As I went over in my previous post, I have been using drop sets for strength gain. Drop sets are when you build up to a max effort of 2-10 reps, then drop to 90% of that weight and that will be your working weight. These are excellent for strength gains, at least when they’re programed correctly… Programing is just like cooking, it takes preparation and forethought to what the ultimate goal is and I have found an excellent resource in Quick Paleo Meal Prep for this area of my life. The book goes over the specific needs of individuals and how to structure your diet accordingly, I helped co-author this book so I fully support it’s contents. As for drop sets, I’ve learned that the programing for these requires a bit more thought than “JUST DO IT!” so let’s look into the smart way to get you as strong as possible using drop sets.
WHAT WORKS FOR OTHERS
Westside Barbell is a group that I’ve been following for about 2 years now, and aside from producing the strongest powerlifters on the face of the earth, the owner Louie Simmons is a wealth of knowledge about all things liftng. If you have studied Westside’s training at all you know the term “conjugate“, which basically means you’re not lifting exclusively heavy for the sake of lifting heavy, instead you’re training all aspects of the art of lifting heavy. With the conjugate method that Louie teaches you will lift for a max effort on one day and for speed on another day, this is incredibly helpful when you are at a meet or competition and are going through what would be a “grinder” (very slow and painful rep). Instead of just grinding through the rep in hopes of actually completing the lift you have trained to not only lift weights, but to lift them FAST. And along with learning to lift weights fast you have given your mind and muscles a break from the damaging affects of lifting heavy every single day!
So after running myself into the ground for a few weeks with drop sets with a PURE STRENGTH focus I’ve gone till the wheels started coming off and brought back a little common sense. So I will keep using drop sets in my strength program, but there will be designated days for speed training or “dynamic effort days” as Louie calls them to focus on lifting fast and efficient, along with allowing my body to rest the needed amount to continue on the gains train! I will still build up to a heavy double or triple on speed days, but instead of taking it down only 10% I’m going to bring it down 40-50% so that the weight is light enough to move at the right speed but heavy enough to be an actual stimulus. I think this will be a great switch and I recomend it for anyone who’s looking to get strong, and linear programing just isn’t working anymore.
MY TRAINING SPLIT NOW [FREE TEMPLATE]
(Drop Sets will be used every day to figure out the weight for the lifts, and the reps and lifts will vary depending on how you’re feeling that day and what weaknesses you need to work on. This is just a general outline, learn what you need and program that in to win!)
Monday- Squats DYNAMIC
Tuesday- Press HEAVY
Thursday- Deadlift HEAVY
Friday- Bench DYNAMIC
Monday- Squat HEAVY
Tuesday- Press DYNAMIC
Thursday- Deadlift DYNAMIC
Friday- Bench HEAVY
I don’t focus just on heavy lifting in all of my sessions, this is usually just what the first 20 mins looks like. After the strength work with drop sets I will use a crossfit/bodybuilding hybrid style of training to work on weak points and improve muscular endurance. But again you need to design your program for follow one that fits your needs.
If your focus is on strength right now, which it should always be if you’re looking to increase your lifting career, then take a few months to follow this outline. Check out Westside Barbell for ideas on how to use different lifts to fix your weaknesses and get stronger in all areas (not just the bench…). Strength is the key to everything!
I’ll open this post with the same comment I hear from most people who have tried to add muscle to their frame using the Paleo Diet, “the Paleo Diet works so well that it’s virtually impossible to gain muscle mass while following the paleo diet.” There will be people on both sides of this fence, there will be those who claim a strict paleo lifestyle as the only option, and there will be those who choose to not follow a paleo diet at all and think it’s a fad. In the end we know that extremes are never a good thing, keep that in mind. If you’re going to use the paleo diet for mass building it will take prior preparation to maintain a proper diet, and I have found no greater resource than Quick Paleo Meal Prep. This book takes you through the common questions and concerns with starting the Paleo Diet, and gives examples of how to easily custimize your Paleo Diet for yourself. But let’s get into the meat of this question “Is it Possible To Gain Muscle Following The Paleo Diet?”
THERE’S NO SIMPLE ANSWER
I can only speak from my personal experience, which if you’ve read the blog for any period of time you know is that extremes are bad, so I personally follow the 80/20 principle. It simply means that you can devote yourself to this “thing” for 80% of the time before you start coming off of the rails after too long. So to counteract that I make time for the 20% and plan for it, this gives me the freedom to enduldge when I feel like it and not have a feeling of guilt afterwards or think that all my gains are now gone. This philosophy goes well with the Paleo Diet and Muscle building, because in order to build muscle there needs to be a calorie surplus of some kind to facilitate growth. So if your goal is really to gain muscle and size while following a mostly paleo diet then you need to take full advantage of the 20% of your diet. Now it needs to be said that if you are following a STRICT Paleo Diet (no tubers or potatoes, rice, beans or dairy) you will have one heck of a time putting on mass, it’s not impossible but it’s not easy either. There are plenty of examples of vegitarian bodybuilders who’ve added loads of mass with a veggie lifestyle, that’s not what I would want at all, but it’s not about me it’s about you and what you want from this. So yes it’s possible to gain mass with a strict paleo lifestyle, but it’s much easier and will keep you sane longer if you adapt your diet to your goals.
WHAT I FOLLOW (suggestion not doctrine)
I’ve followed the 80/20 approach for about 6 months now, and have seen results in both directions of weight depending on how I adjusted the ingredients and quantities. When I started 6 months ago I was a fluffy 178 lbs. I was stronger than I’d ever been, but I was not in any shape to do anything athletically well. I applied the 80/20 principle on a weekly basis to start out, meaning I ate nothing but clean for 5 days out of the week and I mean CLEAN, as in grilled chicken breast and a few beans with green veggies for every meal…every day. BUT on the weekends I let go for one whole day and half-ish, nothing was off limits for one day and then I pulled back for the next day. I lost weight and I looked as shredded as I wanted to be at the time. Then I started the gain train back up with a little more efficient steam, now I follow a 80/20 diet for the day, 80% clean (Breakfast, Snacks and Lunch) and for post workout its 2 cups mashed sweet potatoes and 2 cups ground beef. I’ve addressed this in a recent post that I’ll link here. And for dinner it’s a not so clean meal with a focus on what the next training day looks like (if it’s a heavy lifting day I’ll carb up and if it’s a speed day I’ll add a moderate amount of carbs). I’ve worked my way up from a 165 lb. bodyweight to a just as lean 169 lb. bodyweight in a few weeks. Again this isn’t doctrine, it’s just what I choose to follow, you’re going to need to find what works best for you and your goals.
If your goal is weight gain then take time to consider the paleo diet as a guide for your meals surrounding your workout, and then having your binge meal directly after the workout session. This will promote LEAN GAINS, and keep your energy up while not having to yo-yo your diet.
there has never been a party like a crockpot party! I’ve spent the past few months slaving over the stove at least twice per week to keep up my prep. So introducing the crockpot back into my life has set me free!! Not to say that meal prep outside the crockpot is bad, it tastes better without the crockpot and flavors are more controlled that way. And if you’re interested in stepping up your prep game, check out Quick Paleo Meal Prep! But this was a breath of fresh air to me 🙂
Set It And Forget it
That was the most appealing part of the crockpot in my opinion, I have so much going on that the thought of carving out an hour and a half twice per week was terrifying! So now instead of stressing about what I’m not getting done while I’m cooking, I can be working on it while my food is prepared for me! I can’t think of a more win win situation. As I was putting all the ingredients in the crockpot my mind paralleled this with outsourcing of responsibilities. We all have such busy lives, and if you’re runnin an online or physical business you need all the time you can get! So the more you can distribute the work means the more you have time to get done. It’s the same with the crockpot, I give it the orders of “I want this prepared by this time with this result”, and I come back at that time and it’s ready and I got what I needed to do done! SET IT AND FORGET IT :))
Outsourcing For The Common Man
Now you may be a stay at home mom whose running an online business or a husband whose running a multi million dollar headquarters, either way outsourcing saves. If you’re a stay at home mom then it makes sense not to waste time responding to emails about nothing or answering the same questions from different people, so why not take a miniscule pay cut and free up 5 hours to actually BE A MOM. You can look up great sites to help with getting emails taken care of, and set limits like “if it won’t cost me $50 then YOU handle it”. This is a small example but it can free you up to do the important things. The sites I’ve had the most success with are odesk.com or elance.com. On those sites you can find office assistants, writers, designers and much more that will work for $4 per hour most of the time. So the choice is yours, stay buried up to your neck, or free yourself and continue to make money!
If you’re a stay at home parent or someone whose bogged down with 40+ emails per day, then check out odesk.com to find a helper. Give them instructions to handle your email and customers with amounts up to $??. I can assure you that you’ll love the freedom this gives and you’ll get a system started that completely frees you 🙂
We all have kinks in our armour that we are aware of, whether it’s emotionally, physically or mentally no one is completely immune. Realizing this truth alone will be enough to catapult you far enough, but if you’re wanting to reach every bit of your potential then that requires change. And the best change is usually with your diet, we are only well from the inside out. The book Quick Paleo Meal Prep is a great resource to get your life back in line with your goals, by making failure impossible by removing the bad choices. Once you’ve realized these shortcomings then you have taken action, you will be amazed at what you’re truly capable of!
LOOK AT YOURSELF
Too often we are afraid to stand in front of a mirror for longer than ten seconds for fear that we might notice all our imperfections. Instead of seeing these things to work on as “flaws”, look at them as an item on the to-do list. Do this with your physical body first, and then you will learn how to spot things as something to work on and not a disaster. Once you’ve mastered this I would suggest taking time out to look at what most of your days consist of. I know when I did this I realized I was wasting 60% of my day with nothing…it was a sad reality :/. But you have the opportunity every day to look at the last few days, and analyze the choices you made and how that helped you or if it did anything at all. I know this sounds strange, but to know where to start you have to know what needs fixin’.
You wouldn’t want to pay for a brand new engine in your Ferrari if the only problem was it needed a new fan belt and that’s it.
Now the worst thing you could do is see the things you need to work on worse than they are. Tony Robbins’ quote has stuck with me since the first time I heard it, “See things as they are, don’t see them worse than they are.” So what I’m trying to say is accept where you are and be prepared to make changes. Simply looking at yourself and walking away to do nothing is the sign of giving up…period. Make a plan to change one thing at a time until you’re noticeably different. If that means shaving off your love handles then great, if that means adding an inch to your biceps so you feel proportional then great, if that means cutting out two episodes of Netflix before you go bed to start an online business then great! Just do something to get the thing done!!!
This afternoon or whenever, take 3 minutes to look at yourself in the mirror. Sounds simple but people have been known to cry after just one minute. Look at who you are physically and as a person. Acknowledge the good and write down the bad, this will be your list. Work down the list one at a time, with patients and joy, you’ll be amazed at the changes you can make!
It’s not that your tired all the time, but you just need the energy to make it through the day right? Good food means good fuel, and one sure fire way to ensure good fuel is to limit the options of bad fuel. This can be done by pre-preparing meals and Quick Paleo Meal Prep is the best solution I’ve found so far to accomplish that! And anyone speaking from experience with proper nutrition knows that the quality of foods going into your body is paramount to your success in undertakings.
TO KNOW WHAT’S RIGHT, KNOW WHAT’S WRONG
In this day and age we do more to avoid the stick than we do to get the carrot, so let’s address the stick in our diet. The foods you want to avoid are obviously the things that are highly processed, and a great rule of thumb is that if its in a package and is white then leave it alone! Most foods that are white and processed at all are white due to the addition of bleach or chlorines to make it white. Even if you find the “honey breads”, they were once whitened with chemicals and then died another color to look tan and “natural”. Scary stuff but true. Also if you have the discipline then eliminating sugar is one of the best things you could do for yourself, along with high fructose anything. Our bodies aren’t meant to handle the levels of sugar that are being pushed on us daily. We get used to these high sugar doses and that’s why when you go on a paleo diet you never have that “satisfied”feeling, because we have gotten used to the high calorie content and abundance of sugar in everything, that it feels like we’re starving when it’s cut off.
TAKE SMALL STEPS
Big changes are never changes that last, it’s the small incremental shifts that shift the direction of the future. Start today by cleaning up just one meal per day, just one! Stick with that until it becomes habit and then make another SMALL change. If you keep taking these comfortable baby steps you’ll look up at a much slimmer and more energetic version of yourself! Remember though that this is not about this bikini season or fitting into that dress for a wedding next month, this change is about making a new you for the long lasting future. Anyone can be a flash in the pan and have a great one or two month testimony, but the person you want to be is the one who is consistent for life.
“I don’t fear the man who did a thousand kicks in one day, I fear the man who did one kick for a thousand days.”
Consistency is the secret sauce in life!
Make one change in your diet for the better TODAY, and hold onto that change until it becomes habit. Continue this and you will be able to change anything! Progress is preceded by action, so get to it
I started a YouTube channel as well, check it out here
life is all about balance, yin and yang, hot and cold, fat and skinny. The best way to create this balance is with proper nutrition above all else, which is addressed in the book I collaborated on “Quick Paleo Meal Prep.” This book goes over all the fundamentals of fixing your junk diet and manipulating portions and ingredients to take you from fat to ripped, or skinny to Froning. However this post is about “leaning out” to keep the gains going, whether it’s fitness or business, there’s always a time for rest and recouping.
YOU CAN’T PERMA-BULK
By perma-bulk you know that I’m talking about the people who are always “bulking” with the intention of consistently adding muscle month after month. I’m not saying this is impossible, but I do know that your body has a point of critical mass when you’re constantly shoveling food in. After a while of realizing there will be a constant stream of food in excess, your body begins to store it as fat because that’s its primary method of operations after centuries of living on the edge of survival in the wilderness. So if you consistently shove in high calorie foods with no variation then you’ll only start to see “gainz” around your belt line.
SAME GOES FOR BUSINESS
I know first hand that you can’t mash the gas pedal everyday for too long before the wheels start coming off in one form or another. Whether it’s growing apart from your family or pushing the ones you love out of your life with your constant focus on work, to maintain these great things takes times of intensity and times of rest.
WHEN TO “LEAN OUT”
I’m not a doctor and I don’t play one on the Internet, see your licensed physician before applying anything you’re not used to.
I personally go through a sustained low calorie diet anywhere from 1-3 months per year. This helps to reset the metabolism and give your body a chance to clean out all the garbage it accumulates during the bulking phase. Now I would get down to the point where I have a visible six pack and constantly visible vascularity just for the sake of asthetics and the beach season is usually when this happens. But you can get down lower or somewhat above, as long as you maintain it for at least a month and a half. I use the month and a half as a minimum because your body adapts quickly around the 90 day mark, and if you drastically shift around that point you’ll have the best results from my experience. We will discuss how to lean out healthily later, crash diets aren’t fun or useful for most people. Until then stay strong!
Set a time to go through a “leaning out” phase, whether it’s business or fitness. And make time for family and enjoying the good in life, it’s a struggle at first but the rewards are well worth it! And you’re worth it!
the only people who should lift heavy are those with a pulse, period. And the key to lifting heavy is proper nutrition, which is covered in Quick Paleo Meal Prep. Nutrition is the foundation to fitness, and preparing food ahead of time to succeed eliminates options of cheating so check it out. As for the lifting, I’m not saying you need to go find your grandma and tell her to suck it up cause she’s about to board the pain train in route to a 315 bench record. But I think we can all agree that there’s a requisite amount of strength we all need for daily life.
SHOULD GRANDMA LIFT ?
If you care about grandma then she is the first person you should explain this to. The reason elderly people become so frail later on in life is they’ve trained themselves not to move. I don’t mean they’re zen masters and have found enlightenment through days of stationary meditation, but they’ve sat down for close to 6 hours of the 12 hour days for years and have let their legs deteriorate to brittle sticks. The reason it’s so hard for older people to get up is because it’s basically a one rep max squat from a pause every time! Again I’m not saying older people should be thrown under a bar and made to do 5×5 every day, but at least get the functionality back with mobility work and body weight movements that translate to life.
ATHLETES WHO SHOULD LIFT MOST
I’m about to say something that just might get me banned from the internet folks, so strap in! MARATHONERS ARE THE FIRST PEOPLE WHO SHOULD HAVE RELATIVE MAXIMAL STRENGTH AS A PRIORITY. Yup I just said it, and before you virtually crucify me, hear me out. As a runner your main objective is to move your body long distances right? So if your legs have a constant relative strength threshold then it doesn’t matter how efficient you move, you don’t have the POWER to move your body any faster. You may be able to run longer with that training, but not faster because speed is a product of power or force (force=(mass x distance ) / time ). If you take a runner whose max back squat is 115 for 2, and another whose max back squat is 315 for 2, and they train the same outside of strength. Then the one who squats more will move faster AND more efficiently because he’s used to carrying a heavier load, so when he has to move his body around it’ much easier.
If you’ve never lifted over moderately heavy, get your form nailed down PERFECT for the squat, bench and deadlift. Then take 90 days to follow whichever beginner strength program you want. Mark your mile times at the beginning and end of the program, don’t stop running all together but ease up enough to recover.