There’s a saying in the industry that putting on size is like taking on a second job- and you’ll need a second job to pay for it all. It all adds up: the food, the time training, the change in clothes, the changes in your lifestyle and physique (i.e. bottles of gold bond for your chaffing inner thighs). Being a personal trainer in West Los Angeles, it’s tough to afford both 🙂
If it were easy, everyone would be diesel.
It’s not easy. And everyone is not diesel. This is life, and there is no magic pill.
But does it have to be that hard? Do you have to look like the marshmellow man and make your life a living hell, feeling sick to the stomach all the time from forced overeating?
Think of building your physique as building a house. Have a blueprint, build the foundation, add the moving parts, put in the hard labor, adjust the plan when things aren’t working, and understand this will not be built over night. The more advanced you are in any of these areas, the better the house will look and the faster it will be built.
This doesn’t have to be as hard as you think, and here’s a roadmap of where to start.
1. Begin with specific, measurable, relative, and time-bound goals that seem too easy. Choose one nutrition goal, one physique goal, and one lifting goal. i.e. I am going to eat more good fats for the next two weeks by eating a Ziploc full of nuts at my office 3 days this week for the next 2 weeks.
2. Start by getting on the right supplement regimen for your goals, and get in the habit of taking them every morning (or night). My personal favorites include: creatine monohydrate, krill oil, a plant based multi-vitamin, whey protein, beta alanine, and ZMA (at night for recovery).
3. Focus on building your technique in one new lift every two weeks. Start with the squat. Watch every tutorial on youtube and learn the various styles (powerlifting, bodybuilding, single leg, etc)
4. Focus on strength training. Keep your reps under 6 and your sets over 3 for all your movements except for single joint (i.e. bicep curls) and core work.
5. Work on your brain instead of your diet. If you have trouble consuming enough food, learn to really enjoy your food. Implement mindful eating or learning to cook foods you love- even if it’s cupcakes at first.
6. Lay off the cardio, dude! If you really have to, do no more than 10 minutes of circuits or intervals. Trust me, if you’re lifting enough weight, you won’t get fat.
7. Find the perfect training partner at your gym. Someone who’s bigger than you, stronger than you, is a dedicated lifter, and has been in your shoes or worked out with people like you. You may have to start an awkward bromance for this one. If you can’t do this, hire a trainer.
8. Choose an internet forum to post your progress, questions, and thoughts. T-nation.com has a strong group of people that have similar goals and can help you get to yours faster. You will be more accountable, have more motivation, and immerse yourself in the process.
9. Work on your static and dynamic posture. Muscular imbalances play a huge role in developing size and strength. Who’s going to activate more musculature: the guy who squats through a full range of motion (ass to grass) or the guy who does a quarter squat? And no, squatting below “parallel” is not bad on your knees- and that’s science.
10. Become a student of the game. Some good reads to get you started are Dan John’s Easy Strength, Mark Rippetoe’s Starting Strength, or Kelly Starett’s Becoming a Supple Leopard.
Remember to stay divorced from what is initially getting you results. In the words of Dan John, everything works…for about 6 weeks.
Stay tuned for part 2!