continuing to progress strength-wise. Knock it off if recovery is impacted.
It should never be done on the same day as a training session. Too taxing.
But steady-state, medium-impact cardio (jogging, ellipticalling, stair-stepping) should NEVER be used.
Unless you want to lose your hard-earned muscle.
And still, the most efficient option is to adjust your DIET, not your activity level.
22. My dinner is too big! I can’t finish it! What should I do?
Eat it in shifts if you must. You’ll get used to it eventually.
What a great problem to have.
You’re losing weight and eating TOO MUCH food.
23. Can I drink on this program?
Sure. But you must be intelligent.
The best advice is to be consistent (common theme) with your drinking.
Best alcohol choices are unflavored liquors and red wines.
Be sure your mixers are zero calorie.
But if you have 2-3 drinks a night or two per week, no big deal.
If you’re consistent, and you need an alteration, you change the macro numbers, not the tracking method.
You run into issues when you decide to drink HEAVILY multiple times per week.
There is a strategy for those rare occasions when you’re gonna DRINK (like New Year’s or Flag Day), but it’s admittedly very difficult to adhere to……..
……..reduce your calories by 500 from fat/carbs for the day.
This gives you a buffer of ~8-9 shots before any fat gain can accumulate.
On a rest day, this is ~55 fat grams. There’s little to no carbs on rest days.
On a training day, this is ~65 carb grams and ~25 fat grams.
Warning: This is EXTREMELY difficult to adhere to. You WILL be hungry. You WILL be inebriated quickly. It WILL be very hard to maintain sanity and compliance when drunk and hungry.
But let’s be honest, if you’re gonna drink heavily and often, you’re not gonna make the progress you ultimately want.
You know that.
24. How can I check my form?
Here’s a link to a page with solid Youtube videos so you can check your own form if you wish.
25. You can’t possibly expect women to strength train like men, can you? I don’t want to get too bulky.
Women won’t get bulky.
They’ll get curvaceous, lean, and sexy.
One of the biggest misconceptions women have is that weight lifting will somehow make them look like men.
Every single female client I have had ends up LOVING the heavy lifting component.
It’s fun, primal, and powerful.
I would highly suggest it – for everyone.
More about this topic here.
Any other “FAQ” – type questions you’ve been wondering?
Put ’em in the comments section, or send me an email!
I’d love to address them!
I hope you found this information useful.