Tag Archives: muscle gain

Corona Calories.

It’s fair to same some avid gym goers are in a bit of a panic.
A few questions regarding how much people should be eating int his time has been popping up.
In all honesty most would do well to take the calories down a notch, simply due to the fact they eat too many as it is, yet in some cases the extra calories may be beneficial because of extra recovery.
What to do, right?
First it would be to try and consume as many of your calories from nutrient dense food sources (meat/veg), then you can worry about the rest.
Without all the fancy calories equations using activity multipliers this will serve you well.
Take your total bodyweight in lbs:
Multiply it by 13, those will be your corona calories (for most people).
Me bing a slight 74kg (163lbs), it gives me this:
163 x 13 = 2119 calories per day.
This would be based on reduced activity (a lot of walking and grappling for me).
Believe it or not that is about right to sustain my current weight with minimal activity that would allow maximal LBM preservation.
A normal day will see me right with 2800-3200 to sustain my weight, I know this because of adding them up on random days across serval months to see trends (on myself personally).
While the method I offer isn’t as complex as many, it works.
The above will serve you well in this time.
Here are the other numbers I use when life is back to normality and training/activity is back up.
To lose mass: BW x11-13
(starting at 13, dropping slowly to 11)
To gain mass: BW x17-19
(starting at 17, building slowly to 19)
^^ You start at the lower number and see if your mass/LBM is going the way you want it to, then stay with those callers until progress stops and adjust up or down accordingly.
One main issue people come across is the go to the extreme end far too soon and then have nowhere left to go, a common mistake that people repeatedly make time and again.
Don’t be one of them.
As for macros, if that’s your things, here is my suggestion:
Protein – 1g per pound of total BW
Fat – 35% total daily calories
Carbs – whatever calories are left after Pro/Fat tallied up

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A book worth a read.

Have you ever read ‘The Warrior Diet’?
It’s quite the thought provoking little read.
While the science of it all is questionable in regards to the acclaimed hormonal responses etc, the overall premise is a solid one.
Here is a summary of the book in short:
– Eat in a time restricted period
– Whole nutritions foods should be the go to choice
– Making food choices for performance & health is key
In all honesty it is very easy to follow and is steeped in common sense more than anything else, you’d be surprised at the overall results you can achieve if you adhere to it.
That’s the key element though, adherence.
Do you think you can stick to it or is food something you rely on for comfort or perhaps other reasons apart from that of survival and necessity.
Questions worth pondering.
Give the book a read, you’ll likely find it novel if nothing else.

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MPS in simple terms

^^ You may have seen this abbreviation in some fitness related writings.
It stands for Muscle Protein Synthesis.
The technical term you’ll find in the scientific literature describes it as the driving force behind adaptive responses to exercise and represents a widely adopted proxy for gauging chronic efficacy of acute interventions.
If you want some real technical info on it (including where I got a chunk of the above paragraph), read this –
Say on the other hand you simply want basic guide to how it works, how long it lasts and how to trigger it then keep reading this simple post.
In terms of how it works, it’s quite simple, you create the need for an adaptive response whereby your muscles will be stimulated and then via adequate nutrition/hormonal balance they repair/recover and adapt becoming stronger/bigger than before.
As a beginner this is easy to achieve and can even be done by hitting the nutrition threshold – 3g of leucine per meal (roughly every 2-3 hours).
Once you get past a certain stage your limits become harder to break and as a result triggering MPS is a tad harder and requires more planning.
Here are the three common ways to trigger it:
– Mechanical Tension (heavy lifting loads)
– Metabolic Stress (time under tension while lifting)
– Muscle Damage (both of the above, or max effort work)
MPS tends to last for anywhere from 24-48 hours.
This is where the recommendation of training a muscle group 2-3 times per week comes in.
Once you trigger MPS, you can leave that muscle alone while it reaps the benefits, then when it starts to wean off you will be wanting to hit it again, leaving it too long before hitting it again will mean you don’t build a cumulative amount of ‘in-road’ which will limit your progress, essentially.
You can repeat this for 8-12 weeks typically before your ability to recover and utilise MPS correctly is outweighed by your overall/general fatigue, hence why we have rest/de-load weeks.
This time off allows what is known as the super-compensation effect to happen, then you start the entire process again.
Now, it is worth remembering that maintaining your muscle is easier than building new muscle, based on the info above here is my recommendation.
– To build muscle train 3 days out of 5 for long periods
– To maintain muscle 2 days our of 2 will be enough
As you can see that is quite the difference.
To build in a 2 week time frame you’d train around 9 times, while to maintain you’d only do 4 sessions.
The topic is a large one to delve in to and this is just a simple coverage.
Any questions leave them below.

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Short on time? Better back off.

The introduction and more frequent use of ‘back off sets’ has become quite popular of late.

You’ll find you can use them to determine suitable loading for your next session, increase total TUT and even help you maintain your progress if you find your gym training time has been chopped down due to life getting in the way.

In the past this has happened several times and as such a way and to be found to get in some quality work, here is an option for you, it will take anywhere from 20-30min tops, try not to spend longer than 30min (especially if your time is limited), just focus on hard work.

This protocol will:

– Provide suitable mechanical tension for strength
– Generate metabolic stress for adaptation
– Create muscle damage for new growth

All you need to do is follow the guidelines and put in all your effort, eat the calories required for your goal (I’ve written about this previously), sleep and stay focused.

Let’s get down o the details.

– Use compound movements (Squat, DL, Press, Chin, Row, etc)

– 1 or 2 per workout (A1/A2 pairing)

– Ramp up your weights each set, start off with 5’s and work to one heavy set, then add a little more weight for a 3, then finally a little more for 1 single. The triple/single aren’t all out efforts, only the 5, they’re just for extra neural stimulation.

– Take 70% of the top 5 and perform 1 back off set of 10-20 reps unbroken

– Rest is minimal between sets, go as soon as you feel ready

– 3 sessions per week is a good minimum to cover the full body

You will be in and out in no time at all.

This short style of workout will allow heavy enough loads to trigger a host of positive things and the back of set will further potentiate this.

If you find you’re doing all of this in 20min then use the extra 10 for some accessory movements (arms, calves etc).

The protocol above is nothing fancy, it’s devised to get maximum results out of minimum time and as such leaves no room for dilly-dallying.


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5 Reasons You Can’t Build Muscle

1 – You’re not eating enough.
2 – You’re not stimulating the muscle correctly.
3 – You’re not eating enough.
4 – You’re not resting/recovering properly
5 – You’re not eating enough.
Bonus – You’re still not eating enough.
Bulking, as it’s more commonly known is actually no easy task, adding lean muscle takes time and a willingness to sacrifice those abs of steel for a period of time to allow the correct caloric surplus for your individual needs. Remember being in a surplus is key to building muscle, however you may indeed add some excess ‘fluff’ as well. A tough pill to swallow, but it’s true.
What kind of calorie surplus will you need?
About 500 calories as a guide, some need more, some less. It will take some learning the correct application to get right for you as an individual, but as a general guide +500 each day is a good place to start.
That’s +500 on top of your TDEE (total daily energy expenditure), by the way.
If you have been trying to gain weight for years and been unsuccessful then it’s suggested that you hire a coach to help you. Often the hard thing, from what people say, is the following “I don’t know what to eat”… Food. Food is what you should eat, sadly there is no magic meal plan or supplement that will grant you instant muscle, it doesn’t work that way. You need to get your daily calories right and then the optimal macronutrients as well, here is a nifty link (http://www.iifym.com) to help get you started, although hiring someone would be the best possible option to help with planning, adherence and motivation.
Now go and start building the muscle you deserve.

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Two Tips to Fix Form


Correcting form can be tricky at the best of times with a good coach at your side. This becomes even harder when you train alone, but fear not, I will share with you two quick tips to help you improve your own form and iron out any kinks.

Be truthful in your critique of yourself, trust me, it will be a to your advantage to let your ego take a nock on this occasion.

1 – Video Feedback

It’s fair to imagine hat most people have some form of camera or recording device on their phone, meaning that there is always an opportunity to check form and improve.

Heres how to do it yourself –

– Record your lift
– Upload it to your computer
– Go to the interweb and load up YouTube
– Find a high level athlete of similar build/stature to put yours again
– Compare & make notes, assess what YOU can do to improve
– Take heed of your notes and go practice

2 – Slow Down

The use of cadence in lifting is a great way to hone your skill/form. Try doing a 6-1-6-1 tempo (eccentric, pause, concentric, pause) for around 6 reps, start off with say a load of 60% 1RM, if you don’t know yours then work to an RPE of 6/7.

The slower form will force you to adhere together form to keep not only control but also balance. You can also use this technique to really focus on contracting/squeezing the muscles you’re using for maximal pump/MU recruitment.

Form is paramount in not only lifting big weights but also longevity in lifting, never sacrifice it in the gym. Ego is something that needs to be left outside the gym.


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The People’s Choice

It’s fairly typical of people to always choose the easier option if there is one and while there is nothing wrong with this, the easy option very rarely leads to the results you want.

Quick fixes come in the forms of magic pills, super shakes, insane training programs and usually a flashy advert too. The marketing might be strong and the numbers of people who have ‘succeeded’ by following the specified quick fix are always in the thousands (millions for some) but can you really trust them?

If achieving a goals was a simple as taking a pill, doing 6 weeks of intense training or living off shakes for a period of time then everyone would be doing it, but they’re not.

To succeed you will need the following things:

– Patience
– Dedication
– Good Nutrition
– Guidance

With those things you will be able to achieve pretty much any fitness related goal. I suppose the same is true of goals that don’t involve the gym too.

Don’t be one of the people lured in by the quick fix temptation because even if by some small chance it does work the results seldom last and you will end up back at square one again, some even end up worse than they were before and claim they’re living life and are much happier than they were when they had achieved their desired goal (I call bullshit on this. If you used a quick fix then perhaps it’s true, but if you achieved a goal through hard work then theres no way you would be happier as your old self).

There was an age old saying that always made me smile:

“A dog isn’t just for Christmas.”

The same is true for your goal. If you want it to be long term then you need to make a life change, but if not then by all means let yourself fall back in to the void, just don’t start complaining when you feel crap becsaue it’s no one else fault but yours and quite frankly no one cares.

Health is for life, not just for a holiday.


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Hard Gainers, Endomorphs & Genetics… Oh My

Morning Guys,

This will be the first in a small mini series on the common pitfalls of self diagnosed problem children in the gym, namely;

– Hard Gainers
– Endomorphs
– Those Limited by Genetics

I shall hopefully debunk some myths with my experience and give you the necessary knowledge to overcome these barriers.

Lets get started…

Over my years of training I have noticed some common mistakes made by the supposed ‘Hard Gainers’ of the lifting world.

We all know someone who claims that no matter what they do they can’t put on any weight, be that in the form of fat or muscle.

Normally this conclusion is reached relatively quickly, by that I mean within their first 6 months of training and it’s all down to their hyper accelerated metabolism, or so they claim…. I say ask people who were always skinny how that changed once they hit 30.

I have to be honest, unless there is a scientifically proven reason why a specific individual can’t gain weight (Thyroid Problem, Hormone Dis-regulation, Metabolic Disorder etc) then the answers in my experience are relatively simple and constitute of the following:

– Not Eating Enough
– Setting Unrealistic Goals
– Over Complicating Training
– Lack Of Intensity /Training Too Much
– Under Recovering

I shall tackle all of these problems and give you simple answers for them all based on my experience.

1 – Not Eating Enough

If your goal is to add weight (muscle) then you need to be in a caloric surplus of at least 250 calories, ideally 500 would be optimal.

There are various ways of establishing your caloric needs, google is filled with calculators and equations to help you but I have always found this rather simple sum gets the calories you will require: Your body-weight in LBS x 17-19 = Estimated calories.

Example: 170 lbs Person (I have sued this with both men and Woman to great effect)
170 x 17-19 = 2890 – 3230 Daily Calories

If you’re curious to know what macro nutrients you need then use the provided simple equations:

Total Daily Calories x 0.40 / 4 = Carbohydrates in Grams 3230 x 0.4 / 4 = 323g
Total Daily Calories x 0.25 / 4 = Protein in Grams 3230 x 0.25 / 4 = 201g
Total Daily Calories x 0.35 / 9 = Fat in Grams 3230 x 0.35 / 9 = 125g
*Fibre would be 7.5-12.5% of your carbs.

These simple sums are not gospel but they will give you a good idea of the calories you will need to achieve your goal.

2 – Setting Unrealistic Goals

It would be nice if we could all add 4 stone of muscle in a month, but sadly that is not really likely to happen.

Setting a realistic goal in the gym will help keep you more motivated because you can envision yourself at the finish point. If you were to set the goal of adding 1 stone in a year then that is very achievable (basically just over 1 lb a month in weight gain).

The same approach applies if your goal is to get stronger or faster, setting an achievable long term goal with regular mini goals is essential to help you stay motivated. Remember to set a date next to your goal too, setting a date will help make you more accountable, don’t just write ‘Lose 1 stone in a year from now’ write ‘Lose one stone by 1-6-16.’.

Example: Long term goal – 14 Lbs Weight loss in 1 year. Mini goal lose 4 Lbs total every 3 Months.

3 – Over Complicating Training

This is a demon many people fall victim too (myself included).

Doing too many isolation exercises, having 9 different exercises will do little for adding slabs or sought after muscle to your frail frame, but it will potentially lead to stagnation, boredom and a complete lack of progress.

The solution?

Compound Movements – Squat, Bench, Deadlift, Press, Pull Up, Farmers Walk, Ab Roll Out – Those compound movements should form the basis of your program if you’re seriously looking to add some weight. Due to their multi joint/muscle recruiting nature your body will be forced to adapt by getting stronger and adding new muscle.

*There is plenty of studies to back this up and explain about the increase in HGH, Testosterone etc but I won’t bore you with that today.

4 – Lack Of Intensity/Training Too Much

These two mistakes fall hand in hand, not only in regard ot the gym but often in life too.
If a little is good then more must be better right?


There is what’s known as a tipping point, the point of which was was beneficial becomes dangerous and can potentially lead to injury or worse (getting squashed under a barbell). I personally feel that if you spend more than 45-60min in the gym then you’re not working hard enough; it’s that simple.

Spending 2+ hours in the gym doing Drop Sets, Giant Sets or Ultra-Mega-Colossal Sets-Mark 3 if pretty pointless, the bodies testosterone levels start to decline after around 22min and by 47-60min are pretty much done for the day, which then leaves your glucocoticoids to rise which can lead to excessive breakdown of proteins (not what you need).

Aim to keep your workouts short and intense, you will see far more benefits, as my grandparents always used to say “Less is more”.

5 – Under Recovering

This problem is linked with the two of the mistakes written above.

It seems once again the theory of ‘More is better.’ takes over, when the truth of the matter is that enough is enough and more is rarely, if ever better.

Along with overdoing it in the gym another factor lined with under recovering is simple not eating enough, remember your body needs the calories so don’t be afraid to eat.

The last cause of under recovery is a lack of sleep, this is easily fixed. STOP watching TV until 2am and get to sleep. If you find you struggle getting to sleep have a meal with a hefty amount of simple carbohydrates in it, this will help increase serotonin (the happy hormone) levels thus potentially increasing Melatonin (the sleep hormone) levels whichmeans a better night sleep.

You can only train at the rate you can recover. If you’re not recovering properly you won’t be progressing to your full potential.


These mistakes are ones I come across time and again, normally when a person gets these in check they start to make some decent progress.

take it from me, I was once a self diagnosed ‘Hard Gainer’ until I started to avoid the mistakes written above.


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