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.
if you walk into the gym feeling like a beat pile of dog poo, then odds are you’re either at the end of a strenuous training cycle or you’re just not getting enough carbs. If you’re consistently lifting 3-5 times per week at a moderate to high intensity, then you need to be highly concerned with the quantity and quality of carbs in your diet! This is addressed in the resource Quick Paleo Meal Prep, which outlines how and why to prepare meals ahead of time for quality control and ease. This post however is about how and when to carb up for lifting so strap in and let’s get into it!
SIGNS YOUR CARBS ARE TOO LOW
If you get 2-3 sets in on a moderate strength load and you feel like you need to sit down and recover…you’re way too low. Also if the weights feel like they’re moving slower than expected even on a “weak day” then I would address this as well. You probably know the feeling of being fully charged in the gym and having the weights jump because of your quickness. Coincidentally this probably happened the morning after you went out for pizza and beer with the guys, and you might have even ordered a side of bread sticks to complete the mood of the carb festivities. Whereas if you decided to have a big salad with oil and vinegar dressing topped with grilled chicken, no salt and no pepper, then I wouldn’t expect to be crushing any PRs the next day.
WHY CARBS FOR ATHLETES?
Do you want to run 4 sec 40 Yd dash and not pass out? You need carbs. Do you want to get stronger in every workout and recover? You need carbs. Do you want to look vascular as all get out for them females?? You need carbs! Carbs when broken down are the fuel for your energy systems and partial brain function. To run the 4:40 more than once you’ll need more than a whole head of broccoli the night before, seeing as how the calories required for something like that are around 300 up front calories and a metabolic “afterburn” of 700 for the rest of the day just for that one exercise. Look up in the nfl how many vegan running backs there are, and should you find any you won’t be too impressed with their stats. Carbs found in calorie dense foods like pasta, sweet potatoes and rice are the best fuel to get athletes beyond their limits, but moderation and timing are important.
WHEN AND HOW TO CARB LOAD
The best template I’ve found is the modified Paleo approach. You’ll maintain the typical mostly meats and veggies between workouts and down time, but the night before your heavy morning lifts or morning games you’ll need to carb up. This will take some trial and error so don’t save this strategy for an important game day, test it on other days first! How your body reacts to different qualities and quantities of carbs is different from everyone else on the planet. For example, what works best for me the night before a heavy morning squat session is a THICK peanut butter sandwich with whole wheat bread and the morning of I’ll eat a slice of plain bread on the way to the gym. That probably won’t work for you, body weight, activity level, stress and current diet all play into how this works for you so take time to customize it for YOU. If you’re working out later in the day I would get a container of high quality dextros for like $20 and a container of BCAAs, mix a two to one ratio (20 g BCAAs and 40 g dextros), but again find your sweet spot. And DONT FORGET POST WORKOUT!!!! This is by far the most important meal of your training day! I have a blog post about it that I will link here.
If you’re dragging when you get a third of the way through the workout, or aren’t seeing results anymore, look at your carb intake prior to lifting. Check out the blog post for details on how and get started on your progress!
if I had a nickle for every time I’ve heard this question I’d need to wear two belts to hold my pants up, cause that’s be a lot of nickles! I would think that if it’s dangerous it would’ve been shut down by now, but let’s talk about it just to appease the internets. Also with crossfit comes Paleo, and Quick Paleo Meal Prep is the best beginners and advanced resource manual I’ve found. So check it out. Let’s look at 3 things when determining CrossFits safety for now, reported major injuries, longevity and scalability.
REPORTED MAJOR INJURIES
I’ve followed CrossFit for over 3 years and have only heard of one serious injury, Kevin Ogar. Kevin is the only person who I’ve heard of in the last 3 years who has had a SERIOUS injury. Kevin was competing at a local competition and during the 1 rep snatch event he lost control of the weight and bailed (intentionally moved out from under the weight) forward; however, he stumbled and fell back as the weight was bouncing up and it collided with his lower back. To clarify, by no means was Kevin a “novice” in weightlifting. The weight he was attempting would have been considered competitive on any national stage, so he had the experience as a weightlifter to handle the weight and know how to get out from under the weight. Kevin was left paralyzed from the waist down, but instead of being bitter towards crossfit and blaming the company for his injury he’s been the biggest advocacy of the sport. Also he’s competed in the 2015 world open workout and submitted a non scaled workout with muscle ups all while still being paralyzed from the waist down. So I would think that if the person who was injured in the most permanent way possible is able to recognize that while what happened was a freak accident, that crossfit still holds value to all people.
Let’s look at longevity in the sense of being able to perform the sport for an extended period of time, as well as how well the sport crosses over to age groups. Starting with the ability to perform the sport of CrossFit for a long period let’s note the fact that it’s been around since 2007 and there are athletes who have been competing since 2009 in the 2015 games. These aren’t just weekend warriors who are competing but athletes who have devoted their lives to the sport, and have only shown signs of getting better every year. In the case of most individual competitors who might not be rising to the level of competition now, they’re going into team competitions. So there’s no evidence of “breakdown” from the sport among the most competitive which indicates that the weekend warriors are even more safe. Now the question of which ages can stand the training is even more interesting. There are men and women in their 70’s who have taken up the sport and learned the practices. Not only have these elders become more active now, but they’ve been shown how to mobilize themselves as well as strengthen their bodies to improve movements in daily life. There’s are many 70 something’s who credit CrossFit with giving them the ability to sustain a fall they had at home, and that’s impressive!
I’ve referenced the scaling term and now let’s talk about it. Is it possible to come into CrossFit with no athletic background and work your way into the shape of a competitive athlete? The simple answer is yes. I started in CrossFit with a small background in bodybuild and no real athletic potential, but I started at the bottom learning the basics of mobility and weak point training to better myself. Through two years I’ve pushed through and developed myself to the point of being somewhat competitive at a beginner level. In short scaling is the process of lowering the weights and difficulty of movements to a point that’s manageable to get the benefits cardiovascular and muscular. I hope this helps you wherever you’re at.
Go join a CrossFit gym on a free trial basis to learn the ins and outs of the sport before jumping to conclusions. Assess your mobility and imbalances muscullarly. Do real research on the benefits of training with functional movements consistently.
Resources CrossFit Journal, Barbell Shrugged and CrossFit.com
I hope the people reading this have at least heard of Barbell Shrugged, they’re a fantastic group of guys who’ve inspired a lot of the change in my life. From lifting to business these guys have it all! They inspired me to take up the Quick Paleo Prep lifestyle, which has led to more controlled gains and steady progress through a controlled diet. But this week they touched on a subject close to my heart, which is the need for some gargantuan GLUTES!
Where’s The Power?
Look at any athletic movement out there whether it be running, jumping or lifting heavy bars you’re gonna notice that all the athletes are hinging at the hip to create the most power. And since the hip flexors are a tiny bunch of muscles and tendons compared to the GLUTES, it makes more sense to give the lovely lumps more attention. Also think about every football or baseball player you’ve seen, I can almost gauruntee there was not one flat pancake butt on the whole team! In fact most power athletes credit those lovely lumps with the ability to do what they do.
How To Grow Those GLUTES
What you’re trying to do when you want to get s bigger better booty is essentially gaining weight, so if you fear eating too much and loosing that pencil figure you’ve choked down so many salads to maintain then this probably isn’t for you. However if you want a nice muscullarly shaped back-side and explosive athleticism then get a pen and some paper ready. First of all these guys from barbell shrugged say it way better than I could so go watch their episode here and get ready to learn!
The basics though are that you’ll need to learn to isolate the glutes with a wider stance in the squat and deadlift, as well as focusing on that squeeze at the top. To the point where it looks like your butt is eating your shorts. Use bodybuilding rep ranges and rest periods. Then focus on eating quality foods to gain weight (potatoes and rice) post workout, and let the gains begin!
If you have a pancake butt then take the time to fix that stuff, it’s not a life sentence. Add some exercises into your workout regimine to build that butt, and I’m sure you’ll notice all kinds of athletic gains that come from that! Not to mention you’ll have a little more akin to furgies music 😉
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 🙂
Ever feel like you’ve fully prepared for a situation, like in wrestling or mma, you’ve watched countless amounts of footage on the oponent. Yet somehow despite your best efforts you wind up coming in short. The same could be said for your diet, even though it won’t gauruntee your victory, having food prepped and ready will put you in the top 20%. Which is why I recommend Quick Paleo Meal Prep as a guide to start or improve meal prepping. But again don’t depend on one thing to gauruntee victory.
Exhausted All Options
This phrase is over used in the fitness and business community. I believe if one has truly exhausted all options then there would no longer be a problem. In our day and age of technology and information at our finger tips, it has never been easier to find the solutions to whatever problem is facing us. Whether it’s how to get stronger while cutting weight, or how to provide better services, increase client satisfaction and charge more all at the same time, with proper thought and research almost anything is possible. It’s only when you choose to close your mind to new options that the field of vision for solutions narrows.
How To Think Different
First things first, if you say in your head that it can’t be done and you’ve tried everything, you’ll fail every time. Instead think to yourself how can this be accomplished? A better question yields a better result. And more importantly, if you know someone for whom this problem would not be a problem at all, think about how that person would approach what you’re doing. If you don’t have the answer then you’re probably not the best person to keep asking. There has been so much accomplished and done for others that it would be arrogant to trust in your own will for the solution when it’s been done for you. Again don’t look at the wall of china as an immovable fixture. Instead if someone were to pay you and your family an unlimited amount of money for the rest of their lives if you would move the Great Wall three feet to the left, you’d find a way. However if you say to yourself “it’s impossible” then it is.
The next time you catch yourself thinking “this is impossible” or “I can’t do it”. Ask yourself “how could this be done?” Or “how could I do this like “insert persons name”. It’s only impossible if you accept it as so.
we’ve all got ’em, whether it’s the habit of doing 1,000 push-ups before you go to bed every night or watching 3 episodes of your current binge on Netflix, for better or worse they’re there. There could be good habits like prepping your food for the coming week so you don’t mess up your clean eating, this is covered in great detail in Quick Paleo Meal Prep, it’s been a great resource to stay on track with whatever fitness goals are most important. But habits are the things we use to determine whether we are productive individuals, or lazy bums. Which does your routine or habits say about you?
WHAT DO YOU DO?
This is a simple question but can have some pretty profound impacts on outcomes that require short decision making time. For example if you’re faced with the question of being given a decent meal now or waiting to see if there’s a better option, and your habit is to rest and do nothing whenever possible, then odds are that you’ll choose the latter. Now this could be a good thing and you get better food, or you could get nothing. The main message here is that when you look at your daily habits are they productive? And by productive I don’t mean stuff “gets done” but is it getting done with purpose for a greater goal that you’re striving for? Sure Netflix will solve the entertainment void, but instead of wasting 45 minutes at a time why not have it playing in the back ground while you research how to get a business started or find a new gym or fitness plan. This will give you a sense of accomplishment and set your mind up to be productive instead of complacent.
THE HABIT OF EARNING
We all have things we love, personally I love chicken pasta with homemade Alfredo sauce and Sons of Anarchy, these two things make me happy. However neither of these things are getting me closer to anything other than an early case of diabetes (which I ponder the risk vs. reward occasionally). Instead I suggest making habits of EARING these guilty pleasures. I don’t believe in a masichistic lifestyle that’s absent of simple pleasures for the sake of saying you did it when no one else would, and no one enjoys listening to that person anyway. So indulge in what you love, but first set up a way to EARN it first. In my example of SOA and pasta, I read 30 minutes of something to grow myself personally or however before each episode. And for the pasta I will do some form of high intensity workout from around 8-12 minutes to prepare myself for the greatness.
What is one new habit you could start to earn your simple pleasures or be more productive. Start with one and continue, think of it as adding water to a cup of oil until all the oil (bad habits) is replaced with clear water (new helpful habits). Like always, you’re capable of more than you know!