What stimulated this article was an experience I had last week. As described in the About Me page I’m currently living in SLC Utah training full time at the speed skating oval trying to make National or Olympic qualifying trials (making the team, of course, is the ultimate dream).
The Big Kid Wants Training Secrets
Anyhow, last week I made friends with one of the other skaters (most of the skaters at the oval are, shall we say, unfriendly. Coming from me that’s saying a lot. I personally think they carry the same elitist prick gene that road cyclists carry but I digress). He’s young and big, I shall call him The Big Kid (TBK).
So TBK and I are at dinner talking skating. He tells me that he moved down here to try and make the national team. Ok, I’m down. Except that when I see him at the rink, he’s usually spending more time hitting on the chicks instead of training.
TBK also opines that he is just convinced that the top guys must have some secret. Ah, there’s the rub, he’s still looking for secrets instead of realizing that the only secret is ass busting work over a long period of time. And that’s what stimulated this article.
I still get emails, see posts to my forum, etc. from people looking for that elusive training or diet secret. Something quick and easy, preferably in pill form that can be taken and make you great without putting in ass busting work over a long period of time.
Shortcuts are The American Way
Now, this is the American way, look for a quick fix secret instead of realizing that the only way to succeed is with ass busting work over a long period of time. Give me a pill, a piece of equipment, a piece of clothing (UnderArmor being the new clothing of choice for gym posers everywhere). Anything except for having to put in ass busting work over a period of time.
Anything. Supplement companies, magazines, equipment companies use this to their advantage. Read a muscle magazine, a fishing magazine, a women’s magazine, all use the same cover boilerplate that promises training, fishing or sex secrets. It’s the same wording.
- 10 Training Secrets for Muscle Building
- 10 Bassmaster Secrets for Catching a Big Lunker
- 10 Sex Secrets You Can Use Tonight
Now, this reminds me of me when I was back in college, an athlete who desperately wanted to be better and who got sucked into all of the crap in the magazines. This magic supplement, this magic training program, I read the muscle magazines religiously for years just so I wouldn’t miss that one issue that contained the secret.
Then I got my head (partially anyhow) out of my ass.
Over time, as I gained experience (and the horror of all horrors: maturity), I realized that there are no secrets. The equation is simply ass busting work + time = results. There are no shortcuts, no secrets, no easy solutions (except drugs).
Sure, you need to train smart, you need to apply good principles to your diet and training and some stuff is relatively more effective than other stuff. But once you’ve got the basics, all you can do is bust ass for a long period of time. Or take drugs. Both work and, of course, drugs are easier. See my bromocriptine booklet for example.
So with that said, I give you the training and diet secrets I have developed over the past decade (note: this is why I’ll never be a best selling author).
Training Secrets for Size and Strength Gains (for naturals)
- If you are natural, you must get stronger to get bigger. If, over time, you are not adding weight to the bar, you are not growing.
- Training a bodypart less than 2X/week will not give you optimal gains. An upper/lower split done Mon/Tue/Thu/Fri is close to optimal for most. Full body twice a week can work very well. Once every 5th day is the least frequently I would ever recommend a natural train. You’ll get less sore training more frequently and you’ll grow better. Save once/week bodypart training for pro bodybuilders (read: steroid users) and the genetically elite.
- When in doubt, do less volume, not more. You don’t need a zillion sets to stimulate hypertrophy, the bullshit written in the magazines to the contrary. If you can’t get it done in 4-8 hard sets (sometimes less, rarely more)per muscle group, you need to learn to train with focus and intensity. I had a friend who sold supplements one time who kept asking me to design him a product that would really work. I told him to make a supplement that would make people work hard in the gym and watch their diets. He thought I was joking.
- Generally, basic compound exercises are best but isolation stuff has its place. Same for the machines versus free weights ‘argument’: both have their place. Anybody who tell you that you MUST do a certain exercise is arguing from an emotional stance, not a physiological one.
- If you think you can gain muscle without eating sufficient food or calories, you should quit bodybuilding and take up something easier, like golf. You can’t magically make muscle out of nothing, you need calories and protein to grow. If you can’t buckle down to eat enough on a consistent basis, you won’t grow an ounce of muscle. And spare me the excuses that you’re not hungry or your schedule won’t allow it. It’s about priorities, eat more or stay skinny.
- Most hardgainers train like idiots and don’t eat enough.
- Diets should be based around whole foods first, supplements second. Remember the hoopla over zinc and testosterone and ZMA from Balco (hi Victor, hope you’re enjoying the forced sodomy in jail)? Red meat is a great source of zinc, iron, B12 and protein. Not to mention who knows how many other trace nutrients that are involved in optimal human physiology. Eat it every day. Remember all of that crap about indole 3 carbinole. Guess what, it’s found in cruciferous vegetables like broccoli and cauliflower. Every time you hear about a new magic compound, 99 times out of 100 it’s found in some whole food that you’re probably not eating. Eat whole foods with a shitpile of veggies every day.
- There is no singular best protein, each one has pros and cons. Generally, I thinnk casein is better for dieting, whey for around workouts, whole proteins the rest of the time. You can’t beat milk (and the dairy calcium has benefits on bodyfat). I think mixing proteins at a given meal is a good idea to eliminate any shortcomings of one. I think food combining (or protein rotation) is a lot of hippy holistic bullshit. You can read more about this in The Protein Book.
Training Secrets for Fat Loss
- You can’t magically lose weight unless you eat less or burn more calories with activity. Not unless you take drugs and those either make you eat less or burn more anyhow.
- Don’t complain about how much you hate dieting or exercise. You can either change your diet and activity patterns, or you can stay fat. Those are your two options, except for drugs.
- To lose weight and keep it off you must change some aspect of your training and diet and do it forever.
- All diet books, no matter what line of bullshit they sell you, are working in terms of what’s in #3. Cutting all of the carbs out of your diet will generally make you eat less, so will cutting out all of the fat, so do diets taht change your eating habits in one fashion or another. Some books go the activity route. At the end of the day, even if they tell you that you don’t have to eat less to lose weight, they will trick you into doing it one way or another
Note: My job, as diet book author, is to turn Eat Less, Exercise, Repeat Forever into a 300 page book. Most diet books do it with 150 pages of recipes.
Everything else that you may come across, including my various gibberings in my books, are just details on the above. But at a fundamental level, until you are dealing with that 1% of 1% of trainees (elite athletes, bodybuilders trying to get to 5% bodyfat without muscle loss), those secrets are about all you need to know.
The ONLY True Dieting and Training Secret
If you want a true training secret, the one that all elite athletes know, here it is.
Hard Work + Consistency + Time = Results.
Burn that into your head and quit looking for quick fixes and secrets.
Because they don’t exist.
- Anabolic Steroids and Muscle Growth
- Should Training Determine the Diet or Vice Versa?
- Muscle Loss While Dieting to Single Digit Body Fat Levels
- The Importance of Rest
- What Are the Causes of Diet Failure?