In the spirit of maximal strength #GAINZ for all, understand that there are 3 fundamental lessons that you have to master before you can get optimal training results.
1. I know, free and symptom free steroids would be ideal. That would be a short-cut to getting really strong and adding tons of muscle mass. But guess what else is just as important? …Sleep.
- Your Rx: Start with 8 hours per night as a goal. Enforce a set bedtime ritual. Add 1 hour of sleep for every tough training session (Crushing double session? Sleep for 10 hours). You might scoff at me, so scoff. Then bitch about your progress later on.
- You must sleep more.
2. Find some support. You can exercise and mobilize alone till the cows come home. That’s fine. But “training” properly requires more. You need a team. People to push your past your boundaries, and love on you so that you can recover fully.
Why do people flock to Westside Barbell or California Strength? Why get online coaching, or scour training blog’s? Its obvious. Inspiration and stimulus are everything. When the heat is on, you will succeed or you’ll get thrown out.
- Your Rx: Find someone that’s way better than you. Ride in their groove till you understand what makes them better.
3. Eat to fuel your body. I’ve had the strength discussion many, many times with some of the world’s best coaches and athletes. How to gain, and how to lose, all while staying brutally strong. The same statement pops up all the time. “It’s all in what you eat.”
- Your Rx: Realize that the only way to get brutally strong is to let go of the Fran and six-pack fixation. Instead, stick some great food in your mouth! Find creative ways of sneaking high quality calories in. Keep a nice balance between macro-nutrients, but up the carbohydrate by a few servings on days you train hard. A nice target for tough days might be 3-4 grams per kilogram of bodyweight.
In honor of our upcoming #MuscleGainChallenge launch. Mix these things. Be as bad as you want to be.
If you’ve got a question, fire away! I’ll answer. Cheers,
Hey there Chris,
First of all thank you so much for what you and the rest of the guys at Barbell Shrugged do! It’s greatly appreciated!
174 (heading towards 190) focussing on 1 lb per week
Train once per day 5 days per week
Following crossfit football programming
When focussing on gaining muscle mass do you think it’s a good idea to have a “calorie break” once every 3 weeks or so? Like after 3 weeks of 4k calories per day have about 4 days of 2.5k calories per day. Just a thought and borrowing from Louis conjugate “lifestyle.” Any advice would be helpful. Thanks Chris!
“174 heading to 190” sounds like you need to keep on ramming the food in your mouth. If the scale is going up, you’re doing it right. Worry about the fancy stuff once you hit your goal weight. Until then, the only thing that is going to make you grow is a caloric surplus.
2500 calories/day training 5 days a week with CFF is just not enough. That program is very demanding and has you lifting heavy shit around frequently. Any type of linear progression template will pound the shit out of you so you need to be eating and resting a lot. 4000 calories seems about right for your weight and activity level. If you aren’t already, I’d slowly increase your carbs to right around 35% for the mean time. It’s not a permanent lifestyle solution, but the increased carbs will definitely help you add some weight and get you stronger.
John has a pretty good write up on nutrition with CF Football on the site. It covers the basics in what you need to do if you’re going to follow the program. Maybe Chris can chime in too!
Thanks for the advice! Will put that into action today!
Hey Chris I am also 5’11” and working hard to get ripped but on the opposite end of the scale. I’m 220 but I’m trying to get down to 180. I’m averaging 1700-2000 calories a day but I keep getting lip from the guys at the gym that my diet doesn’t include enough calories. What would be an appropriate amount of calories for a training day when my goal is to drop another 20-40 lbs. My ultimate goal is to drop my BMI and my natural assumption was to drop weight.
Sounds like you are restricting calories. I would say not to focus so much on that. You need a certain balance in the macronutrients you take in. To drop fat, carbs should be pretty much reserved for mornings of training days, and right after training sessions. But from there…to recover from lifting, let’s say…you still need fat and protein in decent amounts. I would say this – If you feel under-recovered, weak, and like you’re not losing the weight like you want, you very well are probably eating too little.
Chris, I feel like no matter how hard I try I can only eat big quantities of food a few days in a row and then I start missing meals again. How do you think is best to approach this? I know i need to eat more but my body doesn’t seem to want to so I don’t crave it.
What are some different strategies to really hold onto that effort for enough days in a row to make it a habit?
It’s OK to not have a big appetite. It happens. So, try drinking the calories. Shakes with protein, coconut milk, nut butter, fruit and honey are a nice starting point. Add 1-2 in a day and see how you feel.
I appreciate the response. I see you kill that pumpkin butter and honey. I’m going to try me some.
Not too heavy on carb. You won’t feel good. Chuck almond butter in there to balance it. Maybe a touch of protein powder.
Sorry, to be specific, get that pumpkin butter shit and mix that with almond butter, maybe some real pumpkin mash, some honey, cinnamon. Fuck, it’s killer.
No specific questions or comments on this article. I just wanted to say how much I like the new site, and your articles in particular. Your format of numbered list with the “Your Rx” thing is awesome. Super impressed, although I shouldn’t be surprised given how well the BBS team does everything. Keep up the good work, Chris!
I appreciate that, Mike.
Keep killing it. Awesome.
I plan on it. 🙂
Sorry, that was me 🙂
What is the recipe for that pumpkin-almond butter stuff?
Really like the new site!
Just mix pumpkin, almond butter, honey, salt, a little cream cheese, cinnamon and protein powder in a bowl. it’ great.
Chris, I have really been taking this advice to heart and have packed on a good 10 lbs over the last 6 months. My lifts have improved but not much. The belly fat is definitely higher. Is there a point of diminishing returns for BF%. What is the ideal range for one looking to eat enough quality calories to get stronger but not overdoing it to the point of gaining more weight than is beneficial. Love the Podcasts!!
Hey Chris, I know its good to have a friend or someone there to help you push through and spot you on those last few reps so that one may experience hypertrophy, but sometimes we must ride to the gym like a lone wolf, what are some other things I can do if I don’t have a spot?
I’m not a hard gainer but I do gain fat quite easy. What type of carbs do you suggest to eat to gain muscle? My body only seems to respond to a low carb diet but I run low on energy during heavy lifts.
I currently work swing shift at my job,that’s usually between 3:30pm-2am,I average about 9hrs a night…problem is I also have kids to take to school at 8:30am, so I have to be up no later than 7:30am…this is harder since my wife works and goes to school in the morning,except for Fridays but I go to Crossfit at 7am…my problem is I average about 6hrs of sleep per night. I usually nap somewhere between dropping my kids off and going to work,but of course it sucks because I have a two year old that stays home with me so getting a good nap over a half an hour to an hour is hard. Usually I can get an hour when te bigger kids are home from school and before I go off to work…
I do sleep 7-8hrs on the weekends with a nap usually after my workouts. What are your thoughts on this? Is making up for sleep in forms of naps a good thing?
My life is not much different. I work always, and have a 6 month old and a 3 year old to manage. You should train very hard, but quickly and infrequently. Most of your training sessions should be heard towards base strength and fitness, not tough WODs. You’ll feel better instantly.
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Great article brother.
Been on the lean and mean train for some time. Having a hard time letting go of the esthetic component but I know it’s mandatory for optimal strength and size.
I hope you keep pumping articles like these, definitely motivating and really help reinforce that it’s okay to say bye bye to the leanness for a while!
Cheers my man,
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I’ve been lifting for about 1.5 years and I’m finally having one of those runs of crazy gains. I do Wendler’s 5/3/1. Yesterday I hit 15 reps @ 95% on my deadlift. Normally I stop if I hit 10 because more seems like overkill, but I was feeling it. Awesome, right?
Well, then I proceeded to sleep about 1 hour last night. Not by choice, mind you, I suffer from frequent insomnia. Today I feel absolutely terrible. Take it from someone with insomnia, get that sleep, then get some more and then hit snooze one more time. Your body will thank you! More importantly, if you neglect it, your body will punish you!
Sleep is everything, for sure. Thanks,
Im currently 80kg and I’m 6″1” and do Olympic lifting 3 times a week. Heavier Monday lighter Thursday and maxish saturdays. Do you have any idea what and how much I should be eating on days in between training? Someone told me if I’m not eating enough to make me feel like I’m going to hurl then ill never get to that 105kg bw goal. Just wanted to get some of your input!
If you’re looking to gain, then yes, you’re full-time job, after lifting, is to eat….pretty much all the time.
this is coming from a totail beginner who wishes to get in shape. Not necesarrily fat, but need to lose some of the love handles. I train Greyskull Linear Progression and mix it with crossfit on my offdays. My biggest concern is the diet – i know its the holy grail, but is it possible to build strength (with GSLP) and burn fat with crossfit ? I prefer to keep my cal intake with buttloads of protein at maintenance, at least till i stop the noob gainz
I am an avid 36 year old fan and follower from Cork in Ireland and a newbie.
After years having my girlfriend listening to me complaining about my inability to gain weight ( I am 6″3 and was 154 ponds ) and my lack of strength I decided to join a Strength & Conditioning gym 8 months ago.
I have never trained before and as a result I spend the first four weeks getting sick after every session. Despite the shocking reaction I kept on going and the sickness stopped and I up my game working out five sessions a week at 6 am.
I am an extreme hard gainer, or so I’ve been told by my trainers, I’ve always eaten a very healthy diet, loads of greens, fresh fish, meats, slow carbs and pulses and so on so my trainers advised me to keep on eating what I’m eating, just way more quantity and add up a hard gainer protein shake to keep the calories up to a 4.200 a day.
As you said on this thread, I am not interested on a 6 pack, but instead I want to be stronger and having more energy to enjoy life and play relentlessly with my 6 year old daughter.
As it is now after 8 months I am 172 pounds so I’ve gain nearly 20 pounds on that time and my body has changed shape and I can slowly see the changes and the lifts are getting heavier and faster and I am getting stronger..
My issue is that I feel that the gain is very slow now and lately I haven’t been able to increase the weight. am I being to fixated on the numbers? Or am I doing it wrong? Is there any way to maximize my food intake , like having protein right after workout or so?
Many Thanks for all the advice on the web and the podcasts. As a newbie is not easy approaching professionals at a risk of sounding clueless…
Frank from Cork, Ireland.