Make no mistake: Eating for muscle is just as important as lifting for muscle. The foods you grab in the morning on the way to work, the meals you pack for lunch and mid-afternoon, what you put into your body immediately following your workout, and your final meal of the day impact your results as much as, if not more than, the number of reps you squeeze out at the end of a set. But in reality, it can be tough to stick to a "“clean"” diet when you'’re busy. We know that adding another layer of complexity to life in the form of reading food labels and studying ingredient lists just isn'’t an option for most of us. Not to mention actually preparing all those healthy meals.
How to do it: Begin with one foot firmly planted in front of you with your other leg extended back. Keep balance by putting your weight in the ball of your front foot and the back heel of your back foot. Hold a dumbbell in either hand, arms at your sides. Or, place a resistance band under the foot of your working leg, up, and around the same shoulder. Stand tall and bend your front working leg to approximately 90 degrees, keeping your knee directly over your ankle so it doesn’t over-extend. Return to the start position and repeat. Do both sides.
While it'’s okay to chow down on the occasional fast-food choice for convenience, a mass-gain program isn'’t an excuse to gorge on pizza and chocolate sundaes. “"Rebuilding muscle tissue broken down by training requires energy -— in other words, calories,"” says bodybuilding nutritional guru Chris Aceto. "“But many people, including many nutritionists, overestimate the energy needs for gaining mass, encouraging extreme high-calorie intakes. This often leads to an increase in bodyfat, making you bigger, for sure, but also leaving you fat." In general, aim for 300-500 more calories every day than your body burns through exercise and normal functioning (multiply bodyweight by 17). And that'’s divided among six meals a day.
How to do it: Lie flat on your back with your feet firmly planted on the floor, knees bent, as if you’re doing a standard bridge. Keeping one foot fixed to the ground, lift the other up, keeping the bend in your knee. Drive your hips up toward the ceiling, driving through your planted leg and using the raised leg to keep your pelvis even and balanced. Don’t let your non-working leg/side drop, Reames advises, and keep emphasizing the heel plant. Lower toward the ground, then repeat.
A muscle imbalance—when one muscle is stronger than its opposing muscle—can limit your ability to exercise effectively, and could lead to injury down the line. “It’s important to recognize whether you’re really working the muscles you think you are and recognize if you’ve developed an imbalance that alters your movement pattern,” says Eric Ingram, physical therapist at Louisiana Physical Therapy Centers of Pineville. One common imbalance in women is stronger quads and weaker, tighter hamstrings, thanks to prolonged sitting, high heels, and improper training. If you suspect you have a muscle imbalance, make an appointment with a physical therapist, who will prescribe exercises to even you out.
If you’re a beginner, you should train with three full-body workouts per week. In each one, do a compound pushing movement (like a bench press), a compound pulling movement (like a chinup), and a compound lower-body exercise (squat, trap-bar deadlift, for example). If you want to add in 1–2 other exercises like loaded carries or kettlebell swings as a finisher, that’s fine, but three exercises is enough to work the whole body.
Having a strong butt will get you far—literally. Our glutes are responsible for powering us through everything from long runs to tough strength workouts to a simple jaunt up a flight of stairs. Strong glutes that can take on the brunt of the work can help us avoid overcompensating with smaller muscles during lower-body exercises. Plus, beyond just helping us move, the glutes play an important role in "stabilizing our entire lumbo-pelvic-hip complex," says Cori Lefkowith, NASM-certified personal trainer and owner of Redefining Strength in Costa Mesa, California. That translates to better form, more efficient movement, and a reduced risk of straining your lower back and hips.
To test the flexibility of the hip flexors, specifically the iliopsoas, the Thomas' test10 is used. The patient lies supine and flexes one hip, pulling one knee to the chest. If a hip flexion contracture is present, the contralateral straight leg will rise off of the table. The modified Thomas' test (Figure 12.11) may be preferred. With this variation, the patient sits at the end of the examination table with the knees flexed to 90 degrees. Next, one knee is pulled tight to the chest. The patient is instructed to lie down while maintaining the knee against the chest. If a hip flexion contracture is present, the contralateral leg will rise off of the table. If a rectus femoris contracture is present, the contralateral knee will extend.
Longer rest periods are more ideal for making progressive tension overload happen, and shorter rest periods are more ideal for generating metabolic fatigue. So, if you’re doing an exercise that is better suited for progressive overload (i.e. primary compound exercises), you’re going to want to rest longer between sets to maximize strength output. And if you’re doing an exercise that is better suited for metabolic fatigue (i.e. isolation exercises), you’re going to want to rest less between sets to make that happen. And if you’re doing an exercise that is suited equally for a combination of the two (i.e. secondary compound exercises), you’re usually going to want a moderate rest period somewhere in between.
(5) Glycogen levels. Ever heard of Keto Diet? This diet focuses on little to no carbs. Why? Glycogen levels. Most people eat too much food and most of these foods are carb based. Which means most people have filled glycogen levels. Which means most people are having glucose spill over into being stored as fat. By dropping carbs, we stop carbs from being stored as fat. By dropping carbs, we allow glycogen to become depleted which allows another opportunity to treat carbs better. By dropping carbs, we drop our calories, which should help one enter into a calorie deficit and it’s this deficit that helps more than anything. Make sense?
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Stand on your right foot and lift your left foot off the ground. Inhale as you step your left foot backward into a lunge, so that your left knee hovers above the ground. Exhale as you drive through your right heel to rise to a single-leg stance, bringing your left leg forward and up to hip height. Do 10-12 reps. Switch sides. Optional: Load this move by holding a kettlebell at your chest or a dumbbell in each hand.
The good news is that there are plenty of good hip stretches out there that you can do to relieve discomfort, decrease tightness, and increase mobility in your hips. Since your hips are involved in so many of the movements you make (both inside and outside of the gym) stretching them is a great way to keep them feeling good and ready to work for you. Add some of the 12 hip stretches Atkins demos below to the end of your workout, or spend 10 minutes each day just doing a few of them, to improve mobility in your hips.
Yes, you can pack on size while only doing bodyweight exercises – I did it while traveling the world – and gymnasts train mostly with bodyweight movements. However, this can feel like playing Halo on Legendary difficulty. It can be done, but damn it can be challenging – especially for lower body movements. If your sole goal is to get bigger as fast as possible, access to a barbell for squats and deadlift is almost a requirement.
Whether you love or hate ‘em, squats are one of the best butt exercises for strengthening your backside. Experts say that if you want to run faster, jump higher and lift heavier, squatting low is the way to go. They might look easy, but prepare to work when you add a barbell, slam ball or heel raise to the mix. These squat variations not only add some power to your jumps and kicks, but they also help improve your knee stability and range of motion. So how low can you go? Try these exercises to find out.
Chin-Ups. The chin-up is the easiest way to determine someone’s relative strength. If you can knock out sets of bench with your bodyweight but can’t perform at least 5 bodyweight chin-ups then it’s time to re-evaluate your priorities. Chin-ups are an excellent mass builder for the lats, biceps, and upper back so they should take the place of machine variations like lat pulldowns whenever possible.
How can the muscle progress just because you held a weight for awhile when you could of held a heavier weight for less time? It won’t. It won’t grow because it’s not receiving new tension. Extending the rep by going slower is great, yes, but this slow must be the actual bar speed and not just slow because you can make it slow. You create actual bar speed by making light weight feel heavy. So lift light weight so that the fibers have to switch when it starts to feel heavy. This will increase your strength compared to just lifting heavier right away or all the time. This will help create an actual tempo with actual weights. Remember my example above about how the overall weight after making light weights feel heavy? This is because your muscles have sensed a level of tension that altered its force production so now you have to lift less, yet work harder. Read that again :) this is growth. This is how muscles sense it needs to grow. If you keep the same weight and never increase the weight, then you keep the same tension. This same tension is not enough to create new tension. Remember when I talked about failure? Well, the point where the fatigue of failure comes into play alters as well. It takes less time. That’s the point. Not much time is needed for growth, just break down the muscle as much as it can to a healthy level and do it again. Keep doing it and keep trying to increase the weight. 

Even when glycogen is full and glucose gets stored as fat. This fat can only make us gain IF we keep it their. And most people don’t exercise which keeps fat unused. Sure, fats directly leads to fat gain, but again that doesn’t make us fat unless we keep it their. Weight gain vs fat gain is different. Fat increases before weight does, then overtime it starts to show that fat makes up most of the weight. Same for people with muscle.
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.
The harder an exercise is – both in terms of technicality and physical/mental demand – the more rest there should usually be. So exercises like squats and deadlifts should have more rest between sets than exercises like leg extensions and leg curls. And exercises like various bench presses, shoulder presses, rows and pull-ups should have more rest between sets than bicep curls, tricep extensions, chest flies and lateral raises.

But muscle can’t turn into fat, just like mud can’t turn into gold. If you quit lifting, your muscles mass will decrease over time because there’s no training to stimulate your body to keep it. And your body-fat level will increase if you don’t start eating less (since you burn less). The obvious solution when you stop lifting is to also stop eating so much.


(3) Protein - this is a very important nutrient (macro) as the body doesn’t really store protein. It recycles protein as we are mainly protein, so it makes sense for protein metabolism/catabolism to be equally constant…which means we should make sure to be consuming protein via food or supplements (food over supplements) to keep up with this process. If we aren’t consuming protein, then the body will be forced to mostly use it own protein (muscle) for energy. Sure, amino acids help via BCAA vs EAA, but whole protein (complete) combines every amino acid. Certain foods are complete, while some are lightly complete. So strive to eat foods that collectively create whole protein (complete). I also suggest no less then 100g of protein just to play things safe and then manipulate (adjust amount) upon determination.
Heath says to consume 1.25-2 grams of protein per pound of body weight for growth and he never exceeds a 1:1 meals to protein shake ratio, meaning if he has 3 shakes, he’ll have 3 meals. He suggests if you’re going to drink protein shakes, drink two and have four meals. Also, increase your protein consumption and decrease carbs to look lean. “Once I got to a certain size, I wanted to get leaner so I got to 50% protein, 30% carbs and 20% protein.”
If you’re a beginner, you should train with three full-body workouts per week. In each one, do a compound pushing movement (like a bench press), a compound pulling movement (like a chinup), and a compound lower-body exercise (squat, trap-bar deadlift, for example). If you want to add in 1–2 other exercises like loaded carries or kettlebell swings as a finisher, that’s fine, but three exercises is enough to work the whole body.
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