What kind of body would you have if you pulled out all the stops?
Imagine you did every “little thing” — every rule, habit, and pro-tip you’ve heard — that was supposedly good for you.
And you repeated that day after day, week after week. What would happen?
Would you have 10 more pounds of muscle? Maybe 20 pounds less fat? Perhaps 50% stronger in the big 3 with the mobility of a gymnast?
Or would you be no further ahead at all, just a lot more OCD?
The Hot Points
In the last 20 years I’ve taken literally hundreds of fitness and nutrition seminars. My “method” for seminar taking hasn’t changed, just maybe the equipment I use.
On one page (or Word doc) I write notes like everyone else. On another I jot down “hot points” as they occur to me.
Hot points always garner special attention because they’re purely selfish – they’re what apply to me and my goals.
For example, last month I took in a James LaValle seminar. It focused mainly on managing cortisol, insulin, and estrogen for health and better body composition.
When Dr. LaValle explained how high cortisol can disrupt thyroid output, and in turn androgen/testosterone production, the note “address high cortisol before addressing thyroid” struck a chord. That went on the hot point sheet.
Hot points don’t come easy. I get maybe a half dozen per seminar I attend or book I read. I might only get a couple when I speak to an expert on the phone or in person. Sometimes I get nothing. It happens.
Still, it adds up. My once modest hot point sheet is now pushing 50 pages long.
I admit, at 20 years and counting, some of these gems have proven false. While “drink more water ” isn’t going anywhere, the classic “eat every 2 ½ hours” has pretty much been debunked. Ditto stuff like avoiding mixing carbs and fat.
Interestingly, it always humbles me to see how my beliefs have evolved. Some of the stuff I’d firmly plant my flag in 5 years ago is now either wrong or just plain irrelevant, or the dreaded “it depends.”
It’s probably why I’m so reluctant to write a book, even a damn Ebook. I’m paranoid I’d sign off on the finished text and want to change something five minutes later.
So back to the point. Fifty-plus pages of tips. What if I (or anyone) did 90% of them six days a week?
How much bigger and stronger would we be? How much healthier?
It’s hard to say — six days a week at 90% compliance would be damn near impossible. Trust me, I’ve tried. There are literally hundreds of tips!
Even 50% of them five days a week would be hard except for the exceptionally committed.
Most would remember to do a few, skip a dozen, realize that they’re fucking up royally and just resume their regular scheduled programming of haphazard eating and piss poor programming.
The solution is to have short, concise Must Do Lists of only a few tips that are tailored to a specific goal.
For example, with apologies to the fasting crowd, I like frequent high protein meals for gaining mass. Having just one or two huge meals a day means going too long without protein and isn’t optimal.
Call it bro science, I don’t care. I’ve just never met a big, muscular guy who got that way while bragging about how infrequently he ate. So eat protein throughout the day is on the mass gaining Must Do list.
Getting lean though is another story. Here meal frequency isn’t important. It may even be counterproductive. As such, “Eat six meals a day” will never show up on my fat loss Must Do list. At least not anymore.
Now let’s send you off with some practical info.
Here are my absolute essential 10 Must Do’s for adding muscle mass. Nail all 10 at near perfect compliancy and I guarantee you’ll add pounds to the scale.
As an example, last fall I was looking a bit too much like an overstressed New Yorker. I decided to add some quality weight. I did the following religiously for 8 weeks and went from 205 to 221 pounds. And it was easy to do, cause it was only 10 things.
The 10 Must Dos for More Mass
1. Squat twice a week. One day go heavy (4-6 reps), the other for reps (10-12). Press horizontally and vertically the other two days.
2. Add weight or reps every workout. No exceptions. Force progress.
3. Eat 1.5 grams of protein per pound of bodyweight a day. Spread it out throughout the day. Piss off your fasting friends. (It’s fun!) Eat a high protein breakfast within 30 minutes of waking.
4. Eat 1 gram of carbs per pound of bodyweight a day. Add more once you stop gaining weight. Eat the balance of your carbs after training and in the evening.
5. Eat a lot of good fat from nuts, olive oil, red palm oil, and fish oil (3-6g EPA/DHA). 30% of calories is a good start; those who are naturally leaner should favour higher carbs and lower fats while more endomorphic types should go lower carb.
6. Add fresh veggies to three meals a day.
7. Be in bed before 11 pm.
8. Drink 16 ounces of water first thing in the morning, preferably with fresh lemon. Then drink water throughout the day.
9. Have coffee in the mornings and pre-workout only, and never fasted (eat protein first). And none after 3 pm.
10. Bring the pain during the assistance work. Use isometric holds, slow negatives, and drop sets. Just not with every assistance lift and not every damn set. I like the “last set, best set rule.”
My hot list isn’t getting any smaller, though you certainly don’t have to do everything right to make serious progress. Try my top 10 for 6-8 weeks and see if you can’t grow.
Next time I’ll drop my top 10 for fat loss.