The No Bull Muscle Building Plan

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The No Bull Muscle Building Plan

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The No Bull Muscle Building Plan

How to Add Slabs of Muscle Without Turning Into a Tub of Lard In the Process “Defying The Curse of The Natural Muscle Seeking Athlete”

By: Kelly Baggett

Copyright 2006 © by Kelly Baggett. All Rights Reserved.


No portion of this manual may be used, reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic of mechanical, including fax, photocopy, recording or any information storage and retrieval system by anyone but the purchaser for their own personal use. This manual may not be reproduced in any form without the express written permission of Kelly Baggett, except in the case of a reviewer who wishes to quote brief passages for the sake of a review written for inclusions in a magazine, newspaper, or journal – and these cases require written approval from Kelly Baggett prior to publication. For more information, please contact:

Kelly Baggett 649 Fruit Farm Rd. Hollister, MO 65672 Email: [email protected] Website:

Disclaimer The information in this book is offered for educational purposes only; the reader should be cautioned that there is an inherent risk assumed by the participant with any form of physical activity. With that in mind, those participating in strength and conditioning programs should check with their physician prior to initiating such activities. Anyone participating in these activities should understand that such training initiatives may be dangerous if performed incorrectly. The author assumes no liability for injury; this is purely an educational manual to guide those already proficient with the demands of such programming.


Table of Contents Introduction………………………………………………………………………….…….5 Defining the problem……………………………………………………………….….….5 What the heck are genetics anyway?………………………………………………..…….6 We’re really no different than animals…………………………………………..………..7 What is muscle mass good for?…………………………………………………….……..7 Genetics are quite powerful………………………………………………………….…....8 Bodybuilding – A contradictory adaptation?……………………………………….….….9 Genes and the Hunter-Gatherer………………………………………………………….10 Spendthrift genes vs Thrifty genes………………………………………………………11 Unfortunate seasonal residents…………………………………………………………..12 Native Americans vs African Americans………………………………………………..12 Why fat people build muscle and shed fat so easily?……………………………………13 How hormones communicate……………………………………………………………13 Good vs bad genes……………………………………………………………………….14 Variable genes……………………………………………………………………………15 What food does?……………………………………………………………………..…..16 Hormones that build muscle – hormones that eat up muscle………………………...…..16 Muscular variation – Number of muscle cells is key…………………………………….17 DNA Testing and Manipulation – The future of sport……………………………..…....18 Making sure you create the right adaptations – Inefficiency vs efficiency……..…….…19 The fed state=anabolic state………………………………………………………..….…19 Summarizing the problem…………………………………………………………...…...20 Genetic Limits = Bull? (Powerlifters know mass)..…………….…………………..……21 How much does it take to build muscle?…………………………………………..…….22 The anabolic effects of under-feeding…………………………………..…………..…...22 Fat loss benefits from over-feeding………………………………………………..…….22 Work capacity……………………………………………………………………..……..23 Manipulating Insulin – Insulin and fat burning – Insulin and muscle growth……..…….23 Training for mass…………………………………………………………..…………….27 Various types of growth…………………………………………………..…………..….29 How important is fatigue?…………………………………………………………..……32 Strength training vs size training………………………………………………….……..33 Neural efficiency – you gotta practice…………………………………………….……..34 Bodybuilding and strength training……………………………………………….……..36 Forced Reps……………………………………………………………………….……..36 Training Frequency?…………………………………………………………….……….38 Muscular vs Neural Recovery…………………………………………….……………...38 Factors affecting neural recovery…………………………………………………….…..40 Feeder workouts……………………………………………………………….…………44 Organizing the loads…………………………………………………………….……….46 Training to failure?……………………………………………………………….……...47 How many reps?………………………………………………………………….……...47 How many sets?………………………………………………………………….………49 3

Getting the most out of your training – You have to eat!………………………….…….50 Training for fat loss………………………………………………………………….…...50 Glycogen levels and carbohydrate requirements……………………….………………..51 Manipulating glycogen stores……………………………………………………………51 The need for cyclical training……………………………………………………………53 What you will probably love about this program………………………………………..54 The No Bull muscle gain plan………………….………………………………………..55 The Diet………………………………………………………………………………….55 Training…………………………………………………………………………………..61 Modifying the Scheme…………………………………………………………………...68 Monitoring body composition……………………………………………………………70 Alternative plans…………………………………………………………………………70 Troubleshooting………………………………………………………………………….71 Q&A……………………………………………………………………………………...73


Introduction Regardless of whether you’re a bodybuilder or athlete, male or female, young or old, I know you probably bought this manual for one of 2 reasons:


1. You’ve seen the ads and the transformations and watched other people gain 30 pounds of muscle in 8, 10, or 12, weeks, - all while simultaneously losing fat, and you wish you could do the same. You’re unhappy with how much muscle you carry or how much muscle you’ve built, yet you also may not be entirely happy with the amount of fat that you carry either. You want to gain a significant amount of lean body mass yet you can’t really afford a traditional “bulk-up”. 2. You want to gain some muscle, but you’re one of those guys or gals who busted your butt so hard getting yourself lean, (or you have to bust your butt so hard to stay lean), there ain’t NO way you’re gonna compromise and allow some of that ugly, nasty, fat to jump up and stick to your gut, or your butt.

Regardless which of those descriptions best fits you I’m sure you know what you want. You probably also know the situation and you know what the deal is. Being a natural muscle-seeking athlete can be difficult. It' s hard to build muscle without fat and the worse your genetics are the more difficult it is. To start off, I’d like to spend some time talking about the problems people have building natural lean muscle and some of the basic principles behind what I’m going to talk about in this manual. Feel free to skip this if you want and move ahead to the Program section on page 54 if you want.

Defining The Problem Muscle growth occurs through a process of stimulation, signaling and supply. Training “stimulates” muscles to grow. Your natural levels of various anabolic hormones “signal” muscles to grow, and food “supplies” raw material for growth. Those 3 things together determine how effectively you put on muscle. Unfortunately, it could be argued the most important of those factors is the one you have the least amount of control over, and that is the growth “signaling” that occurs from various hormones like testosterone and IGF-1. When you think of growth signaling, simply think of this as an aspect of your genetics. How important is growth signaling? Well, ask yourself this: When, during his lifetime, does the average male gain the most muscle mass? When he trains and eats well? Not necessarily. How about puberty? There you go. The average male gains about 40 pounds of near permanent muscle during puberty, and that’s without any training. Now, what causes puberty? Changes in hormone levels. Think of the difference between a male and a female? It’s all hormonal. Someone labeled with good genetics vs someone labeled with bad genetics? All


hormonal. Whenever people take steroids they’re basically changing, or over-riding, aspects of their natural hormonal signaling related to muscle growth. The hormonal effect is so strong that in one study testosterone use all by itself, even in the absence of training, was shown to stimulate an 18-pound muscle gain in 20 weeks. In another study, 3 groups of people were divided up into the following 3 groups and followed for 8 weeks: Group A: This group took 600 mg of testosterone per week and sat on their butt. Group B: This group took no testosterone and trained with weights for 1 hour 4 days per week. Group C: This group took 600 mg of testosterone per week and trained with weights 4 days per week. At the end of the study group A gained 9 pounds of muscle, group B gained 4.5 pounds, while group C gained 16 pounds of muscle. Look at that again. The people who sat on their butts and took testosterone still gained twice as much muscle as the poor souls busting their butts in the gym naturally 4 days per week! Those who trained took testosterone gained 4 times as much muscle as the natural group. It should be noted that in this particular study the natural training group wasn’t making any concerted effort to improve their nutritional status, yet with that information it should be pretty clear why people take steroids. The damn things work! Another important thing to note about this information is that we also tend to see a heck of a lot of variance between natural athletes just like we do between steroid users and non-steroid users. You’ll see a few freakish looking natural athletes who preach “just train hard and eat right and you can do it”. Maybe so, but chances are their physiology is not like yours. If it were you probably wouldn’t be reading this. If you were to take a group of college football players and a group of typical IT workers and put both groups on a bodybuilding program and charted the results, you’d probably find about the same muscle building variance between the 2 groups as you do between steroid users and non-steroid users. Not really a happy thought, but hopefully we can do something to bridge that gap. Let’s talk a little bit more about genetics.

What the heck are "genetics" anyway? When it comes to muscle building, we hear the word “genetics” thrown around as often as any other concept. “So and so has good genetics.” “I have crap genetics.” What the heck does this mean anyway? Well, genetics refers to the mechanism of hereditary transmission and the variation of inherited characteristics among similar or related organisms. For our purposes, when you think of bodybuilding genetics, think of things you have little to no control over such as the:


A: Length and size of your bones B: The length of your muscles and number of muscle cells you start out with C: Length of your tendons D: Hormonal tendencies The end result of what happens when you place your body under a stimulus like weight training is dependent on both your environment and your genetic code. With regard to the stimulus of bodybuilding, the response is around 50% genetic and 50% environment. Environment includes things like nutrition, training etc. When you combine your genetics with the environment you get genetic expression.

The Amazing Bodybuilding Adaptation - We're Really NO Different Than Animals…….. The way physique enthusiasts look for and expect dramatic physical changes as normal, ordinary, everyday occurrences is something I believe we all need to think about from time to time. In no other animal species do you see mature animals make such dramatic physical changes. Even though animals have more specific genetic tendencies and less adaptability, I still feel the following is worth an illustration. How many times have you seen mature adult animals of any species gain pounds of muscle mass? Think about that for a second. The muscle mass a mature animal will carry is mostly determined before it was even born. Large muscle mass increases normally don’t happen once adulthood has been reached and, for reasons having to do with our natural wired in code for survival, humongous muscle mass increases really weren’t designed to occur in humans to a great extent either. When a person hits their mature adult height and weight that should be about it as far as muscle mass is concerned. Increased muscular hypertrophy was designed primarily to make work and physical labor more efficient. In the real world, lots of people do a lot of physical labor and do get growth, but still don’t really grow enough to change their entire physical structure. The fact that we are able to over-ride nature and change our structure to such a large extent through bodybuilding is something I feel we should really appreciate.

What Else Besides Work is Muscle Mass Good For? From a biological perspective, a mammal’s physical characteristics such as facial symmetry, teeth, structure, and muscle mass, tend to be a marker of the quality of that animal’s genes. Being outwardly healthy and strong can help an animal or person do 2 things: 1. Survive 2. Reproduce 7

These 2 things are also the same things that drive all life – survival and reproduction. The external features that express health and vitality contribute to both the ability to survive (through the ability to do more efficient work), and increase the likelihood of reproducing, as qualities demonstrating a good physical constitution also tend to make an animal more attractive to the opposite sex, and for good reason. In the animal kingdom, a good structure with a muscular, healthy body means that a mammal can probably defend its family in event of a conflict and support its family being strong enough to work, hunt, and find food. Those with good physical qualities are more likely to have an easier time both surviving and reproducing than those with inferior qualities. The superiority of good physical qualities is like a built in safe-guard to ensure survival of the fittest among a species. I’ve spent most of my life around deer hunters and all you have to do to see this illustrated in the real world is look at bucks. During the rut, who is more likely to get the doe, the scrawny one horned spike, or the big ol’ buck with a nice set of antlers? It should be obvious that any species wishing to thrive and avoid extinction would do well to ensure that the fittest of its species are the ones who pass along their genetic code. So, besides making work more efficient, things like our natural level of muscle mass also express our vitality, which is why, even in our modern day society, our primal instincts play a large part in our behavior. Women find a fairly muscular man with a good build, good teeth, and good facial symmetry (and perhaps a crap-load of money), more attractive than a scrawny or fat man, and, even though the anorexic supermodel is promoted as ideal, most men naturally find a more normal looking woman with good breasts and a J-Lo booty, (indicators of good reproductive capacity), more primally attractive. In the animal kingdom there is nothing animals can really do about physical qualities but we humans are different. Because we are so smart, we' re able to cheat and do things to over-ride some of the outward expressions of our “health and vitality”. If you have naturally bad teeth you can get braces. Got bad skin you can get a face-lift. If you’re a woman with small breasts you can get a boob job. Got a big ol’ nose you can get a nose job. Losing your hair you can get extensions. If you’re too old you can just take anti-aging hormones. If you don’t like your skin color you can just pull a Michael Jackson. If you don’t like your sex you can change that. If you’re fat you can either starve or have liposuction. And if you have a less than optimal structure with less muscle than you desire, you can change that too, - you can lift your butt off and eat like there’s no tomorrow. But just to keep things in perspective, imagine if your dog didn' t like the way he looked and he went out in the backyard and started hauling around all kinds of crap from one end of the yard to the other in an effort to resistance train and increase his muscle mass? It sounds crazy, but that is more or less what we do when we body-build.

Genetics Are Quite Powerful…….


Additionally, many people lose sight of the fact that their basic structure and level of muscularity are, for the most part, something they’re born with. People have no problems interpreting the fact that the thick legs and musculature of their Pit Bull named Buffy, (who sits on his butt 23 hours per day and does no exercise), was determined before it was born, but when it comes to our own physiques, few people or observers recognize the strong genetic connection. Instead, they give credit to a favorite sport, activity, or exercise. You' ll hear teenagers with naturally big legs say stuff like "Oh, when I was 8 years old I used to ride my bike to school everyday and that’s why my legs are so big", and so forth. I was reminded of this the other day at the gym. The "Power Team" was in town doing some demos at a local church. One Saturday afternoon one of the performing members came into the gym for a workout. This guy probably went 6' 1 and 280 and evidently was a defensive lineman for a major Div. I program at some point. Some young kids went up to him and started talking to him, asking him how he got so big. Now, it was obvious to me that this particular athlete was just naturally big. He had humongous bones, humongous muscle bellies, and just lots of natural looking muscle. He' d probably weigh 260 even if he never did a thing. Yet, when asked how he got so big, he said that when he was a teenager he used to do a lot of work on a farm and eat a lot. The conversation then went in the direction of, “Yeah my uncle used to work on a farm as a teen and got up to 250 lbs doing this, that etc." I' m sure most of you know what I mean. Not to say that hard physical work doesn' t account for something, but when people compare and note the muscle mass differences between two types of dogs, like a Greyhound and a Boxer, nobody ever accuses the Greyhound of being skinny because he didn' t do any physical work when he was a puppy, - and they never credit physical work for the Boxer’s superior muscle mass. The huge difference in muscle mass between the 2 dogs is purely a genetic thing. Assuming a decent environment where they get enough food and stay healthy, the size difference was mostly determined before they were born. Additionally, if you were to resistance train those dogs you would probably see the same sort of variation with regards to how much muscle mass they gain from resistance training. The boxer would probably out-gain the greyhound at a rate proportional to his already existing muscle mass. People are the same way. Some people are naturally more like a Greyhound and some people are more like Boxers. Gaining tons of additional mass won' t come as easy for the greyhound, but it will probably fly on the boxer with hardly any stimulation at all. That doesn' t mean the greyhound can' t gain a lot of mass, but he' s gonna have to bust his butt for it.

Bodybuilding – A Contradictory Adaptation? The bodybuilding adaptation could also be considered somewhat of a contradictory adaptation for a couple of reasons. First, we still have the same genetic code as our hunter-gatherer ancestors, many of whom faced harsh conditions like starvation, which means we’re still genetically geared to survive harsh conditions. Thus, nearly all adaptations by the body to stress are adaptations that make the body more


efficient at dealing with potential hardcore stressors. In other words, any stress encountered by your body will be dealt with in a manner that makes your body better live to see another day based on its interpretation of your external world. Adaptations geared toward survival are preferred to adaptations towards performance. Efficiency is preferable to proficiency. Think about that for a second. If you had to push a 300-pound wheelbarrow up a mile hill each and every day, initially it would be a real challenge. Your hands would get blistered, your arms, traps, and legs would get sore, and you’d probably feel like you were gonna die. You’d be huffing and puffing and probably be sore for days. After a while though your body would adapt to make that task more efficient and you’d be able to push the wheelbarrow up the hill without any problems whatsoever. You might see a few physical changes and a tad more muscle mass in certain areas, yet your improved efficiency in pushing the wheelbarrow would likely greatly overshadow any physical changes. In other words, you’d get stronger and your ability to push the wheelbarrow would probably improve 10 times, yet your muscle mass wouldn’t increase all that much. The same thing occurs to a large extent when we lift weights. We may or may not make a ton of physical changes, but if nothing else we get better at tolerating the workloads. Now, what makes our preferred adaptation sort’ve contradictory and helps explain why it doesn’t come easy is because our goal of bigger muscles and leaner physiques could be considered an adaptation towards inefficiency. Getting stronger and increasing the ability to tolerate workloads is relatively easy for the body to do, yet adding muscle mass is a costly adaptation. Here’s why: Bigger muscles burn more fuel and serve to make your body more like a gas guzzling SUV than a Honda Civic. A big bodybuilder is like a big fuel guzzling monster truck. He is terribly fuel inefficient. A big bodybuilder burns up 3 gallons of gas just getting out of bed and walking to the bathroom. Now, why would an organism designed to adapt to stressors EFFICIENTLY, make it easy to go from operating like a 55 miles per gallon economy car to a 3 miles per gallon monster truck?? Our bodies don' t know that today we have a McDonalds and a supermarket on every corner and an endless supply of food. Chances are your body is still trying to adapt to the environment as efficiently as possible.

Genes and The Hunter-Gatherer Many of our ancestors were periodically faced with food shortages, famines, and harsh cyclical climates (depending on where they lived). Those who could survive those conditions were the ones who would thrive. Obviously, lean and highly muscular bodies (which burn up a lot of fuel), aren’t gonna do well when faced with food shortages. Muscle is metabolically costly tissue and an organism seeking to avoid famine would be best to avoid accumulating a whole lot of it. Those with very lean bodies and a lack of fat obviously wouldn’t last long in a famine. To get to the point, if for whatever reason today we had to once again face the same conditions our ancestors faced (such as periodic food shortages and harsh climates), and we were also faced with the challenge of bodybuilding workouts; - those who would 10

survive in the face of this stress would be the ones who could adapt to the workouts by getting better at performing the workouts without creating a lot of unnecessary muscle mass, and those who could hold on to and store fat more efficiently. Thus, those who respond to bodybuilding with lean physiques and easy increases in muscle mass (which require much more food to maintain), are those who probably tend to express dominant genes from ancestors that never had to worry much about food shortages. These genes probably come from ancestors that lived in year around warm climates with year around food surpluses. Conversely, those who find it a big struggle to increase muscle size and maintain a lean physique are those who probably express dominant genes from ancestors that faced periodic harsh conditions. Thus, these genes make them naturally better at dealing with food shortage and famines.

Spendthrift Genes vs Thrifty Genes Next, I’d like to talk about some of the different type of genetic tendencies that have been identified by science that have a lot to do with what I’ve been talking about here. To help illustrate my points I’m going to talk about some of the characteristics of certain ethnic groups. I am doing this for illustrative purposes only so don’t freak out and think I’m ragging on a certain ethnic group.

Spendthrift Genetics There are some people who have metabolisms that seem to contradict what I’m saying about “efficiency”. Scientists call people with this inefficient type of metabolism spendthrifts, because they adapt to stimuli by spending, or creating adaptations that could be termed inefficient in the face of stress and starvation. The key characteristic of a spendthrift is that when you overfeed them they tend to burn off calories instead of storing them as fat. Additionally, when you diet them, they easily shed body-fat without any metabolic slowdown. We can also take this a step further and theorize that someone with a spendthrift metabolism might have an advantage when it comes to acquiring pure lean muscle (providing they eat enough). Whatever the case, what scientists call a spendthrift metabolism probably evolved due to chronic year around food surplus. It should be noted that one aspect both West Africa and tropical areas have in common is a consistent year-round food surplus. For whatever reason, those from West African or tropical ancestry tend to carry genes that allow more adaptations towards fuel inefficiency (easily increased muscle mass and lean bodies), probably because harsher climates and dramatic food shortages weren’t something faced by their ancestors. Those from these geographical locations aren’t the only people termed spendthrifts, yet for this purpose, they provide a pretty good example. It’s also interesting that West Africa is home to the biggest, fastest, and most powerful land animals – and most of the best athletes and bodybuilders can directly trace their heritage here. All you have to do is take a look at the ethnicity of most of the best athletes in any 11

sport where a high priority is placed on a lean and muscular body, such as football, bodybuilding, track etc.

Thrifty Genetics In contrast to a spendthrift, those who carry genes geared toward dealing well with periodic food shortages (due to cold and/or seasonal climates), are known as thrifty metabolisms, because their physiology quickly adapts to become efficient, or thrifty, in the face of any sort of stress that could affect energy balance. These people adapt to harsh metabolic stimuli (physical work and dieting), by becoming more efficient in the face of stress. When you overfeed them they easily store calories as fat. When you diet them they tend to hang onto fat and their metabolism slows down a lot. They’re the ones who would be surviving if a famine were to occur. As you’ll see in a minute, in the United States, Native Americans are a good real world example of a thrifty metabolism.

Unfortunate Seasonal Residents Now this picture should start to become clearer. Providing they eat enough, those with a spendthrift type ancestry probably find it easier to respond to the stress of bodybuilding with large increases in pure lean muscle mass (despite the fact that this adaptation would require a surplus of food to maintain). They also definitely are able to get quite lean without triggering the body’s survival mechanisms and thus slowing the metabolic rate. Those with thrifty genetics are the ones who train and train and train without anything visual to show for it UNLESS they eat perfectly, train perfectly, or take enough drugs to overcome their natural tendencies towards efficiency.

Just Compare Native Americans To African Americans…. To help elucidate the difference between a thrifty metabolism and a spendthrift metabolism, we can compare Native Americans to African Americans. In the United States, Pima Indians are a good real world example of a thrifty metabolism. They have a natural tendency towards being hyper-responsive to insulin. This means they tend to store more excess nutrients in fat cells. Insulin is hormone that helps push nutrients into storage. The more hyper-responsive to insulin the body is, the easier it is for the body to store fat for later use. Pimas also tend to have a low sympathetic nervous system (SNS) output, (think natural amphetamine), which means their metabolisms tend to run rather slow. So, combine a slow metabolism with efficient storage, along with a standard American diet, and you get a propensity to become fat with any sort of caloric excess. During caloric restriction, being hyper-responsive to insulin and having lower SNS tone also makes it more difficult for the body to pull fat out of storage to burn for energy. So, you have people that have a tendency to gain weight easily and struggle to lose fat. Does that mean if you’re a full-blooded Pima Indian that you can’t develop a


good body? No, it just means that, compared to the average person, you might have a more difficult time staying lean. Contrast this to African Americans. If you’re an African American you probably tend to have naturally poorer insulin sensitivity, which, upon first thought, might seem to throw a big wrench into the entire argument I' m making here, but in fact it helps verify my argument. Insulin is a storage hormone. Why would an organism have enhanced insulin sensitivity if it really didn' t see a big need to store a lot of excess nutrients for later use? It doesn' t. So, combine naturally poorer insulin sensitivity along with a standard American, (or whatever) diet (supplying excess calories), and you have a lot of nutrition floating around in the bloodstream but have a hard time forcing that nutrition into storage. But what if you add exercise into the mix? Exercise enhances insulin sensitivity strictly in muscle cells. Thus, with exercise and increased calories you get preferential storage of nutrients in muscle cells, but not fat cells.

Why Fat People Build Muscle and Shed Fat So Easily? Now, think of what happens when the typical overweight fat guy with a big beer gut gets in the gym and starts working out? They build muscle and shed fat like there’s no tomorrow. This is what happens when you train an insulin resistant person. They get results like there’s no tomorrow. But what happens when that same insulin resistant person sits on their butt?? Well, because they have a lot of nutrients floating around but have trouble storing them, they easily develop problems like syndrome X, high blood pressure, obesity etc. This probably explains why active African Americans have an easier time building muscle and burning fat than average (providing they stay active). Yet it also helps explain why sedentary African Americans also suffer from more high blood pressure, obesity, and diabetes then average.

Hormonal Communication Now, let’s talk a little bit about how the body carries out some of these genetic tendencies. The body has an entire sensing and signaling system in place that allows it to sense what’s going on both internally and externally and how to best adapt at any given time. Basically, your brain constantly receives signals from the rest of your body regarding your food intake, body-fat percentage, how much you’re exercising, emotional stress state, and many others. It receives these signals in a variety of ways. Two of the main ways are through changes in hormone and neurotransmitter levels. Hormones are chemical messengers that send a message and tell the body how to act. They are simple chemical messengers released by one cell in your body that latch onto a receptor in another part of the body and send a message. Think of a bicycle messenger. A bicycle messenger takes a message and hauls butt across town and delivers that message. Your body does the same thing with hormones. An entire network of hormones allows the body to sense what’s going on and communicate internally with other parts. A neurotransmitter is a chemical substance, such as acetylcholine or


dopamine, that basically “sends a message” by transmitting a nerve impulse across a synapse.

Good vs Bad Genetics Now, we can identify and specify all kinds of specific genes and what kind’ve messages they help send. I’ll touch on a few of those in a moment, but unless you have access to genetic testing that information probably isn’t gonna do you a whole lot of good. In this day and age, all you really need to know is that when we say someone has good genetics, what we’re basically saying is that their hormones and neurotransmitters are good at sending an overall message that says, “build muscle and get lean.” When we say someone has poor genetics, what we’re really saying is that their hormones and neurotransmitters are good at sending an overall message saying, “stay skinny and store fat.” You see, a person’s natural outward appearance, such as the amount of muscle they tend to carry and how easily they build muscle and shed fat, is largely dictated by what internal messages the body is sending to the external parts, such as the muscles, and what those external parts are “being told” to do by the internal signals. Things like food intake, physical stress (exercise), body-fat percentage, emotional stress state, and others all influence those messages. The hormone testosterone is obviously good at sending a message that tells muscles to get bigger, but the hormonal network is much more complex than that. Your brain constantly signals the release of various hormones that send a variety of signals to your muscles and other peripheral tissues, while your muscles release signals that communicate back to your brain and tell it what’s going on below. Increase this, decrease that. So, your brain is receiving signals from the rest of your body via changes in hormone and neurotransmitter levels telling it what’s going on. At the same time, your brain is sending signals back to the rest of your body, via hormones and neurotransmitters, telling it what to do. That’s the basic gist of it. This gives the body a great deal of adaptability. Levels of certain hormones can change positively or negatively with regard to the aforementioned increasing or decreasing food intakes, exercise, stress state, body fat level, and many other factors. Hormones also change due to age.

Not To Go Overboard……… Now, having said all that, genetic tendencies are not as absolute as what I described earlier as far as there being just a thrifty group and just a spendthrift group. Most people demonstrate a mix of both. There does exist a lot of variance and these are only tendencies and not absolutes. For example, some people have great muscle building tendencies, (or muscle growth signaling), but poor fat burning signaling. Some people can burn fat like there’s no tomorrow, yet would have a hard time putting on an ounce of muscle if their life depended on it. Some struggle with both. Additionally, regardless of what your genetics have a to do, your environment influences the ultimate 14

expression. For example, you can take someone with Mr. Olympia type genetics and let him lead a typical lazy adolescent life of playstation and x-box with no exercise and a high sugar diet. Continue that into adulthood and by the time he’s 25 he’ll probably look like crap. Take someone with a genetic tendency to be a fat pillsbury doughboy, throw him in a 3rd world country, and he’ll probably be scrawny as heck from lack of food. Take someone with Pee Wee Herman type muscular genetics and give him years of gym time, ever increasing bar weights, along with large food intakes, and you’ll have a muscular individual! Regardless of your genetic tendencies, if you wanna get the most out of your genes you better figure out what the heck you’re doing!

Variable Genetics…. Now, to illustrate how variable this hormonal network can be, just look at the average 18- year old male and compare him to the average 50-year old male. Without fail, an 18-year old male, even with the worst genetics, will still usually have an easier time building muscle and shedding fat than a 50 yr old with superior genetics. Even in a given individual, things are a lot more difficult at 60 then they are 20. So, it should be obvious that “hormonal signaling” can change based on age. It can also change based on environment. Here’s another example: Let’s say we have an 18-year old male and we put him in a beach cottage in Venice with an unlimited budget and 6 hours per week of in the gym training time with a good personal trainer. We give him all the food he wants with absolutely no stress whatsoever besides chasing after the ladies and training. We train him for 6 weeks and see how much muscle we can put on him. Let’s say we take his twin brother and put him through a military boot-camp. We only allow him to eat 2000 calories per day of cheap food. We only allow him to sleep 3 hours per night. We yell at him constantly to the point that he’s near suicide. And we train him exactly the way we did in the above scenario. Which twin will build more muscle? The answer should be obvious. Now, let me explain some of the things that occur hormonally during the 2nd scenario noted above: Our boot camp guy is stressed out with exercise and also underfed so his glucose levels drop. The lowered glucose will cause a decrease in the levels of insulin and an increase in levels glucagon, which serves to increase “fight or flight” hormones epinephrine and cortisone. Overall, this places his body on “alert” status, and makes more fuel available for the brain. It also causes a decrease in testosterone. This process is magnified by negative stress. Therefore, fuel is shifted away from the muscles and directed towards the brain. This leaves little nutrition left over to fuel muscle mass increases. This lack of nutrition coupled with stress will eventually lead to a decrease in testosterone, which leads to less protein synthesis. Eventually, with prolonged food restriction (dieting), stress hormones will stay elevated, appetite will drastically increase, and energy will decrease to the point of near


zero. Therefore, our bodybuilding soldier will be tired and hungry as hell, and the last thing his body will do is put on any muscle. It should come as no surprise that the above scenario, lack of food coupled with stress, is not good for muscle building purposes. **I should also mention that stress alone, even with ample food, can create that same internal physiology

What food does? In contrast, eat more food, sleep well, and not only do you bathe your muscles in nutrients and supply plenty of raw material for growth, but you also get an increase in insulin levels, which serves to drive excess nutrients into muscular (and fat) stores. Add exercise and you get preferential storage into muscular stores. Testosterone and thyroid levels will be normal while cortisol levels will be low. The body will act hormonally as if it’s in a well fed and stress free state. Therefore it should come as no surprise that a well fed and stress free state is optimal for gains in muscle mass.

Hormones that build muscle – Hormones that eat up muscle What primarily determines the variation in anabolic status between individuals (or within a given individual), is the variation in levels of more anabolic hormones like testosterone, insulin, IGF-1 and thyroid, - all of which are good at the body to increase muscle growth. Conversely, catabolic hormones like cortisol are good at telling the body to tear muscle down, or avoid building anymore. Elevated levels and/or increased sensitivity to testosterone, insulin, dopamine, nor-epinephrine, thyroid, serotonin, and several others are all characteristic of one being in an optimal state for building muscle. Decreased levels of these would demonstrate the inverse. Food intake tends to increase most of the above. Therefore, it should come as no surprise that food intake, besides simply providing extra material for growth, is also very important when it comes to creating the right hormonal state for growth. However, someone with naturally superior bodybuilding tendencies will tend to naturally have elevated levels and/or increased sensitivity to many of the anabolic hormones listed above. Thus, they don’t necessarily need extra food to stay anabolic as much as the guy or gal with hardgainer type bodybuilding tendencies does. They will be able to build more muscle on less food, (or eat more food while maintaining a leaner body composition), than someone with the opposite characteristics. This is why you see professional athletes who can half ass their diets and workouts and still gain 15 lbs of muscle and shed 10 lbs of fat at the same time. Their natural metabolism and hormonal signaling network screams out 2 very loud commands: 1. Build muscle, build muscle, build muscle! 2. Burn fat, burn fat, burn fat! It should be noted that chronic overfeeding (which occurs from “normal” diet and lack of activity), and age, both tend to cause a decreased sensitivity to many of these 16

various hormones, which is probably one of the reasons why young people have an easier time building muscle and shedding fat than older people. The absolute levels of various hormones may not change a lot with age, but the sensitivity to them does. However, establishing a short-term caloric deficit, or losing fat, can both increase the hormonal sensitivity. As you’ll see later, alternating periods of over and under-feeding allow one to benefit from the positive anabolic effects of overfeeding, while maintaining the anabolic sensitivity that comes underfeeding.

Muscular Variation Yet another huge “genetic” variant that has little to do with hormones is the variation in the tissues that the hormones act on, mainly the muscles. What we’re mainly concerned with here is the variability in the number of muscle cells between different individuals, particularly the number of fast twitch muscle cells. Muscular variability is also related to the length of the individual muscle bellies, as one can' t hypertrophy bone and tendon. The growth of the fast twitch muscles is primarily responsible for the increase in size that comes from resistance training. There is not a ton of hard evidence that muscle cells ever increase in number, although they definitely do increase in size. Therefore, the number of muscle cells one starts out with is important for growth potential and is also related to structure. An individual with naturally longer muscles and shorter tendons will tend to have larger natural muscle bellies and will also tend to have more muscle cells in a given body-part. Take a look at the calf muscles of various people. Some people have a nice long calf muscle while others just have a tight little ball at the top. Those with the short little ball have much less potential for calf growth because the tendons are so long and the muscle belly is so short. This is what I mean when I say “length of the muscle bellies.” To a lesser extent you see this in other body-parts as well, - biceps are another good example. Two individuals can also have nearly identical dimensions and muscular size yet one of them might have dramatically more or less muscle cells than the other. The one that has more total muscle cells in a given muscle, particularly fast twitch, will have more growth potential. Therefore, if 2 people both have 12-inch arms, yet one has twice as many muscle cells, he will also have a big advantage in his growth potential. It should be appreciated that studies performed on bodybuilders indicate that the muscle cells of elite bodybuilders aren’t much larger than those of normal folks, there' s just a lot more of them. To put this into simplistic terms, there' s a damn good chance that a young Ronnie Coleman had a crap-load of dormant muscle cells just waiting to respond to training. In contrast, the 6' 2 120 lb guy who bulks up to 200 lbs after 15 years of training, (and has to eat like a horse and train like a madman just to avoid losing size), may very well have bigger individual muscle cells than Ronnie Coleman, there’s just a lot less of them.


Specific Genes, DNA testing, and Genetic Manipulation All of these aforementioned adaptations and tendencies are influenced by our DNA, which carries specific genes that give us our characteristics. The U.S. Department of Energy and the National Institutes of Health began the Human Genome Project in 1990 and recently completed and identified the roughly 25,000 genes that make us who we are. With the job complete, scientists have started using this knowledge to research cutting edge cures for dozens of genetic disorders like diabetes, as well as uncover revelations in fields like evolution, anthropology, molecular medicine, and forensics. In fact, DNA testing, specific gene identification, and manipulation is already starting to catch on in the athletic world. There are specific genes that are highly relevant to athletic success that can now be identified. I saw an ad the other day from an outfit that tests your blood for 16 different “sports related” genes and then gives you dietary recommendations to enhance athletic performance based on the results of your genetic tests. One of these genes is MnSOD, which regulates the inherent ability to quelch muscle damaging free radicals. By identifying the strength of this gene, an individual can compensate by consuming a diet high in anti-oxidants. Two other genes, IL-6 and TNF alpha, correspond to the production of cytokines, chemical messengers that help repair the type of muscle damage caused by exercise. Some people tend to overproduce these helpers and this can result in excessive soreness, inflammation, swelling, fatigue, and a host of other overtraining related symptoms. A natural antidote for a person that has a weak IL-6 and TNF alpha gene might be the ingestion of lots of natural anti-inflammatory type foods like fish oil, along with very gradual increases in training load. Another gene is ACE, or angiotensin converting enzyme, which affects blood flow, endurance, blood pressure and a host of other things related to both athleticism and life span. High ACE results in poor endurance performance, but greater muscular strength and muscular hypertrophy. Subjects with higher levels of ACE had a higher level of Type II (fast twitch) fiber and intracellular glucose stores, whereas people with lower ACE had higher Type I (slow twitch) fiber, higher degrees of vascularization, and higher levels of interstitial glucose. From that you might think it would be beneficial to have high ACE wouldn’t it? Unfortunately, there’s also bad news. Higher levels of ACE also correlate well with high blood pressure, heart disease, and diabetes. Endurance type athletes have the lowest level of ACE, have low levels of heart disease and other cardiac related ailments, tend to have long lifespans, but are also about the furthest thing away from ideal a bodybuilder would ever envision.

The Future of Sport….. In the not so distant future it’s becoming obvious we’re gonna have people trying to manipulate and replace bad genes with good genes. It will be as simple as getting a 18

test, shelling out XX number of dollars, receiving an injection, and that’s it. Parents will be able to engineer their offspring exactly the way they want. In the athletic world, no longer will environment and your “natural” genes be determining factors. These factors will be replaced by the size of one’s wallet and ego. Unfortunately, I think it’s gonna take a long time to get it down to the point where bad gene can simply be replaced with a good gene without any negative side effects. Take the case of the ACE gene for example. Yeah, high levels of Ace would appear superior for purely anaerobic sports, but are also associated with lower lifespans, high blood pressure, and a host of other negative stuff. I’m sure that won’t stop some parents from wanting to manipulate their kids genes and risk creating all sorts of problems in the process.

Genetics and Adaptation – Efficiency vs. Inefficiency Now, I’d like to talk a little bit about creating the right environment for muscular adaptation. From the previous rant on genetics, you know your body can adapt to the training you throw at it by either becoming more efficient at dealing with the training load, or by building bigger muscles to better deal with the training load. Your body becomes more efficient at dealing with training by building up it' s endurance and recovery capacities so that it can complete the workouts you throw at it with less and less of a challenge. It becomes less efficient by building bigger muscles. How do you ensure that your body responds to the stress by building bigger muscles, rather than just more efficient muscles? Well, for one thing, you need to make sure that the body doesn' t see much need to create adaptations towards efficiency. The perfect scenario for these adaptations would be high volume training done at a high frequency while under-sleeping and consuming a negative calorie intake. Training on reduced calories already creates a stress and puts the body on starvation alert. When you add in high volume training and mental stress, the last thing the body will do is create more muscle.

The fed state = anabolic state The anabolic muscle growth state is also known as the fed state. Have you ever seen predators and the way their apparent mood and lifestyle fluctuates according to their food availability. Take a pack of wild dogs. They' ll chase an animal for days and when they finally kill it the entire mentality of the pack changes as they feast over the next couple of days. They go from being wired, anxious, nervous, sleeping little, and having no interest in mating, to becoming extremely good-natured, napping constantly, playing, and engaging in flirtatious behavior. The fed state is characteristic of laziness, happiness and yes, also muscle growth. Now you know why pro bodybuilders do nothing but eat, sleep, train, and have sex. If you want the body to adapt by creating more muscle you need to make sure it' s in the ideal state to do so and that the signals you throw at it deem it necessary. This means that on the lifestyle side of things you too need to be well-fed, get plenty of sleep, and be emotionally stress-free. (It should come as no surprise why Venice Beach is 19

considered the bodybuilding capital of the world). Under those conditions, as long as your training is on target, your body will respond with the most muscle possible. If any one of those "lifestyle" factors is off, it will throw off the effectiveness of your training. If you correct anything that’s not optimal, you should see the results of your training enhanced.

Summarizing The Problem Now that I’ve probably depressed the heck out of you, let’s summarize these points right quick: You know that muscle is built by a combination of training, the anabolic signals your body produces that tell a muscle to grow, (such as testosterone and IGF-1), along with nutrient intake, (which supplies raw material for growth). Training is a given, yet if you don' t have naturally good anabolic signaling (a.k.a. - good genetics), you have to make up for that by providing more raw material for growth to occur. When you first start training, you can typically get a growth response from anything. Let’s say you start lifting, eat maintenance calories and take your arms from 10 to 11 inches practically overnight. But then you get stuck. You change up your routine but still nothing happens. What happens and why do you get stuck? Well, 2 things: A: Assuming you stimulating growth through your training, the problem is, with your current diet, the amount of nutrients reaching the muscle cells in your arms isn’t enough to provide the extra raw material needed to stimulate growth. or B: The amount of anabolic hormones circulating throughout your body isn’t enough to signal anymore increased protein synthesis in your arms. Clearly, in order to get your arms bigger, you either have to eat more food or increase your anabolic hormone levels. Since you don’t take steroids, you have to stick to eating. The problem is, the amount of raw material necessary for some people to gain muscle, also means a lot of that raw material will spill over into adipose (fat) tissue, which is why some hapless individuals will gain 2 pounds of fat for every pound of muscle they gain, regardless of how clean their diet is. That’s basically the entire problem summed up right there. We’ll talk about how we’re gonna deal with the problem later.

More On Eating…. Despite how I may have made it sound thus far, getting big and piling on a good amount of muscle is not all that difficult. Eating excessive amounts makes people big fat, but, regardless of genetic tendencies, a lot of that bigness is muscle. This is particularly true for people that engage in resistance exercise or manual work (see "big" corn fed country boys). Not only do fat people carry more fat than skinny people, but they also carry more muscle mass than skinny people. Supplying excess raw material for 20

growth (aka – eating), even all by itself, is very anabolic. In controlled studies, people eating 1000 extra calories per day in the absence of any exercise whatsoever still gained 30% of their newfound scale weight as lean muscle mass. Even hospitalized anorexics that are put on bed rest and force fed food so that they can reach a predetermined scale weight still gain about 40% of their weight as lean mass.

Genetic Limits=Bull? When you think about it, there is really no such thing as a clear genetic size limitation for an individual. When someone talks about what they really should be referring to is the amount of muscle mass you carry at a given body-fat percentage. If you want to increase your genetic limit, simply get bigger overall. In other words, you might train for 15 years and be 190 pounds of muscle at 7% body-fat and think you’ve reached your genetic limit, yet train and eat yourself up to 300 lbs scale weight and sure as heck you’re gonna carry more muscle! I remember people saying that legendary bodybuilder Steve Reeves had reached his genetic limit at 210 (or whatever) pounds. Well, that was assuming he maintained his very lean condition. What would happen if Reeves training normally and ate himself up to 250 pounds? Would he carry more muscle? Sure he would. If you wanted to carry 280 lbs of muscle mass a guaranteed way to do that is train a few times a week and eat about 10,000 calories per day until you weigh 450 lbs. Although you won' t like the way you look and will probably die of a heart attack, you’ll still carry a lot of muscle underneath that fat. Even at 40% body-fat you will still carry over 270 lbs of lean body mass. That’s why the biggest sumo wrestlers on average carry more muscle mass than the biggest bodybuilders.

Powerlifters Know Mass! Everybody knows bodybuilders like to make fun of the eating habits and physiques of powerlifters right? But when was the last time you heard of a powerlifter having trouble gaining muscle? Powerlifters never have problems building muscle mass BECAUSE of their eating habits not in spite of them. In my opinion, the number one reason bodybuilders have a hard time growing is because they don' t eat enough or are scared of getting fat, yet that’s also a legitimate excuse because nobody wants to get fat right? In a perfect world we could get the INCREASED anabolic effects of food while restricting the tissue gains strictly to the lean compartment. People with good genetics can do exactly that. So can adolescents going through puberty and people on steroids. They can all preferentially direct excess food to the lean compartment instead of the fat compartment. The program I lay out for you in this manual is designed to mimick those conditions.

How Much Does It Take To Build Muscle and Fat?


On paper, a pound of muscle takes about 750 calories to build but in the real world it actually takes over 3000 extra calories to build. Those calories have to come from somewhere. A pound of fat takes 3500 calories to build on paper, but probably a little over 4000 calories once you factor in the thermic effect of food. When eating a 1000-calorie surplus per day for 10 days, the maximum amount of fat that can be gained (assuming none of the extra calories are used for muscle growth) is about 2 lbs. When eating a 500-calorie surplus the maximum amount of fat that can be gained over a 10-day cycle is 1 lb. (assuming none of the extra calories are used for muscle growth). When eating a short duration 3 day surplus of massive amounts of carbohydrates, (like 10,000 calories per day), there is almost zero fat conversion from the carbohydrates into fat.

The Anabolic Effects of Underfeeding…. Underfeeding (aka dieting) can increase the anabolic effect of subsequent overfeeding. During any period in which you burn more calories then you take in, a catabolic state exists and you burn fat. Not exactly a cutting edge observation but true nonetheless. The good thing about such a state is it also induces a state of anabolic rebound. By rebound, I mean simply that temporary caloric restriction and catabolism creates a pretty good environment for muscle growth once you do start eating normally again. This is due to the body' s response during caloric restriction in which all kinds of anabolic hormones and receptors are up-regulated. This means that once you start eating normally after a period of dieting you will temporarily be able to direct, or partition, a lot of nutrients towards the building of active muscle tissue. Have you ever noticed what happens when a competing bodybuilder diets for months to get his body-fat levels down to 6% and as soon as the contest is over he starts eating like he just got out of a concentration camp? What happens? Well, they eventually do blow up like beached whales, yet for about the first 2 weeks, body weight increases at an incredible speed with little fat gain. I remember years ago Dan Duchaine saying that he thought the body could store amino acids solely based on the rate at which he observed post contest bodybuilders putting muscle weight back on during their postcontest binges. Part of this plan allows you to take advantage of this effect. Increases in anabolic hormones cause muscle mass to accrue at a rate that often can' t be explained by calorie intake alone. Short term overfeeding can increase anabolic hormones naturally. Gains of 2+ lbs of muscle per week are not uncommon given the proper food intake and physiology.

Increased Fat Loss From Prior Overfeeding…. Overfeeding also heightens the fat loss effect of subsequent underfeeding. When you eat a lot, not only does your appetite tend to decrease, (which can make driving your bodyweight up a chore when that is your goal), but your body up-regulates your fat burning hormones and fat burning machinery. This is why you always shed fat the quickest at the very beginning of a diet. On a fat loss diet, the easiest way to keep 22

progressing once you’ve reached a sticking point is to eat normally for 1-2 weeks. Why is this? Well, during a diet your metabolism slows down in an effort to keep you from wasting away to nothing. Your body doesn’t know you’re trying to get that 6-pack or look good on the beach. It only knows it’s being deprived of food and after a while it will slow the metabolism to keep you from starving to death. Eat normally for a while and your body goes, “Oh ok we don’t have to worry about wasting away.” Your metabolism will up-regulate and your body will be primed to once again burn body-fat. As a perfect illustration of this all you have to do is look to the real world: Who burns fat the fastest? The fat guy who normally eats like a pig and then decides to go on a diet? Or the skinny anorexic who has been subsisting on green beans for 6 months? Fat people who start exercising and dieting burn fat like crazy. People who diet for weeks and months on end really struggle to lose any additional fat. For someone with well-oiled fat burning machinery, (a.k.a. – a well fed person starting a diet), it is possible to lose close to 1/2 pound of fat per day through diet and exercise over short periods of time.

Work Capacity A word on work capacity: Those with better work capacity generally note better gains from a bodybuilding standpoint, probably because they recover quicker from a given amount of training. Based on my observations, dieting seems to have the same effect on general work capacity that volume does. If you increase your training volume your body will initially go into a semi-shock over-reached mode. However, if you reduce training volume after a period of increased volume, your work capacity then tends to be higher than it was before. The same thing seems to occur with dieting. In other words, when a person restricts calories, their work capacity temporarily decreases. However, when they go from low calories to high calories, work capacity seems to increase to an extent greater than what could be explained by the increased calories alone. Alterations in training and diet are excellent for increasing general work capacity.

Insulin and Growth – Insulin and Fat Loss I touched on insulin a little bit before but now I’d like to go into some more detail. The hormone insulin is one of the most powerful muscle building hormones but also serves as a double-edged sword for a bodybuilder. It is a storage hormone released in response to elevated blood glucose. Its job is to drive nutrients into storage. If you eat a meal your blood glucose goes up. Your body will release insulin in response to that blood glucose and the insulin will cause your muscle, fat, and liver cells to open up so that they can store the nutrients that are floating around from that meal. Insulin is good from a muscle building standpoint because it drives more nutrients into your muscle cells for growth and storage. Obviously, the more nutrients you can deliver to a muscle cell, the better growth you tend to get. This explains why low carbohydrate diets don’t work very well from a muscle-building standpoint. On a low carbohydrate diet blood glucose is lower and there’s not much insulin floating around. Unfortunately, insulin is also bad from a fat burning standpoint for 2 reasons: 23

A: Insulin also drives nutrients into your fat cells. B: When insulin is elevated your body turns off fat burning.

Indiscriminate Insulin…. Insulin does not discriminate between muscle and fat, which means, in addition to driving nutrients into your muscle cells, it can also drive them into your fat cells. In a nutshell, this means that in addition to making you muscular, insulin can also make you fat. If you have very good skeletal muscle insulin sensitivity (as folks with good genetics do), you probably secrete a relatively small amount of insulin in response to a high glucose meal. You also probably tend to drive more nutrients into your muscles in response to a given amount of insulin. If you have average or poor genetics, you probably tend to secrete insulin in response to a high glucose meal. You also probably don’t have very good muscular insulin sensitivity, which means you probably tend to drive more nutrients into your fat cells in response to a given amount of insulin. You’ve probably heard of . Insulin resistance is a state in which the muscles become sensitive to insulin and nutrients can’t be driven in and stored in the muscles. This occurs mainly due to chronically high insulin levels, resulting from years of nutrient excess (aka – Sedentary lifestyle and poor diet). When an insulin resistant person eats a meal they get elevated blood glucose. They release insulin just like a normal person, but over time their muscle cells don’t respond to that insulin as well, thus, they can’t store nutrients effectively in the muscle. However, muscles become insulin resistant before fat cells become resistant. So, even though an insulin resistant person’s muscles are resistant to insulin, their fat cells are still able to respond to it. Thus, people with insulin resistance store the majority of excess nutrients in fat cells instead of muscle cells. Eventually, their fat cells stop responding to insulin, they secrete even more insulin than normal, their pancreas stops producing insulin altogether, and they develop diabetes. After reading that you might be wondering, “Well, is there anything we can do to improve skeletal muscular insulin sensitivity while lowering fat cell insulin sensitivity?” Yes there is. We can exercise and we can also keep ourselves somewhat lean! Those 2 things will have the most dramatic impact on muscular insulin sensitivity. How lean is lean? Probably somewhere between 7 and 17% for males and 1225% for females. Once a person gets over the top end of that range they will often start to develop problems with poor muscular insulin sensitivity. Once they’re towards or below the low end of that range, they develop problems such as hypoglycemia from being TOO sensitive to insulin. Being extremely hyper-responsive to insulin is almost as bad as being resistant to insulin. When it comes to insulin sensitivity, there is a middle ground where things are optimal from a muscle-building standpoint. Someone who is overly responsive to insulin 24

(such as the Pima Indians I talked about earlier), will tend to either over-secrete insulin in response to a carbohydrate meal or be so sensitive to the insulin they produce that they clear blood glucose too quickly resulting in a state of hypoglycemia. (low blood sugar). What happens during an episode of hypoglycemia? You eat and 30 minutes later you’re starving again and can’t control your appetite worth a darn. Insulin hyper-sensitivity tends to occur the leaner one gets. Many lean athletes and dieting women in particular suffer from hypoglycemia because they are OVERLY responsive to insulin. **Insulin hyper-responsiveness can often be managed via a reduction of carbohydrates in the diet

Insulin Shuts off Fat Burning Ok. Now, as I mentioned above, insulin also turns off fat burning. Here' s what happens: The rate limiting factor for getting fatty acids removed from storage and released into the blood stream where they can be burned is an enzyme called hormone specific lipase (HSL). HSL interacts with the fat cell to mobilize fatty acids. So, if you increase, or activate, HSL, you get more fatty acids mobilized. The way insulin stops the body from burning fat is by deactivating HSL. Thus, anytime you increase insulin (through either carbohydrate or protein intake), you lower HSL and tend to inhibit fat from being released. Fat intake can also do this to an extent. Therefore, pretty much anytime you eat you inhibit HSL. The primary activators of HSL are your body’s natural stimulants, adrenaline and nor-adrenaline. These hormones latch on to what’s called an adrenoreceptor and cause an increase in something known as cyclic AMP (Camp), which activates HSL. The reason crank (amphetamine) users get so damn skinny, and a big reason why stimulants are good for fat loss, is because they increase levels of these 2 hormones, which help free up fatty acids from storage. Anytime you lower insulin levels (diet), or exercise, you also increase levels of adrenaline and nor-adrenaline. So, HSL frees up fatty acids. Insulin inhibits HSL. Increased adrenaline and nor-adrenaline activate HSL. What happens if you get elevated insulin and increased adrenaline at the same time? This is what happens when you mix emotional stress with excess nutrition. Take a look around at all the beer bellies and people with insulin resistance you see walking around. It' s the bane of modern society. If you have a lot of nutrients floating around in the bloodstream, along with increased insulin (from eating too much crap), along with increased adrenaline and cortisol (from stress), and you' re not exercising, insulin will win out. Not only will insulin stop the release of free fatty acids, but the increased adrenaline and stress hormones will temporarily inhibit your body’s ability to store those nutrients in the muscle. Thus, they end up getting stored right in your gut. Now, insulin and adrenaline CAN be simultaneously increased during exercise and the above doesn' t occur because your muscles are making use of the available energy. This is why you can sip on a carb drink while you’re exercising and continue to burn fat.


After a bout of exercise you can eat and raise insulin while still continuing to burn fat because all those nutrients are going to your depleted muscles. Having said all that, typically in most situations, when insulin is high, adrenaline is low and vice versa. During exercise insulin levels drop as adrenaline rises. Just remember the following: Food intake, particularly food that increases insulin, inhibits fat mobilization and adrenaline increases it. Insulin wins the battle. So when insulin is high and adrenaline is low, fat tends to be stored. When insulin is low and adrenaline is high, fat will be mobilized. I should also add that how much fat is mobilized in response to increased adrenaline depends on the blood flow to the fat cell and the type of adrenaline receptor (adrenoreceptor) contained in the fat cell. Stubborn fat, like the thigh and hip fat on a woman, or the waistline on a man, tends to have poor blood flow and is high in a type of adrenoreceptor called “alpha 2” that actually HSL in response to adrenaline rather than increasing it. An alpha 2-receptor is also known as a adrenoreceptor. One of the ways of getting around that problem is to stimulate fasting conditions, which improves blood flow to the stubborn fat cell. You can also increase blood fatty acids, which inhibits alpha 2 receptors. Both can be achieved by reducing carbohydrates in the diet, which mimicks fasting, reduces insulin, stimulates adrenaline, and causes the release of lots of fatty acids, which inhibit the alpha 2 receptors and allows more fat to be broken down in stubborn areas. ** (For more on this entire process I highly recommend Lyle McDonalds

book, “The Ultimate Diet 2.0”)

So, the take home message is this: From a fat mobilization standpoint, we want low insulin and high adrenaline levels. Both can be accomplished by altering diet. If you cut calories and lower the carbohydrates in your diet, you decrease insulin, increase adrenaline, and you burn more fat. If you exercise you also increase adrenaline. If you take stimulants like ephedrine and caffeine, you also can increase adrenaline. All of these increase the mobilization of stored fatty acids. However, to optimize muscle building, we want a certain level of insulin present. Remember that insulin is anabolic because it drives nutrients into muscle. A lot of pro bodybuilders will use exogenous injectable insulin to jack their insulin levels up into the stratosphere. They definitely get a lot of extra muscle growth doing so. However, a lot of them put on quite a bit of fat as well, although steroids do protect against that a bit. As natural trainees shooting for muscle mass gain we can optimize our natural levels of insulin by eating more carbs and calories when our body is most receptive too them. When you put that information together it should be fairly clear that the diet that is optimal for increasing muscle mass is not necessarily optimal for decreasing fat mass. Likewise, the diet optimal for decreasing fat mass is not necessarily optimal for increasing muscle mass. That’s primarily why it’s so difficult to simultaneously get bigger and leaner at the same time.


More on how to take advantage of all of that later, but now let’s move on and talk about training. Ideally you should strive to get the most amount of growth from every training session you do.

The Overview For Mass Training Regardless of the specific nuts and bolts of your program, one thing is a nobrainer: Your training should be based on your ability to demonstrate continual progression in the amount of weight you lift and the amount of times you can lift that weight. Over the years I’ve heard about a million different recommendations for how a person should train, yet the one recommendation I’ve never heard is that you need to lift lighter weights over time. The primary signals for muscle growth from lifting are training load and training density. Training load is of utmost importance and can be summed up as follows: You lift a weight (load) and direct mechanical tension to the working musculature. During the eccentric contractions your muscles are slightly damaged from the tension created. We call this mechanical disruption. Your muscles adapt by getting a little stronger to better deal with the load next time. They will also remodel and get bigger, but only if your body is in the optimal hormonal state and enough nutrition is available for your body to display adaptations towards efficiency. With each progressive increase in tension or increase in load, the muscle has to again remodel and get bigger again to handle it. Training density can be summed up like this: Over the course of a workout you create a lot of cellular disturbance with the volume of lifting that you do per unit of time. This metabolic disruption turns your muscles into a fatigue wasteland full of metabolic byproducts such as calcium and sodium. The muscle gets bigger so that it can better deal with the cellular disturbances you’re creating. Or simply: Training load- refers to the amount of tension you direct to the musculature and the progression of that tension (weight) over time. Training density- refers to work per unit of time. (which creates metabolic chaos) Therefore, if you pick up a heavier weight, while also creating a lot of metabolic chaos, your body should respond with a consistent increase in hypertrophy.

So that means I should just perform a lot of heavy low rep sets with short rest intervals right? No! I believe these 2 aspects of hypertrophy should be addressed separately. Yes, you should try to pick up a heavier weight and yes, you should create some metabolic chaos, and you should do both within the same workout. However, you 27

should not try to do both at the exact same time in a workout. Here’s why: Trying to speed through your sets just so you can do more work limits the amount of load you can throw on a muscle, while the very nature of lifting a heavy load limits the amount of metabolic disruption you create. Simply put – if you hurry and don’t rest long enough between heavy sets, your weights will be so light they wouldn’t stimulate tension related micro-trauma in a prepubescent piano player. Therefore, here’s an example of how I would prescribe a hypertrophy oriented workout: Let' s say for instance you' re working chest: Bench Press – 2-4 sets of 6 reps with full rest intervals This would be the primary movement during the workout. The main goal here is to simply lift more weight or do more reps on this chest movement over time. I have to give a lot of credit to Bryan Haycock for spelling out the importance of gradually increasing loads. It should be appreciated that even 1-2 sets of an increased load workout to workout or every couple of weeks creates enough additional tension to stimulate additional hypertrophy. That means if you lifted 245 lbs your last workout for a couple of sets, all things being equal, an increase to 247 lbs for 2 sets will be enough to ensure continued progression. After our bench press exercise, which we’d do with long rest intervals so that we could focus on placing more tension and load on the muscle, we would then address the 2nd aspect of hypertrophy stimulation, that being training density, or metabolic chaos. So our next chest exercise might look something like this: Density/metabolic chaos focus Pec-Flye- 3-5 sets x 5-8 reps with 15-30 second rest intervals On this movement our lifter would start off with a set of 8, stopping a rep or 2 shy of failure. Next, he would rest for 30 seconds, perform another set, rest again, and repeat this process for 3-5 total consecutive sets. He would shoot for 8 reps per set. If he couldn’t get at least 5 reps, he’d decrease the weight. Now, how would we progress on the training density movement? Our goal is to accomplish more work in less time or generate a lot of metabolic disruption, so how do we progress with that? Well, we could progress here several different ways, which I’ll go into detail on later, but the most popular are through increasing loads, increasing reps, or decreasing rest intervals. In this particular workout our bodybuilder rested 30 seconds between sets. For the next workout he might rest 25 seconds and continue on subtracting 5 seconds per workout (or week) until he’s down to 10 or 15 seconds. These sets would resemble "mini rest-pause sets.” After progressing down to 10 seconds, he would then go back up to 30 seconds and start over again but this time with more weight. As you can see, the training density movement is gonna allow him to do a lot of work in little time.


I should also note that combining training like this is not new or cutting edge by any means. Parrillo used to recommend a bodybuilder start off training heavy and slow like a powerlifter and finish up training light and fast with the emphasis on getting a good pump. In “Keys To The Universe”, McCollum recommended starting out with 3 sets of 5 with long rest intervals and finishing up with 8 sets of 10 with short rest intervals. Various other authors and trainers have recommended versions based on the same principle. How you go about creating metabolic disruption is also totally up to you. Creating metabolic disruption might mean you just do 1 or 2 higher rep sets of 12-20 reps, several sets with shorter rest intervals, a drop set, rest-pause, static-hold or whatever. Regardless of how you go about doing it, I have found that when you combine heavy training and light training into one workout you get a very good synergistic effect. In either case, the focus of your workouts should be on your primary movements, where the focus is on increasing loads. Creating metabolic disruption should be secondary and just serve as the cherry on top. It’s really something that’s optional.

Volume What about volume? How many sets is optimal when addressing hypertrophy via load/tension? Well, assuming you trained close to the point of failure, even one set would be enough to spark most of the hypertrophy that’s gonna be stimulated through tension. However, I prescribe more sets for 3 reasons: The first is simply because I don’t necessarily recommend seeking failure, thus you’ll probably respond better with more than 1 set. The second is to maintain a certain level of volume. Although tension and metabolic disruption are the primary hypertrophy signals, the volume of total work (number of repetitions), is also important. Therefore, it' s essential a minimal volume be maintained throughout a training cycle.

Practice…. The third reason why I recommend multiple sets is to stimulate increased strength gains through practice. Getting in more sets on a given exercise allows the neuromuscular system to adapt to the movement and the load lifted. This allows the nervous system to improve the mind to muscle link, and thus you improve your ability to utilize what muscle you have (muscular recruitment and rate coding capacities), thus increasing your strength. With the capacity to lift heavier loads, you’ll be able to put more stress on your muscles.

Various Types of Hypertrophy Ok, now I’d like to talk a little bit about the different types of hypertrophy that occur on the muscular level as well as the 3 trainable factors involved in size and strength. These are:


1. Sarcoplasmic hypertrophy 2. Sarcomeric hypertrophy 3. Neural efficiency. Sarcoplasmic hypertrophy- This type of hypertrophy is a growth of the space surrounding the actual protein structure of a muscle cell and contributes to “the pump” everyone knows so well. It does not directly increase strength but can indirectly affect it by increasing leverage due largely to the increased glycogen (carbohydrate) storage capacity that it promotes. Training geared towards sarcoplasmic hypertrophy is characterized by high volume and low intensity (load) with short rest intervals such as a routine consisting of 10 sets of 10 with 45-second rest intervals. Training with a focus on increasing the training density or metabolic disruption will stimulate quite a bit of sarcoplasmic hypertrophy. This type of training also has a positive effect on the recovery rate, circulation, and growth, because it stimulates capillaries that allow more nutrients to reach the muscle. Sarcomeric hypertrophy- Is an increase in the size of the actual contractual filaments of a muscle. This type of growth increases size and strength directly. Training for sarcomeric hypertrophy generally consists of medium to high intensity loads with medium volume. Examples include 5 sets of 5, 4 sets of 8, 6 sets of 3, or something similar. Training via the “load” method preferentially targets sarcomeric hypertrophy. Neural efficiency- Is an increase in the number of motor units that can be activated at any given time (muscular recruitment), and the efficiency at which you activate them (rate coding). Simply put, it’s how efficient you are at turning on your muscles. This type of training has little effect on size, yet does dramatically impact strength. Training for increased neural efficiency consists of lifting very heavy loads with low to medium volume and full recoveries, such as 5 sets of 1-2 reps with 3-5 minute rest intervals. Reps---------Rest Intervals------Impacts Low (1-3)-------Long--------------Neural efficency Medium (3-8)--Long--------------Sarcomeric hypertrophy and neural efficency High (8+)-------Long--------------Sarcomeric and sarcoplasmic hypertrophy Low-------------Short--------------Sarcomeric hypertrophy Medium ------- Short--------------Sarcomeric and sarcoplasmic hypertrophy High-------------Short--------------Sarcoplasmic and sarcomeric hypertrophy The training for each quality exists on sort of a continuum and you can’t separate them. However, you can create a preferential lean towards the type you want. For example, 5 sets of 8 reps with 30-second rest intervals may result in a high degree of sarcoplasmic hypertrophy, a small amount of sarcomeric hypertrophy, yet little or no increase in neural efficiency. Five sets of 5 reps short of failure with 3-minute rest intervals will increase all 3 qualities, but will affect sarcomeric hypertrophy the most. Performing maximum effort singles and doubles will increase neural efficiency a great deal, but will have only a small effect on hypertrophy of the sarcomere, and little or no effect on sarcoplasmic hypertrophy.


Thus, unless you go to extremes, you are likely to hit all 3 types, yet the degree to which each quality is increased depends on the training. As a muscle-seeking athlete, you obviously want to make your muscles as big as possible period. Therefore, you probably want to create as much sarcomeric sarcoplasmic hypertrophy as possible. You need a good mix of training methods which allow the muscle to both store as much energy as possible as well as thicken the protein content of the individual muscle cells as much as possible. You don’t necessarily need to get stronger -- the strength is just a means to an end. Increasing strength is important because it will enable you to make your training more productive by boosting your capacity to call upon and fatigue a greater percentage of muscle fibers with every single rep, set, and workout that you do. You’ll soon see how strength is necessary, yet for strength and for size don’t entail the exact same approaches.

Strength Coaches, Sarcoplasmic hypertrophy, and “Functional” Gains…… A lot of strength coaches have belittled any bodybuilder who pursues sarcoplasmic hypertrophy saying that they train for non-functional muscle. They say that sarcoplasmic hypertrophy is just fluid and pump – all show and no go. In their mind, since sarcoplasmic hypertrophy is not real muscle and will dissipate rather quickly when training is ceased, it shouldn’t be sought after. This is where a lot of bodybuilders will toss the strength coach recommendations right out the window and venture on to the workouts that feel best for them. So who’s right and who’s wrong? Should bodybuilders totally neglect pursuing sarcoplasmic hypertrophy? Well, you have to consider that what is functional for a bodybuilder isn’t what is functional for an athlete. A bodybuilder needs big muscles period! It doesn’t matter whether those big muscles help him run a 4.5 second 40-yard dash, squat 900 lbs, or power clean 350. Muscle is muscle! The strength coach has a point in that sarcoplasmic hypertrophy won’t help an athlete accomplish those above tasks, so he sees this type of muscle just adding extra weight that must be hauled around. Yet, what’s interesting is that these same strength coaches will recommend the ingestion of creatine, which increases muscle fluid volume and probably contributes less “real” muscle than even sarcoplasmic hypertrophy does! Additionally, these same strength coaches will often recommend phases of 10 x 10 or other high volume methods prior to a maximum strength phase for the precise reason that Russian and German strength coaches recommended these same phases. The sarcoplasmic hypertrophy gained on these phases indirectly helps strength and sarcomeric growth because it has a positive effect on leverage, recovery rate, and circulation. It stimulates capillaries that allow more nutrients to reach the muscle. This means the muscle recovers quicker and more nutrients will be able to aid in the process of


sarcomeric repair. So, not only does it contribute to a bigger muscle directly by increasing the size of the sarcoplasm, it also indirectly helps the protein structures grow. It’s also interesting that functional is specific to the function. Form will follow function. When looking at the difference between the muscles of a bodybuilder and a powerlifter, a bodybuilder will have muscles trained to generate large amounts of tension combined with large amounts of muscular fatigue. The fatigue comes about due to the volume of training and shorter rest intervals. The powerlifter, on the other hand, has muscles designed for one thing only, and that is generating max tension. The powerlifter trains with low reps and long rest intervals, thus, there is obviously a lot less muscular fatigue generated from his training.

How Important Is Fatigue? Now, let’s look at the difference between the two. The real key is how important fatigue is for muscle growth. If tension were solely responsible for growth all anyone would need to do to get big would be heavy negatives. Although tension alone is responsible for most of the growth, it is not responsible for all of it. FATIGUE with tension is probably responsible for about 5-10% of the growth in a big bodybuilder. That means if you trained strictly like a powerlifter and ate your way up to the point where you carried 200 pounds of muscle, you could probably get another 10-15 pounds of solid muscle by increasing your training volume and increasing your density. Another thing we can do when we talk about function is take the strength coaches, gurus, and powerlifters accusing the bodybuilder of being "all show and no go" and put him through the standard bodybuilder’s leg workout: Instead of squatting 700 lbs one time, lets go to the squat rack and do 405 for sets of 10-15 for 4 sets. Next, let’s move on to stiff legged deadlifts for 4-5 sets of 8-10. Then hack squats for 2 triple-drop sets of 810 reps each. Same with leg curls. Finish off with sissy squats. That might be a little overkill, (in reality most of that workout would be junk volume as it doesn’t take much to stimulate “fatigue” related growth), but who' s all show and no go in the task at hand? Next, take a national level bodybuilder and put him on the powerlifter’s workout. Nine times out of 10, regardless of how heavy the weights are, he’ll be complaining that he’s losing size due to a lack of volume. Therefore, I recommend that if you’re a bodybuilder, you most definitely incorporate training for sarcoplasmic hypertrophy, just make sure you focus on your tension training so that you continually progress in strength. Increasing storage in the sarcoplasm will give you a visually impressive look and allow you to walk around with a minimum of an additional 5-7 pounds of muscle via additional glycogen (carbohydrate) storage. It doesn’t take much time or volume to get this extra storage. In fact, brief bouts of high-intensity exercise, like what I recommend for density or metabolic disruption, can easily give you that extra growth.


Strength training vs Size Training….. I’d like to touch a bit more on what I hinted on above when I said that training for strength and size are 2 different animals. Let’s say someone offers you $1000 if you can go in the gym today and beat your PR bench press by 50 lbs. Are you gonna go in there and get under the iron and really concentrate on squeezing and engorging your pecs as much as possible so that you can "feel the movement"? Or are you just gonna concentrate on blowing the damn weight up however you can? I would hope that if you' re interested in earning that $1000 you' d try to blow the weight up as easily as possible! My point is this: Stimulating maximum muscle mass and training for maximum strength are not one in the same. Don' t get me wrong, muscle growth is correlated with strength and strength is correlated with muscle size. However, the bodybuilder wants to make the muscle strain as as possible so that it does more work. The strength athlete wants to make the muscle strain as as possible so he can lift more weight. In fact, I routinely tell athletes, "Don' t strain," while I tell those interested in muscle mass "Feel the muscle working." To a certain extent, one can become stronger without becoming bigger, and also become bigger without becoming stronger. If you want a real life example, just ask powerlifters who have converted to bodybuilding and vice versa. Increased muscle size will tend to give you some strength, as well as the potential for a great deal more strength, but you still have to train properly to fully manifest that strength. Increased strength gives you the potential for more size, but doesn' t always equal more size unless you properly utilize that strength to break down more muscle.

Training Like a Powerlifter vs Training Like a Bodybuilder In the big scheme of things, the main difference in the training of a bodybuilder and the training of a powerlifter should be that the powerlifter tries to lift as much weight as possible on a few basic movements while making the muscles work as little as possible and by taking stress off his weaker muscle groups. In contrast, the bodybuilder should be trying to lift as much weight as possible on a slightly greater variety of movements, while making his muscles work as hard as possible, and creating extra tension in his weaker muscle groups. That extra tension and muscular work comes about by training with slightly more reps with slightly more volume and performing exercises in a way that he can zero-in on given muscles. A powerlifter with skinny quadriceps will tend to spread his stance and sit way back on his squat and bounce out of the hole, thus minimizing contribution from his weaker quadriceps, while a bodybuilder with skinny quadriceps should be squatting with a closer stance at a really smooth pace, perhaps even with a pause, to really the tension on his skinny quadriceps.


Powerlifting Squat

Bodybuilding Squat

Since a bodybuilder is simply using movements to get at his muscles, he may need to target and get strong on more exercises then the powerlifter, so that adequate tension can be put on weaker muscle groups. For example, all a powerlifter cares about is getting his bench up, regardless whether the work is done with the pecs, delts, or triceps. A bodybuilder, on the other hand, wants to target and develop the muscles of his chest, delts, and triceps. If he chooses to use a bench press and happens to have the type of long-armed build that places 90% of the work on his triceps and delts, his pecs obviously won’t be receiving adequate tension. Therefore, he’ll probably want to add in isolation movements specifically for his pecs. (A flye or crossover for example). The same is true for other body-parts. Bodybuilders often use additional movements to target various muscle groups and should focus on making bar weight increases on those. Other then that, the principles should be nearly exactly the same. If you want a "general" statement, it could be said that strength gains in the 6-20 rep range correlate more directly to size increases than does the maximum amount of weight you can lift one time. Therefore, if you go from benching 135 x 10 to 155 x 10 you should get bigger as well. However, this can be confusing because an increase in your 1 rep max will also translate into an increase in your 8-10 rep max, yet if you achieve a 20 lb bench pr with strictly low rep sets, you may not get all that much bigger until you utilize that strength by performing some higher rep sets.

The Importance Of Neural Efficiency Before you can hypertrophy a muscle, you first must be able to stimulate a muscle. That sounds simple enough yet realize most people are only capable of generating about 60% of their potential force in a given movement. That means that when you really try to be tough and get underneath the bar on a heavy set of squats and push with so much force that your eyes burst, you’ll have left no doubt that you gave it your all. However, there’s a good chance that you didn’t come anywhere close to lifting as much as you were potentially capable of for the amount of muscle you carry. To illustrate this, just take a look at how strong some lighter weight powerlifters and Olympic lifters are. The reason they can lift so much weight is because they' re some of the few athletes capable of utilizing nearly all their potential strength. What they have is neural efficiency to the extreme.


The amount of your maximum force you can utilize is dependent on your nervous system. Nervous system efficiency is dependent on complicated terms like intramuscular coordination and rate coding. I prefer to keep it simple. Think of your nervous system as a central battery or electrical power plant that your body runs off of.

All or Nothing At All……… When a muscle fiber fires it either fires all the way or not at all. Muscle fibers are bundled together in groups. These groups are called motor units. When a motor unit fires so do all of the muscle fibers under the control of that motor unit. So, you can’t partially contract a muscle cell or have a muscle cell generate partial tension. It either fires full bore and generates the max amount of tension that it is capable of, or it doesn’t fire at all. Now, each muscle will be made up of hundreds of motor units with each one of those motor units consisting of hundreds if not thousands of muscle cells. The motor units connect to your nervous system through neuromuscular junctions. When you decide to contract a muscle, a message goes from your brain down your spinal cord eventually crossing the neuromuscular junction and signaling the muscle motor unit to fire. The motor unit receives the signal, fires, and all the muscle cells under the control of that motor unit fire and tension is generated. When you do something requiring little force, like lifting a spoon to your mouth, few motor units are recruited. The more force you want to generate, the more motor units are recruited. Recruiting all the available motor units requires a very high output by your nervous system (battery), and it also requires that your muscles connect well to the battery, so that each unit of will fire as many motor units as possible. Enhancing this entire process can greatly increase strength in the complete absence of any size increases, and that’s what neural efficiency is all about.

You Gotta Practice…… Increasing neural efficiency comes about by practicing lifting heavy stuff. The more you practice a particular movement, the better you get at that movement, the better your nervous system gets at coordinating its output and the muscle(s) involved, and the better your muscles get at responding to your nervous system. This is how powerlifters and Olympic lifters are able to get so strong. They repeat the same movements over and over and over again with heavy weights, long rests, and little intra-workout fatigue. Over time their nervous systems become very efficient at firing and coordinating all of their available muscle cells and they become ultra strong relative to their bodyweight. The relevance of all of this is that strength serves us 2 important things. 1. It allows us to put more stress on the muscle. 2. That stress can then translate into an increase in size.


If you take 2 twins with the same bodyweight and body dimensions and one of them squats 200 lbs for 15 reps and the other one squats 150 lbs for 15 reps, the stronger one will be able to stimulate more hypertrophy per rep, per set, and per workout – because he' s able to create more tension and use more muscle. If you again take 2 twins, and all that you know is that one of them squats 250 for 20 reps and the other one squats 150 for 20 reps, you can be pretty sure that the 250 lb squatter also has bigger thighs. If you take 2 twins and one of them has been training as a powerlifter and squats 400 x 1, while the other trains like a bodybuilder and squats 350 x 1, it is impossible to know which one will have bigger thighs. The only thing that is known is that the 400 lb squatter has more potential for immediate hypertrophy gains. What you should take home is that progressive strength increases are necessary, but they don' t always occur in direct correlation to muscle mass increases and vice versa. This is particularly true when talking about 1-repetition maximums. Sometimes you can focus on becoming stronger in a lower rep range, without a lot of muscle gain, so that you can then utilize that strength to stimulate more muscular mictrotrauma by training with higher reps. Conversely, sometimes as you increase volume and repetitions you’ll tend to make good size gains without a whole lot of strength gain.

Bodybuilding and Strength Training Now that I’ve ragged a little bit on the strength oriented coaches, it’s time to do a 180-degree turn and rag on the training of bodybuilders! Open up any magazine or read any article on bodybuilding and you’re sure to hear about a million people telling you that you need to train with gut busting intensity each and every workout and always strive to lift heavier weights in the 6-12 bodybuilding specific rep bracket. There’s nothing wrong with that but it rarely works as advertised. The problem is that people try to get stronger by using methods and rep ranges strictly associated with bodybuilding training. Powerlifting methodology is much more effective at increasing strength so why not use some of it in our bodybuilding training? I still don' t know why bodybuilders haven' t caught onto this yet. They' ll say their main objective is to get “stronger,” but here they are doing nothing but high rep sets, training a body-part once every 8 days, using high intensity techniques like forced reps on each and every set, and doing all kinds of other questionable stuff that any powerlifter with 6-months of experience would never be caught dead doing. If you want to get stronger, the quickest way to do that is start hanging out and training with a bunch of powerlifters. If you ever do you’ll probably get really big and strong despite never seeing or using the majority of various techniques that pervade in bodybuilding.

Forced Reps – A Shining Example Go into any gym on a Monday, stand around for 30 minutes, and count the number of guys spotting each other and knocking out sets of 10 with forced reps on 36

bench press, incline bench press, and dumbbell bench press. Come back 2 months later and count the number of these guys who are doing the same thing with the same amount of weight. Next, go to a powerlifting gym and count the number of times you see anyone receiving any assistance on lift, the number of forced reps you see, as well as the number of sets above 8. I can guarantee you won' t see many missed reps and you won' t see a single forced rep at a power-lifting gym. One observation I made long ago is that it' s usually the 135 pound benchers who need a spot on every set and they' re usually the same ones using high intensity techniques each and every set. The 400 + pound benchers stop each set usually with a rep or 2 in the hole and you almost never, EVER seem them doing forced reps. Now, my point is that every bodybuilder I know tries to get stronger but most of them fail. Getting stronger using strictly bodybuilding training practices can be a waste of time.

Borrow From Your Stronger Powerlifter Brethren….. In order to get REALLY strong, it helps if you learn to increase your strength like a powerlifter increases his -- not necessarily over the same rep ranges or using the exact same movements and training splits, but using some of the same type of methodology. It’s simple really. I recommend you target the load method of hypertrophy stimulation. You plan out your cycle in advance. You gradually increase the load, drop the reps, and you DON'T train with the sole intention of just “getting a pump”, or “tearing a muscle up”. Not only will you get stronger, but you will get consistently bigger too. Your strength will increase week to week because you have a plan. Over time you' ll become extremely strong over a varied rep range. Not only will your 10 rep maxes be impressive, but so will your 5 and 3 rep sets, which will then carry over to the poundage you life with on your higher rep sets. Now, I know some people probably remember what I said earlier and are thinking, “Well low rep strength won’t do me any good, in order to get bigger I need to get stronger with higher reps right?” Well, guess what the quickest way to get stronger with “higher reps” is? Get stronger lifting heavy weights and then apply that strength to your higher reps! Maximal strength builds strength endurance but strength endurance does not build maximal strength. In other words, unless your higher rep sets are done with a ridiculously light load, (less than 30% of your 1rm), you will increase the poundage of your 8-20 rep sets the quickest by increasing the poundage of your 1-5 rep sets. Lower reps build more maximal strength and they do it a lot quicker. In other words, it’s generally agreed that if you can squat 405 pounds for 20 reps you’re gonna have some big legs. Now, if you wanna squat 405 x 20 the fastest way to do that is get your maximal squat up to 575 as fast as you can! You can take a powerlifter who squats 575 straight out of the gym and ask him to squat 405 for 20 reps, and no, he probably won’t be able to do it right off the bat. Yet give him a few weeks on those higher rep sets and he’ll be knocking it out much quicker then the guy who squats 315 for a max single who tries to work his way up to 405 x 20 while never going below 8 reps on his sets. 37

A Squat-Off….. To better exemplify what I’m talking about, I remember reading about how strength coach Glenn Pendlay once got beat in a bet with a guy who squatted about 200 lbs less than him for a single. Now Glenn' s a big squatter, he' s squatted over 800 lbs in the back squat and 600 in the front squat. Evidently he bet another guy a couple of pints of Guinness on who could do more reps on the squat with 400 lbs. The other guy did 20 and Glenn only managed 15. Keep in mind Glenn had trained strictly for Olympic lifting and power lifting. That meant multiple sets of reps under 3 for years with heavy weight. He' s also a big 330 pound plus guy and when you' re that big high reps aren' t your best friend. I' d imagine Glenn could count the number of times he' s done 10+ reps in the squat on one hand. The other guy was a bodybuilder though and was used to the higher reps. Anyway, this pissed Glenn off so he did some high rep squats for a few weeks and bet the guy again. This time the other guy again did 400 for 20 but Glenn did 500lbs for 20! Just being able to squat a big 1-rep max didn' t automatically enable him to do a big set of 20, but it sure didn' t take long to transfer that big strength into the specific set of 20!

Training Frequency Let’s talk about training frequency. How much frequency do you need? One of the myths with regards to muscle growth is that a bodybuilder should hammer the heck out of a muscle and then wait 72-96 hours before he hammers it into oblivion again. This is one of those myths that comes from research that kind’ve got misinterpreted and passed along over the years. There is tons of research on muscular recovery indicating that a muscle can be loaded as often as every 48 hours! Research shows us that muscle recovery can take place just fine even if the muscle is loaded 48 hours after an intense workout. In fact, many of the acute responses to training that signal increased protein synthesis start to return to normal after about 48 hours. Well, if this is true and its so important, why the heck aren' t the biggest and baddest bodybuilders training a body-part every other day instead of resting for an entire week between training sessions? That' s a darn good question and to understand the answer it' s essential that you understand the differences between muscular recovery and neural recovery.

Muscular vs. Neural Recovery Remember the nerves fire your muscles and your nervous system is like a central powerplant. It should come as no surprise that the nervous system can fatigue just like the muscle can fatigue. With neural fatigue, you can drain either the local nerves that fire a given muscle, (the neuromuscular junctions), or you can drain the entire central nervous system (the motor cortex, the cerebellum, and the whole limbic system/brain stem area). Imagine it (the central system) being like a car battery or an electrical


powerplant or something like that. Basically, you only have so much total nervous system energy that you can give out per day and per week before your strength and energy level begins to resemble that of a Navy Seal 6 weeks into camp. Your central nervous system (CNS) is like a battery, yet its reserves don' t grow like muscular protein reserves. It’s taxed when you train. It’s taxed at your job. It’s taxed when you don’t sleep enough. Heck, it can even be taxed when you think about something stressful. Not only that, but the only real way you recharge it is by sleeping and resting. The amount of CNS energy you have is fairly static, which is why we all have to sleep and recover a certain amount from daily life stress. When the battery starts to get low, everything is affected - you' ll simply be low on whole body strength and energy. The crash a junkie gets after an amphetamine or coke binge is a good example of systemic central nervous system fatigue. The local neuromuscular junctions (NMJ) get fatigued as well. Remember, they are what connect the nervous system and muscle together. Repeated high intensity contractions (training), causes them to fatigue. When the NMJ is taxed and fatigued, a given muscle group will be short on strength until it' s given enough time to recover. This is because the charge that joins that muscle and the nervous system together is not working optimally due to that fatigue. When the entire central nervous system is fatigued, the strength and efficiency of all muscles will be negatively affected. Now, it’s important to appreciate the fact that muscular recovery takes place a lot quicker than neural recovery. In fact, the nervous system can take up to 5 times longer to recover. So, even though you can torch a muscle and the muscle itself will be ready to go again in 48 hours, the nerves that fire the muscles might still be fatigued. In fact, after a balls to the wall training session, they (the nerves) can take up to a week or longer to recover, which is where that 72 hour rule came from. Until the local nerves are recovered, the muscle’s ability to exert force and your ability to generate strength will be hampered. With regard to the CNS, it generally takes about 48 hours to recharge once it’s been drained. It’s obvious that your muscles grow when you stimulate them. However, in order to get to your muscles, you obviously have to fire both your central nervous system and the local nerves that connect to your muscles first. The heavier the loads you' re lifting and the more volume you train with, the more you drain both of these. As a beginner, you can inflict plenty of damage on your muscles and still have plenty of CNS energy left over. A beginner can train the same muscles 3 times per week and grow just fine because the threshold to induce muscle growth is low and, since they' re not very strong, they don' t generate a lot of CNS fatigue. When things get a little more difficult is when the volume of work necessary to optimally stimulate your muscles also drains a lot of CNS energy. If you were to reach this point and were to continue to train based strictly on muscular recovery it would lead to overtraining of the CNS and, although your muscles would be adequately stimulated, your strength gains would be totally nonexistent.


One reason you often notice bigger bodybuilders training muscle groups more infrequently than smaller bodybuilders is because, as you get stronger and stronger, you' re able to lift more weight thus each rep you' re doing will create more neural fatigue than before. So, a beginner might take one set to total failure and need 2 days to repeat the same task. An advanced and very strong bodybuilder might need 7-10 days rest from the same 1 set to failure. The stronger you get, the more stress you put on your nervous system anytime you train. So, you reach a point where simply stimulating the muscle optimally causes lots of neural drain. The amount of local and central CNS fatigue will depend on the following factors: 1. 2. 3. 4.

The level of intensity (percentage of 1 rep max) Level of intensiveness (mental intensity) The size of the working muscle group The amount of micro-trauma created in a workout.

Size Of The Muscle Group Let' s start with size of the working muscle group. The bigger the muscle group, the more drain it takes out of the CNS when contracting maximally. This makes sense when you consider the CNS as a pool of limited energy, or a battery. Leg training would be the most demanding while forearms and calves would be the least demanding. Try doing 5 sets of 10 squats to total failure today and see if you can come back tomorrow and set a bench press PR. Most likely you won’t be able to. In contrast, you could do 5 sets of forearms to the max today and would feel no negative effects tomorrow. The difference in recovery between the 2 is not from local neuro-muscular fatigue, which will be equal in the legs and forearms, but from the greater central nervous system fatigue induced by the squats. As far as exercises go, the more muscle groups engaged and the heavier the load, the more an exercise will drain the CNS. Therefore, deadlifts and squats would be at one end while triceps kickbacks and forearm exercises would be at the other end. Unilateral exercises are less demanding than bilateral exercises, so lunges would be less CNS demanding then squats, even though the lunges might very well stimulate as much or more muscle growth.

Intensity Let’s move on to intensity. As far as intensity is concerned, this refers to the percentage of 1 repetition maximum lifted. Loads of 90% or more are the most demanding, followed by 80-90% and so forth, all the way down to zero. Anytime you train with CNS intensive whole body type exercises such as deadlifts, squats, and cleans, while using a load of at least 80% and approaching failure, you should go ahead and figure that it' s gonna take a minimum of 48 hours for the aspects 40

of your nervous system associated with those movements to be 100% completely fresh. Depending on the volume of the workout and how hard you train, it could take several days. Additionally, any other highly demanding exercises you do in that 48-hour timespan, even for different muscle groups, may be slightly affected because your "central" nervous system will be at least slightly drained. Therefore, if you did a lot of heavy deadlifts today and had an upper body workout planned for tomorrow, you might not be at 100% strength in that upper body workout. If you do an upper body workout today and a leg workout tomorrow, your leg workout won’t be affected to the same extent because the upper body workout won' t engage as many muscle groups and won’t drain as much total CNS energy. This is why I generally recommend off days after leg workouts.

Micro-trauma Another thing that affects CNS fatigue is the amount of microtrauma created in a workout. When a muscle is damaged, it releases inflammatory cytokines, which are basically just inflammatory chemical messengers. Your CNS has receptors for these messengers and when you create a ton of muscle damage thus causing your body to release a ton of cytokines, trainability is compromised across the board. You’ll feel tired, stiff, run down and overall just feel like crap all over. In fact, the cytokine hypothesis is one of the newer theories on overtraining.

Intensiveness Intensity is often confused with intensiveness, which is the degree of mental and physical effort put forth in a set. Bodybuilding magazines have long preached the importance of training to absolute 100% intensity, or training until you puke. What they' re really saying here is train with 100% intensiveness. A set done to total failure with forced reps and lots of psychological arousal techniques used before hand would rank the highest on the "level of intensiveness" scale. Anytime you get mentally fired up to train you increase intensiveness and thus the CNS drain. In fact, soviet scientists used separate terms to distinguish between a mentally fired up competitive max and an un-aroused training max. The difference in recovery between a psychologically mentally aroused effort and an un-aroused effort can be up to a weeks difference in the length of time it takes you to recover from that effort. So, a PR you set when you’re all alone in the gym is gonna be a lot less demanding recovery wise than a PR you set in a competitive environment such as a lifting meet. A puke inducing set of 20 rep squats with a 60% 1rm load is technically less intense than a set of 3 rep squats with a 95% load, but the 20-rep set is typically gonna be much more intensive and a lot more psychologically demanding. It could take a week or more to recover from, whereas the 3 rep set might only take a couple of days to recover from - especially if it was performed in a normal state of arousal. You can base the level


of arousal off of your heart rate. When you lift in a high state of arousal you will tend to have an elevated pulse rate prior to performing the set. The same sort of comparison could be made for training to failure. A set of 80% bench presses for 10 reps taken all the way to failure with forced reps performed at the end might take 5 days to recover from. However, if you stop a couple of reps shy of failure it' ll probably only take a couple of days to recover from. (Which is a good reason not to necessarily seek failure) Anytime your muscles are in a fairly fresh state (you' re resting 3 + minutes between sets or you’re at the beginning of your workout), and you’re in a psychologically aroused state, (you’re really fired up, taking stimulants, or getting slapped in the face), you train to failure, - you increase the level of intensiveness, and can greatly prolong the recovery time.

Keep Your Arousal in Check…… For the most part I usually don’t recommend using a lot of psychological arousal techniques, particularly when you combine a heightened state of awareness along with training to failure. You can do so occasionally, but the CNS drain from this type of training is extremely high and will impact your recovery. It should also be noted that stimulants like ephedrine increase levels of adrenaline and nor-adrenaline. Because of this, they have the capacity to increase the intensity and intensiveness of your workouts but can also prolong recovery time. Keep this in mind if you routinely use stimulants to get up for your heavy workouts. Ok. Now going back to the original 72-hour rule noted above: After an intense high volume workout it WILL take an average of 72-96 hours before the nerves associated with a given muscle have recharged enough to fire the muscles and create the same level of tension as before. If you totally trash a muscle and use strength as an indicator of when to trash the muscle again, you will probably have to wait at least 72 hours to regain all of your strength. Therefore, it should be no surprise that bodybuilders who train at high volumes, (10+ sets per muscle group), or very high intensiveness (HIT training), often have to wait up to a week or more between demanding sessions. The drawback to this is, as I already mentioned, many of the acute responses to training that signal increased protein synthesis all return to normal in about 48 hours. Therefore, training a muscle group only once per week is not optimal for hypertrophy, yet training a muscle every other day would probably just tear down the nervous system. So what the heck are we supposed to do? Well, you could grow training once every 7 days yet at a much slower rate. You' d spend a few days growing and the rest of the week returning to normal. By the time the next workout rolls around hopefully you' d still have some of that increased size left over. But with this approach the gains are probably gonna come fairly slow because you' re only getting in at best 52 workouts per year for a body-part.


You could also train every body-part every other day. However, if you were to do this it would severely limit the intensity, mental intensiveness, load, and volume that you could train with. You' d have to make sure that your nervous system could recover during the 2 off days between workouts. This approach is a valid option and does work well for many people though. You can either split the body in half and train every day, or you can do 3 whole body workouts per week. However, there are a couple of other options that may give you better gains: A: Hit a muscle group twice per week but don’t totally torch it into oblivion. Stop short of failure and keep the volume manageable (