I'm 6'1" 175 pounds 27 years old. I would like to increase my general muscle mass and reduce my stomach fat. I would consider myself and ectomorph (hard gainer) as I have never really developed much muscle while I've always been very active in sports and periodic weight training. Over the past year I lost about 30 pounds (nearly all fat) by reducing my caloric intake effectively and regular whole body exercises. I was on my way to my ideal body composition until I became a bike courier. I've been a bike messenger for 9 months and recently my stomach fat has started to return. I'm riding 50+ miles each weekday riding for 9 hours a day. How many calories should I be eating? I've tried everywhere between 2400-3,500 cal/day. Is it possible for me to be eating too few calories while still accumulating stomach fat? Is it realistic for me to be able to maintain or even build muscle mass in this scenario? Please help, thanks.
A: Depending upon your experience level, preference, recovery capacity, and time available, you’ll likely find that 3-5 strength training sessions per week is the sweet spot. If you’re just getting started with weight training, then you should stick with 3 days per week and work your way up. Novices and early intermediates can handle 4 days per week with a split such as an upper lower and seasoned intermediate lifters may be able to handle 5 sessions per week depending upon the programming, recovery, and nutrition strategies that are in place.
It’s not just about lifting—it’s about lifting safely and correctly. And if you’re not performing exercises properly, it’s impossible to make any progress. “When someone is just starting to work out, it can help to work closely with a knowledgeable personal trainer in order to learn proper form,” says Ingram. But that goes for experienced lifters, too. If you aren’t sure about a movement, it’s better to ask. “If you’re not working the correct muscles, you can’t expect them to grow,” explains Ingram.

Just because your hip flexor region feels sore doesn’t necessarily mean the muscles there are tight — in fact, they might need strengthening. This is where that sports science debate we mentioned earlier comes into play. It’s important to identify whether you’re tight or if the muscles are weak. Again, the Thomas Test will help you identify if you’re maybe stretching something that actually needs strengthening.
Do standard squats with a weighted bar. Place enough weight on a bar and rack so that it's a little lower than shoulder height. It should be heavy enough that doing a squat is difficult, but not impossible. If you're a beginner, this may mean using a bar without any weight to start with. Duck under the bar and stand up so that the bar rests comfortably on your trapezius muscles, just below the neck. Keep your knees slightly bent and your legs slightly wider than shoulder width. Lift the bar up off the rack and move backwards one step.
Prolonged sitting and activities like running or cycling can lead to tight hip flexor muscles and a variety of skeletal imbalances. Think: if you only cycle for exercise, certain muscles in your legs will get stronger (in a lot of cases you overwork these muscles) yet your core and outer hip muscles might get weaker from lack of engagement. So what? Well, these muscle imbalances often lead to skeletal imbalances and injuries down the line. If you have particularly tight hip flexors, your body will start to create an anterior pull on the pelvis (anterior pelvic tilt). You can identify an anterior pelvic tilt if your belly protrudes slightly in the front while your butt sticks out in the back (what some people refer to as “duck butt”).
(8) Storing fat from meals - this is something you should read carefully and think hard about. Because even though food will be used for energy, some will get stored as via glycogen or fat. If not glycogen then via fat from carbs and fat from fat. This stored fat from meals does not make us fat. Remember a surplus does. So what does this mean? If the fat stored from meals STAYS stored then yes you will gain because the body isn’t being given enough time to burn the stored fat for energy. If you do give the body time to burn the stored fat then this is called a deficit because you aren’t eating as much as you need. Since you aren’t eating as much as you need, your body will tap into the fat stored from meals and also your body fat. In a surplus, since you are always eating, you are always storing, so you will keep the fat stored from meals stationary while adding more fat due to the excess calories via the surplus. Make sense? So just because you store fat from meals doesn’t mean it makes you fat, the stored fat from meals only makes you fat IF IT STAYS STORED. Just be in a deficit so you burn it and you’re good. Which leads me to my next point
Sandow was so successful at flexing and posing his physique that he later created several businesses around his fame, and was among the first to market products branded with his name. He was credited with inventing and selling the first exercise equipment for the masses: machined dumbbells, spring pulleys, and tension bands. Even his image was sold by the thousands in "cabinet cards" and other prints. Sandow was a perfect "Gracilian", a standard of ideal body proportions close to those of ancient Greek and Roman statues. Men's physiques were then judged by how closely they matched these proportions.

The materials and information provided in this presentation, document and/or any other communication (“Communication”) from Onnit Labs, Inc. or any related entity or person (collectively “Onnit”) are strictly for informational purposes only and are not intended for use as diagnosis, prevention or treatment of a health problem or as a substitute for consulting a qualified medical professional. Some of the concepts presented herein may be theoretical.


How to do it: From your hands and knees, move your hands out from under your shoulders so your arms are extended at roughly a 45° angle. Tuck your toes under your feet. As you exhale, straighten your legs and lift your butt and midsection toward the ceiling. Your knees should be slightly bent, and you should be up on your toes. Now drop your head between your arms, straighten your arms and legs, and push back on your feet. Press your heels into the floor, or as far as you can go. Hold for two seconds.

Tight hip flexors can also make it harder for your glutes to activate—since they're opposing muscle groups, when one is really tight the other becomes lengthened. When a muscle is more lengthened than it should be, it takes away some of its ability to contract. When your glutes are in this compromised position, it can cause other muscles to do more work than they should, making your workouts less efficient and sometimes, increasing your risk of injury.
“Imagine you've fasted for over eight hours,” he says. “At breakfast, you're firing your metabolism off really high. If you don't eat for another five hours, your metabolism starts to slow right down and you have to try and kickstart it again with your next meal. If you eat every two and a half to three hours, it's like chucking a log on a burning fire.”
Most folks work a 9 to 5 position but if you’re not in the corporate world yet then odds are you’re a student with classes scattered throughout the day and it takes up the vast portion of your free time. That being said, you’re likely going to have to work out in the morning or the evening in order to fit in your session amidst the hectic commitments in your everyday life. Here are a few things to consider in regards to each time period:
(1) Body Fat is fat. You know how foods contain fat? Well, that fat when digested, {whatever fats not used for energy}, will get stored as body fat. Each macronutrient has a place to be stored. Fat (macronutrient) gets stored in our fat cells. They match. For anyone to say something otherwise is very misunderstood. People assume carbs equal fat right away.
Just like building any other muscle. The slower we go, the longer the rep will take. This time under tension is what builds the muscle. We can use light weight or heavy weight, either way, fatigue is what matters. If slower equals growth then that means going heavy equals growth (because lifting heavy is lifting slow, otherwise you are lifting light) and this is true, BUT, we can create growth with light weight as well. We just have to lift the light weight until it feels heavy so our tempo changes. If we can lift a weight heavy then it’s too light, so either go heavier or keep lifting that light weight until it feels heavy. Going heavy as possible in the start just expedites the process. Heavy is a relative term, so don’t try and compete with others. Measure your own strength. Personally, I enjoy medium weight with medium reps. Just pump them out. If I go heavy heavy, this would mean I would need a weight that I can only rep 3–4x. If I can rep a weight more than 12x without getting tired, then it’s way light. But, like 8 reps, with the last rep being the hardest is how I roll. KEEP READING.

Eating the right carbs is important too. Carbohydrate is stored in your body in the form of glycogen. Glycogen in the muscles is an important fuel reserve during intense physical exercise or in times of energy restriction – protein sparing. It is best to restrict or to keep away from junk carbohydrates such as sweets, cakes, and biscuits, and stick to foods like porridge, pasta (wholemeal), rice (brown), bread (wholegrain), and cereals (try to choose the versions with low or reduced sugar and salt). For more on carbohydrate and the effect of sugar on the body, click here.
Stretch your hips. Stretching your hips can help alleviate hip flexor pain and keep it from re-occurring. Perform a standing hip flexor stretch. Stand up straight with your feet flat on the ground and shoulder-width apart. Your knees should be straight but not locked. Stand beside a table or chair for support. Slowly lift the knee of the affected leg off the ground and as high in the air as you can comfortably go. Keep your back straight and tighten your hip muscles as you perform this stretch. Hold this position for a count of 2 seconds. Relax and repeat 10 times, twice a day.
When it comes to finding the right meal plan, you have to start somewhere. Start with writing down what you eat in a food diary, calculate the calories you’re consuming daily (ex: 3,000 without protein shakes), and break those up into six meals (ex: 500 calories each), says Heath. Then, choose a macronutrient ratio. For example, the 40% protein, 40% carbs, 20% fat ratio is what Heath used to get bigger when he first started bodybuilding. “Buy a food scale, learn how to use it, and you may even have to learn to use the metric system, like grams instead of ounces,” Heath says. “You need to train your body to process food quickly, so eat every three hours.”
As I mentioned earlier, the exercises that come first in your workout (aka primary compound exercises) should usually be done in the 5-8 rep range. Exercises in the middle (aka your secondary compound exercises) should usually be done in the 8-10 rep range. Exercises done at the end of your workout (which is typically where isolation exercises belong) should usually be done in the 10-15 rep range.
Simply put, glute activation is waking up your glutes. It makes the connection from your brain to your muscle and gets the muscle fired up and ready to do some work. Glute activation should be done prior to your workout, but it can also be done as an active rest between sets. And trust me when I say that doing some glute activation prior to your squats, lunges, and deadlifts will result in an excellent glute workout!
(4) Insulin is a fat storage hormone - this isn’t true, okay kinda. Like I mentioned, both insulin and protein trigger insulin. If insulin was the issue than high protein intakes should has a worse reputation beyond what it currently has. Insulin has a job of transporting nutrients into cells. Carbs have a more direct connection to insulin than protein, so when carbs are consumed, insulin is spiked higher. Insulin will take the carbs (sugars) and transport them into cells for energy and then the rest into glycogen to save for later. If glycogen is full, then insulin still has a job to do. It doesn’t just float around dumb founded. It takes the carbs (sugars) and stores then into fat. It’s smart like that. But, we abuse that system by eating too many carbs and being in a surplus. The body doesn’t want to convert carbs into fat, that’s what fats are for, yet we abuse and do it anyways.
To begin, place the top of one foot on a weight bench (or a chair) and step forward with the other foot out in front of you, similar to a lunge position. Make sure that the front foot is positioned at least at shoulder width and it is far enough away from your body that your knee will not come over your toes when you perform the squat. Put your hands in front of your body (or overhead to make it harder). Perform a “single leg squat” by bending the front leg. The knee of the leg that is up on the bench will go towards the floor. Get it as close to the floor as you can. Do not let the heel of the front foot come up off of the floor. Keeping your heel down will ensure that you engage your glutes and hamstrings in this exercise. You should feel the tension in the hip flexor of the leg that is on the bench when you perform this exercise (you will also feel the muscles of the front leg working). It is important to keep your torso upright throughout the full range of motion. As you go down into the squat, the hip of the back leg is going into extension, which will stretch the hip flexor as well as strengthen it as it stabilizes the hip throughout the range of motion.
Bodybuilding is the use of progressive resistance exercise to control and develop one's musculature for aesthetic purposes.[1] An individual who engages in this activity is referred to as a bodybuilder. In professional bodybuilding, bodybuilders appear in lineups and perform specified poses (and later individual posing routines) for a panel of judges who rank the competitors based on criteria such as symmetry, muscularity, and conditioning. Bodybuilders prepare for competitions through the elimination of nonessential body fat, enhanced at the last stage by a combination of intentional dehydration and carbohydrate loading, to achieve maximum muscular definition and vascularity, as well as tanning to accentuate the contrast of the skin under the spotlights. Bodybuilders may use anabolic steroids and other performance enhancing drugs to build muscles.
Consuming sufficient high-quality protein is essential for building muscle. Current recommendations are to consume a minimum of 0.8g of protein for each kg of body weight, however, this is really only applicable to the average sedentary individual. Current evidence shows that to support muscle development, protein intake is the key, therefore the recommended 0.8g per kg should be increased to 1.5-2.0g of protein per kg of body weight. For an 80 kg individual, that would equate to 120-160 grams of protein per day.
Most of us have lives, or jobs, or school, or family, or whatever else that puts some kind of limit on when and how often we can work out. For example, are there certain days that you are able to work out on, and certain days you aren’t? Are you able to train 5 days per week, or would 3-4 be more ideal? Choosing a split that suits your personal schedule and is as convenient for you as possible will be crucial for adherence, and without adherence, nothing is going to work.
Long popular among bodybuilders, casein protein absorbs slowly into the bloodstream, meaning it keeps your muscles fed with amino acids for longer compared to other types of protein such as whey and plant proteins. In one Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise study, consuming casein protein immediately before bed boosted young men’s levels of circulating amino acids for 7.5 hours; they built muscle all night long while they slept.
Protein do not have a home really. They do have a pool on which amino acids are stored, but this isn’t much. Proteins home is actually our muscles. You know how we eat meat for protein? Well if we ate human meat, it would be protein. Muscle is protein. We eat protein to build muscle and other shit. Protein during a calorie surplus will get stored in our fat cells more than go towards building muscle or the pool. Anything eaten in a calorie surplus will be stored as fat.
Don’t get us wrong—cardio is important for keeping your body fat down and keeping your heart health in check. (Bonus points if you run or bike, since outdoor exercise is linked to better energy and improved mental health.) But when it comes to building muscle, hitting the treadmill won't help you much. “Every component of exercise, minus cardio, can help with muscle hypertrophy,” which is the scientific term for muscle building, says Michelle Lovitt, an exercise physiologist and trainer in Los Angeles. “Cardio tends to burn calories and puts your body in a deficit, which is great for leaning out, but not building mass.”
Because I don’t want you to have to waste all the years and money that I did (not to mention the surgeon’s bills), I came up with a method of training and eating specifically for skinny-fat, injury-prone hard-gainers: guys who historically can’t gain muscle doing the workouts they find in magazines or on blogs. It’s also perfect for all guys over age 35 who need to be smarter with their training as they age.
Most typical bodybuilding programs have way too many sets and reps and use the wrong exercises. However, if you lower the total volume, go heavier, and use compound movements as I’ve outlined above, there is nothing wrong with a body-part split for advanced lifters. In fact, it’s often less stressful to the joints than your average upper/lower split.
When it comes to building muscle, your body only knows or cares about the tension, fatigue and damage an exercise is generating… not the type of equipment you were using when performing that exercise. It really couldn’t give the slightest crap about that. For this reason, ALL types of exercises and ALL types of equipment are capable of stimulating muscle growth.
And not to drop a truth bomb but, most of us need to be doing glute exercises — and aren’t. “Lack of use is the biggest reason so many people tend to have weak glutes,” says Cassandra York, PhD, MS, RD, CSCS, best-selling fitness author and a professor at Central Connecticut State University. “We don’t walk as much as we used to. We don’t take the stairs. And when we do move, we tend to be quad dominant,” says York.
When it comes to finding the right meal plan, you have to start somewhere. Start with writing down what you eat in a food diary, calculate the calories you’re consuming daily (ex: 3,000 without protein shakes), and break those up into six meals (ex: 500 calories each), says Heath. Then, choose a macronutrient ratio. For example, the 40% protein, 40% carbs, 20% fat ratio is what Heath used to get bigger when he first started bodybuilding. “Buy a food scale, learn how to use it, and you may even have to learn to use the metric system, like grams instead of ounces,” Heath says. “You need to train your body to process food quickly, so eat every three hours.”
Every 4-8 weeks, vary your routine. As your body adapts to stress, you'll hit a plateau where the benefits of weight training will begin to diminish. The only way to prevent this from happening is to change things up, such as by increasing weight and changing exercises. Try a week of really piling the weights on, and do six to eight reps per set at the maximum weight you can manage with proper form. The more lifting experience you have, the more often you should vary your routine.
All of the gluteals must work to perform this movement—the “deep six” external rotators keep each side of the pelvis stable in spite of the different actions in each hip, and the larger gluteals add additional support for the hips. This move forces your buttock muscles to shore up their connection from the thighs through to the lower back to keep the hips and spine stable. 
Go: Bending your right knee slightly and keeping your left leg straight and locked, hinge at the hips to lower your torso toward the floor, using the weight as a counterbalance as your left leg comes up in a straight line behind you. With contracted abs, squeeze your right glute and hamstring as you pull your torso back to vertical. Repeat for reps before switching legs.
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Choosing the right size stability ball matters—if you’re using one that’s too big or small, your body positioning could be wonky, making the move less effective, says Henwood. For the V-Lift and Bulgarian Split Squat in this workout, choose a ball that naturally has your legs at a 90-degree angle when you sit on it (your hips should be at the same height as your knees). You may need a smaller option for the Hamstring Press—opt for one that you can comfortably hold between your legs so it stays put for every rep.
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