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Pros and Cons of Cardio for Mass Gains

An oft asked question is about the use of cardio for mass gains.   Various extremist standpoints exist on the topic but, as usual the truth falls somewhere in the middle.  More accurately, it’s better to look at potential pros and cons that cardio might have on mass gains.  Context, as always, is important and I’ll address the topic from that standpoint.

The Extreme Stances on Cardio for Mass Gains

At the extremes, I’d say two ideas about the impact of cardio on muscle mass gains exist.  The anti-cardio people argue that you should NEVER do cardio when seeking maximum muscular or strength gains.  Various arguments are made ranging from it cutting into recovery or the potential for interference between the two types of exercise.

At the other extreme is the idea that trainees should perform an hour of fasted low intensity cardio every day during mass gain phases.  The is usually suggested as a way to stay lean in the face of a calorie surplus. … Keep Reading

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Squats vs. Leg Press for Big Legs

While many take it as an article of faith that all trainees must squat, the reality is far different.   Only a handful of athletes truly must squat and that’s because the movement is part of their competition.  But for everyone else, squats are an optional movement.  And factually, some simply are not built to squat well.  And if their goal is simply getting bigger legs, in many cases it may be better for them to avoid squatting and choose a movement such as the leg press instead.

A properly done leg press exposes the legs to a similar range of motion as your typical parallel squat.  Certainly squats “feel” harder but does this mean it’s automatically a superior movement for growing the legs?  At least some of that feel is the technical involvement, balance, and the increased use of stabilizer muscles.  But this has nothing to do with the legs per se.… Keep Reading

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The Baseline Diet

It’s common behavior among all trainees to try to be more advanced than they are.  It’s true of training and it’s true in nutrition.  I find that lifters, especially new ones, want to try all the cool sexy stuff before locking down the basics.  But the simple fact is that until you have the basics down, nothing else matters.  Why?  Because the basics always work.  They always have and always will.  And that’s what the baseline diet is about: it’s the basic diet that all lifters should get locked in before they consider anything else.

Some Pointed Questions

How much mass have you gained in the last few months (or years as the case may be)? If you’re like the average lifter, the answer is assuredly “Not as much as I’d like”.

Ok, next question: how much money have you spent on exotic supplements hoping they’d be the secret to freaky mass?… Keep Reading

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How Many Reps Per Set for Muscle Growth?

I’m going to start this article by asking a hypothetical question:  If you had to pick a single repetition range to train in for growth, what would it be?  That is, imagine some very strange situation where you could only train within a certain repetition range which I’ll limit to a 3 rep spread (i.e. 9-12).  What would you choose?  Put differently, is there an optimal number of reps per set for muscle growth?

I used to ask this of friends of mine in the field and, almost with exception, the answer was pretty much the same.  This was true regardless of whether or not they had arrived at that value from experimentation and experience or just looking at the research.  So I’m going to look at a variety of different topics to show you how I got to the answer I’m going to provide.

What Stimulates Muscle Growth?

I asked a job supervisor that question once once; he was a smart-ass like me and told me “It needs lots of sunlight and water.” … Keep Reading

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General Philosophies of Muscle Mass Gain

Because of the primary focus of my books and many of my article topics I tend to get tagged as the fat-loss guy more often than not; but nutrition and training for muscle gain is actually a primary interest of mine. Having worked with bodybuilders, powerlifters and other athletes over the years, figuring out the optimal approach for muscle mass gains is just as important.

In this article (which will actually form an introduction to a series of articles I’ll be doing over the next several weeks and months), I want to talk about some basic concepts related to mass gaining nutrition, primarily looking at some of the different philosophies of mass-gaining that are out there. As usually, I’ll look at each in my normal way, looking at the various pros and cons of each approach.

And, of course, I’ll give my own recommendations for what I think is actually optimal for most trainees under most circumstances.… Keep Reading