Archive for June, 2015

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!!!