If you do an internet search for something like, “best mass building workout program” you will receive pages upon pages of information. There is no shortage of opinion out there. I have been lifting weights for close to 20 years. I have had success with a few programs, less than hoped for results with most. I followed the advice of many a bodybuilding article, after following some advice I made some gains, after following others I put inches on my waist. I ate like they told me to, I took the latest and greatest supplements. I found after time that only two supplements really worked for me . What I did not know was that I was following a dead end road over and over and over.
Within the past several years I have learned some valuable lessons. I share those lessons with you so that you won’t have to make the same mistakes that I made. I will also share with you what I have found that works.
The first lesson that I learned was that typical body building routines are for juicers. The routines that you find on bodybuilding sites are written on the assumption that you are already juicing.
The second lesson was that while I wanted to lift to increase my muscle mass, make me a better martial artist and toughen up my body, I found that the conventional wisdom really seemed to turn us into a bunch of pansies. Think about it; “be careful! Don’t over train!”, “Don’t work the same body part more than so many times per week!”, “Don’t let yourself get hungry! If you are hungry you are already burning precious muscle mass!” When I really thought about it I came to realize that this type of thinking is a reactive, fear based approach. No matter what I did eating 6 meals per day consistently put fat on my adbomen, even though I was supposedly turning my metabolism into a “fat torching machine”.
The third lesson that I learned is to stick with a program that works. You will often read that you should change up your program every 12 weeks as your body gets used to what you are doing and therefore you will no longer make any gains, but what if you are lifting more weight than you used to? For instance, if I bench press 195 lbs in week 8, and progressively am adding at least some weight, say by week 12 I am benching 210 lbs, does that mean that I should just quit because my body is now “used to it”. Does this mean that I will not put on any muscle or gain strength? I have found that sticking with the same basic program for the long haul works best. I keep the basics the same and tweak some of the less important exercises like curls. If I am adding weight over time, I will see gains, period.
Based on these lessons here is what I have used to work for me:
Eating: I no longer eat 6 small meals per day. I usually eat 2 meals. I practice intermittent fasting. I get up at about 4:45 am and will not eat until at least 11 am. My next “meal” will be a small shake of 1 scoop protein powder, about 2 cups of coffee, creatine and heavy whipping cream. The next real meal that I will eat will be after my workout. That’s it. I would never have fathomed being able to do this previously. I thought my muscle gains would melt away in front of my eyes if I didn’t eat every two to three hours. I was wrong. I thought that my workouts would be terrible if I didn’t have the right amount of carbs/protein several hours before working out. I was wrong. Some of my best workouts have come on a completely fasted stomach! In addition, I feel much better eating less. I have more energy, feel more awake, I sleep better and my mental acuity has certainly improved and I have gained muscle mass. I don’t know about the science, but from everything that I have seen all roads seem to lead to very positive health benefits to fasting. Mentally, fasting makes you tougher. I realized that constantly being concerned about what to eat and when wasn’t good for me. Nobody likes to fast, but that is exactly the beauty of it. When we force ourselves to do things that we don’t like it makes us stronger mentally. Intermittent fasting is like anything else; find what works for you. Some men can fast several days per week, some only one. It must work for you in order to work for you. What I mean by this is; don’t push it to the point that it becomes detrimental to your health. Experiment and you will find your ideal zone.
Training: Training really depends on one’s goals. I personally believe that a strength program is the best. First, if you work on getting stronger you will add muscle. This will be functional muscle though, not just for looks. When I was in the service it never failed that the overly buffed dudes could not physically keep up with the rest of us. It is not functional muscle. Have you ever seen a real life Navy SEAL jacked like a bodybuilder? I rest my case. My main concern is to increase strength, stamina and work capacity. I like the old school heavy lifting programs. After reading the “Body of a Spartan” by Victor Pride I realized that I could work the same body part even daily. Think about it. Old school farmers were buffed. They did the same thing day in and day out. According to conventional wisdom their muscles should never have grown due to “overtraining”. Once again, complete and utter b.s. Reading “Body of a Spartan” was really eye opening for me. I love being able to bench every single day. Some weeks I squat every single day. I work my back every single day. My muscles have not withered away to nothing. I have gotten stronger. I trained with weights for over twenty years and this program has by far been the best for my body. I have learned that my body reacts very well to a low rep/high weight program. I have tried high rep/lower weight programs and have only put on fat. The other thing with a strength based program is that it just feels good to deadlift a ton of weight. It feels great to squat a ton of weight. It feels great to bench a ton of weight. Lifting heavy will also increase your testosterone output. Its just a manly thing to do and it will make you strong.
Here is the program that I now use, check it out, it is well worth the investment: Body of a Spartan