You and me, we’re probably not so different. Since you’re taking the time out of your day to read this right now I’d bet a weekend getaway with Jennifer Lawrence you probably fall into one of a few categories.

You’re either fairly new to training, and you’re looking for information that will help you build muscle and get strong, or you’ve been grinding away in the gym for years and still haven’t seen the results you want.

Either way… I’ve been there.

Now, if you happen to be one of the first group, new to training and looking for what works, I’d recommend reading this post and getting started ASAP. And, be on the lookout for some new beginner training tips coming at you within the next week or so.

Follow the beginner program like the one I outline here, or something similar, and you’ll experience far better results than you will using the training programs you read about in your favorite muscle mag.

If you happen to fall into the second category, and you’re a guy (or gal) that’s been busting your ass in the gym for years but you still don’t have the body you really want, I’ve got exactly what you’ve been looking for….an approach to training that WILL help you build muscle, gain strength and make significant, noticeable changes to your body.

And, you can do it without spending 2 hours in the gym, 6 days a week and turning your life upside down. You can cut out the unnecessary bullshit, simplify things and finally build the physique you want so badly.

Stop thinking SO much

The first thing you need to do may very damn well be the most important thing you need to do. Do yourself a HUGE favor and stop overthinking!

Doing your homework, looking for answers and increasing your knowledge of training isn’t a bad thing. But, you need to spend more time actually lifting weights and eating good food than you do pounding the keyboard and reading every training site in existence.

So many people are guilty of this and, at one point, I was one of them.

If you’re always looking for a “better” way, and second guessing the shit out of your training program, you’re not going to get the results you want.

Think about it; if you’re never really convinced that what you’re doing in the gym is effective than there’s about a snow ball’s chance in hell that you’re going to pour your heart and soul into it. And, that’s exactly what it takes in order to build a physique unlike anything most people will ever achieve.

Here’s what you need to do…

Pick a program and give it hell. Do it with purpose and passion and do it consistently. Just get in the gym and train fucking hard. (But do it safely). Don’t worry about every minute detail. Don’t worry about anything because I’m going to tell you what to put your effort into and how to do it.

Stop overcomplicating things

This really goes hand in hand with overthinking but it’s worth mentioning specifically. Just because a program is super complicated that doesn’t make it effective. In fact, the opposite is usually true.

Don’t waste your time on some super-hyped bullshit that requires an advanced level of understanding in calculous before you can put it into action.

Fuck that, we’re here to build a bad ass body not do math.

While we’re at it, you do NOT need a bunch of drop sets, super sets, giant sets, forced reps and 1,000 rep to the death sets. You don’t need super accelerated compensatory thing a ma jig what tha fucks either…

KEEP IT SIMPLE!

Try the things I’ll list below, even if it’s just for a little while. If need be, tell yourself you’re putting this to the test to prove that I’m a dumbass who doesn’t know what the hell he’s talking about.

However, I’d bet a fistful of Applebee’s coupons you’ll end up loving a simplified approach, that cuts down on the stress and nonsense, and you’ll achieve better results than you ever have before.

  • Drop the body part split like you would drop a piece of shit if someone handed it to you.

It has been proven time and time again to be the least effective way for a natural, drug free lifter to train.

Body part splits typically incorporate too much volume per muscle group in a single session and they don’t allow you to train each muscle group with enough frequency.

Now, if a body part split is working great for you then, by all means, keep at it. If you’re getting the results you want then who am I to say that it sucks? However, since you’ve stuck with me this far, chances are, you’re not that impressed with the results you’ve been getting. Maybe it’s time to adjust your sails and head out on a different course. You’ve all heard the definition of insanity, right?

  • Split your training sessions between Upper body and Lower Body.

Beginners should stick with full body training programs for the first year or two. However, the guy (or girl) like you, more experienced than a beginner but who still has not achieved the results they want, a great plan of attack is to split your training days between Upper and Lower body.

  • Train for Strength and Size. The two go hand in hand.

Make one Upper body and one Lower body session per week a strength/power day, where you use big barbell movements for sets of around 4-6 reps. These are the days to focus on getting stronger on Presses, Deadlifts, Squats and their variations.

During your second Upper and Lower body days do higher rep sets and more traditional style bodybuilding training. This would be a great time to use dumbbells and do some bodyweight exercises, such as pushups, while wearing a weighted vest and/or done on rings/straps, for sets of 8-12 reps.
Have fun with this session and enjoy the pump. These days will help you build size while giving your joints and Central Nervous System a break. Never forget that preventing injuries and overtraining is a key to building muscle. You can’t do the work if you’re hurt.

  • Try this Training Schedule.

On Monday (or any day that works best for you), bang out a kick ass, heavy power session for your upper body. Go at it hard and work to build as much strength as you can. Pick a handful of basic lifts that will work your chest, back and shoulders. Don’t worry about your bi’s and tri’s. If you’re using compound movements and training heavy they’ll get plenty of stimulation.

Take a day off and then do the same thing for your lower body on the 3rd day. After another rest day, do your reps/size upper body day and follow that up with a rep day for lower body. Remember, this is the day to use dumbbells and bodyweight, bang out sets of 8-12 and get a nice pump. Take two days rest and start over or, if you prefer, do some direct work for your arms on Saturday alternating between exercises for the bi’s and tri’s.

photo credit: Darren Baxter via photopin (license)

photo credit: Darren Baxter via photopin (license)

  • Use Big, Basic, Compound movements, which allows you to use heavy weights, and cut out most isolation exercises.

You’ve all heard this before but how many of you are actually putting it into practice? Take a look at your training journal (you do keep one, right?) and I’ll be you find that you’ve let a lot of isolation movements creep in. With the exception of barbell or dumbbell curls and a few other exercises, until you’re a very advanced lifter who’s built a significant amount of muscle and strength, most isolation exercises are a waste of time.

These are the basic, compound exercises I’m referring to. Work hard and strive to get stronger on these movements. When you can move some big numbers on these lifts, you’ll have a lot more muscle on your frame.

  • Squat (Back, Front, Goblet, Single Leg, Pistol)
  • Deadlift (Barbell, Trap Bar, Floor, Rack, Romanian, Sumo)
  • Bench Press (Barbell, Dumbbell, Angled (Swiss) Bar, Flat, Low Incline)
  • Overhead Press (Barbell, Dumbbell, Angled (Swiss) Bar, Very High Incline)
  • Row (Barbell, Dumbbell, Inverted bodyweight)
  • Pull ups/Chin ups (Neutral Grip is highly recommended in order to keep your shoulders health, as is using a band for assistance until you can knock out at least 20 picture perfect reps)

 

  • A few times a week perform Olympic lifts at the beginning of your training sessions.

Barbell and Dumbbell Cleans are great moves to help build power and explosiveness. They’re also excellent for building upper back and trap thickness.

The 1 arm Dumbbell Snatch also builds power and it will pack size on your traps in a hurry. Maybe the biggest benefit of performing the Snatch is the increased shoulder stability it brings. After a few weeks of Snatches (performed correctly) your shoulders feel tighter, healthier and locked in. The dumbbell version is great for learning the movement and eventually you can transition into the barbell version.

The Snatch Grip High Pull has the potential to make a difference in your physique in only a couple of training sessions. I’m serious. If you perform this movement correctly (which means explosively but with great form) you’ll see a difference in your traps, upper back and rear delts within a few training sessions.

One of the smartest, and most jacked, strength coaches around , Jason Ferruggia, recommends performing all of these exercises from the hang position, hips pushed back, core braced and hands just above your knees, instead of pulling from the floor. I happen to agree 110%.

If Jason says it’s the way to do it, you can bet your ass it’s the way to do it.

  • Focus on getting stronger in a hypertrophy (muscle growth) rep range.

For upper body exercises that means train in a rep range of anywhere from 5-10 reps, sometimes even going as low as 4 and as high as 12. Lower body movements can be pushed as high as 15 reps at times. Think of it this way; if you can squat 225 for 10 reps today how much bigger do you think you’ll be when you can squat 315 for 10?

  • Every time you step foot in the gym make it your mission to either add 5 lbs. to the bar or to do more reps with the same weight, to a certain point.

If you put all of the other bull shit to the side, building muscle comes down to progressively and consistently overloading your muscles. You have to give them a reason to adapt, get stronger and grow.

So, let’s say you hit 225lbs for 6 reps on the Incline Bench today and that was all you could do with good form. Next time you train upper body (on your power/strength day) you wouldn’t want to use 225lb for 6 reps again. Either throw 5lbs on the bar, and try to get 230lbs for 6, or stay at 225lbs and go for 8 reps.  Either way, you’ll effectively place more demand on your muscles and cause them to adapt.

There is a caveat; you don’t want to stay at the same weight and add reps until you can knock out 20. You really need to add weight to the bar as often as you’re able to, while still using perfect form, especially on your power days where you should use lower reps (4-6) and strive to build strength.

Truthfully, building muscle and strength is not as difficult as the supplement companies, or anyone who wants to sell you something, would like to make you think. It doesn’t take a magic training plan or the latest, greatest supplement to hit the store shelves.

Like anything in life worth having, it comes down to hard work. You have to put in the time and pay your dues. Work harder than anyone else in the gym and make it your mission to get freakishly strong on the types of lifts that produce results and build real muscle.

Do that consistently, while making damn sure to feed your body high quality calories, and you will finally build the body you want so badly.  Give this simplified approach a try and the confusion, frustration and, most importantly, lack of results, will be a thing of the past.

Until Next Time,

Michael Wheeler

If you have any questions or comments I’d be stone, cold honored if you’d share down below.  And, if you like what you saw here, I wouldn’t hold it against you if you hit some of those lil share button thingy’s.  In fact, I’d think you were pretty damn cool for it.  🙂

 

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You’re no stranger to the gym and by no means a newbie. You’ve been at it for a while. You’ve learned good form on basic moves such as the Squat, Overhead Press, Bench Press and Deadlift. You know you need to train hard and heavy on basic, compound movements in order to gain strength and build muscle as fast as possible.

You know all of this, and you’ve been hitting the gym 4-5 times a week yet… you still look the same.

It’s frustrating, isn’t it?  I know, all too well, my friend.

So, what’s the answer?  What do you need to do to start packing on some serious muscle mass?

Well, you could flip through the bodybuilding magazines and find the latest, “greatest” supplement. You know, the ad for Super Maxx Jacked Extreme Bull Testicle Formula 9000 that claims to provide you with massive gains in only 4 weeks? It even has the token “before and after” of some dude who supposedly went from soft and flabby to big and ripped (and somehow, tan) in only a month. It shows you all these super important and impressive “scientific” results from clinical trials and how the stuff is proven to have “superacceleratedhypertrophic-rapidinsulinIGFHG2growthlikefactors”.

What the fuck?

Nah… Best to stay away from anything that makes these kinds of claims. Save your hundred bucks or, invest it wisely on things that actually work, like a quality protein powder, creatine and a good multivitamin.

Hmmm… Well, maybe you could get on the internet and read the forums to find the ultimate training program that will finally kick start muscle growth. You’d probably find a group of dudes talking about the new Max Mayhem Muscle Program where you’re supposed to do 10 sets of 9 exercises for 1 muscle group in a single training session.

But, remember, if you don’t need someone to carry you out of the gym, drive you home, wipe your ass, bathe you and spoon feed you… you didn’t do it right. Gotta work harder!

But wait… there’s another group of guys talking about Big Joe’s Epic Efficiency Program that claims you only need to do 1 set of 1 exercise every 5th day, but the set has to last until you puke. Tons of guys have tried it and it is THE way to get jacked.

Shit…. Who’s right? Which program should you follow?

Do yourself a HUGE favor. Stay off the forums or, if you are going to read them, take what’s said with a grain of salt and use common sense when you decide which training methods to put your effort into. There definitely are a lot of effective programs and ways to train. And, don’t get me wrong, there are a lot of guys, and gals, out there with extensive knowledge on effective training techniques. But, there is also a TON of “bro-science” backed by speculation, hype, misunderstanding, and straight up bullshit.

So, basically, you’re just screwed, right?  Well… maybe not…

About 4-5 months ago this very scenario happened to me. I was hitting the gym consistently and training my ass off but I just wasn’t making any progress. I had plateaued.

I for one don’t like pouring my heart and soul into something, working hard for results and not getting what I’m after. So I decided to find the problem, look for the answers and take action to make things change!

Your success or failure has nothing to do with anyone else, any outside circumstances or anything that is not YOU.”

-Chris McCombs-

The first place I started was my diet. I recommend that anyone who is struggling to gain muscle and/or lose fat start here as well. Roughly 70-80% of your results come directly from how you eat.

I don’t always do this, though I really should, but I kept a food journal for several days. I simply wrote down everything that I ate. After looking at my diet I realized that, although it needed some improvements, it was pretty sound. The biggest issue was that I wasn’t getting enough protein, which is really unusual for me.

I bumped up my protein intake, started cooking more meals in bulk to be prepared ahead of time and I started planning all of my meals for the day, the evening before, by writing exactly what I was going to eat (including protein shakes) and when, in a notebook.

Once my diet was squared away I decided to take a closer look at my training. I ALWAYS keep a detailed journal of my workouts, recording the exercises, sets, reps, weights, rest times, split… everything, and this is a perfect example of why you should too. I was able to sit down and look through my journal to see exactly how I had been training. If I would have tried to recall all of that from memory, there’s no way I would have had an accurate account.

Through reviewing my journal there were some things I noticed and I had a hunch that I found the problem. Here’s the first issue preventing me from the gains I was looking for:

I had let way too many isolation movements creep into my routine.

I was basically violating the rules of “Muscle Building 101” by putting too much effort into moves like Cable Crossovers, Preacher Curls and Lateral Raises instead of focusing on big compound movements that allow me to move a lot of weight and train multiple muscle groups at once.

So, I decided to go back to the basics with some hardcore training using the exercises that produce strength and muscle growth. I put myself on a steady diet of Bench Presses, Squats, Deadlifts, Rows, Overhead Presses, Chin-ups, Pull-ups and Shrugs… the shit that produces real results! I stuck to these basic, result producing movements, and their variations, such as Inclines Presses, Dumbbells, etc.

Once I knew my plan of attack on exercise selection I had to fix my next mistake:

• I was training in a fairly high rep range, around 10-12 reps, almost always.

I noticed that over the previous 2-3 months I hardly every switched up my rep range and never really trained at a higher intensity with heavier weights. I decided to start consistently training at around 5-6 reps, usually never going any higher than 8, and sometimes as low as 3-4. I know that a key component of getting bigger is getting stronger. So, I set out to not only put on more size but to get stronger as quickly as I could by increasing my training loads (weights) as often as possible. Even if it was only a 5 lb. jump, I wanted to use more weight every time I stepped foot in the gym.

There is no better way to fight weakness than with strength.”

-Henry Rollins-

Now that I had my rep range all sorted out I noticed another area that needed some improvement:

• I had somehow started using what closely resembled the type of body part split you’d find in the muscle magazines. This is NOT the best way for a natural, intermediate lifter to train. Basically, I was hitting one muscle group per session, two at the most, and training each body part only once about every 6-8 days.

Scientific evidence, the opinions of most intelligent strength and conditioning coaches and real world proof, from real natural bodybuilders, shows that, for an intermediate (which is about 95-99% of us), the ideal “split” is one that allows you to train each muscle group about twice a week. To put it another way, I wasn’t training each muscle group often enough to stimulate increases in size and strength at an optimal rate.

I did some research and came across a training split that would allow me to hit each muscle group with the right frequency. Specifically the split is Push/Pull/Legs. Basically it’s broken down like this:

Day 1 Push: Includes ‘pushing’ movements such as Bench Presses, Overhead Presses and Triceps work.

Day 2 Pull: Includes ‘pulling’ movements such as Deadlift, Rows, Chin-ups, Pull-ups, Shrugs, Curls

Day 3 Off

Day 4 Legs: Plain and simple, in my opinion, Legs = SQUATS! But I also include some Leg Presses, Stiff Leg Deadlifts (for hamstrings), and some type of movement for Calves.

Day 5 & 6 Off

Day 7 Push

And so on, and so forth…

I also train my abs (directly and indirectly) anywhere from 5-7 days a week, using both, bodyweight movements and exercises where resistance is added.

The last mistake I realized I had been making is actually the most crucial mistake of all. It’s one that I can’t believe I allowed myself to make and, when I realized it, I could have kicked myself right in the ass!

• Specifically I had been failing to consistently OVERLOAD my muscles. Looking at my training journal I noticed that for over a month I was using the same weight, for the same reps in almost every damn exercise!

Doh!

Out of all the mistakes I had made this was most likely THE killer of my results. It was my fucking kryptonite. It is for every ‘would be’ Superman out there.

No matter what training program you decide to follow, what exercises you do, what rep range you train in or what split you use, if you do not consistently and effectively OVERLOAD your muscles you will not get any bigger or stronger, period, with a capital fucking P.E.R.I.O.D.

I’ve said it before, but it’s worth stating again right here, there are 3 ways to overload your muscles:

  1. Use more weight on any given exercise. This has to be done with good form or, at best, you won’t get the results you’re looking for and, at worst, you could end up getting hurt.
  2. Use the same weight for more reps.  However, since getting stronger is a key component of muscle growth you probably shouldn’t stay at the same weight until you can knock out 20 reps. I’d recommend going no higher than 12 reps before you increase the weight you use. I personally find it most effective to train in a rep range of anywhere from 5-8 reps. And, what’s most effective for you personally may vary depending on the muscle group you’re training. My bi’s, tri’s and shoulders seem to respond best to 10-12 reps and my legs, chest and back grow more with heavier weight and lower reps. The best thing to do is vary your rep ranges and see what works best for you.
  3. Take less rest between sets.  Personally, if I’m training hard and heavy with low reps, I like to take my time between sets. I’ll usually rest anywhere from 2-3 minutes between sets and sometimes as high 5 minutes, especially when I’m doing Squats. But, at times, cutting your rest period down to 45 seconds, and even as low as 30 seconds, is a great way to challenge the hell out of your body and it even has a nice fat burning effect. You could also occasionally perform some super sets, drop sets, and things like that, where you take no rest. Just don’t get too carried away with these and do them too often.

If you’re able to combine a few of these techniques you’ll very effectively overload your muscles. If you can use more weight for more reps, that right there is technically known as “The Shit”, my friend. You’re on your way to some serious gains. And, if you can use more weight, for more reps AND take less rest between sets… well then you are officially a bad mother fucker in my book.

So, once I had effectively pulled my head from my ass, and incorporated a training plan that didn’t violate several key muscle building principles, I set out for the gym with a vengeance.

Within a couple of weeks my strength started shooting through the damn roof. Within a couple of months the results I achieved were spectacular. I mean, it was night and day from where I was previously. In fact, I had friends and family accusing me of taking steroids, which I didn’t mind a bit.

IMO, when you’re truly natural, and you’ve got people saying you’re juicing, you’re doing something really right!

Besides, I know the muscle and strength I’ve built has been earned through blood, sweat and tears and an intelligent approach to training.

So what does all this mean for you and how can it help YOU?

I’m not conceited enough to think that everyone, or anyone, gives two shits about my training program. But, I’m telling you now, I’ve made more gains in the past 6-8 weeks than I had in the previous 4-5 months and it came from making a few simple adjustments. Keep in mind, the adjustments were simple but the work I put in (and I’m still putting in) was anything but easy. My training sessions became much more intense. But, they were a helluva lot more fun and, the best thing is, they produced RESULTS!!!

In the past two months I went from 238 lbs. to 220 lbs. while dramatically increasing my muscle size and I’ve made jumps of 30 lbs. or more on major lifts like the Bench Press, Deadlift and Squat. The sweet ass cherry on top is, it’s summertime and this boy right here as some abs to show off. 😉

I’m not saying this stuff to brag (well… maybe I am, a little) but to show you what to look for if you’re not getting the results you want out of your training. If you’ve been hitting the gym hard, and don’t seem to be making any progress, chances are you’re making one, or all, of the same mistakes I was.

Take a good look at your diet and make sure you’re getting the quality, nutritious calories and protein your body needs to fuel muscle growth. Look at your training and make sure you’re not putting too much time and effort into isolation movements. If so, start focusing on the basic compound exercises that build size and strength quickly. And, whatever you do, make sure you’re pushing yourself harder and further, by overloading your muscles, every time you step foot in the gym.

Doing the small, but very important, things right virtually guarantees you’ll get the results, and body, that you’ve been working so hard for. No Super Maxx Jacked Accelerated What the Fuck required. 😉

Until Next Time,

Michael Wheeler

P.S. If you have any muscle building tips we’d love to hear about em’ below! Are you getting the results you want? What’s been working for you?

P.S.S. I’ve included an example of one of my ‘Push’ day training sessions below. I don’t always use the exact same exercises (in fact, I switch it up pretty often) but this should give you a good idea of how I’ve trained.

EXAMPLE ‘PUSH’ DAY
20-30o Incline Dumbbell Press
Warm-up Sets
(1) 45 lbs. x 15 reps
(2) 65 lbs. x 10 reps
(3) 80 lbs. x 5-6 reps
(4) 115 lbs. x 2-3 reps (I often like to pick a weight that’s 10-15 lbs. over the weight I plan to do my work sets with and do a couple of reps with it. It prepares me mentally and physically for the hard work sets and, it makes my training weight feel a little lighter because I’ve went above it already.)

Work Sets
(1) 105 lbs. x 5-8 reps
(2) 105 lbs. x 5-8 reps
(3) 105 lbs. x 5-8 reps
(4) 95 lbs. x 8-15 reps (Heavy Pump Set)

Once I can get 8 reps on every set, I increase the weight to 110 lbs. the next training session. Same on the last set; once I can get around 12-15 reps, I increase the weight.

Overhead Press

Warm-up Sets
(1) 45 lb. bar x 10-15 reps
(2) 95 lbs. x 10 reps

Work Sets
(1) 135 lbs. x 8-10 reps
(2) 135 lbs. x 8-10 reps
(3) 135 lbs. x 8-10 reps

Again, if I hit 10 reps on all 3 sets, I’d increase the weight to 140 lbs. the next session. If not; say I did 10, 8 and 7 on my three work sets, I’d stay at 135 lbs. and push hard the next session to get more reps. The next time I’d probably hit 10, 10, 8 and even though the weight wasn’t increased, I still overloaded my muscles because I did more reps. Once I hit 10 on all 3 sets, I’d jump up in weight the following session.

Close Grip Bench Press

Warm-up Sets (Not too much warm up needed. After everything else tri’s are pretty warm. This is mostly just to get the “feel” of the movement I’m preparing to do.)
(1) 135 lbs. x 6-8 reps

Work Sets (Reverse Pyramid)
(1) 205 lbs. x 8 reps
(2) 195 lbs. x 10 reps
(3) 185 lbs. x 12 reps

I was in the gym just the other day, working my ass off on sets of heavy Overhead Presses.  I had already completed a few light warmup sets and 2 of my 4 planned work sets when I took a quick peek in the mirror hanging on the wall just beyond the power rack I was lifting in.

C’mon now… you know you do it too.  Just don’t stand there staring and flexing too long or you’ll look like a complete twat.

I had eaten really well that day, taking in plenty of quality calories, and my pre-workout formula was kicking in hard, so I had a REALLY nice pump going in my shoulders.

Not to toot my own horn but, I have pretty decent shoulders to begin with, so the insane pump on top of my natural size made me overly impressed with myself. Not a good thing to do. Don’t ever start thinking you’re cooler than you are. I definitely was guilty of it that day.

When I train, most of the time I wear my Beats and listen to Slipknot or some other equally disturbing and aggressive music. That’s my way of shutting the world out and to keep myself fired up to train hard.

On that day, after leering at myself for far too long in the mirror, I was bobbing my head to some form of kill your mother music when I caught a glimpse of a couple of guys out of the corner of my left eye.

I glanced in their direction and noticed them standing in front of the cable station, both of them staring at me.

Neither of them could have been more than a buck forty, soaking wet, and I’m sure they were doing cable crossovers in order to “shred” their chests, which they had no business doing. I felt like telling them to man the fuck up and do some bench presses to actually build a chest but I decided to let them be. After all, I’m not their trainer and they didn’t ask for my advice.

So, I took a sip of water, let the song ‘Psychosocial’ flow through me like electricity, and dug in for another intense set of presses.

After grinding out the 8th rep I slammed the weight back in the rack and stepped back to catch my breath.

I feel someone’s eyes burning a hole through me…

Have you ever just known, because you could “feel” it, that someone was staring you down? Creepy…

I look over at the cable station and, sho nuff’, Junior and Billy (I have no idea if that’s really their names but they looked like a Junior and Billy) have their lil’ eyes cast upon me in a gaze that tells me they’re either about to profess their undying love to me or they’re gonna smack me in the head with a fucking dumbbell.

WTF????

I felt the blood rush to my face and I knew, without looking, that my ears were fire engine red. What in the hell could have these two jack assess so interested in me that they’re not even trying to get their “chest shred” on?

I tore my Beats off my head and started their way like a damn Brahma Bull going after a Matador. I decided come hell or high water I was going to find out what these little dip shits issue was!

After bowling over a couple of defenseless women and a few small children (COMPLETELY kidding) I made my way to jack ass number 1, who had finally turned his attention from me to talk to his buddy.

As I approached they must’ve seen a look on my face that said I was either:
a) A cannibalistic serial killer who intended to make them my post-workout meal
b) A complete psycho, hell bent on ripping their legs off and using them as a barbell
c) All of the above

because one of the guys immediately turned and hauled ass towards the water fountain for a drink, leaving his buddy to meet his demise on his own.

“What the fuck are you staring….” I growled, before he cut me off.  The other, apparently much more courageous, guy started explaining immediately….

“Dude, you have got freaking big shoulders” the courageous kid says to me. “Do you always do barbell presses?”

Wow… Now my face is red for a different reason. Turns out, I’m the JACK ASS.

After thanking the kid I explained to him that Overhead Presses are a great compound exercise to help you build size and strength in your shoulders. I tossed em’ a little advice on their chest workout too, instructing them to do more basic, heavy compound lifts, like the bench press, if they want to build muscle and get strong.

It was the least I could do after thinking about where I would bury the bodies once I was done with them, for absolutely NO reason at all.

I headed back to the power rack to finish up my sets with another lesson learned in mind. And, like so many other lessons learned in the gym, it was one I could and should apply to the rest of my life.

The point is I was too quick to get frustrated, upset and angry for no reason at all. Why? Because some guys who were just starting out, who are exactly where I once was, were impressed by my body and interested in learning how I do it?

I let it ruin my motivation for what had started as a kick ass training session. I packed up my gym bag and walked out the door thinking about the experience. I promised myself that from now on I will get all the facts and completely consider the situation before I let something bother me, make me angry, or drag me down.

ANOTHER life lesson learned in the gym.There’s a lot of them to learn, if you pay attention.

Guys and Gals, if you’ve been around the gym for a while, and have some experience under your lifting belt, I encourage you to keep my experience in mind. Don’t be so quick to judge the newbies. Be willing to offer up some advice, give them a spot or lend them a helping hand.

After all, at one time you were right where they are now. Believe or not, a lot of those new people are looking up to you in a way. You’re the example of who and what they want to be.

Remember how you felt when you first started going to the gym? Was it intimidating? Was it confusing? Where you envious of the amazing bodies around you? Would you have loved for those more experienced people, with those amazing bodies, to give you some solid advice that would help you get the results you were looking for?

New people: One day YOU’RE going to be one of the people with an awesome body. One day people will look to you for guidance and advice. You can be really cool, and most likely make their day, by spending just a little time to point them in the right direction. You should do it. It’ll make you both feel better.

And when you’re busting your ass, building your body to even more impressive levels, and a few new guys are watching you from across the gym, take it as a compliment. They just wanna be like you.

Until Next Time,

Michael Wheeler
Hey guys, have you ever had a time when you were being watched or “stalked” from across the gym? lol
Have you ever given a new gym rat some solid advice? I’d love to hear about it below!

Just a little while back I let you guys in on some of the “secrets” to getting great abs.  Within that post I pointed out that your diet is the biggest factor in achieving a flat, tight, muscular mid-section.

You can do all the ab exercises your body can handle but, without a good nutrition plan, you won’t end up with the abs you want.  Basically what you’ll get is great abs hiding beneath a layer of body fat.  That’s a start but it’s not exactly what you’re looking for. 

Now I’d like to take things a step further, and provide you with some specifics, to help you focus on your training and diet with laser like precision and almost guaran-damn-tee that you have the abs you’ve always wanted!

Find Your Calorie Maintenance Level

There’s a helluva lot of “experts” out there who say it’s impossible to build muscle and lose fat at the same time.  While that’s definitely a topic I plan to tackle in a future post, soon, right now I’ll just state that I know it IS possible, because I’ve done it myself, on several occasions.  In fact, I’m doing it now.

But, for the purpose of this post, I think it’s safe to assume you’re a person who wants to shed some body fat as quickly as possible, while maintaining muscle, so you can uncover your abs and sport a smokin’ hot body on the beach this summer.

Now, if you’re anything like me, you don’t necessarily need or want to know every little detail but would much rather be given the “big picture” of what actually works so you can get busy taking action.

You don’t need to know how the sausage is made in order to enjoy it, right?  Actually, skip the sausage.  it won’t help you get great abs.  🙂

So allow me to give you the quick rundown of how to set up your diet to lose fat and uncover your abs.  And, since your plan of attack definitely needs to include correct and intense ab training, I’ll fill you in on the most effective ab training exercises and techniques I’ve ever used.  Trust me when I tell you, they will light your abs on fire.

The first thing you need to do is find your Calorie Maintenance Level.  In a nutshell, this is the total number of calories your body requires daily just to maintain your current weight.

If you were to eat more calories than your maintenance level, eventually you’d start to gain weight.  So, guess what would happen if you were to eat below your maintenance level… You guessed it.  you would lose weight!

This is honestly how simple losing fat/weight is.  So many people struggle because they complicate it to the extreme.  In all honesty, it’s not completely their fault.  There is SO much misinformation floating around out there that it has left people overwhelmed, confused, frustrated and clueless about how to lose fat.

Even some of the information that comes from sources with the best of intentions is misleading at the least and, sometimes, even inaccurate.  Add to that the seemingly endless plethora of people and companies that will straight up lie to you in order to fulfill their own agenda and it’s no wonder why lean, muscular bodies are so rare.

Well, you and I are going to put an end to that shit, at least for YOU, right here, right now.

Follow these simple steps to find your Calorie Maintenance Level:

  • Get an accurate reading of your current weight by weighing yourself first thing in the morning, before you’ve had anything to eat or drink
  • Multiply your weight by 14 and by 18
  • Somewhere between the two totals is your Calorie Maintenance Level

Just for example I think it may help if you see this in action.  This is how I found my current Calorie Maintenance Level, just this morning:

  • I woke up and, before I  even had a sip of water, I weighed myself.  I came in right at 220 lbs.
  • I took 220 and multiplied it by 14 for a total of 3,080 (220 x 14 = 3,080)
  • Then I multiplied 220 by 18 for a total of 3,960 (220 x 18 = 3,960)
  • Somewhere between 3,080 and 3,960 is my Calorie Maintenance Level

Now, I know what some of you are thinking.  You’re absolutely right, that is a wide range.  But, really, you just need an estimate to start with.  The most important thing isn’t where you start.  It’s where you end that matters.

However, a little common sense can go a long way.  If you’re not very active during the day, other than an hour or so of weightlifting a few times a week, then you should stay on the lower end of the calorie range.

If you’re throwing in a few sessions of high intensity cardio on top of your weight training each week (and you should if you want abs fast) then you can stay in the middle of the maintenance range.

If you have a physically demanding job, that requires you to stay on your feet and moving all day, and you’re lifting weights and doing cardio, then you should start towards the higher end of the range.

Create a Calorie Deficit

Now that you’ve found your Calorie Maintenance Level, and decided where in that range you should start, you need to create a calorie deficit.  This is simply just a fancy way of saying “eat less food”.

When trying to lose fat a mistake a lot of people make is cutting calories too low, too quickly.  You want to hang on to as much lean muscle as you possibly can therefore it’s best to start with a slight calorie deficit of only 20%.

Purely for example let’s say that you discovered your Calorie Maintenance Level is 2,800 calories a day.  In order to determine what a 20% reduction will be you simply need to complete the following basic math.

I know… I’m always having you do math and it sucks.  Trust me, if you do this right, the abs you’ll get will be well worth it! 

  • Multiply 2,800 by .20 (2.800 x .20) and you’d come up with 560
  • Subtract 560 from 2,800 (2,800 – 560) and you’re left with 2,240
  • Start eating around 2,240 calories a day to begin losing fat

This is a reasonable calorie reduction that will allow you to lose fat at the optimal rate while maintaining muscle mass.  (Provided you consume enough Protein.  More on that in just a minute.)

And what constitutes an “optimal” rate?  Glad you asked…

The majority of people should lose anywhere from 1-2 lbs. a week.  Again, the best thing to do is weigh yourself once a week, first thing in the morning, on an empty stomach.

If you’re losing any more than 2 lbs. a week then your calories are too low and you’ll most likely end up sacrificing too much muscle and strength.  If this is the case, bump up your calories about 250 a day, and weigh yourself again in a week.

If you’re losing less than 1 lb. a week then you can afford to drop your calories again, slightly.  I’m sure you want to speed up your results and actually see your abs before Christmas.  Drop 250 from your daily total and again, weigh yourself in a week.

Keep repeating this process until you find the ideal range and you’re losing 1-2 lbs. a week.  The key is to keep tweaking your calories until you find the right number for you.

One thing to consider if you have a lot of weight to lose (above 20% body fat for men and 30% for women) is that you may lose more than 2 lbs. a week initially.  That’s perfectly normal.  You’ll find that you lose weight fast at first and, as you become leaner, weight loss gradually slows down.

Advice on your muscle building/fat loss diet

If you’d like some guidance on where your calories should come from, check out this Master Food List, which shows you the foods that should make up the largest portion of your diet.

I’ll also tell you that when you’re attempting to cut fat and maintain muscle increasing your protein intake while slightly reducing carbs works very well.  You don’t need to go overboard with a keto diet, or be “carbophobic”, but a slight reduction in carbs can help you create your calorie deficit.

You DON’T want your calorie deficit to come from Protein.  Protein is essential for maintaining muscle mass while you’re on a reduced calorie diet.

As I mentioned in the first post on abs, the diet plan I highly recommend is made up of 50% Protein, 20% Carbs and 30% HEALTHY Fats.  I’ve had TREMENDOUS success with this plan and I think anyone interested in losing fat, while maintaining or even building muscle, should give it a try.

Keep Training Hard but Don’t Overdo It

Another way of creating a calorie deficit is to do more exercise.  Ideally your deficit will come from a combination of slightly increased energy expenditure (exercise) and slightly decreased calories.

However, with training there is a point of diminishing returns.  A lot of people start doing a ton of cardio in an attempt to lose fat.  They think it’s the best way to do it.  It’s not.

While cardio can and will help, you don’t need any more than a few intense sessions per week.  This is really just an extra “boost” to help the fat loss efforts you’re making through your diet.

You don’t want to do so much cardio that you burn up all of your hard earned muscle and start looking like a marathon runner.

I apologize in advance to all of the marathon runners of the world.  I have nothing against you.  I just don’t want my body to look like yours.  Thank you and God bless.

As you begin to eat below your maintenance level in calories, keep training hard in the gym and strive to use the same weight on your exercises as you’re using now, for the same number of reps.  During periods when you intentionally reduce calories it’s unlikely that you’re going to get much stronger but you should try like hell to maintain your current strength.  Doing so will ensure that you hang on to as much muscle mass as possible and that your body uses your stored fat for energy, therefore “burning” it.

To put is simply, You should let your diet do most of the work when striving for fat loss.  Create a slight calorie deficit to lose fat.  Do 3 or 4 sessions of high intensity cardio to assist with fat burning.  And, continue to lift weights with the goal of building muscle!

Now, even though your diet is responsible for at least half of your results (or lack thereof), another key piece of the puzzle is intelligent and intense ab training.  Rather than try to explain several abs exercises here, I think giving you this link to a GREAT abs routine will help you even more.

The awesome thing about this routine is it can be used by both, beginners and more advanced people, and you can even complete it at home if you needed to.

A couple of quick suggestions to help you build your abs:

  • Believe it or not, you need to train your abs (directly and indirectly) anywhere from 5 to 7 days a week. Direct training simply means to intentionally perform abs exercises. Indirect training means focusing on tightening/flexing your midsection, or core, during exercises for other body parts. A good example is tightening your core while doing dead lifts and squats. Not only does this stimulate your abs but it also helps protect you from injury AND I guarantee it will make you stronger on any lift you perform.
  •  Use the suggested routine in the video above a few days a week and on other days focus on ab exercises that allow you to add resistance/weight to the movement. A couple of my favorites are rope crunches performed at a cable station and hanging leg raises with ankle weights or a dumbbell held between your feet. You could also do planks, and have a partner put a weight plate on your back (once your abs are strong enough).

The real “secret” is that there are NO secrets to building great abs.  Just like any other body part, achieving REAL results comes down to intelligent training, hard work, outstanding nutrition and consistency.

If you’ll address these 4 areas, and go at them with everything you’ve got, in time you’ll have the kind of abs that people who look for the “secret” wish for but hardly ever achieve.

Until Next Time,

Michael Wheeler

Hey guys, if you have any “secrets” to getting great abs, I’d love to hear all about them.  C’mon now… don’t keep ALL of the sexy to yourself.  How did you get YOUR amazing abs?

Do you ever stop to think about why you do the things you do?

Or, do you live your life on auto-pilot, and just sort of coast through your days, doing the things you do because they’re habit and it’s what you’ve always done?

Now, of course there are some things you do simply because they’re necessary.  Things like brushing your teeth, using the restroom, driving to work, drinking when you’re thirsty, eating when you’re hungry and so on.

It doesn’t really take much thought, or emotion, to motivate you to do these things.  Hell, most of them happen without any thought or motivation.

Who hasn’t been stuck in rush hour traffic and had to pee so bad they were sure they’d bust before making it home?

It sucks… Peeing your pants wasn’t even cool when you were 5.

Once you got home you didn’t need to put any thought into why you were taking a piss.  At that point it was pretty much automatic and very much necessary!

And, I’d bet a weekend getaway with Sofia Vergara that, at some point, most of you have been so tired you couldn’t keep your eyes open, no matter how hard you tried.

This wasn’t something that required for you to ponder why you were doing it.  Your body was simply so exhausted that your eyes closed themselves.

But, there are also a lot of things you do, a lot of actions you take, that are provoked by thought and fueled by emotion.  These types of things require a decision to be made.  And, when you decide to do something, it means you’ve put at least a little thought into why you’re doing it.

So, why do so many people just “workout” without considering WHY they’re doing it?

You see, I firmly believe that in order to maximize your potential, achieve real results and make dramatic changes to your body, you need to identify and fully understand WHY you want to build a great physique.

In the post “Do you want a great body or not” I told you to find your reasons for training hard to build a better body.  Your reasons are what will keep you pushing forward, when others would quit.  Your reasons will help you find the courage and inner strength to do what’s necessary to achieve success!

The best way to find your reasons is to think about why you want to build muscle, lose fat and make dramatic changes to your body.  This will help you understand why you’ll do what it takes to get RESULTS.

Why in the hell would you drag yourself out of bed at an ungodly hour, to go running in the cold or do any other hellish form of cardio, when the rest of the world is warm and comfy, still spinning their dreams?

Why would you fight through rush hour traffic after a long day at work, only to get to the gym to lift heavy objects, instead of heading home to the couch for some television and relaxation?

Why would you say “no” to pizza and beer when all of your friends are eating, drinking and having a blast?

If you don’t know the answers to why you would do these things, and you plan on having a great body, you’d better figure them out…

Every day people decide they want to “get in shape”.  They join a gym and start “working out” and “eating right”.

I know… that’s a lot of quotations and it’s annoying.  I’m going somewhere with this… I promise.

So, with only a very vague idea in mind, they start working out without really knowing why they’re doing it.  They don’t know why they’ve given up their favorite foods.  They don’t understand why they’re exhausting themselves in the gym after a hard day of work.

They don’t know why they’re pushing through the mental discomfort of being the new, “out of shape” person in the gym or living with tired, sore muscles all of the time.

Some of them last a week, some last a month and others actually make it several months.  But, whether it takes a week, a month or six months, all too often they eventually give up and quit. 

They don’t persevere because they never really understood why there were doing any of it in the first place!

You don’t want that to happen to yourself.  I don’t either.

If you’ll put in the effort, and take the time, to understand exactly why you’re striving to get what you want, you’ll be a helluva lot more likely to do whatever it takes to achieve your goal.  That’s because you’ll be emotionally connected and begin to want it badly.  It’s powerful because it’s meaningful to you.

You’ll discover what determination is and you will not quit, even when shit gets tough!  This is as true in “real life” as it is in the gym.

So, if you don’t know your reasons and understand why you want a better body, I encourage you do to this…

Go somewhere quiet, where you can be alone.  Sit down and think about why you go to the gym, why you eat right and why you want a great body.  I highly suggest for you to get a notebook, write these questions down, and answer them as honestly as you possibly can.

Being completely honest with yourself is the only way you’re going to find the answers that will help you change your body and life.

The answers to these questions are your vehicle, to get you where you want to go, towards the physique of your dreams.  I would look at them often; first thing in the morning, all throughout the day, and before bed at night.

Use what fits your goals.  If you’re not concerned with building muscle size, don’t worry about that question.  If you just want to get strong, and could give a damn less about abs, focus on that question/area.

The key is to find what is important and meaningful to YOU.

Answer these questions and you’re taking a MASSIVE step towards achieving the body you’ve always wanted.

  • Why do you want to build muscle?
  • Why do you want to get stronger physically?
  • Why do you want to lose fat and get in better shape?
  • Why do you want to get ripped and have great abs?
  • Why do you want to be healthier, more energetic and better looking?

Now, let’s dig even deeper…

  • How will building bigger muscles make you feel about yourself?
  • How will getting physically stronger help you?  Will it also help you get mentally stronger?  Emotionally?
  • Do you want to live a long, healthy, happy life and have more time to enjoy with your wife/husband/children/family and loved ones?  If you take better care of yourself physically, will that make you able to do more for them?
  • Would you do a better job at work/in your career if you had more energy and felt better?  If you were stronger mentally, and your mind was clear, would you perform better?
  • Would you be treated differently by others, with more admiration and respect, if you had an amazing physique?
  • Would you find it easier to talk to, and attract, a partner?  Would it help you find the mate you’ve been looking for?
  • Would taking control of your health and fitness improve your life?  Would it provide you with more energy, ability, enthusiasm, discipline, determination and confidence?

I can’t answer these questions for you.  Neither can anyone else.  You’re gonna have to look inside your own mind, heart and soul to come up with the answers.

Make no mistake, out of all the exercises you could do in order to build a great body, this is one of the most important. 

Take it seriously, dig deep and be very honest with yourself.

When you do, you’ll understand exactly WHY you want a great physique and you’ll be willing to do everything it takes to get it.

You’ve heard the old saying “Where there’s a WILL there’s a WAY”.

That’s true….  But in order to find your “WILL” you need to understand your “WHY”.

What about you guys?  Why do you go to the gym?  What are your reasons for pushing yourself further and harder every day?  Why do you want a great body?  I’d love to hear all about YOUR reasons why!!!

Look on the cover of any fitness magazine, at any time, in any publication, from any part of the world and you’ll find a guy, a girl, or both, with a lean, muscular body and amazing abs.

It’s the same if you were to browse through several bodybuilding and fitness sites on the internet.  You’ll find a picture of some chick with a flat, hard tummy or a dude with a washboard stomach that looks like it was carved out of stone.

Scan though any of your favorite celebrity magazines and I guarantee you’ll see images of A-list Hollywood stars with their shirt off, or sporting a bikini, proudly showing their tight mid-section while strolling down some white, sandy beach in the middle of paradise.  Usually while the Nanny watches their kiddos.

So how do people build abs?  Glad you asked…

Click through the tv channels late one night.  I’d bet a one night stand with Jennifer Lawrence that you’ll see at least a couple silly infomercials for some ridiculous gadget that claims to give you “6 pack abs” in only 30 days.  But, you must act now because this amazing price is only good for the next 14 minutes. 

And, who hasn’t seen the stupid ass commercials for dozens of different “miracle” pills?  You know, the ones that are supposed to help you lose weight, get ripped, build abs, become more attractive, find a beautiful partner, live in a bigger house, drive a nicer car and make millions of dollars…

Okay… maybe I got a little carried away.  But, I’m not that far off the outrageous claims those pill pushers make.

So, although our physique goals may be different (some people want to build huge muscles while others want to lean out and get “toned”) just about everyone wants nice, hard, defined, sexy abs.

And people know it; especially those that are looking to sell you something.  Supplement companies, “ab” machine manufacturers, infomercial producers, book authors, magazine editors, personal trainers… they’re all looking to “cash in” on your desire for a sexy mid-section.

Now, I’m not saying that ALL of these people or resources are necessarily bad.  I’d definitely be careful with any weight loss pills, and I’d recommend that you don’t waste your hard earned money on any bull shit ab contraptions shown on late night television, but educating yourself with books isn’t a bad thing and a personal trainer can help if you’re clueless about how to exercise.

FYI… If you ARE clueless about exercise, or you know some things but are willing to learn more, and you don’t want to hire a personal trainer, that’s why I’ve created this site.  I’ll be your virtual personal trainer and guide you through every step of building an amazing physique.  Check out this post on training advice for beginners.

The thing is, there’s just SO much information about how to get abs and a lot of it is conflicting.  To make matters worse there’s a shit load of misinformation floating around out there as well.

So, I’m gonna try to clear up some of the confusion, dispel some of the more common myths and put you on the path towards success.  Stick with me and by this summer you’ll be the proud owner of some sexy ass abs that turn heads and get attention!

What follows is my 2 “secrets” to great abs:

  1. Guess what… You already have abs!

Yep, you read that right.  The fact is there are already some sexy abdominal muscles, sitting right there on your midsection, just waiting to be revealed.  You were born with em’.  You’ve had them your whole life even if you’ve never done one sit-up, crunch or leg raise.

The real trick is uncovering them.  The majority of people just have too much body fat for their ab muscles to show.  So, while most people who want abs automatically think they need to do set after set of ab exercises, the primary focus should be on losing fat.

And, what does almost everyone do when they want to lose fat?  They start doing a bunch of long, boring sessions on a treadmill or stair stepper because they’ve read or heard somewhere that they need to do a lot of cardio.  But, that’s not completely true.

While a few intense cardio sessions a week can help facilitate fat loss, the primary focus should be on cleaning up your diet.  Only through proper nutrition, and being very diligent about your daily intake of calories, can you truly “build” your abs to their full potential.

Now, since this post could quickly grow into the size of a novel, I won’t go into too much detail on diet right here, right now.  I just want to make you aware that you really need to focus your nutrition towards fat loss if you want great looking abs.  In the next post, coming this week, I will provide you with specific dietary guidelines, as well as some quick muscle gain/ fat loss tips, that will help you finally uncover your abs.

However, since summer is right around the corner, and I’m sure you want to get started on your six pack, let me at least point you in the right direction:

  • With a few exceptions, like oatmeal, brown rice, frozen chicken breasts, if a food comes from a box or bag, it’s usually bad news.  Chips, cookies, crackers, cakes, white bread and most breakfast cereals are highly processed garbage that is very unfriendly to abs, so they’re definitely out.  Think whole, unprocessed foods.  A helpful trick when you’re at the grocery is to stick to the outside “circle” and avoid the middle isles.  The outside is where you’ll usually find the best food selections.
  • Eat 4-6 small meals a day.  Try to eat something every 2-3 hours and definitely don’t go more than 4 hours without eating.  Eating frequent, small meals revs up your metabolism and puts your body into muscle building and fat burning mode.
  • Protein is the cornerstone of a muscle building/fat loss diet.  Increase your intake of lean protein.  A good rule of thumb is to have at least 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight.  Quality protein powders are a tremendous help with meeting your daily needs.
  • At each of your first 3-4 meals of the day have a portion of lean protein and a complex (good) carb.  For your last few meals, later in the day, have protein but cut the carbs.  Instead, include a fibrous vegetable.  In fact, try to eat a vegetable with at least 2 of your meals but, if you wanted, you could eat vegetables at every meal and not hurt your fat loss efforts.
  • Not all of your meals have to be whole food.  Again, protein powders are an indispensable resource.  A couple of your “meals” or snacks could be protein powder blended with frozen berries and a few tablespoons of flaxseed, for added fiber and good fats.  You could also have a protein shake and eat a piece of fruit, some Greek yogurt, or a bowl of oatmeal at breakfast.  Combining supplements with whole foods makes consuming 4-6 meals a day quicker, more convenient and realistic.
  • Believe it or not, GOOD fats are part of a healthy diet.  Be sure to consume fats from sources such as almonds, avocados, fish, olive oil and/or coconut oil at every other meal.
  • Drink a lot of water!  When you think you’ve drank enough, drink some more.  When you’re thirsty that is a sign that your body is already becoming dehydrated.  Don’t let that happen. Water is not only necessary for optimal health and muscle growth but it also has a great effect on fat loss.  It can help curb your appetite and, the more water you drink, the less likely your body is to retain water.  When the goal is to get your abs to show, you don’t want a bunch of water hanging around your mid-section and making it appear soft.

*One of the best muscle building and fat loss diets I’ve ever found is Beverly International’s 50-20-30 diet. It is made up of 50% Protein, 20% Carbohydrate and 30% healthy Fat.  If getting great abs is your goal, I’d definitely recommend checking it out.  In my humble opinion, Beverly International also has the absolute BEST line of supplements available in the world.  Their Ultimate Muscle Protein (UMP) is amazing and tastes so good you can make pudding, brownies, waffles and/or pancakes out of it! 

2.  Your abs are muscles too!

While your diet should be your main focus when attempting to build a six pack, it is still a good idea to train your abs directly.  Technically, you could lower your body fat percentage significantly and reveal your abs without doing any crunches, sit-ups, etc.  However, working your mid-section intensely a few times a week will lead to a much better appearance.

But, the problem is, most people think they need to train their abs with super high rep sets.  My question is, why?  Think about it.  It’s fairly common knowledge that muscles tend to respond with growth from the use of heavier weights and a rep range of anywhere from 5-12.  The abs are muscles too, so why would they be any different?

Plain and simple, if you want a true six pack, then you need to focus on the growth of your abdominal muscles.  And, just like any other body part, the best way to make them grow is to place them under a lot of resistance (weight).

Instead of using your body weight only, start adding enough weight to your ab exercises so you can only get a max of 12 reps per set.  I recommend things like rope crunches (using a cable pull down machine), weighted crunches (holding a weight plate, dumbbell, kettlebell or medicine ball), hanging leg raises (while holding a weight between your feet).  And, most gyms even have a few machines that can help you effectively overload your abs.  If there is a decent one in your gym I would recommend using it from time to time.

I can already hear some people now.  “I don’t want my mid-section to get any bigger.  Isn’t the whole point to have a smaller waist?”

Here’s the thing; it’s HARD to get really big.  In gyms all across the world, every single day, guys focus all their attention and effort into getting bigger.  They work hard and grind away at set after heavy set of weight lifting exercises.  They eat a boat load of calories to provide their muscles with the materials they need to grow.

They do all of this to force their muscles to get bigger and still there’s only a certain amount of growth they get out of it.

So, it’s VERY unlikely that adding some resistance to your ab exercises is going to cause your mid-section to become overgrown.

What IS likely from placing your abs under more weight is that you will stimulate some growth and, once you reach a low body fat percentage, the end result will be abs that “pop”.  They will look harder, more defined and just flat out better than if you were to use only your body weight and knock out 25 reps per set.

The same is true whether you’re a guy or girl.  You should be adding resistance to your ab exercises in order to get your ab’s physical appearance to their full potential.

A lean, tight, sexy mid-section is the desire of most every gym goer around the world.  But, for so many people, discovering the “secrets” of getting abs is about as elusive as finding Bigfoot in the middle of the Alaskan wilderness.

Far too many people never fully realize their body’s potential.  It doesn’t have to be that way though.

Hopefully this post has shown you there really aren’t any secrets or shortcuts to getting abs.  The people who have them aren’t aware of any magical tips or tricks.  Getting a six pack, and an amazing physique, comes down to proper nutrition, hard work and consistency.

Don’t wait any longer.  The time is always NOW!  Provide your body with the nutrition it needs, work hard in the gym and be consistent.

Do these things and chances are, by this summer, you’ll have abs so amazing people will wonder what YOUR secret is…

Until Next Time,

Michael Wheeler

Tell the truth….

Do you really want a great body or is having nice arms and a six pack just a thought that dances through your mind every now and then?

Have you decided you’ll do whatever it takes to build some serious muscle mass and lose body fat or are you waiting until everything is “just right” before you take action?

Do you take a precise, intelligent approach toward your training and nutrition, in order to achieve actual RESULTS or do you just go “workout” and “eat well”, in hopes that somehow you’ll end up with a great body?

Have you put in the time and effort to educate yourself on great training techniques and proper nutrition or do you think you’ll get where you want to go by “winging it”?

Have you set specific goals, and a timeline for achieving them, or do you just hope and wish that you’ll build a muscular physique someday?

Are you willing to make real sacrifices and pay your dues in order to build a body that most people never will or are you content with looking, feeling and being just average?

Now is the time for a brutally honest self-assessment….

Take a long, hard look at yourself. And, I don’t mean just from a physical standpoint, although that is important. I mean dig deep, way down to your core, or very essence of your being, and search for what you’re really made of.

Are you truly motivated? If so, what motivates you?

The way I see it, so many people say they’re motivated to change their body and life, and they may even convince themselves of it, but their actions (or, inaction) speak louder than their words.

A person who really is motivated to make dramatic changes to their body makes training a priority in their life. They don’t go to the gym only IF they can fit it into their day. Most days they can’t wait to hit the iron and, if they’re truly motivated, even on days when the gym is the last place they want to be, they still find a way to make it happen.

They take the time to shop for nutritious foods and they prepare meals ahead of time so they’re able to consistently feed their bodies the materials it needs for growth. They realize the initial effort they put in up front pays off tremendously on the back end and makes the whole process so much easier.

A truly motivated person does whatever’s necessary to afford a gym membership, groceries and supplements, even if it means getting a second job or cutting back on the expenses that don’t serve their purpose and help them achieve their goals. They’re willing to sacrifice the smaller things now in order to get to the big prize waiting around the corner.

So, what do you think now? Still think you’re motivated?

If you thought you were motivated, but now you’re questioning just how strong that motivation is, that’s actually a good thing. You can decide, here and now, if pursuing an amazing physique is worth it for you. If it’s not, then stop wasting your time. Because, unless you’re giving it your all and doing the things necessary to build muscle and lose fat, you really are just wasting your time.

Never forget, your time is your life.

If the answer is “yes”, then maybe I can help you find your motivation.

In my opinion it comes down to asking yourself a simple question and then giving yourself the most honest answer you possibly can.

Why do you want a better body?

To put it another way… what are YOUR reasons?

You see, I’ve found that when people clearly identify their real reasons for wanting to build muscle, lose fat, get healthier and make a dramatic change to their body, it automatically sparks motivation.
Unfortunately a lot of people never really think about their reasons.

They don’t really know why they’re spending their time picking up heavy things, physically exhausting themselves and enduring so much soreness.

They’re not quite sure why they’ve given up eating cheeseburgers, french-fries, ice cream and cake. They don’t know why they’re sacrificing and putting in so much effort when other people are living a “fun” and “normal” life.

Most people have some idea of why they’re doing it and it’s usually something along the lines of “to get in shape”. However, that kind of surface level reason most often isn’t meaningful enough to make people do what’s necessary to get REAL results; at least not for the long haul.

A lot of people will start off with great intentions and a full head of steam but, when the shit starts getting tough and results don’t come after a few weeks, they gradually lose their drive.

You have to dig deeper than that….

Now, I can’t tell you what your reasons are but, if you’ve decided to start working out and eating better, I can tell you that you’ve got em’. You just need to identify and understand what they really are.

Maybe you were skinny in high school and had to put up with stupid jokes and dumbass remarks. It hurt your confidence and caused you to be very self-conscious. Or, even worse, maybe you were bullied by some ass hole that was bigger than you.

Probably some fat ass, that hadn’t seen his dick since he was 10 years old, so he was pissed at the world.

Becoming fed up with the embarrassment, mental anguish and pain could all be POWERFUL reasons for you to hit the gym, build muscle and get bigger… if you make the conscious decision to use those reasons.

Maybe you’re overweight right now and have to put up with some of the same bull shit. You don’t feel good about yourself at all and you’re tired of people snickering and laughing behind your back. If you grow tired enough of it, and you decide you want to look better, feel better, have more confidence and shut those dumb ass’s the hell up, you’ve found your reasons for changing your body.

Maybe you’re on the other side of 40 and decide you’re not going to just settle for growing old, tired and weak. You refuse to let your best years be behind you and you decide you want to look and feel good for life. You want to live long enough to see your kids grow up and even be able to keep up with the grandkids someday.

Those are your reasons and, if you use them, they can motivate you to achieve amazing results.
In my humble opinion, finding your reasons, and using them to light a fire within yourself, is the key to everything. It unlocks the motivation, discipline, determination and drive that it takes to build the body of your dreams.

Find your reasons and harness the power they hold to help you make dramatic changes to your body.

Write them down, read them every day and think about them often.

Let your reasons motivate you. Let them inspire you. Let them be your guiding light along your journey towards building your body and becoming the best ‘you’ that you can possibly be.

I can tell you from experience; if you have strong enough reasons to get what you want, you will find a way to make it happen.

So, it’s up to you. Go find your reasons and start experiencing the success that you know you deserve.

Until Next Time,
Michael Wheeler

Hey guys, what are your reasons for hitting the gym every day? Why do you do what most people won’t in order to get what most people don’t? I’d love to hear about them!!

Stop me if you’ve heard this one already….

A couple of young guys walk into the gym all wired up from the dose of “Super Maxx Jacked Bull Testicle Formula 9000” they just chugged.  Neither of them carries much muscle mass but they seem pretty motivated to workout.

They take about 30 seconds to “warm up” before heading to over to do some barbell bench presses.  After all… it is Monday night so it’s gotta be chest day!

They throw a 45 on each side of the bar and start their sets with 135lbs.  The first guy eeks out a wobbly 10 reps, bouncing the bar off his chest every time.  His buddy follows suit.

The very next set they add another 45 to each side.  Newbie 1 struggles to push the bar off his chest for 1 rep, elbows flared out so wide you think his shoulders might pop out then and there, before his buddy steps in to “spot” him (he’s actually doing the ugliest shrug you’ve ever seen in your life) while yelling to his buddy “It’s all you, man!”

For the record… it’s rarely “all him”. 

They continue on this way for another 5 or 6 sets before heading to the incline bench for another round of nonsense.  Then the decline bench… followed by machine bench presses…. followed by cable crossovers.

Those of you who’ve been tossing iron around for a while aren’t waiting for the punchline.  You’ve already seen this joke in your gym… probably time after time. 

Now, if you’re a beginner and this is similar to the way you’re currently training, I don’t mean to hate on ya.  I simply want to show you there is a better way; a way that will actually help you get the results you’re working so hard to get.

I know about the scenario above all too well because when I first started training I was on of these guys.  I would read bodybuilding magazines, find an article that listed the routine some juiced up monster was using, and copy it.

Every exercise, set for set, rep for rep.

I figured they obviously knew what they were doing.  I’d look at how big and muscular the were and thought that if I would just train the same way I could build the same kind of body.

I built next to no muscle, hardly gained any strength and the frustration set in deep.

Fortunately for me there were a few seasoned bodybuilders at the gym I went to who weren’t total douche bags.  I guessed they noticed me working hard and decided to help a clueless newbie out.  I showed them my training program and, to them, there was no mystery to why I wasn’t growing.

They told me I was using far too many exercises, sets and reps for each body part.  They said I didn’t need a “chest” day or “arm” day and that I was wasting my time doing isolation movements like cable crossovers, lateral raises and concentration curls.

They told me that if I would focus my effort into getting stronger on basic exercises, and eat all the good food I could get my hands on, I would start growing.

So… that’s exactly what I did.  Let me tell you, in terms of bodybuilding, it was the best decision I’ve ever made.  Within a month of training the way they told me to my body began to grow and my strength increased from one workout to the next.

The fundamentals they taught me helped me lay a foundation of muscle size and strength.  Those principles are part of my training to this day and they have provided me with continuous progress and success in the years that have followed.

Now, I would like to impart the same wisdom on you guys that are just starting out so that you may experience the kind of results you’re looking for.

Or, if you’re a guy who’s been busting your ass in the gym but just can’t seem to get results, I’m gonna send you down the path towards actual muscle growth.  I know, all too well, how disappointing and frustrating it is to work hard for 6 months (or a year….or more) and not see your body change one bit.

But first, we’ve gotta start with a lil’ honesty and self-reflection…

What level are you honestly at right now?

I ask this because I know there are so many guys that think they’re more advanced than they really are. In order to determine the most effective ways for you to train you really need an honest self-assessment of your current level of experience and development.

If you have less than 6 months of consistent training under your belt you should consider yourself a beginner. And, if you’ve been following the type of bull shit training program in the example above for 6 months or more, you’re probably a frustrated mother fucker right about now.

I’d bet a one night stand with Mila Kunis that you haven’t put on anywhere near as much muscle as you want to.

If this is you, do yourself a favor, and go back to the drawing board. Start using a solid beginner program, like the one I’ll outline in a few, and you’ll grow more in 6 weeks than you had in the previous 6 months.

What is the best training split for a beginner to use?

Short answer, if you’re just starting out or have less than 6 months experience (maybe even as much as a year experience) you shouldn’t be using a split. At least not the kind you’re probably thinking of.

While no training plan, technique or split is ideal for 100% of the people who follow them, a full body training program is widely accepted by the best, most intelligent bodybuilders and strength coaches as the most effective way for a beginner to train. In fact, some schools of thought say that full body training programs are the best way to build muscle regardless of your experience level.

Full body training programs entail using a handful of basic exercises that work your entire body in one training session. This is accomplished by performing compound movements the vast majority of the time and rarely, if ever, including isolation exercises.

For those of you who may not be familiar with ‘compound’ and ‘isolation’ exercises…

Compound exercises are movements that require the use of more than one muscle group in order to lift the weight. You may also hear them referred to as ‘multi-joint’ exercises as they require movement of multiple joints in the body.

Compound exercises are most effective at stimulating muscle growth and strength gains because the assistance of multiple muscle groups and the movement of multiple joints allow you to use heavier loads (weights). There is a direct correlation between getting stronger and getting bigger. Simply put, as you progressively lift heavier weights during your exercises you will adhere to the overload principle, which will cause muscle growth, if you’re providing your body with the quality calories it needs. (More on overload in a moment).

A great example of a compound exercise is the barbell bench press. If you perform the bench press, correctly, you’ll effectively work your chest, front delts (shoulders) and triceps. That’s a lot of bang for your buck in one exercise.

And, what do you think isolation exercises do? Hmmm… I dunno… maybe, isolate a  muscle group? Ding, ding, ding, ding…. You guessed it! Your prize is a 20 rep set of squats. Now get to it!

The use of a single muscle group, and the movement of only one joint, limits the amount of weight you can handle during the exercise. The lighter weights that are necessary to use for isolation exercises can hinder your ability to overload your muscles and limit gains in strength and size.

An example of an isolation exercise is dumbbell flyes. In which exercise do you think you could move the most weight, flyes or bench presses? Obviously, the bench press, right?

Don’t get me wrong, in my humble opinion there are times when isolation exercises can be very useful and they should be incorporated into people’s training plans. But, I believe they only become necessary after a person has spent some time building real muscle mass and strength with compound movements. Isolation exercises tend to be better for providing detail to muscle; to help bring out separation and “cuts”. However, you can’t add detail to muscle you don’t have. And, gaining muscle is best accomplished through hard training with compound movements.

Plain and simple, a beginner (and even most intermediates) is far better off putting their time and effort into big, basic, compound movements rather than isolation exercises. Doing so effectively stimulates muscle growth and strength gains. An added bonus is the fact that hard work on compound exercises, like squats and deadlifts, causes a much greater release in anabolic (muscle building) hormones within your body than movements like leg extensions and concentration curls.

And, I’m talking about the “good shit” that a lot of dudes pay thousands of dollars a month for; a cocktail of testosterone and human growth hormones. This anabolic environment within your body is the perfect recipe for muscle growth.

Therefore, you’ll find that the beginner program I’ll recommend towards the bottom of this post only includes result producing, muscle building compound movements. Trust me and train this way for a couple of months. You’ll be glad you did, especially if you’re a person who’s new and has spent too much time doing isolation exercises. The difference in your results will be night and day.

Compound Exercises:
• Squats
• Deadlifts
• Overhead Press
• Bench Press
• Clean and Press
• Barbell/Dumbbell/Cable Row
• Pull-ups & Chin-ups
• Cable pull down
• Upright Row

Isolation Exercises:
• Flyes (dumbbell, cable)
• Curls (dumbbell, barbell, cable)
• Raises (front, lateral, rear)
• Leg Extensions
• Leg Curls
• Triceps Push downs
• Dumbbell Kickbacks
• Overhead Extensions

Should you use free weights or machines?

I’ll try not to get into a long, drawn out explanation of why but I’m thoroughly convinced (along with almost anyone who knows anything about training correctly) that free weight exercises are superior to machines the majority of the time.

Using free weights requires the use of stabilizer muscles to help balance the weight while you perform the exercise. This results in better muscular development and coordination, greater increases in strength and increased difficulty of the movement. All of this leads to better results, faster. The use of stabilizer muscles also goes a long way towards injury prevention. Believe it or not, overuse of machines can cause muscular imbalances that not only hinder muscle and strength gains but can also set you up for injury.

Now, I definitely feel there are times when including machines or cables in your routine can be effective, possibly even for beginners. For example, Lat pull-downs using a cable machine are an excellent exercise for your back muscles. The same goes for Cable Rows; they can be an extremely effective exercise for developing thickness in your back. Sometimes I even find it worthwhile to use the Smith Machine for Overhead Barbell Presses.

However, for the most part, if there’s a free weight version of an exercise available, I would choose it over a machine, especially as a beginner. Learn proper form on basic free weight movements using barbells and dumbbells. Focus your effort into getting stronger on these exercises and you’ll experience far better results than any machine can provide.

How many exercises, sets and reps should a beginner do?

In bodybuilding the number of exercises, sets and reps within a training routine is referred to as ‘volume’. And, volume is an area that so many beginners get wrong. Specifically, they use too much. This is a big mistake that I used to make myself and one that I see made every single day in the gym.

Remember the guys in our example above? They performed 4 friggin’ exercises for their chest alone! And, no doubt, they were doing this because they read about some program that contained this amount of volume in a magazine or on the internet. What they failed to realize is that this kind of program is meant for a very advanced lifter whose been doing this for years. A person at a beginner’s level has no business whatsoever doing this many exercises for one body part.

To make matters worse a lot of beginners, like the ones in the example, commonly do anywhere from 3 to 5 sets, usually of 10-12 reps, of 4-5 different exercises for the same damn body part!

Let’s look at the simple math. I know… no one told you there would be math involved here. You just wanna build some fucking muscle, right? Hang with me. This won’t be too painful, I promise.

Let’s say a beginner were to do 4 sets of bench presses for 10 reps each set. That’s 40 reps for his chest right there, right? Ok, I have no problem with that volume for a beginner. But then let’s say, conservatively, he throws in 3 sets of 3 more exercises for 10 reps each set. He’s just added 90 more reps for a total of 130 reps, for one muscle group.

No fucking wonder he won’t grow!!

When beginners do this they are overextending their body. A lot of beginners, because they’re motivated as hell to force muscle growth, mistakenly think that more is better. This notion isn’t true, especially for newbies. There is a point of diminishing returns and, if you continue to push your body beyond this point, you’re not stimulating muscle growth but actually hindering it.

More is NOT better….

Being careful not to over train, and giving your body time to recover, is very important regardless of what your level of experience is. However, it’s especially true for beginners who are highly motivated, more often than not, and who think that if some training is good more must be better.

I could go on and on about this but it’s really quite simple. You must do what it takes to stimulate muscle growth and then get the hell out of the gym so your muscles can be repaired and your body can recover so it will get stronger and grow. As a beginner, doing multiple sets of multiple exercises short circuits this process.

But, I haven’t quite answered the question, have I? How many exercises, sets and reps should a beginner do?

When most intelligent bodybuilders and strength coaches design programs for beginners they recommend one exercise, and no more than two, per muscle group each training session. And, as already discussed, this is almost always a compound exercise that allows the beginner to go hard and heavy before moving on to another exercise, for another muscle group.

If you’re brand spankin’ new to lifting weights, and plan on stepping foot in the gym for the first time today, I would recommend 2-3 sets per exercise (not including light warm up sets). After a month or two of consistent training you should be able to safely bump the volume up to anywhere from 3-5 sets per exercise.

What about the rep range?

The rep range a beginner should use is fairly wide. Scientific evidence and real world practice tells us that the ideal range for building muscle is between 6-12 reps. Some say that if you use a weight heavy enough to force you below 6 reps, in the 3-5 range, the main outcome will be an increase in strength without muscle growth being significantly stimulated. On the flip side it’s said that a rep range above 12, usually around 15-20 reps, will enhance muscular endurance without much impact on gains in size and strength.

Here’s the thing…. Bodybuilding can be highly individualized. The rep range that works best for me might not be ideal for you. So, these guidelines are a great starting point but that’s all they really are; guides. I’ve seen some people’s body respond with excellent growth while consistently using sets of 5 reps. Even though conventional wisdom says that sets of 5 aren’t good for building muscle, it works well for them.  So, no one can really tell them that they shouldn’t train in that rep range. Other guys I’ve known don’t experience great results using low reps but, when they switch to reps of 10-12 (and some as high as 15) their body starts growing.

Regardless of the rep range… You MUST work hard!

This next piece of advice should go without saying but I have to keep in mind that some of you reading this may have never lifted weights before. If your program calls for you to do a set of 10 reps it MUST be a difficult 10 reps! Putting this as simply as I can, if by the time you get to rep 10 you feel like you could knock out 3, 4, 5… 10 more, you’re not using a weight that is heavy enough to challenge your body and cause muscle growth.

I’m not a huge of going to failure (the point where you can’t do another rep) very often but you do need to push yourself. Use a weight that is very challenging but allows you to complete your reps in good form.

Some strength coaches advise lifters to never go to failure.  The late, great, Reg Park was a very successful bodybuilder, with an amazing physique, who also recommended staying away from failure.  They state that training to failure has a very negative impact on your central nervous system, leads to over training and, eventually, will cause an injury.  World renown Russian strength and conditioning coach Pavel Tsatsouline recommends for bodybuilders to “leave a rep or two in the bank”, meaning end your set at a point where you think you might be able to do 1 or 2 more reps.  Doing so keeps you relatively fresh throughout your workout and allows you to continue to use fairly heavy weights.

By the way, whether you’re brand new to training or have been at it for years, if you’re interested in learning more about the art and science of strength training, I highly recommend for you to check out Pavel’s articles. 

If you really want to push yourself hard, it’s ok to use a weight that makes it so 10 (or whatever rep range you’re using) is all you can do; that there’s no way you could do 1 more rep with good form. If you choose to do this, Pavel advises “Go ahead and lift to your rep max, but never start another rep if you’re not 100% sure you can complete it with good form.” So, if it took every bit of mental and physical energy you had  to get that last rep up, and you have any doubt that you could get the next one, end the set right there.

The key is to find what works best for you. This is also true with so many other training variables. It will take a little trial and error to find what’s ideal for you. This can only be accomplished through putting in the time and gaining experience.

I’ve recommended a rep range for you to use in the beginner training program in this post but, after you’ve paid your dues, learned some things about your body and mastered proper form, by all means feel free to give other rep ranges a try. Keeping safety in mind, given that as a beginner you’re still learning proper form, I don’t think it’s a great idea to go extremely heavy for low reps. You’ll find the rep range I recommend to be on the higher end.  I would advise for you to keep it that way, at least for the first several months.

How often should a beginner train?

The best, most intelligently designed beginner training programs most often include a training frequency of 3 days a week. What this means is, if you’re a beginner, you should train your entire body 3 days a week. And, to strike a great balance between rest/recovery and training to stimulate muscle gains, each session should be 48 hours apart, except for the first session of the week which usually occurs after having two days off.

So, a very common and effective setup is to train your entire body on Monday, Wednesday and Friday and take weekends off. Of course you could rearrange this to fit your personal preferences and lifestyle if you wanted to. There’s nothing wrong with training on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday if you prefer. Just be sure to take Sunday and Monday off if you decide to use this schedule.

How about Wednesday, Friday and Sunday? Is that ok? Absolutely, it is. Again, just allow a day between workouts and be sure to take Monday and Tuesday off. With this setup each muscle group is trained to some extent every other day, which is the optimal frequency for producing gains in muscle mass for beginners.

In fact, I came across a site the other day which I believe is a much needed “breath of fresh air” in terms of the plethora of dumb ass bodybuilding advice floating around out there on the internet. To me, this guy has created one of very few sites (including this one) that offers real, valuable, intelligent, no bull shit training advice that can help people get results.

His thoughts on beginner training, and a lot of other training subjects, almost mirror my own.  I highly suggest you check him out if you’d like to gain even further knowledge on beginner training as well as intermediate and advanced training routines.

www.aworkoutroutine.com/the-beginner-weight-training-workout-routine

Muscle Growth simplified into ONE principle…

I mentioned this earlier and promised that I would touch on it again. Don’t mistake and think that this isn’t important just because it took me so long to fully explain it…. I’m about to fill you in on the most important principle you could possibly understand, in terms of training, in order to actually experience results and gain muscle mass. It’s called OVERLOAD.

You see, without properly overloading your muscles, growth is impossible. And, for the life of me, I cannot understand why so many people who lift weights and supposedly want to build serious muscle, do not properly address this key component of muscle growth.

Alright, let me start here. When you’re completely new to training the stimulus of lifting weights is new to your muscles and your central nervous system. Given that this is all new to your body, when you train, it has no fucking clue what just happened. Therefore, as long as you don’t overtax your muscles and nervous system, and you’re providing it with the quality nutrition it needs, your body will adapt to the resistance you’re placing it under by growing bigger and stronger. This is known as beginner or ‘newbie’ gains and it’s a phenomenon that most bodybuilders have had the pleasure of experiencing when they first started training. Quite simply, because you’re new and your muscles have never felt anything like this, almost anything you do in the gym will cause an adaptation (i.e. results, growth).

However, the human body is smarter than Dr. Sheldon Cooper and it will quickly catch on to your tricks. You don’t want your body to become used to or comfortable with what you’re throwing at it. It will set itself to cruise control because it can easily handle the demands you’re placing on it. If you continue to use the same weight, or number of reps, day after day, week after week, you won’t give your muscles any reason to adapt, therefore they will not grow.

Plus, your body doesn’t give a shit about the thick chest and six pack abs you want to sport this summer. It will put up a fight like Ronda Rousey because it does not want to change! It fears change…. Just like mom and pop, it wants “the good ole’ days” and for everything to stay the same. This condition is called homeostasis. You see muscle gains as a way to look better, feel better and get more sex. Your body doesn’t. In fact, it sees new muscle as some fucking asshole boss that just walked in the office to make it work even harder.

Just like when you turn 18, high school is over, and you realize “holy shit, I’ve gotta actually live in the REAL world now”…. eventually you’ll have to live in the real world of bodybuilding.  Those newbie gains won’t last forever….

So, once those beginner gains have come to a standstill (and they will eventually…sometimes quickly) you will need to take matters into your own hands in order to keep your muscles growing. The only way to do this is to consistently and progressively overload them.

Although some magazines, sites and forums claim you can “shock” your muscles into growth through extreme intensity techniques and other bull shit like that, the 3 most effective ways to overload your muscles are:
• Use more weight (with good form) per exercise than you did during the previous training session
• Use the same weight as the previous training session but perform more reps
• Reduce the time you rest between sets
BONUS: A combination of two or all three of the above. If you could use a heavier weight, do more reps and take less time between sets, that’s definitely a recipe for effective overloading! However, it’s gonna take some time before you can get to this level.

As I mentioned already, there is a direct correlation between getting stronger and getting bigger. To put it another way, if you’re able to use more weight on you exercises next month, than you did this month, you’re muscles are going to be bigger. IF… and that’s a big ‘IF’, you’ve provided your body with the raw materials it needs for growth. Those raw materials come from good, nutritious sources of calories and a quality protein supplement.

And, as I mentioned, if you’ve been resting for 2 minutes between sets you could overload your muscles by cutting that rest time down to 45 seconds. No doubt you’ll experience a subsequent decrease in the weights you can handle from one set to the next but it is a great way to place more demand on your body. However, I like to keep things simple, especially when learning something new. For beginners I would recommend that you focus on using more weight and/or doing more reps and keep your rest times the same.

So, if you’re serious about muscle growth, when you perform an exercise you should make it your MISSION to add at least 5 more lbs. to the bar than you used during the previous training session. Or, perform at least 1 more rep. Either way, you’ll be making progress and placing higher demand on your muscles than you had previously. That, my friends, is overload. Essentially you are forcing your muscles to grow.

How to Progress…

Let’s say it’s Monday and you’re going to do some Barbell Squats. Your program calls for 2-3 sets of 12-15 reps. You feel like you can handle 135lbs for this exercise and decide to go for 3 sets. After warm ups, use the same weight for every set. If you’re able to complete all 3 sets, with 135lbs, for anywhere between 12-15 reps, increase the weight by 5lbs the next time you do Barbell Squats. So, the next time, you would try to complete 3 sets of 12-15 reps with 140lbs. That’s progression and you’re overloading the muscles of your legs.

Now, if you failed to get 12-15 reps during any of your sets, you would stay with the same weight the next time you did Barbell Squats, but push to get more reps. For example, on your first set you were able to complete 15, the second you were able to get 12 and on the third set you could only get 9. That’s fine as long as you were pushing as hard as you could and 9 was honestly all you could manage on your last set. The next time you squat you would stay at 135lbs and do your best to hit 12-15 reps on all your sets. Even if you only manage 10 or 11 you’ve still progressed and done what’s necessary to build muscle. Keep going until you can complete all 3 sets for anywhere between 12-15 reps.  Once you’re able to do that, increase the weight by 5lbs.

Repeat this pattern, striving to add weight to the bar and/or reps to your set every time you train, and you will effectively overload your muscles, make progress and BUILD MUSCLE!

Finally…. The Beginner Training Program (about time, huh?)

Alright, so now that I’ve written a novel on beginner training let’s get down to the nuts and bolts of the program(s). I’m going to list one for those of you who’ve never picked up a weight in your life AND/OR the ones who haven’t trained since new episodes of Seinfeld were dominating the television. I’ll also provide a program that is slightly more advanced but still appropriate and effective for beginners.

Start out with weights that you can handle fairly easily. Take the time to learn and master proper form on every exercise. Using good form will not only help prevent an injury but it will also work your muscles far more effectively than using sloppy form.

As the weeks go by try to add weight or additional reps to each exercise (as long as you do so in good form). Focus on getting stronger in these basic movements. Doing so will give you better results within 3 months than some people get in a year.

I suggest following this routine for at least 2-3 months before moving on to the slightly more advanced beginner routine. Train 3 days a week following this schedule:
Day 1 – Training Session A
Day 2 – Off
Day 3 – Training Session B
Day 4 – Off
Day 5 – Training Session A
Day 6 and 7 – Off
Begin the next week with Training Session B

*Perform 5-10 minutes of cardio to warm up your body and prepare it for weight training. You should do just enough to break a light sweat but not exhaust yourself. All sets listed below are work sets. Perform 1-3 light warm up sets before the work sets. After you’re finished training take 5 minutes for some stretching and a cool down period.

True Beginner Training – Completely new to lifting weights or coming back from a long layoff

Training Session A

Barbell Squat – 3 sets of 12-15 reps (Works your quads (legs) and calves but also stimulates strength and muscle growth throughout your entire body)

Incline Bench Press – 2-3 sets of 10-12 reps (Works your chest, front delts (shoulders) and triceps)

Barbell or Dumbbell Row – 2-3 sets of 10-12 reps (Works your mid to upper back, traps, rear delts and biceps)

Training Session B

Deadlift – 3 sets of 10-12 reps (Works your lower back, core muscles, legs and stimulates increases in strength, power and growth over your entire body) Caution: it is very important to use proper form on every exercise but you MUST learn the techniques for doing these correctly. If you have someone who’s more experienced, that wouldn’t mind showing you, it would be ideal. Instructional videos, which can be found online, are also a great resource. Start off VERY light and only increase the weight when you’ve developed good form.

Bench Press – 2-3 sets of 10-12 reps (Works your chest, front delts (shoulders) and triceps)

Barbell Shoulder Press – 2 sets of 10-12 reps (Works your shoulders, upper traps and triceps) Caution: Shoulder injuries are very common in people who train with weights. You should make every effort to prevent a shoulder injury. Be sure to warm up your shoulders thoroughly with a few light sets before pushing hard. Complete your reps in a slow and controlled manner and do not use more weight than you can handle.

Slightly More Advanced Beginner Training

Training Session A

Barbell Squat – 3-4 sets of 8-10 reps

Bench Press – 3-4 sets of 8-10 reps

Chin-ups – 2 sets of 10-12 reps using only your body weight.  If you can complete both sets of 10-12 start adding weight by using a belt or by holding a dumbbell between your feet. (Works your lats (back) and, at this point, will stimulate growth in your biceps better than any curl can.)
If you can only complete 1-3 reps at a time, do as many sets as it takes to reach 15-20 total reps. If you cannot complete any reps it is ok to substitute an assisted chin-up machine or use reverse grip (palms facing you) lat pull downs on a cable machine until you can use a weight that equals your own bodyweight.
Barbell Shoulder Press (standing) – 3 sets of 10-12 reps

Triceps Extension (press down) – 2 sets of 10-12 reps (Isolation movement for triceps) Stand, facing a cable station, and use either a straight bar, v-bar or rope attachment. Keep your elbows fairly close to your sides but you do NOT need to dig them in or touch your rib cage.

Calve Raises – 2-3 sets of 20-25 reps (Works your…. calves) Because of the limited range of motion it is recommended to perform exercises for your calves in a higher rep range.  In fact, a lot of bodybuilders find that their legs respond with more growth using high reps, even on exercises like Squats and Leg Presses.  Perform calve raises either standing while holding a set of dumbbells, on a calve raise machine or on a leg press machine that is locked towards the top of the range of motion.

Crunches – This is a basic, but great, exercise to build your abs.  Complete as many sets as necessary to complete 50 reps total.  (You may also substitute hanging leg raises, decline sit-ups/crunches, rope crunches or an ab machine).

Training Session B

Deadlift – 3-4sets of 8-10 reps

Incline Bench Press – 3-4 sets of 8-10 reps

Barbell or Dumbbell Row – 3 sets of 8-10 reps

Dumbbell Shoulder Press (seated) – 2 sets of 10-12 reps

Barbell or Dumbbell Curl – 2 sets of 10-12 reps (Isolation movement for your biceps. Although barbell curls are technically an isolation movement, if done correctly, this basic movement is a powerful mass builder for the biceps that allows you to use fairly heavy weight.)

Calve Raises – 2-3 sets of 20-25 reps

Crunches – As many sets as necessary to complete 50 reps total. It would be wise to choose a different ab movement than you performed during Training Session A. 

All that’s left to do now is…. Take ACTION!

God himself could create a training plan specifically for your body and it wouldn’t mean a thing if you didn’t get in the gym and put in the work!

Make it happen.  Get yourself a cheap notebook and write down your goals.  What do you want to accomplish?  How much muscle do you want to gain?

WHY do you want to gain muscle and strength?  Knowing your reasons, and writing them down, is a POWERFUL motivator.  Use them to light a fire within yourself.  Read them often and remind yourself what you’re working towards and why you want to achieve it.

This post, along with the resources linked within, provide you with valuable information that can help you build a foundation of muscle size and strength.  I know this training plan is so much different than what you’ve probably read in the magazines but this IS the way a beginning bodybuilder should train.

Follow the plan, work hard and put just as much effort into your diet.  Doing this will ensure that you’re never the joke in your gym.

Until next time,

Michael Wheeler

Of course, this answer to this is “No”.  However, if I meet my goal, this one can definitely help.

But first… I love lifting weights. It’s been a huge part of my life for quite a long time now.  Actually, truth be told, it ain’t even so much that I love lifting weights as it is that I love the way it makes me look and feel.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I enjoy the hell out of my time in the gym.  I’ve never found a better stress relief, well.. except maybe for sex, and it’s a more effective anti-depressant than any pill the pharmaceutical companies are currently pushing. Oh, how I hate those cheesy ass commercials they produce.  Is it me or do the fucking side effects sound WAY worse than being depressed?  

Anyway, I digress… Although the actual act of lifting weights is great and, to me, a hell of a lot of fun, the fact of the matter is we do it to achieve RESULTS. We don’t grind away rep after rep, set after set with some heavy ass weight just because it’s a “fun” thing to do.

No, we do it because we want to change our bodies! We want to build rock solid muscle mass and to gain super-human strength.  Or, we want to lose body fat and get ripped. Actually, what most of us want is to do it ALL at the same damn time.

Unfortunatley, so many people never really seem to make much progress at all.  And, for the most part, it’s not for lack of effort. There were several years that I spent busting my ass in the gym, only to see minimal gains.  It was unimpressive and disappointing to say the least.  There were so many times when I felt like giving up all together and saying “fuck it” because it just didn’t seem like anything worked.

However, I have a pretty strong will and I don’t give up easily.  Plus, I wanted it BADLY. I wanted, so much, to experience real, significant gains in muscle mass.  I wanted to build a big, thick chest, full, round shoulders and huge arms.  I wanted to get so damn muscular it looked like my body was carved out of stone.So, what did I do?

I started looking for answers.

You see, when I first started lifting weights I read a lot of bodybuilding magazines in an attempt to learn how to train correctly and build muscle. Being the newbie that I was, I would copy the training plans of the pro’s and then attempt to use them in the gym. This is a common mistake, made by so many guys, most of which are brand new to training.

It’s a bad idea for several reasons…

Number one, often those training programs are just something that the featured pro, or even the author of the article, comes up with off the top of their heads in order to put something on paper.

Number two, those programs are most often not all that much like what real, competitive bodybuilders actually use.

Now, I’m not saying there is nothing to be learned from the bodybuilding magazines because I did gain some knowledge and learned a helluva lot more aobout training than I knew before reading them.  Some of them actually offer quality advice.

What I am saying is a lot of them include training routines that are either complicated bull shit, that’s more effective at selling magazines than building muscle, or the routines are effective but they’re just way too advanced for the average, natural lifter.

Next, during my quest to find the best training program out there, I turned to the internet.  I was desperately seeking the “magic” routine that would give me an amazing body as quickly as humanly possible.

Holy shit, was I overwhelmed!

There is SO MUCH information available at the click of a mouse that it can seriously leave a person in a state of “paralysis from analysis” which actually translates in English to “not knowing what the fuck to do”.

I mean seriously… I would read about “The Ultimate Fucking Muscle Blitz” and “Balls to the Wall training” and “1,000 rep volume training” and “If you do 1,000 reps you’re fucking stupid because you only need to do one set til you puke training”

What!?  Which one is right?  WHO is right?  What actually WORKS, damn it!!??

I would read about Program ABC, which claimed to be THE way to build the physique of your dreams.  I’d get all jacked up about it, thinking I had finally found the secret to building muscle, then hit the gym with a new level of motivation.

After a couple of disappointing months I’d read about Program XYZ, which stated that their methods were the best for building muscle and that you’re a fucking schmuck if you follow Program ABC.  So, after beating my head against the wall a couple hundred times, I’d start back at square one.

This revolving door of training programs left me in a perpetual state of confusion and never really making much progress at all.

What’s worse is, at times, I would read about a few different programs that looked like “the real deal” to me and, instead of working one for a while, I’d try to combine the two.  Needless to say, that didn’t get me very far.

Finally, to add to the confusion, I bought a few books that lead to equally unimpressive results.

So, what gives?  I mean, whether it was in a magazine, on television, on the internet or possibly even in person, I’m sure you’ve seen a lot of guys with the type of physique you would love to have.  Am I right?

Therefore, common sense tells us that something has to work. Those people with amazing physiques have found a training method, or methods, that actually produce results.  Now, sure, you can attribute their development to steroids, great genetics, having enough money for expensive trainers, supp’s… fill in any reason you want.

Yes, those things can help a person get results but, regardless, those guys didn’t get the bodies they have without putting in a ton of hard work, being extremely dedicated and using highly effective training techniques.

So, that’s good news.  All hope is not lost.  The fact is YOU can gain muscle, lose fat and build a physique that’s possibly better than anything you could’ve imagined.

I spent years researching, trying to put the pieces of the bodybuilding puzzle together. I’ve tried almost every technique and training program known to man and, in doing so, trial and error eventually led me to some incredibly effective training methods that actually do produce real results.

Once I began to implement basic, simple, no bull shit training strategies into my routine, my body started changing at a rapid pace.

My muscles grew by leaps and bounds, my strength went through the roof and I achieved the body I’d wanted for so long.

No, I’m not some d-bag who only wants to brag on my own accomplishments.  I only say this to make you realize that if I can finally do it, after all the time I spent spinning my wheels, frustrated and confused and gaining next to nothing, so can YOU.

You see, my friend, the reason I’ve created this blog is to help clear some of the confusion and hopefully end (or at least put a dent in) the frustration.  This is my purpose. My ultimate goal is to help people achieve REAL RESULTS.

If you’re brand new to bodybuilding/weight training, and really just don’t know where to start, you’ve come to the right place. I will provide you with knowledge of basic training strategies which have produced significant muscle growth and strength gains in thousands of bodybuilders. This will help you build a foundation of size and strength.  As you put in time, and pay your dues, you can begin to take your development to the next level through more advanced techniques that I’ll also provide.  We’ll keep your body guessing and your muscles growing!

If you’ve been grinding away in the gym, day after day, month after month, year after year without ever experiencing the results you’ve worked so hard to get, don’t feel alone. I’ve been exactly where you are now… disappointed, frustrated and confused and on the verge of giving up. I had grown SO tired of worthless information that left me using ineffective training techniques that were a waste of time equivalent to playing with a fucking yo-yo in the middle of the gym.  I’m sure you are too.

There are training programs that work.

You just have to sift through so much garbage in order to find them, therefore sparking my motivation for creating this blog. I intend to bring a ton of extremely valuable information to this one, central location instead of scattered all about in books, magazines and on the web, as it was when I found it.

If you’ve been looking for what works, essentially I’m going to simplify your life, by taking some of the research and “leg work” (no pun intended…for the love of God, work your legs!) out of it for you. That way, instead of spending your time and effort searching for the right formula, you can get in the gym, put in the work, and start getting RESULTS.

It is my goal to bring forth the absolute best information available anywhere.  This means training programs that have been proven to be effective for a wide population of people, both scientifically and in the real world, in real gyms, by REAL bodybuilders.

Last, but certainly not least… you could have access to a training program that has been proven to be 100% effective for every person that used it (how I wish such a program exists) but, if you don’t feed your muscles the quality nutrition they need, your body won’t change a bit! 

That’s one of the HUGE mistakes I made for so long.  I spent so much time searching for the right training routine that I failed to realize that I was only concentrating on one piece of the puzzle. I ate what I thought were “good” foods and a clean, bodybuilding diet.  But, honestly, I didn’t put the same level of attention and effort into my nutrition as I did into training.

BIG mistake.

Although there are some genetic freaks out there, who can eat candy bars and cheese burgers all day and still get big and ripped, for the vast majority of us that shit just ain’t gonna cut it. Ask almost anyone with an amazing physique and they will tell you that 80% of your success in building muscle and losing fat depends on the food that you put into your mouth.

Therefore, I’ll cover some effective but simple nutritional strategies (I hate calling it a diet… no one likes to diet) and meal plans for building muscle and losing fat.  I’ll also provide you with some quick, easy muscle building recipes that are next to impossible to mess up, even for us guys. And, because it can be every bit as confusing as which training program to use, I’ll cover the wide world of supplements and let you know which ones you should invest your hard earned money in, because they actually do help you get results, faster.

Also, just because I’m cool like dat, I’ll let you know which supplements I think are nothing but monkey piss or, for your convenience, bottled monkey piss.  Probably best to stay away from these….

This blog is all about… RESULTS.  I want to provide people with real, straight forward, no bull shit advice that will help them experience dramatic changes in their body, no matter what their goal is.

I’d bet a weekend get away in the Caribbean islands with Jennifer Lawrence that the vast majority of people reading this don’t go to the gym just for “something to do”.  If you do, I’m fairly certain this blog really won’t interest you that much.

However, if you’re interested in the kind of information that has the potential (I can provide the info but you still have to put in the work) to help you pack on muscle mass, burn body fat and transform your physique, stick with me because this is going to be your new, favorite hangout.

This is gonna be fun, entertaining and, if I meet MY ultimate goal, life changing because you will get the body that you deserve.

We’ll get started soon….

Until next time,

Michael Wheeler

You see these lil’ box thingy’s below?  If you’d like to contact me directly with a question or comment, I’d love to hear from ya!  And, hey, let’s all be like the other side of the pillow… Cool.  😉