Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Your Ideal Body, or “I don’t want to get too big”.

Lately, I’ve been talking about my own journey in bodybuilding with others. Not by my own will, as I don’t really talk in detail about the physical transformation I’ve gone through in the last years. It’s not something I ever bring up by myself.

Mainly, this happens more than before because there was a huge change in my life a few months ago. I won’t go into details because who the hell cares, but let’s just say that whoever is writing my life decided I had grown too comfortable this season and decided to Shayamalan my shit. In the fallout of the big twist, I was left with a deep necessity to meet new people and rekindle old friendships I might have neglected. It’s extremely difficult for me, especially now that I’m older, but it’s something that I’ve had to do and have done pretty well.

Nowadays, when I meet new people, the first thing they see is a big hairy guy, and “what did you do to get big?” is a question that asks itself. Not because I’m so striking and monstrous, but because it’s an obvious ice-breaker in social situations. Now, like I said, I’ve also been busy trying to renew friendships with people who hadn’t seen me in years, when I was 100+ lbs smaller, inches shorter, and didn’t have a hair on my face (then, the question generally is “What the fuck happened to you?”, to which I like replying “A big wolf bit me”).

This leads to me having the same conversation and Q&A every time I find myself in a social event. I don’t mind of course; talking about bodybuilding to me is as fun as talking about movies, videogames or shooting the shit of any kind—I enjoy it. The only thing that bothers me is that these conversations seem scripted, so at one point it gets boring. I always get the same questions and I always give the same answers like a disgraced politician doing damage control.

Generally these conversations take place with people who aren’t as skinny as I was (because people who are as skinny as I was don’t like to openly tell a big guy “I want to get big too!”), but still either want to get more muscular or pretend to so we can keep talking without any awkward silences.

You know what’s the one constant comment?

“Help me out; I’d love bigger muscles! Just remember I don’t want to get too bulky, you know?”

It’s incredible how often people tell me this when they ask me, or anyone (it’s also a mantra in beginner bodybuilding forums), for bodybuilding advice. I would be surprised if the idea hasn't crossed your own mind as you read this blog. Hell, when I was helping my brother out when he opened his Crossfit gym, part of what I did was welcome prospective patrons and explain what were the goings-on in the Crossfit gym. Luckily for them, and my brother, “You don’t get all huge and bulky!” is an effective selling point.

The face of regret.
“Too huge” or "too bulky", in this context, implicitly refers to bodies like Phil Heath (pictured), Kai Greene, Ronnie Coleman, or any pro who has graced a FLEX cover in the last thirty years. This, as opposed to a lean but defined body you would find under the shirts of Mattthew McConaughey or that guy from "Drive". While I don’t share the opinion, I understand why the idea of being so muscular is unappealing to most.

Yes, there are a million misconceptions about bodybuilding, so why should I write a blog post dedicated to this one in particular?

Because a lot of people don’t want to start lifting heavy weights and begin their growth because they’re afraid they’ll get “too huge”. Now, if I take several steps back, I can more or less see why someone would ask this, but it’s still  hard for me not to find this concern extremely absurd. 

Let me explain.

All right, first off: you could purposefully cycle every anabolic steroid, HGH and testosterone shot for the next five years and you probably still won’t have that body you want to avoid. Nasser el Sonbaty didn’t reach 330 lbs accidentally; he worked extremely hard to get and maintain the body he had. Bodybuilding in that professional level is a 24/7 job that requires extreme care to exercise, diet, a lot of focus and of course the intelligent and controlled use of very specific drugs. It’s not something you acquire unless you really, really want it. And even if you really, really wanted it, it’s likely you won’t get there anyway.

Here's another way to look at it. Would you stop practising on your guitar because "I'm afraid I'll become amazing at it"? Of course not. Even if you wanted to, it's not likely you will.

So here’s what I like to ask. What exactly is the fear of people who want to avoid “getting too bulky”? That one day they’re gonna fall asleep after a huge meal and a beastly time at the gym, and then wake up the next day on a broken bed and wearing torn PJs because they accidentally hulked out of them overnight?

“Oh fiddlesticks!” they’d growl in a frightening new basso. “Now I gone done it! I got too big and ladies won’t want my bulky freak ass!”

"Cruel fate! What have I done to deserve this!"
See how absurd it is? Getting huge isn’t something that just happens suddenly or accidentally. It’s a very slow (though very rewarding) process. What does this mean? It means that your growth is going to be gradual and deliberate and you won’t gain a single pound unless you want to gain it.

Again, what does this mean? It means that you’ll always be in complete control of your body size and you’ll know exactly when you’re finally in the body you always wanted.

And the cool thing that a lot of people don’t realize is that figuring out your exact dream body is harder than you think. You never know how your perception of yourself and your wishes will change as your body does. Maybe right now you want to gain 10 pounds so you can look like an Abercrombie model, but you don’t know if in a year you realize that it’s a body like Thor’s what gets the ladies going, and you’ll now want to gain another 50 pounds. But what if during the two years it took you to gain those 50 pounds you grew attached to bodybuilding and you suddenly want to look like Lou Ferrigno.

Right now you don’t know what you do or don't want, but that’s a good thing because you’ll always be in control. And hell, if one day you realize that you no longer want to be big, you can always get smaller. It’s not a one way street. You’re not burning any bridges with every curl. Remember the “muscle turns into fat!” thing is the dumbest myth in the sport; muscle can’t turn into fat any more than gold can turn into a lemon cake.

TL;DR: The absurd fear of getting a body you don’t want right now should never deter your wish to get out of a body in which you’re already unhappy.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Basic Guide to Gym Etiquette

I just recently started going to the actual gym—or rather, the tiny room in my college while they renovate the real gym—again, and in only two days I got enough inspiration to write this article: a very basic guide to gym etiquette, because apparently it’s something that needs to be written.

Avoid looking like this.
Gym etiquette—to say, how to behave while at the gym—boils down to one simple rule: don’t be a goddamn asshole.

That’s it. That’s the rule. You’re done reading if you want. However, there are many sides to this one rule which you need to respect from the very, very first day you set foot in a gym. Being new there doesn’t excuse you of anything or gives you license for anything, just as much as being a 310 lb Mr. Olympia runner-up doesn’t either. I will outline a list of basic sub-rules here.

Be very respectful, tactful and sensitive.

Golden rule. More so than in life outside the gym.

I don’t give a hairy shit if you’re Brad Pitt or Phil Heath: if you have the grapes to bully, make fun, make snarky remarks or otherwise insult another customer at the gym, I wish you the very worst. If you see a skinny guy having trouble and you just laugh or make fun with your bros, if you see an overweight girl and make a hurtful comment, you deserve to be stripped naked, castrated, flayed alive, pissed on by a diabetic grizzly, and then put to death.

Even if you’re doing it as (what you consider) a “good-spirited” joke, it’s just deplorable. You never know the insecurities the object of your jokes is dealing with, and your little jest might send them back home, never to return to the gym.

Don’t be that guy. Ever.

Bring a towel, and use it.

"What, you don't want my sweat?!"
Many gyms—but not enough—require that you bring a towel along for you workout. What I don’t understand is how a lot of people don’t really seem to get why this is being asked of them. They bring a towel along, hang it on the machine they’re using, do a couple of pull downs, then take it and wipe their faces.

Here’s what that towel is for: to keep your gross butthole sweat away from others. Among other things.

It’s not to refresh your face after it’s gotten sweaty. It’s so you put it on the damn seat of the damn machine so you don’t get sweat on the equipment. And if you do get sweat on the equipment, as you probably will, so you can wipe it the hell off. No one wants your salty signature on their clothes, so don’t leave it for them.

And it’s not only that, I mean—you don’t want someone else’s butthole sweat on your clothes, do you? Unless you’re into some weird R. Kelly body fluids fetish (this reference brought to you by the year 2002), chances are you’re not. It’s just basic hygiene.

Don’t hog the weights.

It’s easy for people to sometimes feel like they own the gym. After you’ve been going there for a while sometimes you might feel like you’re a member of the club of people who goes there more often than the rest. Hell, maybe you’re even friends with the instructor, so you get to call the shots.

Nope. The equipment isn’t yours any more than it is anyone else’s so hogging a bunch of weights without sharing them is absolutely unacceptable. If you need to do a drop set with dumbbells, you either make completely sure no one needs any of the weights you’re using, or replace the exercise with an equivalent in a machine or cables. If you must use three pairs of dumbbells, and someone else needs them, talk to them and alternate their use.

If you’re alternating a machine with someone, return it to the other’s setting.

If you follow this rule, and you should, you’ll get frustrated at first because you’ll probably be the only one who does. Basically, if you find yourself using the same machine as someone else at the gym, and you’re using different weights, change it for the other after you finish your set so they can start theirs.

Say you’re using cables and doing tricep pulldowns with 100 lbs. Some dude wants to use it to do cable curls with 50 lbs. You should agree to alternate with the guy and when you’re done with your set, you switch the weight from 100 lbs to 50 lbs for him. Unless the guy is a total prick, he will do the same for you. Even better, he’ll learn that it’s the cool thing to do and will do it for someone else next time.

Be that guy.

Return every single weight and bumper you use.

"Hey guise check out how much I  just squatted!"
If you finish squatting and you leave a bunch of bumpers on the squat rack for the next person to clean up, you deserve a special particularly rapey place in hell. You never know who is the next person who is going to use the squat rack or Smith machine. It might be a skinny guy or a girl who can’t hope to remove those bumpers. Same goes for leaving dumbbells on the floor after you’re done with them.

You were strong enough to use them you sure as fuck are going to be strong enough to put them back. Even if you found them on the floor in the first place, you're better off being the polite guy who puts them back than the one who doesn't give a shit.

Don’t be an attention whore.

Sometimes, when completing a particularly hard set, you need to grunt a little. It happens; unless you're in Planet Fitness, it's completely okay.

That being said, don't be that guy/girl who desperately wants everyone to look at you. Don't grunt and yell with every rep. Don't drop the weights heavily (if you brought that deadlift up, you can bring it down!). Don't start dancing to show everyone your enthusiasm and confidence. No one in there is your audience; they don't give a shit. Just do your thing.

Seriously, if you're worth being looked at, chances are you are going to be looked at.

Don't correct anyone’s form.

Sometimes you’ll be doing your thing and you’ll notice some dude next to you doing an exercise wrong—either holding the weights wrong, not doing a full range of motion, using momentum, or something else. It’s very important that, unless you see s/he’s hurting themselves, don’t approach and correct them.

Here’s the thing: if you’re new to the gym, chances are you don’t really know what the other guy/girl is doing. There are many variations to very basic exercises that look like poor form. I was once doing reverse grip curls and some bro decided I was holding the bar wrong. He might have meant well, but it was irritating nonetheless.

If someone approaches you and for whatever reason asks for help, and you’re 100% completely positively absolutely sure that you know what you’re talking about, then go ahead. Otherwise, point him/her towards the gym coach.

If you’re bringing your own music, use headphones.

This is pretty self explanatory. There are few things more irritating, in and outside the gym, than the dude who thinks everyone wants to share their shit music taste. If you don't have headphones, tough shit; you're stuck listening to the repetitive un-tss-un-tss that inexplicably booms in every gym ever.

Don’t stare.

Don’t stare at the huge guy bench pressing 300 lbs (even if he wants you to). Don’t stare at the skinny guy having trouble curling 15 lbs. For the love of Jesus’ rock-hard abs, don’t stare at the hot girl doing seated hip abductions. This shouldn’t have to be said.

If you’re going to pose check yourself out, don’t get in anyone’s way.

I can’t really think of any reason why you would start striking poses in the gym unless you’re Ronnie Coleman and you’re in Gold’s Gym. That being said—all right, there’s nothing really wrong with posing if you’re preparing yourself for a show and want to see what you look like with a pump.

However, the mirrors in the gym aren’t there for you to check yourself out—they’re in there to let you see your form from different angles and make sure you’re doing it properly. If you stand in front of a mirror to check yourself out and are getting in the way of someone else’s proper use of the mirror, fuck you.

Oh and god help you if you take your fucking shirt off. Unless it’s a Crossfit gym (where it should still fucking unacceptable), you’re going to reveal yourself as the figuratively biggest douchebag in town.

Fun story: once I saw a dude get a boner from checking himself out. I am not kidding.

Don’t chat up the instructor.

This will depend entirely on each individual gym. Being a gym instructor is a pretty boring job, so many times they are open for chat and such, but I always recommend not wasting anyone’s time when you’re at the gym. You should be concerned about your own workout, not how much the instructor can bench.

Here’s the thing: chances are these guys have heard the same comments, compliments and questions a trillion times. A lot of people like befriending the instructors to get his approval, confirm a sense of belonging and demonstrate seniority in the gym (remember gyms are both the cradles and graves of insecurity). Remember you’re more likely to annoy the instructor than you are to get his approval.

If for some reason you just need to befriend that guy (whom, remember, is working), test the waters I suppose. Play it by ear.

Now that doesn’t mean you should stay away from him/her. As I said, it’s a mostly boring job. If you need his/her assistance for any reason (you need a spot, help with an exercise, help with a routine, etc.), please go ahead.

Don’t chat up anyone else.

The same thing applies for other customers at the gym. If you’re there with your friends, feel free to chat, but please don’t bother anyone else. Gym time is, with many people including myself, a time of peace and meditation. One of the reasons I love going to the gym so much is that I go to a very zen place when I’m lifting weights, listening to music.

I’m particularly anti-social, but trust me: there’s nothing more obnoxious than having some dude you don’t even know trying to spark up conversation while you’re trying to do your workout. You’re probably not going to make friends with that guy; you’re more likely than not just interrupting his groove. Talk to him when you’re done.

Don’t hit on girls, either. A lot of girls (and guys, too, obviously) are there to be hit on, but you cannot identify which ones are there to be attention whores and which ones are there to work out. Save yourself the trouble and just don’t hit on anyone. The gym is not a bar.

I think that’s it for now. Remember these rules and respect them. If everyone followed these rules, nobody would hate going to the gym. It’s up to you whether you want to be the guy who makes working out a better experience, or if you want to perpetuate the “gyms are full of douchebags” paradigm.

Steve is a cunthole. Don't be like Steve.

Friday, May 31, 2013

A Bodybuilder’s Honest Thoughts On Crossfit.

This one goes on for a while. Apparently I have a shitload to say about this topic.

I should probably begin this post saying that though I don’t currently practice it, I’m no stranger to Crossfit. I was there when it first reached Mexico, did a couple of the very first WODs, and personally knew the people who brought it here. I also helped my brother, for whom I have nothing but respect, open a Crossfit gym, and assist coached for the first five weeks after its opening. Did many, many WODs, including a couple of benchmarks. I do know Crossfit.

That being said, I can start saying why, though I very much respect most of the people I know who practice and have passion for Crossfit, I can’t really say the same thing about the discipline itself.

These amazing bodies weren't made solely in Crossfit gyms. Sorry.
Like any fitness discipline, its value is gauged by the results it yields, but this isn’t really a great way to gauge something like Crossfit, and here’s why. Most people I know who practice it often do have great physiques and could crush me in terms of fitness any day of the week. If that was all the information I provided you, you’d think Crossfit is fool-proof. However, here’s the thing: not one of these guys—not one—started doing Crossfit from the couch. What this means is that all of them had prior experience in regular gyms (which by the way the community refers to as “Globo Gyms”, referencing “Dodgeball” in a condescending and frankly sad attempt to demonize the competition), and had already developed good to great bodies through regular exercise.

Yes, they definitely became much more fit through Crossfit, and some of them improved their physiques with a good diet, but you know what? That shit can be done with any discipline if enough intelligent effort is applied.

In terms of the fundamental parameters of fitness, there is absolutely nothing special about Crossfit. Every single base with which it works is a repackage or reword of classic bodybuilding dogmas that aren't popular enough.

This seems like something that would be obvious, right? Yet it isn’t. Crossfit trainers cleverly explain to any new member how Crossfit differentiates to “Globo Gyms”. This is an attempt to snare guys who want to get fit without going to the regular gym because the regular gym didn’t give them any results, and Crossfit will.

You know why Globo Gyms (henceforth referred only as “gyms” because that Globo shit drives me crazy) don’t yield results as often as Crossfit does? Because there is no fucking ‘beginner’s lesson’ to regular gyms whereas everyone gets a crash course on their first trip to a Crossfit gym. If people walked into a regular gym knowing what's what (the purpose of this blog), there would be no problem.

Almost everything Crossfit claims makes it better than regular gyms is a shameless lie that takes advantage of the new members’ ignorance of regular gyms and how the human body works. These are the things Crossfit offers that—they claim—don’t apply to gyms:

Remember kids! If you passed out, the workout was effective!
1. Functional movements instead of isolation movements. Remember how bodybuilders never heard of squats and pull-ups because we only sit on machines and curl our arms? Probably not because that shit isn’t true. Everyone in the fitness world knows functional movements work and their benefits.

2. Constantly varied. No routines. Remember how bodybuilders do the same shit at the gym all the time? Right, you don’t because that's also a lie. In order to make muscles grow you need to change shit up every few weeks. Sure, you don’t change it every day like they do in Crossfit, but that’s because there’s no real reason to except to avoid “boredom”. In fact, I'm pretty sure a poor Crossfit trainer will only overtrain his/her gym members because of this.

3. Quick WODS instead of four hours at the gym. “You can go home in 20 minutes”. The only people who spend four hours at the gym aren’t going to the gym to work out. In fact, whenever I went to do a WOD, between waiting for the heat to start, warming up, having the WOD explained, and actually doing the WOD, athletes took about 1 hour or more to go home. That’s what I do when I do leg day.

4.  Everyone can do it. You don’t need prior fitness experience. This is true. It’s also true for everything in the history of the universe ever ever. There’s not one single discipline, artistic, intellectual or athletic, that doesn’t have an entry level and isn't about progression. I don’t know how this is a selling point.

5. It doesn’t make you bulky with huge ugly muscles. Who wants to be huge? No one who cares about big muscles except shitty monstrous bodybuilders, right? Big muscles, in Crossfit, are seen as a really bad thing because—get this—big muscles “serve no function”. Let that concept sink in for a second. It’s kind of a consensus in the Crossfit community that everyone in there can outlift a bodybuilder. I’ll get to the hilarious “Bodybuilders suck at Crossfit so we’re better than them” mindset later.

6. It really tires you out. I hate this. Yes, Crossfit tires you out almost to a fault. You know what else tires you out? Every fucking exercise in the world if you do it for enough time or without enough rest. How the hell is this a good thing by itself? Listen, if you don't get tired at the gym, regular or Crossfit, you're doing whatever you're doing wrong.

Undeniable proof that Crossfit has existed for centuries.
Now, like I said, I do know a lot of really fit, smart people who either share a huge passion for Crossfit or even own Crossfit gyms. So this isn’t me saying that Crossfit is garbage, because it isn’t.

However, for it to really have results you need to be particularly careful with your diet. Even more so than bodybuilding. A skinny guy can gain a shitload of muscle with a solid training regime and a so-so diet. A skinny guy isn’t going to gain any muscle at all with Crossfit and a so-so diet. In fact, considering the diet Crossfit uses (the Zone diet), no one is gonna gain any fucking muscle whatsoever. They’re gonna get stronger, no doubt, and might shed some fat very, very slowly—but they sure as shit ain’t getting any bigger. I know a lot of skinny guys who’ve been doing Crossfit for years and haven’t gained a pound.

But why would they want to get any bigger, right? What’s the point of bulging muscles? Well, the reason why this is an issue in Crossfit gyms is because big bulging muscles (pro bodybuilders) aren’t considered attractive in society, and lean muscular shapes (Brad Pitt) are. It really does boil down to that. Crossfit claims to be about fitness, but in truth it’s the vainest discipline that has ever existed (this coming from someone who’s actively defending a sport that’s almost all about aesthetics). It functions and exists purely because of vanity, which reflects on pretty much everything that goes on inside a Crossfit gym, even when “Leave your ego at the door” is supposedly a very important part of their philosophy.

Let’s talk a little about this vanity.

After a WOD you are encouraged to write your performance on a board for everyone to see. Why? They claim it is to track your progress but how the hell does writing it on the board serve that purpose? If you wanted to track your progress you’d do it on a tiny notebook because that’s only your business. Writing on the board only helps to compare your performance to everyone else’s and if you’re one of the elite, flaunt it.

This only leads to people lying about how well they did (I know this for a fact), or feeling inadequate in comparison to the more experienced athletes. And this has an even worse effect: newbs try too much too fast. When I helped my brother with coaching, I had to guard the weights like a gargoyle to make sure no one took more than they could handle (I remember this one ~140 lb guy who had been there for 2 weeks and tried to do kettlebell presses with 50 lbs because that was the prescribed weight).

Thus, the hilarious beginner-to-injury ratio Crossfit is famous for (pic linked a joke). Athletes who are admittedly great at Crossfit arrogantly conclude that doing something as all-encompassing as Crossfit so well would logically mean they dominate every fitness field. What happens then is a lot of injuries caused because of hubris.

It doesn’t stop there. Crossfit pros also conclude that being experts in Crossfit also turns them into sports medics, nutritionists, lawyers, builders and superheroes. I know there is a qualification test that covers a pretty complete albeit shallow list of things necessary to become a certified Crossfit trainer, but it certainly isn’t enough.

You're also very, very likely to walk into a Crossfit gym to find half the population doing their workout, and chilling after doing it, shirtless. They'll probably feed you some bullshit about doing it because it's hot and because the workout they just did is so hardcore they'd sweat a lot, but everyone knows exactly what's going on. Say what you will about regular gyms, but at least they have the decency to ban shirtless workouts because it's unhygienic and frankly kinda gross.

Not to mention you might as well have a big tattoo on your chest that says "Look at me! I'm a giant douche!"

"I'd like to thank Greg Glassman!"
But here’s a cool ideal: Crossfit isn’t something you do for the sake of Crossfit. You do Crossfit as an addition to any other sports you like to perform. You play soccer? Surf? Basketball? No problem. Being proficient at Crossfit makes you sort of a “Jack of all trades” (*cough* and master of none *cough*) and would immediately make you better at your sport of choice.

Yeah except . . . yeah this isn’t ever the case. I don’t know anyone who does Crossfit for anything other than becoming better at doing Crossfit. You don’t do Fran in under 5:00 to be a better Quarterback, you do Fran in under 5 minutes so next time you can do Fran in under 4 minutes. Again, nothing wrong with this—I just feel the need to point out the incongruity.

I am aware that a lot of pro athletes, including NFL players and for some reason a lot of MMA fighters do Crossfit. I have no doubt it helps them as training but I’d be legit surprised if I saw any kind of stat that proved that NFL players that train with Crossfit perform better than players that train in a regular gym, like they’ve done for the last 60 years.

Having gotten that out of my magnificent chest, let me go into why I think Crossfit works now, and is probably not a passing fad. Crossfit does have a huge, HUGE benefit that regular gyms can’t claim: it is great as a social experience; more so than any gym could ever hope to be.

The reason why so many athletes become so easily attached to Crossfit as a sport, and become really loyal to their gym and trainers is because trainers are encouraged to treat them like friends, and trainers in turn encourage athletes to treat others as friends with respect.

I love the gym, but am completely aware of how shitty it can be. A lot of the people there are either cocky douchebags or detached Hulk-wants-to-be-left-alone assholes (I fall in this category). Coaches are rarely very helpful or patient, you have to wait sometimes to use a specific machine, etc.

But in Crossfit, this is almost unheard of. In just a few weeks of Crossfit I made a lot of friends, and not just gym friends—I mean “let’s hang out and go to the pub” friends. The fact that everyone, from the pro trainer to the noob grandma, are in theory doing the exact same WOD, helps create a very welcoming and fantastic sense of community and camaraderie.

"Let us pray the Dirge of Fran, Brothers."
For people who are insecure about working out, going to a Crossfit gym where they know they’ll be welcomed and will never ever be ridiculed for being too weak or too small or too fat, it’s a goddamn godsend. Insecure people find there a home, and it’s also an amazing tool of motivation. Feeling lazy today? I’ll go because I’ll see my friends there. It definitely keeps people going, loyally.

The problem, though, is that this has a dark side. Crossfit becomes so welcoming to everyone, from big gym converts, to skinny couch potatoes, to insecure overweight girls, that it almost begins turning into a cult. Is cult a strong word? Not really; the whole thing becomes borderline creepy. There was a point that I wanted to freak the fuck out because Crossfit became the center of every goddamn conversation that happened in my social circles.

Every. Single. One.

Worse still, all these conversations are almost scripted. They’re always the same. There is so much circle-jerking going on in Crossfit gyms I wonder why the mats aren’t permanently stained with d*ckcheese. It completely becomes about “Us” and “Them”. Or, more accurately: “Us” versus “Them”.

“We the Crossfitters are the Elite. We are the fittest on Earth. They the globo gym brutes are ugly monsters. They can’t reach their own assholes to wipe. There is no point in doing anything other than Crossfit. If you want to run a marathon, don’t train for a marathon—do Crossfit Endurance or you won’t finish. Are you just jogging now? That’s okay—better than nothing, while you return to Crossfit. The only reason anyone who doesn't do Crossfit has huge muscles is because of steroids. Why do you even want to have huge muscles? What’s the point?”

All of these are actual quotes I’ve heard. I’m not making this shit up, believe it or not.

Then there’s this.

The ignorance almost gave me an embolism.

See? I’m not making up this “Us versus Them” mentality. I don’t know what ignorant and talentless moron drew this (I found it ages ago and had to save it because it was so hilariously infuriating; it even had the artist making some bitter "Enjoy your steroids!" comment) but it reflects the Crossfit frame of mind to a t. It's also weirdly sexist. "A woman beat you? Ha! What a loser!"

There’s a whole practice about inviting bodybuilders to perform WODs to show how non-functional they are. There’s even a DVD where they invite a Chiefs linebacker to compare his performance, which obviously doesn’t measure up, like that is somehow a testimony of Crossfit’s superiority.

Probably because the pro NFL athlete isn’t as fit as the average Crossfit athlete, right? Yeah they really want you to believe so. How the shit would someone who’s never done Crossfit measure up to someone who’s been doing Crossfit for years? It’s like Ronnie Coleman challenging your mom to see who has bigger arms. It’s a retarded gauge. It makes zero sense, yet it’s always taken seriously. I’d love to see the 150lb Crossfit superstar stand behind the defensive line in an NFL game and not get filleted. They don’t talk about that detail, of course.

Holy shit.

Pictorial representation of how the Crossfit
community sees bodybuilders.
Okay so I’ve written a goddamn critical doctoral dissertation here, so I can’t really get away with saying “I have nothing against Crossfit” at this point, can I? I guess being a brute Globo Gym bodybuilder who was for years surrounded by Crossfit trainers and athletes gave me a lot to criticize. Thorn in my paw, I guess.

I do want to stress this, though:

Though I don't think it's anything special, I don’t really have anything against Crossfit as a discipline. My problem is the community it creates.

The mindset of Crossfit cultists becomes so ignorant and one-sided, not to mention mindlessly critical of every other fitness discipline they see as threats, it’s borderline psychotic.

The truth is that, as a sport, you could do a lot worse than Crossfit. You’ll find in there a welcoming community, a workout regime that will never bore you, coaches whose jobs depend on being helpful and friendly, and of course physical results.

Sure, results you could also get in the gym, and quicker, but the truth is that big gyms aren’t for everyone for a million reasons, and Crossfit pretty much is for everyone. The unbelievable growth of Crossfit all around the world isn’t an accident and most likely isn’t a fad. People stick to it because, even if they don’t see huge results, they like doing it and spending time at the box with new friends.

But I really, really wish The Cult would stop with the fucking unnecessarily aggressive antagonizing. It irks me. I find it irksome.



Thanks for reading.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

7 Common Noobie Bodybuilding Mistakes To Avoid.

Basically this will be a quick review of all the other “Bodybuilding 101” posts I’ve done thus far.

As I had said before, bodybuilding at any level is a tough cookie. If it wasn’t, we’d have many more muscular people walking around. I think that it’s only tough when we don’t really have enough information to help us avoid the pitfalls that make 90% of noob weightlifters quit. If we know what we’re doing—and more importantly what we shouldn’t do—bodybuilding is easier than you can imagine.

So here you are, looking to get bigger, and here I am trying to show you the stuff I’ve learned during my own yet unfinished journey. In yours, you’re surely going to face at least seven evils, so let me try to prepare you for all of them (is this badass motivating enough? Feeling like a fantasy hero yet?).

In order of how they’re probably going to come, here they are.

1. Impatience.

Shit. You’ve been working out really hard during these last few weeks, and what does that asshole sitting on your bathroom floor tell you about your weight gain? Only four goddamn pounds! Fuck that thing. Fuck all of this. It’s not worth it.

Don't let this asshole control your life.
Well, isn’t it? You have to think it through. You had to know you weren’t going to immediately hulk out (though again if you do things right you’ll feel you have), but it's too much effort for such measly gains. The only thing left to do is evaluate your routine and be completely sure that you are doing things right and then be patient. Do it right, and your muscles will grow.

Guaranteed. 

2. Losing motivation.

There are a million things that can make you lose motivation. You're not seeing enough gains. Your stupid friend says you look like a douchebag. You don't feel like yourself anymore. Whatever it is, you need to make sure if all this hard work for a larger body is really worth it. Generally, it is. Trust me.

You're most likely to lose motivation because you're not as big as you wanted to be when you first imagined yourself hitting the gym. Like I said in another post, this is my absolute golden rule:

Don’t look forward to the moment you’ll be monstrous; look forward to the moment you’ll be bigger than you are now. It’s not far away at all.

It’s as easy as that. Every few pounds will be 100% noticeable and not only to you but to everyone else. All you need to do is to keep working until that moment when you notice you’re really changing (clothes not fitting, constant comments from others, etc.). If you do things right, you’ll be seeing those changes much sooner than you think.

Another thought. A lot of people frown upon semi-muscular guys wearing XXS t-shirts just to look bigger. Does it sound douchy? Yeah. Is it douchy? Maybe. But honestly, if making yourself look bigger through placebos will keep you motivated, go ahead and buy the smallest goddamn shirt you see. When you're bigger, your muscles will speak for themselves under an XXL.

3. Shitty diet.

You might have started eating more than you ate before, and that is great, but it doesn’t necessarily mean you’re eating enough to grow. Always remember the nutrition post and review what you’re doing with your diet to be completely sure you’re eating enough, because here’s the thing: if you are eating enough, there is absolutely no reason why you wouldn’t gain weight. So here’s the pro tip:

If you’re not gaining any weight, the first thing you should review is your diet. If you’re 100% certain you’re eating enough go right ahead and fucking eat more.

4. Overtraining.

This is very common for people who begin enjoying exercise and see their muscles grow. It’s easy to assume that more exercise would logically equal more muscle, but this isn’t the case, as I said in this post, your muscles grow when you’re asleep, not at the gym. Your muscles need rest to grow, so if you keep assaulting them, you won’t give them a chance to recover and your gains will stop.

So the advice to give here is to hold your fucking horses and let your body rest. If you try to accelerate growth by spending 10 hours at the gym, that guy who’s intelligently lifting less than you will soon be bigger.

5. Too many supplements.

I like to blame/credit the cartoons we saw as kids for the ideal of a supplement, and the jokes we hear as adults for their bad reputation. We used to see cartoon characters take some pills andinstantly become hulks. I know we consciously know this isn’t in any way possible, but there is a part of us who’d like to believe it is, if only in some capacity.

I know this is true because supplement companies like to hang onto that fantasy. If you read the labels of things like Muscle Asylum Project products, you’ll see blurbs like this gem:

“For individuals devoted to building 21-inch guns, growing a 50-inch chest, benching 4-plates, forcing yourself into an XXXL shirt, and living the life of a bodybuilding freakshow.* [Actual Quote]

Yeah, you fucking wish it was this easy.
*statements not reviewed by the FDA.

Doesn't that sound fucking great? Of course it does but with bodybuilding supplements, "Too good to be true" is a mantra you have to repeat to yourself. These guys are catering to our little fantasy of almost immediately transforming into a muscular freak from drinking some magic serum. It’s important that you don’t buy into that because taking too many supplements is not only very expensive but also dangerous.

While there are supplements that will definitely help you safely (we’ll discuss them soon), it’s important you don’t just take every pill you see the GNC rep recommending. This leads me right into problem number 6:

 6. Not enough supplements.

Here’s the truth: supplements are extremely useful, as supplementation. This means as an non-imperative addition to a solid diet and exercise regimen. There is nothing—not even the very dangerous steroids that do create Kai Greenes and Ronnie Colemans—that will instantly make your muscles grow.

But that doesn’t mean you should steer away from all supplements. I generally like to recommend that you start your bodybuilding experience (to say, the first 8 or so weeks of training) without supplements because 1, you don’t need them at your current size; 2, you’re better off learning how to diet properly for now.

However, once you’re past that initial phase of your training and you’ve put on a few pounds, it’s definitely recommended that you do begin exploring and experimenting with safe supplements like whey protein, creatine (which I personally have never used, but has many proven anabolic benefits), multivitamins, et al.

If your gains have stopped, and you’re currently staying away from supplements altogether, it’s a good idea to begin looking into them. They’ll definitely help. My favorite site for reviews is this. Bookmark it.

It’s extremely important that you research and read reviews for everything you decide to put in your body.

I had a very bad experience with a supplement once, and I’d hate to see it happen to you.

 7. Not enough rest.

You think it's a coincidence lions are big? No sir!
Not an extension of overtraining, because even if you are only training the 60-90 minute workout that’s recommended, it won’t help much if you don’t get enough rest. By rest I don’t mean every passing moment when you don’t have a dumbbell in your hands; I mean sleep.

8 hours of sleep, even if they have to be aggregated through naps, are necessary for your body to grow. Do your very best to get enough sleep.

And that is it. Remember all these tips because they’re pretty much the only real mistakes you could be making that will stop your gains at this point. Remember this:

There’s nothing fundamentally wrong with your body. If you’re not growing, you’re doing something wrong.

See you for the topic-specific posts starting now!

Monday, April 8, 2013

First Thing First: Supplementing, Resting, And General Tips.


Okay we’re here in the final “Bodybuilding 101” post. You’ve learned how to get and keep yourself motivated, how to eat, how to train, and finally we’ll learn how to properly rest to keep growing, and my views on early supplementation. After this, the posts I write will be a bit less focused on basics, but hopefully just as helpful for newbies as well as for more advanced bodybuilders who might be in need of a first, second or nineteenth opinion.

Supplements.


Here’s what I think about supplements: they are fucking awesome. No, seriously, they are. I’m going to be putting up quick blurb reviews in this blog because naturally not all of them are awesome, but they are—in my opinion—almost completely necessary to optimize growth.

Just not when you start out. This is kind of important and a piece of advice I will disagree with most other bodybuilders on:

Don’t start on any supplement for the first six to eight weeks of your training.

After that, feel free to take the right supplements, but for the first two months, just don’t. Why? Not because they will harm you or anything (though they might), but at this juncture they are unnecessary. I would much, much rather you learn how to eat properly first.

Think of this first period of your bodybuilding life—which I’ve referred to as “Phase One” in this blog—as Bodybuilding Boot Camp (dang that’s what I should’ve called this section). Supplements are definitely a great help for continuous gains and growth, but they’re also not free, some can cause damage if you’re not careful, and most don’t do shit. You need to know what to take and when to take it, yes, and I will explain in time but for now, don’t touch them. Rely just on food for now. Learn what meals you like, learn how to cook, learn how to maintain an appetite.

We’ll get to protein shakes, energy drinks, and tasteless powders later.

Resting. 


Good news: if you work out hard and eat well, you not only deserve to rest: you pretty much fucking have to.
Dem Z's are a must.

People don’t realize this, but muscles don’t actually grow in the gym (except for the sweet-ass blood engorgement [that’s what she said] that happens when you exercise, which we call ‘the pump’), but when you’re asleep. When you’re asleep is when your body recovers from everything that happened during the day—physically and mentally. Naturally, this includes the assault you unleashed on your muscle cells in the gym. That means that the more you sleep, the faster and more efficiently your body recovers, becomes bigger/stronger, and allows you to lift again.

You have to sleep at least 8 hours every day. Nap whenever possible.

Lions get it right. For some of you this sounds like a dream come true because who doesn’t love sleep? It’s pretty much awesome. However, it’s also not the easiest thing in the world to have a life that allows an hour at the gym, eight-plus hours of sleep, time in the kitchen, a job, and a social life.

Tough shit, though; sleeping is almost as important as working out and eating right. Sit down one day and try to create a schedule around these three important things or your effort might be in vain. As a subsection here, I’d like to add a little thought on overtraining—a weightlifter newbie’s bane.

Overtraining


Overtraining is exactly what it sounds like. Remember how I said before that I couldn’t think of any reason why someone should spend four hours in the gym? It’s not as easy of lifting more to get more results. Again, if it was that easy I’d be folding bears with my monstrously muscular eyelids. The truth is that rest is too important for this to be a possibility.

The general rule for bulking is that you should always have at least one but hopefully two rest days a week, if possible consecutive. Rest days mean rest from lifting and cardio, but not from eating right (though, of course, a couple of cheat meals a week are encouraged). On the weekends, please don’t touch a dumbbell, but if possible still stick to your diet for optimal gains.

Your body will grow consistently for a good while, but there will eventually be plateaus—both for your whole body and for specific body parts. Again, every body is different; I had to work legs more and arms less because when I started my arms blew up but my thighs didn’t. It’s natural. It’s genetics; even Arnold had a massive chest and comparatively small legs. You will be tempted to train some muscle groups double or even triple but there is one thing you need to remember:

If working a split routine, give each muscle group at the very least 72 hours to recover before working it again.

You probably won’t have to do this for years, but it’s extremely important to keep it in mind, or else your desperate attempts to have a huge gorilla chest will only keep it from actually growing.

General Tips for Wellbeing.


  • Don’t let bodybuilding take over your life.
When people begin seeing results and feeling the changes they bring to their lives, it’s easy to become obsessed. It’s important that you don’t let this happen because it can have very shitty effects on your social life, your love life, and even bodybuilding itself. There are so many stories about guys that go to the extreme of asking how masturbating or having sex affects their bodybuilding. That is fucked. By the way: it doesn’t.
  • When in doubt, don’t; instead, ask.
Bodybuilding is about controlled injury; don’t let it get out of control because of misguided experimentation. For this, there’s always the gym coach, your muscular friend, or another experienced acquaintance. There are also many great sources online where you can directly ask very knowledgeable people, even pros, about bodybuilding. Reddit’s Bodybuilding sub can be very helpful, same for the Bodybuilding.com forums, the Muscle&Strength forums (where I started), or this mindblowingly fantastic blog.
  • Research the shit out of everything you put in your body.
I know I said no supplements yet, but when the time comes, don’t buy anything off the stores because a GNC employee recommended it, or because it’s on sale, or because of the blurbs in the label that prey on the insecurities of people like you. Use online resources like SupplementReviews to get first-hand accounts of users, familiarize yourself with the chemistry of supplements, learn what does what and what it is you need. Not every supplement “that works” will really have an effect on you. There are many ‘quintessential’ supps I’ve never taken, and some 'snake oil' supps I can't live without. We'll get to it.
  • If you find something that works, stick with it.
Here comes the mantra again: every body is different. I guarantee if you follow the stuff I wrote in this blog you’ll begin to grow. However, the only way to really know what will make you keep growing is to identify what you’re doing right and to keep doing it. Yes, there will be diminishing returns, but that’s when you change what you’re doing—be it your diet, sleep schedule, workout routine, supplements, etc.
  • Don’t compare your body to others’.
This is something I guarantee you’ll do because it’s just in our nature and it’s almost impossible to avoid. Either to your delight because you’re bigger than someone else or your dismay because you’re smaller, you need to try and control the instinct to compare your body and strength to others. Nothing good ever comes out of it.

  • Don’t let the scale make you its bitch.
The scale will be either your best friend or your worst enemy. Standing on it will tell you how much you've grown or how much you haven't, right? Wrong. The truth is that while the scale obviously does give you your current weight, that number can often be a lie, mainly because there are a hundred different factors affecting it. You might be carrying a lot of water weight so it says you're 3 lbs heavier than you really are. You might have had a rough week when you couldn't stop shitting and it says you're 5 lbs lighter. You might have just eaten 2 lbs of Taco Bell. You might be standing on it while wearing 2 lb boots. Weight yourself every month at most, and consider that that number might not be completely accurate. If you ever want to know your exact body mass growth, have a check up. Just not too often.


Finally I’m adding one golden rule: Don’t be stupid. I know, this seems condescending but it’s not. It’s simple: don’t be stupid, and you’ll be fine. Don’t try to squat 250 pounds on your second week because that one guy in the gym could. Don’t stick a needle in your ass because your gym coach is selling. Don’t get cocky and try to get into a fight with some bully because you just gained 10 pounds and mistakenly feel very strong. Be and stay smart and you’ll be and stay strong.

That’s it for the basic part of bodybuilding which should be enough to give you your first several pounds. Stick around for more stuff, and feel free to contact me either through comments here or Twitter if you have any doubt.

In case you missed the rest of Bodybuilding 101:

First Things First: Supplementing, Resting, And General Tips.

Friday, March 15, 2013

First Things First: Working Out & The Gym

Hopefully you’ve read the two previous posts before reading this one. If you did, now you’re mentally prepared, you know exactly how much food you’re supposed to stuff your face with every day, and are ready to actually start doing the work. Not the hard work, mind you, as I think the actual gym is the easiest—not to mention most fun—part in bodybuilding. You might agree later.

Going to the gym is a daunting prospect for any skinny guy. You’ll always have the insecurity of looking goofy or stupid, having others make fun of you, feeling inadequate next to the larger or stronger guys, etc. Yes, this is a reality you’ll have to face but the good news is that those fears are largely unfounded. Are there assholes in some gyms? Definitely, but they’re the minority. The reality is that the biggest guys in there don’t want to make fun of you—they want you to admire them and tell them how huge their arms are.

Still, the fear will be there. You know what you have to do now? Well, here’s this bridge:

Get over it.
Yes, you can work out at home if you prefer, and I’ll give you some excellent tips for it (the first 2 months, I worked out exclusively at home because the gym was too far away) later. However, working out at a gym, where a coach can help you out, is optimal. So sack up, get in your workout clothes and get ready. The gym is going to be your temple from now on, and you’re going to be going there at least 3, but hopefully 4 times a week for the next eight weeks. Don’t worry; you won’t be there more than an hour a day.

What Machine Do I Use?

Pictured: The Labyrinth of Minos
Here’s where I’ll differ a bit with the general bodybuilding consensus. Most bodybuilders suggest a split (as in, split your week into muscle groups—e.g. Mondays: chest; Tuesday: legs) routine as opposed to a full body (work your entire body, with fewer sets focusing on each muscle group) routine when you want to grow. This is definitely true, but I think that when you start out, it’s better to do so with a full body routine. Only for the first eight weeks.

This will also help, even if a little, with the horrible soreness you’re going to feel the next days. And boy are you going to feel it. Get ready for some of that sweet pain.

I could actually sit down here and give you a full rundown of what machine you should use, for how many sets and how many reps, but there’s no need. There are a million websites you can visit that will give you that particular information. If you want my specific recommendation, I’d give you this one if you’re working out at a gym and this one if you’re working out at home.

Obviously, if you choose to work out at home, you'll need to drop some dough to buy dumbbells, barbells and one of those things you put on your doorframes to do pullups. They're not too expensive, but it's an expense you're gonna be looking at. Good news about buying it is that even if you prefer going to the gym, you'll be able to work out at home if for some reason you can't drive to the weightroom.

Now, naturally you can use other resources if you want, or even if possible ask the gym coach once you’re there to give you a routine (don’t be afraid to do this; they want you to—that job is boring as hell). The only parameters I’d give you are to make sure it’s a 3 or 4 day, and that it’s full body.

IMPORTANT: Do NOT skip any single exercise or muscle group for any goddamn reason.

Oh you don't care about having big legs? Think again, chicken man; legs are the single most important muscle group to work, and I'll get more into this later. Just remember that these workouts are designed the way they are for a reason. Eventually you'll see how your body reacts and you'll see which muscle groups need more work. For now, stick exactly to the program.

How Do I Perform Each Exercise?
Have you picked one you liked? Great, print it out. Now, before you go, make sure you study every single exercise you’ll have to do. Muscle & Strength has a great database of exercises with informative articles and videos to watch. Familiarize yourself and study the ones you'll be doing.

Doing correct form—“form” meaning the exact movement in which you perform an exercise—is extremely important. It’s much better to do 3 perfect squats than to do 15 with shitty form.

So again, study the exercises. If you have any doubts, ask the gym coach or the biggest guy you see there if he’s not too busy with his own workout (most like being asked to help smaller guys because Ego). Make sure you feel your muscles working the weight. It’s a very distinguishable and satisfying feeling.

How Much Weight Do I Use?
Ah this part. This part sucks because no matter how much of a newbie you are in the gym, no one wants to be that guy who’s using the small dumbbells. Sadly, it’s probable that you’ll be precisely that guy because, well, yeah—maybe you’re weak right now. You won’t be for long, but you gotta start somewhere. It’s important to remember that bodybuilding and fitness in general are about progression; you’ll start in one end of the dumbbell rack, but soon enough you’ll be reaching for the other end.
Reminder: these are not poisonous to the touch.

The formula I generally like to suggest is that you have to pick a weight with which you can perform your entire set (8 or 10 or 12 reps) with perfect form, and doing an effort. I don’t want you picking up a heavy DB to do your 10 curls if you’re gonna be using momentum and arm swings to get the weight up; likewise, I don’t want you picking up the 5’s to do 10 perfect dumbbell squats. It needs to be right in the middle. It needs to be difficult, but it needs to be doable. You’ll feel your way through.

I can’t stress this enough: don’t be embarrassed about picking the smaller plates and dumbbells for now. If you don't, all you're gonna achieve is getting hurt, and that's the last time you'll see the gym.

Sometime in the future, when you look back at how much weight used to feel heavy for you will make your strength feel so much sweeter.

How Long Do I Stay?
As little as you need. I never got why some guys stayed in the gym for four hours. What the fuck could you possibly have to do in the gym for that long? Yes, a lot of people use it to socialize, but you're not there to pick up chicks; you're there to shape your body so what I recommend is get in, do what you have to do, and get out.

I think it's best to do your entire routine as it is described, taking roughly 30 seconds between sets, and 2 minutes between exercises. No more. Doing this should, with a regular routine, take no more than 60 to 75 minutes. Hopefully it won't take longer than that because:

After one hour of workout your hormonal levels and basic Everythings you need for muscle growth drop. After about 75 minutes, any effort you do in the gym will be wasted.

So don't waste your time talking to that one friend you found or chatting up the gym coach about nonsense. You're a man on a mission when you're at the gym. Again, it's simple: go in, move some weight around, get out. 

For now, this is enough. I’ll be posting more about gym etiquette (important) and general workout tips in their own specific sections. Only one more “Bodybuilding 101” post to go.


In case you missed the rest of Bodybuilding 101:

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

First Things First: Nutrition Basics.

Last post I talked at length about how to prepare yourself mentally—which is much more important than most bodybuilding programs say—to begin your transformation. Now, moving on, I need to say there really aren’t any secrets to getting big so you won’t find here the recipe to the Magical and Secret Megahulk Elixir ™, mainly because there isn’t one. However, what you will find here is a good outline of the most important thing people take too long to understand, or never do, and give up on bodybuilding blaming their body or some similar bullshit.

I’m talking about nutrition, a word often wrongfully equaled with diet, a word often wrongfully equaled with getting a hot fire poker in the urethra. It’s not that. Nutrition basically just means feeding your muscles so they can grow after being exercised. To understand this better, let me explain the process of hypertrophy (that’s “muscle growth” in Fancy) in the simplest of terms.

Flex your arm. So maybe your arm is small and weak, but right now you need to ask yourself this: why the hell should it not be small and weak? Your arms have never before needed size or strength so why the hell would they grow? It’s not like they’re ever going to need to pick up heavy stuff, right? Your body has absolutely no reason to think it needs strength.

Remember 6th grade biology when Mrs. Price talked about some dude’s observation of some birds in some island and came up with the theory of evolution? Basically we learned that living organisms adapt to their environment in order to survive. How the hell does the body know how to adapt and to what?



But really, organisms know how to adapt and to what when they find themselves with particular needs. When giraffes needed long necks to reach them tall leaves so they wouldn’t die, they developed longer necks through a painfully slow process. Of course this is an extreme example, but it leads to where I’m going:

You need to trick your body into thinking it needs to adapt, or evolve, by becoming bigger and stronger.

You do this by working out. Your body can’t tell the difference between you lifting a pair of dumbbells for the lulz or you pushing a rock out of your way in order to reach a drink of water. If your body thinks being stronger is necessary for you to not die, and it has the resources to do it, it will become stronger. You need to capitalize on this concept, which is where the concept of “surprising your muscles” comes from. I’ll get to that eventually.

Those resources I’m talking about up there are, basically, the nutrients found in food. You can have the most brutal workout the word has ever known, the kind that would make your body think that you just straight up fought and murdered a wooly mammoth to feed your family, but if you don’t feed your muscles with the nutrients they need, you know what will happen?

Fuck. All.

This is why so many people go to the gym for months, cry, sweat and bleed on the machines, and don’t see any changes in their bodies. Trying to build muscle without eating enough food is like paying fifty dudes to build your house, but not supply them with bricks.

Yes. You need food. More than anything, you need food. Now if you go ask an expert—id est, someone who knows his shit better than I do—what kind of diet you should take on if your goal is bulking—bulking (getting big), as opposed to cutting (getting rid of fat), more on this later—they’ll give you some complicated numbers that will probably make your head spin at first.

Luckily for you, your goal is becoming huge and to become huge, you just need to eat like a monster. Of course, you need to eat the right foods, but don’t bother yourself with the minutiae of nutrition—it’s not important right now. Measuring your food and counting calories is for when you want to cut fat. Right now your body is so desperate to grow it’ll take any decent diet as an excuse to do so.

But let’s not leave it at “decent”. Let’s make a good diet for you in four easy steps.

How To Prepare Your “Phase One” Diet.

Step One. Determine your BMR.
First, you need to figure out your Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR). This basically determines the rough amount of calories your body burns every day. There is no math involved, here, don’t worry. Just go to this calculator here, fill it up, and write the number it gives you. Pro tip: bookmark this because this is a process you’ll have to do more than once.

Step Two. Determine your daily intake.
You have your BMR now. I’m guessing it’s around 2,000 calories? Anyway, you will plot a diet that will give your body more nutrients than it naturally burns; adding this to a workout plan that kicks your muscles’ ass at the gym will only give your body one choice: use the excess nutrients to grow.

Boom. You just became an X-Man. Choose your mutant name.

"Beast" has been taken twice. Watch it. 
To grow, you need to add ~500 calories to your BMR, so take that number and add 500. If it was 2,000, we now know that you need to eat 2,500 calories every day to grow. Sounds scary? Too much? It’s not, don’t worry.

Step Three. Determine your meal plan.
You’re probably eating three meals a day like a normal human being. Well, you’re not a normal human being anymore, motherfucker, you’re a bodybuilder, and bodybuilders don’t eat three meals a day like puny humans do!

No. You’re going to eat at least five times a day. Don’t freak out quite yet, though. It’s not as scary as it sounds. It’ll actually make your life so much easier (since a lot of your life now is eating). At your current BMR, eating five meals means having to eat around 500 calories each.

So are you still on board? At this point you need to eat 5 meals of 500 calories each to grow. This is very, very manageable. Naturally being more active and heavier will mean having to eat more calories a day, so wait until you’re huge and need to pack in ~4,000 calories to get bigger.

Step Four. Determine your meals.
Pictured: you.
2,500 calories a day? Easy! Just two trips to McDonalds and we’re set! Well no, sorry. Naturally it’s 2,500 calories of the right food. Here’s how you find out the right foods: nutrients are largely divided into three groups: carbohydrates, protein and fats. Only one of those sounds friendly (the almighty protein), but truth is we need all three of them. Oh, and here’s the twist:

Protein isn’t the one you’ll be eating the most. Nope. It’s carbohydrates. That’s right. You’re going to be eating nearly twice as many carbs as you eat proteins. Sounds crazy? It’s not. In fact, this is how you’re going to ratio your food:

50% should be carbs.
30% should be protein.
20% should be fats.

This means that at 2,500 calories, 1,250 should come from carbs; 750 should come from proteins; 500 should come from fats. You do your own math.

Knowing what food belongs to what group is tricky at first, luckily there are a billion resources online, not to mention apps for your phone as reference guides, to help you through. Still, I’ll give you a quick summary to give you a broad idea: carbs are fruit, vegetables, pasta, bread; protein is beef, chicken, fish, dairy; fats are seeds, nuts, olive oil, fish oil, etc.

I recommend for this "Phase One", that you focus at least one protein heavy meal to take it right after your workout. As soon as you can without throwing up.

Another thing that is important is that, although you need to keep a surplus of calories, you need to watch out and don't overindulge in certain foods. You might be aware that muscles grow through protein, but you need to know that a surplus of protein will not result in a surplus of muscle. Sadly:

Your body can only process about 2 grams of protein per pound of bodyweight a day.

If you take more than that it'll just end up packed into a neat brown trunk floating in your toilet.

A word on cheat meals:

You can imagine what "Cheat meals" means. It means a meal in which you cheat on your diet with a sexier diet, one that generally consists of greasy but delicious shit. As a skinny guy, you can get away with shit other people can't, but you shouldn't indulge too much. I recommend having only three or four cheat meals a week.

No wait, I don't recommend. I encourage it. Cheat meals are great mainly because if taken carefully, they don't work against your growth and they work in favor of your determination. Psychologically, it's very important to have the reassurance that, even if you have to eat this dry chicken breast right now, maybe in two days you'll be able to eat a motherfucking Royale with cheese. Until then, hold the desire; it'll make it taste better.


So there you have it. This is all you need to know to begin. Figure out your meal plan, buy the correct foods you’ll need (I’ll make a post about bodybuilding on a budget later), and get ready.


In case you missed the rest of Bodybuilding 101: