Tag Archives: hypertrophy

Notes of Muscle Gaining

Gaining muscle is something most people want.

(skip to the end for the short version)

It improves your health, helps you with multiple daily tasks and if we’re honest it also doesn’t hinder your life in the bedroom either.

The tricky part is actually gaining that which you seek.

Training wise we can overcomplicate it easily.

Nutrition wise it’s easy to be inconsistent or make poor food choices under the guise of ‘bulking’.

So how can we set up something that will help us?

First you’ll need to be honest with yourself.

Using my own current goals as an example, here is what I mean by the above.

I started out around 73kg, and lean enough to see veins on my abs pretty much all the time, while also having a good level of total muscle mass – around 19k-20kg depending on the machine testing method, however if we say 18kg for a 10% inaccuracy drop from the ‘top’ number I’d say that’s more realistic.

Strength levels were okay, although not a focus due to life current situation.

The goal I currently have is to gain roundly 10-12kg in total over the course of 9months.

Ideally most of this would be lean mass and muscle, however if that was to be say 1-2kg of muscle and the rest fat, while not ideal it would be apart of the process.

To do this I needed to establish my overall calories.

Now knowing where my weight sits, I was logically eating around 2700-2800 per day, which isn’t much.

Knowing that eventually adding 1000 to this and working towards consuming 3800, maybe 4000 per day (tops) was going to be best achieved by adding in foods slowly.

(Jumping straight to 4000 won’t do me any favours)

I’m around 4 weeks in and I’m up to 75kg, still fairly lean, and in regards to total addition calories it would vary from around 300-500 per day.

This for me is sustainable and will allow more mental constituency than anything.

The additional foods have come in the from of more carbohydrates from a mixture of sources.

As time goes on more will be added.

The other element is the accepting that there will be some fat gain, and for myself personally this is the hard part, yet it’s only 9months and then a 2-3month phases of a sensible leaning out can happen.

Allowing a daily additional calorie range is also useful because instead of forcing food (because that just doesn’t work for me mentally), days are more of a maintenance – old numbers – mixed with days of increased calories +500-1000 when hungry are more sustainable.

Training wise, lifting will occur 2-3 times per week and the main focus is on the overall progression of numbers.

The reason for chasing numbers is that 1 is suits my mentality and 2 you won’t gain anything by lifting what you’ve been lifting for the last 10 years (unless you’re ungodly strong).

The reason it’s called progress is because you actually go past the points you’re currently at.

It’s what people forget.

To gain muscle, put simply, like many of you will already know, you simply need to do the following:

– Consume a sensible calorie surplus from nutrient dense foods
– Progressively overload your training
– Monitor recovery & sleep well

While this is simple it’s not easy.

Many give up the second they lose on line of an ab.

Others eat far too much and just gain excessive amount of fat.

Don’t be either of those, be one of the rare ones that succeeds through simplicity and consistency.


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Old & Effective

We humans do like to overcomplicate things.

In my experience it’s because of these reasons:

– Complexity carries the idea of it being ‘better’
– It provides the perfect excuse to fail

Sometimes stripping things back to a simple form can yield far more results than people would like.

Yes, getting better results in whatever goal isn’t what everyone wants.

Many like pretending, playing at training all so that they can gain some desired attention and also any pandering they need.

If this is you, fair enough.

However if you’re someone who wants to move forwards physically, mentally and in life then wha tis written below will take away the stress of deciding upon a training protocol.

This works for the larger majority of people.

While it’s not perfect, because nothing ever is, the key point is this – it works provided you do.

The Protocol – Heavy Set & Back Off

Work to a heavy set of the following:

Weeks 1-3: 10 reps
Weeks 4-6: 8 reps
Weeks 7-9: 6 reps

Take 80% of the top weight for the day, hit these back-off rep numbers in as few sets as possible:

Weeks 1-3: 50 reps
Weeks 4-6: 40 reps
Weeks 7-9: 30 reps

Perform this on one or two main lifts for the day.

For accessory work your aim for all weeks is as follows:

– 50 reps total in 3 sets or less.

Here is an example day:

A1 – RDL x10 > Back Off – 80% x50 total reps
B1 – Bent Over Row x50 reps
C1 – Curl x50 reps

The goal for each week of the three week wave is to either repeat the same numbers with top set being easier and the back ff reps taking less sets (or less rest, etc).

Over time you may choose to change the top set rep choice and the amount of back off reps, that’s cool because the overall ethos of the protocol is this –

Work to a heavy set, then take weight of and do reps.

Simple, effective, brilliant.


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Posterior Power Up

Fancy a 30day challenge for your posterior chain?

Even if you don’t you’ll find one below anyway.

You’ll be doing 300 reps per day of the following:

Fast – Swings (variations), Snatches, Cleans (kettlebell)
Slow – Pull Ups, Rows, Curls – any variation of all of these
Flow – Reverse Flies, Face Pulls, Tricep Work (variations)

This means 100 total reps in each section.

One reason for the offering of different movement options is so that you can avoid overworking one specific thing.

The idea is to accumulate a lot of work for that lagging rear aspect of your body, which sadly is the case for a lot of people.

Here is a three day example:

Day 1 – Single Arm Swings, Pull Ups, Face Pulls
Day 2 – Snatches, Rows, Reverse Flies
Day 3 – Swings, Curls, Tricep Banded Pulldown

You may then choose to repeat these three 9 more times, or continue to vary things up.

Personally the option would be to stick with the above and try to improve on each session when it comes back around as this will have a higher chance of progression than constantly varying things up.

You’ll find the above can be done in less than 30min.

Thus making it suitable for many who have other training they wish to do (all be it at a recused volume).


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Arm Pumping Protocols

Arm training, everyone loves it.
A good strong arm pump that leaves you almost unable to lift your keys to the lock in your door is a most welcome thing by many.
Sadly it’s something I rarely do, hence why I admittedly have pitiful arms, oh well, life goes on.
That being said, from working with plenty of people who do value arm training, here are two protocols that you’ll find rather useful.
Protocol 1 – 150 rep drop.
Choose a load that is manageable, or grab a resistance band as you can literally adjust in a second if you’ve gone a tad too hard.
Perform 50 reps, rest 15 seconds
Perforce 40 reps, rest 15 seconds
Perform 30 reps, rest 15 seconds
Perform 20 reps, rest 15 seconds
Perform 10 reps, enjoy the pump, rest 2min and then repeat for the antagonist you didn’t do.
^^ This also works well on postural muscles, things such as revise flies, back extensions, calf raises, lateral raises, to be fair it works on quite a lot either as a finisher or a warm up.
Protocol 2 – 15-5 repeats
Do a set of 15 reps, rest 15 seconds
Do a set of 5 reps, rest 5 seconds
Keep repeating until you can no longer perform reps with good form or lose the MMC (mind muscle connection)
Choosing perhaps 1-2 movements per muscle groups ill be sufficient for the above.

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Free Training

Minimalistic P/P/L Protocol
Morning All,
This popped into my mind this morning so I felt it worth sharing, you’ll have three options, you can use one, all three or cycle them, choice is yours.
Weekly cycle options:
Two Day Week – Monday/Thursday
Three Day Week – Monday/Thursday/Saturday
Four Day week – Monday/Tuesday/Thursday/Saturday
Daily = use only Protocol 1
Protocol 1 –
Pull Day – Kettlebell Snatch
Push Day – Push Press
Leg Day – Front Squat
Reps – 10 sets – 10 (wk1), 8 (wk2), 6 (wk3)
Protocol 2 –
Pull Day – Kettlebell Snatch, Deadlift
Push Day – Push Press, Floor Press
Leg Day – Front Squat, Hack Squat
1st movement reps are as previous.
2nd movement reps: – 4 sets – 12 (wk1), 10 (wk2), 8 (wk3)
Protocol 3 –
Pull Day – Kettlebell Snatch, Deadlift, Pull Up
Push Day – Push Press, Floor Press, Dip
Leg Day – Front Squat, Hack Squat, RDL
Previous movements reps as above.
3rd movement reps: 2-3 sets – to failure each week
A no frills approach to coming all your bases.
In your warm up some movement flows & loaded carries would do well.
Additionally 100 reps of each of these: banded face pulls, pull apart, lat pull downs and hip thrusts/pull throughs (2×50, or 4×25, etc) will do you the world of good.
Fr you cool down stretches/trigger point work will be needs specific on problem areas for yourself and also generally around the areas worked for the day.
There is nothing fancy about this, it’s so simple it’s complicated.
You aim to add weight where you can.
If you can’t add weight then slow down the tempo, or add pauses, or decrease rest 💪

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Dan John’s Genius

Challenges, fancy trying some?
Training for the most part is about going in, hitting your reps, miles or specified needs.
Sadly this is the element people won’t talk about because it’s boring, it’s also what a lot of people avoid which is why they don’t ever get anywhere.
Since we’re not getting out of this period of illation anytime soon here are 5 challenges for you to do at home (1 for each month we will still be in UK Lockdown).
Now these are all about volume and based off of the challenge that will take the number one spot because to be honest it’s a great challenge.
1 – 10,000 Swings (Dan John)
A brilliant challenge that is a stand alone program of 20 total sessions across a month.
It breaks down to 500 swings a day (how you choose to hit that is up to you).
Dan also recommends adding in a strength movement in either ladder format (e.g – 1,2,3,1,2,3 etc) or something I’ve done that works is a simple 2-5 reps of a strength movement rotating Push/Pull/Squat.
Here is a clip from the man himself:
Keeping this in mind, I’ve been playing with the idea of running it for different movements.
Of course a lot of thought has gone into what would work and how, this is what structure I’d suggest:
A1 – Challenge
A2 – Supplementary Movement – Optional
This means you can do two movements tops, or alternatively jus the challenge movement itself.
Here are the other 4 for your consideration, the start off easy and finish hard, also they’re not for everyone and there’s not qualms in saying that.
2 – 10,000 Squats* – Can S/S (Goblet if strong)
3 – 10,000 Push Ups – Can S/S
4 – 10,000 Snatches (KB or DB – 5000 each arm) – Solo recommended
5 – 10,000 Meters of a Loaded Carry – Solo recommended
*If squats are not comfortable for you then 10,000 Lunges are the alternative.
When I did the swings I opted for these rep ranges:
A1 – Swings: 50-30-20
A2 – Supplementary Lift x2-5
Repeat 5 times
You might look at the above and recoil because of how dull it will be, and while that is true it works very well so I will ask you this question:
Do you want to be better than you currently are now?
A simple yes or no will suffice to answer this ^^.
In our modern life we are spoilt by choice, as such it has made many of us complacent, petulant and caused much stagnation in regard to physical progress.
Now some people surely want to enjoy their training and have fun, it’s a good option yet over the years no training starts off being enjoyable, and if it does it rarely stays that way unless you’re getting results, and even then it can become very trying of ones resolve.
As Bruce Lee said – “Don’t pray for an easy life. Pray for the strength to endure a difficult one.”
Give the above a go if you’re lost for something to do, or don’t, yet come September when things start to ease don’t look back at your time and see you wasted it.

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Another blast from the past today, Giant Sets.

Yet another classic training method that lost favour in the realms of commercial gyms 😱

Incase you’ve not heard of this before you will pick one muscle group to work, say Back, then hit it with 4+ movements that provide the most bang for your buck in regards to stimulus to fatigue 💪

1-2 giant sets are usually neigh for most mortals, some inhuman people can manage 3 working sets and anyone who claims they do more in my experience is doing something wrong 🤔

A brief home example

A1 – Wide Grip Pull Up x4-6
A2 – Chin Up x4-8
A3 – Inverted Row (pronated) x6-10
A4 – Inverted Row (supinated x6-10
A5 – Banded Straight Arm Pull Down x12-20
A6 – Banded Row x12-20
A7 – Banded Face Pull x15-25
A8 – Banded Reverse Fly x15-25
A9 – Drag Curl Carry x30-60seconds
Rest 5min, repeat for 1-2 more sets.

👆 all of this can be done at home in some fashion.

The you’d finish with some arms for good measure 😋

In regards to the method above and discussing it with many people, you’ll find it can come in some different variations, however the one above it what you’d find considered a ‘true giant set’ based on the first incarnations of it.

If you know of any different variations please share them below.

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What do you think of this for a title –

‘7 reasons you’re not gaining muscle, despite doing everything right or so you think, for someone who doesn’t really even lift anymore and even when he did he didn’t look like he did 😂
Believe it or not when it comes to gaining ‘mass’ I’ve made al the mistakes.
True enough in the days long since committed to the dark corners of my lingering will for the gym, I was once strong.
Strong yet always small.
Upon deep reflection and looking back through various training logs these are the conclusions for my lack of gains, as some owed say.
1 – Not enough TUT.
Volume was there aplenty, there was literally thoughts of good quality reps, no joke.
However the one time I made progress in mass gaining on the recommendation of Poliquin (yes, I actually got told to do this by him face to face on a course), was because of adding in TUT tracking.
4-0-2-0 is a good starting point, also 6-0-X-0 is nice, as are pause reps.
However you do it, make your your muscle stay under tension longer if you wish to gain in size.
2 – Under eating.
No further explanation necessary.
Eat like a sparrow, look like a sparrow, simple.
3 – Training too much.
A little contradictory as more volume/frequency will be needed in time, yet you still need to have rest days, back off your volume (40-60% every 4th week is optimal).
If you don’t periodise this in training you’ll just be making yourself tired in the long run as opposed to better.

You need to recover to grow, it’s called the Stimulus-Recovery-Adaption curve for a reason.

Growth happens outside of the gym, not in it. 

4 – Lifting too heavy.
Yep, while you’ll often find bigger people tend to be strong, there are a great many people who are half the size of many a gym mammoth and poses twice the raw strength.
Don’t believe me?
Google Richard ‘The Ant’ Hawthorne, then take a second to realise that while lifting heavy is great for the ego and the gram, it’s not always the best for building muscle because it lacks one crucial thing… See point 1.
^ Also it’s largely neurological adaptation you get, strength is a skill after all.
5 – Your reps per set are too low.
In the modern research the suggest altho anywhere form 6-20 reps are optimal for hypertrophy, with a total rep volume per muscle group of 75-210 per training week, however that is a discussion for another day.
So, 6-20 reps, that means four singles digit (6-7-8-9) rep ranges out of 15, the other 9 being double digit, while not science and pure anecdote I’ve just though of for this post, you want 2/3rd’s of your rep rangers to be in the 10-20 range, with the occasional sprinkling of low rep (6-9) work.
Higher rep ranges, with RM’s perhaps 2 reps above*, will yield more results in size than lower rep ones, unless you’re a genetic anomaly, which I highly doubt you are.
*example – 4x10x12RM (this will allow for a good amount of working sets/reps).
6 – Leaving too many reps in the tank.
You’ve got more to give that set you just finished.
No, really, you have, if you pushed a little harder (while keeping good form)you’d be bigger than you are.
To create change you need a large enough or stressful enough adaptive stimulus, if you don’t dream your working sets then there is a very high chance you’re not really training, you’re simply running through the motions.
7 – Ignoring sounds advice.
Yep, like me you probably have ignored sound advice like the above.
I know full well I did and it’s why I had/have the look I do.
Be it due to ignorance or arrogance, you simply didn’t listen because you felt you knew better.
Trust me, we never know better so swallow that pride and listen to your peers.
There you have it.

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Level Zero?

How would you define the following (in a fitness sense).
Beginners (novice)
Intermediates (amateur)
Advanced (elite)
Would you personally classify each by the abilities one may possess to be deemed worthy of said placing in this hierarchy, perhaps time served or level of progress.
You may see it as a combination of all of the above.
To me it’s down to these three simple qualities:
  • Body Composition
  • Base Strength
  • Athletic Ability (skill in their sport/thing)
These are my chosen markers due to their basic objectivity, just look at all the people who’ve trained for 10+ years and have achieved very little, they’re beginners in my eyes, yet on paper you’d think these people to be training sages.
While entirely arbitrary why don’t we look at these a little more for some context because i know some people will get butt hurt because it’s 2020 and the world is still hyper sensitive.
Body Composition:
Beginner (novice) – low levels of LBM in retaliation to the individuals total mass with potentially high or low levels of fat mass because skinny fat is totally a thing, arguably the worse thing to be in my ignorant opinion, that’s just me though.
Basically they don’t look like stye train.
Intermediate (amateur) – reasonable levels of LBM in relation to the individuals total mass, often these people have lower levels of fat mass as well, not always, just often.

Essentially they look like they’ve bumped a weight or two and in fact train the way they claim as oppose to simply talking about it.

Advanced (elite) – high level of LBM, often reasonably low levels of fat mass, not always just often. At a glance you’d stop and think, they look strong, and if measured accurately this would be confirmed due to high LBM.

Yep, these are the people many look up to in awe of.

Base Strength:
Rather dependent on what the person trains for, however as an arbitrary guide I base this off of what they can pick up and put overhead in a strict press.
Beginner (novice) – Less then 3/4 total bodyweight
Intermediate (amateur) – Their current total bodyweight
Advanced (elite) – 1.25x bodyweight or more
Why pressing overhead you ask?
It’s because it keeps people honest, and pressing overhead often reveals a multitude of sins and gaps in someones structure, stability and mobility as well.
Athletic Ability:
As with strength it will come down to the specificity of what they do.
If we take Running as an example, just because why not make it relatable to the gen-pop.
Beginner (novice) – 10min (or more) average mile
Intermediate (amateur) – 8min average mile
Advanced (elite) – 6min (or less) average mile
Of course each of the above will come down to the person we are looking at, yet even using the example above you’d find some decent trends in how well to do a person is in fitness.
Anyway, how do you see yourself fin regards to fitness?
Beginner, intermediate or advanced?
Why not, it’s just bit of fun and gets people thinking, plus we also need to remember that even if we are advanced in some things we may be absolute noobs in another.
After all, isn’t life about climbing as many mountains as possible and achieving a lot of different things, or is it just me who thinks that way?
Please do share your thoughts below.

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A Training Protocol too simple to hurt as much as it does.

Morning Y’all,
Being a little bit of a nerd I personally enjoy the principles behind things not everyone wants that, so why not just get straight to the good stuff 💪
Protocol 1 – 6-12-25
A classic from Charles Poliquin.
Choose three movements.
Do a set of 6 for the first, 12 for the second & 25 for the third to fully decimate a muscle group/area.
Examples for each movement pattern:
Do 2-3 sets of the following with 2-4min rest after A3.
Push –
A1 – Weighted Dip x6
A2 – Close Grip Canadian Press x12
A3 – TRX Tiger-Bend x25
Pull –
A1 – Weighted Ring Chin Up x6
A2 – T-bar Row x12
A3 – Face Pull x25
Squat –
A1 – Front Squat x6
A2 – Squat (close stance, heels raised – cyclist squat) x12
A3 – Duck Stance Leg Press x25
Hinge –
A1 – Snatch Grip Deficit Deadlift x6
A2 – RDL x12
A3 – Prone Hamstring Curl (neutral feet) x25
If you do this correctly you will find a drop of in loading % of each set after 2, this usually because at our top weights we’ve got 1-2 good sets in us, then things start to fatigue so a reduction in load of 5-10% is sensible.

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