I’m a thief.

Cause I’ve stolen everything I know about building a muscular body. I haven’t invented or discovered a damn thing. Zilch.

Nor have I conducted any experiments, published any papers, and certainly haven’t been subject to peer review, unless you count the post workout posedowns I “used” to have with my bros in the locker room.

But what I have been is exceptionally observant and certainly persistent. And I’ve been doing this shit a long time. Which in itself can teach you a few things.

So to balance out my more rambling prose about life and manhood, I’m going to occasionally put up more distilled musings about muscle building.

Some of it is stuff I stole (uh, observed) years ago that for whatever reason is occupying real estate in my frontal lobe. Other items are more trendy shit that I either agree with or think is overplayed.

If you’re travelling and want easily digestible, hopefully actionable, yet completely opinionated rambling, these posts will be for you.


You need more variety.

Volume – quality volume — is probably the biggest factor in muscle growth. If you’re not growing (as in building contractile muscle tissue, not getting stronger – there is a difference) you need to take a close look at your volume and/or frequency.

That’s fairly well accepted. What do I think may be just as important as volume? Variety.

It’s something I’ve come full circle on. I came up in the salad days of bodybuilding voodoo. Seemingly every week there was a new exercise or esoteric Weider principle to learn, which is probably the last thing a kid with biceps as big as his wrists needs to read.

I should’ve spent my formative years (3 years at least) with next to no variety — squatting, deadlifting, and benching with a very basic periodization model — not trying to wrap my brain around when to apply pre-exhaustion versus post-exhaustion on arm day.

I eventually “got smart” and flipped the script. I put in a good 5 years of basic barbell training with very little variety and saying my prayers like a good little Hulkamaniac. And while I would’ve had better results doing it at 16 instead of 25, I still made progress.

Until I stopped making progress. Cause I got to The Place.

The Place is that point in your development where you have to decide – what’s more important, being strong or building your physique?

If you’re exceptionally gifted or have had great training since day one, you may never reach The Place. You might be “that guy” who competes in powerlifting in the morning, then buys a razor and a pair of briefs and competes in bodybuilding in the afternoon. I know a couple guys like that and friends or not, I hope they catch scurvy and die.

However, if injuries or passion or simply burnout tips your hand towards the physique side of things you have to change how you think.

You can’t just load, load, load your bench and expect to build great pecs. The deadlift becomes a tool to build your posterior chain, not impress your colleagues. Suddenly, once useless or even counterproductive ideas like a “variety of exercises” become important.

I remember Charles Poliquin telling me that the longer you’ve been trying to build muscle, the more often you need to make at least subtle changes to stimulate hypertrophy. Not surprisingly, he has more exercises to train the brachialis then most guys have for their entire body. Mr. Olympia legend Bill Pearl was the same way, as anyone who owns a copy of Keys to the Inner Universe can attest to.

And even if it’s all in your fricken head – if variety works simply by keeping your interest up after 20 years – who the fuck cares? Like it or not, you’re a bodybuilder now. Let’s go for chicken.

Mobility work isn’t optional.

It’s a necessity, especially as you start pushing past 10 years of consistent training. That said, spending 20 or 30 minutes on drills before a workout is a waste of time – unless time is something you have a lot of. Something that those who work and have stacks of shit to do simply don’t. So it gets skipped.

A more effective and certainly more practical approach is to do shorter “bouts” of mobility work multiple times a day. For example, first thing in the morning I might do a few minutes working on my hips and then target my upper back after lunch. I even keep a band in my office and do 20 pullaparts whenever I get up from my chair.

As for the foam roller, I prefer to use it at night anyway as it relaxes me. I never understood these dudes that eat an ephedrine sandwich and chase it with a venti Starbucks only to spend their first 20 minutes methodically foam rolling their adductors.


My double standard.

I don’t like seeing all these women getting stressed about getting lean or building a perfect ass. I’d much prefer they “obsessed” with getting healthy and strong and just being in great shape. Cause if they have those goals and hit the requisite targets, the bodyfat and aesthetic bonuses tend to follow organically. The opposite is rarely true.

Plus I think women are under enough pressure already to look a certain way. I’d rather not contribute to it. Just my opinion. If you’re a female and super into it, more power to you. Just be sane about it.

With dudes, however, I’m less forgiving. If you’re young and reasonably intelligent, why the hell are you fat? Come on. You better have a really good reason for sporting a gut and love handles, and “too busy” and “fat boy genetics” aren’t it. For shit sake, being fat doesn’t even help your bloody deadlift!


Forget Genetics.

Genetics is the lamest excuse in the industry. Yes, it makes a huge difference in the competitive bodybuilding arena. An IFBB pro once told me that if someone couldn’t win his first show basically natural then he didn’t have the genetics to excel at the sport at any level.

I still believe that. In my experience, the guy on the most gear is rarely the one holding the first place trophy. It’s the bloated guy in the back with the 8th place participation ribbon. Because you can’t inject muscle insertions, broad shoulders, or a tiny waist.

But that’s just competitive bodybuilding. Not your own muscle journey. Even a totally average Joe can build muscle and get stronger and improve their physique. Maybe not at the same rate as Mr. Gene Pool but they can certainly build upon what they’ve been given.

Forget someone else’s game. Take the cards you’ve been dealt and play the best hand you can. You might not beat the house but you’ll go a lot further than all the guys who folded before it even got interesting.