The Essentials of Muscle Building, in Order (Part 3)

In the first post of this series, we discussed the importance of progressive overload with high mechanical load, while in the second post we talked about how important getting in enough daily/weekly calories is if you want to continue to make gains past the beginner stage. This post is now going to reveal the third most important aspect of building muscle.

Total Daily Protein

You have probably heard many times by now how important protein is for building muscle (and, as I discussed in the Hierarchy of Importance for Fat Loss, how even more important it is for fat loss), but I still needed to put it as #3 on this list because it is just that important.

Now, I could have grouped total daily calories together with total daily protein into one big group and labeled it as Diet, but that would be misrepresenting the information in my opinion. Since you have an even greater amount of protein during a calorie deficit (to preserve your muscle mass), but you are still losing weight and not really gaining muscle, it is not the protein in and of itself that allows you to gain muscle mass.

The reason that total daily protein comes after total daily calories is because you can increase your protein to an absurdly high amount, but if you are not a beginner and still have a calorie deficit, then you will not gain much muscle, if at all.

On the other hand, by increase your caloric intake, you can actually decrease your protein intake a bit, especially if the increase in calories is due to an increase in carbs. This is because by taking in more carbs, your body will then use more carbs, proportionally, throughout the day for energy and oxidize less protein for energy, thus saving and increase your net protein. If you lowered your carbs and increased your protein intake, then your body would respond by oxidizing more protein for energy which would allow less to go towards building your muscle. This is why total calories come first, but total protein is close behind. (As a side note: increasing your fat intake does not make the body burn more fat for its energy needs. Only by decreasing carb/protein intake or fasting for a time period like 4-16 hours will increase percentage of fat used for energy. Furthermore, if you have a lot of fat to lose, then you will already be using a lot of fat at fuel.)

So how much protein should you have? Read More »

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The Essentials of Muscle Building, in Order (Part 2)

A Lot of Calories

Image provided by thefuturistics


In Part 1 of this series we discussed how many myths are born by trying to change more than one variable of your lifting program and then coming to conclusions about which variable actually contributed to the results you achieved. We also talked about the 80/20 rule and how there is a “hierarchy”, if you will, of the most important aspects or variables to focus on to build muscle. Many people put a lot of their focus on variables that do not matter all that much in the long-run at the expense of aspects that actually make a substantial difference.

Now we will continue with the most important aspects of muscle building after Progressive Overload with High Mechanical Load.

2. Total Daily Calories

If you consider yourself a “hardgainer” or someone who will inevitably stay skinny no matter what you do, please read this section carefully.

As Lyle is fond of saying in his book The Ultimate Diet 2.0, your body hates you. It wants you to stay wimpy and have as much fat as possible, probably exactly opposite of what you are trying to make it look like.

Why does it want this?

Simple: Survival. Adding and carrying around extra muscle is not something that your body enjoys doing AT ALL. Adding new muscle mass through protein synthesis is a very costly procedure energy-wise. Your body needs to use a lot of calories to perform most of the steps involved in adding new muscle mass. Since your body thinks you could starve to death any month (since it has evolved from millions of years ago), it does not like to allocate its calories in this matter. Moreover, after having used all those calories to build muscle, now his has to  continue to keep using calories just to compensate for the extra weight you have gained when you move around. Lastly, whenever your body needs some extra protein for something, it doesn’t mind taking it from your precious muscles if it thinks you don’t need it anymore (read: if you have stopped lifting, lifting less weight, or are in a big calorie deficit).

In order to get our body to actually add the muscle we want it to, we need to give it a  stimulus for growth and an persuasive reason to grow. Progressive overload in Part 1 covered the stimulus, but now we need to give it a persuasive reason. Read More »

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The Essentials of Muscle Building, in Order (Part 1)

Image provided by Vectorportal

Some things are more important than others.

Just as there is a Hierarchy of Importance for Fat Loss, there are some aspects of building muscle that account for a very large percentage of the total results and other aspects that account for hardly any of the results at all.

Many myths get started this way.

Some guy will start a new weightlifting program with aspects X, Y, and Z, for example. To make this a little bit more concrete, X can stand for total daily protein, Y can be the amount of sets taken to failure, and Z can be how many meals he eats per day. Really, the variables can be anything, but those are some good choices for this particular example.

Now let’s say that this person begins his new exercise program will all the the variables listed above and probably many others. After a few months, he gains 10 lbs of new muscle with minimal fat gain and really likes the results. Thus, it is likely that he will recommend his program to others can tell them that it is very effective.

We run into a problem, though, when trying to decipher which aspects of the program actually leg to his success.

For example, variable X could have accounted for 50% of the results, variable Y could have accounted for 45% of the results, and variable Z could have accounted for only 5% of the results. Even worse, sometimes a variable, say W, could actually account for a negative value! That is, that aspect of the diet actually slowed progress and lessened the results that could have been better without it or if it was tweaked a little.

While I am obviously simplifying here, I think you get the idea. When someone incorporates more than one variable in at a time, it is impossible to determine which variable actually accounted for the success and to what extent.

By lumping together variables, people associate their success with all of the variables, even if some were not effective. Thus, fitness myths get started. Read More »

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How a Burst of Motivation Can Stop You From Reaching Your Goals

Many of us have goals that we want to achieve (and if you don’t, well, you should).  Goals help us achieve important things that are worthwhile in life. Goals allow us to get more satisfaction out of are day and go to bed feeling like we’ve accomplished something. Goals foster an increased quality of life over time and allow us to live a better tomorrow.

“Today I will do what others won’t, so tomorrow I can accomplish what others can’t.”
– Jerry Rice, Football Player

Many books can be written about how to achieve your goals, and indeed many have been. I would not be capable of teaching you every step to actually achieve your goals, and get the body you’ve always wanted, in one article [that is what my future book is for =) ]. However, I can give you one practical tip that seems to trip up people again and again.

If you really apply this principle after you finish reading this article, your life can change drastically for the better. Suddenly, you will find yourself able to stick with and follow through with your goals so that you can achieve much more than you have in the past, and in a shorter time period!

This principle isn’t hard to put into practice, and it isn’t too hard to start. In fact, probably the biggest reason that people don’t do this in the first place is that they underestimate the importance and value of it, or never even bothered to think of it.

While there still will be many, many sticking points on the journey to getting your New Body (which my future book will hopefully clear up and simplify as well), this one principle can make a pretty large impact on your success.

Read More »

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Fruit Juice to Lose Weight? Think Again.

Fruit Juice for Weight Loss?

Fruit Juice for Weight Loss?


I’ve have already discussed in my last post regarding peanut butter that people generally like to categorize foods at either simply “good” or “bad” when most of the time, nutrition isn’t as simply as that. One of the prime examples of this is fruit juice and fruit smoothies. Some say that fruit juice is excellent for losing weight due to its high antioxidants and other nutritional properties. Others insist on going on an all-juice “cleanse” every so often to help your digestive system out and sometimes speed up fat loss. Yet, others pronounce fruit juice as pure evil – nothing more than just a truck-load of sugar.

So, what’s the truth about fruit juice? Should it be included in your diet if you are trying to lose weight? For increasing muscle mass? Does consuming it increase general health markers over time? Do different types of fruit juices encourage different results? Read More »

Posted in Fat Loss, Nutrition | 3 Responses

Peanut Butter: Health Food or Fat Promoter

Peanuts and Peanut Butter - Good or Bad?

Image provided by  EuroMagic


In a never-ending quest to achieve a massive musculature, many try to take advantage of every available muscle-promoting food they can get their hands on. One of the foods that consistently wiggles itself into the diet plan of aspiring weight lifters is peanut butter. Due to being found naturally in nature and delivered to the consumer with minimal processing, many automatically jump to the conclusion that peanuts, and it’s derivative peanut butter, must be “good for you”. Add this to the fact that peanut butter is usually surrounded with praise for it’s high protein content and monounsaturated fat, and you’ve good a grade A “health food” and “muscle builder”.

Just how “good for you” really is peanut butter? Should you be eating it if you are trying to gain muscle mass? What about for losing weight?

This article will address these questions (and more), and provide clear advice on whether or not you should include peanut butter into your diet plan. Read More »

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Hierarchy of Importance for Fat Loss

People fail at a diet for many different reasons. Sometimes the person gives up too quickly. Sometimes they just do not put in the amount of work that is necessary to change their body. However, sometimes, the diet fails them.

It has been my experience that one of the main reasons that a diet will fail someone is that the diet is structured around the wrong hierarchy of aspects surrounding losing weight. What I mean by this is, the person or diet will place too much emphasis around some things that do not matter much in the long run and too little importance around things that do end up mattering quite substantially.

Actually, sometimes the diet is set up to intentionally mislead the dieter. Sometimes the diet is structured around eating only certain kinds of food and a certain amount of those foods so that the dieter ends up eating less overall whether they really realize it or not. This does not always work though. Sometimes that dieter will continue to eat massive amounts of food, but they just switched over to eating the food that the diet they are on says is okay. Inevitably, this will cause the diet to “fail” the dieter.

I support a wide variety of diets and dieting strategies, and anyone who tries to lead you to thinking that there is only one way to diet that is effective is either trying to sell you something or is poorly informed. However, regardless that there are numerous diets that are effective, they all must follow the following hierarchy of importance in order to turn out to be effective.  Note that I am not suggesting that a diet that does not follow the following guidelines has no possibility of  showing positive results, but it will be improbable and an exception, while also it being inexorably inferior to other options.

The following is a list of aspects that have the most significant impact on the success of a diet, in order from most important to least important. It is necessary to understand that a diet may still be effective if a more important aspect is ignored in effort to focus more on a less important aspect, as long as the more important aspect is not significantly opposed or progressed in a direction opposite of what is suggested for fat loss. Read More »

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Just Because it’s Healthy Doesn’t Mean You Should Eat it.

What is 'diet food'?

The information that the general public are aware about is generally increasing in both quality and quantity overtime, for the most part. Much of this is due to the rapid amount of information that can be consumed via the internet along with an observed trend of average person becoming more heath-conscious. However, along with the near-overwhelming amount of information that can easily and effortlessly be consumed online comes much that must be questioned, criticized, and closely examined. Nevertheless, many do not find the need for such close scrutiny and instead accept some faulty information on faith. Thus, many “fitness myths” are born.

It is one of my main concerns that this site address these myths so that the general public can make better informed decisions about what they eat and how they exercise so that changing their body isn’t as much of a struggle and seems less impossible to attain, as by following some of the current myths, might lead to this conclusion.

One of the most fundamental but most perpetuated diet myths is that healthy foods allow people to lose weight easier.

While in some cases there is a definite correlation between how healthy the food is and how much it will contribute to weight loss, much of the time there is no correlation and in some cases, there may be an inverse correlation.

Along with needing to eat 5-6 meals a day and performing high reps while dieting to “increase fat loss”, thinking that by changing what you eat to “healthier” foods will help you lose weight directly is fundamentally flawed thinking, yet almost everyone who is not deeply informed about nutrition and fitness has some faith in the idea.

The problem comes down to thermodynamics. Without getting technical, you Read More »

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How to Use Reason, Rather Than Emotion, to Determine Behavior

Almost inarguably, the biggest challenge that the general population faces in terms to getting a body they are proud of is a lack of motivation to do anything at all. There are a lot of people out there who have began their journey of developing a better body and are working very hard at that goal. However, in my observations, there are many more people who can’t even get started, or if they do, quickly give up or put in so little effort that it becomes futile.

Due to this observation, many of my posts on this site revolve around the idea of increasing motivation and generating action in the individual. Each article has its own little tip or trick, and each is a unique way of getting that individual a little more motivated. Certain articles will resonate better with some and less with others, but in general, I try to cover a broad range of ways to get you to take action.

This article will be a little bit different, in the sense that it will still be about getting you to take action, but ultimately I will be saying that you should just side-step motivation all together and not have to worry about it in order to take action. Now, that might seem a little strange presently, but after reading this article, you should have a clear understanding of what exactly motivation is, and why you don’t really need to have it initially in order to take action.

By incorporating the following into your life, you should be able to experience increased frequency of behavior that is in alignment with developing the body you are after, along with an increased sense of control over your life in general and a higher degree of self-esteem over time. Furthermore, not only can you apply the following to your fitness and nutrition goals, but by making this a general theory, I have broadened it to make it applicable to virtually any aspect of your life, whether that be work related, personal, social, etc.

A General Theory of Motivation

I am not the first person to come up with a theory of motivation, and I do not take credit for many of these ideas. Many of these ideas have been adopted from people like Maxwell Maltz and Nathanial Brandan. However, I will put here a condensed version with some of my own insights that might lead to a simpler definition of my “theory” than piecing together various books.

For most people most of the time, emotions determine behavior. If you feel like eating, you will probably eat; if you feel like taking a nap, and have the time to do so, then you will likely take a nap. The only reason that you might not perform one of these actions is if you had an alternative emotion that was stronger than the one stated and was in conflict with it. For example, you want to take a nap, but you have to go to an important business meeting and missing that meeting would cause you much more internal pain (fear, guilt, worry, etc.) than the pleasure you would experience from taking the nap. Thus, you opt to suck it up and go to the business meeting. However, if the meeting was deemed unimportant to you or that you just couldn’t stay awake any longer, you might choose to take the nap. Your action depended on which emotion was stronger at that particular moment.

It is important to note here that the emotions you would experience would not represent reality per se. Rather, they would represent your interpretation of reality at that particular moment or your estimation of your future emotions you think you would feel in the future, presently.

However, viewing this process in this light makes it seem as though the individual does not really have much of a choice in the matter, that the person does not really have free will to do as he pleases. Instead, he is just a reactor to his emotional responses.

Actually, in a certain sense, many people are very close to being nothing more than reactors to their emotions. If they experience emotions that benefit them most of the time, then they will, luckily, perform actions that benefit their lives and well-being. If, on the other hand, they experience destructive emotions most of the time, then they will, unfortunately, perform many destructive behaviors.

Nonetheless, one does not actually have to fall victim to his emotions. In order to rise above the firm grasp that one’s emotions has on his actions, one must recognize where emotions emanate from. Read More »

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“Battling Objectivity, Rationality, and Even Our Own Psychology”

One of the main reasons that I created this site was to make fitness simple for people. It seems that everywhere you look, there is some new magic diet or way to work out that is better than EVERYTHING else. The fitness industry is plagued with dogmatic ideas and stubborn people, not to mention supplement companies constantly trying to rip you off.

JC Deen from just published a short post titled “Fitness and the Internetz: Battling Objectivity, Rationality, and Even Our Own Psychology”

I thought that this post was definitely worth a share on here. As individuals trying to sift through all the BS in the fitness industry so that we can help ourselves and others, we need to be aware of how common irrational conclusions are, how subjective everyone’s experience of a certain workout or diet actually are, and how to be willing to change our beliefs when the data does not match up to our assumptions and current ideas. Anyone stuck in the “there is only ONE best way to work out or diet” mentality is surely on a path headed towards stagnation, not growth.

Anyway, I recommend that you head over an take a look. Maybe you will even be able to pinpoint some areas that need some “objective” improvement in your own life?

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