Build Lean Muscle Archives

Here is an outline of my new Wednesday routine that incorporates intermittent fasting and strength training

This snapshot of a typical Wednesday is something I will follow for the next 4 weeks before changing the strength training components.

Tuesday night,
9:30PM (the night before)

Finished eating my last meal for the next 16 hours:

2 scoops mixed protein powder,
1/2 cup coconut milk
1/4 cup oats
1 Tbsp Almond Butter

Wednesday morning,
7:30AM

3 Beverly International Quadracarn (mixed Carnitine supplement)
1 cup of black coffee
Note: I can’t prove or disprove if this supplement is doing anything yet but my collective program is working awesome!

11:45AM
Pre-Workout

6 BCAA tablets, 4 Mass Amino Casein Tablets, 3 Quadracarn

12:15PM – 1:15PM
Workout #1

During the workout I sip a BCAA and L-Glutamine mixture (Beverly International Glutamine Select) with about 6g BCAA’s and 10g Glutamine.

The pre-workout aminos and “during workout” Aminos are very important to have a great workout in a 16 hour fasted state. They serve anabolic and anti-catabolic functions as well as provide the body with a readily available source of aminos to be converted into blood sugar.

Superset #1
1) Dumbbell reverse lunges (3 x 6-8 reps)
2) Incline Dumbbell Curls (3 x 10-12 reps)
3) Close neutral grip dumbbell press (3 x 8-10 reps)

Exercise #2
Leg Extensions with 60 seconds rest (7 x 6-12 reps)

Exercise #3
DB Front Squat (1 x 10-15 reps)

1:30PM – 2:00PM
Meal #1

1 1/2  scoops Beverly International Mass Maker Ultra
1 1/2 scoops beverly International Ultimate Muscle Protein
1 Banana

3:30PM – 4:00PM
Meal #2

8 oz low fat greek yogurt
1/2 cup fresh blueberries
1 Tbsp Cacao Nibs
2 tsp orange flavored fish oil (Barlean’s)
1.5 oz raw mixed nuts
2 Beverly International Fit Tabs (multi-vitamin)
4 Ultra 40 Liver Tablets

6:15PM – 7:15PM
Meal #3

2 medium grilled chicken breasts with cheddar cheese (small amount) and asparagus
1 1/2 pieces grilled corn on the cob with pastured butter and sea salt
2 cups mixed greens salad with fresh raspberries, Udo’s oil and balsamic vinegar
2 squares 90% dark chocolate with 2 tsp Almond Butter

9:30PM – 10:15PM
Workout #2

 Superset:
Heavy Barbell Bench Press (6 x 1-3 reps)
Single leg calf raises (6 x 12-20 reps)

10:45PM – 11:15PM
Meal #4

This will be my final meal for the next 16 hours again:

Breakfast wrap (who says this can only be at breakfast!)
3 Eggland’s best Whole Eggs
1 egg white (cheap generic egg)
1 oz cheddar cheese
2 tsp coconut oil (for cooking eggs)
1 Ezekiel sprouted grain wrap
Salsa and plain greek yogurt

Shake:
1 cup organic whole milk
1 scoop Beverly International UMP protein
1 Tbsp natural peanut butter with flaxseeds

 

 

 

Age Dependent Meal Plans For Muscle Gain

Plan #1 : The Teenage Athlete Through Early 20′s
With <15% Body Fat

As I mentioned in my video post, teenagers in their late teen years that are player high school sports for example have much different requirements than older athletes due to metabolism, energy expenditure and hormonal levels. The supplement companies try to make money (it’s a billion dollar industry!) pitching unnecessary supplements to young athletes trying to gain lean muscle quickly.

Your battle is with a fork and a knife!

  • Your target level of carbohydrates (fruits, starches and whole grains) should be about 55% to 60% of your total calories.
  • Your target level of proteins (eggs, dairy, beef, chicken, turkey, fish) should be about 25% to 30% of your total calories
  • The amount of healthy fats you should eat (fat in red meat, egg yolks, whole milk, butter, olive oil, avocados) should make up the remaining 15% to 20%

Knocking back endless protein shakes is completely unnecessarily.

Multiply Your Body weight by 20 to
Estimate Calories Needed

This rule of thumb is only a starting point. If you are gaining more than 1 to 2 pounds per week then you are most likely gaining too much fat and a calorie reduction is in order.

 

I have developed and revised a lean muscle building
and fat loss plan over the past 18 months
and in this article I will reveal all of it!

Have you ever tried traditional “bulking” plans only to end up feeling like a fat slob (ok, a fat, strong slob)? This is usually followed by long periods of dieting and cardio.

I have leveraged the work of many bright people and applied the concepts to my lifestyle (stressful job, 3 young kids, constant craziness, etc).

What I am going to share with you is my “revised”
diet and example workout routine for
excellent lean muscle gains while losing fat.

This really is the best meal plan in my opinion and it has flexibility built in.

Skeptical?

Fine! I’m not interested in what you have to say unless you have tried it for yourself <grin>.

This is the best diet I have found for balance in the extremes and it’s definitely not for everyone. You will see what I mean as you read on! You need to experience short periods of pain in order to reap the ultimate benefits of having your cake and literally eating it too!

Let’s get started, shall we?

Monday:
Fasting Day

I start Monday off with a 24 hour fast. Periods of “under eating” or an intermittent fast in this case is a great way to hit the reset button after the Saturday “splurge” and Sunday “Relax” day (described at the end). This brief fast puts your body in maximum anabolic state while at the same time accelerating the use of fat stores as fuel.

While fasting, I consume essential amino acids every 3 hours or so. This is in the form of Beverly International Muscle Mass BCAA tablets or Prograde BCAA capsules and Beverly International Lean Out product or Prograde Metabolism. The Lean Out and Metabolism products are “icing on the cake”. Don’t take either of them if you can’t afford to. I have always taken them with great results so I don’t feel like trying without it although some day I might.

2013-02-04 13.25.03

Research indicates that the amino acids help prevent muscle breakdown during the fast while literally feeding the muscles. The body will also convert the essential aminos into glucose to maintain blood sugar levels using a process called gluconeogenesis (Am I a nerd? No! Muscle Geek? Yes!).

Monday Workout:

“Big” Push-Pull Strength Day
As an example, I have done the following in a fasted state:

A1) Seated Dumbbell Shoulder Press
4-6 sets of 4-6 reps (or roughly 25 total reps)

A2) Weighted Chin-Ups
4-6 sets of 4-6 reps

B1) Seated cable row to neck
2 sets of 15 reps

B2) Optional Cable Pull Throughs
2 sets of 10-12 reps

Tuesday:
High Protein, Low Fat, Low Carb

During the second day, I try to hit roughly BW X 10 for calories. I hesitate to provide this number as it’s not a good habit to start obsessing over calories. Depending on your body fat levels, this number may result in a very low calorie day.

An example day for me might look like this:

Meal 1:
Plain Greek Yougurt with a handful of fresh blueberries
1 whole egg (eggland’s best) + 4 egg whites
4 Beverly International Liver Tablets

Meal 2:
1 can of tuna with mustard and hot sauce
4 baby carrots

Meal 3:
Post Workout shake (2 scoops of blended protein)

Meal 4:
Grilled chicken salad with mixed greens and 1 Tbsp olive oil and vinegar

Meal 5:
6 ounces lean protein (fish, turkey or lean steak) as another salad.
Sometimes I’ll throw a handful of blackberries on top with yellow peppers and
balsamic vinagar. Try it!

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Tuesday Workout:

(Metabolic Circuit Day)
This is my version of a cardio day, except it’s more fun (Definition of fun: lying on the floor gasping for air).

I perform all 10 exercises in a row for 45 seconds each, followed by 15 seconds of rest before moving on to the next exercise.

  1. Goblet Squats
  2. Plank Dogs
  3. Dumbbell Push Presses
  4. Scissor Jumps
  5. “Renegade” Rows
  6. And so on…

Plank Dogs?! Yep!

 
 

If you are running short on time then my post: How to get a six pack in 3 minutes
will both destroy you and ignite the fat burning furnace… well, come to think of it, this little devil
of a workout might night save you time becuase you will be lying on the floor
for 10 minutes if you do it correctly!

Wednesday:
High Protein, Low Fat, Low Carb + Evening Carb Up

From a nutrition point of view, this day will be a repeat of Day 2 with a glorious rainbow at the end of the day….. the carb up meal! I’m not talking Pizza and cake on this day though. The carb up meal will consist of clean complex carbohydrates. I borrowed this meal from nutrition plans used by Beverly International clients and personally used it while training for my bodybuilding contests “many” years ago…. Ok, more like 12 years ago. Damn!

Repeat Tuesday’s meal plan and eat the following as a sixth meal before bed:
1 1/2 cups oats (before cooking)
1 Tbsp Nut Butter (almond butter works best here)
1 mashed up banana

There is a method to my madness concerning the arrangement of meals thus far.

On Monday, a strength workout fits perfectly with a fast and will rev up your metabolism even more. Tuesday was the metabolic circuit cardio day on a low calorie low carb meal plan. Now that we are on Wednesday, it’s necessary to dig deep because this is a challenging workout. Leg and Horizontal Push (chest) day! This day destroys me since I’m carb depleted by this point

The evening carb up is the perfect fit to re-stoke the metabolism as well as provide a surge of calories and carbs at the tail end of a tough leg workout.

Wednesday Workout:

(Legs, Chest and Horizontal Back)

A1) Dumbbell Band Bench Presses
After warm-up sets: 4 sets of 12/8/6/6 reps

A2) Head Supported Dumbbell Rows
4 sets of 6-8 reps

B1) Dumbbell Front Squats
4 sets of 12/8/6/6 reps after a warm up set

B2) Incline Chest Flys (202 tempo)
3 sets of 12 reps

C1) Seated Leg Press Machine
4 sets of 15 reps (301 tempo)
60 seconds rest between sets

D1) Cry to the heavens for mercy
and sip a drink of powdered glutamine and BCAA’s

Thursday:
High Protein, Moderate Fat, Low Carb

This is a moderate calorie anabolic day. We will increase the healthy fats as well as saturated fats (also necessary!).

Today is an active rest day. Go for a walk, bike ride, etc. This is also a great day to stretch and foam roll your tight beat up areas. Ideally this is done every day even if minimally.

For meals, repeat Tuesday’s meal plan with more healthy fats.
Example:
1 extra whole egg with breakfast
1 tsp olive oil added to tuna fish
1/2 avacado in salad with diner or celery with natural peanut butter

2013-04-03 19.03.50

Friday:
High Protein, Moderate Fat, Low Carb + Option

This day will be a repeat of Thursday. Depending on my current condition and progress, I have been known to have pizza and a beer for diner.

Repeat Thursday’s meal plan.

OPTION:
Now, since I actually have a life, I might find myself out with some friends or at a kid’s birthday party so I reserve the right to have a cheat meal if the situation presents itself.

If I decide to take this option, then I will most likely keep the carbs low on Saturday.

 

Friday Workout:
Shoulders and Arms Specialization

This day could vary considerably depending on goals and weak body parts.

My focus has been on increased shoulder and arm size:

Saturday (Home Stretch):
High Protein, Low Fat, Low Carb + Cheat Meals after 6:00PM

Ok, we are in the home stretch now! Have higher protein, low fat and low carb meals for breakfast, lunch and a snack or two. After 6:00PM, go ahead and eat whatever the hell you want! Craving an entire BBQ chicken pizza? Go for it! A pint of Ben and Jerry’s? You know it!

The key is to eat lots of carbs and calories! When you follow your version of this plan, you will get a feel for how far you can take it without impeding progress from week to week.

Option Saturday Workout:

This day consists of “functional training” such as farmer’s walks, sled drags, sand bag tosses, car pushing and whatever else you can come up with to make your neighbors wonder what planet you are from!

Sunday (Relax Day):
Moderate Carbs, Moderate Protein, Moderate Fat

This day can be thought of as a “Zone Diet” day. The Zone diet is a popular meal plan developed by Dr. Barry Sears and consists of roughly 40% Carbohydrates, 30% Protein and 30% fat. Seriously, don’t stress the percentages here… just follow the spirit of it. I make sure my calories are at or above maintenance on this day. I have comfort foods and continue to satisfy cravings in moderation. I try not to go ape shit on this day but I still relax and don’t stress out about what I am eating.

If done correctly, your body weight measured
multiple times on a weekly basis may look
something like this

And that’s it!

Feel free to ask questions because there are many different options.

The best thing to do is try it out for an honest month and track what you are eating as well as weight and waist measurements.

If you do this, I will be more than happy to evaluate your logs and provide feedback!

 

Sometimes You Just Have To Suck It Up:
Eat Real Food and Work Your Ass Off…

Don’t get me wrong, I’m just as guilty as you. I want instant muscle gains and fat loss. Heck, I’ve even reviewed extreme fat loss programs and created several of my own. They do work if you are committed and have a high pain threshold.

At the end of the day, it’s what you do over the course of months and years that ultimately makes a difference.

About 2 years ago, I weighed about 175 pounds. I wanted to see how strong and heavy I could get so I started eating A LOT. I did get stronger…. but boy did I pile on the flab!

I finished my “bulking” plan around the end of January. Why end January 1st? I was having too much fun eating!

The most significant transformation has occurred for me the past 6 months. I have been focusing on 3 or 4 full body workouts per week that incorporate heavy strength and metabolic circuits.

I call this hybrid training system:
The Thor Workout

Look Mom, No Cardio!!

You can get my templates for free (no strings or sales pitch bull shit).

Get instant access by signing up in the right hand column of my site (at the top of the page).

 

 

Carb Cycling Nutrition Strategies
to Burn Fat and Build Lean Muscle:

The following video gives a brief overview of a nutritional strategy called macro-nutrient rotation. Macro-nutrients are classified as carbohydrates, proteins and fats. By cycling the the amounts of these in your daily meals in a very specific way, you can create the ultimate lean muscle building and fat burning environment within your body.

This is a must watch video!

Rotate Nutrition Strategies To Break A Rut

I currently follow a modified version of this plan and it works amazingly well!

Here are 8 tips for selecting the best
muscle building supplements

In 2008 (which was many years ago!) the sports supplement industry revenue had exceeded $25 BILLION dollars. Today the estimate may be more than double that. Guess who the target market is?? Young adult males!  

These tips are summarized from Jose Antonio and Jeffrey Stout’s book entitled “Sports Supplements”. This is the only college level text book based on sports supplements that I am aware of.

1 ) Recognize that a “natural” supplement is not necessarily safer than a synthetic supplement. Manufacturers will often claim that a supplement is “natural” to give the impression that it is completely safe. There are tons of natural substances that can produce undesired or adverse side effects!

2 ) Sound the alarm when a product claims to produce miraculous results in a very short amount of time. Products may be able to increase fluid levels quickly but this is not the same as building lean muscle! Success is not achieved over night. Please repeat that 3 times right now!

3 ) Look for products that back their claims with solid research instead of relying exclusively on testimonials. This is a good line of defense but still not perfect as scientific studies can also have hidden agenda’s depending on who sponsored the study!

4 ) As a follow up to the previous tip, be on the look out for cited scientific studies that are inadequately referenced. For example: “Researchers at the University of New Hampshire found that our product maximizes muscle uptake by 2000%!”. Go to your local supplement store and you’ll find these kinds of claims!

5 ) If a product claims to produce “steroid like” results. Do yourself a favor and dismiss it IMMEDIATELY! Please don’t fall prey to this garbage! Best case scenario is you waste your money. Worst case scenario is that you completely screw up your endocrine system ( can you say bitch tits?! ). The best supplements to build muscle are safe and effective ones, not dangerous and quick gambles!

6 ) When supplement ads are endorsed by proclaimed “experts”, look for dubious credentials that aren’t recognized by mainstream science. Drop the supplement and back away slowly if it’s endorsed by a “Doctor of telekinetic ergogenics”. MD is an example of a “good” credential…. although that’s even debatable!

7 ) Supplements are exactly that. They “supplement” a solid nutritional foundation. BE wary of any company that claims you can pay little attention to your diet and make significant gains (or loses for a fat loss product) using their product! Your nutrition plan is paramount and your body knows the difference! If supplements could really make all the difference then everyone would be walking around huge and ripped!

8 ) Use common sense! This should have been the first tip. You know what they say about claims that seem to good to be true don’t ya? Yep, thought so. Just don’t forget it!

The best way to build lean muscle is slow and steady…. just like to fable of the rabit and the hare.

I have previously written about my top list of best supplements for building lean muscle. Trust me, it’s a very short list and it doesn’t have all the latest miracle supplements on it!

 

 

The answer to the question 
“Can pushups build muscle” is……

Sorry, I’m gonna keep you hanging for just a minute! The answer isn’t so straight forward. First I need to briefly discuss what is required to build lean muscle.

There are a few fundamental principles that must be satisfied
to build muscle:

  1. The load (resistance) you are trying to move must be great enough (in this case, your body)
  2. The human body will adapt to this load so you must apply progressive resistance
  3. You can’t grow muscle out of thin air so you also need to eat right!

Let’s take a deeper dive into the concept of
Progressive insurance Resistance

Let me ask you a question:

Do you think you could build noticible muscle by simply pushing your hands back and forth in the air?

Hopefully you answered no, other wise, you may want to check out
this site. Ok, just kidding!

…but seriously, the point I’m trying to illustrate is that you need to provide enough resistance for your muscle to grow.

So how much resistance??

A general rule of thumb is that anything over 20 reps will not build a significant amount of muscle (there are many exceptions to this but that’s a topic for another post).

This would imply that banging out 30 pushups to build muscle and shooting for more than 30 pushups the next time you try won’t give you much lean muscle growth. It will give you muscle endurance.

The muscle fibers that really like to grow are to ones that move heavy loads OR move ”moderate” loads faster. Both equal force applied to your muscle. Force is good.

So my recomendation to build lean muscle on your chest, shoulders and arms using pushups is to add enough resistance to keep your sets in the 8-15 rep range. If you are fairly new to exercise, lean towards the higher end of the rep range.

There are many options available to add resistance such as:

  • Elevate your feet
  • Push up from suspension straps
  • Weighted vests
  • Bands
  • and my favorite:

  Tractor chains!!

 
 
 
 
 
 
 

New England Muscle Thor Workout (A-day)

Goal: Build strength and lean muscle, torch fat!

I have posted the first part of the workout that you can download in PDF format from link below.

This is a fairly advanced workout that has a strength building component that will allow you to build lean muscle while burning fat at the same time. For this to happen, you need a very good nutrition and supplement plan!

The first part of the workout is a classic “size and strength” module. You will use a weight that is in the 4 – 8 rep range for 2 compound upper body movements. You will alternate between them until you have completed 25 reps. Simple right?!

The second part is a metabolic circuit. The goal is to perform all 10 exercises in a row for 30 seconds each with only 30 seconds of rest in between each exercise.

This routine never gets easy and has me on the floor when it’s over…..

Good luck, should you choose to accept this mission!!

Download the Thor Workout PDF version here

New England Muscle Workout Routines Page

 

 

Have you ever wondered how many reps
is best to build muscle?

This is a very common question with a lot of confusion! The trainers and strength coaches that know what they are doing always have a specific reason for the number of repetitions they prescribe for a given exercise.

After reading this post, YOU will understand the benefits of all the different rep ranges and answer the question of just how many reps are needed to build muscle.

Before I get into the number of reps,  let me take a brief moment to explain what parts of a muscle can grow (i.e. get bigger, more numerous and/or thicker):

What muscle parts get thicker, more numerous and/or bigger?

  • Muscle fibers, called myofibrils
  • Protein filaments called actin and myosin (they move the muscle fibers)
  • Sarcoplasm (not the slime from Ghost Busters!) is the gelatenous energy stores of carbohydrates (glycogen) and fat, enzymes, etc.
  • Connective tissue

Ok, so after looking at that list you can see that there are 4 general things that “build a muscle”.

There’s No Such Thing As A Bad Rep Range!
Many rep ranges can build muscle….
It just depends on your goals!

Now I will discuss the rep ranges from a single rep all the way up to 20 reps and the benefits of each range.

Low rep ranges (1 – 5 reps)

This rep range puts your muscle under the greatest amount of tension (although moving a moderate weight faster could achieve the same tension but that’s a different post!) since you are moving the heaviest weight.

This rep range increases the number of muscle fibers called myofibrils.The more of these you have, the more force you can produce and the stronger you are! This rep range is ideal for strength gains although some individuals will build massive muscle size as well using this range if they have a higher percentage of fast twitch muscle fibers.

High rep ranges (11 – 20 reps)

This type of training increases the muscle energy stores that I generally called sarcoplasm in the above list box. This type of muscle growth is called sarcoplasmic hypertrophy. I call it the all show and no go muscle! Perhaps that’s a bit extreme… and If you are a body builder, you should spend some time in this rep range.

If you are an athlete then this range has a more limited value (although still very useful!). It does increase muscular endurance and has some fat burning benefits.

On a side note, the one mistake I see far too often is people switching exclusively to high rep training when trying to “get ripped”. This will not force your muscle to stay strong and you stand to lose more lean mass while dieting with this approach.

Medium rep ranges (6 – 10 reps)

As you might have guessed, this rep range is an optimal compromise between the low and high rep ranges and you will build muscle endurance and strength..

This is where most people spend their time but more in the 8 – 12 rep range. Over the long term that is certainly not optimal.

Here is my top 5 list of supplements
for building muscle

 

So  you want to know how to build muscle fast?! These supplements have stood the test of time and have helped produce superior results over and over. Before I list them, there is one point I need to make very clear.

Food, my friend, trumps any natural supplement on anyone’s list.
Eating REAL food (i.e. the list of ingredients is 1) and enough of it is essential for building lean muscle.

If you don’t believe me that’s fine… it’s your money. Hey, we all need to learn our lesson’s! Ok, I promise I’m done ranting.

Check out my quick start guide if you want to see an example meal plan that will help build lean muscle.

 

  • Protein Powder (whey protein based for post workout shakes and milk protein based for meal replacements)
  • Branched Chain Amino Acids (BCAA’s)
    Learn about the benefits of BCAA’s at this post.
  • Glutamine
  • High quality multivitamin and/or super greens

 

So you’re either deep in thought wondering why Nitric Oxide Blast 2000 and Andro-Whatchama-dione aren’t on the list, or you’re thinking that I can’t count!

Indeed, I put 6 items on the list. The sixth one wouldn’t be necessary if you truly ate fruits and vegetable at every meal. Even If you do (in which case kudos to you!), the soil in which they where grown was most likely over farmed and not nutrient rich.

Think of this last entry as added insurance for your health and hard earned money you are spending on the other supplements.

Fish Oil?

Ok, maybe I have been reading too much from Charles Poliquin. I started using fish oil over 10 years ago when he talked all about it at an olympic weight training seminar I attended in Buffalo, NY (my home city… and yes, I am a Buffalo Bills fan…). Chad Waterbury, Dan John, Eric Cressey and countless other “celebrity” strength coaches all have Fish Oil
near the top of their supplement list for building lean muscle…. and you should too!

Creatine (of course!)

I’m sure you figured you would find this one on the list. Did you know that Creatine is naturally found in high amounts in red meat? If your diet is high in grass fed beef, then you will need to supplement less with creatine AND fish oil since grass fed beef is high in omega-3 fats.

Creatine is about the safest most researched supplement out there. Make sure you follow my link above to read more about creatine. I am a big fan of Beverly International Creatine Select.
.

 BCAA’s and Glutamine (the amino superstars!)

These essential amino acids provide a serious anabolic (lean muscle building) and anti-catabolic (muscle breakdown prevention) tour de force. Using these amino acids before, during and/or after training will produce phenomenal results… but only during intense training sessions where you are really pushing yourself hard.

This combination is also very effective in maintaining or even building lean muscle mass during periods of significant calorie deficits like extreme fat loss phases (oh no, summer is around the corner!) or the final 3-6 weeks leading up to a bodybuilding show.

My wife and I use Beverly International Glutamine Select Plus BCAA’s and have done so for many years now. It’s one of the few great tasting powdered formulas that has the highest grade ingredients.

 

 

 

 

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