Anyman Fitness and its clients aren’t about “functional training”.
We don’t “clean and jerk”, we rarely “front squat”, and “Murph” isn’t in our vocabulary.
We want our clients to do exactly three things:
- Look like gods or goddesses.
- Feel like superheroes.
- Have an active and healthy sex life.
In order to have the physical ability to master these 3, simple goals, you need to have your shit in gear in the weightroom.
Last week, we discussed the “boulders”, the “big rocks” of training, and how to get your ducks in gear.
You cannot start fine-tuning your approach without having the major building blocks taken care of.
The major, must-have components of your training routine are the following:
- Adherence – you must show up to the gym consistently, barring a sickness or an injury. No excuses.
- Intensity – when you get to the gym, you must be willing to push your body to the point of adaptation.
- Number of intense work sets you get in – you must take your sets within a rep or two of failure, and possibly to the point of failure.
- Recovery – you must be sleeping well, eating well, and resting appropriately given your training stimulus.
These “boulders” for success can be summed up in a nice, little soundbite:
You must show up, go hard, train close to muscular failure, and recover appropriately.
It would be a nice world if these simple actions would have a lasting impact on your physique.
Make no bones about it – the application of these four main components of training will take you far.
But in order to make gradual and continual physique improvements, after you have “milked the gains” that adherence and intensity have given you, you may find you need to “fine tune” your approach.
This is where the next tier of training importance comes in: The “Rocks”.
While not as vital as “boulders”, each time you add a “rock” into the mix, you will find the rate at which you grow will improve.
Rock 1: Volume Total
“Volume” is a catch-all phrase for the total amount of weight you have lifted in a given session for a given movement.
For example, if you do 3 sets of 8 bench presses with 200 pounds, your total volume will be:
- 3 x 8 x 200 = 4,800 pounds of total volume for bench press
Some lifters are obsessive about their volume numbers, and track them religiously to ensure they are increasing.
While this approach does work, there are other, less invasive methods of being sure your volume totals are moving in the right direction – upwards.
Suggestions for keeping volume on the upswing:
- Keep a detailed training log of the movements you’re doing, the weights you used, and the reps you completed each day.
- Every time you enter the weight room, and you will repeat that day, play “beat the training log”.
- Attempt to do a few more reps, a few more pounds, or add an additional set.
- The simplest method to increase training volume over time is to “add 5 pounds”, assuming you have completed all of your sets and reps adequately.
- Vary rep ranges.
- This is especially true if you primarily use lower rep ranges (anything < 5 reps).
- Increasing the reps into the 8-12 range (and sometimes higher) will enable you to use more volume with less wear and tear on your body.
- Use machines more frequently.
- Although some “purists” may find this to be heresy, your muscle will grow whether you increase volume using a barbell, a dumbbell, your bodyweight, or a machine.
- Machines have limitations, but they enable you to increase volume with less of an injury risk, assuming you maintain proper form when using them.
Rock 2: The Number Of Times Each Week A Muscle Group Is Worked
There is a clear dose-dependent relationship on the number of times a muscle group is worked each week and the amount of growth which is stimulated.
This is a big reason why “bodypart splits” aren’t considered a good idea (generally) for a natural trainee.
A bodypart split is when you have one day completely dedicated to “chest”, one day dedicated to “back”, etc.
While on that one day, you may completely annihilate your muscle focus, you often have to wait an entire week before you expose that muscle group to another stimulus.
Instead of doing 50 sets of chest movements once per week, you’re far better off doing 25 sets of chest movements twice per week.
Twice-weekly exposure trumps once-weekly exposure.
Once you hit thrice-weekly exposure (yes, I just used the word “thrice”), diminishing returns start to kick in a bit.
Some suggestions for training program set-ups:
- For a 3x per week training frequency:
- For each workout, program two “pushes”, two “pulls”, and one “leg movement”.
- There is wiggle room here. You may wish to alter to your preference.
- You may program – push/pull/push/pull or push/push/pull/pull. In reality, it won’t make much of a difference.
- Program your “major barbell/dumbbell/bodyweight” movements before you program any machine work.
- Train arms (biceps/triceps) and other isolation work (calves, abs) as frequently as you wish.
If you will be training 4 or more times per week, hitting each group a minimum of two times shouldn’t be an issue. Set up your training template accordingly.
Rock 3: Food Timing/Meal Frequency
Food timing is referred to as your meal frequency (how many times per day you eat) and exactly when you eat your meals.
Fasting is an excellent tool for fat loss, but it has some real limitations when it comes to muscular growth.
In order to properly stimulate protein synthesis (and grow), you should be getting a minimum of 3 protein rich meals into your body.
We won’t talk too specifically bout food suggestions.
But rest assured, you want to be generally avoiding:
- Excessive sugars
- Highly processed/palatable foods
- Liquid calories
If you want your physique to improve and your testosterone to remain high (to fuck like a champion), emphasize the following in your diet:
- Lean protein sources
- Ample fruits and vegetables
- Whole food carbohydrates
- Adequate (but not excessive) fats
What about the “post-workout window”, you ask?
Although the days of chugging a protein shake in the locker room after your session are largely over (thank God), there is still a “window of opportunity” in order to maximally spike protein synthesis for muscular growth.
This window appears to be 2-3 hours at the most.
A specific protein source isn’t required, but you can’t go wrong with whey or animal protein.
Suggestions for your food timing:
- Eat a minimum of 3 meals each day.
- Breakfast, lunch, and dinner works great.
- If needed, a protein shake or protein rich snack (lunchmeat, Greek yogurt, beef jerky) between lunch and dinner can be beneficial as well to keep off cravings and keep protein synthesis elevated between workouts.
- Eliminate fasting, assuming your diet is on point.
- Fasting has an excellent psychological benefit.
- Many find fasting to be optimal due to its ease and its simplicity.
- If you can’t be “on point” without fasting, by all means, continue.
- If you have mastered compliance, eliminate fasting and your results will improve as a result.
- Within 2 hours of your workout, consume a protein source.
- No need to be obsessive about the exact timing. Just eat after your workout.
- If you train in the morning and then go to work, do not wait until lunch to consume protein.
- A shake or a simple sandwich and a piece of fruit works great in this situation.
At this point, we are starting to see the big picture.
If you can master all of the “boulders” and all of the “rocks”, you have 95% of the components in place to creating the physique you desire.
Your recommendations so far:
- Train consistently.
- Train intensely.
- Get in an adequate number of sets close to/at failure.
- Sleep well and recover properly.
- Keep volume increasing over time.
- Hit each muscle group a minimum of twice per week, possibly even thrice.
- Eat a minimum of 3 protein-rich meals per day.
- Eat a protein source within 2 hours of training.
Is this ALL there is to looking good, feeling great, and fucking well?
Definitely not. There are small pieces – the “pebbles” which will help you make up the additional 5% that is missing.
Next week, we will discuss the minutiae – the details that can make all the difference, once you’ve mastered the “boulders” and the “rocks”.