Formulas for Effecting Body Composition Change

Optimize your nutrient ratios for accelerated results!

DO NOT count calories. Count macronutrients (carbohydrates, protein, fat) since they make up total calories. The primary function of carbohydrates is to assist in body functions and fuel the body with energy. The primary function of protein is to build, maintain, and repair tissues. And the primary function of fat is to assist in body functions and promote satiety. Keep the following math computations in mind: One gram of carbohydrate yields 4 calories. One gram of protein yields 4 calories. And one gram of fat yields 9 calories.

Macronutrient

 

Recommendation range percent of total calories

Carbohydrates

 

50-70%

Protein

 

15-30%

Fat

 

10-30%

Eat frequently throughout the day

Eat 4 to 6 small frequent meals throughout the day. There is no compromising on this. Even though the body may not need the extra calories on non-training days it may in fact need them for the recovery and recuperation process that lasts 48 to 72 hours under normal circumstances. Based on an individual's recuperative ability, it may take less or longer. A muscle can only fully recover if it has been fed the proper nutrition on a daily basis because you may never know when the body may need the nutrition for assisting muscular growth or effecting body composition change.

A preliminary orientation to computing formulas

Consuming 175 grams of protein the total calories from protein is: 700 (175 x 4).  Consuming 350 grams of carbs the total calories from carbohydrates is: 1400 (350 x 4).  Consuming 80 grams of fat the total calories from fat is: 720 (80 x 9).  Total calories: 2820.  Now percentages.  Protein: 700 / 2820 = 25%.  Carbohydrates: 1400 / 2820 = 50%.  Fat: 720 / 2820 = 25%.  25% + 50% + 25% = 100%.  If you decide to cut back on fat, then it would best to increase carbohydrates. This would give you a better overall percentage.  “Play around” with a ratio that best suits you to meet your goals.

Maintaining muscle and fat

To maintain muscle and fat a sedentary individual weighing 180 pounds would require at least 0.6 grams of protein (108 grams or 432 calories), 1.5 grams of carbohydrates (270 grams or 1,080 calories), and 0.2 grams of fat (36 grams or 324 calories) per pound of body weight. Total calories: 1,836. Ratios: 24% protein / 59% carbohydrates / 18% fat.

Decreasing fat and maintaining muscle

To decrease fat and maintain muscle a physically active person weighing 200 pounds with 14% body fat should eat 0.9 grams of protein per pound of muscle weight, 1.8 grams of carbohydrates per pound of body weight, and 0.3 grams of fat per pound of body weight. The macronutrient consumption would look like this: 155 grams of protein, 360 grams of carbohydrates, and 60 grams of fat. This would be 620 calories from protein (155 x 4 = 620), 1,440 calories from carbohydrates (360 x 4 = 1,440), and 540 calories from fat (60 x 9 = 540). Total calories consumed: 2,600 (assuming this caloric intake is 300-500 below maintenance calories). Now for the ratios: 620 divided by 2,600 = 24% (protein); 1,440 divided by 2,600 = 55% (carbs); 540 divided by 2,600 = 21% (fat). 24% protein / 55% carbohydrate / 21% fat. This is an excellent ratio for most individuals.

Building muscle and decreasing fat

To build muscle and decrease fat a recreational bodybuilder (a person who engages in bodybuilding fitness training, but doesn’t compete, like myself) weighing 200 pounds with 14% body fat should eat 1 gram of protein per pound of muscle weight, 2 grams of carbohydrates per pound of body weight, and 0.2 grams of fat per pound of body weight. This would consist of 172 grams of protein (688 calories), 400 grams of carbohydrates (1600 calories) and 40 grams of fat (360 calories) totaling 2,648 calories. The ratio would look like this: 26% protein / 60% carbohydrate / 14% fat.

Building muscle and maintaining fat (1)

To build muscle and maintain fat a recreational bodybuilder weighing 180 pounds with 6% body fat should eat 1 gram of protein per pound of muscle weight at 169 grams (676 calories). 20 to 40 grams of protein must be consumed per meal 4 to 6 times a day. Carbohydrates should be 2.5 grams per pound of body weight at 450 grams (1,800 calories). 60-80 grams of carbs must be consumed per meal 4 to 6 times a day. Fat should be 0.4 grams per pound of body weight at 72 grams (648 calories). 7-10 grams of fat must be consumed per meal 4 to 6 times a day. Total calories: 3,124. Ratios: 22% protein / 57% carbohydrates / 21% fat. Fat intake around 20-25% of total calories consumed is good for making muscular gains. It is not recommended you decrease your fat intake below 10% or increase your protein above 30% of total calories, that is, unless you are training for a bodybuilding competition.

(A high-protein consumption can tax the kidneys, which go into overdrive trying to process and excrete the nitrogen in protein.  There is one way, however, this can be compensated: drink plenty of water! Drinking plenty of water (up to a gallon or 4 liters or more per day) between meals helps in the transportation of important nutrients needed to your muscles quickly, and thus, assists faster muscular growth. - Rule #8 of the 15 Muscle Building Rules.)

Building muscle and maintaining fat (2)

To build muscle and maintain fat a recreational bodybuilder weighing 200 pounds with 14% body fat should eat 1 gram of protein per pound of muscle weight, 2.5 grams of carbohydrates per pound of body weight, and 0.4 grams of fat per pound of body weight. The macronutrient consumption would look like this: 172 grams of protein, 500 grams of carbohydrates, and 80 grams of fat. This would consist of 688 calories from protein, 2,000 calories from carbohydrates, and 720 from fat. Total calories consumed: 3,408 (assuming this caloric intake is 300-500 above maintenance calories). Nutrient ratios would be: 20% protein, 59% carbohydrates, and 21% fat.

When I lived in Japan and training consistently, I decreased my fat intake as low as 5% of my total calories.  But I didn’t compensate my body for this by increasing my protein and carbohydrate intake to replace my lowered fat intake.  The result was that I lost a great deal of muscle or “fat burning machinery!”

Maintaining muscle

To maintain muscle an endurance athlete weighing 180 pounds with 10% body fat should eat 1 gram of protein per pound of muscle weight at 162 grams of protein (648 calories), 3.5 grams of carbohydrates per pound of body weight per day at 630 grams of carbohydrates (2,520 calories), and 0.3 grams of fat per pound of body weight at 54 grams of fat (486 calories). Total calories: 3,654. Ratios: 18% protein / 69% carbohydrates / 13% fat.

Summary

level of activity

 

Desired Goal

 

Macronutrient/Ratio recommendations

Sedentary

 

Maintain Muscle / Maintain Fat

 

0.6 gms protein per lb muscle, 1.5 gms carbs, & 0.2 gms fat per lb body wt.

Physically active

 

Decrease Fat / Maintain Muscle

 

0.9 gms protein per lb muscle, 1.8 gms carbs, & 0.3 gms fat per lb body wt.

For a physically active female over 35% body fat adjust the carbohydrate intake to 0.9; for a physically active male over 22% body fat adjust it to 1.5

Recreational bodybuilder

 

Increase Muscle / Decrease Fat

 

1 gm protein per lb muscle, 2 gms carbs, & 0.2 gms fat per lb body wt.

Recreational bodybuilder

 

Build Muscle / Maintain Fat

 

1 gm protein per lb muscle, 2.5 gms carbs, & 0.4 gms fat per lb body wt.

Recreational bodybuilder

 

Maintain Muscle / Decrease Fat

 

1 gm protein per lb muscle, 1.7 gms carbs, & 0.2 gms fat per lb body wt.

Competitive bodybuilder

 

Increase Muscle / Maintain Fat

 

1.2 gms protein, 2.5 gms carbs, & 0.25 gms fat per lb body wt.

Competitive bodybuilder

 

Decrease Fat / Maintain Muscle

 

1.5 gms protein, 1.8 gms carbs, & 0.18 gms fat per lb body wt.

Competitive bodybuilding may require extremely more protein and fewer carbohydrates especially if the desired goal is to decrease fat and maintain muscle.

Endurance athlete

 

Maintain Muscle

 

1 gm protein per lb muscle, 3.5 gms carbs, & 0.3 gms fat per lb body wt.

These suggested formulas do not take into consideration of individual gender, age, activity level, basal metabolic rate or BMR (the energy expended by the body at rest to maintain normal function), and body composition.

Remember: a safe and effective lean body mass (muscle) gain should be no more than 2 pounds per month. Fat loss should be no more than 4 pounds per month. Any more would constitute muscle loss. Muscle gains or fat loss will always be greater at the start of an exercise program and level off thereafter. Ideally, nutrition, training, and recuperation must be in balance for you to take control of managing your own weight and your destiny! So, adhere to Muscle Building Rule #9: Optimize your nutrient ratios of protein, carbohydrates and fat for accelerated results!

Mindful Athleticism

Philosophic and Athletic Parallels to Self-Actualize the Mind for Self-Worth

LEARN HOW you can self-actualize the mind for self-worth by tapping into your mind like philosophers and athletes! FREE your mind and loose the chains of fear to build and re-construct a better YOU for more muscle, less fat, increased energy, and improved and actualized self-worth! An energized mind with a fit body is an enriching quality of life marked with each successful stepping stone that is motivating and exciting to live and share!

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Philosophers are analogous to fearless athletes in mental training seeking to broaden perspective that is not confined within the limits of language. In his leftover notes, and a book known as The Will to Power published posthumously by his sister a year after his death, Nietzsche writes, “Language is founded on the most naïve prejudices… We read contradictions and problems into everything because we think only in the forms of language… We cease to think when we refuse to do so under the constraint of languageAll rational thought is interpretation according to a scheme [of thought] we cannot throw off” (no. 522, Nietzsche’s emphasis). In Philosophical Investigations Wittgenstein similarly says, “Philosophy results in uncovering one or another piece of simple nonsense, and in bruises which the understanding has suffered by bumping its head against the limits of language. These bruises make us see the value of that discovery” (no. 119, my emphasis).

The Mind: Igniting the Spark!

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There is much that philosophers and athletes understand regarding mental and physical training of the mind or of the body for enhancing the quality of life all together: Improved intelligence, increased performance, superior aesthetics, and above all self-worth. Both philosophers and athletes pursue mental and physical extremism. Philosophers drive their minds to the border of insanity seeking to understand this chaotic world we call ‘Life’ in order to have a deeper appreciation of it. Athletes push their bodies to the brink of cardiorespiratory and muscular collapse seeking to perform and look the best that they can be.

It may not be pleasurable to endure pain along the way, but PAIN is the motivation of each stepping-stone of success! Both philosophers and athletes alike subject their minds to gain excellence and mastery of oneself as a constant self-overcoming for more life and extol this joy on others to experience the same. Without the mind the body cannot function. To accomplish any goal in life the rendering of the mind ignites the spark of a specific quest and an unfailing plan to succeed that is fueled with a passionate devotion of self-worth, an unrelenting force within, and an obstinate desire that explodes! The parallel between the rigors of philosophical thought and the disciplined athlete in training enhances both the mind and the body on the way to balanced perfection.[1]

Making the Mind/Body Connection

The connection between athletic fitness and philosophical thought is that first, both are an aesthetic art of self and human worth, one of the body, and the other of the mind, (strictly speaking). And second, they require the active engagement of the mind necessary for coordinating and improving both the mental and muscular functions to power the body. Since physical training is more mind than muscle – at least 70% - for improving physical performance we understand that the mind is the most important “muscle” to engage.

Just like there are distinct levels of "progressive" training programs to follow in accordance with the adaptation of the central nervous system's (CNS) learning capabilities and the growth of the mind,[2] an athlete learns how to progressively engage his or her mind to adapt to a higher level of training to improve his or her quality of strength, muscle, performance, and appearance. We get better doing things through habitual practice because our minds make a stronger connection to whatever we are trying to better coordinate. This is why I do not believe in “changing up” one’s training too frequently because the mind ceases to think by refusing to suffer and be bruised to make a stronger connection with the CNS to metaphorically “overload” one’s training (not necessarily an amount of weight or technique that makes a set harder to complete) for the sake of improving the body.[3] Properly controlled movements or actions of the body are achieved with the mind that reaches a point called mind-body unity. The body is subjected to the mind because the mind controls the body. Any individual sport or activity like bodybuilding, karate, tennis, gymnastics, etc. are just a few positive mental effects of using one’s mind to teach self-confidence, self-discipline, and self-worth.

A Self-Actualized Mind is a Stronger Self-Worth

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The parallel between athletic training and philosophical thought John Stuart Mill states a relationship between mental and muscular powers. In On Liberty he says, “[They] are improved only by being used” and “are called into no exercise by doing a thing merely because others do it, no more than by believing a thing only because others believe it. If the grounds of an opinion [like the grounds for exercise] are not conclusive to the person’s own reason [i.e., a reason to exercise must be your own, not anyone else’s], his or her reason cannot be strengthened, but is likely to be weakened, by adopting it [i.e., a reason other than one’s own to exercise]: and if the inducements to an act [such as exercise] … are not … to his own feelings and character … it is so much done towards rendering his feelings and character… inert and torpid instead of active and energetic” (Ch. 3, pp. 122-23; my brackets and emphasis).

We can draw an analogy from the quote above concerning well-meaning fitness enthusiasts wanting to become fit when in fact their actions speak otherwise:

1.    Lack personal passion

2.    Accept to be guided by reason other than their own

3.    Refuse an unfailing training plan by a bonafide personal trainer

I see these well-meaning fitness enthusiasts in the gym nearly every day. Whether someone became a new member 6 weeks ago or if someone has been training for years, it makes you wonder why they still look the same. The purpose of exercise is to improve your health or change your appearance and improve your performance. But these people walk around the gym like half-zombies refusing to devour their own passions and consume energies to ignite the spark in their minds! When I am in the gym my energy, focus and time is on me. But I am not unaware of witnessing the lifeless energy emitting from both the fit and the fat refusing to bruise their minds to exercise their bodies to make that mind/body connection that can create a better and healthier YOU. Why am I not gaining muscle, losing fat or increasing energy? Ha! I’ve already answered this! Because you are “inert and torpid instead of active and energetic!” Movement is all too familiar to us! What?

Well-meaning fitness enthusiasts who have no exercise plan or an exercise plan chosen for them without question, Mill says, “He who lets the world, or his own portion of it, choose his plan of life for him has no need of any other faculty than the ape-like one of imitation” (Ibid., emphasis mine). While visiting the Detroit Zoological Park I came across this inscription of the gorilla exhibitions: “Gorilla’s speak to one another through… vocalizations including grunts, barks and hoots… The day is usually spent resting and socialization with other members of the troop” (emphasis mine). Some, if not the majority, “aping” or copying what other members of the troop do in the gym from the advice of fitness gurus on Instagram or YouTube or an App without question or understanding is nothing but motionless lazy imitation. In the sarcasm of Nietzsche, this has become the norm of the “genius of the species” for improving itself? Whether we have grown more moral by following the herd Mill brilliantly states, “Instead of great energies guided by vigorous reason, and strong feelings strongly controlled by a conscientious will, its result is weak feelings and weak energies, which therefore can be kept in outward conformity to rule without any strength either of will or of reason. There is now scarcely any outlet for energy … except business” (Ibid., 135; my emphasis). Pause for reflection…

Enduring Pain and the Will to Advance Growth

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Athletes become relentless in desiring to achieve the most excellent body or performance. They do this by getting command of their minds and choosing actions in their own best interest. And as a result, their ability to endure pain to bring their dreams into fruition through self-discipline becomes a great sensation! As Will Smith says, “it is not discipline in the sense of punishment, but discipline in the sense that you forgo immediate pleasure for the exchange of long-term self-respect.” As for enduring pain, the body has a natural chemical it releases to relieve pain, an occurring morphine-like substances called "endorphins." When endorphins are released, we can continue to train harder and make a difference in effecting change to our bodies! If endorphins are not experienced, then it means training hard is not an option because it is the mind that actually ignites their release! In this respect the power of the mind cannot be underestimated in anything we set out to do or wish to accomplish. If endorphins are kicking in it means that the challenge of enduring pain along the way to bring your dream into fruition has been accepted in-spite-of mental and physical exhaustion! It means you have won the Will to turn on and advance your own growth!

Ask a woman in labor about to give birth and she'll tell you birthing involves excruciating pain. Schooling a child or educating an adult involves pain to increase knowledge in preparation for life's challenges. An athlete's training for a perfected physical state, likewise, involves the physical and mental threshold of pain and unrelenting sacrifice. A mother, an educated person or a winning athlete will acknowledge it was pain and sacrifice to get their just reward: the aesthetic pleasure of creating and advancing their own growth!

Affirming Pain and Learning to Ascend above it Invites Growth

Losing one pound a day without dieting and exercising brings no profit to the mind and body. The good, desirable, and profitable life is applying one’s mind to construct a strong healthy body and endure pain along the way to bring one’s dreams into fruition in order to be successful and live well. One who knows how to live well would not in their right mind take pleasure in sleeping all the time because it is living the life of a slumbering plant only existing bringing no profit to oneself or others! It is a great consciousness of being alive to pursue one’s personal self-worth with the dignified effort of over-pouring in blood, sweat and tears!

Affirming pain in-spite-of the negation of pain and learning to ascend above it invites growth. Life’s meaning is oddly found in life’s negative failing experiences. Coordinating together the mental and physical powers whether in busiest, lazy or idle times one must "painfully endure" a philosophy of "mental exertion" and a body of "physical exertion" to build or re-construct a willful and disciplined mind for a strong body to ascend to a higher type of being (as Nietzsche would say) “to more life” for ourselves and share it with others twice saying “Yes to Life!”

Endnotes:

[1] It is ridiculous to think we ever reach physical and mental perfection, but we constantly strive to attain our idea of a perfected state because we are stubborn enough not to want it that is within our genetic potential and environmental means to improve our self-worth!

[2] See a brief summary of  training programs on my YouTube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC_FKOmS2h2wKJ_pOzlVgs0A

[3] See my article “The Importance of Adaptation” why we can get results by doing the same workout: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/importance-adaptation-randy-herring/ Also see my article on “Effort” how the strength of the mind can be actualized to overload one’s training to realize one’s potential: https://www.randypersonaltraining.com/blog-1/effort-with-it-you-unlock-your-potential

Weight training is the exercise modality par excellence!

Weight training vs. Crossfit, Boot Camps, TRX, etc.

CrossFit is a high-intensity, high-impact exercise type of training modality. With CrossFit you must complete a certain number of exercises as many times as you can in a certain amount of time. Or you must perform five exercises in a sequential order for a certain number of sets for a certain number of repetitions each. For example, do as many burpees as you can in 8 minutes; perform squats, sit-ups, push-ups, rows, and burpees 3 sets of 10 repetitions each with as much intensity as you can; do 3 sets of 12 front squats with a barbell, 10 pull-ups and 8 push presses as rapidly as possible, and finish up with a quarter-mile run. TRX can also be a high-impact type of training modality because a lot of people cannot properly align their joints in a successful manner to do some of the exercises safely and effectively with little or no help from the instructor in regard to form. This can cause a lot of joint stress and subsequent joint issues.

Intensity is defined as "time under tension"

Most people speak of “high-intensity” as if it is a quick-paced workout with training intervals or a workout that incorporates a lot of heavy lifting with little attention on form and muscle fiber stimulation. Historically, high-intensity is more fine-tuned than that. Originally, high-intensity training was a form of strength training popularized in the 1970s by Arthur Jones and focused on performing quality weight training repetitions to the point of momentary muscular failure. This is done by placing the muscle under constant tension during an amount of time it takes the muscle to fatigue. This specific time under tension yields the greater amount of muscle stimulation at a given time and forces the muscle to fatigue quicker to muscle failure, which forces the muscle to adapt, get stronger, and grow, granting that supercompensation has occurred through sufficient recuperation. The process of “high-intensity” training that yields muscular growth is: (1) proper joint alignment, (2) good form, (3) isolating the muscle, (4) time under tension, (5) muscle failure, (6) muscle adaptation, and (7) muscle growth.

Fail early, fail often, fail forward

Will Smith has said that people usually have a negative relationship with failure. Failure is a huge part of being able to be successful. You must get comfortable with failure. You must actually seek failure. Failure is where all of the lessons are learned. When you go to the gym and workout you are actually seeking failure. You want to take your muscles to the point where they get to failure because that is where the adaptation is, where growth is. Successful people fail a lot, but they extract the lessons from failure and they use the energy and the wisdom to come around to the next phase of success. You have to live where for almost certain you are going to fail. Practice is controlled failure, whereby you are reaching your limit when you can’t lift that weight until you get to the point all of a sudden that your body makes the adjustment when you can do it. Failure helps you recognize the areas where you need to evolve. Fail early, fail often, fail forward.

An exercise program should emphasize enjoyment, low-pact, good form

If people enjoy a quick-paced workout with little attention to form, well…I most certainly do not, if joint alignment is ignored and intensity does not at least meet half-way for time under tension. I took a Boot Camp class in the beginning of the year early in the morning for a week and a half for five 30-minute sessions. It was short, intense and sweet. However, even though I saw noticeable results I stopped because I got burned out. It wasn’t fun. It did not meet my criteria of exercise fun, safety and intensity. There are three things that CrossFit or Boot Camp training classes fail to satisfy for most people: enjoyment, low-impact, and good form.

These three things go hand-in-hand if your goal is to exercise long-term, stay injury free, and make it a part of your lifestyle. It is true that moving quickly between exercises is important for high-intensity training to increase the calorie and fat burn during and after exercise, but not at the expense of improper form that can lead to injuries by going too quick and using a weight resistance (one’s body weight alone) that is too heavy over time (e.g., box jumps, burpees, kettlebell swings, etc. are all high-impact modality exercises). People quit these types of classes and sabotage their fitness because they can no longer exercise due to developing knee injuries, shoulder injuries, back injuries, wrist injuries, elbow injuries, ankle injuries, and even plantar fasciitis!

The "calorie burn" depends on not what kind but HOW you exercise

People are mistaken about weight training saying that it won’t give them the calorie burn like CrossFit. The mistake rests on an image about how weight training is conventionally performed, i.e., “anaerobically.” This means a type of exercise that does not use oxygen and does not improve the body’s cardiovascular system. I am approached frequently by people who ask me which cardio machine is better to burn more calories. First, people shouldn’t be looking to burn more calories on a machine because a machine does not know how efficiently or inefficiently their body burns calories. Second, people should be focused on creating a longer after burn after they finish exercising so their bodies can burn more calories after exercise, even at rest! This can only be accomplished by keeping the exercise intense enough for 20-30 minutes. And a shorter duration means a higher intensity. And third, my response is always, “It’s not what you do that helps you burn calories, but HOW you do it.” Don’t leave it up to a certain machine thinking it will burn the calories for you; it’s up to you how you use it!

Self-discipline brings dreams into fruition

A lot of people do not know how to exercise. One of my pet peeves is people confusing work with exercise as an excuse NOT to exercise. Exercise means elevating your heart rate and keeping it elevated in a certain “heart rate training zone” for at least 20 minutes or knowing your average in that heart rate training zone during the exercise duration. Exercise is hard work, and like a lot of things if we want to get somewhere, to succeed, it requires self-discipline. Will Smith talks about self-discipline as self-love. When you say you love yourself that means you have behavior towards yourself that is loving. You say to yourself I know you want to eat that pizza and you know it will taste good, but I can’t let you do that because I love you too much. It is not discipline in the sense of punishment, but discipline in the sense that you forgo immediate pleasure for the exchange of long-term self-respect. At the center for bringing any dream into fruition is self-discipline. It is getting command of your mind for choosing actions in your own best interest. Choosing to exercise is in your best interest! Choosing a safe exercise modality is in your best interest! Choosing to stay committed is in your best interest! You cannot win the war against the world if you cannot win the war against your own mind. When you get command of your mind, your body will follow your mind, and you will know how to exercise, and with practice you will know how to exercise well, i.e., burn more calories and create a longer after burn, and in the process SWEAT!

A viable exercise program will be fun, safe and long-term

What shall we say about weight training that can give you a calorie burn like CrossFit? Well, like the cardio machines example above, it’s HOW you weight train. Weight training is low-impact because you control your environment with your mind so your body follows your own motions with the weight you are resisting that is performed in a controlled manner, going to a controlled failure for adaptation and growth! That brings me to an important point: high-intensity weight training is not based on the amount of weight used but how well your form is when you perform each rep of each set of the exercise! So, it is up to you to how to weight train with a full range of motion in a controlled manner while maintaining good form for training at high-intensity!

Make weight training your choice of cardio to lose weight and build muscle!

At the beginning of this year I went on a fat loss program. I lost 17 pounds of fat while maintaining strength and muscle in 16 weeks by using a full-body weight training routine whereby I completed 35 sets in 45 minutes. You can check it out on my success page. I trained lower body first, since it requires more energy and is more calorie burning than the upper body. First, I’d warm-up on the bike at level 15 for 2 1/2 minutes while maintaining a 90-95 RPM range to get my heart rate up over 140 and get my quads pumped and heavy. Then, I super-set squats and deadlifts; super-set hamstrings and leg extensions; and super-set calves and abs.

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Next, for upper body, I’d warm-up on the arm kranker at high for 2 1/2 minutes to pump up my chest, shoulders, back and arms. (BTW: Every gym ought to have at least one of these awesome upper body cardio machines to get the upper body tight and toned and pumped up as a warm-up and warm-down! It boggles my mind that most gyms don't have one.) Then, I burn-set dumbbell flys with dumbbell chest press; burn-set cable rows with stiff-arm pulldowns; burn-set front raises with rotator cuff raises; and finally, super-set barbell curls and tricep pushdowns. Last, I’d warm-down on the bike at level 15 for 2 1/2 minutes while maintaining a 90-95 RPM range to get my heart rate up over 140, sometimes over 150. The next day, my cardio routine consisted of doing three difference cardio machines for 20 minutes each having a system of intensity whereby I would pace myself for that length of time. I performed this routine EVERY DAY by alternating between the weights and cardio. My training journal records 79 days straight! I didn’t overtrain and I didn’t burnout because my body would’ve told me. My average sustained heart rate of my maximum during workouts was 85%, which is well into the aerobic or cardio zone for more than 20 minutes! So, who says “weight training isn’t cardio?” And who says you “can’t workout every day” for at least 45-minutes?

What is “Reverse Pyramid” Training?

build lean muscle faster the reverse pyramid way!

Build lean muscle to enjoy a toned, strong and invigorating body! Having more lean muscle gives you more energy, increases caloric expenditure, keeps you strong and healthy, and feeling good and looking great! Building muscle can be overloading them by an increase in weight or some training technique that makes a set of an exercise harder to complete. Going about it, however, has been a difference of opinion.

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The conventional weight training system begins with the lightest weight while increasing the amount of weight and decreasing the amount of reps with each successive set. However, this conventional system of pyramiding up in weight while pyramiding down in reps wastes time, energy and muscular effort. Reverse pyramid training begins with the heaviest weight while decreasing the amount of weight and increasing the amount of reps with each successive set. Therefore, this system is done in reverse unlike the conventional.  This is the most energy and time efficient training method because it can help you achieve maximum results in the shortest amount of time. It is efficient because it shortens your training time. It is productive because it forces you to train hard, not long. Most people train too much and too often, but few train too hard.

Having an adequate amount of lean muscle means enjoying a better quality of life. Muscle is essentially potential energy waiting to being used and actualized. Muscle is activated through some form of work or exercise. Actualizing muscle means producing more energy and increasing caloric expenditure and burning the reserves of fat!

Train harder, not longer to Maximize Results!

Building lean muscle encompasses three basic facts. One, strength precedes muscle. Before a muscle can get bigger it first must get stronger. Two, training hard and long is impossible. You either train hard or long. You cannot do both. Training harder means training at a higher intensity and invariably shortens your workout time. It doesn’t necessarily mean using heavier weight, but rather making a set harder to complete, which brings us to the third fact. Three, the greater amount of force generated yields the most muscle fibers stimulated at one time. The amount of force you make a muscle generate is directly proportional to the amount of muscle growth you'll be able to create!

The reverse pyramid has been around a long time…for 50 years. It was first engineered in the 70s by Mr. Universe, Mike Mentzer. He dubbed his training system “Heavy-Duty.” He based his idea on the known fact among biologists and physiologists that building muscle is directly related to intensity, not duration. Six-time Mr. Olympia, Dorian Yates, became a proponent of Mentzer’s heavy-duty system in the 90s. He adapted it to a one all out “high-intensity” set to failure dubbing it “Blood and Guts” training. Following Mentzer and Yates, the training hard, not long idea made more sense to me than training long. I put this idea into practice in the mid-90s by adapting it to 2-3 sets of an exercise. The results were phenomenal! As a hardgainer, I had built muscle faster in a shorter amount of time than I had before! I was confident that this sensible approach could be adapted by anyone.

Time is a precious commodity that most of us cannot afford to lose. Following the reverse pyramid means limiting your workout to a pre-determined time to meet. It means you are committed to maximizing your workout during that time. Put your cell phones away. There is no texting and no selfie’s during your workout session. Exercise is hard work when you are consistent and train hard because you are serious about getting the results you want! Before you warm up, pause for a moment; it is your time. Get in touch with your inner self, your inner strength. Let your training be first-rate. Concentrate. Stay in the zone. Don’t let your mind wander. FOCUS ON YOU every second, every minute. Train hard. Push yourself. Don’t let up. The pain is temporary. Overcome yourself. Push on. Train hard until it’s over. Overcome yourself every training session to reap the rewards of a stronger and fitter body!

Why is recovery important after exercise?

Recuperation is the time it takes the body to recover from hard intense exercise allowing it to get stronger, to change its form (gain muscle, lose fat), and to sustain motivation. Effecting body composition change, including strength and muscle gains, abound during rest periods - 23 hours after training.

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Recovery after exercise is necessary for five reasons. One, to allow the nervous system to recuperate (neurological). (When a person becomes stronger a day or two after exercise it is a neurological adaptation, not a physiological one.) Two, to permit sufficient “supercompensation” to take place and forge the process of body composition change. Three, to stimulate muscle growth (physiological). Four, to regenerate the whole body (mental, physical, psychological) so it may be renewed with energy and vigor by allowing stress to dissipate. And five, to sustain motivation (psychological), conceding that one follows the right routine, exercises with the right amount of intensity, and uses the right training method.

Ab training is a “back flexion” movement

I read Lisa Sutton’s ab training article on Bodybuilding.Com and thought it was very good and agree on the sequence of training the abs: first, lower abs; second, side (obliques) abs; and last, upper abs.

When training the abs keep in mind that the main function of the abs is to "flex," i.e., round, the lower back, not to arch it or twist the spinal column like in seated twists or side bends. Therefore, any proper ab training is/should be a "back flexion" movement even when working your "love handles" or oblique muscles.

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Technically speaking, the ROM for working the ab muscles to a fully contracted position is a 2-inch movement. Try it yourself, but only flex the lower back. Any more than that means involvement of hip flexion and back extension, which should be minimized in order to maximize your time doing ab training. To MAXIMIZE back flexion pull your rib cage and pelvis in toward one another at all times (no hip flexion and back extension). Remember the 2-inch movement ab rule!

The main goal is to bring the ribs and hips closer to each other or to close the gap between the ribs and the pelvis. A person can only do that if the abs are consciously pulled in and tightened as in any crunch position. When performing sit-up crunches from start to finish try and keep your neck in line with the upper body by looking up (not forward and tucked down) or place your hands behind your head for neck support to avoid hyperextending the neck and possible neck pain.

Avoid Low Back Pain!

When the abs are weak the lower back tends to arch rather than flexing at the hips to work the abs. We may do this without realizing it, especially when the abs fatigue. At this point, most people start relying on the lower back for strength or support. The result might be low back pain, if not now then later. If you have low back pain conventional lying leg raises should be avoided and replaced with reverse crunches.

When performing reverse crunches for your lower abs keep your lower back snug against the pad or floor. This exercise is performed by raising your hips (not your thighs) up and back while pulling your abs in. Bring the hips up and in (not your thighs) to perform a “back flexion” movement. The same motion is also true with hanging leg raises, except that by lengthening of the spine might make it more difficult to perform a “back flexion” movement. To avoid this, pull yourself up to a 1/3 pull-up position by your lats for more stability and less momentum and pull your hips forward to get yourself into a curling or rounded back position.

Quality NOT Quantity

Perform two sets for the upper, lower and side (oblique) abs.  Remember, you are aiming for quality not quantity. Accomplishing more in less time means quality, not how much or many.  So it might be beneficial if you do not count your ab reps, but instead aim for complete muscle fatigue per exercise performed in a tri-set fashion. My motto, “train hard, not long,” also applies to ab training, not just weight training. Abs should be trained slow and concentrated since they contract fast throughout the day during daily activities. The contracted position should be held for a tight 2-second count. Try to avoid using momentum as much as you can and also avoid using the strength of the legs, hips and ankles to reassure yourself that you are getting a good quality ab workout!

Best Time and How Often?

Abs can be done as part of your initial warm-up at the beginning of your workout or be used as a warm/cool-down last in your workout.  It is can also be used as an intermission between muscle groups worked if you are following a split routine. Ab training should be performed three to four days per week – not everyday.

One more important thing…

Most people train their abs doing countless sets (even with weight) in hopes of reducing the fat around their waist quicker. This is a mistake. What you must do is perform compound movements like squats, dead-lifts, standing military presses, standing curls, etc. because these exercises involve large muscle groups of the whole body by using tremendous amounts of energy! Compound movements build muscle and hasten the “after-burn” after exercise!

Valuation excuses: The "I can'ts"

I can’t…because I don’t have time. I can’t…because I’m too busy. I can’t…because I have a fast metabolism. I can’t…because I have a slow metabolism. I can’t…because ‘I have issues.’ I can’t…because I am too old. I can’t…because I don’t have the proper exercise attire. I can’t…because I have limited exercise equipment. I can’t…because gyms are expensive to join. I can’t…because gyms intimidate me. I can’t…because my gym isn’t a positive environment. All these are valuation excuses we talk ourselves into believing. Such beliefs make us accept our own closures and limit our possibilities. We tend not to believe in ourselves when we compare ourselves with others because we simply do not measure up. And quite frankly, it’s a shame. Who’s to blame? I AM…because it is MY mind-set.

With Mr. Universe and Bodybuilding Hall of Fame, Bill Pearl, after training at his home gym in Phoenix, Oregon (1989).

With Mr. Universe and Bodybuilding Hall of Fame, Bill Pearl, after training at his home gym in Phoenix, Oregon (1989).

When I was a teenager, I wrote to Arnold Schwarzenegger about my belief of moving to Venice Beach, California, the “Mecca of Bodybuilding,” to train at the famous Gold’s Gym where positive thinking is contagious. Arnold responded to my somewhat boyish question in Muscle & Fitness Magazine and his reply devastated me. He said, “If you can’t be a first-rate bodybuilder where you are at, then forget it.” I hated him and felt stupid for even asking the question. But as the years rolled by his answer made more sense to me and it challenged me: I could train “first-rate” at any gym and feel like a “first-rate bodybuilder”.

This quest took me from training in my hometown to gyms across the country from Michigan, Montana, Oregon to California. This same “mind-set” was carried overseas to Japan and the Middle East, and back to the United States where I settled in Spokane, Washington. Regardless what the gyms looked like, what the environment was like, and kinds of equipment – all these things that we look for in a gym – I trained first-rate and imagined myself a first-rate bodybuilder. Train first-rate!

Become “first-rate” at anything you have a passion for. Become a first-rate Vlogger. Become a first-rate YouTuber. Become a first-rate Uber-driver. Become first-rate at anything you have a passion for and CREATE OPPORTUNITIES for yourself to branch off and create big and better opportunities to GROW your PASSION! Set your mind on your passion but it starts in your own backyard, your hometown, and enlarges from there. FOCUS ON YOU!

Partial reps for building muscle?

I followed a “revolutionary” training method called Power Factor Training (PFT) when I was my biggest, leanest, strongest, and fittest at the age of 40. I wrote a review of it on Amazon.com under A shortcut to getting big and strong? What follows is my recorded progress in a training journal performing PFT deadlifts (without lifting straps), which was performed just above my knee in the squat rack.

I began with 600 pounds for 8 reps, and 6 weeks later I was up to 675 pounds for 16 reps. In my first true PFT workout I lifted a total weight of 19,225 pounds in 50 minutes, which came out to be 988 pounds per minute. By “true” I mean at the end of each workout I recorded the total amount of weight lifted, the amount of weight lifted per minute, and the PF index (the higher the better). On my last PFT workout I lifted a total weight of 99,820 pounds in 59 minutes with a PF index of 169, compared to a PF index of 52 the previous month. Impressive right?

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But what did PFT do for me in six weeks and after? Absolutely nothing. I was the same person as when I first started. When I went back training using full range reps I was the same size, I had the same strength, and I had the body. However, one benefit was that it strengthened my mind and taught me that the body follows what the mind wills! After all, it takes a lot of “will power” to lift those enormous amount of poundages on such a small-framed ectomorphic build!

PFT didn’t benefit my body. One, it gave me a huge ego trip. Two, it gave me a false pretense that I was lifting “thousands” of pounds of weight every day I worked out. And three, it placed overly excessive pressure on my joints and spinal column and put my nervous system into over training in a very short time. Sure, I was able to lift more weight but only because I was lifting in my strongest range of motion. In reality, all that partial reps do is weaken your weakest range of motion and strengthen your strongest range of motion. If getting results means sacrificing bones, joints, and ligaments and means upsetting the balance of the body by making the strong stronger and the weak weaker then this type of training is a farce.

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So what shall we say then about partial reps? Partial reps, on the one hand, suggest a lesser degree of flexion and, therefore, effect a lesser degree of stimulation. Complete reps, on the other hand, suggest greater flexion, that is, greater range of motion, which effects greater stimulation, and therefore, releases greater testosterone levels. Complete reps not only involve greater range of motion but also the appropriate rep speed of varying degrees. The perfect rep results in optimal muscle stimulation by recruiting the broadest possible range of muscle fibers to complete a muscular assignment. A complete or full rep means starting each rep either from a fully flexed position (e.g., deadlifts starting from the floor) or a fully extended position (e.g., barbell curls). Shortening a rep stroke might allow you to handle more weight in any given exercise, but that is because you don't have to move the weight as far and, therefore, the result is that you can move more weight than you humanly thought possible.

This dupes you into thinking that you are getting stronger when you are not. Shortening a rep stroke is like a diet because it is essentially looking for a shortcut to achieve results faster with less pain. Partial reps are seductive and many bodybuilders get sucked in. The inescapable truth is that full reps beat partial reps any day of the week. Full movements stimulate more muscle fibers than partial movements. It's simple biology - more range of movement, more fiber stimulation, more muscle.

Gaining weight with a "fast" metabolism

Young people frequently approach me and say they can’t gain weight because they have a “fast metabolism.” My reply is always, “Are you eating enough food?” When I find out they are not eating enough to gain weight (or even to lose weight) I tell them, “You must eat the right foods in the right amounts on a frequent basis. If you aren't willing to put forth the effort to eat at least five solid meals daily then you might as well forget it.”

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I gained weight with a fast metabolism. This is my story of how I gained 40 pounds (from 115 to 155 pounds) in my first year and a half of training at home. When I began training, I trained every day, three times a day in the garage with a barbell and dumbbell set doing basic exercises and with no nutritional guidance. I continued to eat junk food and didn’t eat enough food. As a result of not eating enough and training too often, I only put on 10 pounds after 6 months of training.

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Then I sent away for a mail order weight gain meal program. Following this program to the tee I gained 56 pounds in 8 months (from 125 to 181 pounds)! (I DO NOT recommend a weight gain of this magnitude in such a short time as it is very unhealthy.) I ate six frequent meals every day that were evenly spaced every 3 to 4 hours. I ate and ate and ate. Every day I would get up every morning at 6 am to have my first meal. If it was during the weekends I would get up, eat and then go back to bed and sleep. I ate meat, gorged on desserts, drank lots of milk, and consumed a lot of bread.

At 181 pounds I undertook a different training and diet regimen to lose the fat I gained and keep the muscle I gained. After two months I weighed 155 pounds. So, in my first year of serious training, weighing at 125 pounds, I gained 30 pounds of lean muscle – at home. I finally joined a local health club three months later. Had I joined a gym sooner, I would have gained much more. During this first year of training and dieting, not only did I gain and lose weight at my own discretion by following training and meal programs, but most importantly I gained self-confidence and I imagined myself in control of my own destiny!

The Deadlift: King of Exercises

I recall certain deadlifting workouts that have become memorable. It is those in particular that re-fuels my heart, motivates me, and gives me fortitude. What makes these workouts memorialized is that I ceased being aware of things around me. The everyday world receded into the background. My concentration focused more intently when I involved myself with the results I desired from the weight of each rep of every set until my whole body was burning!

My Deadlifting Inspiration

In the later part of the early 80s I recorded my first deadlift workout at the university gym in Riverside, California. I did three sets with 205: the first two sets for eight reps and the third set for six reps. The following week I wrote down my second deadlift workout. I did five sets: the first two sets with 205 for eight reps, the third set with 255 for five reps, the fourth set with 305 for three reps, and the fifth and last set with 345 for a one-rep max. A Samoan, by the name of Tali said, “Iron Randy is back!” 

By the following month I was deadlifting over 300 pounds on a consistent basis for reps. After my first year of doing deadlifts, and on my twentieth birthday weighing 170 pounds, I could deadlift 405 pounds for three reps. I attempted 455 pounds but couldn’t get the bar past my knees. This was at Wallworks Gym in Missoula, Montana. Since then I had always felt that my lower back was my strongest part on my body and deadlifts was my lift. Twenty-four years later at the age of 44 and weighing 190 pounds at Giorgio’s Gym in Spokane, Washington I pulled (on separate days) 435 for 8 reps, 455 for 5 reps, 465 for 4 reps, and 485 for 3 reps. I attempted 510 pounds but like twenty-four years earlier with 455 pounds I couldn’t get the bar up passed my knees.

I have discovered for myself that doing multiple repetitions (what Bruce Berezay calls “marathon reps”) in the deadlift rather than a single rep max is what works best for me, is safe, and boosts my confidence. Nearly fifteen years later, deadlifting workouts such as these inspire me to keep pushing forward as I near 60 to maintain a strong mind through performing deadlifts to keep my body strong.

Deadlifts Stimulate the Whole Body

Unlike squats, deadlifts stimulate both the lower and upper body. Deadlifts engage the glutes, upper thighs, hamstrings, lower back, upper middle back, traps, and chest. Paul San Andres writes in Romanian Deadlifts that it is primarily a “hip dominant exercise” and “one of the best hip extensor exercises available” that works the thighs, hamstrings, and butt. Curtis Dennis Jr. writes in The Importance of the Deadlift that it “hits the back, the lats, the quads, the glutes, the arms and forearms, and even the abs, which proves that the deadlift produces more results than the bench press and squats.” Deadlifts is the king of exercises for expending great amounts of energy and wasting calories!

Performing the Deadlift

Bruce Berezay deadlifting 510 pounds (start)

Bruce Berezay deadlifting 510 pounds (start)

I recommend using a 10, 8, 6 rep scheme warm-up before doing your three sets that really count towards muscle growth. Take a “Romanian” close stance and a shoulder width grip.  Grasp the bar with an over/underhand grip outside of the thighs as seen with Bruce Berezay. I strongly recommend you alter your over/underhand grip with each hand every so often so that muscle imbalances can be avoided which can cause injuries. You might want to take off your lifting gloves and chalk up before you pull the weight up off the floor. Wearing gloves can prevent you from wrapping your hands all the way around the bar for the nice tight grip that you need and chalk does wonders for maintaining a strong grip!

Bruce Berezay deadlifting 510 pounds (finish)

Bruce Berezay deadlifting 510 pounds (finish)

While leaning forward over the bar with your hips flexed grasp the bar with your knees bent (not in a squat position). Now ignoring all that your parents told you to do (i.e., to lift with your legs and not your back), keep your head up, chest up, shoulders back, back arched, shoulder blades together, butt out and pull the weight up, stand erect, extend the hips and shrug your shoulders back! Return the weight to start position. Yes, tap the floor, but do not bounce the weight, as this can be dangerous to the lower back. Do an 8, 10, 12 reverse pyramid system scheme. Do 8 reps for your first set. Lower the weight and do 10 reps for your second set. Lower the weight for the third and final set and do 12 or more reps.

Deadlift Articles: Praise and Criticism

Surprisingly some authors who feel themselves an authority on the subject advise against doing deadlifts off the floor, but rather off a power rack where the bar is either:

  • “Just above the knee” (Paul San Andres)

  • “Knee height, maybe slightly higher” (Todd Blue)

  • Or “below knee level” (Francesco Casillo)

Curtis Dennis Jr. believes in doing deadlifts off the floor or off a power rack as does Paul San Andres, Todd Blue and Francesco Casillo. Todd Blue makes the excuse for not doing deadlifts off the floor because it involves “too much leg” and imagines his own authority admitting without knowledge of the facts in his mere 300-word article.

Francesco Casillo contradicts himself on the one hand, when he says to start deadlifts with the torso erect (hips extended) rather than the torso prone (hip flexed) as in the case of starting in a power rack or off the floor, and, on the other hand (near the end of his lengthy article), he speaks of the flexion of the hip for a greater degree of “stimulation.” He emphatically states that if the trunk or hips have a lesser degree of flexion (beginning at knee level or slightly below) then the trunk when it is extended (finishing the deadlift in an erect position) has a lesser degree of stimulation. And this is true. However, if this the case and it is true it is the case, Casillo is confused where to begin the deadlifts: either just below knee level starting with a lesser degree of trunk flexion, and therefore, lesser stimulation of hip extension, or further down with a greater degree of trunk flexion, and therefore, greater stimulation of hip extension “during the upward phase.”

If Casillo is not confused where to begin deadlifts, then he believes both ways (like Curtis Dennis Jr.) are beneficial but favors the one starting below knee level. One cannot have both. It’s either one or the other. However, teaching a novice how to perform deadlifts, thus, teaching safe execution, is in most cases best taught in a squat rack, and having the floor as the starting point something to work towards for greater flexion to effect greater stimulation, and therefore, release greater testosterone levels (Casillo). This is how I read Casillo’s article: it is more educational than dogmatic. So, I applaud Casillo for his fine and educational article. Since these authors advocate starting deadlifts above or below the knee they essentially support doing partial rep movements. Read my Partial Reps for Building Muscle? article on this site regarding my criticism of this type of training.

Deadlift form styles

Sumo deadlift (start)

Performing the deadlift has two form styles: the Sumo deadlift and the Romanian deadlift. In the Sumo deadlift the stance is wider and you simply grip the bar on the inside of the legs with an under/over handgrip and stand erect. This form primarily involves the hips and quads. The weak link with this form is the quads. The Romanian deadlift is shown by Bruce Berezay and described above. The weak link with this form is the lower back. Both styles have their advantages and disadvantages. The advantage of the Sumo deadlift is that you are standing more upright and not as close to the floor as you are as with Romanian deadlifts, and therefore, have a lesser range of motion in hip extension to stand upright than Romanian deadlifts.

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The disadvantage of the Sumo style is that it can be more hazardous, especially if one has the tendency to cave their knees in toward the floor like when one does wide leg squats or leg presses. A person with long legs like myself might be more suitable bio-mechanically for doing the Sumo style than the Romanian style. But I prefer the Romanian style because I can keep my joints more aligned and more stable, which causes me to have more leverage for strength. It is important that you feel comfortable and safe with a particular style.

The advantage of the Romanian deadlift is that the joints in your knees and hips are more stabilized because they are centered at the core of your body and also because of better joint alignment with the knees, hips, ankles, and shoulders. The disadvantage is that there is a strong tendency to round the lower back, i.e., curve it, and therefore, invite injury. Thus, the weak link in the Romanian deadlift is the lower back. Since I do the Romanian style I am always telling myself: “Chest up, blades together, back arched, butt out – pull up and sit down!” Do the style that best suits you physically and psychologically, and one which allows you to generate good form.

Sing praises to sweat!

I remember an acquaintance in Chiba, Japan in the late 80s telling me that she doesn’t like to sweat. I felt sorry for her and I thought her comment was repulsive because people who know what sweat does for the body knows better: it signifies hard work as it cools and cleanses the body!

Sweat is a release of built-up toxic wastes or poisons from the body.  A kind of poison would be salt, that is, excess of it in the body.  Unneeded salt puts a lot of strain on the heart muscle and increases blood pressure. Salt is eliminated two ways: (1) when we urinate and (2) when we sweat. Have you ever noticed some white stuff on your workout clothes after a strenuous and sweaty workout on a hot day? That white stuff is salt that was secreted through the pores from sweat.

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Sweat removes the dirt from within our bodies - the dirt that keeps the body from functioning properly and efficiently. I suppose the less we sweat means the dirtier we are.  So sweat!  I guess we’re the dirtiest in winter. In addition to releasing dirt and poisons in the body, sweat also functions as a cooling system when the body over heats. As a cooling system it helps to lower your body temperature. So whatever hard work you are doing, you can continue with less harm to the body.

A fit person sweats more than one who isn’t fit. The fitter you are the more you sweat and the cooler you remain. This is because a fit person’s body is more efficient owing to the fact that it is more conditioned. A fit body generates more heat (energy) and at the same time stays cooler. A fit body is a more efficient machine as it has been well taken care of and fed the right food stuffs for its performance. Physical health and physical efficiency is directly related to mental health and mental efficiency. The way I see it, why sit and sauna, when you can work your butt off and sweat in the gym and know you’re constructing a better YOU from your own handiwork and effort!

So, the next time you feel sweat running down your brow don’t touch it! Think about what is happening and what it means. It is a release of dirt and poisons and more heat is being generated because of an increase of efficiency from becoming more fit! Let the sweat run down your face and off your eye lids and let it drip and be proud!

Effort: With it you unlock your potential

Potential and Actual Energy

You sense energy deep inside you yearning to be free, energy that is potential waiting to be actual - an energy what your mind was denying your body - a power surging within you that you haven’t felt before. You feel your whole body burning with the power of a raging inferno!

High-level peak performers are not addicted to work, they are addicted to results. They are motivated by an intense drive towards success that manifests itself in a fierce single-pointed concentration. These peak efforts help us break through to higher functional levels, and as such, are powerful learning experiences. They put us closer in touch with what William James termed “hidden reserves.” The body can learn to exert this type of high-quality effort by calling upon these hidden reserves with the aid of the mind, which depends on the state of the soul.

Quality of Effort

The state of one’s body is controlled by the state of one’s soul. This is why the Greek philosopher Democritus rightly says, “It is fitting for people to take account of their soul rather than their body.” The state of one’s soul controls the state of one’s mind, which in turn controls the state of one’s body, which means the perfection of the soul perfects the body, not the other way around. Exerting effort with all one’s spirit, mind, and body distinguishes one from merely working from one who intensely desires results that allows the body’s adaptive mechanism, which is extremely versatile, to respond to many forms of exercise stimulation.

There are no shortcuts to getting fit, getting stronger, learning how to do an exercise better, or producing great things in your life. Acquiring wealth, learning skills, cultivating one or more of your intelligences takes time. Democritus wittingly said, “Learning achieves fine things through taking pains, but bad things one acquires without any pains.” Thus, fine things are not achieved without pain.

Values, Motivation, and Effort

Motivation is fueled by the desire to gain and maintain a value. The more value you attach to something the more motivation you have to acquire that particular value. It is the concept of life that gives meaning to the concept of value. When that value is threatened you will find a potential effort you hadn’t know you possessed.

The more value you perceive in owning a healthy strong body, the more likely you will attain that goal since motivation will not be a problem. Establishing that value requires you to focus on your own awareness of potentiality to make that potential actual not just latent potentiality. Not only does this demand awareness, but also clarity and intelligence to make the choice to commit to effort.

So take pride in your own power to achieve your values and goals. Achieve fine things through taking pains to unlock your effort to achieve the kind of healthy and strong body you want! In his essay on Self-Reliance Ralph Waldo Emerson writes, “Every true person is a cause to accomplish their design. Power is inborn. Instantly right yourself, stand in an erect position, command your limbs, work miracles.”

Diet by the Numbers

know your macronutrient ratios

Meal prepping, packing your six pack, and keeping track of what you eat helps develop self-discipline, improves focus and makes you become aware what exactly you are eating for getting better and faster results! A lot of people tend to under-report calories because they do not take time to prep their meals and keep track of their macronutrient numbers. Count grams of protein, carbohydrates, and fat for EACH FOOD ITEM and EVERY MEAL. If I allow myself to have 50 grams of protein, 38 grams of carbohydrates and 10 grams of fat PER MEAL and have 6 meals per day this helps me manage each meal and keep track of the totals for the whole day. After each meal I subtotal the grams and macronutrient ratios to monitor how well I am doing throughout the day and plan what I can or cannot eat before the day ends.

meal prep, pack your six pack, and keep track of your numbers

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Years ago while living overseas for some time I kept track of everything I ate for 16 weeks. I utilized a circuit training program in conjunction with my diet and in 16 weeks I got what I wanted – a slimmer waistline with washboard abs! If you are truly serious about reaching your goal you’ll prep your meals, pack your six pack, and keep track of your macronutrient numbers for every food item and meal and macronutrient ratio percents for every meal you eat. Meal prepping and keeping track of your numbers becomes habit forming and educational, even a game to yourself enroute to your goal! If I am following a DIETARY PROGRAM of 2,600 calories with a 45% protein - 35% carbohydrate - 20% fat macronutrient ratio, then this equates out to be approximately 300 grams of protein, 225 grams of carbs and 60 grams of fat per day.

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If you don’t know how many grams you need but know what your goal calories are and know what your macronutrient ratios are you can discover your grams of protein, carbs and fat by using this simple calculation from my figures above. First, protein: 2,600 x 45% (protein ratio) = 1,170 (protein calories) divided by 4 (there are 4 calories in one gram of protein) = 293 grams of protein. Next, carbs: 2,600 x 35% (carb ratio) = 910 (carb calories) divided by 4 (there are 4 calories in one gram of carb – carbs get used first before protein) = 228 grams of carbohydrates. Last, fat: 2,600 x 20% (fat ratio) = 520 (fat calories) divided by 9 (there are 9 calories in one gram of fat) = 58 grams of fat. Counting protein, carbohydrates, and fat keeps you on track for the day for your allotted amount of calories during the week. If your weight remains the same with no fat loss and muscle gain, then you are holding at your maintenance. To lose fat or build muscle that is conducive to your metabolism and activity level simply adjust your macronutrient ratio percent amounts. It becomes a numbers game and you will lose or gain at will.

Example dialogue representing “diet by the numbers”

Client: Right now I’m just trying to lose the fat so I can make the weigh-in in…. I put on a tad bit of weight over the past few weeks. I also don’t have any handy books for measuring protein (I have a carbohydrate/sugars book and a calories/fat book). Today I ate 2,000 calories, 250 carbohydrates, and 40 grams of fat (as of 6PM). I’m going to cut back a bit tomorrow on the calories. You spoke about Ronnie Coleman’s diet. Did you see Jay Cutler’s 10,000 calorie-diet a few months ago!

Randy Personal Training: Without you telling me your protein intake (if you knew) as of 6PM you ate 160 grams of protein amounting to 640 calories – to put in the missing figure of your 2,000 calories. 250 carbohydrates (1,000 calories) and 40 fat (360 calories) amount to only 1,360 calories. The missing 640 of 2,000 was/is your protein intake. This breaks down to a 32% protein, 50% carbohydrate, and 18% fat ratio (granted that you didn’t eat anything after 6PM – I would have a hard time not to). Real good ratio for your goal I think!

Ronnie Coleman must eat around the same in the off-season. Assuming this calorie and breakdown range: 1,000 grams of protein = 4,000 calories; 1,000 grams of carbohydrates = 4,000 calories; and 222 grams of fat = 2,000 calories. Total = 10,000 calories. This would be a 40 – 40 – 20 macronutrient ratio. This sort of ratio would make sense to a bodybuilder who doesn’t want to add fat to his body while training in the off-season. He can maintain fat weight while gaining more muscle. The “bulk-up” and “cut-up” diet regimen died in the late 70s and early 80s but some still use it.

To make a case and point with protein, carbohydrates, fat, calories and appropriate ratio allowed for the day, I had a personal pan pizza (26 protein, 70 carbohydrates, 29 fat) after my workout and while on my diet! I could afford to because my macronutrient, calorie and ratio would still be within range at the end of the day. My last meal consisted of: 1 ½ cups salad (without dressing), 6oz. can of tuna, ½ cup 1% cottage cheese. Totals: 47 protein, 10 carbohydrates, 2 fat. Total macronutrients for the end of the day: Protein 281, Carbohydrates 246, Fat 65. Total Calories: 2,676. Ratio: 42 – 37 – 22. Very good, considering it is within 5% of my recommended ratio 45 – 35 – 20.

Client: You’re right…the eating journal came in handy. And you were right! I ate after 6PM because I couldn’t help it. I had a ham sandwich. Totals for Saturday were: 2,314 calories – 267 carbohydrates and 45 fat. Need to cut out about 300 calories today (to make an even 2,000-calorie diet) and get the carbohydrates down to 250. Fat is fine as long as it’s under 50 grams. What do you think??? Am I on the right track? Hey, how did you tell how much protein I had without me telling you what I ate all day????

Randy Personal Training: I thought you’d be surprised how I figured your protein. But I knew you’d figure it out with the math. If your aim is to eat 250 grams of carbohydrates and 50 grams of fat then that allows you to eat 138 grams of protein for a total of 2,000 calories. 250 carbohydrates (1,000 calories) a day is good for you. But try your original 40 fat (360 calories), which will give you an “exchange” of 20 grams of protein your body will probably need without losing muscle mass. This will put your protein intake up to 160 grams per day (640 calories) and give you a 32 – 50 – 18 ratio and would be good for your specific short-term goal.

Client: Yesterday I had 2,314 calories… 210 protein, 267 carbohydrates, 45 fat. That makes a 36 – 46 – 18 ratio. I am reducing the calories to 2,000 today. I’m exceeding 25% protein (your Reverse Pyramid Training book cautions not to do this).

Randy Personal Training: My book is a starting point for the recreational type of person. It is not individualized or does not take into account of “specialized” nutrition for specific goals of certain people of different experience like athletic dieting used in conjunction with athletic training for increasing performance or enhancing physical appearance. If you look at the (*) symbol under the box of percentages it is recommended not to go above 30% but I leave that up to the individual (my current diet is a 45 – 35 – 20 ratio). With your totals you have been under-reporting 314 calories! If 40 grams of fat is unrealistic for you, then 50 grams might be better. That’s only an extra 100 calories to maintain your sanity and sticking to your DIETARY PROGRAM.

Client: What do you think? I am a little worried about the protein. As of 7:30PM: 105 protein, 225 carbohydrates, and 42 fat. Total calories: 1,697. Ratio: 25 – 53 – 22. My goal ratio: 30 – 50 – 20. I still have a snack scheduled for tonight. I only need 300 calories to make my 2,000 calorie-goal. Will try to find something high in protein.

Randy Personal Training: Don’t starve yourself of protein and carbohydrates. Always start with your protein requirements first because the last thing you want to do is lose your fat-burning machinery – muscle! Next, determine a healthy and sane fat intake, and then figure your energy (carbohydrate) requirement. I always put a healthy recommendation of fat between 30-60 grams for a man or women between 150 to 250 pounds when following a calorie-restricted diet. Follow my Reverse Pyramid Training book recommendation for protein: 1 gram of protein per pound of lean body mass (muscle) weight. Your protein intake is dependent on a body composition test that can be assessed at virtually any gym or health club to determine your fat to muscle ratio in relation to total body weight.

If your aim is to follow a 2,000-calorie 30 – 50 – 20 ratio you’ll have to follow this breakdown regardless: 150 (600) protein, 250 (1,000) carbohydrates, and 45 (405) fat. Total calories: 2,005. That equals your goal ratio of 30 – 50 – 20. If you are having a hard time keeping up your protein while restricting your calories consume a protein supplement. The more you play with your numbers the more you learn what might be a good DIETARY NUTRIENT RATIO PROGRAM for you. Good Luck!